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Patterson’s “Bruise”

• CATEGORIES: Features

How did Patterson’s accident occur? It’s the result of a cascade of several events.

Patterson has sat for the better part of two years, which likely caused the fuel pump to stop working. Already knowing it didn’t work, and because I was going to have to drive it on the trailer on Saturday (loading a vehicle at my mother’s place is awkward due to the terrain), I tried to buy a cheap electric fuel pump on Friday, I found some $12 cheapy electric ones on Amazon, but it was too late to order off of Amazon, so I figured I could pick up a cheap one at AutoZone or NAPA. Right?

Wrong. The cheapest ones that had were $50 and up. Worse, they were eight inches or bigger. I just wanted a small, two inch fuel pump to get it on the trailer. Even worse, I have a brand new electric fuel pump somewhere; but, given the move, it’s impossible to find right now.

To complicate things, Ann was sick on Friday, so I had to take her mom in for her bi-weekly post-cancer infusions, so that ate up time I had hoped to use to hunt for an electric fuel pump. With time disappearing, I fell back onto an old school idea: rig up a gravity feed setup.

On Saturday morning I had planned to waked up at 3:30 am to head to Renton so I could build the gravity feed, get Patterson running (so it would be ready to load when Steve arrived with the car trailer, as we had a tight time table), and load a cargo trailer that I was towing. Unfortunately, I woke up at 1:30am and couldn’t get back to sleep. So, by the time I arrived in Renton at 7:00am, despite my coffee injection, I was already feeling a little tired.

My mother’s garage looks like it was destroyed by a tornado, but in reality, it’s her storage system (sorry mom). So, hunting down 1) extra fuel tubes and 2) a useable reservoir in which I could hold some gas proved difficult and frustrating. Eventually, I cut some hoses off of Biscuit and cobbled this device together:


The “fuel overflow” container was a plastic Costco Mixed nuts container. A handy steel funnel was just wide enough to sit on the mouth of the container, yet had a perfectly sized opening at the bottom to slide into a rubber fuel line.

To put it together, I drilled a hole in the nuts container, then slid the rubber fuel line into the container, sealing it with silicone. Then, I used a steel fuel line and a second rubber hose to feed the carb. I then taped the whole assembly to the driver’s side mirror, which put it high enough to feed the gas into the carb, yet it hung over the side of the jeep so that gas wouldn’t spill onto the jeep.


This shows the system before it was taped to the mirror.

With the system in place, I poured some gas into the funnel and Pattrerson started right up.

So far, so good.

However, I noticed that the brake and clutch were both really tight. If I push the brake, the clutch also went down. To get the clutch to release, I had to physically reach down and pull it up by hand. I didn’t have time to address this issue on Saturday morning, but figured I could work around it.

With the jeep in “neutral”, and me in the jeep, I released the clutch with my foot, but it remained depressed. I figured, given the jeep was in “neutral”, that I could exit the jeep, block the tires, and let it warm up a little. Before I exited the jeep, I double checked that the column shift transmission was in neutral by wiggling the shifter up and down.

I hopped out of the jeep, but before blocking the tire, I reached down to pull out the clutch (why, I don’t know why I felt the need to do that .. should have let sleeping dogs lie) …

Anyway, when I pulled out the clutch, instead of remaining in neutral, somehow the jeep was in reverse. Suddenly, with the clutch-plate engaged, Patterson began rapidly moving backwards.

It was a moment of horror, the realization that there’s nothing I can do but watch Patterson jerk backwards. And, at that moment, I realized the cargo trailer I had rented was Patterson’s prime target. Why Patterson took exception to the trailer isn’t clear, but he ran into that trailer with all that power he could muster (thankfully, he doesn’t have all that much power). Fortunately, the trailer stood its ground, with the only damage being a broken running light. Patterson definitely got the worst of it, sigh.

I suppose the good news is that Patterson was never a trailer queen. I can pull out the dents and fix the bumper.

The thing that haunted me for several hours was how it happened. I was sure I had it in neutral and had tested it several times. Eventually, as I was driving back to Prosser, it finally dawned on me that neutral on the column shifter was “back and forth”, not “up and down”. What I thought was neutral was the shifter moving between 1st and reverse. The gears were so well aligned that it just felt like neutral.

So, it was partly stupidity on my part and partly something that wouldn’t have happened had the clutch been working correctly and/or the fuel pump working correctly, as that had definitely been my focus.


As Colin notes, this is a great excuse to upgrade my lights back to stock.

The next challenge is moving Biscuit….


10 Comments on “Patterson’s “Bruise”

  1. Chuck

    When these oddly weird things happen, and they happen to all of us, I often wonder; if it was for some unknown preordained plan of the universe or if sheet just happens? Just happy no humans or animals were hurt in the making of this post!

  2. David Eilers Post author

    Chuck, I’m pretty much in the sheet-happens category at this point in life. I’ve noticed that there is a higher correlation of sheet-happening when I’m tired and in a hurry!

  3. Mike

    Body work can be fun, time to bring out the porta-power, hammer and dolly, nothing a little bondo can’t fix. (Bondo has it’s rightful place, not all bad) When tired and stressed, expect the up-expected. Never fails, pushing yourself to the limit, always ends up with my thinking to myself, “I should have listened to that little voice inside of me saying, not a good idea.” Anyway, the positive side of such stories, I use as an opportunity such as this to improve my body work skills, see how close I can get to made the damage dis-appear.

  4. David Eilers Post author

    Mike, agreed.

    I post stories like this just to demonstrate that I do stupid stuff, too, sometimes. It’s not all unicorns and rainbows!

    – Dave

  5. Tom in Paris

    I’m glad you didn’t squish yourself or have worse damage. I don’t know how many times I’ve reached in across the pedals to push my starter button on the floor rather than climbing into the seat. I’ll rethink that in the future.

  6. Terry

    Doesn’t look too bad , once you get it running, a hook a chain and a tree should pull it straight , and yes get rid of those tail lights !

  7. colin peabody

    YOur mind was already frazzelled when you check the shift position., but a refresher in how a three on the tree works would have been in order, but its too late now!!! Patterson will suffer for a while, but you will get around to fixing him.

  8. David Eilers Post author

    Terry: Yeah, I never liked those lights either, but changing them was low on the priority list (and now has moved up!).

    Colin: yes, a refresher on the tranny shifter would have been good. HAD the fuel pump been working, none of this would have happened. But, that’s water under the bridge.

    Meanwhile, we are busily checking things off the list here. The house is somewhat in order. The former dove coup has been cleaned and can now house the garden stuff we’ve been storing in various places. The pasture is fenced and 3.5 cows are lowering the pasture grass, slowly. We’ve created a more secure backyard so our youngest pup will stop escaping (she’s pretty sneaky). Next on the list is to arrange the tools in the shop (partly because I can’t find my charger for my electric drill batteries!!). I’ll likely save Patterson until after I make the changes on the race jeep, which will be after I setup the office, which will be after I setup the shop.

  9. Allan J. Knepper

    Dave……welcome to the Left Rear Dent club. My CJ3-B has an identical dent. Both panels will need a little “coercing”. My damage was already done when I got my Willys. I’m sure many years of ranch use was the culprit. I like the suggestion of use of a tree and log chain as part of the solution……..and I’ll bet you have a tree or two on the new property ! Have fun

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