Handlin' The Big Ones
Editor's note: From 1984 until his death in 1989 at age 70, Granville King served as Four Wheeler's Baja Correspondent. A former aerospace engineer and TV screenwriter, Granville retired in 1981 to a trailer located on a bluff south of San Felipe, from whence he filed the monthly dispatches that became known to FW readers as "From the Backcountry,'' a diaristic account of a life lived miles away from electricity or paved roads, his only companion a four-legged mascot (and sometime mentor) named Superdawg.
In addition to his "Backcountry'' series, Granville authored occasional tech articles for us; this one first appeared, in slightly different form, in the February '86 issue. While Granville scrupulously claimed to have tested all of the "field fixes'' included here and judged them workable, we'd advise taking at least one of them with a generous grain of salt . . or knock on wood beforehand.
A gnawing fear can work on the boonie-infested mind of a man in even the finest, newest rig. Can he git back? Regular readers'll no doubt be aware of the prep for gittin' back and the things to keep in your rig's hell box, and mebbe even how to analyze your plight. You're in deep trouble if you haven't memorized these things, since today we do the heavy stuff for flag and country.
Gasoline filter: You feel a pulsation in yore gitalong like you're runnin' out of gas, but that ain't it since you still got half a tank. By vigorous gas goosing you keep 'er alive for a time, but eventually you blunder to a stop and she dies with a gasp. What do you do first?
Isolate. Quick like a bunny you pull one spark plug and whir the mill. Great spark! So, as you knew, it's gotta be the fuel. You break the line on the carb side of the inline filter and whir the engine-very little gas and kinda splotchy. Okay, don't panic yet. You take out the filter and whir the mill again. Now you got lots of gas in heavy, husky spurts. You gotta plugged filter! But there is no filter in the rig's hell box. What must you do? Very simply, cut off an end of the filter pipe right at the filter. Now you got a bridge between the two hose ends. Slide 'em together, and off you go with a mental reminder to get two new filters-one for this Rube Goldberg crutch and one for the hell box.
Fuel pump: But suppose it is not the filter. You say you still get splurtish-to-weak gas, even with the filter out? Then you've bought a Big One; the fuel pump (assuming no loose connections) is not so good. How in jumpin' Jehosophat does a man git back with no fuel pump? Before starting the long walk out, scratch yore curly locks and think.
What does a bleedin' fuel pump do, anyway? Do you have to have one? No! It merely keeps the gas chamber of the carburetor full of gas, that's all. Yeah, it works at some three to seven psi, but only to make sure the float chamber stays full. Henry Ford ran the Model As on gravity feed, and if it was good enough for Henry, it's good enough for us! But how to get a gravity feed since the tank is way back there lurking low?
Simple, ol' bud. Bang or find a hole through your firewall, preferably on the carburetor inlet side. Run a hunka gas hose through there and connect it firmly to the carb where you took out the filter. Bring the other end under the dash and securely tape it there with the opening pointing up. How do we get gas into this kludge? Again, simple. Dump that plastic bottle of differential fluid with the beveled-end spout. Rinse out with gas. Refill with gas. Apply to the hose to fill the line and carb chamber. You're off! She'll start with the same touch since gas is precisely at the same place it'd be if the fuel pump were working. No difference.
Okay, so you only get about five miles per refill out of the container, but doesn't that beat the alternative all to pieces? If you don't have one now, lay down your loot for one of those beveled-end cans and a 4-foot hunka hose to wrap around it. Or, if you're really loaded, stow a spare fuel pump. Big caution: Though you're goin' outta there like a champ where a lesser man would've walked, you forgot something. You didn't plug that old gas line coming from the pump, and now you got an engine saturated with gas from time to time when she throws out a tad. So plug that line before you go!