If you've been a 4-Wheel & Off-Road reader for a number of years, chances are you remember a little column we used to run in the back of the magazine called Homegrown How-Tos. Readers would send in their tips and tricks on how to fix stuff on the trail, useful repairs (temporary or permanent), and ingenious ways they found to make a complicated procedure easier.
The only problem is, things started getting scary. We still cringe at the thought of the guy who sent in the letter about how he made it home by using a cotter pin from his tie rod to keep his rear wheel on after losing the rear hub retaining nut. Ugh! Not only did he limp home on a rear tire that could have left the vehicle at any time, but he also compromised his steering. It's better not to know about stuff like that.
However, when cleaning out the old office, we came across a dusty box full of some good ones. Since we couldn't stand to throw them out, here they are. Enjoy them. You may not see any more for a long time to come.
When it's necessary to drain the fluids during repairs, I used to hesitate to reuse the otherwise reusable fluid because of debris like grass and leaves that fall into the open catch pan. To remove the debris and allow me to reuse still-good fluid, I pour it through a used nylon stocking stretched over the rim of a wide funnel. The stocking will fit a variety of funnels (depending on the shape of your wife) and will trap small particles. My dad showed me this trick back in the '60s while pouring gasoline from a questionable container into a Go-Kart.George McMurray, Rosamond, CA
Like all Jeep CJs, the dash knobs on my '84 CJ-7 came off of the heater controls. Since replacement ones are about $6 each, I drilled out some $1 metal drawer handles with a 31/416-inch bit and glued them on with JB Weld. I did the whole dash for only $6.Dave Ball, Ft. Eustis, VA
I'm a big fan of soft drinks (damn, I'm thirsty!), but I hate those ugly plastic drink cup ashtray things. So, I kept a roll of tape handy for my drinks until it got stolen (the tape, not the drink). My new setup is a bicycle water bottle holder (metal, please) that I screwed into my dash. They're big enough to hold a wide range of bottles, cans, and cups, and they're usually cheap and easy to come by.Mike Kennan, Oakland, CA
Without the advantage of a compressor for valvespring replacement or valve seal repair, I use a length of soft, pliable rope. I just insert it into a cylinder via the sparkplug hole and then hand-rotate the engine so that the rope is compressed between the top of the piston and the face of the valves. With the compressed rope in place, the valves are held securely in place. I can now work on the valves or springs without fear of the valves dropping into the cylinder.Joe Prado, Pueblo, CO
If you spend so much time lifting transmissions, transfer cases, and axles from one end of the garage to the other that you contemplate having your testicles surgically removed to prevent that next hernia, then do what we did. We bought a furniture cart for $19 at the local hardware store. They're rated to 350 pounds, have fuzzy padding on the corners to keep things from slipping, and double as a hillrod skateboard.The Boneheads, 4-Wheel & Off-Road
I had one of those cordless drills (the type with a built-in battery) and I used to keep it in a toolbag in my truck. Eventually the old battery wouldn't take a charge. Rather than just throw it away, my solution was to remove the old battery and install a cigarette plug and cord that I had lying in my junkbox. It spins a little faster since it's now powered by 12 volts instead of 9.3 volts, but it works great.Gregg McNab, Vista, CA
Here's an idea I got from some construction equipment that makes a good entry step that will flex out of the way of an obstacle. Just take a length of chain, weld the center links with the chain laid out straight, and bolt it to the rocker panels (or frame if you can). Since the vertical part isn't welded, the chain can flex and move out of the way of obstacles rather than get crunched.Bill Matson, Bellmore, NY
Foaming At The Rockers
West Coast dudes are spoiled beyond belief. They just don't have to contend with the worry that flashlights, spare change, and other necessities are going to fall onto the road from inside the cab. Then there's the issue of getting your legs all wet from roadspray and mud. We bought a can of expanding foam at the local hardware store for $3.98 and sprayed it in the gaping holes in the rockers. It ain't perfect, but it keeps us dry, prevents junk from falling out, and even quiets things down a bit.The Boneheads, 4-Wheel & Off-Road
No More Bondage
After fighting to untangle our tow strap from our jumper cables and bungee cords for the last time, we bought some gym bags and kid's backpacks at a yard sale for next to nothing. We put our rope and bungee cords in one, jumper cables in another, and so on. Now they fit nicely in the cargo area without tangling together. Plus, when we need something, we just get out the proper bag. No fuss, no muss.The Boneheads, 4-Wheel & Off-Road
I borrowed a friend's truck and didn't have a cargo net to hold down my yard debris. To fix this, I used a couple of bungee cords, an old bike inner tube, and a tarp. Yes, a scuzzy blanket will also work. The four bungee cords stretched the tube uniformly over the tarp and held everything nicely in place.Chad Bowman, Brandon, FL
An NP203 weighs about the same as a wet sack full of dead mimes. Trying to remove one yourself from a lifted vehicle can often result in a hernia, tweaked wrists, or a crushed skull. Next time you're removing your heavy engine or transmission, try making a cradle out of a couple of ratchet straps. The gearbox can be manhandled backwards until it drops into the sling, then safely lowered down. This can also work for raising the gearbox in place for those who don't have access to a spendy transmission jack. For added trickery, hook one end of a third ratchet strap to the pinion yoke to help you pull the gearbox back off of the splines.The Boneheads, 4-Wheel & Off-Road