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What was your biggest screw up working on the cars


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Back when I was about 17 I was asked if I could put a rearend in a 1940 olds. O heck ya!!! So the guy brought the olds and the rearend over to my house and dropped it off. I went right to work on it. Taking the old rearend out was a piece of cake. When I got the old one out I had the incite to match them up. Everything was the same except the mounting plates for the springs where on the bottom of the replacement instead of the top. Not a problem I cut the mounts off and wielded them in there proper place and the rearend went in without a hitch. Came time to road test my job and I discovered the car had 3 reverses and one very strong forward. Yes when I matched them up I had the replacement rearend up.... side..... down.  

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3 hours ago, retiredmechanic74 said:

Came time to road test my job and I discovered the car had 3 reverses and one very strong forward. Yes when I matched them up I had the replacement rearend up.... side..... down. 

 

OMG:lol:

 

1980-ish... Young Fella brought in a beauty mint '76 Century, to get new tires. I have always disliked whitewalls. Daydreaming that it was my ride- and to try to sway the guy- I mounted all 4 blackwall. He really liked the look, all was cool. Later on- the kid's Father comes in with the SAME CAR, angry that the whitewalls weren't showing... it was HIS car! Rather than tell the guy his 12 year old Nephew did it- my Uncle just quietly changed them around. Because the guy was such a jerk, and my Uncle liked the way it looked- he never yelled at me for it.

 

 

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2 hours ago, 89RedDarkGrey said:

 

OMG:lol:

 

1980-ish... Young Fella brought in a beauty mint '76 Century, to get new tires. I have always disliked whitewalls. Daydreaming that it was my ride- and to try to sway the guy- I mounted all 4 blackwall. He really liked the look, all was cool. Later on- the kid's Father comes in with the SAME CAR, angry that the whitewalls weren't showing... it was HIS car! Rather than tell the guy his 12 year old Nephew did it- my Uncle just quietly changed them around. Because the guy was such a jerk, and my Uncle liked the way it looked- he never yelled at me for it.

 

 

Speak of white walls (which I like ) I took my Reatta into a tire shop here in South Carolina and had whitewalls put on it. When it was my turn to get the work done I said to the "tire" guy make sure the whitewall is on the outside!!!! He said WHAT and I repeated he then said these are NOT whitewalls these are bluewalls I looked at him dumbfounded and said are you serious and he was adamant, I just shook my head and said well make sure the blue is on the outside..... he was referring to the blue "soap" on the tires.   

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Back in the early 80's a co worker and I wrestled a transmission back into a 70's International Cargostar. These were usually a beast to get in but this went in fairly easily. I found out later, neither one of us checked if the clutch assembly was installed in the first place. He started on the job so I just assumed it was ready. Later we regularly ribbed each other about it by saying, "fit good huh?"

Edited by Bleach
deleted extra "other" (see edit history)
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When I was a young man I bought a beautiful little Fiat 600, I believe it was a '67 model, that had the engine in the rear. The previous owners said the oil pan was leaking so I set out to fix it. Right away I thought the oil was coming from the crankshaft, but no, it was actually dripping from the harmonic balancer Thinking it was a bad crankshaft seal I knew the balancer would need to come off. To remove the nut holding the balancer on I had to remove a cover on the front of the balancer. When I removed the cover oil came pouring out. I laid the cover to the side and I could see that oil was coming out of a hole in the end of the crankshaft. Being the smart mechanic that I was back then I mixed up some JB-Weld and plugged that hole. :o 

 

I put everything back together and that leak was gone!!!  On the test drive I made it about a mile and a half before the engine locked up never to run again. Little did I know that the harmonic balancer on that engine was a centrifugal oil filter and I had blocked off the oil going through the crankshaft with JB-Weld. I've made a lot of screw ups but that was probably my biggest. :lol:

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Back in the 70's my younger brother gave me a 64 1/2 mustang when he went into the Air Force..  At one point it needed new rings.  Not knowing what size engine it was I asked my dad.  He told me that it was the small 196 CI inline 6.  I bought the parts to re ring it.  Tore it down in my driveway and rebuilt it (only breaking 1 ring).  COULD NOT get it started.  Would turn over but not start.  Finally pull started it.  It smoked very bad.

After doing some checking found out it was a bigger 223 CI engine.  bought the correct sized rings and  completed the overhaul once again.  When I turned the key it started right up without any smoke.  Never had a problem with it after that.

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I was about 19, and I remembered someone saying you could just drop out a transmission on your chest. I do not think they were talking about a duel range hydro. So with the transmission on my chest, and short of breath, I started to roll the creeper out from under the car. This is when I started to pay attention to where my pony tail was in relation to the creeper wheel. So with the creeper in motion, weight of me + duel range hydro. It was like a rock under a skate board wheel, things stopped very quickly. As your head kissed the floor, at a dead stop, half way out from under the car, and really short of breath. I knew there had to be a better way to do this.

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Not an old car, but does a truck count? I was about 21 and Dad asked if I could replace the water-pump on his Ford cattle truck. Did the job OK under a shade tree, and got those four little bolts holding the fan nice and tight. He was about 200 miles up the bush with a load of cattle on when those over-tightened bolts let go. Of course the fan went through the radiator. My Mother told me about it, but Dad never said a word, to his credit. But boy, did I feel bad about it?  And yes, THAT was when I invested in a tension wrench!

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My biggest mistake in all of my car experiences was to disassemble my first 1931 Dodge coupe and not keeping at the restoration of it. I did not bag and tag as I should have. Then I moved numerous times. So many wrong moves. And....here it sits....

post-81542-0-94914000-1433309997.jpg

Edited by keiser31 (see edit history)
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I know it's been almost 24 hours since the Original Poster posed his question about one's biggest screw up when working on cars, but I need more time to sort through my mental list of past screw ups.  I first have to sort through the different categories of my screw ups.  For example, under the Dumb Category, there are the "Sorta Dumb", "Dumb", "Dumber" and "Almighty Dumb Ash".  Then there's the Co$t thing: "Sweep It Under the Rug Costly (don't say nuthin' to nobody)", "Budget Bending Costly", "Budget Bursting Costly" and finally "Sell the Wife, Kids and Family Dog and Get Out Of Town Costly".  Then there's the PAIN, ranging from: "Ouch", "Damnit", "Holy S__t", "Can't walk this one off", "Holy &%#*@&#@!XXX that hurts!", to the all-encompassing, "Hello, 911?"  Then the embarrassment factor has to be considered, sort of like when I ignited my mustache while cleaning a carburetor with gasoline, but the details are kinda fuzzy, so I won't talk about that. 

 

Right now, the single Biggest Screw Up that comes to what's left of my mind is my neglect of my 1993 Mustang 5.0.  I've let that sit for almost three years, and although it is in an enclosed dry (concrete floor) barn it's deteriorated to the point that it will barely run.  I think that I'm looking at replacement of most, if not all of the major components of the fuel system.  Although this Screw Up is well within the Dumb, Costly and Embarrassing Categories, it has not yet entered the PAIN category.  Of course, I haven't started to work on it yet ... :o

 

Still sortin' through the list ...

 

Cheers,

Grog

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my biggest screw up was just looking under the hood of my 1967 442 with the engine running. it was winter time and I was wearing a long scarf. I do not remember what I was looking for but I do remember getting a close look at the fan blade before the scarf gave way.

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pont35cpe....Don't you wish you could get paint that color??? Back in those early years Chevy had a problem with the lifters being to case hardened and the cams where to soft. A good way to tell if a cam is bad it will make a popping noise under fast acceleration through the carb. 

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Picture this. 1960, 18 years old, drove out 100 miles with a friend to tow his "new" 52 Studebaker home.  Broken Left front spring.  Easy peasy remove spring, insert piece of wood long enough o keep car level and tow home.  Jack car up by the frame, put a bottle jack under the thing the spring sits on (who knew what it was called).  Undo things and ease bottle jack down ooops that was two pieces of coil spring that flew out between out heads.  All ended well, the before mentioned block of wood and a couple of turnbuckles and the car followed my 30 Pontiac back to my friends house.  He bought a manual and a spring and very cautiously we installed same.

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When I was in my late 20's I was the proud owner of a 58 Chevy with a 348 tri power & posi with a few other power enhancement goodies. (Man I wish I still had that car) I missed a speed shift and broke the clutch arm pivot ball off the side of the engine. Try as I might I could not access it to extract the stub. So it was pull the engine time. I built a tripod out of 2X4's. Just as I was pushing the car out from under the hoist and had the engine over the grill/radiator area the 2X4's broke. I was standing there manually balancing the engine on the radiator frame. I was very much by myself. That was a loooong time ago and being at an invincible age I decided to just go ahead an lift it off and set it on the ground. I actually managed to lift it off the car. Back and arms were stronger than my legs. I collapsed to the ground with the engine landing on my right hand. Off to the hospital driving and shifting my other car with my left hand. Incredibly there were no broken bones just major swelling and bruising.  Oh and no damage to the engine either. 

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Benjaminj. You where very lucky. Back when I had my gas stations I hired my younger brother to help me in the service area to get caught up on some of the repair work.  A Maverick came in with a whistling noise coming from under the hood. My brother got the car inside and started looking for the noise. He ran his head around the engine and determined was coming from the carburetor while reving up the engine he put his ear over the carb and the suction from the carb sucked his ear into it. That would have been bad enough but........the air filter stud was sticking up from the top of the carb. After that it took me 3 months to start understanding what he was saying. 

Edited by retiredmechanic74 (see edit history)
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If you do not have a heated garage to work in during the winter, then knitting is for the winter and don't forget to develop a plan on getting the car back together. 

 

Maybe bringing a bucket of parts into the warm house and sorting them to where they belong in anticipation of warm weather.

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A guy I knew years ago put a water pump on his Falcon Econoline. He did it in the back yard in the dirt and lost one of the four bolts that held the pump on. So he went down in the cellar and found a replacement bolt in his collection of stuff. He tightened everything up good and filled the coolant up but it took a lot more coolant than it should have. He went to start it up and the starter didn't crank at all. I looked at it.It was locked op tight. I took the water pump back off. The replacement bolt he found was too long but he tightened it up "real good". The too long bolt poked through the #1 cylinder wall and the cylinder completely filled with coolant. That van never ran again.

Monday,04:42 AM PSTAA

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About 25 years ago I did a rotisserie restoration on a 48 Chevy convertible.  Anxious to take it for a test drive, so on the way home the rear diff began to growl . Yup, I forgot to put lube in the diff.  Actually it was a blessing in disguise. 

I found out that  1952 power-glide cars had better ratios and I gust happen to have out back. Live and learn.

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Not me but a fellow who worked for a shop that used to be associated with us. Leaning over the hood of a '65 T Bird he attempted to start it. The car was in gear and unbeknownst to him the starter cut out was not working. The car started and he rode it thru the fibreglas garage door, across the parking lot and into a tow truck. Badly broken hip for my friend and $1600 in parts to repair the T Bird. The tow truck was not injured.

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Restorer32....... Same thing happened to me. At one of my gas stations.  I was outside when a "girlfriend" came in with car trouble wanting me to look at it. It was a 1961 Chrysler. I didn't know it but she left the car in gear when she shut it off. As I laid across the fender I hit the starter and the car fired up and slammed into the side of a Olds Conv. I had just painted the night before. 

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Close thing happened to me.  Wife's Monza (bought before we got married) had starter problems and left her in a parking lot.  I got there, jumped over the solenoid and the thing ran over my foot.  No damage to anyone, but a quick pucker moment.  

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I've done my share, I rebuilt an engine for my 40 Plymouth with mostly good used parts I scrounged up, it was a little tight. I ran several batteries down trying to get it to fire. My father took a look and suggested we drag it down the street in gear. While doing that the overdrive bound up somehow and we drug it home. I was sitting in it trying to figure out where I went wrong when I noticed the ignition was in the off position. It fired right up after that and I got to drop the transmission and replace the spragg clutch assembly next....

 

Part 2 of the screwup didn't become known till a little while later. It developed a tiny knock. I tried the pull a plug wire to determin which cylinder but couldn't find anything. It developed into sizeable knock but I needed the car to get to school so I drove it till I found another engine. I tore it down just to see what failed. Apparently I hadn't fully seated a wrist pin retainer, that pin had just about worn through the block and into the next cylinder.

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9 hours ago, hchris said:

Replacing the oil in a friends garage, all 5 litres of it finished up on the floor - forgot to put the sump plug back in. :angry:

I know a guy that did that on a much larger scale. He was filling a locomotive engine. He realized his mistake after he had already put over 200 gallons in it with a hose. All that oil was going into the pit below the locomotive. The engine normally held 275-300 gallons when full. He got one month off without pay for that mistake

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On one of the ships I work on we were doing a major service. Heads came off, pistons with rods were sent up to the machine shop ashore for Piston pin removal and checking of pin bushing.  The rod caps stayed on the ship adjacent to their respective cyl. The rod's have a serrated face mating surface with the caps. Piston and rods were inspected , reassembled,  came back to the ship and we put the engine back together. Started it and it ran for about 45 seconds , then a crankcase explosion, emergency shut down.  After it cooled down in about an hour we took off the crankcase doors. One big end completely burned up, crankcase full of melted bearing, second big end hot but not as bad. Crank badly warped. 

 The machine shop had somehow mixed two of the conrods. We put the pistons back in the correct bores and the rod caps back in the correct cylinders but the serrated faces varied slightly in position from rod to rod so the caps were offset slightly , 1/8" or so on the two interchanged rods. Good chunk of $1,000,000.00 before that one ran again.

 

Greg in Canada

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On 1/9/2018 at 12:35 PM, keiser31 said:

My biggest mistake in all of my car experiences was to disassemble my first 1931 Dodge coupe and not keeping at the restoration of it. I did not bag and tag as I should have. Then I moved numerous times. So many wrong moves. And....here it sits....

post-81542-0-94914000-1433309997.jpg

 

 

Been there, done that.  Finally sold the pieces for about what I had in the car - hope the guy that bought it got it all back together.

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11 hours ago, hchris said:

Replacing the oil in a friends garage, all 5 litres of it finished up on the floor - forgot to put the sump plug back in. :angry:

 

 

Did that once after flushing a radiator - forgot to close the drain before refilling the coolant.

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Yea- repairing vehicles for complete thankless morons that just continued to damage them- and didn't care at all. Sure- I got paid, but money isn't everything. One day came- and I had had enough. Told my Uncle, and changed jobs. Worked at the front desk 1 year. That was even worse. I just don't like GQ Public in general.

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