Yep...I did it... It's one of those things you either read about or
somebody tells you about. Either way, you realize how incredibly
bone-headed it is and think to yourself that you could NEVER be such a
Well, apparently I can be such a moron:
I finally was able to get to the only place in town I know of that
regularly stocks Edelbrock metering jets and similar parts. I picked
up the smaller jets to put into my carb to properly lean it out.
Yesterday I drove home from work, about 3 blocks. I routinely get
harassed by my friends and coworkers for driving when I could walk such
a short distance, but I enjoy driving, and being in the cold wind tends
to cause ear aches. The distance is short enough to where the
temperature gauge usually doesn't hit the regular operating temperate
by the time I get to work or home on a cold day. Yesterday was not so
So I popped the hood, and the carb was plenty cool enough to work on.
I went about disconnecting the links and fuel line, before pulling the
airhorn off and getting to work on setting the floats back to their
factory designated positions. I did that, then quickly swapped out the
jets. Everything was going smoothly. I checked, double checked, and
triple checked the float height--perfect. Gently snugged up the new
jets, then replaced the airhorn, bolted it back together, and went
about reattaching all the linkages.
There was one thing however, that I neglected to reconnect...a little
thing called the fuel line.
I turned the key, and tried to crank it... Now in these situations, I
don't fasten a seat belt, because I won't actually be going anywhere.
This unfortunately causes that friggin' buzzer to go off for like 10
seconds, drowning out any weird noises the engine may make. However, I
did hear a noise. Sort of a pop/boom noise...the engine did not start
A pop...followed what at first appeared to be a puff of smoke. I then
realized that this was no puff, rather, it was quickly becoming a plume
It took about 3 seconds for me to realize that the engine was indeed
engulfed in flames. I acted quickly--that is to say, I quickly ran
around freaking out with absolutely no idea what to do. I live in a
gated apartment community, and parking lot auto work is technically
forbidden. I have no water hose. The only thing I was close to was
the new Ford Excursion parked right next to me.
The firewall was ironically, on fire... and there was a burning puddle
of gas under the tranny. I grabbed the first thing I saw--My
pre-Vietnam war M-65 Army field jacket...Yep...over 40 years old, and
made before they started using brass zippers...The one my late Father
got when he entered the service back in the early 60's.
I proceeded to beat at the flames to put them out to no avail. I did
somehow realize that maybe I should first put out the burning puddle
beneath the truck. I did so with the jacket. Then went about trying
to stuff the jacket between the carb and firewall to put out the
So I jumped in the truck and found a shitty little wind breaker. I
tried supplementing the field jacket with the wind breaker--no dice.
Suddenly, a woman appeared out of nowhere and very calmly asked "Would
you like some water?" Of course I'd like some damn water...
So she whips out a few half-empty bottles from her car. I pull the now
burning jackets out of the engine bay which catches on and yanks out
the tranny dipstick at the same time. I douse the area with all the
water she has, the fires go out, except for a couple of burning vacuum
lines, which I pulled off with pliers and stomped out on the ground.
I stood there for moment...breathing heavily..my lungs hurting from
sucking in all the burning gas fumes and burning rubber and plastic
smoke...the underside of the hood was still slightly glowing red...the
white paint on top of the hood now appearing like a slightly toasted
As the smoke cleared, I assessed the damage. The distributor is, quite
frankly, no more. At least, the non-metal parts. A few vacuum lines
are gone. Wiring that was on the firewall is now exposed, burnt metal.
I looked at the mess and noticed that fuel line, ironically unscathed,
lying there pointing toward the back of the engine and firewall.
Apparently when I hit the switch to crank it, the fuel pump, doing its
duty, shot gas all over the damn place, and onto hot engine components.
You may now take a moment, to laugh your asses off.
While dousing the area with water, I think it's possible that I dumped
some into the tranny dipstick tube... This really has me concerned.
Really...after all that, this is what concerns me.
You see, the wiring and vacuum lines can easily and cheaply be
replaced. The distributor components can be just as quickly replaced,
and if I'm thrifty very cheaply as well. I already have a spare
ignition module, and have seen used HEIs on eBay for dirt.
I've done harder work than that, and I'm pretty good on the electrical
end of things.
But the potential of water in the tranny REALLY has me concerned.
All this on the 2-year anniversary of my Dad's death, like I needed for
December 28th to suck even more. My girlfriend said that he was
watching out for me and prevented it from being worse... This I don't
doubt, but I had to ask myself, if so, why didn't he yell at me or
something before I hit the switch.
Thanks a pantload Dad...I'm sure you're laughing your ass off right