Duct Tape

When people list the millions of uses for duct tape
they never seem to include the various ways I’ve seen
it used on the family car.  I'm a big fan of duct tape
myself. My son has even made himself a handy little
wallet, a tie, book binders, and whole bunch of other
cool things with it. I’m no pro at conjuring up
different uses for this stuff, but I’ve seen what
some creative people can do with a roll.  Why, just
last night I was out to dinner with the family, and
low and behold there in the parking lot was a minivan
with the front bumper strapped on with layers upon
layers of duct tape.  Nice job... it definitely was
holding it in place, that’s for sure.  You could tell
it’s been that way for quite some time, all the edges were starting to fray and the inner grid of the tape was showing through. (Probably time for another layer…)

Even NASCAR has found a use for this magical fix all tape.  If you’re running around the track at high speed and you get tagged by the guy trying to pass you, there’s a good chance something is going to get torn off.  The next trip around the fourth turn means a little more tug on the steering wheel, and a down shift into the pits.  Then your pit crew jumps the wall, slaps on a few layers of duct tape, and off you go back out onto the track again, grabbing the next gear and holding the pedal to the floor.  No wonder duct tape has the nickname “200 mph tape”.

Then there are those uses I think are really ridiculous. Like using duct tape to hold up a broken electric window. It probably sounded good at the time, but wait until you need to take it off. That's usually left up to me when the car is in for repair.  It will come off, but you might need a bit of elbow grease and a few shots of cleaner and solvent to get it off.  It’s even more fun to remove on a hot summer day; it can be an icky, gooey, nasty, slimy mess to get off the paint and windows of the car. 

Talk about creativity, I've seen duct tape hold broken glove box doors in place, center console lids, visors, door panels, and various other assorted interior components together.  I’ve even had a car come in that had it wrapped around the entire steering wheel, as if it was a steering wheel cover.  Not to mention the patched upholstery, a stereo install gone wrong, or the broken key fob.  The list is endless. Let’s not leave the exterior out of this, there’s the trunk lid when the latch has broken, using it as electrical tape, repairing a broken taillight lens, or the occasionally door that won’t stay shut. Of course, then there’s the engine compartment; it’s a plethora of unending duct tape extravaganzas there. You know, if it's all you have at the time, well... I guess you have to use what you've got on hand... but, really... it's “duct tape” not “tape to hold the coat hanger in place where the radio antenna used to be”. It gets hysterically funny when you get a chance to really notice what some duct tape connoisseurs have dreamed up in the way of duct tape innovations.

Some time ago I had a car come in the shop with a severe drivability problem.  The service light was on; it was stalling, hard to start, no power, coughing, and for the most part... just plain sick.  The service codes showed a rich condition and some really crazy short fuel trim values.  When I opened the hood I noticed the rubber intake plenum was completely collapsed onto itself.  I thought that was a bit weird, but I might as well pop it back into shape and see what happens.  At first the car sounded great, but in a few seconds it was back to what it was doing.  This time I took the plenum off the car and checked it a little further.  Wedged up against the filter box opening to the plenum was a huge wad of duct tape, completely strangling the air intake system.

    Apparently the owner couldn't find the right size air filter for the car, so he used the duct tape to make the opening small enough to accommodate the air filter.  It had been on the car for so long he completely forgot about it.  As the duct tape adhesion deteriorated, it started to slowly ball up at the connection between the filter box and the leading edge of the plenum. One new (correct) air filter, and a lot less duct tape took care of the problem. I know it’s called “duct tape” and this is a duct, but this isn’t the kind of duct to be using it on.  (I'll have to add this to my list of failed uses for duct tape.)  

    There was a TV program on not long ago that did a whole segment on duct tape. (Had to watch that one for sure.)  They turned duct tape into a sail boat, picked a car off the ground with it, and showed several other cool ways of using it.  I'll have to admit they were pretty ingenious and proved the point of how versatile this sticky stuff is.   I'm sure there are more ideas that haven't been tried yet, and I doubt that we’ll ever run out of ideas for using duct tape in some creative way.  Who doesn’t have a roll of duct tape lying around somewhere, and who hasn’t tried some crazy idea with this stuff?  Ok, Ok… maybe splicing a car back together wasn’t the smartest thing I’ve ever seen duct tape used for… but it sure was cool. 

Ah yes, duct tape, it’s a good thing to keep around for a variety of emergency repairs. It has a purpose no matter where you are or where you go. I keep a roll handy in my tool box all the time.  You never know when the need for a few strips of duct tape will come in handy.  Just ask the guys on Apollo 13 how valuable a roll of duct tape was.  Yep, that’s right duct tape even went to the moon. 

Duct tape… if it’s good enough for NASA, it’s good enough for me.  :)