BOV Engine Damage - Options?

Once upon a time, (8 years ago…) I bought an F-150 work truck that went off lease. I tried unsuccessfully to kill it for the previous 3 years, and decided it wanted to stay with our household. With 121K on it, I thought it might be time for some spark plugs. In went the Autolites, and we were in business.

2 days ago, coming home from an outing, my wife and I heard a loud *POP* and a ticking – hissing. I thought we blew a tire. Oh, I wish! We blew a spark plug clean and its threads out of its hole, and broke a coil pack along with it. It’s currently in the shop, getting a Time Sert threaded insert installed. Everything I know about this tells me it is a permanent fix, and we’ll have no further problems with it. Yes, the truck it approaching 200K, but the oil pressure is excellent, the oil and transmission fluid show no signs of metal, and it runs like a champ.

But for a while, there, we were on the side of the interstate thinking about how bad it could be. Could be night time on a road less traveled. Could be out of cell service. Might have to hoof it quite a ways to get anywhere worth being there. Could be scorching hot or freezing cold, and with no engine, you have no A/C or heater. To be forthright, the engine could run in an emergency, but let’s play make believe and pretend it is D. E. A . D..

Experienced Preppers will say, “Grab the BOB, put on yer walkin’ shoes and get to moving.” This is one of the points I wanted to get to. If you are able-bodied and unprepared to walk it out, and to keep yourself watered, fed and sheltered from the worst of the day and night, then you are ready to fail /die. I won’t bore you with a huge list of items for a BOB, so I’ll mildly inconvenience you with some thought teasers. For an emergency kit, consider these things, and then decide what the best form for each might be.

  • Protection from heat and /or cold. Hat, jacket, seasonal or extra clothing, hand warmers. What climate do you regularly encounter with each season and trip?
  • Water, water purification and filtering.
  • Lightweight food stuffs, easily prepared without fire.
  • Small tent or tarp for shelter.
  • Foot wear. Be sure you can walk for miles on whatever you have with you. Your kit should include spare socks and undergarments.

You can add other items as you see fit, but keep in mind the mission: Setting yourself up to travel on foot, safe from the elements.

If you are staying with the vehicle, its body provides protection from sun and rain /snow, but temperature control may not be part of the deal. Expect to do that on your own. You might rig a tarp from the luggage rack of the vehicle to the ground, to create a space outside the cab for seriously hot weather.

One item I left out of the generic list above is power for communications. If you are in a marginal coverage area, or trekking to some high point that promises you a cell phone connection, your phone could run out of juice before you make contact. If you are with your vehicle waiting for better signal, or passers-by to come across you, you can recharge from your car. On foot, however, you need power with you. There are all manner of devices that will charge you up. Some require the device itself to be charged ahead of time (batteries). Others will charge from the sun. Here are some for you to study.

This handy little beast lets you directly connect to your car battery. The lighter plug at the end will then accept you car charger and feed your phone. It’s not likely you’ll need this because, if you have your car, you have its power ports, too. But at this price, I couldn’t pass it up. It’s one of those things I “had to have”.

Duracell makes this portable battery pack. It is the kind you charge at your USB port, and keep with your car. Like your car’s flashlight, you need to check the battery charge regularly. What it does for you is provide power when you need it. No waiting for a solar charger to wake up your phone. Plug and go.

In spite of the fact that it takes a while for this to charge, (best done in direct light, not on a dash board), within its class of device, it gets excellent reviews. This combination charger /battery sacrifices charging surface area for portability. Decent price point for its class.

Staying under $100 for a flexible kit, this unit gets the best Amazon reviews from users. It is flexible, not very heavy, and expandable. This kit comes with an eye opening array of accessories. It is on my personal list for purchase this month. I might even do a review on it.

A note on portable solar chargers. You will find that almost anything under $200 will come with reports about long charge times in low light conditions. Finding any unit that will blaze away in low light, or places in the northern states or Canada, will be difficult. For maximum power options, it is best to have both a flex charger and a portable battery that can directly feed your iPhone or Droid. Home or auto windows will definitely add to your charging time, and if you need power right now, you’ll want a ready battery source. Expect to make use of direct sunlight for best performance. Have you seen those backpacks with panels on the back? They’re awesome – if the sun is at your back.

Oh, regarding that poor F-150. We did get a tow home, and today, I drove it to the shop. With the plug missing, the engine noise was horrible. But after disconnecting the electrical connector from the bad cylinder’s fuel injector and ignition coil, it was safe to drive. In an emergency, I could have driven it for quite a long way before the piston was damaged. This is one of the remaining options, and something people need to be good with during emergencies. At some point you might have to sacrifice some piece of kit, or even a vehicle, to stay alive. That includes burning a car to the ground in the smokiest way possible to attract attention, or driving it to death to get nearer to civilization. Nothing is more important than your life, and the lives of those with you.

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