This is a collection of stories from MG owners about makeshift repairs performed on their cars when necessity reared its ugly head. Most of these stories were first written on the MG Enthusiast’s BBS. Credit is given wherever possible. E-mail me if you have a story to share!

My first quick fix was on my first car, a 68 Rambler American. Snapped the exhaust pipe in two ahead of the muffler so took an old metal OJ can, cut out both ends and sliced it down the side, curled it around the broken pipe and clamped it down with two or three screw type hose clamps.

Damn thing held up without a leak for the next three years and may still be there.

– Ralph H.

I was on a road rally in a mountain when my Vega (mine was a good one) started to loose power on acceleration but would idle great. I had to finish crawling up the mountain and coasting into the small town at the bottom of of the hill into a gas station. Started to check everything from gas to spark. I had gas but kept loosing spark. Turns out my condenser bracket cracked and I was loosing my ground. Tried to get a new one, but he did not have one. I asked if he had a small heater hose clamp, then used that to reclamp the condenser tight to the bracket and got a solid ground. This was a TSD rally and I had to make up 1 1/2hrs. We missed lunch, but got back on track. Not too hard when you’re going 80 -100 mph.

– Jeff Becker

Many years ago, I owned an old Volvo 144 station wagon with dual SU carbs. My wife and I were driving to a friend’s house, late one evening. It was winter, freezing cold, (well below 0 degrees F.) out in the country, and many miles away from civilization, service stations or telephones, and I had no tools or spare parts, except a pocketknife, my wife’s small pocket flashlight, and a few odd sized bolts and nuts, and chunk of greasy rag in the trunk. As I was driving down the road, my wife stated that she smelled gas, almost at the same time as the engine began to run rough. A minute later, the engine quit, and would not restart. Using the flashlight, I pulled the cover of the plastic air cleaner off, (held with removable metal clips) so I could see the carburetor air intakes. A quick look in the front carburetor confirmed the problem, which was that the front carburettor was flooding, and leaking copious quantities of gasoline out the main jet and into the engine. The excess fuel would not allow the engine to start or run. I grabbed a suitably sized rock from the roadside, and gently bashed the offending carb float chamber, hoping to dislodge whatever was jamming the needle valve open. The banging did not work, even after numerous attempts.

By this time my hands were blue from the cold, so I got back in the car and waited, hoping that someone would drive by, but no one came. After warming my hands under my armpits, I again lifted the hood, and surveyed the situation. Finally, an inspiration hit me. I pulled out my pocket knife, and cut the fuel line going to the front carburetor. I then took an old rusty bolt from the trunk, and forced it into the end of the fuel supply hose, to prevent fuel from being pumped out of it. I then took a hunk of dirty rag, that had also been in the trunk, and stuffed it into the air intake of the front carburetor. I then got in the car, and turned the key. The engine cranked for what seemed like forever, and then started. The engine ran very rough on only one carburetor, and had almost no power, but by slipping the clutch, I was able to nurse the car some 25 miles to my friend’s house, where we spent the night.

Next day, using my friend’s tools, I removed the float bowl cover, and found that the needle valve was jammed open by what appeared to be a large flake of rust! After cleaning the needle and seat, and replacing the hacked fuel line with a new one, the engine started, and ran beautifully. As a precaution, I installed a high quality inline fuel filter, just before the carburetors! I often wonder what would have happened, had I not been able to get the car running that cold evening, in the middle of nowhere?

– Glenn

I was in high school and had a real junker of a car–a ’51 Buick, rusty, bad transmission and by all rights should have already been in the scrap heap. But, it only cost $12.50, and it ran. One day I accelerated too hard, and, having a torque tube type drive shaft, worn rear suspension and weak motor mounts, the engine was pushed forward into the radiator about 1 inch, which allowed the coolant to immediately escape. A new (or even used) radiator was out of the question for a car of this condition, so a friend suggested that we just dramatically increase the amount of coolant capacity. We welded a couple of ports onto a thirty gallon drum, and fastened it to the front of the car where the radiator and fan used to be and filled it with water. Drove it like that until winter hit. By then I’d saved up $25 and bought a ’53 Hudson, which I drove until shortly after I graduated from high school and got my first real paycheck.

– R.L. Carleen

I drove an MGA in college. The bolts holding the drive shaft to the differential were loosening for weeks. I did not know what the vibration was or really care at that age. They finally let go and the drive shaft dropped to the ground. On a rainy night, I used the four nuts and bolt securing my license plate to hold the drive shaft in place. Tightened them with a pair of vice grips and was on my way-for weeks. I put the license plate back on with some speaker wire. Ahhhh….those were the days. Doh!

– Pete W.

On the way to a wedding in my ’82 Olds, my brake shoes disintegrated and the wheel cylinder blew out on one of the rear wheels. So dressed in a suit I removed all the brake components for that wheel, vice gripped the rubber brake line and wired the vice grips to the frame, and drove the rest of the way with brakes on only three wheels.

– Mark Michalak

Putting the head back on my Dad’s Dodge Dart’s slant-6 engine, one of the head bolts (not studs!) stripped out. I just left it. No trouble for the next 3 years he owned it.

– David Breneman

A friend of mine had the throttle cable break on his daughter’s Citroen 2CV. He ran a piece of string from the throttle, out of the hood somehow and up to the driver’s window to control speed.

– Art

Once I installed a new front fender. I couldn’t get the holes lined up no matter how hard I tried. So I attached it with plastic zip ties and drove it for a year that way.

– Steve Simmons

My first venture into MGA’s was back in 1963 in high school when for the exorbitant price of $350 I bought a 1957 MGA 1500 Roadster. I lived in a snow belt part of the country and of course drove the car year round thru salt and sand. As I noticed the rockers beginning to disintegrate and start to flap I decided a quick fix would be to wedge a lenght of 2X4 inside to give it some support. This worked for several months and the in the summer a friend of mine, who fancied himself a body mechanic, said he would fix the car up for me. I gave it to him on a Friday night. When I saw him again on the Monday morning he looked a little the worse for wear. He wanted to know who the idiot was that put the wood inside the rockers. Apparently he had begun work with a torch and before long had the flames licking up the door panels and smoke filling the garage which was actually in the basement of his house. I of course pleaded ignorance to the fact and blamed the DPO !!!

– Michael Hosier

I have several stories about the same car. Several years ago, I sold real estate for a hobby. It was supposed to be for a living, but since I never made any money at it, I think that it was a hobby. Anyways, I had an 86 Ford Escort which a friend spilled some muriatic acid into the interior, rusted everything inside, and the fuel pump and electric seat belts didn’t work after that. I wired a bypass wire to the #12 pin of the ecm, and backfed the fuel pump relay and seat belt relay. It was that way when I got rid of the car, about 3 years later.
One day, I was entering the freeway when I got distracted by something or other in the left lane, and went over the curb at 60 mph, and blew my tire and bent my lower control arm. The tire had a permanent camber of about 30 degrees off of factory spec. I replaced the tire, and went on my way to work, where the CV joint bellows blew out. Drove it home and repaired the car. Later the tie rod gave out. I took a coat hanger, aligned the tie rod and wrapped it up nice and tight. I drove home at 40 mph, very steady and no problems.
Another time, the fuel pump would not come on during startup, I had to prime the pump by pouring gasoline down the throttle body to start it, after which the pump ran. Turned out to be a 2K resistor on the wheel well.
Another time, the fuel pump gave out about 40 miles from home. I took a boat gas can with the squeeze bulb on it, added a suitable length of hose and finished it with a piece of 1/4 stainless steel line, crimped at the end to simulate a nozzle. With the boat gas can in the car and a hose passing from the drivers window under the hood into the throttle body, I hand pumped the car home at about 40 mph, no problems unless I squeezed the hose bulb too hard, where the car would backfire. BTW, I’ve since used this method about 3 times on other peoples fuel injected cars to rescue them.
When the trans gave out, I rebuilt it and got rid of it.

– Mike Parker

In the early 70’s, my wife and I drove everywhere in our ’62 MKII, so roadside repairs were not uncommon. One of the most memorable was a trip through New Hampshire when the fuel pump (original Lucas) kept dying. The rocker arm in the pump was getting stuck, so to get to our destination we removed the battery cover and I continually tapped the pump with a wrench with my right hand, left hand steering and called out what gear I needed to my wife. I’d hit the clutch and she would shift for me. We finally pulled over in an empty parking lot and I removed the pump, fixed the rocker arm problem by fashioning a washer from a paper clip to give the pivot arm a bit more clearance and put it all back together. Around that time a State Trooper pulled up and told us to move out quickly – the reason the parking lot was empty was that someone had called in a bomb scare to the nearby factory!

– Ken Doris

While not me personally, I heard this one last night at a party I was at. I had driven the A to the party and struck up a conversation with a gent who had an MGA years ago. This is his story….Seems the previous owner had replaced the 2 batteries with a single 12 volter. But put it behind the driver’s seat. He and his wife were out driving when the car died. He diagnosed the problem to a broken battery ground wire. A simple solution was to hold the wire against the battery post. But since the battery was behind him, he couldn’t do that. So his wife, who didn’t know how to drive stick shift, took the driver’s seat and he took the passenger seat holding the wire to the battery terminal. She would steer and clutch upon his command. He would hold the wire and shift. She killed the engine several times trying to start out. He suggested that she give the car more gas and so she did. It drove her seatback back pinching his hand against the rear floor panel. All ended well though. And they got to their destination.

I love how these cars just force stories out of people you meet.

– Chuck Schaefer

My first car was a 59 Chev. My dad had the car for 10 years and it was in pretty bad shape but I was 16 and it ran. The holes in the floor weren’t so bad in the summer but were murder in winter considering the heater didn’t work. The trunk was so big we would sneak 6 kids into the Penetang drive in on a sat. night. One day we are driving along and the exhaust pipe broke spewing fumes through the holes in the floor. Of course no tools so we started walking along the roadside until we found enough of this and to come up with a workable repair that lasted several weeks. The other thing we would do as the rust started to make the chrome trim loose and vibrate at highway speeds was to stick it down with chewing gum. Darn I miss that car, It was so wide you could lay across the front seat and not hit either door assuming of course your girlfriend wasn’t taller than you.

– Kris Sorensen

In 1978, my wife and I were driving miles from nowhere in a 74 BGT going around 70 mph. When we crossed over the joint in the highway between the road and a bridge, the engine acted like I had turned it off. We coasted to the side of the road, off the bridge, and raised the hood. Like I thought, no spark to the plugs and no idea what caused the problem. Being miles from the nearest phone, I began to look at everything, twice! While checking to see if the points were working, I noticed a small, two inch wire under the distributor cap was broken. It was a cloth covered wire and only had a few strands of metal. Too short to reconnect, I started walking for help. About 50 feet from the car, I looked down and found what appeared to be a small piece of speaker wire. Weee Haaa! I cut it with my key and joined the two ends of the original wire. The car started and drove us back 35 miles to the dealer, where I bought the new wire for a buck fifty.

– Cleve

Haven’t had the MGA running yet so no fix-it stories but i had a MGB in high school and had a fuel pump with some sticky points. It broke down along the road and while tinkering I could get it to run if i continuously tapped it but that is tough to do while driving so i rigged up a string that i tied to the pump body and snaked to the cockpit and while driving i giggled the string to keep the fuel pump shaking and the points functioning. it got me home!!!!

– Doug Holdt

Driving from San Diego, California (Sea Level) up to Flagstaff, Arizona (7,800 feet!) required a few Lucas Distributor adjustments to make it up that long, continuous hill. The “Vernier” wasn’t able to cope so you had to loosen the distributor clamp bolt to rotate the “dis”. You guessed it, BROKE THE DISTRIBUTOR HOUSING UNDER THE CLAMP BOLT! Like most other “real” MG guys, I always had a NEW spare electric fuel pump, NEW points-plugs-condenser and pre-wired & working distributor CAP with HV wires already attached in the trunk; but, alas, NO complete distributor! I wrapped two COAT HANGER WIRES around the “dis” and “cross-wired” it to frame members to keep it from moving. Worked like that for MONTHS while I saved up for the new “dis”!

– William

On a road trip to the GT in Virginia 2 yrs ago, I was on the Blue Ridge Parkway when the car started to have no power at all. Pulled over and found the carb’s damper unscrewed from the chamber and hanging out of the piston by about 1-1/2″ or so. I tried to screw it back down but the threads were stripped. With no replacement parts in the trunk, I took a piece of duct tape, and tore it in half lengthwise making a piece about 3/4″ wide and 7 inches long. Attached one side to the chamber, up over the top and down the other side of the chamber. Then did the same again at 90 degrees to the first forming an “X” across the top of the damper and down the chamber in 4 places. The car ran great (except for the generator bearing which is another story).Finished the trip to the GT and then home another 1,000+ miles.

When I got back home, I found if I swapped out the front damper to the rear and vice versa, there was enough thread left to secure them both. Remains the same today.

– Chuck Schaefer

Many years ago and in a different life, I drove 10 wheel transport trucks across the western U.S. particularly Idaho, Nevada & Wyoming. You know what I’m talking about…….nearest civilization, hundreds of miles away.

The brand of truck that we used had a real issue with accelerator cables, these were made with a small metal ball on one end that would fit inside a plastic cup connected to the injector pump. These cups would routinely wear out and were unable to hold the cable. One night in the middle of nowhere, Nevada I had one let go. The only thing available was a large paper clip used for holding shipping documents. I was able to smash it down on end to hold the ball and thread it through the bracket on the injector pump at the other end. It held up for two days until I could have it fixed. I learned to carry spare clips all the time.

Two other things that have proven very useful in the past but without boring you with the details:

Panty hose make great temporary fan belts.
Coca-Cola can be used as coolant when nothing else is available.

A man’s got to do what a man’s got to do!

– Clayton Merchant

Back about 1968 I had a friend who had a pastel green and white ’58 Plymouth with a flathead 6 engine. This is one of Chrysler’s cars that was at the peak of their tail fin era. This car was huge, and the flathead motor could only get it up to about 75 mph. and it took a LONG time to get to that speed. The car was suffering from severe rust around the headlights and on the passengers compartment floor and trunk floor. The headlights we fixed with copious amounts of Bondo, and spray cans and for the interior floor we decided to pop rivet some sheet metal. We used galvanized duct work metal purchased from a local heating contractor. We bought a sheet that was about 3×5 feet and pulled both of the bench seats out and went to work. We tackled the drivers side first and soon discovered that the rust was so far spread that we would have to use the entire sheet on that side. We needed to go back to the furnace shop to pick up another sheet of galvanized. Well, it seemed like too much trouble to bolt the front seat back to the floor to do this, so my friend sat a bucket upside down on the floor and the rest of us sat on the floor and we drove to get the sheet metal that way! It still cracks me up every time I think about it. Of course we all had to kid my friend about finally having a bucket seat.

– Ralph

God forbid! I repaired a leaking T-stat housing gasket with….no gasket, just a thin coating of Permatex Ultra Blue sealant as an “emergency” roadside repair. 6 months later, even with NO leakage, I finally did succumb to a new gasket for the housing and sealed it with …. you guessed it, the Ultra Blue sealant. The horror, the shame! 😉

We once had a guy in our college crowd who quieted an old XK-120 gearbox for a quick sale by packing it with …. bananas, peels and all. Packed along with saw dust and gear oil (which he had tried previously). Together, they did the trick long enough to get the car sold (sorry, sold as is). What a wonderful surprise for some mechanic.

– Bob Muenchausen

I’ve done a number of roadside quick fixes over the years on a variety of vehicles including MGs but my most inventive fix occurred driving my ’63 Pontiac Tempest home from a date at the drive-in when the accelerator return spring broke, the pedal went to the floor and stayed there. I killed the ignition and coasted to the side of the road and looked under the hood and saw the problem. Where was I going to find a spring, I scrounged around in the glove box and found a rubber band but it broke right away. Where could I find a stronger elastic and then it hit me, the young lady with me was rather well endowed and I had discovered just how taught the elastic strap of her bra was earlier in the evening. It took awhile but I finally convinced her to contribute the bra or walk home. I wrapped it around the power steering pump bracket several times and then stretched the back strap the 6 inches or so I needed to reach the linkage. It wasn’t perfect but it worked well enough to get us both home. FWIW, that was our last date.

– Frank Graham

Having lived with my MGA for the last 12 years I have had a few roadside repairs forced on me.
The worst I had was when driving back from Silverstone (MG Meet) to Brussels when I smelt, and then saw, burning under the dash. It had just got dark and I was on the famous Jabekke stratch of motorway (famous for the speed trials made there in the past). Now the first thing that happened was all went black, no lights, no power, nothing. I am still worried about the fire I had seen just above my legs so do a very quick stop on the hard shoulder and jump out like a lunatic who thinks he’s on fire!!!
As the drive from Silverstone was made with the roof down and it had been vary sunny I was already suffering from burns of another nature and I am sure that people must have laughed at the sight of a red bloke exiting an MG at high speed then running back to see if it was still on fire.
Anyway, the upshot was that the wiring loom under the dash had shorted on the ignition switch and light circuits. This was no problem to me though as I had bought a large amount of cable from the Silverstone event and carried a full (or fool) toolkit!! I therefore set about knitting myself some new wiring and ended up with hard wiring the light circuit (to be always on) and nice hotwiring job on the ignition.
During the process it started to thunder and lightening and eventually rain, big drops started to fall. Hood up and carry on.
Only problem then was getting a car to stop then to jump start the handiwork. After a half hour of arm waving and no reaction I had to admit defeat and call the breakdown service who arrived in 10 mins.
5 minutes later I was on my way again.

– Neil Purves

My Renault 16 (wonderful car!) was very worn and built up a lot of crankcase-pressure. As a result of that it was blowing to much oil into the air filter, clogging it. So to relieve the pressure a friend and I hammered a crossheaded screwdriver through the metal oil filler cap (I was 19 then…..). After this butchering I started the car and to our hilarious amazement the cap had turned into a rather loud whistle! We drove around a few days in our new Renault “Turbo” with tears in our eyes from laughter!

– Willem van der Veer

In 1980, I was 26 years old, and had just finished a complete frame up restoration on my MGA 1500. After putting 500 break in miles on the freshly rebuilt engine and changing the oil, I figured that a good shakedown run would be to drive the car from Ontario to Nova Scotia!!!! Being young, foolish and highly optimistic, I ignored the naysayers, who told me my British hunk of junk would never make the several thousand mile journey. My Cousin Barry decided to be my partner in crime. We decided to make the entire trip in top down mode, and damn the weather. (if it ain’t raining or snowing too hard to see, the top stays down) We loaded the trunk with tools and spare parts, and the cockpit with clothes, tent, sleeping bags, etc. It was summer, and beautiful weather. We drove through Ontario, into Quebec, where we found that we could not get any service or assistance at restaurants and gas stations because we spoke no French! Next day we drove on and camped in New Brunswick, where we had our tent flooded out by rain. We hit a section of highway where there was NO SERVICE CENTER or CIVILIZATION for 250 miles! Nothing but trees and rocks! We Continued our (top down) drive through NB despite light rain. Got through the 250 mile no man’s land without incident. We then camped in Nova Scotia, and then continued our drive still top down in beautiful weather About 4:0 PM we were on a downhill run into Lunenburg Nova Scota, when the engine started running rough, missing, and then quit. We coasted, motorless into Lunenburg, and found that the ENTIRE electrical system was dead! No lights, horn, turn signals, ignition, or anything else! Barry was talking about hiring a flatbed to trailer the car back to Ontario because of our “catastrophic electrical failure” When I jacked up the car and looked underneath, I immediately located the problem. I had forgotten to secure the battery cable to the underside of the car! The cable had migrated close to the driveshaft. The rotating driveshaft had cut clean through the battery cable! Fortunately, not a block away was a small Marina. I obtained a cable splice for $2.45, and installed it on the severed cable. After securing the cable with a chunk of roadside wire, we continued on our trip. The car performed flawlessly thereafter, and we had a wonderful trip, and an adventure that we still reminisce about today. I never did get around to replacing the battery cable, which still has the (working) emergency cable splice in place!!!! While we were on our trip, people everywhere stopped to look at the MG, and would invariably ask in disbelief “You drove all the way from Ontario
in THAT? ”

– Glenn

Back in the mid 70’s I had a 73 Corvette. This car has one leaf spring over the differential (placed side to side) and the car hangs from it.
It was a winter night and I was driving back from Edmonton to Montreal. I was in Ontario about 200 miles from home and all of a sudden, the car dropped. I stopped looked under and saw that the hanger has separated on one side. I continued to drive it as I didn’t have much choice. Then I came to a railroad track. Do I stop or continue? Well I figures the car was busted anyway so I continued. Wham the the leaf spring caught on the tracks, and bent like a pretzel. I took a room and surveyed the damage the next day. They told me it would take two days to get a part. So I told them to cut off the bent portion and put a 2X4 between the frame and the idler arm. They thought I was nuts but they did it and I drove the rest of the way home on a block of wood.

– Mike Trainor

As an 18 year old student running an MGA at college was a little beyond my financial means.

When the oil pressure fell due to lack of oil in the engine, having no funds available to purchase any oil, I borrowed my mothers cooking oil from the kitchen and topped the car up. I was then able to keep using the car (with very low oil pressure) until such times as I could afford to purchase some genuine engine motor oil.

– John Bray

I have just finished installing heating ducts in my new house and used the real duct tape made from aluminum foil. This stuff is amazing. The adhesive is incredible and the tape so ductile. I am sure it has all sorts of possibilities. I just used it to repair a pinhole leak into the trunk of my old V*lv*. There must be 1001 uses for it in emergency situations. It would certainly seal water or gas hoses or a gas tank leak.. Maybe also seal the firewall.

– Art

Typical Brit problem..rear main seal leaked like a sieve. Solution: Drilled a drain hole in the bell housing. Bolted an old peanut butter jar at the drain to serve as a collector. When the jar filled filled up, I dumped the collected oil back into the engine. Solved two problems at once: cut down the mess on the driveway and saved some $$ on oil.

– Bill Mc Daniel

In England back in 1974, I bought one of the first off the line Triumph Dolomite Sprints. The spec was so seductive I just had to have it. After two weeks the car stopped dead on the M1 motorway. Under the bonnet (hood) I saw that the carburetors had fallen off. They joined the head with a bonded rubber joint that had come apart. I had my guitar in the car, so I strapped the carbs back on using the second and third string from the guitar. It got me home and back to the dealer. The dealer had no parts to fix the car, so I drove it for three weeks with my guitar string straps.

– Dan Barton

One day several years ago, I stopped to help a stranded motorist who was driving a Chevy Vega. The Driver told me that the engine had just quit, and wouldn’t re start. After checking for gas in the tank, fuel delivery at the carb, and finding these ok, I pulled the coil wire from the distributor cap, and had him crank the engine. There was lots of spark from the cable to the block. I then pulled a spark plug cable and had him crank the engine. There was NO spark from that spark plug cable, or any other spark plug cable to the block! When I pulled the distributor cap, I immediately saw what the problem was. The distributor cap was a cheapie, and had aluminum contacts inside the cap. All 4 contacts had a heavy buildup of white aluminum corrosion. I spent about ten minutes with a pocket knife, gently scraping the corrosion off the cap terminals. When I popped the cap back in place, the engine fired right up. I told the gentleman to stop at the nearest Canadian Tire store, and to get a new cap with brass contacts inside. The man begged me repeatedly to please take money for the repair, which I refused. I told him he could repay me by helping the next broken down motorist he encountered. He said that he would, shook my hand, thanked me profusely, and drove away, waving as he went.

– Glenn

Back in my college days, when last I drove my MGA, I drove it twice from Massachusetts to North Carolina down to college (about 750 miles). Both times was right after Christmas break in the winter.
When I think about this now, I have to cringe.

The first time, I took along with me about $20 which was about 10 cents more than I needed for gas. Anyway, about half way, my water pump blew.
It was a Saturday, and I had to call and beg my very angry Dad to wire some money to me to buy a water pump, which at the time, I was able to find at an auto parts store. I put it in with the tools I had brought.
The second time, it had to be about -10 deg F when I left the old homestead. I charged up the car just enough to get her started and headed off. I plugged as many old socks in all the cracks and got the car up to a comfortable 45 degrees inside the cockpit. Anyway, somewhere in Connecticut, I started to smell smoke. I thought it was the truck up ahead, until smoke filled the cockpit. I pulled over, and found a fire going underneath my seat, had burned a 6″ diameter hole! I grabbed some handy snow and put it out. I made it the rest of the way without incident.

– Jonathan

Quite a few years ago my wife Doris and I took off on a trip in our 1980 Saab 900 GLE. We were headed for South Texas and decided to visit NASA near Houston. I noticed at a stoplight in Seabrook that the engine was heating up and the cooling fan wasn’t running so I pulled over onto a parking lot right quick. The first thing I did was swap a couple of relays and learned it wasn’t a relay problem. I always carried a short jumper wire in the fuse box and jumped the fan relay and the fan started running. That told me the sensor switch was bad. We did the NASA thing and went on to Galveston having to pull the jumper wire every time we parked the car. I wasn’t about to pay a Saab dealer over a hundred bucks to fix it, but didn’t want to be messing with that jumper all the time either. The next morning we were waiting for the Texas Air Museum to open and I walked to a small aircraft repair facility and bummed a foot long piece of wire with a spade connector on each end. It ended up bumming because the guy wouldn’t take any pay for it. I went back to the car where Doris was waiting, opened the hood, ran the jumper from the output of the remotely mounted fog light relay to the output of the fan relay, reached in, flipped the fog light switch, and the fan came on. Doris just looked at me and said, “Alright smartass, I knew you’d figure a way around it.” We finished out the last 10 days of the trip turning the fan on as needed and I installed a new sensor switch at home for thirty bucks.

– John D. Weimer

I used to race boats… stock outboard runabouts… I carried my
boat on a rack built on top of my 1972 Austin Mini. (This was a sight
in itself).

Driving to a race at about 3 in the morning, on I190, my fuel pump
failed…and no amount of striking with a wrench would get it running

I pulled the fuel line off the carb and plugged it with a spare
bolt…. I then took my Mercury Outboard Racing engine and had my
mechanic balance it in his lap…well, the skeg was resting on the
floor…. I ran a spare fuel line out the passenger window and under
the edge of the hood…and plugged it into the carb. My engine had a
two quart set of tanks…so with this set up we would watch the fuel
go down the clear fuel line and pull over to fill up when the final
bubble appeared… Not only made it to the race, we drove the 200
miles home as well…and only had to fill it up about 25 times.

– Gordon Bruce Lawson

In 1965, driving back to college in a rain storm, my driver’s side
wiper stopped working…just sat there…. Took a coat hanger and a
pair of side cutters and cut a length of wire…wrapped it around the
passenger side wiper, and the other end around the driver’s side…
the one pulled and pushed the other….that set up worked for months.
(and I notice on my new ’53 TD that the system isn’t too far off the
one I used).

– Gordon Bruce Lawson

My first car, really my own, not shared, etc. was a ’64 Mark I Spitfire I found at the back of a car dealership in Fairfax, Va. Oil pooled underneath, all 4 tires flat, heater didn’t work. It was love at first sight and $249.00. I drove it back to SC and was meeting bunch of college buddies up near Myrtle Beach for a week-long Bacchanalia at Ocean Drive, SC. As I cruised down the strip at MB the top was down, the car was purring along, smiling at pneumatic babes when the tailpipe finally rusted free of the muffler. It was puuurrrrrr, then BAHWAAAA! Sounded like a dirt track racer. Very embarrassing and redneck-like. I pulled into a Piggly Wiggly grocery store and analyzed things. The solution became apparent at once. Into the store I go to find the right size canned good I need. Turn out that the big can of canned tomatoes was perfect. A pocketknife was my only tool so I cut the top out of the can, ate the tomatoes (good eatin!), then cut a hole the size of the tailpipe in the other end of the can. Slide the small hole end of the can over the tailpipe, lift it up, then slide it back where a few smacks with the flat of the hand would snug the big end of the can right over the muffler. Done and done, back in business. It would last for several weeks. I never fixed that muffler long as I owned the car, I’d just stop and get another can of tomatoes.

I successfully used the same approach on a later vehicle I owned and loved, a rare (I later learned) plain old ’62 VW transporter. The shifter linkage/rod that goes back to the tranny was held under the cab floor by a right angle bracket with a hole in it. This bracket was necessary for changing gears; when you moved the shift lever you made that rod go forward or backward or rotate. The bracket wore or rotted out so the shift lever had the annoying habit of suddenly dropping down and flopping around. My favorite method of parking lot analysis (in SC) revealed the oft desired renewable solution. A bit of stem from a Palmetto frond, carved a little with the trusty pocketknife to enhance its hollow curve, fit perfectly between the front crossmember and the bracket. Done and done. Shifter starts flopping around? Find the nearest Palmetto tree, common as gnats around here. It was still there when I stupidly gave the van away.

– Wray Lemke

Back in 1976 I drove across Canada, west to east, in my ’66’B. Everything was going along fine until I was in Ontario somewhere north of Lake Superior. My generator light came on out in the middle of nowhere. I had just put a re-built in before leaving San Francisco, and couldn’t believe it. I drove for another hour and stopped for gas. While filling up I pulled the generator out and took off the back plate, holding the brushes. They were very short, so I looked around and found some small twigs and put them in back of the brushes to get some tension back against the commutator. The British parts store was about 200 miles down the road so I decided to chance it. I got to the store bought some brushes and drove another hour to the campsite. On the way, the light came on again. I changed the brushes that night and was on my way in the morning. I drove all day and crossed back into the states at Ste. St. Marie. About 11 that night the light came on again. I pulled over by a street light and re-twigged the brushes again. I drove until 3 am and pulled into a rest stop to sleep. On my way at 5am, in Flint Michigan for gas at 6. I wasn’t sure I’d make it out of there alive. At the border again in Windsor. Searched again, but found a British car enthusiast working there and got directions to a parts place for some more brushes. Headed on to Niagara Falls no red light yet. Another border crossing and searched for the third time in less than 24 hrs. Got home, near Syracuse at 7 pm. My sister was having a party that night so I went. On my way home after, the light came on again. The next day I took the generator to an auto electric place to be re-built. The commutator was out off round because of a bad bushing.

– Dan Wood

In college in the 60’s I bought a Bugeye Sprite. That was my first car and a lot of fun, but also primitive and a bit unreliable if not constantly maintained. I had several roadside emergency repairs, including a failed return spring on the throttle shaft (temp fix using rubber bands), failed accelerator cable (temp fix using a piece of string into cockpit), etc. I always carried a small toolbox with tape, wire, etc. with me. On an 800 mile trip one November from Kansas to Texas with my future bride in the car with me, we were motoring through Oklahoma at night when I noticed that my ammeter was indicating discharge; then the lights started getting dimmer. Stopped beside the road and popped the rear plate off the generator, and sure enough, the brushes were very worn. So shimmed the brushes with folded pieces of gasket material, reinstalled the end plate and off we went with the generator charging fine. That repair lasted maybe an hour, before the lights started dimming again. So coasted into a closed single pump gas station in a one horse town in Oklahoma about 9:00 at night. Pitch black and nothing around – not even more than a few cars on the road, and about 40 degrees, too. What to do? Well, out back of the gas station were a few old hulks of 50\’s cars in the weeds. I eased up the hood on one of them while dogs barked at me from a little ways away, being sure I would be shot any minute, looked in with my flashlight, and as luck would have it, the generator was still in place! So I removed the back plate and removed the brushes from it. The brushes were too big to fit the Sprite generator, but I had in my tool box a small hobbyist razor saw and a worn file. While my girlfriend held the flashlight, I cut and filed the brushes to fit, installed them in the Sprite generator, buttoned everything up, and off we went on down to South Texas without further incident. I will write another time about the broken crankshaft I suffered on another similar trip (also in Oklahoma) and how I repaired the engine under a tree in Nacogdoches, Texas, in order to return to college in Kansas.

– Jim Lentz