Friday, December 4, 2015


  -Alan Arnell

Having been the proud owner of a '57 Chevy for 15 years I have had my share of roadside repairs.

A product of the the “Great Depression” of the '30's, my father always preached, “Make and make do!”

To prove his point to me, he gave me my first car a 1969 Chevelle Malibu. You know the saying, “Be careful for what you wish for...” I must be honest, I had mixed blessing with my first car. The first time behind the wheel of my new ride was being pushed into my parent's two stall garage. To be able to drive the car, I first, had to replace the deceased engine.

With much cursing and busted knuckles, I replaced the old motor with a salvage yard engine. Of course, the replacement engine had a bad intake valve. This problem was way beyond even my perceived skilled level. I hired a local mechanic to pull the cylinder head and replace the offending valve.

That '69 Chevelle started my love/hate relationship with Auto Repair and Hot Rodding. Being a cruel
tutor my Chevelle taught me to carry a few wrenches in the car. My first lesson was when the '69 threw a fan belt, while I was racing around an industrial park.

The timeline of this story was the late seventies. I still had hair and it was down to my shoulders. I was too cool in my plaid pants and white-fake-silk shirt. Still, as cool as I was, that coolness did help me put the fan belt back on with my bare hands.

Can you imagine a time before cell phones? On that fateful day, I had to walk several miles to find a phone booth. Luckily, I found a quarter in the return change slot to pay for the call. Hint: Carry money, “Don't leave home without it!”

"My dad was as angry as a grown man at a Justin Bieber concert" Tweet: My dad was as angry as a grown man at a Justin Bieber concert (Hit the little birdy to tweet the above sentence.) after having to leave the Army-Navy football game he was watching on TV to bring me a crescent wrench.

Fast forward to the next century. Today's cars are a truly modern marvels. Cars now run miles and miles without service or repair. 50,000 miles on a set of spark plugs is a good example. A '57 Chevy even with a retrofitted '77 small block is nowhere close to being that mechanically competent.

I have also found that retrofitting systems on classic cars is also a recipe to early part failure and unforeseen problems.

In my 15 years if ownership of a Tri-Five, I have had to complete numerous on the side of the road emergency repairs. However, I'm proud to say, I have only once had to be towed back home once. The other 25 or 30 times I was able to rig a fix to make the long and short journey back to the house.

The day of the tow, I exploded the spider gears and ring gear in the stock 3:55 rear differential. The '57 took the “Hook of Shame” to be retrofitted with a 10 bolt differential from a S10 Chevy Blazer.

Detonating your rear gears in front of you friends doing a burnout is bad for the ego, however most of the mired of problems we all will face can be fixed with simple repairs, parts and tools.

Some have said, my car is a hunk of junk, but once after a club car show I saw a club mate broke down on the side of the road in his professionally done frame off resto-mod '55 Chevy.

I stopped to render aid to my club mate. After a quick look under the hood we found that the battery had slipped to short out the ground lead, melting it into two pieces. To the '55 owner's astonishment, I rigged a new ground lead with my jumper cables and vice grips. He asked, “Alan, how do you know how to do that?” I replied with a superior feeling, “If you had ever driven the rust buckets that I have, you too would know that, “Necessity is the mother of invention.”

I carry more tools, I hope, than I will ever need. I didn't like the look of a large tool box in the '57's trunk. To solve my problem, I purchased a vintage Coke-A-Cola cooler. I have gotten many positive comments about my new tool box.

I have been made fun of for all my crap of tools and parts I tote around in my '57 for emergency repair. But, if you drive a classic car for any amount of time or distance you will have to work on that car or wait for a service tech. In truth even back in the day car owners had to work on his or her '50's era cars much more that car owner do today. For example I had to complete a tune up of spark plugs and points ever 6,0000 miles on my '69 or it would hardly run. I strongly feel having to fix and fiddle with your car back in the day developed a stronger attachment to that car than most folks do to our later model cars.

You don't have to be me. Nevertheless, I suggest that you carry the minimal but no less important emergency items hidden a small tool container. I have put mine at times in a bank deposit bag.

Below is what I recommend for an emergency repair should the need arise. Since, everyone his or her own preferences for which items to carry the list by no means is absolute. It may even a good idea for longer trips to tote few extra parts, like maybe a spare engine.

  • Hand tools
    • Crescent wrench, SAE and Metric wrenches
    • Phillips and regular screwdrivers
    • Spark plug wrench
    • Pliers
  • Fire extinguisher- Classified USA-ABC (Ordinary solid  Combustibles, Flammable liquids and gasses and energized electrical equipment)
  • Battery jumper cables
  • Lug nuts and insure your tire iron fits the size of nut/s on your wheels
  • Jack pad. I carry a 12 inch long  2 by 6 board. You may need better foundation for the jack as when you change a tire on a soft shoulder.
  • Fan Belt/s
  • One Gallon container of water
  • Spare fuses
  • A 12 ounce water bottle with the bottom cut off to make a funnel or maybe just carry a knife to make one on the spot. And, you may need to shank someone, you can never tell.
  • 24 inch section of 12 gauge wire with alligator clips on the ends, electrical tape & zip ties
  • Coat hanger to wire up, for example, an exhaust pipe
  • Paper clips to replace lost or broken clips or cotter pins.
  • Short length of rubber fuel line and heater hose with splice materials, including worm-drive hose clamps
  • Duct tape- The duct tape and zipties of my day was bailing wire.
  • ¼'' and 5/16” hex bolts with nuts
  • Electrical parts and a test gauge.  On long trips take a spare generator/alternator, starter and fuel pump
  • Tire pressure gauge

As you will find talking to you car friends there are many different items you may need for an emergency repair kit. Even if you decide to not carry all the items I listed, please give some serious thought to carrying at least the top half of items. Those items will save you from an unnecessary tow of your Classic if placed in the right hands.

!!!Support Texas Classic Experience!!!
Did you like the blog?  If you did, the best way to support Texas Classic Experience is to share this post!  Please tell others that you liked this post by sharing it with your car friends by sending them a link to this page.

Please use the add link to purchase auto part, books, etc

(Link to my other blog “The Vintage Guitar Experience”)

Don’t forget to visit and like Texas Classic Experience on FaceBook:  LINK to FaceBook
My winning Peel Out at the 2011 Lone Star Classic Convention in Dallas

Texas Classic Chevy Experience will post blogs about: Hot Rods, Chevy, Chevrolet, Drag Racing, Car Shows, Classic Cars, Custom Cars, Muscle Cars, How to Tech. posts, Dallas Area Classic Chevy Club, Texas Muscle Car Challenge, Tri-Five Nationals, Lone Star Chevy Convention, Classic Car lists, Classic car links, Spotters guides, Car Shows, Swap meets, Book reviews and More.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.