Hacks from the old scholars.
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  1. #1
    1000+ Posts Frans's Avatar
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    Default Hacks from the old scholars.

    Bored stiff as you can see. I wondered how far we can stretch this thread with innovative, fancy, weird, clever and deep in sh!t ideas to get a car going again that was stuck on the side of the road. Please tell the story as you experienced it or heard about it.

    I will start with #1.

    I overheard my Dad one day to someone: "if the condensor is stuffed tap it with a small hammer until it is full of dents and it will work again."

    In the late 80s me and my family were returning from Cape Town to Johannesburg, some 1500 km trip. Travelling through the Karoo which is a semi desert area and about 6 hours on the road already, we passed a Mazda 323 broken down and 2 young girls staring into the engine compartment. I turned around and went back to them. With the story that the car misfired a few times and then died, I started a quick check. No spark! Coil was OK so it must be the condenser. Nobody will have one spare in the desert and a Sunday afternoon as well. I was driving my R9 with electronic ignition. Then I remembered the story and took the condenser out and I took a ring spanner out and held it in my hand and tapped it full of dents. Not really expecting much I put it back and asked her to try again. It fired into life immediately!!

    So I told them to take the next turn off to this one horse town and ask around for the garage owner. I am sure he will open the parts and help you with a condenser. I said "take the closest in physical size so that he can fit it for you. So I followed the 2 girls and about 50km further they skipped the turn off. Another unknown distance at the next turn off they kept on. I said to my wife that I have now done my good deed and bugger them. They were travelling slower that me in any case and I overtook them and left them behind.

    Later that night I was filling up with fuel and had something to eat and the kids did what they had to. It was time to tackle the last lap home. Entering the main road I had to wait for no other than the old 323 that was still going strong.

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  2. #2
    1000+ Posts Frans's Avatar
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    Hack #2.

    In the early 90s my friend Johan, same Johan on here, built his first Gordini engine. All was done with great pride and joy until it came to start up time.

    Me and my parents were visiting family on a farm in the Free State and at the time I was just a youngster of 10 or 11 years. One of the farm workers came to the house with the news that the one tractor has broken down. So me and my Dad hopped with them in his 1944 Willys Jeep (ex Army) complete with a PTO and 36 Volt aircraft generator that he used to weld a plough or fence or whatever broke. We got to the tractor and I can't remember what was wrong, but my Dad noticed that each plug wire had a button in the HT lead. "What is that for?" he asked and we were told that the old spark plugs were dead ones and then he puts a button in and it works again. These tractors were of the type that was started on petrol and after warming up you would switch it over to Kerosene or diesel, also called Voko in ZA.

    Back to Johan. We organised a braai (BBQ) as the South Africans do and I would take a look why his newly built hot G wouldn't start. Me and my family arrived a little too early maybe but I got started with the G. He wasn't there 'cause he had to do the shopping route and then pick the kids up at Sunday School. I did the normal checks and luckily, because of some darkness, I noticed that there is a spark but so weak I could almost test it with my tongue. Memory reverted back to childhood days and the tractor, I went into the house and asked his wife for a button. I took the coil lead and cut it in half, cleaned either end and pushed the the one end through a hole and twisted it around, the other end through the other hole and twisted that as well and replaced the coil lead to the coil and distributer. Got inside and turned the key and the car fired up instantly. He drove that car for so long with the button that the center of the button was long gone.

    Apparently, if you break a high voltage and it has to jump it amplifies itself. That is how a Stromberg Converter works as well. Not sure if you guys knows a Stromberg Converter?

    Frans.
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    Very early one morning, Daughter calls Dad the Renault RACV person for old cars

    Bugger getting out of bed

    Daughter's R15 wouldn't accelerate or take off, just run.

    I told her easy, when you want to take off, just pull out the manual choke.

    Once going just push it in again.


    Accelerator jet had become blocked on carbie.

    She used this trick when you wanted a bit extra out of the old girl.
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  4. #4
    COL
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    Going to work one morning many years ago in a Renault 12 wagon that I bought off Ebay for $100, was about 5 Km from where I was working in Young Town Launceston when the car came to a sudden stop.

    I pulled over to the side of the road and lifted the bonnet. Had a quick look but couldn’t find anything a miss. All the plug leads and low voltage ignition wire were all in place. So it meant that there was something wrong with the fuel system. So a few quick checks to source the problem, lifted off the air cleaner and operated the throttle and no fuel being pumped into the throat of the carbie , next check disconnect fuel line from the carbie and turn engine over with the key and found no fuel coming out which can only mean fuel pump not working.

    By this time a work mate had pulled up to find out what the problem was and gave me a lift to work. He asked “what I was going to do about my car”, I said “take the day off and fix it” he asked “how” I said “find a cordial bottle, grab some electrical tape out of my tool box and walk to a servo and get some fuel” I think he was intrigued by how I was going to get my car going with a few bits of plastic and a can of fuel. He offered to give me a lift back to the car and lend me his lawn mower can full of fuel, so I took him up on the offer.

    We arrive back at the car and he is watching me start work on making my car go again, I started by putting everything back that I took off when diagnosing the problem. I disconnected the fuel line that goes from the fuel pump to the carbie at the fuel pump. I then made a hole in the cap of the 600mL cordial bottle and cut the bottom out of the cordial bottle. Then next push the fuel line into the cap of the cordial bottle and tape up as tight as I can get it so to make it leak proof. Next job was to try and support the cordial bottle so that it will hold fuel and be above the height of the carbie. I Managed to do this by jambing the cardial bottle beside the brake booster and holding the cordial bottle in place with the bonnet.

    Now next trick is to get some fuel into the cordial bottle with out wasting to much fuel. Done now to try and start the car and as usual the car fires up O.K. My mate is amazed and asks “what now?” I said “I going to drive home and replace the fuel pump” So I set off and on a 60 km trip home with five litres of fuel and having to stop every 5 km to fill up the cordial bottle, this was made interesting in a few places where there was little room to pull of the road to top up the cordial bottle. After about a dozen stops I made it home with about a litre of fuel in the can.

    The next job was to hunt round for a fuel pump and replace it.
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    Regards Col

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    1000+ Posts FIVEDOOR's Avatar
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    Travelling home from Snowies as a young lad with some friends, about 5 am, mid July, had just left Warwick (maybe 20 minutes) and the alternator warning light came on. Pulled over and checked, all belts were in order so continued on my way. The car started, moved about 50 m and engine died. Repeated this couple of times and figured out I had a problem in the middle of nowhere. Dads advice always was it's either fuel or spark. I checked the float bowl in the carbie and it was dry. My boss had a saying, how can we get around this (problem), well, I figured I needed something to keep the fuel in and someway to get the fuel in the carbie. I found a bottle on the side of the road. On long trips, I always carried Jerry can of fuel and a tool box. I had some hose I used for bleeding the brakes and as luck would have it was the same inside diameter as my fuel line going into carbie. I was smart enough to disconnect the fuel pump as I knew it had electric fuel pump. The new fuel line was long enough to reach drivers door and I held the bottle out the window. Drove to a servo maybe 20km away, freezing my fingers along the way. Got a 4/5 litre can, longer hose, gave the "fuel tank' to my co-driver and drove home to Brisbane. replaced the alternator and problem fixed. I wasn't smart enough to retrieve by ski gloves from the boot to save my fingers from freezing on the initial stint to the servo, but we made it.
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    Here's another!
    Soon after starting a 3 hour journey home on a Sunday, with caravan behind, my VW Passat cut out. After looking around the engine for a while, I tried it again and it started, but a few kms down the road, the same again. After happening a few times, I figured the fuel filter was partially blocked and the engine, especially when towing, was using fuel faster than the filter could supply it. I decided to make a plan and got the Parker ball point pen out the cubby hole and with a junior hacksaw, cut off the thin end and the plastic cap off the other end and fitted this in place of the in-line filter, No more problems on 3 hour trip home and used like this for 5 more days until new filter fitted.

    Henry
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    On a rally in France I was travelling behind a French friend when he stopped I also stopped and he declared he was out of fuel. He had lent his 5 litre back up fuel to someone else that morning. He doesn't speak English and I don't speak French but he made me understand to start my car and not touch the accelerator. He removed the fuel line from my fuel pump to the carby and put it into his 5 litre container. Just letting my car idle almost filled the 5 litres from what was in my fuel bowl. Dropped the fuel in his tank and we both got underway again.
    Last edited by Sunroof; 27th December 2018 at 09:37 PM.
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    Having owned and driven an early R16 in rallies and autokhanas, most of it's working parts were constantly in fear of their lives. So it was that on returning from an RCCD excursion to somewhere I can't remember, whilst cruising swiftly, comfortably and quietly home, there came about a disconnect between the engine speed and the road speed, and the speedo needle gradually dropped to the stop at 0 mp/h, whilst the engine sat quietly on 760 rpm after selecting neutral.

    Pressing the accelerator had no effect whatever and then it dawned on me that the pedal had become disconnected from the carburettor. The accelerator cable had snapped. Carrying a spare cable had never entered my mind, but I suppose the constant attempts to use all and more of the 60 available horses might have fatigued the cable a little early in it's life. By some miracle of convenience I had salvaged some old PMG telephone multi cable which I'd stowed in the boot for just such an occasion (not).

    Re-threading this wire through the existing route was obviously impossible, so after observing the direction of effort of the original cable at the carbie I attached (tied!) a single stripped out wire to the butterfly lever and threaded it through a gap under the back of the bonnet near the fresh air inlet and ran the rest of the wire through the driver's wound down window. A tug on the wire induced the engine to rev, so with some judicious hand movements between steering wheel, accelerator and gearshift, forward progress was resumed all the way home and subsequently the next day to the dealer to have a new genuine cable fitted!
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    My wife and I travelling on our honeymoon in the mid 60's from Omeo across the mountains to Albury. Mostly a gravel road back then. Getting late in the afternoon and no passing trafic likely my car stopped. Eventually discovered the carbon brush in the middle of the distributor was broken and had disappeared down into the some where that I couldn't find. I got silver paper from a chocolate and twisted it into another brush. Cannot remember how many k's I had to travel but probably more than 150 k's. I had to replace it about twice.
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    When in the army also back in the 1960's many of the vehicles were left over from the 2WW. A Studebaker truck shattered the distributor cap a long way from base. The Sergeant got a cardboard Cocoa container from a ration pack. It fitted the top of the dizzy and taped it on. He had put 6 tacks into the top so that the rotor passed close to them and then took the insulation off the end of the wires and jambed them under the heads. Then tapped it all up with insulation tape. Got him back to base easily.
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    I drove my R10 for about a year after rebuilding it with a 2L coke bottle as fuel tank for two reasons. One, there was gunk in the fuel tank, and two, I didn't have money to buy more than two litres of petrol at a time. The return line went back into the bottle of course.

    Very good for measuring your fuel consumption accurately.
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    This story has nowhere near the ingenuity shown in all these other posts - but it impressed me at the time!

    Back in about 1982 (before we had kids) my wife and I took her brother (a fitter with the railways) for an early spring drive along the Brindabellas (western boundary of the ACT) in our 70s Subaru wagon - flat 4, with a carburetor (of course).

    We drove to the top of (I think) Mt Ginini, then my wife and I strapped on our cross-country skis and disappeared down a snowy slope, leaving BIL to drive down via the road and meet us lower down. There was a significant delay, and we were starting to get cold and to wonder what could possibly have gone wrong, when he turned up with no apparent problem.

    He explained that after we left he couldn't get the Subaru to start. Somehow he realised that, although we hadn't stopped for long, and the engine had not cooled down, the automatic choke had cooled very quickly in the cold air, causing it to snap the choke flap shut. He was able to use the standard toolkit supplied with cars in that era to get the top off the aircleaner, and then use something from the toolkit (spanner I think) to jam the choke open. Once the engine was running, the choke (bimetallic strip?) soon warmed up again, and normal service was resumed!

    Cheers

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    My wife's uncle rode an old Douglas twin belt drive motor bike from Grafton to Glen Innes years ago and on arriving with no compression on one cylinder removed the head to find the top had broken off the piston, as parts weren't available and he had to get home to go to work he got a piece of a green tree limb and carved out the bottom to clear the con rod and then borrowed a drill and drilled the hole for the gudgen pin put it back together without piston rings and rode it home on one cylinder.
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    Quote Originally Posted by COL View Post
    Going to work one morning many years ago in a Renault 12 wagon that I bought off Ebay for $100, was about 5 Km from where I was working in Young Town Launceston when the car came to a sudden stop.
    Going to work one morning many years ago I bought a R15 for $25 dollars, had pristine tail lights

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    "Apparently, if you break a high voltage and it has to jump it amplifies itself. That is how a Stromberg Converter works as well. Not sure if you guys knows a Stromberg Converter?"
    Frans, back in the late 60's as a lad, I was enthralled by this "snake oil salesman" at the Sydney Royal Easter show. He was demonstrating and selling a small bakerlite piece between each spark plug and HT lead. Must have been Stromberg High Frequency Converters.
    His claims of better fuel economy and more power were convincing. I bought 4 for my Mazda 929....didn't notice any difference. Wonder what I did with them?
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    Quote Originally Posted by Peter J Kent View Post
    My wife's uncle rode an old Douglas twin belt drive motor bike from Grafton to Glen Innes years ago and on arriving with no compression on one cylinder removed the head to find the top had broken off the piston, as parts weren't available and he had to get home to go to work he got a piece of a green tree limb and carved out the bottom to clear the con rod and then borrowed a drill and drilled the hole for the gudgen pin put it back together without piston rings and rode it home on one cylinder.
    Shure! Pull the other one! Reminds me of the time when I drove from Brisbane to Cairns with my wife's nylon stocking for a fan belt. Made it all the way, and drove around for a further six weeks before replacing it with a new belt. Unbelievable, don't you think?
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  17. #17
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    Default Hmmm mmmm

    Hi
    Not sure about that Douglas piston ?? but the rest sound possible. Hmm the carboard dissy on the truck I will reserve my judgement
    My first story was " when I was a kid we 20 kids lived in a hole in the ground, swept the floor of lake-------" just kidding
    I have done a couple of dodgey emergency repairs. We had an old diesel Transit in England, 1983 , and a caravan. This day we went to London to see the Queen, and while getting around the city center, it started to die, then died. We had to pull over in some poor position near the Royal stables by memory.
    Seemed fuel related but I had just filled it up Lots of swearing and looks from the constabulary I got it started and just drivable to some other place. After some time I found the fuel tank line was completely blocked. So I made up a temporary line from ?? on the car and a tin which sat inside on the step and filled it with my spare diesel. Drove back to Dover caravan park with that arrangement stopping to fill it regularly.

    Turns out the problem was a home made rubber fill cap seal that had turned to jelly when it fell in the tank and rotted soft. It was sucked onto the pickup screen and just blocked it totally. Just lucky to happen there with Royal ascent !!! The kids did get to see a bit of the horses etc.
    Jaahn
    I doubt we would be able to do it there these days

  18. #18
    COL
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    Quote Originally Posted by driven View Post
    Going to work one morning many years ago I bought a R15 for $25 dollars, had pristine tail lights
    I actually drove this car home some 200 Km.

    Had to push start it as starter motor was no good.

    When i got it home I replaced the starter motor, both the drive shafts and removed some dodgy wiring and used it was a work car/daily driver for several years.

    Half way through ownership i had to put new tyres on the front that cost nearly as much as buying the car, these tyres are now on my trailer.

    I also used it to tow home the Renault Virage that replaced it.
    Last edited by COL; 28th December 2018 at 11:49 AM.
    Regards Col

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    During the war tyres stuffed with grass weren't unknown. I worked with a bloke that was bent over even walked bent right over. According to him he was about 16 during the war and was dirt bike racing when he blew a tube. Tubes were not obtainable so he stuffed the tyre with grass for the last race and crashed badly when the tyre left the rim, damaging his back for the rest of his life.

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by moulton2speed View Post
    "Apparently, if you break a high voltage and it has to jump it amplifies itself. That is how a Stromberg Converter works as well. Not sure if you guys knows a Stromberg Converter?"
    Frans, back in the late 60's as a lad, I was enthralled by this "snake oil salesman" at the Sydney Royal Easter show. He was demonstrating and selling a small bakerlite piece between each spark plug and HT lead. Must have been Stromberg High Frequency Converters.
    His claims of better fuel economy and more power were convincing. I bought 4 for my Mazda 929....didn't notice any difference. Wonder what I did with them?
    That must've been the same thing because we had it at the Rand Easter Show where he dipped it in grease, oil and other weird substances and everytime the spark was alive and well. This converter, whether it worked or not, would've died a sudden death because of TV interference. In ZA we only got TV in 1975/76.

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  21. #21
    1000+ Posts Frans's Avatar
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    Hack #3.

    This time I thought I was brilliant. My own idea.

    A mate called and asked if I had McPherson strut clamps. No I didn't have and those days the after hours spares and tools were closed more frequently than today. What he did was a private job for a few bucks and that was to replace the shocks on an Audi 80. He thought that he would place it under the car and then jack it up until the strut bolts came through in the engine bay and tighten them up. It didn't work that way because the car lifted beforehand and the bolts remained a long distance away. I went to help him and luckily he managed to compress the coils with a jack supported underneath his workbench to get them in and back to being a unit. I tried as well and with my added weight the bolts still was out of reach.

    Then my fancy idea came to light. I removed a safety belt and secured it on top through one of the holes on the strut tower and dropped it down the inside to the ground. I placed the jack on the safety belt and pulled it tight by hand and then started jacking the car up. The more weight on the jack the more weight on the safety belt that held it down and it didn't slip. We jacked it up and secured two bolts with a few turns and then removed the safety belt clamp and did the same on the other side.

    Frans.
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    This one appeared in South African CAR MAGAZINE.
    A couple of guys were travelling from Jo'burg to Maputa in Mozambique and about three quarters through their trip, the main bearings started knocking. They pulled over, drained the oil into a container, dropped the sump, removed the bearing caps and replaced the bearings with some made from an oil-soaked leather belt, then replaced the oil. They completed their trip to the coast and back to Jo'burg (with the leather bearings), a distance of about 700kms!

    Henry
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    I guess the leather wouldn't make a knocking noise even if there was a small amount of wear. Back in the old days of motoring there was plenty of back yard remedies specially from farmers that might have lived some way from town.

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    Experiment with wooden pistons.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rO-ttUAiVDw

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    I lived in a small country village as a child and there was an old bloke who tried to scrape a living off a few acres. He lived well out of our village. He got too old to ride his bike quite a lot of miles so he decided to build a car getting bits and pieces from the local rubbish dump. Not sure how he got the heavy bits home I guess he conned a neighbour. There wasn't a single major part from the same make of vehicle. Naturally it wasn't registered but once a week he drove in for his supplies. Until one day it just didn't go and he bought it to my father for repairs to the engine. It wasn't too bad to look at from a distance but up close was clearly home built. The body from a 20's car, the engine mounted on a wooden frame which was bolted to the chassis. The seat was a wheat bag on a wooden frame and was quite comfortable. I cannot remember much else other than my father thought the work was pretty good considering that nothing was really meant to go together.

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