Join Date: May 2008
Location: Venice, California, USA
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."
Racer Z ... 2015 Alfa Romeo 4C
2017 Alfa Romeo Ti Q2