Bonehead Mechanics Assoc. of America

Howdy! I’m member #1.

The ‘tell me about your british car’ thread got me thinking about posting this. While I don’t have a Brit car, I have plenty of experience working on and under and around many vehicles, and have a big circle of friends with similar experiences.

So. Every mechanic has their heroic successes, the ones they’re proud to show off in the bright illumination of daylight. The BMAA is not interested in those. To be a member of BMAA, you have to have a self-deprecating sence of humor, and the cajones to admit it in a public forum. Here’s my story:

I’ve got a 1989 Corvette. Or rather, it started out a 1989 Corvette. By now, I’ve touched, replaced, upgraded, or zip-tied just about every piece on the car. At one time, the brake booster failed. The booster is held in place with two bolts to the firewall. They’re accessed from inside the car.

At the time, the C4 Corvette was a tremendous improvement over the C3 Corvette in chassis design. This was the first Corvette that handled in corners as well as it went in a straight line. The first year for this chassis was 1984…and the chassis was designed in a pre-computer era during the late 70’s. It receives much of it’s strength from large rails that run down each side of the car, making stepover height rather high. (Bringing joy to gold-chain wearing men taking women in skirts on dates.)

So I have my 6’6" frame contorted over this frame rail, on my back, peeking up into the dark cavern behind the instrument panel. I’ve got an incandescent lamp illuminating the situation. The darkness is hot, humid, and only kinda lit by the 75 watt bulb in the shoplight (use 60w bulbs only). Sweat is dripping freely. I’ve got a socket wrench, two extensions, a swivel wrapped in electrical tape (so it won’t flop over), and a 14 mm socket holding the nut so I can gently-place-the-nut-on-the-booster-bolt without it falling into the darkness.

Gently, oh so gently, I position myself and the assemblage. Balanced. Poised. Everything carefully just right.

I burn my forearm on the shoplight. The Reptilian part of my brain recoils to prevent further damage from heat…smacking the socket wrench into the bridge of my nose so hard it brings tears to my eyes. My whole (contorted) body jumps with shock, pain, and surprise…pulling a muscle in my back.

And the nut drops down between the firewall and the carpet.

Well, take heart, you could have been this poor guy:

Engine vs. BBs :eek:

As for myself, so far the only boneheaded thing I’ve done to my car is leave the top down.

When all of the trees are pollenating like mad, making everything around look like a mutant bumblebee.

Sigh. Do you know how much pollen gunks up a vacuum filter?


<< I don’t need speed reading. I need speed bookcase building. >>

Bone mechanical moves, yeah I’ve made a few.
How about the time I was cranking my MG over after a cylinder head gasket replacement. Your fuel line is leaking my buddy said. No problem I will tighten it when I get done cranking to develop oil pressure. Now I should mention that I had no plugs in this engine and the four bare plug wires were dangling and sparking like mad as I cranked. Does the word
BOOM! mean anything to you? Thankfully I got the fire out with no damage to the car (great reason to have a fire bottle in your little British car)

Or there is my friend that pulled the drain plug to do an oil change, removed the filter, replaced the filter, poured in 5 quarts of oil, only to find the drain plug had not yet been reinstalled.

I don’t get my hands dirty any more, but I have some tales from my husband.
When we were dating, one afternoon He told me to come by after work. The had to work on his truck and I could keep him company.
When I arrived he was on his back on a creeper under the pickup. I said Hi to let him know I was there. At first he didn’t respondm then ever so slowly the creeper rolled out. Once out, he just lay there, staring at the sky. He was an the shady side of the truck, I saw what, at first, I thought was grease or oil on his forehead. He slowly sat up, and I realized it was blood. I asked about it and he started telling me about something entirely in left field.
Finally, I got him sitting, so I could look at it. He had a 3" gash right in th middle of his forehead, and he couldn’t tell me where he got it! He refused to go to the ER, so I sat up all night, waking him up every half hour to make sure he wasn’t bleeding into his brain.
I found out from a neighbor what happened. The neighbor was sitting outside enjoying the day. He said Hubby was under the truck, just like he was when I saw him. His heels were braced on the ground, to keep him from rolling around. Suddenly the neighbor said he heard a THUNK, a lot like the sound a watermelon makes when you drop it, and the feet sticking out when north and south. He had been using a cheater bar to break loose a stuborn bolt. When it did Thunk. He was out cold.
The neighbor dragged him out from under the truck, when he came around…and just went back to work. I finally got him to the ER the next day. He went to work in the morning and couldn’t put his helmut on. He had a concussion, but no bleeding. He still has no recollection of the incident.

We have a winner!

A week after I try to teach a sweet young thing how to drive a stick shift I need to replace the cluch.

The pickup is tall enough I can easily slide under it. The emergency brake froze up a long time so I always left it in gear to keep it from rolling away. (Bet you can see where this is going?) There I am lengthwise my legs facing toward the rear while I grab the driveshaft and pull it free from the tranny. There is a slight grade to my driveway and we are slowly rolling away. I bear hug the driveshaft and dig my heels in and get stopped easy enough.

Now what? Middle of the day I’m alone and nobody within shouting distance for hours. I took a deep breath, dropped the driveshaft and rolled out as fast as I could before my head gets watermeloned under the tire. Jump up and chase after it before it rolls into the street.

Tire chocks are my friends now.

I was trying to fix up my Mazda pickup that had been lying dormant for a few years and the brakes had rusted to the point where the wheels were frozen.

I took a wheel off and went work on the caliper. I tapped out the shims that hold them in place and tapped here and there and eventually freed the caliper from the rotor, and the wheel spun free. Progress!

Of course I can’t remember why I thought this was a good idea, maybe to see if the caliper still worked, but while the caliper was off the rotor I hopped in the truck and hit the brakes a couple of times. I check the caliper and the piston was extended all the way out. Crap. Idiot. No matter what I did I couldn’t get the piston back in. Now it’s siezed.

Did a brake job on an early-80s vintage Subaru and didn’t get one of the caliper pistons screwed all the way back in. Drove off after buttoning everything up and about a mile down the road noticed billowing clouds of acrid smoke coming from the wheel. The rotor was blue from the heat.

Wound up parking at a burger place for a while to let things cool, then took a slow return trip, stopping midway at the parts shop for a new set of pads and a new rotor.

Same car once tricked me into installing the front crankshaft oil seal inside-out. Didn’t notice it was backwards until it was solidly and irretrievably in. Oddly enough, it worked just fine.

I was working on putting a transmission in a race car. I was working on hooking up the shift linkage when I noticed the car was coming down on me. Being a guy that values my body, I had used jack stands and had placed them under the frame. But one of the 20 year old jack stands decided it had done enough work and was failing on me. I tried to scramble out but became wedged and couldn’t move. Fortunately the center part of the jack stand that is raised and lowered didn’t break and it stopped the car from coming down any more. My mom drove up about 10 minutes later and she jacked up the car so I could get out. If the center part wouldn’t have held, there is no doubt I wouldn’t be here today.

I’d read in a Corvette magazine how they jacked up their late model cars…it was differen’t from my procedure in one or two significant ways and I figured I’d try it out as it seems a step or two less complicated. So you jack up from the back of the car, place jackstands at these two points and lower the jack…

…at which point the front wheels roll backward, tipping the car off the jack stands, and keeping the rear wheels off the ground because the jack is now rolling backwards too…now the front wheels are free to roll, the back end (still on the jack) is free to roll, and I’m smack dab in the middle of a rearward moving car heading towards my downhill driveway. (It DID get stopped in time…and the jackstands managed to dodge all of the expensive suspension pieces.)

I threw out that magazine and went back to the way I was doing it before.