View Full Version : Stupid Stuff That Almost Got Us Killed... Automotive Related.

07-27-2013, 06:05 PM
How about a thread where we discuss stupid stuff we have done that almost got us killed? I'll start:

In the late 70's when I got my drivers license I had a 70 Nova. Cragars, L-60 Super Chargers, air shocks, cherry bombs, yadda yadda yadda.

Late one night I pull in behind our high school to do a burnout with my buddy Mike riding shotgun. Nobody around but us. Wanting to "see the action" I open the door and lean out to watch the rear tire (stupid move #1). So I tach up the motor and dump the clutch. I didn't realize I had the front wheels turned hard right (stupid move #2). As the Nova launches it starts to throw me out the door. I am holding onto the steering wheel with my right hand, the open door with my left hand, my right foot mashing the throttle to the floor, and the centrifugal force of the car doing a donut keeping me locked in that position. Try as I might I couldn't pull myself back in the car. Meanwhile the motor is screaming, tires are squalling and wheel hopping and I am just waiting to either hit something or the motor to blow up.

Mike reaches over and pulls me back in the car.

Well, that didn't work at all like I had planned. :eek:

All is well that ends well?

Must be some truth to the old adage "G-o-d takes care of kids and Hot Rodders".

OK gang.. lets here one of your "did I do that?" stories.

07-28-2013, 04:52 AM
Back in the day I had a pretty quick '68 Roadrunner... my dad owned a machine shop and my mom worked at a speed shop/parts house; Life was great!
Every year before school started there was a huge cruise in downtown Napa, California and be ****ed if I'm going to miss it (regardless that the year before resulted in 5 separate tickets in one night!).

At a stop light in front of a strip mall, that is packed with people watching the cruise, Mr. Airman pulls up next to me in a mid 70's Camaro (airmen were easy to spot; spring shackles, air shocks, tires sticking out past the fenders and the biggest camshaft that would fit in the block regardless that it didn't work with anything else the car had). My buddy Bobby says "you can take him!"... and that is where it started going downhill quickly.

Light turns green, airman boy nails the throttle and while it made a lot of noise it wasn't really going anywhere... I let the clutch out, pin the throttle and grab 2nd..... and here is where it went off the cliff.

The clutch explodes with so much force that it scatters the bell housing throwing shrapnel everywhere... the transmission input shaft hits the ground it such force it buckles the drive line and shoves it into the floorboard... There is fire, sparks, parts flying everywhere and the flywheel sawed through the floor and caught the side of my leg just above the ankle.

I get the car on a flatbed tow truck and make the trip home. The idiot tow truck driver turns on the rollers as he pulls up in front of my parents house getting the attention of my mother. She comes out with "You okay?" "What happened?".
I proceed to tell her that I was in front of McDonalds' and when I shifted the thing exploded.... she replies "you sure you're okay?" I say "yes" and she goes back inside. LOL
My dad then comes out and ask basically the same question and thinking "well that went well" I told him the same thing. My dad is actually a pretty smart fella but I didn't know it yet... He ask "how fast" to which I replies "about 35mph".
"No, I meant crank speed jackass!" LOL
"Oh, about 7200rpm dad"
"Hmmmm, this looks like its going to be an expensive lesson, goodnight".
They made me sell the car soon afterwards so I traded it for a '70 Super Bee with an auto! LOL

07-29-2013, 12:59 AM
There have been plenty, but I believe this was probably my first. And Iíll also share a quick second eye opener.

I started helping my dad work on cars when I was maybe 5 years old. I could hold a light and knew what wrenches and screwdrivers were. By the time I was 13 I was doing tune ups and clutch jobs by myself. I think I was 14 when my dad went in the hospital (one of many times). The Powerglide had recently gone out in his 62 Buick Special, and a brand new replacement trans was sitting on the bench.

So I took it on myself to put the car up on stands and swap out the transmission. Afterwards my parents were amazed and I think a little frightened I had done such a big undertaking with no books, manuals, supervision, or permission. I didnít care I knew what I was doing.

Fast forward a couple of years when Iím 16. My first high school driver was a 54 Chevy 2 door sedan with a bad transmission. It was early afternoon right after school when I jacked the car up and put jack stands under the front end. I swung around back and jacked up the rear axle and placed the stands under the axle tubes. As a time saver, I didnít lower the axle to rest the vehicle weight on the stands. I reasoned that having the stands under the rear axle was just as good as having the car sitting down on them. I would be able to pull the stands when I was done without having to bother jacking it back up again when I was done.

I pulled the transmission, tore it apart and fixed whatever was wrong with it (I became very proficient with Chevy torque tube transmission as I beat up and broke a lot of them). So I confidently slid under and attempted to put it back in. Even though nothing had been moved or touched, the pilot shaft wouldnít go all the way back into the pilot bearing.

After a few minutes I got more and more ďenthusiasticĒ pounding, banging, and slamming until the rear end fell off the jack and missed one of the stands. It was a pretty small transmission, but it landed on my chest with a thud and wedged me between the creeper and the car frame. I deduced that nothing was broken as I wasnít in pain, but I was having a hard time breathing and I couldnít move.

Surprisingly, rather than panicking I rather calmly started considering my options. I could see the one jack stand that got knocked over. It was kind of jammed against the left rear wheel/brake drum and I was very concerned what would happen if it moved any further. I donít remember that I could see the jack, so I wasnít sure what else was holding the car up. Common sense told me I had to get out of there in a hurry so I started gently wiggling trying to get the creeper out from under me to get some of the weight and pressure off my chest. It seemed like it took a very long time (which could have been an hour or 5 minutes) but the creeper finally popped out from under me. As it did I slid back best I could, rolling on my side dumping the transmission on the floor.

I didnít lay there thinking about it, I got the hell out from under the car! I never admitted how stupid I had been to anyone, but I certainly learned a life lesson that day. Iíve been a safety advocate ever since.

The second non-incident - In the 1970ís we lived in a small house with a 1 car attached garage. I had painted cars several times without incident. I was sitting down having a meal one day watching the TV show Emergency. They depicted a nice house in a clean neighborhood when all of a sudden the double garage doors blew off and the house exploded. Turned out the homeowner had been painting a car in the garage and didnít turn off the pilot light to the water heater.

I about crapped my pants. I had a gas fired water heater in my garage with a flame style pilot light! It never occurred to me one way or the other. From that day forward I ALWAYS turned off the water heater until the garage was completely aired out after the paint job!

07-29-2013, 09:51 AM
Wow...the stuff we get away with. :whew: All of these are good stories that are well written. I probably chuckled the most picturing Markb01 flying out to the garage to turn off the water heater!

Az Geezer
07-29-2013, 11:43 AM
Back in the mid-70's, I got a deal on a posi rear end for my (not the current one) 66 Chevelle. A buddy of mine and i went out to the farm where the donor was and the friend of his who owned it, flipped it over to make it easier for us to get it out. We took it back to my house and got it all ready to install. My buddy, Jim, was a Viet Nam vet, who'd spent a long time in rehab recovering from injuries he received there. He was told he would probably never walk again, and only have use of one arm.
My garage was kind of a community shop on weekends. Guys were all over the place, in the alley, backyard......working on "stuff". I decided to get the Chevelle up on stands, but the garage was occupied with something, so I put it up on stands in the gravel area next to the garage..........some of you know what's coming next, don't you?
I removed the tires and wheels, and got underneath the car to start unbolting the old rear end. My buddy Jim just happened to be standing behind the car when he noticed it starting to list to one side, and yelled for help, and for me to get out, while he grabbed the back bumper and held it till I got out. They managed to keep the car from falling on the quarter panels, and I managed to get out safely. I put the wheels and tires back on, but didn't get back under it. I waited till we could get it in my garage on concrete to do the switch.
BTW, Jim, who was told he'd never walk again...........was a door to door mailman at the time.

07-29-2013, 03:40 PM
This one still makes me mad... at myself.
My very first car was a '51 Henry J that was completely stock with a blown engine that has been sitting for many years in a barn.
I was about 14 at the time and while my parents were in the automotive industry I was just starting to get into cars.
One day while my parents were at work I decided that I wanted to make my car a gasser... and to do that you have to radius the rear fenderwells for huge tires right? Not knowing the first thing about what I was doing, I break out dads torch set and get to work.
I got the quarter panel so hot that it blew the quarter window and rear window out of the car. My parents arrived home from work as I was cleaning up my mess.
My parents asked "what are you doing? to which I replied "just cleaning up"... LOL.
My dad, who is the most docile person I have ever met, walked around the other side of the car where I was sweeping up all the broken glass and about had a coronary! I don't think I have to this day ever seen him that pissed off.
Needless to say the car was gone the next weekend.

07-29-2013, 06:11 PM
Great stories.. BOH a '51 Henry J :no: if you had only known what that would be worth a few years later....

Let's keep this rolling:

When I was a kid, maybe 12 years old, Dad and Grandpa bought an antique sawmill from some German Baptists. On weekends Dad, Grandpa and I would either be out logging or sawing lumber.

But don't get the idea that we were the 1970's version of "Axe Men". For logging we had an old Allis Chalmers "Row Crop" tractor with a front end loader, a WWII surplus wagon and a 26 foot home made tandem axle trailer. Dad had a ’72 C20 Pickup that we used to pull the trailer and tractor, and Grandpa had a mid 60’s Ford F100 with a small camper shell in the bed. Yeah, a real low buck operation.

On one memorable trip home from a day of logging Grandpa and I were headed down the highway pulling a load of logs on the WWII wagon, Dad following in the ’72 C20.

Grandpa and I got to talking cars, laughing and being a couple goof balls, like we always did, and didn’t notice the wagon was fish tailing. Eventually Grandpa noticed Dad blowing his horn and flashing the lights on his truck. We pull over to see what’s up and get out of the Ford. Dad is livid, yelling and screaming about how he thought he was going to watch us both die right in front of him. So we walk back behind Dad’s truck and look down the road and sure enough there are black intermittent swerve marks down the road. Dad said the wagon would go to one side, up onto two wheels, cut back over to the other side, up onto the other two wheels, and kept doing this.

Go figure… to this day I don’t understand how we didn’t feel that happening in Grandpa's little F-100... but those tire marks on the road told the tale…..

07-30-2013, 03:37 AM
we started a somewhat thread a few years back..

here's where my stupidity really showed through... :innocent: :ssshhh