When mechanical trouble strikes miles from home, we may find ourselves stuck in the boondocks — unless we know how to do emergency repairs. It might be in a remote oil field, in a mine, or even on-board a commercial fishing boat.
Take toothed cam drive belts for example: engines in motorcycles, cars, boats, and even heavy equipment use these belts to drive engine camshafts. If the teeth strip miles from home you are stranded. However, if you have your toolbox and a little know-how, there’s a good chance you can get the machine going again and get home from anywhere.
After trade school and the Caterpillar apprenticeship program, in the middle of Wyoming’s oil fields, much of my 40 year career was spent in Alaska. It happened that most of that time, I kept equipment going under adverse conditions. Because I worked in remote places as a field mechanic, often with limited resources, I came to enjoy finding the proverbial back door to solve equipment problems. I began to chronicle the many work-arounds I saw along the way. My buddies also enjoyed sharing things they’d seen or done. Over time, we developed a considerable resource; one that is valuable to soldiers, remote construction workers and even first responders who must use equipment to get home or help others after disaster strikes.
The following items are examples of the Field Expedient Repair techniques I use in our seminars. They are very similar to the Army’s Battlefield Damage Assessment and Repair (BDAR) techniques long used by military organizations. Furthermore, we can do an assessment of most machines and help you develop Field Expedient Techniques or BDARs for your most vital engines, generators and heavy equipment.
If you are mechanically inclined, you will enjoy the following material. However, before you dive in, I must ask you to consider the next few paragraphs.
The Jaws of Life
To remove people from crushed cars after an accident, the Jaws and similar products are used to cut crushed metal and expand it outward, opening a route for escape. Of course, the Jaws have no place at all in our normal day-to-day lives.
So it is with the following items, and like the Jaws, they are not for daily use. You need to keep your equipment in top shape for a safe and profitable operation. The following items are only for emergencies. Maybe you have a broken machine at a remote site, near the end of a job. These tips will help you get home, or run one more hour to finish a job. They will also help emergency responders keep equipment going for disaster response scenarios.
Each summary is presented in a pictorial format, with the traditional and preferred manufacturer’s directions and precautions on the left side of the page. The alternative, or the “work-around” procedure is on the right.
Please note: These tips are no substitute for your service manual. Follow your service manual and apply all of the manufacturer’s precautions. Also, take all of the precautions on the left of the summaries below and apply them to the work-around. Remember, the emergency tip is on the right.
|The Cog belt|
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Keep Going with a Stripped Cam Cog Belt
Cam belts have short lives due to engine space heat, and high speeds and loads to which they are subjected. If yours strips cogs, use this tip to get home — whether it is a motorcycle engine cog belt or a 4-stroke snow machine engine. Just be sure to time the cam properly.
Safely Operate a Machine with a Flat or Missing Wheel on the Steering Axle
This summary is for those times when a machine needs to keep working to finish a job, or even to take you home. It works on wheel loaders, log skidders, forklifts and agricultural tractors, to name a few.
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Missing a Wheel on a Ford Tractor
Agricultural tractors especially, need to out of the soft field and back to the road for service work and repair. This tip helps them do just that.