Author Topic: Your worst automotive nightmare/facepalm.  (Read 3360 times)

My68SS

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Your worst automotive nightmare/facepalm.
« on: June 07, 2015, 03:45:00 PM »
Ok, c'mon crew. Let's have a few "D'oh" stories to chuckle over. I'll start the ball rolling.
Mikefam's starter motor thread was the inspiration to recount this epic facepalm of mine.

I was tinkering with another car I had at the time - many years ago now - a HR Holden, GM-H Aust. car.
I needed to crank [no start - coil disconnected] the engine and just reached in through the drivers window to turn the key. The engine started cranking but was still in first gear and the whole car started moving forward. I was used to autos at this time and forgot about this car being a manual.

To my horror, when I let go of the key, the starter motor did not disengage and kept cranking the car forward, which was only a couple of feet from a glass pane sliding door!!
I dove full length through the drivers window and started banging at the shifter to knock it into neutral, but only succeeded in banging it straight past neutral and into second gear!!

I was now frantic, there was only inches left to the glass door and the car was now moving even quicker towards it!
Some more [now judicious] slapping of the shifter and I finally managed to hit neutral. The car stopped just shy of the glass door and the starter disengaged.
I slid out the door and collapsed on the ground.

What caused all this mayhem?
The starter had developed an intermittent issue whereby the solenoid would always operate, but the starter motor would not crank the engine.
I had traced the problem to the solenoid sometimes not connecting the battery terminal to the starter terminal.

When I pulled the solenoid apart, I could see the problem. The heads of the main terminals inside the solenoid cap had eroded away.
I removed the terminals from the cap and built them back up with an oxy and some bronze, but added a little too much height of bronze.

When I reassembled it, everything would have worked fine, except for the fact that I had left the car in gear.
When I let go of the key, the solenoid de-energized but couldn't fully release because the car was in gear keeping the starter pinion loaded and engaged on the ring gear.

Ordinarily, this restricted movement of the solenoid is still enough to disconnect the main terminals [design criteria] and stop the starter motor, but 'bunny' here had built the heads up too much and now the solenoid could not disconnect the terminals under restricted movement conditions.

If it weren't for the fact that I had left the car in gear, I would have never realized the problem I had created and maybe some other unsuspecting bunny was to get caught out with it and have the car crank him straight over the edge of a cliff!

Moral of the story - make sure you understand the exact design criteria of anything electrical, mechanical or electromechanical before toying with it.
Not all design criteria are obvious on first sight!
Rob
1968 12C SS
L34/M40
12 bolt posi 3.55

janobyte

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Re: Your worst automotive nightmare/facepalm.
« Reply #1 on: June 07, 2015, 04:49:03 PM »
DITTO with Mikefam's issue jarring memories ::)


Many years I had solid engine mounts where I used bigger gauge wire and a copper eye for grounding....never a starter issue.

When we put the 302 back in it ,went back to rubber mounts( rubber not being the best of conductors LOL).  Rectified the problem asap, but literally hit my head saying "what was I thinking ???"


68 Z/28  born with: 302, drive line, etc..

BillOhio

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Re: Your worst automotive nightmare/facepalm.
« Reply #2 on: June 08, 2015, 01:22:13 AM »
I heard a good one last week. Local farmer decided to jump his starter to get tractor running. It was in gear and went thru the side of his shed and into his pond
1969 Z28, Burgandy, numbers matching, 12,900 miles
1968 RS 327 4 speed
1970 Z28 M22 4:10 bought from original owner
1961 Chrysler 300G convertible

ZLP955

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Re: Your worst automotive nightmare/facepalm.
« Reply #3 on: June 08, 2015, 02:35:06 AM »
When living in the UK, a friend of a friend imported a 65 Mustang convertible. Arrived on the dock and when he went to load it, the battery was flat; helpful dock worker on a fork lift offered to jump start it for him. Never occurred to anyone to check battery voltages - forklift was 24V, the 'stang went up in flames on the dock. Shipping insurance wouldn't pay, as the guy had already signed the release paperwork.
Tim in Australia.
1969 04A Van Nuys Z/28. Cortez Silver, Dark Blue interior, VE3, Z21, Z23, D55/U17, D80, flat hood.
Sold at Clippinger Chevrolet in Covina, CA.
AHRA Formula Stock at Lions Dragstrip, NHRA E/MP at Pomona Raceway

My68SS

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Re: Your worst automotive nightmare/facepalm.
« Reply #4 on: June 08, 2015, 08:59:37 AM »
Good stuff guys, the things we get caught out with! Keep 'em coming  :)

The runaway tractor story prompts me to add to my dilemma that it was good fortune that I had disconnected the ignition coil before testing my starter. Had I left the coil connected and the engine started, the glass door would have been dead in microseconds with my car ending up in the pool just on the other side!

Tim's mustang story is painful reading to say the least!
Rob
1968 12C SS
L34/M40
12 bolt posi 3.55

 

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