Funniest story about interchanging parts on a car with something not really meant for it?


#1

I am curious as to what parts have been used in situations where they are not intended. I am not talking about things like using a coat hanger and duct tape to hold the hood down or plastic bags taped over the windows but actual parts.

My story would have to relate to the oil filter on my 1994 Geo Metro. I typically buy synthetic oil when it goes on sale and usually have 2-3 changes on hand at any time. This way I pay the conventional oil price for the good stuff. I often have extra filters on hand too. Well, I was getting ready to mow the yard with my riding mower and wanted to do an oil change. So, I rode it around and mowed for about 5 minutes to get the engine and oil warm, then drained it out and removed the filter. I went to go get my oil and my filter. Oops! There wasn’t a filter on hand and now there was no oil in the engine so I couldn’t finish the yard. I was not happy at all and didn’t want to run to the store just for this as town is 10 miles away.

I figured I had 3 vehicles at my place and would see if one of the spare filters for them would fit my mower so that I could refill the engine and go on with mowing. Well, the only filter that fit was the one for my 1994 Geo Metro. Friends always laugh and tell me it is a glorified mower or golf kart so I thought it was pretty humorous that the oil filter bought for the Geo Metro fit right onto my riding mower. My mower has a Kohler engine but these also fit a Briggs and Stratton engine too.

That being said, the oil filter from a Ford 302 V8 engine will also fit onto my mower without issues. It will also screw right on to the Geo Metro as long as you don’t have one equipped with AC. The canister is fatter than the stock version and will not fit when AC is installed. Having the oil filter from a Ford V8 fit a mower isn’t as funny as the one from a tiny little Geo Metro!

It is nice to know that I don’t need to buy the overpriced oil filters from the lawn and garden store when a standard automotive filter fits just fine.


#2

Well…not a car, but my 1984 Honda Sabre motorcycle is a bit hard to find parts for, exacerbated by the fact the local cycle dealer is openly hostile about buying parts for metric bikes >10 y.o.

So…I consulted the internet for work-arounds. I’ve got a purolator filter spec’d for a Sentra, and a rad cap off of a Tercel, I believe.


#3

I’ve done a lot of workarounds over the years. A few regarding one of my antique Harleys:

A VW Bug 6 Volt generator for a few years.

Piston rings from an old Ford flathead.

Rear drive chain from an Allis Chalmers combine.


#4

I just thought of another good story. One of my friends had a 1994 Ford Probe that he pretty much rebuilt from the ground up and added an aftermarket turbo charger. This thing had so many wild stories about something going wrong it wasn’t even funny.

I have a tendency to take old junk computers that are unrepairable and use them for target practice before recycling them. I happened to have one sitting around that looked like Swiss cheese with holes in it while he was working on the car.

He said he needed a thin strip of sheet metal for something on the car and decided to cut a small section without holes from the casing of the shot up computer and use it in his car. This just went along with the car perfectly. I don’t remember why he wanted this or what it was for but thought it was pretty humorous.


#5

As for the guy with the Ford Probe… The thing caught on fire one day when he started it up on a cold and windy day in a nearby town about 30 miles away. He had upgraded the fuel pump for extra pressure to go along with the turbo but didn’t replace the stock fuel lines. They were unable to take the pressure and blew, starting a small fire under the hood upon starting the car. I guess he had already been through several fires with this car and had an extinguisher inside. He put the fire out and we walked to a nearby hardware store and bought various parts that were able to limp the car home. He then ordered some fancy aftermarket stainless steel performance fuel lines so this wouldn’t happen again. I will never forget standing outside on like the coldest day of the year with wind blowing greenish-yellow clouds of extinguisher dust all around the parking lot.


#6

Keith Martin who’s the publisher of a collector car magazine called sports car market bought back his 60’s Alfa spider from the guy he sold it to and kept the right to buy it back. On the way home to Portland from California the headlight switch went out. He just installed a $3 household light switch from home depot to get the light’s to work and kept driving. He replaced the actual switch upon returning home. Sometimes you just have to adapt when owning older vehicles.


#7

My shop teacher used panty hose, as an alternator belt.

In a cross country trip in a winnebego the throttle cable broke, I rigged a lawnmower throttle control until we could get 165 miles to get a new part, downside it took 2 people to drive, one with the brakes and steering, he other with the lawnmower slider to control throttle.


#8

I’ll go a little off topic . . .

I would never buy from a guy who reserved the right to buy the car back

That would always be nagging me, every time I drove the car

I would constantly be thinking “Am I going to have to sell it back to the guy tomorrow?”


#9

Not an improvised part, just an improvised fix. One rainy morning my buddy’s 1955 Chevrolet Nomad would crank but not start. Due to the humidity I suspected condensation in the distributer cap. That was not the case but the rotor was caked with carbon. I removed it, gave it a good long scrape on the side walk and replaced it. we got to school on time! He had no clue that points, capacitor, rotor, and distributor cap were typically 5,000 mile replacements on this vintage of vehicle.


#10

As for having the right to buy the car back, I would agree to offer him first option and maybe no more than a certain price but certainly wouldn’t agree to sell a car back to someone on demand.


#11

As for the Ford Probe I mentioned… The fellow had some pretty major work done at a body shop. The driver side door had started sagging pretty badly in the short while he owned it. he took it in and found that the car had been in an accident and that random junk like nuts, bolts, and other rusty metal had been used as a spacer behind the door hinges and they were held on by crappy welds. The body shop was shocked as the door basically fell off when they started working on the car.

Also, they found lots of bullet holes patched with bondo in this door. The door was a different color underneath so they figured it was at a junkyard where someone was shooting at it and then resold it to repair the door on this wrecked car.


#12

Hey @sgtrock21 I’ll bet your old enough to remember throwing a charged condenser to some guy in shop class for fun, that qualifies as a part being used not what it was intended for I think!


#13

Well I know of a house in St Louis that has part of a Nissan upper radiator hose on the kitchen sink and a lower Honda hose in the bathroom.


#14

Not only that but stuffing the front of the little soldering iron furnaces with paper towels turning the gas on high then lighting the paper towels. If everything worked right it would blow the lid up and into the exhaust fan! If a fellow student was using a cutting torch you could fill a balloon with acetylene gas then fan it towards them with a piece of cardboard. Early version of the “Big Bang Theory”! Otherwise shop class could have been terribly boring.


#15

I just remembered that I did at least one time swap one part for another. I had driven a few miles on the Interstate when the throttle cable on my 1971 Mustang broke. Fortunately I was in the right hand lane and was able to coast under an overpass where the shoulder was very wide. There was not enough throttle cable left to re-connect. I only had a few small tools. It looked like I was screwed. A State trooper pulled behind me and inquired what the problem was. I explained the problem and he asked if I could idle to the next off ramp which was about 1/4 mile away. I replied that I could turn up the idle screw and maybe get 20 to 25mph and stay in the breakdown lane. Turning up the idle gave me about 1500rpm. The trooper had his lights flashing and could have blocked the right hand lane. Instead he stepped into the lane with his hands raised and stopped traffic! He was either the bravest or stupidest trooper on the force! I successfully exited and pulled into the closest filling station. Of course by that time 1980/81 service stations had turned into filling stations with a mini mart. No help there. I was under the hood puzzling over my problem when a possible solution appeared. In those days automatic chokes tended to fail. I had converted this one to manual with a cable and push pull knob mounted under the dash. I tried and the choke cable easily reached the throttle linkage. I was able to return to the interstate and maintain the 55mph speed limit for my 50 mile drive home. The replacement cable was only about $12 from the Ford dealer.


#16

A long time ago, I had a '64 Ford F-100 with a 223 in it. I bought it needing work including the fact that someone had rigged a carburetor onto it from a Pinto. I don’t know enough about carbs to know how close that ought to have been. But the truck was a little rough to start and ran a little rough. So I guess that’s a story about what only “sort of” worked.

I bought a rebuilt correct carb for it, and after that it started right up and ran perfectly.

I also built a tailgate for it with some galvanized pipe and plywood - but I think that’s more of a duct tape and coat hanger story.


#17

After some thinking, I can’t really come up with anything too funny or odd although I’ve done a lot of improvising and workarounds. It was more a matter of getting the job done in the most reliable and economical manner with function first.

Any real oddities I can come up with involve motorcycles. I used to build custom bikes with molded frames. With miles accrued, a crack in the body plastic was not uncommon due to frame flex. I used to cut up womens’ pantyhose and mix that with the Bondo. This had the same effect as screen wire used in concrete.

In a rigid frame bike I built once I was looking for a little cushion for the spine and laced a mid 20th century Triumph sprung rear hub to a Harley 16" rim. This was a royal pain in the neck and took me a week of fiddling as the spokes were extremely short. There were 40 of them to cut and thread and lacing it up to fit was even more aggravating than the cutting. It worked great and looked super cool but getting there was extremely frustrating. :frowning:


#18

If you wan to see masterful applications of parts mixing/substitution, go to Cuba. There you will see 50s cars still running but with a myriad of parts, automotive and otherwise, stitching them together.

A friend of mine in college had his starter switch (on the dash) fail during a summer job at a paper mill. He went to the parts department and found an old big red button/switch for starting and stopping one of the mill’s machines. He mounted it on the dash and since it could handle any current, wired it directly straight into the starter circuit. Very reliable.

His grilfriends back at school were both amazed and amused that he had his very own panic button.


#19

I once read about an old 1950s car in Cuba with a bad engine

Late at night, the owner stole the engine out of a cement mixer and installed it in his car . . .


#20

I recall an amusing post here a few years ago. The poster said his passenger compartment heater control valve went out, so he poked a hole in the dashboard, ran the two heater hoses through it, and installed a house hose bib water-valve to control the heat. What could be more functional than that?