Cheap repairs we made when we were young and broke.

isellhondasisellhondas Member Posts: 20,341
The other night by lifelong buddy called to chat and somehow the conversation turned to our youth and some of the desperate things we had to do to keep our beaters running.

I remember helping a friend with his '62 VW beetle. A rear axle seal had blown causing quite a mess. We had no 36 MM socket so we literally beat the nut off by placing a punch on the corner of the nut and backing it off using a hammer.

Of course, the rear lining was soaked with grease.

Since money was scarce we soaked the shoes in kerosene and lit them on fire to burn out the grease...Oh, the smoke! It actually worked pretty well.

If it weren't for the wrecking yards we would all have been walking!


  • dgraves1dgraves1 Member Posts: 414
    When I was a kid, my buddy would always stop when he saw an abandoned, stripped car (for some reason there were quite a few of these around where I lived) and pull off the alternator, carburetor, starter and anything else he could yank in a few minutes. So he had a garage full of this junk. Of course, he had no idea where all the various parts came from. When I needed to replace one of these things on my Camaro, I'd go see what he had and invaribly we could piece together something that would at least work on my car. I remember switching out nose pieces on starters, putting on carbs that didn't quite fit and plugging up holes with dum-dum and so on.
  • isellhondasisellhondas Member Posts: 20,341
    That car wasn't abandoned! I think that was my '62 Chevy!

    Wouldn't start one night after class...?

    Opened the hood and lo and behold, my distributor cap and plug wires had been ripped off!

    Probably by your buddy!

    As luck would have it, a walk in the dark discovered the college maintainance truck...A Chevy!

    Ten minutes later I was on my way...
  • dgraves1dgraves1 Member Posts: 414
    LOL, though probably not him. The cars he harvested were pretty clearly abandoned. I did have other acquaintances who weren't above acquiring parts while they were still warm. I honestly wouldn't take anything from those guys.
    Here's another one:
    I had side pipes on my car but wouldn't spend the bucks to plumb it up properly so I connected to the headers with flexible, exhaust tubing. This stuff lasted about 2 months before it rusted through. But I was too cheap to replace that so I would patch it up with some kind of fiberglass tape which lasted about 3 weeks, which was less time than it took for the burns on my hands to heal since this stuff had to be put on when the exhaust was hot.
  • revdrluvrevdrluv Member Posts: 417
    I had an 87 ford ranger when I was 16-18. Once the T hose connector just corroded away and I repalced it with a piece of plumbing untill I could make it to the store. That car was so easy to keep running.
  • isellhondasisellhondas Member Posts: 20,341
    Decided to scare some classmates that were walking through a tunnel one afternoon.

    We were in his dad's 64 Impala. So, he turned off the ignition for awhile and put it back on while alongside the pedestrians.

    Mission Accomplished! Big time...except.

    He had "popped" the Chevy once too often and opened the seam on the muffler.

    Same fix as you dgraves, a double roll of some fiberglass strapping tape.

    I forget now if his dad ever found out.
  • badgerpaulbadgerpaul Member Posts: 219
    When I was in High School I had a friend who specialized in acquiring "Midnight Auto Parts". One night his car ended up being a "donor" to another "Midnight" auto parts dealer. Funny thing was most of the stuff that they got was stuff he actually paid for. You never heard anyone go on about wondering "Where are the police?" any more than this guy did.
  • isellhondasisellhondas Member Posts: 20,341
    should also be good for the gander, eh?

    I once knew a guy who returned to his car to find the steering wheel (of all things) had been stolen!

    Undaunted, he clamped a Vise Grip onto the shaft and drove the car home like that!

    At least a ten mile drive!
  • carnut4carnut4 Member Posts: 574
    the wipers quit working, and of course I had no money to go get them fixed. So, I disconnected the wiper motor, and wired a coat hanger to the wiper arm on the passenger's side, which the passenger would then work out the window. One night I was at the drive in, though, with a gal I was really hot for. When it started raining, I had a great excuse for no wipers. Hey, it worked out!
  • lokkilokki Member Posts: 1,200
    Bought it for my wife to learn to drive in... We had zero money at the time. One day, we had a terrible snow storm blow up suddenly. The kind where they send you home from work. As I was getting ready to leave work (the last one, duh), the accelerator cable broke. The engine was running but the accelerator pedal was dead. Had to get home, no cell phone in those days, no money for a wrecker (if you could find one - it was a treasure hunt day for them). I ended up opening the engine cover and using a quarter to hold the throttle open part way. Pushed the car around to get it pointed towards the street... and shoved that poor little automatic into gear. Amazingly, it didn't break and it didn't stall. I putted home about 15 miles .... I just never stopped. It was the kind of day where you could get away with that because traffic was going so slow anyhow, and all the intelligent people were long since off the road...

    Still have that quarter somewhere, as a momento..
  • badgerpaulbadgerpaul Member Posts: 219
    It's amazing how many things a length of coat hanger could fix.
  • andre1969andre1969 Member Posts: 25,331
    ...otherwise known as "Duct tape"! Good for one thunderstorm, then I'd have to change it!

    Lokki, I had a throttle spring break on my Dart, but it did just the opposite...instead of making the pedal dead, it floored it! I just took what was left of the spring and tied it back together until I got home.

  • bob354bob354 Member Posts: 11
    lost the arm off its float valve in the carb while I was on I-10 near Columbus, TX. I saw another car on the shoulder and went to see if we could help each other out. They had cracked a heater hose, so I re-routed it for them and then we looked through their car (big ol' Ford wagon) for something to patch me up. Settled on a hair clip held in place with a rubber band. It worked fine for a couple of days, then the gas caused the rubber to expand and loose it's hold. Being a college kid with no money for luxury items, I continued to replace those rubber bands for more than a year!
  • yurian44yurian44 Member Posts: 25
    I had the same problem that lokki had, my accelerator cable broke one night about 10 miles from home. I sat on the rear bumper with the engine hood resting on my head and operated the gas while my girlfriend drove home. The one cop we saw on the way back just looked and kept on driving. Ahhh the good old days when cops knew when to look the other way.
  • lokkilokki Member Posts: 1,200
    I suspect that the Cop probably went home and swore off drinking! Figured after seeing you on that rear bumper that Pink Elephants would be next!
  • isellhondasisellhondas Member Posts: 20,341
    That IS funny! Must not have been much fun with those little tailpipes sticking out.

    My '62 beetle decided to snap a clutch cable one night. No money for a tow...what to do?

    So I started it in second gear. It lurched forward until it started. Had to shift by getting the RPMS just right. Not easy but I didn't have far to go.

    BTW, that clutch cable is a real PITA to replace!
  • dgraves1dgraves1 Member Posts: 414
    What is it with VWs and clutch cables? The one on my Rabbit used to break about every two years. Fortunately, they were quite easy to replace on the Rabbit.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Member Posts: 64,482
    It's just not the greatest way to work a clutch...cables get frayed, and clutches can stiffen up over time. But it is a CHEAP way to work a hydraulic master cylinder or slave cylinder.
  • dgraves1dgraves1 Member Posts: 414
    Speaking of the Rabbit, it went through a period where vacuum hoses were cracking continuously. As a temporary fix I would just cut out the broken section and plug both ends. The amazing thing was, this seemed to have no effect on how the car ran.
  • isellhondasisellhondas Member Posts: 20,341
    We towed a buddy by unbolting the seat belts from several of our cars. We hooked them together as a tow strap.

    Ah..the hungry years!
  • blarg1blarg1 Member Posts: 59
    bumper stickers over rust holes and then paint with rustoleum.

    vacuuming airfilters

    walking alont the side of the road near railroad crossings, looking for a new hubcap that fit

    superglue shiftknob together

    red plastic bag duct taped over broken tail light

    carrying spare parts in a milkcrate
    two quart bottles of oil-from two different gas stations, radiator hose, gas can, belt, flares, old rusty tools from a garage sale, five dollars in change for payphone, couple coathangers, washerfluid, gallon of water, and a box of twinkies all for emergencies. those were the days.

    shoving a wax covered friut box into a hole in the trunk by the rusted out wheel well

    coat hanger antenna
  • 20992099 Member Posts: 63
    Tin cans around leaking exhaust/tail pipes (fruit cocktail cans lasted the longest!)
    Replace worn out brake shoes, but don't turn the drums to save money.
    Spray paint bulbs red instead of replacing broken tail light lens.
    This one is not real smart, but I did it...64 Chevelle, real POS but ran good..leaky wheel cylinder on right rear..take hammer, smash brake line against frame and drive with three wheel brakes
  • blarg1blarg1 Member Posts: 59
    hammerin' stuff, yeah. cheap fixes for some of life's little problems.

    hammer a broken and dangling power mirror, knock the sucker off and tuck the wire in before it scratches the door.

    nail broken trim

    pound out dents

    use a hammer on the end of the tire iron to knock the rust off the lug nut.

    after all that hammerin' and tapin, and rustoleum, it was a wonder the old pos cierra i had kept moving.

    it was cool, it had been hit later in it's long life, and the paint had oxidized badly, except for the right side of the hood and right front fender. Just as shiny as the day it came out of the factory.
  • jlflemmonsjlflemmons Member Posts: 2,242
    '67 Healey Sprite. True British sports car. Going to college, pull out to pass... throttle return spring broke. Just as I hit redline in top gear, the top blew off. Tried to kill the engine and push in the clutch at the same time and the slave cylinder blew. Ever turn the engine off on a 1275cc high compression engine at 7000rpm? Now that was exciting! Put the top back on, set the throttle to run 4krpm, and drove to school and back with no clutch. Ran lots of stop signs!

    Rode home from college one day in a Pinto with a broken throttle cable. We ran a piece of heavy twine out the vent glass, through the fender/hood seam and to the carb and used that to throttle the engine.

    Kids today need a junker to learn how to be creative.

  • jlflemmonsjlflemmons Member Posts: 2,242
    Wife's '95 Safari had a rear heater control valve go out. Checked with the dealer (only source) and was quoted $78 wholesale. Van now has a mechanical valve that I will happily turn on whenever it gets cold in central Texas.
  • dpwestlakedpwestlake Member Posts: 207
    A girlfriend's pantyhose worked pretty well as a temporary replacement for a broken fan belt in a TR3.
  • dgraves1dgraves1 Member Posts: 414
    The one time in life when your girlfriend wearing pantyhose is a good thing!
  • lokkilokki Member Posts: 1,200
    The accelerator cable broke on it; he ran a piece of rope through the fire wall, and tied a piece of stick into it for a handle. He drove it that way for months. I commented that it seemed to run better that way... his response was that if he tied a piece of string around me in the right place and pulled, I'd run better too.
  • bort1bort1 Member Posts: 13
    In high school I was riding in a buddy's pickup, a rusted-out 81 chevy when my feel went straight through the floorboard on the highway. Being as it was about 2:30 am, we found a deer hazard sign, unbolted it from the post and used it on the passenger side to keep the wind out and my feet in. When he sold it three years later he still had that sign in the cab plus a couple in the bed to keep cargo from hitting the road.
  • rea98drea98d Member Posts: 982
    Whatever he got for the truck, you can be sure the buyer only wanted it to hang those roadsigns on his wall!
  • dgraves1dgraves1 Member Posts: 414
    Geez, bort, how in the world did the deer know where to cross the road after that caper?
  • bort1bort1 Member Posts: 13
    No idea, but cars, semis, and hunting seasons tend to keep the population of deer in check in Iowa, so I doubt if there was a huge problem. Never thought that deer were smart enough to read the signs anyway;)
  • megasuvownermegasuvowner Member Posts: 64
    aka duct tape to cover up all those scrapes and boo boos on your bumpers
  • egkelly1egkelly1 Member Posts: 30
    I had a 1984 Caddy Sedan deVille, which I loved. It had a problem with the blower control (solid stae)-the giant DELCO power transistor that drove the fan motor crapped out. A new control module (dealer said the existng one was unrepairable)was over $600.00! Being a good engineer, I shorted the transistor, and ran a bypass ling to a good heavy duty swotch on the dash! This ran grat, and the repar cost me exactly $1.35!
  • dgraves1dgraves1 Member Posts: 414
    The gum wrapper around the fuse trick in another topic reminded me of another one I pulled. One night driving home from work my headlights went out. I found that the fuse had blown so I stole the high beam fuse and made my way home. Of course, I promptly forgot about it. I live in Southern California and rarely have occasion to use high beams. Many months later while traveling at fairly high speed on a mountain road, I decided I needed the brights. Flicked the switch and WHAM - Total darkness. Of course I switched back to lows and slowed down quickly but my heartrate was over redline for quite a while.
  • jresjres Member Posts: 69
    My first car a hand-me-down from Mom, I got it in 1982 and had it for a while, traded it to a friend for a complete set of James bond books. Some where along the way he broke the key off in the ignition and couldn't afford to replace it so he went to radio shack bought a $1.45 knife switch that he super glued to the top of the dashboard and used to start the car. He took it up to college and was the hit of the campus.
  • isellhondasisellhondas Member Posts: 20,341
    Your story reminded me of something.

    On old Chevys built before 1953, it was possible to start them with a piece of tinfoil.

    Really simple, take a piece two or three inches across and poke it around under the ignition switch. When the guages moved, you were in business! Press the starter button and you were going.

    So, one night my buddy loses the keys to his '51 Chevy. I managed to find a foil gum wrapper and the problem was solved....until, on the Harbor Freeway later that night, the damm gum wrapper came loose and fell out!

    Funny story now, but not at the time since we were in moderate traffic going 60 MPH!!

    Here we were in the center strip, with cars whizzing by looking for that gum wrapper!
  • groovy2groovy2 Member Posts: 5
    One night after food shopping, I backed my '65 Barracuda into a re-rod holding down a concrete parking lot divider at the supermarket. A quarter sized hole in the gas tank assured me I would never make it home before I ran out of gas and besides, gas was expensive back in 1967 at .26/gal.!
    To quickly solve my problem ( I didn't have much time), I jammed a potatoe into the hole to function as a cork and drove home . Good thing I had just left the food market with a bag of potatoes!
  • crossedrealitycrossedreality Member Posts: 72
  • rea98drea98d Member Posts: 982
    that you were using unleaded potatoes!
  • bolivarbolivar Member Posts: 2,316
    all potatoes were leaded.
  • strider98strider98 Member Posts: 89
    I noticed that I was losing engine coolant in my POS 85 S10 Blazer. At the same time there seemed to be a sticky substance that was pooling in the passenger floorboard every once in a while. I put 2+2 together and took it home where my dad and I unhooked the hoses from the heater and plugged both ends with a gerry-rigged piece of copper tubing, clamped it down tight, and turned on the engine. Worked like a charm...until I got halfway home to Houston. Pulled over in La Grange, popped the hood while the engine was running and noticed that one end of the old hose had split because of the pressure against the clamp. Took out my trusty Swiss army knife, cut off a short length, reattached, good as new(all done after it had cooled down of course). Only problem is no heater, but in Texas, you rarely need one.
  • beachfishbeachfish Member Posts: 97
    My girlfriend's parents gave her a used Nova in '77 or '78 to last her until she finished college. It had a cracked lens or two, the turn signal relay didn't always work and a bunch of other little things were wrong with it. She only drove it to school and work - about a mile one way at 25mph.

    Anyway, my secretary at work had a Nova and agreed to let me borrow parts when ours needed a state inspection. I'd drive to the office, switch whatever needed fixing (like a cracked retainer ring on a headlight and a slightly worn tire) with the good parts off of hers and drive it around the corner to the shop. They'd have it inspected by lunch and I'd switch the parts back.

    Played this game for 3 years until she got a real car.

    Also, I once used a piece of twine to run the wipers on my Chevy. Couldn't afford a coathanger. Out one vent window, attach to the wipers and in through the other vent to complete the loop.

    Yank to the right,yank to the left,yank,yank,etc.

  • spokanespokane Member Posts: 514
    Yank to the right, yank to the left, ....

    Outstanding, John. I can picture it very well. Thanks
  • badgerpaulbadgerpaul Member Posts: 219
    When the fan switch went out on my '68 Electra, I ran a couple of wires back through the firewall leaving them dangling under the dash. So when I needed heat, I would twist them together usually accompanied by a good spark.
  • isellhondasisellhondas Member Posts: 20,341
    My buddies and I were usually pretty broke. When a heater core started leaking we would usually just bypass the thing.

    Of course, this was in So. Calif.
  • andre1969andre1969 Member Posts: 25,331
    ...shorted out awhile back. I lived with it for awhile, but then finally caved in and bought another control unit (the thing with all the buttons, temp slider, and fan speed selector) from the junkyard for something like $10.00. It started blowing fuses though, and one day I put too big of a fuse in, and I guess it shorted the thing out again.

    I can still get heat in the wintertime though. It kind of filters in, and the faster you drive, the more heat you get. The a/c effect in the summertime isn't really noticeable though, but when you put all four windows down (it's a hardtop), open the vent windows, plus the vents under the dash, and pop the sunroof, who needs a/c?
  • spellboundspellbound Member Posts: 77
    My first car was an English Ford Cortina which got a hit 'n run in front of our house one night which totaled it. So I parted it out got together what little money I could along with a small loan from my dad and bought a '68 Triumph TR250 for $800. The bodu & interior were decent but it ran like crap and the manual transmission was history as the main bearings were shot and it made lots of noise.

    So being young, fearless and broke I proceeded to attempt to fix it myself. Without the proper tools, ie using a hammer and screwdriver's rather than bearing pullers etc :-)I disassembled it and bought some used (yes used as I could not afford new) bearings from a local Triumph parts place. Believe it or not, the operation was successful and the transmission worked like a charm, synchros and all. That and a good tune up had the car running like a champ and it turned out to be a great car for me which I enjoyed in high school.
  • carnut4carnut4 Member Posts: 574
    Belvedere with the 383 and 4-speed. It needed a clutch, and being young and broke [I could barely make the monthly payments of $72 a month, in 1966]I decided to do it myself, with the help of a friend. That 4speed was the huge, heavy duty Chrysler 4speed they'd built to take the racing hemi, and I tried to lift it out lying on my back like I had the 3speed on my 55 Chev. Some difference! Way too heavy. I gave up and went and got a transmission jack. What a job! Turned out there was oil that had ruined the clutch, and I had to just slap in another clutch without finding out where the oil was coming from. Hell, it was better than it was, for minimum bucks. When it started slipping again, months later, I just sold it and got a VW bug, and put some money in my pocket. Always did wish I'd fixed that Plymouth right and kept it-at least a little longer.
  • timz58timz58 Member Posts: 44
    I was the proud owner of a 1952 Ford V-8. This particular engine had the fuel pump mounted on top of the block back by the firewall. It was actuated by a push rod operated by a lobe on the cam shaft. One rainy dark evening about halfway between Seattle and WSC in Pullman, the old Ford quit. I sat by the road for the better part of an hour when a grizzled old farmer stopped and asked if I needed help. He raised the hood, cracked the fitting loose on the carbeurater and told me to crank the engine. He then asked if I had an old pair of shoes. I did and he said we had to sacrifice one of them to the automotive gods. I gave him the shoes and he promptly cut a piece out of one side of the right shoe (why I remember this, I'll never know) and took the fuel pump loose from the block. He then inserted the piece of leather atop the rod for the fuel pump, bolted it back together and had me crank the engine. Turned over a few times and fired up. Amazing what one could do to keep that old beast running. From that day on, I always kept a knife, appropriate wrenches and an old shoe in the ford. That fix was good for about 200 miles and then had to be redone. I got by this way for about a year and someone finally told me that a new pushrod was only about $5.00 but who had $5.00 when tuition was $300/yr.?
  • isellhondasisellhondas Member Posts: 20,341
    Now, try that with a modern car!

    I love those old flatheads! They had such a wonderful sound too!
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