I just inducted myself into the Stupidity Hall of Fame...

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
moron...
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 cold...
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 though...
Hmm...
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 of smoke.
Hmm...
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 flames--no dice.
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 marshmallow...
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 now. :-P
annoyed ~jp
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Please write on the back of your hand: "Fire, fuel and water don't mix particularly well"
I carry a small fire halon (?) extinguisher in the S-10's optional storage container..a large milk crate, which (come to think of it) would become a multi-warhead missle in the event of a sudden frontal impact.
Have used FE's only twice..both times on other people's cars..............K
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Merry Christmas and Happy New Year...
Sorry to hear about your mishap JP...
If you drain the trans pan you will get all the water out(that is unless you started the engine after all that?). The dipstick dumps directly into the pan. If your lucky enough to have a drain plug on the trans pan, I envy you.
For about the price of 3 pairs of jets you could get a tune kit for your carb... something to think about...
I am less than a month away from the 4yr anniversary of my Dads death and still laugh at how stupid he lets me be before helping me out...I seriously think I have heard him laugh at some of my big 'DUH' moments.
Head up, walk to work for a couple days, drain the trans, replace the fluid(and the dipstick), CONNECT THE GAS LINE, replace/ repair what the fire ate, and try again!

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Thanks... hope you had a good one as well. You get any snow up there in Ohio? I was in Tennessee for Christmas. It was completely tolerable with a light coat--no snow, a little rain.
I didn't get it to actually run. And that happened before the tranny dipstick tube was opened. I'll drain it before starting it. Hopefully I have a drain plug. If not, it may be a good time to add one. I've just looked online and found pans with drain plugs for $40 or less.
I know about the tuning kits. Just didn't bother to check into it. I thought they were like $40? I paid around $4 for the jets and another $4 for a spring assortment pack.
I DID walk to work this morning...that alone doesn't piss me off. It's the prospect of walking home for lunch to tend to the dogs and then walking back an hour later that does it for me.
I'm gonna have to closely inspect the wiring to see what all got taken out. I'm watching some used wiring stuff on eBay as well as a couple of used HEI's. Will any HEI with vacuum advance work? A couple of the ones I saw looked shorter, which didn't make much sense, could've been the angle of the pic. The base should be OK. Mainly the plastic parts got toasted. You can see its insides from the passenger side.
If I can get the wiring parts, it may be a matter of unplugging the old, and plugging in the new, then starting it. As far as the distributor goes, again, if I can get the same parts, I should be able to swap the top of it and fire it up without even affecting the timing (I'd imagine).
And of course, the fuel line will be connected :-P
There is ONE good thing in all this. My jacket which I love dearly sustained heavy damage in a few spots. It's needed to have some seams repaired. My girlfriend has been wanting to take it to a really good seamstress she knows. It's all in sections anyway, so there's a good chance the damaged areas can be removed and new sections put in their place.
~jp
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***inline***

Iowa...I'm in Iowa. LOTS of thawing going on here for 2 weeks now. Not much snow left of the foot we had, ice in its place though.

Draining the trans w/o a drain plug can definatly get messy. So prepare.

I dent recal exactly what my tuning kit cost, but it was less than $40...I think it was around $20 something. Spent around $6-7(per pair) for spare jets and rods. It was more than a few yrs back, so costs probably have changed.

Good for the hear and lungs...gives ya time to think too...yea, I dont like it either...

I will check to see if my spares are complete. I will let ya know ASAP.

Good boy...

Good luck with that...I know what its like to damage something with such sentimental value.
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I and I'll bet most of the group are happy enough you were not hurt. I've done some really stupid stuff, and that's part of life. Hope the truck recovers. But whether the truck wins or loses, glad you're telling the story.

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Thanks very much... I'm very grateful it wasn't much worse for the truck or myself. It surely could have been. I have a small burn on one hand that looks worse than it is and a skinned knuckle--I'll live.
I'm surprised the damage to the truck wasn't more widespread. I'm pretty sure it's going to be a matter of simply replacing parts. Plug 'n' Play if you will...
The burnt paint on top of the hood isn't terrible, and it's a pretty small spot. A good paint shop should be able to match it and put it in an aerosol can for me. So a little cleaning and scuffing should allow me to spray over it and buff it till it's invisible.
I do hope this reminds everyone that even if you know what you're doing, double checking that everything is in order before hitting the switch is crucial.
I don't even want to think about what might have happened had the fire burned any longer.
December 28th could've just got a lot worse for the Pickens family.
~jp
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with luck, your posting will prevent someone from missing a step...
The "measure twice, cut once" rule of wood working could/should be adapted here... check everything and then either check it again or, even better, get someone else to check it... Sometimes you're so sure that you moved all the safety stands that you don't "see" the one you left under the oil pan before you let the truck down on it.. DAMHIKT
mac
Please remove splinters before emailing
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Ouch... I do hope someone can learn from my mistake.
"A smart person learns from their mistakes, a wise person learns from the mistakes of others."
~jp
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Ok....Let me tell y'all a story about lug nuts..
But on the other hand, I'd bet ya kin guess the ending
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I have a friend, (no it *really* wasn't myself) who took the air cleaner off his old heap, accidently dropped something down the carb throat, and then shoved his vacumn cleaner hose down there to get it out. Can you imagine what happened when he turned the vacumn cleaner on? At least he didn't burn his house down. brody
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Now that truly would be excellent to have on tape.
I know it was serious, dangerous, and not funny, yet...somehow...it's hilarious to think about.
It'd be one of those videos that get forwarded to *everybody* that's on the internet.
~jp
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Been there! Although I didn't do it, rather it was done to me...
I took the truck to a place here in the Atlanta area called "Expert Tire". I simply wanted the tires inspected, rotated and balanced. I was getting a weird shimmy.
Well, a while later the truck was done and I took off down the road. I immediately noticed that something wasn't quite right. It was driving funny, with weird vibrations and noise. I made it about 2 miles down the road, went left at a red light, and pulled into a gas station. As I was filling up, I inspected the tires. The right rear wasn't tighten down...AT ALL.
The lug nuts were on there, but only started--enough to get it threaded to finish up with an impact wrench.
I pulled it forward to a parking space and called the "experts" at Expert Tire. They immediately sent out the guy that did the work; a little foreign man that spoke very little English. He kept repeating over and over how sorry he was. But during all this, he tightened the wheel down without jacking it up...Hmm...
I knew it was probably FUBAR. As he drove off, I looked down at the wheel he'd just worked on. In the very middle of the tread, there was a 5" round bald spot...Hmm...
Could this separated tire have been the cause of the shimmy to begin with? Shouldn't a place called "Expert Tire" at least be able to identify a separated tire???
I was pissed, and drove to Wal-Mart to have the tire replaced, as I didn't want to go back where I came from. Of course, after a 3 hour wait, they confirmed what I already knew--the studs were destroyed and Wal-Mart doesn't replace studs.
So early the next morning before work I showed up at Expert Tire and when greeted by a salesman immediately asked for a manager. He was the manager, so I carefully explained to him what happened.
Luckily my previous tech support and customer service experience paid off. I knew that being an ass would get me less help. I started with "I'm not angry, I just want my truck the way it was when I brought it here yesterday."
This approach worked...he immediately refunded all my money for the rotate and balance job and replaced the studs and lug nuts (on his dime of course). I told him that after all that I still needed a new tire. He agreed that the "experts" should've noticed a separated tire. He sold me a new one for cost, and mounted and balanced it free of charge.
He did go out of his way to fix the problem, and I commend him for that. But his employee's carelessness could've caused much more serious damage to my truck, me, or another driver. It could've cost me or someone else their life seeing as how the business is located on a 4 lane highway.
Again, the "measure twice, cut once" rule of woodworking (as mentioned by Mac) applies. A few extra seconds of careful inspection (or lack thereof) cannot be overstated.
~jp
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Jon Pickens wrote:

    Rule #1 of getting your tires replaced, or picking up a vehicle after a wheels off service:
    Always check your lugs! If you have aluminum wheels Always Recheck the Lug Torque after 25 miles!
    I test drive my customers cars after wheels off service and always check the lugs before and after the test drive.
    Here's my bad experiance with a tire replacement. Im 16, my car is a 72 Chevelle that I saved up for and bought from my neighbor when I was 15. So after tinkering with the car for almost a year, I can now legally drive it. Which meant at the time, Burn-Out city, Dough-nuts, and other teen-aged tire killing games.
    So after 2 months the GoodYear Eagle ST's that came on the car were toast. The fronts were 30% when I bought it, the backs were 50%. So I went to the local GoodYear for a new Set of ST's. Bought all 4 at once and hand enough cash left for a pack of Winstons and a tank of gas out of my paycheck.
    Im almost home, 12 miles away when I get a really, Really bad wabble out of the back. I pulled over, All but 2 lugs were gone off the left rear. 2 lugs were gone off the Right Rear. The only lugs Tightened on the Rear were my McGaurd Lock Nuts. Since My Wheels were American Racing Out-Law II's with Mag Shank Lug Nuts (I Miss Mag Shank Lugs), the wheels were fine. The Studs were fine. Yet I had No Extra Lugs!
    I made GoodYear send a Wrecker out, Sling it from the Rear, and Replace the All of the Lugs on the Car execpt the Lock Lugs (which were un-scaved). Then I tested the torque with my own Torque wrench before Driving home, and Retorqued after 25 miles.
    After that I Carried 5 Acron Lugs for my Spare & 5 Mag Shank lugs for Emergencys in a pouch in my Glovebox.
Charles I regrette after 9 years of ownership being forced to part with that old Chevelle. Atleast I see her engine everyday I go to my Shop.
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Ouch.. that brings back a memory...
Did the front brake pads of the truck in a hurry, a few days before a trip..
After a few hours on the road, the front end started to shake a bit... got worse and I stopped (at night, in the rain) to see if a tire was going flat... Every tire looked fully inflated, so away we went... shimmy turned into shake and we found a place to pull over and really check things out and found 1 lug nut gone from the left front wheel, 1 stud and nut gone, and the rest finger tight...
Now, I KNOW that you put a tire back on and drive it for a few miles and then re-torque it... But knowing and remembering are 2 different things... *sigh*
mac
Please remove splinters before emailing
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mac davis wrote:

    I was in a situation like that once. Got my old Chevelle Ready for a Trip to Virgina. Changed all the fluids, replaced the leaking air lines for my Air Shocks (Had to show off my Bigs while hidin my Littles up front). Changed out a bad ball joint, changed my Center Link due to wear, set my valve lash, set the dwell on my points, adjusted my carb, set my timing back for 92 Octane for mountian driving (since Turbo Blue wasn't at every exit, now there stuff is hard to get). The last thing I did was to pressure test my Radiator cap.
    Got about 80 miles and my engine keep getting really hot. Pulled off the highway to find I had left the dang cap at home in the pressure tester. I did have extra cooliant pre-mixed in the trunk, and my old pressure relief cap in the trunk as well, from my old radiator. Got me to Virgina that way. Got there and changed out my now cooked thermostat, got a new 15 pound cap, changed my water pump to be safe.
    The drive home the Temp gauge never got above 180 on the West Virgina Turn pike doing 85 MPH in the middle of summer. Charles
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Unfortunately, I seem to follow the " Experience is the ability to recognize mistakes when you repeat them" rule...
mac
Please remove splinters before emailing
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Jon Pickens wrote:

    Jon:
    In my Shop I have 2 types of Fire Extengishers. a Class 1/Class A & a Class3/Class C. At home I have a Class C, Most of my Vehicles I carry a Class C.
    The Class 1/A is a Water Extinghisher for non-liquid fueled fires (self refillible with water and compressed air). The Class 3/C is a Dry Chemical type (must be hydrostaicallt tested and refilled by a cirtified company). It will work on liquid fueled Fires, and Electrical Fires.
    I suggest buying a Small or Mid-sided Class C Fire Extingisher, with mounting straps. Mount it behind the drivers seat of your truck. Possibly get one in your appartment as well, as cooking and small electrical shorts cause a great majority of home fire losses.
    If your work on Motor Vehicles often, You should ALWAY have a Fire Extingisher. Most Fire Departments will not arive untill a Vehicle has had time to Totally Engulf in flames. Charles
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Agreed... I received a wiring harness in the mail yesterday courtesy of our good buddy Shades, and the used Corvette HEI should arrive today.
I'll still need plug wires, cap and button. While I'm out shopping, I do plan on picking up a fire extinguisher as suggested. I made that decision about 30 seconds after the flames were out.
~jp
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