Posted by: Dave Neads | January 22, 2008

Ingenuity, the ARK and Cuba

We live at the end of the supply chain. The very end. If and when we are able to get parts for equipment, they never fit the first time and rarely fit second, so we usually make up something up that works. We call it ‘hay wiring’ or ‘bucksheeing’. In short, if it’s broken we usually find a way to fix it using parts from some other piece of machinery. That’s why most West Chilcotin residents have their personal hardware store made up of all the pieces from equipment that doesn’t work, but supplies parts which are cobbled together to keep other things running.

In many ways it is like living under a blockade. You can’t get parts, and if you do they usually don’t work, so, in the end you make do with what you have and get on with it. Just like the Cubans do.

While there we hired a ’56 Ford Mercury Meteor driven by a very capable man by the name of Ramiro. He spoke excellent English and was very proud of his “Good Boy” as he called it while patting the dash lovingly. The car was a tight fit for we six on our way to Havana, but it was a real experience to ride in a car more than half a century old. Brought back lots of memories.

The first thing I noticed was the unusual gearshift on the column. It was a straight rod with a tractor type shift knob at the end. As Ramiro drove off he made a series of odd figure 8 moves which didn’t look like anything I’d seen, even on buckshee bush equipment around here. Because the original transmission had long since given up the ghost, this car had been fitted with a five speed Hyundai transmission from a small minivan. No problemo!

As we got out on the highway and up to speed, the venerable old Merc started to develop a very distinct knock which sounded for all the world like blown rod. Although the day was not overly hot, Ramiro started to sweat, a lot. When we pulled over and lifted the hood, a four cylinder, mid-nineties Lada engine from a Russian sedan sat there purring away. Nothing unusual in that Ramiro said, a little brazing on the clutch housing, move the motor mounts a bit and away you go. No problemo!

Fortunately, everything seemed fine under the hood, so we started to check the suspension. The Khumo tires fitted on the Mercedes rims complete with Mercedes hubcaps were tight, no worries there.

So back on the road. And back came the noise. This time we crawled along until we found a Servicio that had a hoist. Up went the car. Somehow the wire that held the muffler and tail pipe up had gotten wrapped around the driveshaft, giving the hard metal knock as the car moved down the road. Did I say wire? I think it really was an old speedometer cable, complete with the coil wrapping; that is why it made so much noise.

With this removed the noise disappeared and we rode happily off to Havana with the tailpipe flapping up and down, waving good bye to our troubles.

Ramiro’s “Good Boy” had come through again.





Good Old Boys


  1. Hi Dave

    Too many pics, I think that’s why it loaded so slowly – maybe make them smaller file size? Good stuff tho’ d

  2. Ho La Dave

    No problem downloading the pics
    Great Photos !

  3. Wayne;

    Thanks, Cuba has so many images, so much to tell. Buena Suerte


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