What's your best automotive "macguyver"? - Alfa Romeo Bulletin Board & Forums
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post #1 of 24 (permalink) Old 04-26-2003, 07:32 PM Thread Starter
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What's your best automotive "macguyver"?

alfacupp's thread on heater core bypassing reminded me of the time a heater hose blew in the middle of nowhere and the only way to get going was to take the remaining good hose and loop the heater circuit bypassing the core. Years later, this and other "repairs" made with what was at hand, jokingly earned me the nickname 'macguyver' (papajams another story for another day). For those who haven't seen the TV series, macguyver was the kind of guy who could make anything out of anything and if the stakes were high enough, could probably move a mountain using only a tube of toothpaste and a lightbulb.
Another time, we have 150 miles left to get home. It's a cold, rainy night on the back roads in the Pocono Mts. and the Subaru craps out; fuel in the tank but none at the carb. The front fuel filter is plugged solid. The repair? Remove the filter and install the lower body portion of a click type pen to connect the hoses. Not very elegant, but worthy of a macguyver.
Last one. Driving school at Bridgehampton race circuit. Some guy in a Mustang needs new brake pads before he's allowed on the track. But the caliper bolts are NOT moving. Rusted solid. The bolts just laughed at liquidwrench type products. "We need a torch", I said. "The track's torch is in the shed but the guy with the key won't be here 'til lunchtime" came the response. "OK", I says, "Who's got a can of hairspray?" Some of the guys, who had gathered to watch, gave me a funny kind of look and slowly backed away while at the same time some of the women moved in for a closer look. A short time later, a can of hairspray appeared (who has hairspray at a racetrack anyway?) I aimed it at the caliper and flicked my bic. Instant torch. The car made the second half of the morning session.
So, what kind of auto related macguyvers have you pulled off?


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post #2 of 24 (permalink) Old 04-28-2003, 05:10 PM
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Early one sunday moring on the way home after a friends bachelor party I snapped the throttle cable in my spider. I coasted off the freeway in some part of town I didn't know. I new I was really screwed when I reallized I could see the cable was snapped because it was getting light out. I promised the wife I would be home before the end of the night. I had to work fast. First I tried some string I found in the gutter. It Snapped the first time I pushed the gas. Next I tried some cheap speaker wire it streched to much and came untied. I was pulling some really thick wire off the top of a chianlink fance and cursing Nicola, Giuseppe,Vittorio and a host of other Italian engineers when I said " -#% Alfa Romeo if its not the throttle cable that brakes it the trunk!" The trunk oh thank you, it is so simple its got to. It took me less time to rig the trunk cable in the throttles place, then it did for me to somber up. Needless to say I didn't make it home before day brake. And when an anger wife asks why didn't you call? [on a pay phone, this was pre cell phones] The best answer isn't " yah like I have any ones left" or "the stripper has all my money." Later I replaced the throttle cable with heavy duty mountain bike brake cable and housing. It is much thicker and is teflon coated, and I replaced the trunk cable the extar long tandom, Bike-for-two, brake cable. Neither have given me a problem since.
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post #3 of 24 (permalink) Old 04-30-2003, 07:48 AM
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Fuel Supply

My brother just got on the road his 101 Spider. He is not much into cars so I have been helping him. The major problem the car had was LOTS of grime in the fuel tank so before we convinced ourselves we HAD to fully clean and coat the tank we were on our way to a car show and felt the: blrrrrrrr blurpo….blrup…! Knowing this might happen to us I had already installed a fuel filter before the fuel pump. I knew it was a fuel supply problem so we managed to get to a gas station, and bought a piece of hose and a fuel jug. I connected the “new fuel line” to the fuel filter and put the switch on. I disconnected the fuel carburetor entrance and waited for the fuel to get there. We finally had good fuel pressure at the carburetor and off we went.
The amazing thing about this story is that I am an Engineer but did not think of this, my brother did. He manages a restaurant and has NO mechanical knowledge but came up with the idea. So we worked together and managed to get to were we needed to go and back home. He gave me the idea and I was able to make it happen.
The fuel tank is being coated at a radiator shop and should be ready this week. The only major thing to change on the Spider is the MC and he’ll be able to take his daughter for ice-cream, his idea fro having the car!

Eliseo Carrillo
101.23....Little Green Spider - now back home with Dr. Rex
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post #4 of 24 (permalink) Old 05-01-2003, 02:57 AM
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Re: Macguyvers

Originally posted by alfacupp
Neither have given me a problem since.
What about the wife? Has she given you any problems since?

When the throttle cable snapped on my Spider, I pulled one off my (at the time) '84 Accord parts car. Trimmed the sheath and voila. I later got a throttle cable in an Alfa grab-bag of parts. But the sheath was too long to fit so I stuck with the customized Honda cable. Not all Alfa throttle cables are the same apparently.

Kai Schorr
105.36 : 1967 Giulia Sprint GT Veloce
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post #5 of 24 (permalink) Old 05-01-2003, 08:03 AM
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I don't have any real McGuyver story. My Alfa's really haven't broken down except for a couple times really close to the shop.

The only story I have that comes close to some of these is one time my boss sent me to Sacramento to pick up a 67 GT Junior and 72 Spider with someone else. I got the car and hopped on the freeway to come back home. It was about 5 pm on a nice summer evening. I was gonna try to make it all the way home without stopping. The clutch felt kinda funny and was slightly slipping but I managed.

When it got dark, I turned the lights on and they were so dim it was like having a parking light on so I drove with the highbeams on. To add to my lighting problem, the interior lights did not work. I did not know how fast I was going, what my oil psi was, how hot the water temp was, and if i had gas. Each time i did a gauge check, I opened my cell phone and held it close to the gauge I was looking at. This gave me just enough light to see the needle.

We did not make it all the way that night so we checking into a hotel about 3/4 way down. We were in the room and my buddy said "why don't we go check out that strip club by the freeway" so we did. We decided to take the Junior cuz it looked a lot better than the spider...you know, always gotta roll up to a strip club in a nice car...ha ha ha. When we were leaving the car did not start and there were a bunch of people out front looking. The starter was stuck! I quickly jumped out of the car and started walking around the parking lot looking for something to beat the starter with while the other guy tried to crank it over. No luck, so I went inside and asked for a broom stick. The lady was quick to reply "what you need one of those for" being the smart *** that i am i replied "I need to beat something really bad" She was hesitant and soon the manager came over with one of the security guards. Ok, time to explain the whole situation. They finally gave me the broom stick and I was off to the parking lot with a few people in pursuit to see what I was going to do. I popped the hood, hit it while my buddy turned the key and....vroom vroom! The people could not believe that I did that to start the car.

We drove to the hotel and got some shut eye. When we went to get into the car in the morning, my friend went and got a stick cuz he was expecting the same thing to happen. I told him it was not needed cuz there were no people standing around, it was going to start this time and it did. When I got on the freeway, the was no clutch left (Kai, I know how you feel) when I got to the base of the grapevine on Interstate 5 I made sure I was going as fast as I could. By this time the speedo cable was broke and I had to rely off my tack...it was at 7000prm in fifth as I started to climb. Before i knew it, I was half way up and in 4th, then 3rd, then 2nd. I think i was doing like 30 mph. I did the same for the next couple hills then it was smooth sailing the rest of the way home.

And that's my story.

Last edited by italcarguy; 05-01-2003 at 08:10 AM.
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post #6 of 24 (permalink) Old 06-12-2003, 02:40 PM
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Most of my car problems seem to happen on the FDR Drive on the East side of Manhattan...hmm maybe I should take another way home/to work...

Manhattan driving is hard on a car and my driving in Manhattan even harder. If I didn't have the oil pan guard on that car I wouldn't be posting and still about once every three or four months we have to take it off and I stand on it while the mechanic beats it back to the proper shape with a hammer. So before the beating it gets shoved up against the oil pan and vibrates the car and once enough to loosen the brakets that hold the muffler up and that thing let go and started dragging. I got to a smalll white patch that offered very little protection from the cars passing by so close the hair on my arms bristled, so I jumped out, cursed a lot and started fishing in the trunk. With a lanyard that I used to keep my baseball cap from disappearing when it blows off my head and a part of a coat hanger from a piece of dry cleaning, I managed to get the muffler far enough off the ground until I could get somewhere and tie it up with some real wire and get it fixed
Maybe not all that MacGyver, but kind of scary since it was on the FDR.
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post #7 of 24 (permalink) Old 06-16-2003, 09:40 AM
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OK, this might be a bit long, but it was amazing to me.......

I was racing my GTV at Willow Springs in Jan. of 1992. I had only been racing with the AROSC for a year or so, and I wasn't (still am not) much of a mechanic. My car was sponsored by Foreign Auto Menders, an all-Alfa shop in Poway, CA. My mechanic, Mark Del Muro was at the track with me. I went out for the final practice session before the race, and only drove 3 or 4 laps. The car was perfect so I brought it back in, and told Mark not to touch it. It was very cold and windy that day. An hour later, we decided to warm up the car before the race. When I started it, a huge pool of oil formed under the car. I paniced! The gasket had blown out of the oil filter. Mark suspected that the pressure relief valve had siezed, as a result of the cold weather. I told Mark that I would tell race control that we would be a scratch. Mark said no. He told me that I needed to find a pan to drian the oil into, some emery cloth and a gas torch.

The ememry cloth we had.

The pan to drain the oil into was Alex Brown's cat box, as their cat travelled with them in the camper. We put the litter into a trash bag, and washed it out. We drianed the oil into that.

The torch we couldn't find.

The race was in 15 minutes. Mark took the bottom of the pan off of the car, and pulled the distributor out. Sure enough, the valve was siezed, and wouldn't release pressure. They began calling cars to pre-grid.

Then, to my amazment, Mark took a bottle of Berryman's Chemtool (basically brake cleaner) and lit the arosol spray ON FIRE (!!!) and used the spray bottle as a torch. The valve popped out!! He told me to put on my driver's suit and strap in. I thought there is no way we are going to make it! They announced last call to the grid! Mark polished the valve w/ emery cloth and reassembled the distributor. He then bolted the bottom of the pan back on (all 30 +/- bolts!). The pace car was leaving the pits. Mark poured the catbox of oil back into the motor, and we fired it up. Off I went, to catch the pace car, which was already thru turn 7.

I had a full head of steam as I came around 9 and the green flag fell.

I am still really proud of the "first place" trophy I won from that race! And it came with a pretty good story, too!

Somewhere I have pictures of Mark torching the pressure relief valve with the aroesol can. If I can find it, I'll post it here tomorrow.
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post #8 of 24 (permalink) Old 06-16-2003, 10:06 AM Thread Starter
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GREAT story!!!


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post #9 of 24 (permalink) Old 07-14-2015, 06:52 AM
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Good Thread to revive...

Driving around New Zealand's South Island after starting in Auckland days earlier. We got halfway over Southern Alps going from Greymouth to Christchurch in my Dad's 1987 Holden Commodore. Can't even remember if it was my brother or me driving. Well back in the late 80's the road over the steepest part was a ripped up mess. Cars and trucks going over it had made big ripples in the road up the worst part.

So we are driving up and the car is jumping up and down like mental going up this long hill. then there is this bang bang bang from under car. We think holy bloody cow we are stuck in the middle of nowhere. We manage to climb under car and the driveshafts rubber mounted ctr bearing is flopping about, the rubber is torn to bits.

In the end we tied a shirt or was it a towel in through splits in rubber a few times to pack it and keep shaft in place. Got to Arthurs Pass to check our handy work and limped back to Christchurch.

There's an amazing viaduct there now over the Otira Gorge.
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Past 1990 164 V6 in NZ

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post #10 of 24 (permalink) Old 09-29-2015, 06:23 PM
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I was traveling back from dropping off someone at the airport with a friend in his Mazda 323. The airport was about 50km's away from home. All of a sardine the car decides to die on us. We coast to a halt under a bridge. Stuck in the middle of nowhere land with not even a farmhouse in sight. Those was the days when a cellphone was still a pipe dream.

We had better fix this tree to tree, farmer style. The motor spun on the starter sounding like no petrol. Crapped my friend out for not putting in petrol but nope he said there was half a tank. Pulled the pipe feeding the carburetor off and there was plenty of fuel coming out there. OK, back to basics it was, next check the spark.

Nothing, not even a glimmer. Not even one excited electron to found near a spark plug. Pulled off the distributor cap and the rotor fell out in three pieces. Oops. Scratched in the glove box and found a tube of super glue and some insulation tape.

Among much laughing and humming of macgyver music, we glued the rotor together and taped the sucker up. Luckily for us we had stopped to grab a few beers before heading home so we had a beer while the glue dried. Maybe we had two.

When we decided the glue was dry we gently pushed the rotor back and clipped the distributor cap back on. With a dum de dum de dum suspense music sung out loud, the key was turned, and lo and behold, the car started up and fell into a perfect idle. We fell about laughing our heads off. When we gathered our wits we hopped into the car and drove off. I am not sure if all of the beers made it back home.

A few days later I saw my friend and asked him if he had replaced the macgyvered rotor. The look of sudden remembrance and uttering of oh hell and back and the sudden rushing off to the parts store told me he had not. Guess that fix was a good un!

Last edited by Alfanutsmurph; 09-30-2015 at 03:04 PM.
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post #11 of 24 (permalink) Old 10-18-2015, 12:33 PM
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WD-40. There are few things as soul satisfying as spraying a non-starting car on a rainy, cold night with WD-40 and then seeing it fire right up as though there was never a problem. It's even more satisfying when you do this with someone else's car and then become an instant hero.

I continue to be surprised at the numbers of people I encounter who've never heard that a spray of WD-40 will disperse moisture from bad ignition wires thereby allowing a dead ignition to come to life. Hint: the WD in the name means "water dispersant" while the 40 was the number of experiments it took to get the formula right.

Jim . . . '72 Super 1300, '70, 1750GTV, 2nd series,
'62, Lancia Flaminia Zagato3c, 2nd series
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post #12 of 24 (permalink) Old 10-18-2015, 01:46 PM
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The throttle cable broke on my (surprise) Range Rover Classic. I pulled out the cable out of the housing, rolled down the (at the time functioning) drivers side window tied the throttle cable to the long combined ice scraper-snow brush I found in the trunk, ran the cable out of the (surprise) rather wide gap between the hood and body. Presto! Hand throttle! Made it home! I hated that car! I still miss that car! I miss it more than I ever hated it, I think.

Alfa Romeo GTV 1750 '69 | Waiting for a 4C | SAABaru '06 | BMW 520i SW `14
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post #13 of 24 (permalink) Old 11-06-2015, 07:12 PM
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1st a w/c t5 tranny into my car,, now.. 180 hp 2.2 ecotec engine
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post #14 of 24 (permalink) Old 11-13-2015, 10:30 PM
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Very good read! Thank you for sharing!
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post #15 of 24 (permalink) Old 11-13-2015, 11:38 PM
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Not my MacGyver moment but it's auto related and so funny. A friend of mine lived about 18 miles from his work at Midas and one day had no ride home. he went to the local Pick n Save in Point Loma California and bought a few cheap items, Slim Jims, cheetoes and a few other odds and ends. He goes up to a guy at the gas station and asks if he can give him a ride home for $10 bucks. The dude says sure since he lives up that way too. He pumps his gas and tries to start his car.... No Go... Ignition switch is henkie.... He says "If I had a soldering iron I could fix this for good". My Friend pulls out a bag from his jacket pocket and says "I've got one".... He bought a $10 butane soldering iron with solder from the Pick N Save just 10 minutes before.... LOL.... They both fixed his ignition switch and the dude gave my friend a ride home for free...
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current and or past: 1987 Milano (Ariel) 1984 GTV6 (Sabrina) 1992 164L (Jill) 1992 164S (Kelly) 1989 Spider Veloce (Julie) 1991 164L (Chris) 1991 Spider (Melissa)
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