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First aid for your vehicle

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POSTED February 4, 2013 12:33 a.m.

One of the primary reasons I get out in the wilds to hunt, fish, or just explore the back country is to get away from the crowds. The fishing is almost always better, the game less skittish, and the trails seem to have more wild flowers.   In order to get out “back of the beyond” you often have to take your vehicle onto roads less traveled.  The great part about driving on untraveled roads way back in the boondocks is that you often have great fishing and solitude. The bad part about being way out in the middle of nowhere is that when your vehicle breaks down you have no one to help you. Even cell phones don’t work at the bottom of a canyon, and you’re on your own.

For those of you who’ve never experienced being high centered it means exactly what it says, the center of your vehicle is up on a high spot and all four wheels are up in the air. When this happens you are stuck until you figure out how to get your vehicle down where the wheels can grip the dirt again  Fortunately I carry a come-a -long, and a bunch of heavy duty chain and tow straps. I don’t know who invented the come-a-long, but it’s a work of pure genius, a portable hand operated winch that will move your vehicle or almost anything else, eight or ten feet. With a come-a-long and enough chain, you can pull your vehicle out of almost any bad spot.

Once on the way home from a back country fishing trip, somehow we developed a leak in the cooling system and the engine began to over heat. Fortunately, I always carry several extra gallons of water in plastic milk jugs, and have a roll or two of both duct tape and electric tape in my tool box. Many times, you can just wrap a little tape around a leaking, hose pour in some more water and you’re on your way. Once, I managed to hit a rock and snap the petcock valve off of my radiator. By whittling a wooden plug we were able to temporarily stop the leak so that we could refill the radiator from our spare water jugs and limp home. Had I not had the water jugs and ice chest however, we’d have been in for a long walk.

By taking a few precautions and carrying some automotive first aid supplies hopefully you can avoid some of the problems I’ve experienced out in the middle of nowhere. The best thing you can do to avoid back country automotive problems is regular maintenance. By changing oil and filters, belts and hoses, and getting regular tune ups you will avoid a host of problems. Trust me on this; don’t overlook your regular maintenance. If anything can break on a car, I’ve probably had it break on me when I was 50 miles from nowhere. Preventative maintenance is much easier and cheaper in the long run.

Besides regular maintenance I suggest you carry a few extra items for back country travel. As I indicated, a come-a-long is indispensable and you can get one quite inexpensively at your local auto parts store or hardware store. Throw in a couple chains or tow straps so you can reach out 50 to 75 feet to a rock or tree. Extra belts and fuses are handy and don’t take up much room. Besides, it’s easier to have a spare fan belt and a handful of assorted fuses than it is to use your wife’s nylons to jerry-rig a temporary fan belt or scrounge the roadsides looking for a foil gum wrapper to make an emergency fuse.

Other items which can save you grief are extra spark plugs, and an extra rotor cap and rotor. I once had to hitch hike 50 miles each way to get a new rotor cap.  Carrying a spare is easier than hitch hiking. WD40 is indispensable. I once spent a miserable night sleeping in my car about 100 miles out in the desert, because I had a flat tire and couldn’t loosen the lug nuts to change it, ever since, I’ve carried WD40 faithfully. Both a can of that flat tire sealant foam and a portable air compressor that you plug into your cigarette lighter should round out your auto first aid supply list.

Oh yeah, don’t forget your tool box. Of course no tool box would be complete without a coil of bailing wire. It’s amazing what you can fix with bailing wire. By carrying a couple extra items in your expedition vehicle you’ll have an extra measure of peace of mind so that you can concentrate on the fishing, hunting, or wildflowers. Get out there and enjoy those great outdoors.



Until Next Week, Tight Lines 

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