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Cheap repairs we made when we were young and broke.



  • bort1bort1 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;)
  • aka duct tape to cover up all those scrapes and boo boos on your bumpers
  • egkelly1egkelly1 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 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 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 Issaquah WashingtonPosts: 19,830
    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!
  • 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!
  • rea98drea98d Posts: 982
    that you were using unleaded potatoes!
  • bolivarbolivar Posts: 2,316
    all potatoes were leaded.
  • 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.
  • 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 Posts: 514
    Yank to the right, yank to the left, ....

    Outstanding, John. I can picture it very well. Thanks
  • 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 Issaquah WashingtonPosts: 19,830
    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 Posts: 23,046
    ...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?
  • 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 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 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 Issaquah WashingtonPosts: 19,830
    Now, try that with a modern car!

    I love those old flatheads! They had such a wonderful sound too!
  • kinleykinley Posts: 854
    Washtucna, Dusty and the Colfax cutoff via the airport road? When there I was a GDI, graduating '55 when you were a Freshman. Try driving over the hill and leaving your car all day in the parking lot between Holland Library and the CUB today.
  • danf5danf5 Posts: 38
    Back when, I had a Touring-bodied iron block 2 liter Alfa. One day, shortly after getting on the freeway, the engine stopped revving. Dropped back to idle, wouldn't respond to throttle. So I coasted to the side of the berm, left it running, and had a look.

    Yep, the throttle cable had let go. Somehow managed to find the ends and tie them together, not a good or a long-term solution.

    Later called our local Alfa/Lotus dealer (as you'd expect from the cars he sold, a crook with an incompetent and very expensive shop) about getting a replacement. Large problem, my car didn't match the parts book. It really didn't, much of the hardware wasn't as listed. The way of the Alfa Romeo is dangerous. Cable could be fabricated, send money.

    So went to the local good bike (as in bicycle, yes, human-powered), found a stainless brake cable about the right diameter and too long, and improvised. Was still working just fine when I sold the car a year later.
  • timz58timz58 Posts: 44
    On occasion the route did include Dusty, Washtucna and Colfax. Unfortunately, my college career was short-lived due to a concentration of Idaho drinking laws and majoring in party, beer and recreation. Went back to Moscow in the mid '70's and had a part ownership in a dive called Mort's Club but that is another story. Don't know where you are located but we go to the Moscow-Pullman area 2 or 3 times a year and go up 84 to Umatilla and then North on 95 to Tri Cities. Next trip, try taking the Kalotus cutoff from 95 through to Washtucna. It cuts off about 20 miles and is good two lane road with no pesky hiway patrol...........usually about 85 MPH through there. One more cheap car fix I saw in those good old days was on a Chevy 216 motor. These beasts were cursed with a "dip and pray" (max-15 PSI oil pressure) poured babbit bearing connecting rod system that resulted in many rods through the engine block when pushed too hard. There were shims installed under the rod cap to provide the necessary clearance between the crankshaft journal and the bearing surface. If you kind of babied it along (55-60 MPH, they would run a long time before they started knocking due to the bearing surface wearing out. The shims could be removed to tighten up the loose rod and away you went. When all the shims were gone, you could put the rod cap in a vise and get out your big flat [non-permissible content removed] file and file both sides of the rod cap and get a little more out of the rod. This was a "temporary" fix that sometimes lasted for years. Along those lines, a friend had a Dodge power wagon and it started knocking. This problem was solved by dropping the pan, removing the rod cap and using a piece of 400 grit emory cloth on the journal to remove the scoring. He then installed a .010" undersize bearing and was on the road again. This held together long enough to get the truck sold dirt cheap to some poor unsuspecting fellow who drove it for the next five years without a problem.
  • kinleykinley Posts: 854
    That was our engine in our '39 Master DeLuxe and you are right on as to cruising speed. 55 was where we sat as it had a 4:11 rear end. When funds were low and the sun was out, the hose to the WS wipers was disconnected to enable more air into the engine, running leaner, saving fuel, but also not good on the valves. JC Whitney sold a rocker arm cover that you would soak in a gallon of oil and then place on top just before installing the valve cover. After adjusting the valve lash 06 intake and 13 exhaust it was decided a noisy Chev was a healthy Chev. Ah yes, those were the days.
  • isellhondasisellhondas Issaquah WashingtonPosts: 19,830

    Another topic I'll try to revive since it did pretty well 12 years ago.

    Any "when we were young and broke stories to tell?

    I remember I had an old Falcon with a badly worn out idler arm that I "fixed" with a stack of washers.

  • fintailfintail Posts: 42,970

    Fintail, college student, leaking FI line - JB Weld should do the trick. It didn't.

    Also once had a leaking brake line that instead of doing an emergency repair, I chose to just limp home and be careful. Yay for uphill off ramps.

  • andre1969andre1969 Posts: 23,046

    I've driven a few cars brake-less, in my time. I've found that if you just pace yourself, try to time the lights, downshift alot, keep plenty of distance from the car ahead of you, apply the parking brake as necessary, etc, it's not so bad.

    I have found that old Mopars with the handbrake under the dash are easier to control than old GM cars with the foot brake. The foot brake seems more designed for one panic stop, and then you have to release it with a separate lever (or pump it again to release on some nicer cars), but with the pull-handle on the Mopars, it just seemed to lend itself easier to applying just the pressure you need.

  • fintailfintail Posts: 42,970

    The fintail's automatic can work better as a semi-automatic - works better if you shift yourself. That saved me when I operated with no brakes. I calculated that I had a few stops before the fluid would empty - so I shifted a lot and timed it well. It probably felt more dangerous than it really was. Oh yeah, parking brake didn't work either B)

  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 58,504

    Coming home on Route 50 through Nevada in a Saab Turbo. Suddenly, out there in the middle of NOWHERE, I smell and see smoke coming out of the hood. Pull over--CV boot split wide open, spewing grease onto hotexhaust. Nearest town about 30 miles. Creep along as best I can, waiting for the horrible screech or BANG! Find a gas station. Buy a roll of duct tape and he SELLS me a dixie cup full of wheel bearing grease. Lay under the car, trying to pack grease into the ripped boot while not getting any on the sticky tape. Took about one miserable hour. Wrapped it up so that the boot looked more like a watermelon. Took off for home. Car vibrated but...made it back 500 miles that way and for some weeks thereafter. Mechanic cursed me royally as he had to cut through that mess.

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  • kyfdxkyfdx Posts: 70,667

    When I bought the '76 CJ-5 (in 1980), the accelerator pedal had broken off at the hinge.. The owner had a pair of vise-grips he used as a pedal. When we were done with the deal and I was getting ready to drive off, he wanted the vise-grips back!! I told him that I didn't think so...

    I was still using the vise-grips for a pedal, when I rolled the Jeep, two years later..


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