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post #1 of 21 (permalink) Old 03-19-02, 10:28 PM Thread Starter
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What's your worst car breakdown?

Me. 1979. Xmas -New Year break.

As almost every holiday I had been on previously had involved problems with the various old clunkers I'd had before, I got the 9 month old, still under factory warranty Gemini serviced by a GM dealer and headed off to Point Hicks, then a remote coastal spot about 40 mins from Cann River, right in the heart of hillbilly country. For once we weren't going to have car troubles and we'll have a relaxing couple of days there.

Shortly after arrival I started to go down a track to where some vehicles were camped on the beach, but like a fool I didn't walk it first. Got part way down, realised no way I was going to clear the deep ruts or get up again with my wheelbase, and started to reverse. Problems. Leaving out a whole lot of crap, I'm eventually clawing my way up the hill backwards under high revs when it just dies.

Shattered rotor arm. Yes, I don't know anyone else it's happened to either, but there we were. And it didn't mark anything inside the dizzy cap either.

Got pulled out by this old bloke with old SWB Land Rover while his adult daughter keeps running around telling him to be careful that he doesn't have another heart attack. I'm hoping he can keep that at bay until he's at least got me out.

Various walks to the lighthouse a few k's away, one of which is an entire story in itself with the child of the damned who lives there, to phone Cann River for tow truck, which is always going to arrive that day but doesn't.

Missus gets badly sunburnt on day one, as bloody usual, and spends most of next few days lying in tent moaning about it, as bloody usual, and how the sand on the burn hurts etc etc. I help things along by telling her it's her own stupid fault and you'd think she'd have learnt something in the past five years of the same thing, and showing no sympathy.

Things start getting serious by day two, as all the ice has melted and fresh food won't last past that day.

Things get really serious on day three, as I run out of beer. Now there's nothing to dull the moaning of the missus.

By day four I am reduced to filling in the time getting hysterical and taking to a fallen tree with a machete to work off some anger. Mishit it with flat of blade and narrowly avoid taking leg off.

Day five and the tow truck arrives. Only it's one of those milk truck things with canvas roll down sides. I go round back looking for draw bar etc but nothing positive.

Driver has a partial second row of teeth behind his bottom teeth. High pitched voice. Weird. Looks like an extra rejected from Deliverance as nobody would believe he's real. I have overwhelming sense I'm caught in a bad dream.

I ask why he took so long. He's been waiting at Cann River in case there's a really big prang on the higway, Xmas being a good time in his line of work. Unfortunately he was out of luck. But he left tow truck there just in case.

I ask him how he proposes to tow us. He produces a tube of Araldite and glues what's left of the rotor arm back together. He follows us into town, having assured me a repair like that is good for thousands of k's. We only have to reglue rotor once on way. He thinks this is pretty good. I am thinking about killing him.

We order new rotor arm from GM dealer in Orbost, which will be on mail truck and delivered tomorrow.

I check out Cann River pub. Cold beer. Good.

Mail truck arrives at service station a.m. I ask Araldite man if rotor has arrived. No. Why not? Oh, old Perce or whoever it is in the mail truck has lost it and he'll find it when he gets to Merimbula or wherever, and deliver it when he comes back. He's always too proud to admit he loses things.

I hate Cann River.

Perce is only a hundred yards up the road. I have a scoped and very accurate .22 magnum in the car and I can stop Perce real easy. I'm tempted, but the missus says to grow up. Why should I, when I'm surrounded by overgrown children?

I ring GM dealer in Orbost. No, they can't send another rotor because f*cking Perce has the only one in East Gippsland.

I f*cking hate Cann River.

I get some Araldite and tie wire and put the remains of the rotor together and cook it cured. Araldite man assures me it will get us to Orbost.

It doesn't.

We break down midway between Cann River and Orbost, and a few hundred yards past some people having a picnic with their card table and all the trimmings. I do my 'nana completely. I get out the car and shout all sorts of things at the car, slamming the bonnet and doors and so on. If you've seen the Fawlty Towers hitting the Mini scene, think of that about 100 times magnified. My voice must carry a bit in the forest, because suddenly the people with the picnic table have packed up and gone in about a minute.

I wish my car was a horse. Then I could shoot the bastard. Maybe I'll shoot it anyway. The missus sits stonily in the car looking at something in the far distance.

We hitchhike to Orbost and I come back with a tow truck.

Now the car is in the Orbost GM dealer, but the rotor is in New South Wales, and I am trying to persuade the GM people to take a rotor off the Gemini in the showroom and stick it in mine. They can't possibly do this because that's not a spare part, but after a fair bit of this they finally get sick of me (because I am becoming visibly more and more irrational as time goes on) and do it.

Off we go, another happy holiday over, as I have to be back at work next day.
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post #2 of 21 (permalink) Old 03-19-02, 10:43 PM
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LOL, that's a good one.

I have passed through Orbost and Cann River. I had planned to stop there for a feed but decided better of it. Their creepy places.

I hope I'm not offending anyone from thereabouts but I don't think they would have the internet yet (or learnt to read or write)so I'm probably pretty safe.

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post #3 of 21 (permalink) Old 03-19-02, 10:47 PM Thread Starter
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Originally posted by RAPTOR
LOL, that's a good one.

I have passed through Orbost and Cann River. I had planned to stop there for a feed but decided better of it. Their creepy places.

You want to be there (Cann River) at night. Orbost I quite like.
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post #4 of 21 (permalink) Old 03-20-02, 12:35 AM
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HAHA you poor bastard...

I'm not even gonna bother posting my worst break-down now cause it comes no-where near that!!

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post #5 of 21 (permalink) Old 03-20-02, 01:17 AM
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ROFL, ROFL, ROFL, ROFL, poor bloody gemini!!

Mess with the bull, get the horns!
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post #6 of 21 (permalink) Old 03-20-02, 02:23 AM
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Great story .. sounds like a perfect recipe for a Holiday !

My worst breakdown experience came compliments of a rental in Taiwan a few years ago. I could've understood the whole experience from Rent-A-Rocket but this was a late model Opel from one of the big names in the game.

I'd been there a number of times before but never seen anything but Taipei from the back of taxis and hotel limos - and it's not the greatest place in the world to breathe the air with about a million two stroke scooters darting around everywhere.
Down the other end of the island is the Seaport of Kaosiung so I thought I'd rent the little Opel and drive down there for a couple of days.

Now Taiwan is not littered with roads and the two ends of the island are separated by a fast 12 laned stretch of dead straight bitumen road where the speed limit is supposedly 110k but where everyone does heaps more and only slows down for the (frequent) toll booths.

Getting bored with the dead straight road and the fairly slow top speed of the little Opel I turned off at the first so-called scenic route to where I was going. By our standards this was a poor secondary road but it was a clear night and looked like it would be more fun than the highway.

About 40km in the Opel started to cough and splutter under even moderate accelaeration so I pulled over to have a look. Couldn't see anything immediately obvious so thought I'd do the smart thing and keep driving till I saw some signs of civilisation. Bad move. The little beastie didn't want to fire - turned over but was otherwise as dead as the Dodo bird.
No worries I thought - reach for the trusty mobile phone (which in those days was more like two house bricks) only to find there was no service. Now this part of Taiwan is pretty flat so there wasn't anything like a hill to see if I could get some mobile service and as I was younger and fitter then I decided to walk until I found some help. This didn't seem like a bad idea as I had water and cigarettes to last until I found help.

Now Taiwan is in the South China Sea which is a notorious typhoon zone during certain times of the year - and after I'd walked a couple of k's the winds sprang up and it started raining so hard I couldn't see the road I was walking on. The good side of that news was that I was drenched in about 30 seconds - after which it is impossible to get any wetter. The bad side is that I could have walked past a large town and not even seen it. Being stupid (I called it brave at the time) I continued walking for what seemed like hours in this incredible wind and rain - in reality it was probably only an hour or so but the progress was slow going. You wouldn't believe how hard it is to light a fag in that sort of rain but like any dedicated addict I managed it.

Eventualy I stumbled into a hamlet - not worthy of the name town but it had a couple of street lights and a police station (thank God for Police states). It's probably the only time in my life I've been happy to see a police uniform but my happinness turned to dismay when I realised that (like most of the country) he knew not one word of English. Now my Cantonese and Hokkien are passable but despite the similarities in sounds Mandarin might as well be gibberish to me - worse still when it was probably a local dialect spoken by the 47 local residents and understood only by their cats and dogs.
Fairly quickly got the idea that they didn't see too many white fellas in that neck of the woods as I seemed to be surrounded by most of the town in this tiny Police station in a few minutes. Someone gave me some drier clothes than mine at least and I was offered the single cell to change in. Of course no-one spoke any English so I was forced to revert to good old sign language to try and explain what happened.
Picture the scene: Dripping wet Caucasian dressed like Stan Hardy (Chinese clothes don't usually fit 6' westerners) standing in a crowded room making steering wheel gestures and going "vroom vroom" to try and explain that I has been driving. Must have looked like a reject from the Wiggles! Eventually soneone cottoned on (or at least they were making understanding type noises) as I attempted to explain that the "vroom vroom" had gone "phut". I gathered there was nothing like a mechanic or garage in the town from the shaking heads and gathered from the hand signals that there would be a bus or something in the morning. Not having any other choice I accepted the hospitality of the lock-up for the night whilst wishing I was absolutely anywhere else.

Morning arrived complete with a traditional Chinese breakfast which for those of you who haven't tried one mostly consists of things you either can't identify or which I don't eat. Don't have much choice when you are a guest so I forced as much of what I could identify down and made thanking gestures in the hope that there wouldn't be any more. Thankfully (apart from the awful green tea) there wasn't and after changing back into my own (dried and pressed - gotta' love Chinese laundries) I was shown a spot outside to wait for what I assumed would be the bus.

Never take anything for granted.
My transport turned out to be an unidentifiable vintage Toyota flat tray with a cage on the back which I was invited to get in along with the other occupants) namely one pig of the curly tailed kind and what looked roughly like a goat. Oh and about half an inch of shit.

Needless to say the ride was not exactly limo like in quality and the smell from the animals etc, soon had breakfast looking for a way out - quick.
At this point in time you could have chopped me up and fed me to the animals for all I cared - I just sat down in the shit and hoped that somewhere this nightmare was going to end.
Like all bad things it did end but not before two final pieces of irony.

The Tojo tray eventually arrived in a bigger town and took me straight to the office of the local mayor - I can only hope that he doesn't judge all Aussies by the way I must have looked to him that day - I didn't dare sit down although he offered a seat and I must have smelt lovely.

To his credit he was as polite as you always find the Taiwanese to be and after I'd been through my "vroom" and "phut" routine he took me to the local mechanic who then drove me to the Opel in his ancient tow truck.

After getting lost a couple of times we finally found the Opel up to the top of it's wheels in water on the side of the road. The mechanic made car starting gestures to me so I jumped in and turned the key .. and the bastard, mongrel, bitch of a thing started almost first kick. Talk about feeling completely and utterly stupid.

Couldn't get him to take any money for his time and trouble but his eyes lit up with the bottle of VSOP that I had in the car to use as a gift for a client.

The words I said to the rental desk clerk don't bear repeating and she probably didn't understand most of them with her badly broken English - at least I felt better for saying them
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post #7 of 21 (permalink) Old 03-20-02, 04:41 AM
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Christmas day 1989 and I was on my way to my parents place. I had a Ford Meteor at the time, it was second hand and I had not had it for long. It was a stinking hot day and whilst on the Newcastle freeway the fan belt broke. I got out of the car and started walking to find an emergency phone and this car pulls up beside me. This woman leans over to the passenger window, she would have been around 40. She had her top half undone and a boob almost falling out and asks me did I want a lift. I looked back at my car with regret as my girlfriend was in the car and declined the offer, telling her that the phone was only another 200 yards up the road. She still offered but I had to say no (I still wonder what would have happened if I had got in!).

I get to the phone and asked the bloke to send the NRMA. He asked if I was a member and I said no. He told me that it would cost a me fortune and wasn't going to call them, thinking he was doing the right thing by me. I got cranky and told him to call them as I'd rather pay and get going instead of sitting by the road in 40 deg heat.

After an half hour wait, NRMA turns up and it takes ages to fit the belt as he is having trouble. In the end I think it cost me $60 all up, which considering the heat was fine by me!

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post #8 of 21 (permalink) Old 03-21-02, 01:24 AM
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About 3 years ago i was heading out to the local kart track in a little old mazda truck (1.6L) that i used to carry the kart. The old girl would sit on about 80 comfortably, anything over that was pushing it.

This particular day I was running bloody late (after waiting in line at the servo for half an hour to get some premium) so i decided i needed to push it a bit harder so I wouldnt miss the first race. I was making pretty good time, sitting on about 105 - FLAT OUT.

The track is about 10 kays from my house, and about 2 kays from being there it started to pick up speed to about 110. Im thinking bloody hell this things running like a rocket...aparently engines always do before they throw a conrod through the cylinder wall and wind up with lots of little bits of metal in the sump! I still made it to the race though after another karter kindly offered me a lift.

Nowadays the truck still gets around...only now it has a nice ford 2 litre in it. Best thing that ever happened to it!


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post #9 of 21 (permalink) Old 03-21-02, 02:16 AM
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Top stories guys,

russellw i know i shouldn't laugh but i was craking up while reading the story, my oldies were wondering why i laughed for no reason.
Having been to Indonesia i can picture the situation. Ahh well at least you really roughed it out in Taiwan.

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post #10 of 21 (permalink) Old 03-23-02, 07:20 AM
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Yep, excellent stories.

My best breakdown isn't in the same league but here goes anyway - About two weeks after I had replaced the head gasket on my ED (and at the same time fitted the EF manifold) I was acclelerating out of a roundabout and "BANG - ZZZZZZZzzzzzz" - loss of power and all red lites on panel lit up.

I had the presence of mind to chuck the trans into N and pulled off into the next driveway and up onto the footpath. I even indicated - adrenaline is amazing stuff.

So I try to start it and just get a "zzzzzzzzzzzzzz" sound. At this stage I had a pretty shrewd idea the timing chain had gone or something similar and dreaded what had happened to valves etc.

I locked it up and got a taxi home - then next day called a workshop which was about a block from where I had stopped. I was so pissed off that I though screw it a mechanic can do it this time.

Turned out that the cam gear bolt had snapped and the cam gear had fallen off with predictable results. One rocker was broken and 7 out of 12 valves bent. Fortunately there was no real damage to pistons. So I got them to fix it all up including general head recon (I hadn't done the seats or seals when I had it off). So a job I coulda done myself (again!!) for about $500 ended up costing $1800!!! I was savage as the bastards "led" me to believe it would be about $650.

The whole thing was very embarassing as I'm an aircraft engineer by trade - and in fact although I was meticulous with correct torques and procedures by the book - I have to admit that while I was torquing the cam gear bolt I did notice that it felt a bit "spongy". Unfortunately I didn't recognise it as being the symptom of a stretched bolt near failure.

Normally at work I can - and have done so - recognize by "feel" when a bolt is duressed, but for some reason I simply didn't make the connection when doing the car. Different mental track maybe? I simply can't explain it.

All I can figure is that the mechs who had fitted the EDXR6 cam about 4 months before had overtorqued the bolt. I now use a brand spanking new one EVERY time!
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