BOV Update: Clutch, Schmutch

Clutch cable broke last night on my 72 Commando...
but it ended up OK thanks to the amazing durability of a classic Jeep.

Coming home yesterday afternoon from my nephew's HS graduation cookout, as I took off from a stoplight, my clutch went straight to the floor with no resistance. I made it through the intersection into a closed business's parking lot. I crawled under the dash and saw that the clutch cable had snapped.

With my wife steering and braking, I pushed it around so it was facing the exit. I walked down the block to a CVS pharmacy hoping to buy some cheapo vise grips, but getting a pair of pliers (note to self: really need to get some basic tools in the Commando). Using the pliers, I was able to activate the clutch cable so my wife could get it in 2nd gear (3 speed, very low gearing). I was getting ready to call Haggerty (classic car insurance) to take advantage of their towing service, but decided to see what would happen.

I'm facing the exit, slightly uphill, the tranny is in second, I turn the key and pump the gas, and it somehow caught! At this point, I am careening to the exit and make a hard right coming out. We're still about 20 miles from home, but about 2 miles from my wife's work where her car was parked, and about 5 miles from a friend's house. Cruising along in 2nd at about 30 mph, we decide to make a run for the friend's house.

The first stoplight we come to, we need to go straight... but it's red and there are cars stopped in front of us... but the right turn is clear and I have just enough time to beat the oncoming traffic.

I take the right without stopping on the red... I go down the road a bit and whip left into a bank parking lot that I use to turn around and get back heading the other direction.

Now that stoplight is red in my direction... the road I need to get to is normally two lanes, but it has been regraded and is unmarked... oncoming traffic is getting ready to turn left on to the road where I need to be... there are two deputies parked in the 7-11 parking lot on the corner where I need to turn... I take the right without stopping on red... I squeeze in between oncoming left turners... the deputies don't see me.

Now I've got a straightaway for while... more roadwork and repaving... the next stoplight has two right turn lanes, two straight lanes with one ending quickly after the intersection... and a right turn lane... fresh blacktop and no pavement markings... and the light is red.

I slow down... easing into the right turn lane, I see no deputies or oncoming traffic... and I punch it to whip around the traffic stopped at the light so I can continue straight.

At the next stoplight, I have a dedicated right turn lane with only a yield sign... no sweat.

At the next stoplight, I need to go straight... it's red, but no cars stopped in front of me... I ease up to it, planning to make a right turn then a left to cut through a gas station parking lot on the other corner... it turns green just in time.

Another mile or so and I'm heading down the dead end road to my friend's house. My wife had called ahead, so he has his driveway cattle guard gate open and waves us in. I come to an easy stop in his yard and the engine stalls out as I brake. Victory is mine! Five miles, five stoplights, no tickets, no wrecks, and a safe place to park it. Now I need to track down a new clutch cable and go over to change it out.

Even when out for a nice recreational drive, you have to have a plan B in your mind, especially if your plan A doesn't work out.


  1. Your post illustrates how understanding how something works allows you to create work a around. You cannot think outside the box until you understand the box. Great post, glad you were sucessful - you deserve a macgyver award...

  2. If you have an older car with a manual transmission, you should know how to clutchless shift.


  3. Sounds like a few narrow misses but you ended up in one piece. It might be worth getting an extra clutch cable and keeping it in the vehicle. Jeep cables are notorious for breaking at just the wrong moment.

  4. Had this same issue with an old honda one time while out working a paper route :) learned real fast how to granny shift :) on the otherhand, yes, keeping tools in the vehicle would be a good note to self...learned that today myself...no flares no nothing on a back road when I came upon an accident, cell phones not working well...note to self...flares or lights...took care of that as soon as I got home :)

  5. Thanks to all of you for the feedback and advice!


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