• “Recycled Trash in the Fifties and Sixties”

    This is me (Captain Judy Helmey) in the sixties trying to fix my Gray Marine gas slat head six engine! When this engine was delivered to our house it had an exhaust pipe that stuck straight up about three feet above the engine. Daddy brought it from the army surplus store. This engine had been removed from an amphibious vehicle. And there is much more to this story, but sorry, it’s definitely going to have to be told at another time!

    “Recycled Trash in the Fifties and Sixties”

    My father was a whiz with boat engines. It seemed as though he could fix almost any mechanical problems without involving factory parts. Back in the old days, you just couldn’t stop what you were doing just to run out to the parts store. There are very good reasons why you couldn’t and shouldn’t. The first and most important was that the parts place probably didn’t have what you needed in stock any way. They could probably get it, but only by Snail mail, which as you all know was slower in those days. Another reason and also a good one was the fact that the boat was out of commission, which would mean no income. You best stay with the boat and figure out some sort of a fix.

    So therefore daddy would have to come up with some fast, but serviceable way of repairing the engine so that he could keep running. I have seen him remove wore out spark plugs, soak them in gasoline, re-gauge them, and back in the head they would go. I know what you must be thinking of how the engine could have possibly run correctly. Back in the old days I don’t think a lot of people knew or much less cared whether the engine was truly running at its best.

    Another method of repair was the “Old Rope Trick.” After breaking a belt a basic rope tied correctly would run just fine between the two pulleys. This wasn’t a sure fix, but it would get you home and possibly out on another short trip. However there would be a very good chance that you might have to stop and change the rope a few times.

    The last that I can remember at this time is the “Tin Can Trick.” This was “Daddy’s Instance Patch Kit,” which consisted of a tin can and a roll of wire. Let’s say that you have a blow out in your exhaust. This is when you get lots of steam or water depending on the location of the hole. He would cut the ends out of the cans and put them to the side. These cans could be anything from a fruit to beer can. Then he would cut the can so that he could lay it out flat. Now he had what he called a moldable patch. He might use one can or as many as it took to go all the way around the exhaust. He would place the ends of the cans over the hole, wrap the patch (flat can material) around the pipe several times, and then wrap the wire as tightly as possible. It might have still leaked, but certainly not as much as before the patch job. All I can say about this is please don’t try this on your blow out. This is due to the fact they just don’t make cans like they use too!

    Thanks for reading! Captain Judy