Help Me Produce a Show Called – How I Got My Stranded Vehicle Home
Recently a friend ended up stranded in the middle of no where and used a very creative solution to get home. I have had a few of these myself and I realized that this would make a great and very helpful show topic.
To participate send me an email with TSPC vehicle in the subject. I am looking for stories where you were stuck, broke down, stranded and didn’t really have what you needed to get home but some how made do.
Here is an example (one you likely should not follow) but one that worked. I had a friend who had a tie rod go bad and fall off, this is the part that makes the front wheels steer just to be clear. He used tie wraps and they held. Had he limped the vehicle to safety and got the right part it would have been a good way to go.
This guy was a bit of a flake and drove it around for three weeks until he felt like buying a new part. But you get the idea!
Basically if you have ever Macgyvered your way out of a stranded situation I want your story for this show. Again just email me at jack at thesurvivalpodcast.com with TSPC vehicle in the subject line and tell me your story to be part of this listener content created show.
When I was 16yrs old, my POS 1970 Buick Rivera started spewing steam from under the hood. I pulled over at the closest parking lot, open the hood to see a burst upper radiator hose. Nothing I could do, so I found a pay phone and called home. My stepdad arrived about an hour later and assessed the situation. He unfastened the hose, cut off the offending 2-3 inches from the end of the hose where it attached to the radiator, and stretched it to fasten it back. “Fill it with water and drive it home.”, he said.
The real lesson to me was to not panic or jump to conclusions, sometimes there is a solution if you can step back and view a problem objectively.
I guess “I called dad” or thumbed a ride (or walked) to get some gas doesn’t count. But I did once get a hole in a hose and was able to fix it on the side of the road because the hole was close enough to one end that I was able to cut it short and stretch it to make it reach.
I have just a story for you. Back when I lived in Pittsburgh, I ran into a curb real hard, swerving from a road raging Ricer in a Honda Accord. Knocked over some guys bicycle, causing a real scene. Luckily the bike was alright, my tire however was not. I hadn’t blown it, but the way it hit the curb so hard it unmounted from the rim. There was no pumping that sucker up. Now… I did NOT want the owner of whoever’s bike I knocked over to show up, because whoever he was, his boys were looking for reason. This was a pretty ugly side of town, Wilkinsburg, it was nearly dark. I could hear what seemed like some guys jeering, “white boy can’t drive”, “don’t go nowhere, so-and-so gonna deal wit u”
I had seen a Facebook video of some offroading mud-junkies mounting a tire with a can of carb cleaner spray AND A lighter, here’s a similar video: https://youtu.be/N45KcCsBYmc
So I said to myself, screw it.
It worked the first time!
Surprised me! Obviously it surprised the “them”, too. Three of those guys came over to see it up close, to ask what I had done. I told them. They couldn’t believe it, they werw like “nah” “nah”. One if them said “respect” and I got in my car, drove home. All I could think of was “god, I love the internet! Can’t believe that worked!”
A friend had purchased a used pickup, I was the chosen to drive it home. 50 miles of Alaska mountain road. After the first stop sign and left sharp turn, as I accelerated. the left rear axle with wheel passed me and rolled a bit down the road and into the ditch. He jacked the truck up, as I fetched the tire/axle. We discovered the rear differential cover missing and the spiders had apparently seized and were torched off. The key keeper was secure for the other axle as I recall. We rammed the axle in, found some big washers in our emergency pack..(yes, his truck has a topper and is half full of parts, everything but an extra engine, since for work we travel the state. ) we put the oversize washers on and fastened with tie wire…multiple turns of tie wire, inside the pumpkin, where the retainer keepers should have been. Off I went, watching the side mirror more than in front of me. I guess there were plenty of sparks, about every 10 miles I’d stop and we’d add new tie wire. Left turns in the road were not good, but the next right turn would slam that axle back in. At one point a moose ran out in front of me, as I was coming off a left sway in the road. Not wanting to slam on the brakes with the tire out about 3 inches, I just puckered up….I’m pretty sure the moose and I bonded via eye contact, but no contact was made. Of coarse my buddy had to call me and ask if I needed new shorts. We all made it to his place in one piece. His big smile as he looked at me and said, “I dont know one other soul that would have driven a truck like that on these roads as fast as you did, with that issue” was all the back patting required. We succeeded. And well yes, the speed limit was 55…
Years ago (40 to be exact) we owned Ford Pinto. Our very first date was in a tiny town in the mountains of Virginia; when we got ready to go home the car wouldn’t crank. We ended up putting a small stick in the carburetor to hold it open until we could get back home. Fast forward about 5 years and , as a young married couple, we were still driving that thing. At one point the exhaust pipe started dragging on the ground, so my husband hung it back up with part of a wire hanger.
I have a couple, as I’ve owned a lot of beaters to deliver a LOT of pizza and I’ve done two long trips around US and Canada.
I had on old 78 VW Scirocco that dropped a rod or something (it was a VERY bad sound) at the end of a long commute to college. I pulled all the spark plugs out and drove the last couple of miles on the starter motor.
I had an early 70s Chevette where the manual shifter broke off, so I learned to drive the car by reaching into the hole and actuating the shift fork with two fingers. You needed strong hands and the brains to completely invert the shift pattern. 1st was down and right instead of left and up.
I drove a 12000 miles loop of the country in a VW diesel pickup which started loosing compression after 10000 miles which forced me to only stop the car at the top of long hills. By the time I hit Texas, that wouldn’t even work, so I left the car running for 3 days as I drove back to NJ.
I drove up the ALCAN with a Land Rover Discovery pulling a trailer with WAY too much tongue weight because the sewage tank was removed. We got 75% through, almost to Vancouver before it actually broke the 7700lb receiver hitch at the back of the LR. We ratchet strapped the receiver together to get to a Princess Auto to buy steel enough to box the whole thing together with big bolts so we could drive down to Yellowstone and then back to NJ.
I took my fiance (now wife of 25 years) Christmas tree hunting in the national forest (with permit) and got stuck in the snow on a logging landing. I had a winch, but was facing the drop-off and needed to go backwards to get out. After an hour of digging etc, I ran the winch cable under the truck, through a D ring that I tied to the rear bumper tow hitch, then to a tree.
On the way in, no tree was good enough. On the way out, we found one in two minutes.
While driving home from a wilderness fishing trip in Northern Maine for Native Square tails my 1995 Dodge Ram (loved that truck) suddenly stalled. I was fresh out of University and not particularly handy with automoblies….basic maintenance; yes…able to comprehend the mechanics;yes…experience with repairs; No.
The road was one that you may see another person in hours or days but are more likely to see moose or even black bear than another human….not a great place for what I feared was a catastrophic fail.
No sign of overheating, no rods thrown,, or lack of voltage, no liquids on the ground and maintenance was up to date….The truck simply stalled while doing about 35mh on a logging road…Powe steering was gone but I was able to safely coast to a stop on the side if the road.
Thankfully..within an hour an older gentlemen stopped and after I explained the behavior he suggested we disconnect the battery for 15 minutes and reset the memory on the computer. He drove off and said he’didn’t be back through in 6 or 7 hours and if still here he’did give me a ride to the nearest town so I could make a call….no cell phone at the time…still no cell towers up there to this date dome 20+ years later.
Thankfully whatever code was thrown was erased after 15 minutes and a battery reconnect I fired it up and drive back to NH and another 30K miles before the only other time the truck failed. That time it was the same scenario but the battery trick didn’the work and the fuel pump required replacing.
Sometimes a simple reset can get one out of the back country.
I worked for 25 years ion eastern Montana and Wyoming driving off road and on dirt trails at lerast 15 days every month, as well as the mountains south of Gunnison. I got stuck a lot. Usually by myself. Attempts getting unstuck are frustrating, can be damaging, and can be very dangerous. My best friend and most dangerous tool was a Hi Lift Jack. Second friend was a winch. Third friend was a ‘comalong’. I got vehicles high centered on ruts and washouts hidden in the grass MANY dozens of times, drove across the Powder River on old wagon train crossings, got stuck in drainage crossings, and in all those years I always was able to use the big wooden blocks and the Hi-Lift to get out, sometimes with a winch or even a manual ‘comalong’. The best block ever was my 32 inch length of railroad tie, to insert under the frame of my vehicle while I was jacking up another part. I always jacked myself up then filled under the wheels with rocks and dirt and bits of thick planks. I made it home every day all those years. The Hi-Lift is a proven man killer so be trained and extremely careful.
One teenager died south of Kaycee, on a ranch I had worked on, when a Hi-Lift tipped over and a pickup crushed him while he was working unsupervised. One time alongside the two lane highway east of Cody we got a right rear flat tire. I blocked the front tire, jacked us up, and the handle flipped up with it’s usual extreme force, glanced off my face lacking an inch of shattering my jaw. Make sure both pins slide into the main stand easily and fully engage as you jack both up and down. Keep them totally cleaned and lubricated. My wife and kids were in the truck (bad winds and lots of traffic made it more dangerous alongside the road than in the cab) in this case when the Hi-Lift slipped it’s dirty, not fully engaged pin and started falling, the handle flipped in the air and hit my face as our pickup fell and shifted down the shoulder. Usually when you get high centered or pull off a high crowned road in the northern plans, you have downhill-leaning gravity suck going on. Every time a Hi-Lift jacks the vehicle clear of the stuck point, it then wants to shift downhill and the jack falls down along with the vehicle.
Later I started working out of an office which had mandatory annual hands-on classes using these jacks- and we documented each person got trained. Same process for our vehicle-mounted winches.
Winching out: Winches are great, but cables snap, hooks fall off under strain, come unhooked, and then the cables or flying hooks come smashing through windshields and hurt people bad, sometimes fatally. When people spool up the cable after use, they usually fail to make sure there are not smashed spots which weaken your cable for subsequent life. Those are the spots that break when you put a good strain on them in subsequent usages. After using your cable, spool it all back out with one person pulling it straight. Then spool it back on carefully keeping some pressure on it, layering it like a good fishing reel does.
A key way to lift out your own vehicle on the front end, when stuck or high centered, is to stand your 24 inch (or slightly longer) railroad tie stub on the ground at the stuck front end, lean it onto the front bumper- centered on the winch- then run the winch cable up over the top of your RR tie when the other cable end is solidly anchored. Solid anchors are hard to find or make in the area I worked in. Sometimes we had to dig in anchoring points like ‘deadman’.
Reel your winch in and the pressure of the top end of your railroad tie should result in lifting your front end up into the air, off the ground. Then put stuff under your front tires so you can drive away.
After I watched fools try to tug on stuck vehicles with winches or chains without first lifting the stuck vehicle frame up off the ground and observing many broken chains, yanked-off bumpers, damaged tie rods and front ends, I finally just stayed away from fools after a hook broke off and flew past me when I was a hundred feet away from their vehicle.
I have used a ‘comalong’ to get my vehicle out by myself as well, using the same lifting principle. Every off-road trip should have at at least a ‘comalong’, with cabling rated for your vehicle rating if possible. It takes a lot longer but it can work to the same result as a good winching process when you don’t have one or have to work on the back end instead of the front. And leather gloves will save your hands by keeping those nasty winnch or “comalong’ cable strand splinters from piercing your hands.
My rancher friend Ward from Broadus, Montana, was in the hospital a long time when his face was nearly ripped off. They were using a tractor to pull a stuck pickup using a nylon tow rope in cattle lot full of mud and cow crap. No lifting leverage in this case, just a straight pull on the rear of the pickup. When the tow rope broke one end came through the glass of the pickup rear window and hit his face as he was watching through it. Ward recovered but his face never looked the same or functioned as well afterwards, when the glass fragments were removed and his facial tissues reattached to the bones. So be careful, folks. Just saying….
Best wishes to you all.
I was living in WV and working at a coal mine in PA. I was driving my 1986 GMC High Sierra. During my 40 min commute to the mine, the rear universal joint let go on the driveshaft. The driveshaft fell off the diff and I quickly pulled over. I didn’t have to time to swap in a new universal, so I pulled the driveshaft off and threw it in the bed of my truck. I took a 20 oz Coke bottle I had in the cab, and cut it in half. I then shoved it over the spines on the transfer case and it created a decent seal to prevent an excessive amount of fluids from spewing out. I then locked in my front hubs and drove to work with 4×4, actually front wheel drive. I fixed the universal on my lunch break.
Having only one key for my motorcycle, I wisely had a copy cut in case I lost the original. I tested the copy out several times on the ignition to confirm it worked smoothly. The next day I took my motorcycle out for a good long ride and pulled into the gas station with a nearly empty tank. I shut the engine off and transferred the key from the ignition to the locked gas cap. The newly cut key would not open my empty gas tank. I still had another 50 miles of riding before I would be home. For a good 30 seconds, I sat on my motorcycle pissed off at myself for not testing the key on the gas cap the day prior until it occurred to me that the Leatherman multi tool in my pocket had a file on it. I took a close look at the new key and gently filed down the sharp teeth until I was finally able to open the gas cap and fill the tank. Today if I leave the house without a multi tool it feels the same for me as most people that leave the house without their wallet or phone.
I didn’t look through to other comment so ypu might already have this one. I always carry a couple of gallons of water, extra oil, 90 mile/hr tape ( or gorilla tape), tools snd my AAA card.
On the way to work one day I saw the temperature gauge creeping up. Pulling off the road far enough to be safe, I stopped to check. There was a fine spray coming out of the lower radiator hose. I let the engine cool down a bit, wrapped the tape around the hose 4 or 5 times, added water, and was on my way.
Pretty boring story, hut hopefully useful.
Just blew a transmission in my Impala last night, 50 miles from home. All pedal, no go. I could actually feel grit on the dipstick fluid… We used 3 50′ paracord lengths, braided as neither myself or my buddy in his old diesel Benz had a strap. Worked like a charm, just had to make sure we didn’t jerk the cars.
Stuck off road in the old Dodge, slick mud and snow at the edge of a field. We hacked off smaller branches, pine boughs, cedar limbs and jammed under the tires for traction. Had to do a similar technique in Rhode Island on the sand beaches in a girlfriends Jetta…
Cold weather survival- Used a Stihl 046 chainsaw with the chain doubled around a driveshaft for gear reduction to “propel” us along Lake Vermilion ice in northern Minnesota. Out with a buddy, and he lost the crankshaft on the old dodge 2wd truck when out making firewood 4 miles from the landing. Rigged the saw on the passenger side of the rear axle and shock mount with wire and load strap, broke the chain and wrapped around the drive shaft right at the rear u joint, reconnected. Used a boot lace to pull the trigger with the grip safety taped down… we had to push to get moving, as we stalled out multiple times trying to figure that out, but once going, we were able to drive to the landing under Stihl power. Tore up the shaft a bit, but with temps at -10f, better than staying out on the lake. Young and dumb in those days, but resourceful.
I have rigged many motorcycles to get home thru the years, i prefer old American iron, to a fault ill admit… when dealing with said old American iron, there are certain intricacies one must contend with, mainly a ton of vibration and less than stellar quality oem parts from a certain era. Small tool bag and multi tool with extra plugs, switches, wire etc are a staple on my old bikes. This particular shake down run on my 58 Harley, i had not mounted said tool bag, and my multi tool got use just prior to heading out, and i didn’t put it back in the pouch on my hip. Few miles into initial shake down and i sprung a fuel line leak. With a pocket knife i cut the leak out, but couldn’t tighten the hose clamp. Well i just so happen to wear a wrench ring, a sand casted small wrench bent around the finger, kind of kool, and i get a few complements on it weekly. It just so happened to fit the hose clamp, and so with my pocket knife, and a ring i completed the road side repair, kicked the old beast back to life, and completed the shake down run… i still wear that ring, now multi functional:) TNJR
I was driving from Nacogdoches to Dallas for staff in the dog days of summer, with my 280 lb friend in my single cab Ford Ranger. About an hour and a half in to the 4 hour trip, my temperature gauge hits the red and continues to rise. We are on a schedule and barely on track to make it to the staff meeting on time. So we ride the remaining 2 and a half hours blasting the heater on full blast in above 90 degree temps with above 50% humidity.
We made it, but both of us had salt stains imprinted on the seats and our clothes, were dehydrated to the point of being impaired, and smelled like a bum’s nutsack. The trip likely cracked the heads to some extent, but the truck ran, more or less, for the next 2 years until I had to do a motor swap.
I’ve “fixed” starter with a hammer before. Push started manuals by “popping” the clutch. Replaced a tail light with a flashlight taped in place. Used the antenna to unlock my Ford 96′ Ranger by accessing the hole under the handle (worked on the Explorers too)
Fargo, ND, starter quit working in January, I was a student that rarely drove anyways, figured I’d wait for warmer weather to replace it. I got by until Apr/May by using jumper cables from battery to starter.
Biggest pain point in replacing it was, the arc/spark welded bolt to body of starter.