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Strapping a 50 gallon drum on the roof

Tom and Ray sometimes joke that the “solution” to the caller’s problem is to strap a 50 gallon drum on top of the roof. Like if the caller is loosing brake fluid, power steering fluid, oil, etc., then the 50 gallon drum can “conveniently” be used for replenishment as needed.

I expect that someone here has actually done this. Not with a 50 gallon drum. that’s preposterous, and that’s why it is funny.

But I’m talking about when faced with a problem, a temporary solution was devised involving a container of fluid. I did it myself one time. As a teenager a group of 10 of us each chipped in $5 to buy an old decrepit car for $50. Then we proceeded to remove the body, and turn it into a dune-buggy. The problem is we had to remove the gas tank. So to test the car out, after the body had been removed, to see if it still ran, we rigged a sort of thing like you see used to feed hospital patients through a tube. We used one gallon Clorox bottle filled w/gasoline, hanging from a coat wire tied to a 2x4, which was in turn tied to the passenger seat to form a mast, and allowed the gasoline to gravity feed into the carb through a plastic tube. I’m not saying this is a good idea mind you, just what we did! … lol …

Anyway, it worked, the engine even purred with this jury-rigging.

So has anyone else done something like this? What if your fuel pump stopped working out in the desert, a carb’d vehicle, and you didn’t have a clorox bottle? What would you do then? And what if the vehicle was fuel injected, using an electric fuel pump, and the pump broke? Do you think you could rig up something to sub for the electric fuel pump that would supply pressurized gasoline to the fuel rail?

As to fuel injected cars, that would present its own set of problems because a high pressure pump would have to be present and a return line run back to the jug. Doable, but dangerous…

I got stuck once in an older carbureted car and related the story before so here’s a cut and paste.

May 27
While not really a repair, I had to do the following to get home one Saturday evening. I had driven 125 miles to do some dealing with a guy on some antique motorcycle parts and I was in an old carbureted Subaru.

About 70 miles from the house and with the sun going down the car sputtered and quit. The roughly 1 year old electric fuel pump had decided to go belly up already. This was on the back roads and a tow truck was likely to be in the 2 or 3 hour range assuming they were Johnny on the Spot.

So I dumped nearly a 1 gallon jug of coolant mix (the environment was secondary at this point) and drained a gallon of gas from the drain plug on the bottom of the gas tank. A piece of vacuum hose and a connector was used to splice into the existing carb line and I lashed the gallon jug onto the windshield with some cord. I sucked on the line, got it siphoning into the carb, and off I went with the hood on the safety catch only so as to avoid crushing the hose flat.

Going west the setting sun caused a shadow on the jug which let me know when the jug was low on gas. I’d stop, unlash the jug, and drain some more gas out of the tank, and repeat the process.
It got me home just fine although the drivers of a few cars that passed gave me an odd look while no doubt wondering why an anti-freeze jug was tied to the windshield.
It beat waiting or walking anyway.

That’s a pretty good story Ok4450. Your version of “Flight of the Phoenix”. Very inventive. If you didn’t have any plastic jugs at all, you could have “borrowed” the one normally for the windshield fluid maybe instead. Or the one for the coolant overflow.

I’m thinking for the fuel injected version, if I had a bicycle pump, which I usually carry as my hobby sport is mt biking, I might could remove the valve stem thing from the rim by cutting off the spare tire, then punch a hole in a jug, install the valve stem, and pressurize the jug with the bicycle pump . That would provide a source of pressurized gasoline at around 40 psi. Not sure how well this would work, it might all just quickly drain back into the tank. Might have to clamp off the regulator return line.

When we were teens, my brother bought a 39 Ford Coupe with an Olds 324 engine. The engine had an Isky cam, headers and 6 Stromburg 94a’s. The 39 coupe was pretty rusted out, so he found a 40 Ford coupe in pretty good shape with no engine. He pulls the Olds engine out of the 39 and straddles it between a pair of sawhorses in the garage.

He doesn’t want to mess with the Stromburgs, so he gets a quad manifold and puts it on but doesn’t have a carburetor yet. He wants to hear it run real bad, so he hooks up a wire to the points and then touches a jumper cable to the starter and squirts gas into the manifold with a trigger type oil can. It actually started and ran as long as he kept pulling the trigger on the oil can.

@GeorgeSanJose: “We used one gallon Clorox bottle filled w/gasoline, hanging from a coat wire tied to a 2x4, which was in turn tied to the passenger seat to form a mast, and allowed the gasoline to gravity feed into the carb through a plastic tube.”

JC Whitney sells something like that for motorcycle maintenance: although this one is pretty pricey.

It comes in handy for things like adjusting carbs and burping the cooling system after a flush or a drain-and-refill. I’ve never used one, but I can see how it would make some jobs easier.

I’ve done it with my old truck (see avatar). It has a single master cylinder with no warning at all when the fluid runs out. When I first got the truck and before I replaced the entire brake system with original parts, I found out the hard way why it all needed replacing - it was leaking like all gitout!
So, after the parts and lines were replaced, it just seemed prudent to know when the brake fluid runs low or out, especially while driving. Having your pedal go to the floor will make you want to wear diapers.
So I tapped a nipple into the master cylinder cap and attached it to a small reservoir out of a Mercedes. It has a float switch that turns a really bright blinking LED on, hidden inside the speedometer. It serves as an early warning system when the fluid is escaping so I can stop immediately without having to change my diaper.

It isn’t a 50 gallon drum but it really is just a way to detect a sudden drop on brake brake fluid. I’d never actually count on the amount of fluid in the spare reservoir to get me home. Losing fluid hasn’t been an issue since but it just seemed like a good idea to have.

With many cars now having oil level monitors, it seems like a brake fluid level monitor would make a lot of sense. Maybe some cars have them now, but I’ve never heard of one. Brake pressure, yes, but not fluid level. In fact, if I had the choice between the two fluid level monitors, reliable stopping is more important than reliable going in way of thinking, so I’d rather have the brake fluid monitor.

I used this technology once on a '63 Corvair in high school. I got tired of putting in a quart of oil about every 100 miles so I just ran a hose down from gallon container of oil into engine through a hole in the oil cap. The hose was sealed on the bottom of the container and I had a small hole in the cap to allow oil flow. When I stopped driving I plugged the hole. I used “bulk” oil when it came time to fill the container. Getting the oil flow right was the hardest part of job. A few people stared at the container perched in the rear window but I really couldn’t see them clearly through all the smoke. When I saved enough money…I had the engine rebuilt.

@GeorgeSanJose, my '88 Supra has a brake fluid level sensor in the cap. Turns on the brake light if fluid gets low. My 2000 Explorer has one, my sister’s '96 Infinity has one, my brother’s '03 Scion Tc has one, and I’ve seen them in Honda’s, Mazda’s, Chevy’s, Chrysler’s, all over. They are very common, now.

Although I did not think of it at the time, the concept of a 50 gallon drum on the roof of my '74 Volvo would have helped a lot.

By the time that it got to 50k miles, it began burning oil and leaking trans fluid.
Just before I got rid of it–at 76k–taking a trip in that car was a problem because the amount of trunk space for luggage was severely limited by having to carry a case of motor oil & a case of trans fluid.

Actually, I would have needed two 50 gallon drums for that car…

It’s good to see the newer car designs provide for monitoring the brake fluid level automatically now. Definitely improves safety.

Gee, I thought an idiot light tied to the brake reservoir was mandated safety equipment for some time now. My '85 Camry had one, as had pretty much every other car I’ve owned. Just put out the light in my son-in-law’s Caravan by adding fluid…

I didn’t realize this has become a common-place thing. Neither my early 70’s Ford nor my early 90’s Corolla has this. They both have warning lights for brake pressure of course. I’ll ask my friend if her 2004 Corolla has a brake warning light for fluid level.

@vdcdriver, yup!

Remember in the 60s/70s when some gas stations gave promotional items or trinkets when you’d fill up with them? Well, I would have been entitled to their biggest gifts if oil companies did it. My beater Volvo 72 145E stationwagon used only slightly less oil than gas.

“My beater Volvo 72 145E stationwagon used only slightly less oil than gas.”

I can definitely identify with that.
And, when I hear people say something like, Volvos nowadays are not as good as the ones of yesteryear, I have to wonder how many of those folks owned one from the '70s.

Only after I bought my '74 242GL, and began to suffer from that car’s poor assembly quality and very poor reliability, did a co-worker reveal that his wife’s '73 242 was a total piece of crap.

Incidentally, even though it sounds like you bought yours as a used car, I and my co-worker’s wife both bought our Volvos as new cars, and mine was maintained better than the mfr specified, but it seemed that nothing could avert the constant breakdowns of that cursed car.

As I like to say, I owned a Volvo…ONCE!

I had to decide which to buy for a new car in 1971; a Volvo 240, a SAAB 99 or a BMW 2002. I chose the SAAB. I would have been better off choosing the Volvo or the BMW, even though the Volvo had less then stella reliability. It was better then the SAAB. Everything is relative. So @VDCdriver, even though you did not have a great experience with you Volvo, I gurantee it was better then mine with the SAAB. I couldn’t travel a few hundred miles without inspecting and / or adjusting the points. It seemed to need a complete tune up every 5000 miles. It finally needed a major motor overhaul at about 60k. This on a car that was maintained fastidiously. Good ridence. But, no other car was that great in the 70’s either. So, what else was being sold then ? Pintos, Granadas, Mavericks and Vegas ? Volvos seemed comparably safe back then. I think we forget how crappy all cars were in that era.

Yes, back in those days, Volvos were undoubtedly safer than other makes (except for perhaps Mercedes), but the saddest part of my experience with that POS Volvo is that I traded in a '71 Dodge Charger that was rock-solid reliable. My only reasons for switching from the Charger to the Volvo were that I was…
young & foolish, with enough disposable income to get rid of the Charger after only 3 years
the Volvo was “more economical”.

So, I traded a rock-solid reliable Charger that got only 13 mpg for a POS Volvo that actually only got about 3-4 mpg more than the Charger. What a mistake I made!

Modern Volvos are plagues with gremlins as well. A friend of mine has an 04 and, when he needs a brake job, he needs EVERYTHING brake related, including calipers. He’s gone through 4 sets and the car has less than 70K on the clock.
Windows, lights, dash indicators and switches - all flaky. Sometimes it won’t start, just because…

but at least it doesn’t require one to strap a 50 gallon oil drum to the roof… YET.