Bush Mechanics

Submitted: Friday, Jan 13, 2006 at 10:55
ThreadID: 29650 Views:4314 Replies:11 FollowUps:9
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We've all been there and done that........using a piece of fencing wire to get us out of strife when the ol girl breaks down. Len Beadall used a Mulga branch as a leaf spring substitute, Tom Kruse made a clutch plate from the top of a 44 gallon drum, The Leyland Brothers taught us how to stuff spinifex into a tyre when all their tubes were exhausted and "The Bush Mechanics" used a windscreen washer pump as a fuel pump to enable them to drive (in reverse) back to civilisation (bit questionable).

The truth is, these quick fixes, as far fetched as they may sound when standing in the front bar of the Prairie Hotel (Parachilna SA), may be enough to save your skin or at least save face when the odds seem stacked against you.

My late father (RIP) told me of many bush mechanic tricks that he carried out on his International truck back in the 50's out Leigh Creek way. He didn't have road side assistance, sat nav, RFDS radios or anything like that. Not only do these stories make for interesting listening/reading, but may also be enough to save your own hide in times of trouble.

So go on, have a brag, if you're a self proclaimmed bush mechanic, tell us your story here for the pleasure, entertainment or knowledge of others. Your yarn may be enough to prevent a tragedy, lest we forget all those who have gone before us with the same passion and love of the great outdoors than we all share. (Burke and Wills right through to the Page Family and all those in between.)

Go on ...... I dare you!
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Reply By: bombsquad - Friday, Jan 13, 2006 at 11:09

Friday, Jan 13, 2006 at 11:09
All good points. I'm waiting for the day, and it probably wont be too far away, that we can plug our own laptop or ipod into our vehicles computer, diagnose problems, and override alarms etc to get us out of trouble. One of the lpg fumigation mobs already have a computer controll that can be plugged into a mobile phone and tuned/diagnosed. If this could be done with all modern computer controlled vehicles with a sat phone or your own personal laptop etc it would be a great step forward for remote travell safety

Cheers Andrew
AnswerID: 148263

Follow Up By: Member - Blue (VIC) - Friday, Jan 13, 2006 at 12:00

Friday, Jan 13, 2006 at 12:00
I think my best was about 10ft of electrical wire through the back of the bonnet, across the windscreen and in through the drivers window... Accelerator cable broke on the old Rocky and that got me back into Ballarat for a new cable... Also used electrical wire to hold the gear stick in my old falcon(single rail 4 speed). The nylon retainer thread had stripped out and I was stuck in second. Lashed it down as best I could and it worked well, if kinda clunky...
FollowupID: 401522

Follow Up By: Member - Blue (VIC) - Friday, Jan 13, 2006 at 12:01

Friday, Jan 13, 2006 at 12:01
OK, sleep-dep caused me to hit "follow-up" instead of "reply"... Sorry.
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Follow Up By: Member - Jeff M (WA) - Friday, Jan 13, 2006 at 12:41

Friday, Jan 13, 2006 at 12:41
Everyone always goes on about these electronic faults... I've never been out with a group of people where someone has had an ECU fault... Yeah sure, broken shocks, burnt out cluches, dead batteries, alternator failures, brocken sway bar brackets (me twice!!), oil leaks, cracked radiators, blown hoses. But never an ECU fault.... I think these ECU's make for more reliable motoring and having less chance of being stuck in the middle of whoop whoop.

The only bush mechanic type thing I've needed to do was tie some fencing wire around my sway bar as the bracket snapped, once in Sawyers valley and once in Wilbinga. After the second time I just took the bloody thing off all together, don't have that problem anymore!! ;-)
Funny though, I did about 1000ks the second time with the fencing wire wrapped around the sway bar and it worked brilliantly. You'd never know it was like it!
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Reply By: Member - Reiner G (QLD) - Friday, Jan 13, 2006 at 12:39

Friday, Jan 13, 2006 at 12:39
I had a few Beetles in my days and umongst lots of stories I used a wire through the tunnel around my foot to work the clutch...... the clutch must need nearly 100kg to be operated. Lucky with 28hp it doesnt realy matter how fast you let the clutch out :-)
Wonder what you do those days when the balck box kicks the bucked?
I still like the old bits like carbies and points......... I still got my HJ47 sitting here.
I better take it for a drive this weekend before it thinks I don't love it anymore

AnswerID: 148277

Reply By: Fab - Friday, Jan 13, 2006 at 13:07

Friday, Jan 13, 2006 at 13:07
OK my time for a brag. Mid Jan 2003 I was on one of those outback reliability test trips that most car manufacturers do. We were driving (not yet released) WK Statesmen. Three in total, from Lang Lang, Vic to Alice Springs. The trip was pretty uneventful with the exception of a few blown tyres.

One particular morning when we were leaving Marree to head up the Ooanadata Track to William Creek then on to Marla, we were refueling at the Roadhouse in Marree. There was a bloke there who asked us where we were heading etc etc etc. His comment was "You boys will never make it in them cars".

Well as it turns out, he was almost right. I was driving the lead car being careful to wash off speed before any washaways then hitting the gas to lift the nose up as I went through. The guy in the second car, who had never seen a dirt road in his life, wasn't blessed with this knowledge.

About 50kays north of Marree......wham O. The second Statey collected a ton of rocks (any one who's been up this track knows how sharp these things are) and stuck them straight through the galv sump guard (more of a air baffel really) and straight into the alloy sump all at about 90 kmph. Dumped all the oil and that was that. The hole in the sump was about the size of a tennis ball.

Try finding a spare sump for a prototype vehicle in the middle of the South Australian outback. Common sense told us we should tow it back to Marree. But with pride at stake, that wasn't an option.

I used a bit of scrap corrugated iron we found on the side of the road, a ball peen hammer and moulded the iron into the shape of the sump where the hole was. Then using Toyota FIPG (Form in place gasket, the black stuff), and a hand full of tex screws I stuck the iron patch over the hole. We waited about 2 hours for the FIPG to cure, filled up the oil and away we went.

Sure it leaked a little (lost about another 2 litres before Alice), but hey we got there. Got some great pics of the repair and oil slick on the Oanadata Track. We cleaned it up using kitty litter of course ;) Wouldn't want to upset the EPA would we?
AnswerID: 148281

Reply By: Member - Collyn R (WA) - Friday, Jan 13, 2006 at 13:20

Friday, Jan 13, 2006 at 13:20
Not that original - but I brought our OKA from mid -Victoria to Newcastle one Xmas on front-wheel drive only (using Hi 4) when a rear axle shaft snapped.

I pulled out both drive shafts and made up blanking plates from a plastic cutting board to seal the axle tubes. Was on the orad again an hour later.

Steering was a bit odd on full power but we travelled about 1700 km with no problems.
Collyn Rivers
AnswerID: 148285

Reply By: nickoff - Friday, Jan 13, 2006 at 13:25

Friday, Jan 13, 2006 at 13:25
Had similar faults and fixes with various cars over the years, having fixed a holed radiator with needle nose plyers and 5 minute araldite by squeezing the aradite down the broken tubes and folding the ends over. That repair lasted "for ever" but my brother approach to same problem was differant. Holed his radiator in his ute. Took it out, laid it on some plastic sheet, made a slurry from some cement he had on site, poured it through and around the hole and left it to set. Was still there three years lated when he wrecked it.

AnswerID: 148287

Reply By: Member - Davoe (Widgiemooltha) - Friday, Jan 13, 2006 at 15:18

Friday, Jan 13, 2006 at 15:18
nearly lost my front wheel near the SA WA Border GCR. So I went back with a torch and found the bearing then found the big nut. Put it back together with hammer and screwdriver (dont carry sockets that big. I then jammed a small screwdriver into the big nut to act as a lock nut and drove it back to yulara.
i cleaned the bearing out of sand with water and lubed it with diff oil.

Straightened a bent steering rod using a 12 mill socket, multi grips and tyhe factory jack
BTW Len Beadal never made a clutch out of a 44 - that was someone else
AnswerID: 148321

Follow Up By: Member - Jack - Friday, Jan 13, 2006 at 15:30

Friday, Jan 13, 2006 at 15:30
"BTW Len Beadal never made a clutch out of a 44 - that was someone else"

I seem to recall reading that it was Tom Kruse who did the 44 gallon clutch thing. Got his book here, so will go check it out.

The hurrieder I go, the behinder I get. (Lewis Carroll-Alice In Wonderland)

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Follow Up By: Member - Davoe (Widgiemooltha) - Friday, Jan 13, 2006 at 15:31

Friday, Jan 13, 2006 at 15:31
Sorry i meant Tom Cruise coz he never did it either
FollowupID: 401577

Follow Up By: Member - Blue (VIC) - Friday, Jan 13, 2006 at 15:54

Friday, Jan 13, 2006 at 15:54
Tom was too busy suprising people for dinner...
FollowupID: 401584

Follow Up By: Member - Davoe (Widgiemooltha) - Friday, Jan 13, 2006 at 16:08

Friday, Jan 13, 2006 at 16:08
doh I meant Kruse and no he still didnt do it from memory it was another mailman while Tom was taking a stint driving elsewhere
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Follow Up By: Member - Jack - Friday, Jan 13, 2006 at 18:58

Friday, Jan 13, 2006 at 18:58
Aaarrgghhh!!! This has been driving me nuts since it started.

Anyway .... Page 52 of "Mailman of the Birdsville Track" by Kristin Weidenbach states that the three people involved with the "44 gallon drum clutchplate" were Ken Crombie and his nephew George Williams. They were in a Diamond T truck that broke a stub axle. They knew Wally Blucher (another of Harry Ding's drivers) would be along and so they waited for a lift back to Marree. Wally came along and the three of them piled into the Leyland.

There was a thunderstorm and the Leyland got bogged at Sheedy's Hole on the Diamantina. It was there that they fashioned the clutch plate from the top and bottom of a 44 gallon drum. It took them 3 days to fix it and get the truck moving again.

Hope this helps ... now we can all get some sleep. : )

The hurrieder I go, the behinder I get. (Lewis Carroll-Alice In Wonderland)

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Follow Up By: Member - Davoe (Widgiemooltha) - Friday, Jan 13, 2006 at 19:09

Friday, Jan 13, 2006 at 19:09
Its not that I am a history Buff but I am 1/2 way throught the book and It was as you said other of Dings drivers - Tom was Taking a break from the Track elsewhere. I seem to recall in the book he actually coments that he was eronously credited with the effort and scarcly believed it until he came accross the remains of the drum chisseled out when He started the BT mail run again
FollowupID: 401645

Reply By: Sand Man (SA) - Friday, Jan 13, 2006 at 16:37

Friday, Jan 13, 2006 at 16:37
Slightly off topic but.... I didn't like the Prairie Hotel....too touristy for my liking and nor really indicitive of a good outback pub.

But that's just me. Other's may think it the best experience "they" have ever experienced. (God help them)

I'm diagonally parked in a parallel Universe!

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AnswerID: 148344

Reply By: Willem - Friday, Jan 13, 2006 at 20:04

Friday, Jan 13, 2006 at 20:04
Do a search of the archives.

I did a number of Bush Mechanics posts in 2003 and onwards commencing at post 6642 and so did Truckster

Some of the tales over the years have got some forumites very hot under the collar LOL
AnswerID: 148403

Reply By: JJ - Saturday, Jan 14, 2006 at 09:32

Saturday, Jan 14, 2006 at 09:32
1) My parents owned a servo/motel on the Eyre H'way when the H'way was dirt. One common occurence was leaking petrol tanks.
To repair: scrape quantity of flakes from bar of soap, get equal amount of fine 'bulldust' off the wheels and mix to a firm paste with 'spit'. Apply to cleaned area over split in tank pressing on firmly.

These days wheel design doesn't allow bulldust to collect as easily, and many people use liquid soap. So talc powder & liquid soap (minus spit) should work equally as well.
Worth a try in an emergency.

2) Towing a 32ft tri-axel van around Oz in the '80s, done a spring between Halls Creek & Fitzroy. Wire, rope and greenstick got us through to Perth where it was replaced, but probably would have got us back to Berri SA.
Mind you, I guess six springs would be easier to contend with than two!

AnswerID: 148489

Reply By: kesh - Saturday, Jan 14, 2006 at 10:56

Saturday, Jan 14, 2006 at 10:56
Many years ago an engine mount rubber on my XW Falcon ute gave out so a length of no.8 wire was hooked onto the top suspension housing, under the sump (after jacking the motor up level) then onto the opposite housing.
About 3 months later, having nearly forgotten about it, I took off from an in town intersection in a bit of a rush (60km. from home) and the torque reaction from the old donk lifted it up and sideways with the fan neatly slicing off the top radiator hose.
In those days, hitching a ride home wasnt the effort it is today, and an unlocked vehicle on the side of the road generally left alone too!

AnswerID: 148502

Reply By: Bob Y. - Qld - Saturday, Jan 14, 2006 at 16:08

Saturday, Jan 14, 2006 at 16:08

Grading a fire break, around midnight, just north of where the now-defunct Frewena roadhouse once was, when the lights started to fade. Was an old Cat grader, with 6volt battery, and cells were very low.

Piddled in a tin, and poured the contents into the battery. Lights improved, may have even been better than before!!! Got the idea from my grandfather, who many, many years before, was travelling between Sydney and Newscastle. They ran out of water for their carbide lights, and piddled in them to provide "an excellent light" unquote.

Another time, in the Kimberly, broke both engine mount arms, on a FJ45. Poked 2 crowbars, one from each side under the sump, wired into position, and limped back to the station. Not too popular on our return either!!!

Best part of the "Bush Mechanics", other than the topless bird on Cable beach, was the blanket windscreen wipers. Ingenious, and better the ones you get these days.

Seen it all, Done it all.
Can't remember most of it.

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