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Gas Leak in Arkansas


Submitted by okieterry on 2006-10-28 | Last Modified on 2006-11-11

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Gas Tank Leak in Arkansas

Back in the early 90s, I had a climbing wall in my garage. As Norman, Oklahoma is a college town, I always had a lot of college kids drop by and climb in my garage. A couple of these kids, named Aaron and Mike, started coming over all the time and even brought me a bunch a new holds. These guys were awesome training partners as they were strong and motivated. Aaron brought his younger brother Adam over a few times to climb and this kid looked stronger than anybody.

After listening to months of my story telling about Yosemite, Shelf Road, Eldorado Canyon, the Sandias, etc., we made plans to go to Arkansas. After work one Friday, we all jumped into my old beater…a 1983 Mazda GLC, and headed out to Cave Creek.

After the six hour drive, it was really late by the time we neared Sams Throne. As we were driving down the dirt road, I was surprised to see that the road was being improved and was a mess. The road was rocky and there were piles of wood burning along the road about every quarter mile or so. In one particularly rough spot, the overburdened shocks in the car allowed us to bounce and scrape off of a protruding rock.

Soon after, I pulled over at the overlook above the Throne to give the guys a thrill. As we stepped out of the car we were greeted with the strong odor of fresh gasoline. Holy Cow!! I grabbed the headlamp and looked under the car. There was a stream of gas about the width of a pencil flowing out of an ugly looking gash in the bottom of the tank "Get in the car!!!" I yelled and immediately jumped in and started the engine. As the boys all jumped in, I mashed the accelerator down and we started a 5 mile downhill dash to the town of Mt. Judea (pronounced like Judy). As we dripped our way down the road past the burning piles of wood, I kept a nervous eye on the mirror, expecting a big whoosh at any minute as our little trail of gas ignited and rushed to follow us. I yelled for the boys to be ready to jump out just in case and all their eyes got big!!! They all held their doors open and watched for flames. As I drove as fast as I could down the mountain, we all saw the little stream of gas we were leaving behind us in the dirt.

With immense relief we pulled up a few minutes later to the gas station located in Mt. Judea. What to do now? As I looked at the gash some more, I realized that it was on the right side of the tank. If I parked the car, at an extreme angle away from the leak, then maybe I could stop the gas from leaking out. After a few minutes of looking around, I found my spot and parked the car halfway up on the curb right in the middle of the 90 degree turn in the highway.

Then we grabbed our sleeping bags and nervously spent the night in the lawn behind the gas station.

The next morning, we checked out the leak. Numerous local people came out and visited with us that morning. They all told us the same thing….use soap. Apparently it is common knowledge in Arkansas that if you use soap to stop a gas tank leak. Who knew??? So we tried it.

"Darn it!!" Mike yelled as the soap trick failed to work again. We had tried several different types of soap and methods of applying the soap…but nothing worked. I thought of trying an epoxy type material called JB Weld but unfortunately couldn't get the stuff to stick around the soaped up and gasoline wet hole.

As I lay under the car trying to clean and dry the hole for another try, I felt weird vibrations coming from the asphalt road. The next thing I know, the car was surrounded by hoofs walking around both sides of the car. Somebody is herding a large cattle herd right down the highway!!! As I nervously laugh about the situation and wait for the cows to leave, I suddenly feel spray on my face as one of the cows lets go with a green urination/crap right against the side of the car. I have nowhere to go and just lay there as the urination/crapping seemed to escalate around me.

Later, the old woman in the store tells us that she knows someone who lives in the hills nearby that might be able to fix our leak We get directions to the house. But how do we get the car there? We experiment with numerous things from the store and settle on gum. It seems like properly chewed and applied bubble yum does the trick!!

After filling the tank with gas and buying about 20 pieces of bubble yum, we head out into the hills. We stop and check the gas tank repeatedly and are surprised to see that the gum is holding. Then we roll off of the smooth asphalt and onto the rocky roads. Crap!!! The gum can only hold about two or three minutes before it shakes off! Using the team approach…two guys chewing, one guy holding his finger in the hole, and then one guy making the gum placement, we repeatedly replace our gum in the hole and make our way into the hills.

After awhile, we pull up to a classic Arkansas hillbilly house in the woods and knock on the door. There is no answer so I wander around the house to the barn. Three guys with long beards look up from the hood of a car they are working on. Each of these guys are dressed the same- grubby oil stained white Tshirts with grubby oil stained overalls. As I describe our predicament, I uncomfortably realize that these guys are looking at me rather intently. It's as if these guys have never seen tights on a grown man before!! Suddenly it dawns on me that this is a really bad idea. There's no way these guys can weld on that tank today and I'm not waiting around here to wait for it to dry out!!! I quickly thank the guys and head back to the car. "What happened", asked Aaron. "I don't want to talk about it", I replied. We gummed our way back to civilization.

Back at the Mt. Judea gasoline store, we plotted new strategy. We wanted to climb but we also wanted to get home. The urge to flee and climb was so strong, that once we actually started hiking down the highway thinking we would walk to a cliff and climb. We only got about a block before we had to head back as several of the locals yelled at us to not leave that car on the corner as a logging truck would surely come and wipe it out. I thought that if we could get to Cave Creek and jack the car at an extreme angle, we could get the hole to dry out well enough that the JB Weld would hold. It was a gamble because we didn't know how much gas we would lose on the 10 mile trip to Cave Creek or if the JB Weld would work. Also, it was going to be kinda exciting as we would have to roll and drip past the roadside fires again. Finally we decided to go for it…the other alternatives just seemed too expensive and we wouldn't get to climb.

After filling the hole with a new piece of gum and filling the tank with gas again, we bought about 100 pieces of bubble yum and started the shaky uphill climb to Cave Creek. About every half-mile we had to put new gum back in the hole. It was nasty as you couldn't help get gas on your hand and then in your mouth during the many gum replacements. I think Mike did the majority of the dirty work, but we all took turns. Finally, we pulled up at Cave Creek. And then, after jacking the car up and letting it dry while we climbed, we successfully patched it with the JB Weld and drove home. After this trip, I always bring bubble yum and a pair of jeans on every climbing trip....just in case!
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2 Comments CommentAdd a Comment

 nolamtbr
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 2007-07-25
I'm sorry for such a late reply to your question/problem, but for future reference, I received this advice from some 4x4 club members some years ago when I hit something in the road on the way to a car show with my show car......now this may sound stupid......IVORY SOAP! yes Ivory soap, just take the bar of soap and scrape it into the area when it is dripping gas, oil, tranny fluid, etc., it worked for me! something with the Ivory soap that it swells and seals the leak. yes, it did work for me and I was allowed into the show, it was an indoor show. keep a bar of this in your tool box?!@# good luck and again, sorry for the late response.
 nolamtbr
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 2007-07-25
ps, that was from this website...i had to know what the soap thing was...
http://www.stripersonline.com/surftalk/showthread.php?t=500334

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