Question: The U.S. Forest Service is equipping its rangers' cars with old panty hose to be used as emergency fan belts. I have enclosed a newsletter about it, but they don't explain just how you do this. Would you please explain?--G.H.
Answer: You are correct that the rangers at Washington's Mt. St. Helens are carrying around a few pair of old panty hose to be used as emergency fan belts. They claim that it works, but I'd really have to see it to believe it.
According to their procedure, you twist one or two panty hose into a long cord and carefully thread it around the pulleys on the engine and the water pump. You pull tight and then knot it. You will also want to carefully trim off any excess so you don't have loose fabric inside the engine.
You probably don't want to attempt this makeshift repair on an auto air-conditioner compressor, because the loads are so high. It probably works better on pulley systems in which the engine has several belts, rather than a single serpentine belt that serves the water pump, the power-steering pump and the alternator.