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post #1 of 27 (permalink) Old 05-01-2017, 09:40 AM Thread Starter
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Almost died, Be careful

Ok, I've been working on cars since I was 14. That's longer than I can remember. I have never done anything this dumb so I am sending it out so nobody else will.

Went to work on the Spider this weekend. Jacked the front up and put it on the flat part of a set of ramps, no ramps attached. Jacked the back up and got the jack stands ready but not in place. Garage floor is flat, so not a problem.

Crawled under the front to see what size the oil drain plug nut was to see if I had the right wrench. As I crawled out from underneath the car my race jack rolled backwards and the car rolled off the ramps. Had my head been where it was 15 seconds longer I wouldn't be writing this today, I would have been squished by the oil pan on the Alfa. My son walked out right after that as I sat there shaking. Can't imagine what it would have been like if he had found me.

I said my prayers and went back to work after putting up jack stands and supports under the rear wheels but, lesson learned, be careful when you are going under the car and put redundant systems there to keep you safe. No short cuts or they could be your last.

On the plus side, the spider got a lot of work done to it this weekend and I am actually starting to enjoy driving it. Next up, new stereo to go in it. Wiring got run this weekend and it will go in during the week.

Ventura Alfa
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post #2 of 27 (permalink) Old 05-01-2017, 09:53 AM
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Glad you are OK. It was scary just reading it, can't imagine how you must have felt.

- - Eric
don't read this
~ 1984 Spider Veloce ~
- -~ 1981 GTV-6 ~
Mebane, North Carolina

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post #3 of 27 (permalink) Old 05-01-2017, 10:07 AM Thread Starter
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It's funny, really didn't dawn on me for probably 30-45 seconds then I just sat there shaking realizing how close I had come. It really set in when my son walked out and I realized if I had been trapped under there he would have been the one to find me. Not the way you want a 14 year old to find you.

I've done a lot of thing in race cars over the years but, in my mind, that's the closest I've come to not walking away from one. And I know some of you do it all the time, I did. That's the reason for this thread.

Glad to still be among you.

Spoke to the guys at A.P.E. this morning buying some parts. Great bunch of characters.

Ventura Alfa
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post #4 of 27 (permalink) Old 05-01-2017, 11:48 AM
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post #5 of 27 (permalink) Old 05-01-2017, 01:24 PM
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Thanks for the post. All of us need a reminder once in a while to take that extra step, to be certain and analyze what we're doing while doing it. I've had cars move and tilt a bit on me when I had them in the air, but nothing like what you describe. And I've had jacks roll too, on a "level" floor. It would have shaken me too.

Lexington, KY USA
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post #6 of 27 (permalink) Old 05-01-2017, 01:59 PM
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I once had a similar but less dramatic jacking incident. Since then I always 1st set the parking brake so that the rear wheels are locked, then jack up the front, set the front jack stands, then jack up the rear. There's a post-it note with this routine stuck to a garage cabinet door as a reminder.

The other scary thing I've done is rocked the car while on the stands by using too large of a cheater bar to loosen something big.

Yup, can't be too careful!

Paul Leone
'72 GTV
'91 164 S
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post #7 of 27 (permalink) Old 05-01-2017, 04:13 PM
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Almost died, Be careful

Close call, although I'm sure you're well aware of that. Sounds like someone must be watching out for you. Glad you're here and alright.

You have worked on cars since you were 14, huh? Was it fun. I am thinking of making it a hobby of mine once I get a little older and I start to earn a livable income. Any help, tips, ideas, etc?
-many thanks
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post #8 of 27 (permalink) Old 05-01-2017, 06:44 PM
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Great reminder. It's easy to get compliant. Don't beat yourself up, take it for the value of the lesson.

[FONT="Microsoft Sans Serif"]Don - 1984 Spider Veloce[/FONT]
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post #9 of 27 (permalink) Old 05-01-2017, 07:07 PM
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I have scars to show for a couple of those lapses.
I'm a fanatic about proper stands.

The " Save the Rusty Alfa Society"
43 Alfas at the moment [ I think], I'll be able to tell better when the snow melts
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post #10 of 27 (permalink) Old 05-01-2017, 08:34 PM
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A short bit of advice: do not jack the rear of the car up with the front wheels on ramps - even if your intention is to place jack stands at the rear This is not how ramps are to be used, the rear wheels need to be on the ground and either chocked or the parking brake set. You need a second pair of stands if you want to lift the entire car.

Paul - 1972 Spider - (2)1991 164S's - 1983 308 - 2001 Discovery - 1997 F350
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post #11 of 27 (permalink) Old 05-01-2017, 08:55 PM
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Originally Posted by paulsle View Post
The other scary thing I've done is rocked the car while on the stands by using too large of a cheater bar to loosen something big.

I actually give the car a push in a couple of directions after I've got it up on jack stands, before I will crawl underneath. If something is amiss and it's going to fall, I want it to fall before I get under it.

Glad the OP is ok.

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post #12 of 27 (permalink) Old 05-01-2017, 10:39 PM
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It's also a good idea to make sure the wheels on your floor jack are lubricated and role freely. If the jack can't roll as as it travels through the arc of it's lift, your going to start pulling the car as it lifts.
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Dick Stachowiak East Syracuse, NY 71 GTV 71 Spider
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post #13 of 27 (permalink) Old 05-01-2017, 10:40 PM
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Congrats on your safety... lost a friend doing exactly that a few years ago...

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post #14 of 27 (permalink) Old 05-01-2017, 10:44 PM
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When I was a teenager I helped my cousin change the oil on her car. Thought I could save some time by just having it up on the jack, since I was only going to be under there a minute. It slipped off the jack just as I was pulling out from underneath, close enough that I got a glancing blow from the front bumper as I yanked my head out of there. Scary, scary stuff. I decided that "head crushed under a 1989 Pontiac LeMans" is not the way you want to go.

Jason Arrington
1989 Spider driver
1974 Spider restoration project
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post #15 of 27 (permalink) Old 05-02-2017, 04:23 AM
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Thanks for sharing. It is good to be reminded that working under an unsecured car can be a very dangerous thing. And there is nothing like a close-call to make you think about what could have happened and how you should do things differently going forward.

I've been working on cars for a long time, too, and I have a healthy respect for them and a genuine fear working underneath them. That fear has manifested itself in the form of a double-safety system whenever working under a car or truck. I'll write here what I tell my friends and neighbors when we discuss working under cars. Many of us know this. The key is in doing it.

If you have a floor jack, you should also have at least 4 good quality jack stands that are rated for at least 1/2 the weight of your vehicle. They are as important as any tool in your garage. Not just 2! At least 4! Even if you don't plan on jacking up your whole car, buy 4. Buy some chocks to put under wheels that remain on the ground. Never mix ramps and jack stands or ramps and a floor jack. Wheels are made to roll and that's what they want to do. If you will be working on the front end and must use ramps, be sure to put the car into park or gear (assuming you won't need to start the car), set the emergency brake AND chock the rear wheels as they sit firmly on the ground. Never assume that a car on a ramp or jack stand will only roll backwards. They don't. Chock wheels on both sides.

The geometry of a car changes as you jack it up. Make sure your floor jack can move in the correct direction so that it doesn't pull the car off of the jack stands you have already set.

Always have a backup under the car that is at least the height of your head or chest. If I'm working on brakes, I will push the removed tire under the car so the rim is under the frame (even though I'm not working under the car) to avoid the possibility of pinning an arm or leg. This is in addition to at least one jack stand in the corner I'm working on. If I've got one end of the car up, I'll push an extra jack stand under the car so it is just in contact with the frame at a solid support point.

Give the car a moderate push once you have it off the ground to make sure it is solid. If your jack stands are on hard points, it should not move at all. if it does, figure out why and fix it before crawling underneath. Don't forget an extra safety stand.

We are all here because we love cars. But more than once I've noticed that the Alfa Romeo logo includes a snake eating a man. Let's make sure our Alfas don't consume anything more from us than our passion...well...and maybe our wallets.
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Alfa-current: '66 Duetto, '69 Spider
Past: '74 Spider, '76 spider, '80 GTV 6
Other-Current: 11 BMWs, Ram 1500
Other-past: 16 BMWs, MGs, Triumphs, other stuff that doesn't count.

Last edited by Hodgepodge; 05-02-2017 at 04:27 AM.
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