Nowadays if your computer goes down, you call IT support. Your washing machine breaks, you call the Maytag man. Your home A/C unit quits, you call the A/C guy. But when your 4x4 goes nuts-up in the boonies where cell signals and AAA are but wistful memories, you’ve got nobody to rely on but yourself. If you don’t want to spend the rest of your short life fashioning a nifty sweater vest out of your headliner or carving a sleeping bag out of your seatcovers to keep you warm at night, you’ve got assess the situation, diagnose the problem, take stock of the resources at your disposal, devise a plan, and execute a fix good enough to get you back to a motel and burger joint with a drive-through. The field fix taps into the core of your human survival skills. It’s 20 percent observance, 40 percent mechanical aptitude, 50 percent ingenuity, and 25 percent tenacity. OK, math isn’t a big part of the field fix, but all those other things definitely are and combined equal the ability to conquer the unconquerable. In fact, the field fix may be the one thing that ultimately ensures we don’t all get turned into Soylent Green or become cattle for alien invaders. Moooo.
The field fix taps into the core of your human survival skills
Maybe that’s a bit extreme—I doubt there are really any alien invaders. And if there were, they’d be pretty smart and probably wouldn’t wanna eat us given all the preservatives and trans fat in our systems. More likely we’d just wind up some sort of slave labor force—which is what we’re pretty much doing now to fund Obamacare. And at any rate, our mad MacGyver skills of how to straighten a tie rod with a couple Vise-Grips and a winch cable would be no match for their ray guns. So even if the field fix won’t wind up saving the human race, at the very least it does give those of us who execute them on a regular basis some good stories to tell at social gatherings.
The next time you’re talking with a circle of friends at a dinner party you can bust out the tale of that time the fuel system of your buddy’s newly purchased pile of crap was so full of gum, varnish, and rust that you had to pull over twice every 10 miles the whole way from Washington to SoCal to change fuel filters, blow the lines clear with compressed air (a hose hooked to one of the tires will work in a pinch), and clear the carb jets.
Or at your kid’s next parent-teacher conference you can recall that time in Johnson Valley when you had to piece together a fragmented U-joint yoke with your onboard welder to get your buddy’s early Bronco out of a technical rockcrawl trail. But he kept getting frustrated and wouldn’t go easy on the throttle, so every 10 feet he shattered the yoke again, and you were too stupid to leave him there so you kept giving him spare U-joints and welding him back up.
And if you find yourself searching for conversational topics in the dentist’s waiting room, you can spill the beans about how you fashioned a transmission mount out of a tree branch; or the time you strapped a gas can to the roof so the carb could gravity-feed after the fuel pump died; or the time after you pitched a fan belt and figured out that if you got going fast enough, the air coming through the radiator would turn the fan and water pump barely fast enough that the trickle of coolant just kept the engine from seizing as you limped several miles to a parts store.
But I’m sure you’ve all no doubt heard stories like that a hundred times. So why not share yours? Got an incredible field fix? I want to hear about it, and if you’re got photos, all the better. Email me at email@example.com with “Crazy Field Fixes” in the subject line. If I get enough usable stories, I’ll use them in an upcoming issue. And if I print yours, I’ll send you a genuine Four Wheeler license plate and some stickers. Just think: You may wind up telling your friends about that time you field fixed a hole in your tranny pan with a Four Wheeler license plate that you got for talking about your field fixes.