Outback ingenuity & bush mechanics - Lessons needed!

Submitted: Friday, Jan 02, 2009 at 17:38
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I am constantly amazed at the ingenuity of some people when it comes to fixing things in the bush. Some people just have that ability to look at a problem and visualise a way to fix it with anything that comes to hand. I’m not one of them! Never having had to rebuild the motor of my vehicle using nothing more than a packet of matches, a rubber band and a paper clip I have found that the past experiences of people found on the web and this site have proved a great boon to me in my travels (Think things like 12V emergency welding and wiring).

When I see posts like Member – Wims describing how they repaired the suspension of a ute with a lump of timber and a few lengths of good old No.8, I figure that others may like to know how to come up with a solution like that should the need ever arise (heaven forbid).

I was thinking of collating any stories of bush mechanic-ing, outback remedies, emergency repairs and solutions that have kept people on the road or gotten them out of trouble and putting them into an article on the Exploroz website (management willing of course).

If anyone has any such stories, photos, articles and were keen to share the experience with fellow travellers, how about emailing them to me at mickolsen13@hotmail.com. I’ll try and get them shaped up and posted ASAP. A fair idea?


Here’s one I was always told in my formulative days of outback travelling when diesel was rare and outback fuel came in drums. I was told to always carry a bottle of metho in your kit. It wasn’t for drinking when the scotch ran out but rather to add half a cup full to any new fuel taken from drums which may have been contaminated by condensation (water). Apparently the metho broke up the water into smaller particles allowing it to mix and pass through with the fuel. Myth or fact I don’t know but I carried metho with me every time I went out.

Cheers Mick


''We knew from the experience of well-known travelers that the
trip would doubtless be attended with much hardship.''
Richard Maurice - 1903

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Reply By: taswegian - Friday, Jan 02, 2009 at 18:11

Friday, Jan 02, 2009 at 18:11
HI MIKE,

Metho does the job in petrol ,but not diesel try acetone .Mix a little water,metho and diesel ...not good.




Cheers,

Tassie.
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Follow Up By: Member - Mick O (VIC) - Friday, Jan 02, 2009 at 18:41

Friday, Jan 02, 2009 at 18:41
Thanks Tassie,

yeah it was for super in those days (1983). I had a Nissan 720 4x4 Ute. Hadn't heard of the acetone one for diesel tho. Thanks.

Cheers Mick
''We knew from the experience of well-known travelers that the
trip would doubtless be attended with much hardship.''
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Reply By: Member - Footloose - Friday, Jan 02, 2009 at 18:43

Friday, Jan 02, 2009 at 18:43
It's not in the same category, but if your bush mechanic ing doesn't work.
Always carry a white sheet. In the deserts they can be fashioned into a crude all over cover for you. Take off clothing beneath and voila...instant robes. Don't forget to cover the head.
Apparently you will not only look ridiculous using this garb, but also sweat a lot less. White, of course won't absorb as much heat from the sun.
I've been lucky and never had to resort to this garb.
But I was given the tip by an old Legionnaire years ago, well before a certain movie came out :)))
AnswerID: 342296

Reply By: Member - Footloose - Friday, Jan 02, 2009 at 19:12

Friday, Jan 02, 2009 at 19:12
Black pepper for holes in the cooling system used to be the go in years gone by ? I've no idea how it would affect a modern cooling system.
Warming the contents of an old battery can sometimes revitalize it.
(but be careful how you do it)
No wheel, no worries. Lash a log, sled like for short distances.
I've seen a vehicle driven with a flat tyre for 20km,,,the wheel was square! (But they made it into town)
It was a front tyre, so the steering must have been awful.
AnswerID: 342298

Follow Up By: Sir Kev & Darkie - Friday, Jan 02, 2009 at 19:15

Friday, Jan 02, 2009 at 19:15
Stuffing a tyre (with an unrepairable side wall failure) with spinifex etc is also a method to get a few more kms out of an otherwise stuffed tyre.

Cheers Kev
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He was presented with a difficult decision: push on into the stretching deserts, or return home to his wife.

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Follow Up By: Member - Footloose - Friday, Jan 02, 2009 at 19:22

Friday, Jan 02, 2009 at 19:22
I'd be worries about the heat generated by the tyre possibly igniting the spinifex ?
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Follow Up By: Willem - Friday, Jan 02, 2009 at 19:58

Friday, Jan 02, 2009 at 19:58
Uncle...yer not supposed to be doing 80kmh driving on spinifex filled tyres....LOL


Cheers
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Follow Up By: Member - Mick O (VIC) - Friday, Jan 02, 2009 at 21:41

Friday, Jan 02, 2009 at 21:41
Saw a CALM fellow at the Calverts use the pepper and egg whites on his radiator. He had done a fair bit of radiator damage by hitting a mulga stump and had spent several days crimping and patching the tubes. Used pepper and eggwhite to seal the fine leaks. Appeared to work well enough. Mind you he left carrying plenty of water.

Cheers Mick
''We knew from the experience of well-known travelers that the
trip would doubtless be attended with much hardship.''
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Follow Up By: Member - Malcolm C (QLD) - Saturday, Jan 03, 2009 at 01:53

Saturday, Jan 03, 2009 at 01:53
When I was a young fella working on Nilpena Stn around '56, I travelled from Beltana to Copley with the Austin family in one of their buckboards. When we had a flat we did exactly that ... filled the tyre with grass. IIRC we only went a few miles before the grass was all chewed up and useless. Think we just drove with flat tyre - bugger this walking stuff!

We also had a Packard straight 8 buckboard with big balloon tyres we used for roo shooting. Not many places that thing could not go. Had an air compressor under the passenger floorboard and turned on with a screwdriver to engage the flywheel.

In the army we used to teach "bush mechanics" on the Class II Driver's Course. Had some fancy name like "Extemporisation" IIRC.

Hollow out a half potato - makes a fuel bowl.

Fencing wire to replace spark plug leads. Then you had to remember the firing order :-)

Malcolm


Big end bearing buggered. Cut the tongue out of your shoe/boot and shape it to replace the big end bearing. (never had to try it).

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Reply By: austastar - Friday, Jan 02, 2009 at 19:35

Friday, Jan 02, 2009 at 19:35
ABC TV had a series on 'bush mechanics' with the technical ingenuity of some of the Aboriginal drivers.
Log under the missing front wheel and drive backwards.
Heat the battery in coals to get an automatic vehicle started.
Cut the roof off and tow it behind like a sled if you have to fit more mates in and their luggage is too much to fit inside.

I only saw a few episodes, should be worth chasing up on DVD.

cheers
AnswerID: 342301

Follow Up By: Miss(an)Jo - Toad Keeper (Bris - Saturday, Jan 03, 2009 at 19:04

Saturday, Jan 03, 2009 at 19:04
You can buy the series at any ABC shop or JB Hifi
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Reply By: Willem - Friday, Jan 02, 2009 at 19:56

Friday, Jan 02, 2009 at 19:56
Mick

I will try to remember some......................

Dead Battery 1.
To start manual petrol vehicle. Jack rear wheel of ground, turn ignition on, put in 3rd or 4th gear, use belt, snatch strap or rope to start like lawnmower.

Dead battery 2.
Heat up battery. But better still, decant battery acid into saucepan. Bring to boil over fire. Pour contents back into battery. Car should start. Throw saucepan away...lol

What? you forgot the billy? Pour water into plastic bag. Tie at top so there are no leaks. Scrape coals out from fire. Place bag with water in one movement onto coals. When water boils lift off in one movement and wonder where to next...aaaah!!.... decant into aircleaner(removed and plugged prior to operation).

Use tree stump or log to prop up broken spring.

Clamp brake line with wire if brake hose gets snagged.

Remove rear driveshaft on 4by if you have broken an universal or maybe even the diff(depends on what sort of 4by). Drive away usingg front wheels


If you have 2008 ToyoNissaJerozukiundaikiaover use Staphone to call Breakdown Assist!!!!




That's off the top of me head for the moment.


Cheers


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Reply By: Member - John (Vic) - Friday, Jan 02, 2009 at 20:44

Friday, Jan 02, 2009 at 20:44
Mick good idea and probably a good laugh also but considering that people don't seem to read the great articles and information already available on the site with info such as "What spares to carry" and continue to post the question regardless.

One must ask the question, Is it worth the effort??



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Follow Up By: Member - Mick O (VIC) - Friday, Jan 02, 2009 at 21:39

Friday, Jan 02, 2009 at 21:39
All ways worth it John. If just one tip helps somebody out it's been worth it. Yep, that search function is a wonderful thing if it's used. Just a matter of steering them in the right direction.

Cheers Mick
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trip would doubtless be attended with much hardship.''
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Reply By: Rick (S.A.) - Friday, Jan 02, 2009 at 22:13

Friday, Jan 02, 2009 at 22:13
Regarding tools & fixing things:

Mate of mine reckons that you only need:

a shifter (large)
hammer
cold chisel
screwdriver

He reckons if you can't fix that "thing" with these tools & a bit of wire, then you're a mug.

Cheers
AnswerID: 342334

Reply By: tonysmc - Friday, Jan 02, 2009 at 23:08

Friday, Jan 02, 2009 at 23:08
If it moves and it shouldn't - Duct tape.
If it doesn't move and it should - WD40
with those and the 4 tools above you should get to help. ;-)
AnswerID: 342339

Reply By: JJ - Friday, Jan 02, 2009 at 23:49

Friday, Jan 02, 2009 at 23:49
To mend a leaking petrol tank: grab a bar of soap (laundry soap is best) and with a (pocket) knife, finely scrape a quantity (maybe a teaspoon full) into your hand; collect an equal amount of 'bulldust' from your wheel rims and bind together with saliva (spit). Work to a stiff paste. Press and work this goo onto the leak and allow it to set, preferably to dry over night, before continuing on your journey.
Note: if modern fancy wheels do not allow bulldust to accumulate use talc powder.
AnswerID: 342346

Follow Up By: JJ - Friday, Jan 02, 2009 at 23:51

Friday, Jan 02, 2009 at 23:51
OOps! Don't know what happened here! Sorry people!
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Follow Up By: x - Saturday, Jan 03, 2009 at 09:13

Saturday, Jan 03, 2009 at 09:13
Tank had several holes:-)
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Reply By: Kroozer - Saturday, Jan 03, 2009 at 00:08

Saturday, Jan 03, 2009 at 00:08
As kids we had a few old bombs that we used to thrash around the back tracks and on the salt flats. Only being in our young teens we were keen to try any trick or remedy that we heard of to keep the cars running. The egg and pepper works excellent in the radiator. Surf or similar washing detergent was our brake fluid, mixed with water so it was thick, worked great. Lots of gaffer tape too came in handy, so did using alfoil as fuses. Cars were wired so that when you pushed the horn the car started. Was great, no one could work out how to steal them. Always carried a bottle of metho with us to clean the fuel.

One day while hooning around out bush we crossed a creek that was a little deep and put the fan through the radiator, not badly but enough for it leak rather heavily. Out came more pepper, (though we didnt have eggs) and we dug on the bank of the creek till we found clay and heated it up by a fire and then stuck it on the radiator around the hole. It stuck but slowly it fell off as the water become too hot, so we dug a heap up and put it in a plastic bag to keep replacing it as it fell. Then we cut the fan blades back as they were plastic, until they wouldnt hit on the radiator. Then we got the windscreen washer bottle and all the hose to the washer nozzles, plus some other spare fuel hose we had. Joined it all together with tape and put the washer bottle on the roof with one end of the hose joined to washer bottle and the other end in the radiator(cap off), but taped up and sealed with a milk bottle lid. Gravity would do its thing and keep the radiator topped up, as it was going in at about the same rate it was coming out.As we knew we would have to take it really slow, but we loved it. we were out and about doing what we loved and nothing would ever stop us. We always carried about 15 bottles off water so just filled them all up like always, had a swim and carried on our way to go fishing. we stopped every ten minutes at the next creek, put some more clay on, more pepper in and filled the water bottles up and were on our way again. Finally 20ks later we arrived, went fishing, caught nothing, had a ball, and drove home repeating what we did on the way. On the way home, we pulled into the tip, found an old car very similar, ripped out the radiator and carried on home, arriving just on dark.

The next morning was spent replacing radiator and putting washer bottle in and we were on our way again.

Car was a Datsun 120Y Coupe, totally unbreakable. It blew the cap off the radiator so many times from overheating and did some extraordinary burnouts but yet it never died. Eventually it was stolen by a so called friend and crashed and that was the end of her. Nobody in town could believe how it went on and on and on without dying, with many borrowed parts from other makes and missing all its panels it really was a work of art.
AnswerID: 342347

Reply By: Member - Malcolm C (QLD) - Saturday, Jan 03, 2009 at 02:09

Saturday, Jan 03, 2009 at 02:09
You may think this one a bit far fetched, but I actually saw it happen whilst driver training at Woodside, SA.

If you have to cross deep water, lay a large (waterproof) tarpaulin out on the bank, drive the vehicle (in this case it was a SWB series II Land Rover) on to the tarp and wrap it up. Bucket water to muddie up the bank and push vehicle into the water (in this case it was a dam). Two guys with shovels paddled the vehicle across the water. At the other side, open the front of the tarp, start engine and drive vehicle up the bank.

Malcolm
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AnswerID: 342352

Reply By: Geoff (Newcastle, NSW) - Saturday, Jan 03, 2009 at 15:34

Saturday, Jan 03, 2009 at 15:34
Invert the Hayman Reece tongue of your landcruiser, then drop the tow bar tongue of your 3 wheeled Jeep onto it.

Then get the pin out of a bloody big shackle to hold it all together.

Put the shackle body on upside down as a nut.

Tow the Jeep into town backwards.



Geoff
Geoff,
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Grey hair is hereditary, you get it from children. Baldness is caused by watching the Wallabies.

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AnswerID: 342429

Reply By: taswegian - Saturday, Jan 03, 2009 at 18:18

Saturday, Jan 03, 2009 at 18:18
G,day mike ,


Once started a perkins 4.326 marine with low battery

power by putting dinner knife blades under each exhaust

valve anvil.When decompressed speed was fast enough had of

offsider pull them out,got a couple scratches on the knifes,

but an engine never sounded sweeter.


Cheers,

Tassie.





AnswerID: 342449

Reply By: Geoff (Newcastle, NSW) - Sunday, Jan 04, 2009 at 23:03

Sunday, Jan 04, 2009 at 23:03
You can try the log and No. 8 fencing wire idea but experience tells me you'll only get a couple of k's at best out of even a good piece of hard wood!



Geoff

Geoff,
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Follow Up By: Richard Kovac - Monday, Jan 05, 2009 at 00:04

Monday, Jan 05, 2009 at 00:04
Geoff

Is that a little red beatle I see?

Richard
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Follow Up By: Geoff (Newcastle, NSW) - Monday, Jan 05, 2009 at 07:10

Monday, Jan 05, 2009 at 07:10
Hi Richard,
Nice spotting, it sure is!

Complete with Baja fibreglass kit and 15" rear wheels!

The photo was taken about 30 minutes north of Cohen and about 20 to 25 years ago.

Geoff
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Reply By: Member - Min (NSW) - Monday, Jan 05, 2009 at 16:15

Monday, Jan 05, 2009 at 16:15
Mick O,

As to your question - yes I think it would make a very good and useful article and could also be great fun to read.

Good on you for taking the initiative. I look forward to seeing it. Unfortunately I can't offer any inclusions at the moment.

Thank you


John 'n' Min

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