The Crazy Repairs We've Done - Page 2 - Alfa Romeo Bulletin Board & Forums
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post #16 of 20 (permalink) Old 12-12-2010, 06:15 PM
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Originally Posted by alfasrule View Post
Here's one for yous guys. Can you quess??? Most unique one. Sorry about the quality.

Attachment 195487
It looks like the shoe string is holding a wedge in to keep the alternator belt tight.
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post #17 of 20 (permalink) Old 12-13-2010, 06:20 AM
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Good guess!!

Here's the story. I was heading from Vermont to Fishkill, NY. Just got done replacing the T-belt. Got to Whitehall, NY and all of a sudden the lights went dim. I stopped the car on a hill and noticed I lost my Alternator Belt, because I forgot to tighten the bolt to the block. Having the Air conditioner belt in the back seat I put it in, and with no bolt, I used an ICESCRAPER to wedge between the block and bracket to apply tension to the belt. The strap, which is tied to the ground strap from the motor to the block on top, was the hold the ICESCRAPER in place. Jump started the car and it worked. I was going to drive home but it held so well I made my round trip with this modification. This was a 700 mile trip. I think I got the Booby Prize !!
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post #18 of 20 (permalink) Old 02-05-2011, 03:22 PM Thread Starter
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Another Boring Sunday

This isn't a crazy repair, it's a normal repair surrounded by a crazy everything else. It's long-winded, so sit back and relax, grab a coffee or a beer and have a good laugh.

Back in the late 60's, when I was about 10, my father built a "Dune Buggy". It was all the rage back then. This was a VW Bug with a fiberglass body (open top) and a shortened wheelbase. And it was street legal.

In the early 80's, my younger brother and I took it for a spin one day. Patrick was in his late teens and I was in my early 20's. We drove up to a section of road called Dirt Mulholland. Back then it was still open to traffic, now it is closed and set-up as a bicycle/walking trail. This is an eight mile section of Mulholland Drive between Topanga Canyon Blvd and Sepulveda Blvd in the Santa Monica Mountains of the Los Angeles, Ca area.

We were having fun getting squirrelly around the corners in the dirt. But we were still bored on the clear and warm Sunday afternoon. We saw a gated dirt road leading down a steep canyon to a private farm/ranch. Since we could drive around the gate and over the embankment, we did, just to see what was down there.

We were having fun going down the steep canyon, dodging small boulders and cactus. After a while the canyon flattened out. Then we hit a big rock. I wasn't driving, so it wasn't my fault! We got out to see why the car wasn't moving. The front wheels were point in different directions and one tire had gone flat. We had bent a tie-rod.

We each grabbed a wheel and pushed and pulled until the wheels were better aligned. The flat tire didn't mean a whole lot as there was only 300 pounds at front bumper and these tires had 8-ply sidewalls.

Then we turned around and started going back up the hill. After a bit we hit a deep rut and had get out and re-adjust the front wheels again. We got a bit further up the hill and found another big rock that changed our alignment one more time. I'm not sure how many times we had to stop and fix the front wheels.

Then we ran out of gas. We had started with a full tank and most certainly had not used up even a quarter of it yet. We found that the bent tie-rod had hit the fuel line as it came out of the gas tank and broke the fuel line off. We then looked back and saw the ominous wet trail. This last boulder had flexed the tie-rod once to many times and now it had broke into two pieces.

There we were. Stuck! At the bottom of a road that had clearly been marked "Private - Do Not Enter". We had a flat tire, a broken tie-rod, a broken fuel line and were out of gas. This was long before cell phones and we had no idea how far away a pay phone was. We weren't even sure which direction we should go.

We walked up the canyon and back towards the paved road we had come in on. We finally got to the paved road to see two guy we knew (worked with, but not buddies) drive by. We hooted and hollered and jumped up and down. They threw empty beer cans at us and floored it as they raced past.

We kept walking. This was the desolated area of Los Angeles. We had a nice view of Los Angeles to the south and The Valley to the north. We were on the top of the ridge looking down. But no houses or private drives on this road. We passed a fire station the was abandoned. We finally found a church up in the middle of nowhere. Oh my, there was a working pay phone too. We had only walked 10 or fifteen miles. Maybe it was closer to 8, but it felt like 100. And there was water! We had been walking in the desert sun without shade or water.

We called several friends before one was at home to answer. This was before answering machines had become common and affordable. Unlike today, if a person wanted to live on the phone, they had to stay at home.

So we told "Wiggy" what tools and parts to bring and how to get to this church, and waited. ... and waited....and waited. We finally called him and asked if he was going to come help us. He said, "I got all the stuff just like you said. Stopped and got gas and two blocks later the police stopped me. They gave me a ticket for having an 'ugly car', so I went home and parked it." . . . "No, I didn't think to send someone else to help you."

Wiggy had stayed true to his name, he wigged out when things got tough. Which is why everybody called him Wiggy.

We were between a rock and a hard place now. We had called all our friends we could trust and Wiggy too. Now we had to call in the reserves, the big guns. We called our Dad. That was the last thing we wanted, was to tell him what we had done and the decisions we had made, and we had used his car to do it in.

So Dad came through, like always. He went to Wiggy's and got the stuff we needed. Dad and our other brother, Pete, showed up at the church in recored time, with water and food to boot. Dad drove us to the chained gate and parked it.

We all walked down to the Buggy and we fixed it. The broken fuel line was a bolt-on part, luckily. We replaced the broken tie-rod and poured a gallon of gas in the tank. Then the four of us hopped in and drove up the hill to where the car was parked.

At some point, near the end of all this, I asked Dad why he hadn't punished us. He said, "After all that you've been through today, I think that's punishment enough."

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post #19 of 20 (permalink) Old 08-27-2011, 01:53 PM Thread Starter
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Be Gentle With That Hammer and Chisel

We were on vacation, August 2011, driving my 1970 Ford F250 from Los Angeles to North Carolina and back. In Arizona (the second day of our three week trip) it started to rain. Near the New Mexico border it changed to a downpour complete with thunder and lightening. Traffic slowed for road construction. Our big 390 began to run rough and died when traffic stopped on I-40. I managed to restart the engine and keep it running at a higher-than-idle speed and drive it down an exit ramp.

At the "Speedy Truck Stop" I asked where a mechanic could be found and the Indian lady said, "I don't know" and went back to doing whatever she had been doing (she worked there). I popped the hood and took a look to find the points had failed. No, I didn't have a spare set, I had just installed these a week ago.

Allie, my "significant other" offered to call the AAA. This was not a suggestion and I couldn't see any other options. Allie called the number on the back of her membership card and was given a second number to call. The second lady she talked to was argumentative about things. The closest city was Gallup, NM, about 20 miles away and in the direction we were headed, but, we were still in Arizona and she wanted to tow us about 100 mile the wrong way. Then, cell phones being what they are, the call got dropped.

I am not a member of AAA, but I have read the by-laws and they state we will get towed to the nearest shop, or to a shop of OUR choice, depending on our dollar sign plan. Allie has been a member for 40 years, has the higher $$$ plan, has only called them three times in the last ten years (including this call), and this is how she gets treated? And, the AAA representative had asked what the number was in case she needed to call us back. She never called us back and never sent a tow-truck.

While Allie was on the phone, I had to to collect my thoughts. The points had failed because the tungsten contact had loosened from the finger and was flopping around. This was supposed to be peened over like a rivet. I had brought my magic bag of tricks (tool box) which included a chisel and hammer. I figured I could try to peen it some. What's the worse I could do? break the points? They're already broken, I can't make em any worse.

So when the call to AAA failed, I took the points out of the distributor and used the tailgate as an anvil. I opened the points, placing the two contacts on either side of the 3/16 sheet metal and proceeded to beat the crap out of them. After a bit of bashing and a few select words, the tungsten contact was one-with-the-finger again and the two contact faces were still touching each other correctly.

I re-installed the points, set the gap and she fired up!. I then set the timing by ear and down the road we went. Some how, I had been able to do all this during a downpour and the low-light of sunset and thick storm clouds. I had kept the points and the distributor dry!

Although we never made it to North Carolina (bad head gasket in Tennessee, a $1000 repair at a shop, and a story of it's own), we did make to Arkansas, Tennessee, Ohio and back home. This same set of points is still in the truck and working just fine. I did stop and buy a spare set, just in-case.

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post #20 of 20 (permalink) Old 09-25-2013, 10:31 AM
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This is an old thread to revive but somehow I got here looking for AC info and can't resist:

It's 1986, I am a young and very poor sailor with a Fiat X19, loved that car, still the most fun to drive of any car I have ever owned, likely because I was too dumb not to. Anyway, I'm on my way from Norfolk to Front Royal where my sister lived who would feed me real food and let me sleep in a real bed when I didn't have duty on a weekend.
Suddenly the thing starts sputtering and misfiring on three of the four cylinders, dumping raw gas into the exhaust system. Being young and stupid I kept trying to get it a bit further down the road driving on the shoulder with cars going by wilding waving their arms and pointing at my car until a lady rolls down her window and screams at me that my cars on fire. With the help of a handy mud puddle I got the fire put out which was 'mostly' just gas burning off out through the tailpipe.

Figured out my distributer cap was cracked and was arching across the connectors which all come off one side on that car. There are no Fiat X19 distributer caps in the middle of nowhere in Virginia (except Charlottesville, where I wasn't) and even if there was I didn't have the money to buy one. Now I'm a radar technician, I understand high voltage so I look around the car for something to insulate the connectors of the distributer cap but all I could come up with was some paper so I folded that up and put it between the connections and started her up. Worked fine for about 30 seconds and then she started sputtering again, paper just was not up to the task. Luckily, there was a gas station/convenience store about a 1/4 mile up the road so I limped on in to their parking lot and turned it off without it catching fire again, much.

Think I had about three dollars in my pocket and I was hungry, frustrated and truth be told a little scared, if I had to leave the car there it would be over a month before I got another weekend off to come back and get my one real possession, the source and embodiment of my individualism and freedom in the extremely structured and impersonal world of military life. So, I went into the store where it was air-conditioned and started looking for inspiration. The Twinkies looked good (did I mention I was young, stupid and hungry) but they would not solve my problem, hmmm... soda sounds good... plastic bottle; now we are getting somewhere but it is pretty thin, what has thicker plastic?... ah ha! Milk jugs. I spend my three dollars on a package of Twinkies and a half gallon of chocolate milk. Ate the Twinkies, drank the chocolate milk (never drink a half gallon of chocolate milk in one go on a hot day) and cut the milk jug into large pieces to wedge between the connectors of the rotor cap.

Fired it up and it ran perfectly all the way into Front Royal where my sister offered to lend me the money for a new rotor cap. Of course, there are no Fiat X19 rotor caps in Front Royal Virginia and I had muster at 0600 Monday morning, on the ship, in Norfolk; so being young and stupid I decided to take the chance and drove back to Norfolk.

Well, God loves stupid children and I made it back with no difficulty whatsoever, even drove it around Norfolk like that for a week until I got paid and could get a new rotor cap.

Last edited by JJordan; 09-25-2013 at 10:54 AM.
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