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1965 Giulia TI/1998 Spider
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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
What is the stupidest thing you have ever done to your beloved little Alfa, in an attempt to repair her (maybe turning a smal project into a major repair), while driving her, or otherwise. The story I am about to share with you is maybe not so much a mess up, more of a slip up, but I'll use it anyway to get this thread started

It was in the winter of 1985-1986. I lived in Holland at that time, in an old city downtown close to one of those pretty canals, that many of you have only seen in pictures. The townhomes and appartments rarely have their own parking space, so one has to search for a public parking spot. I often parked next to the canal, also this time.

My GT Junior always started right up, provided that the battery was full. It never really wanted to charge well though, so after coming home, I always took it out (especially in the cold winters) an put it on a charger, so that if I needed to go somewhere next day, I could simply install the battery and would be good to go. A typical fund strapped college student solution!

On this particular evening, my then girlfriend and I were all dressed up, as we were about to attend a formal dinner party. Me in suit and tie, long coat.....she in coktail dress, fancy pantyhoses, high heeled shoes, you get the picture. So we walked to the Alfa, battery in hand, and I walked over to the driver side, near the water, to install the battery. I have to mention that it had been drizzling, and ducks had deposited their usual contribution. I did not notice though, and it was really slick. I suppose by now you guess what happened, I slipped, and fell into the freezing water of the canal. Luckily, the battery fell on the ground, and did not tumble into the water.

So I got out, all soaking wet, smelly and freezing. I quickly put the battery in, and went home for a shower and dry clothes. Obviously, I was not happy, suit wet, present that was in my pocket wet, we were going to be late, etc, etc. My girlfriend could not stop laughing though, even after I got out of the shower she was still lauging uncontrollably. I go a little annoyed by it, it is OK to laugh, even I could have laughed, but it has to stop some time:)

My laughing came later. When we we're sitting at my parents house, before going to the restaurant, my girlfriend's legs started itching.....she started scratching, and here pantyhose was disintegrating.....big gaping holes developed. What had happened is that when the battery hit the floor it cracked (which was a bummer obviously, I had not noticed it yet, it started just fine) and the acid came out under force and got onto her legs (it sprayed all the way under the car, she was standing on the passenger side!!!!..So she had to borrow a pantyhose from my mom (shops close there at night), who is quite a few sizes bigger....it was really funny to see it draped around her legs, and I could finally laugh.
 

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I stuck my finger in my 164's timing belt.

I didn't mean to, honestly. Turned off the car, went inside the house, and promptly passed out from the pain. After i came to i ended up having to re-time the engine (three teeth off) and am now almost done growing a new fingernail!
 

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I once sprayed too much belt dressing on my '91 Spider's serpentine belt, and it began to slip a little bit, so I did about the stupidest thing I could possibly do - I mean, literally, I consider myself a very sensible person - but I took a rag to the belt, and lightly touched the underside, while the car was running. It caught the rag after about a second and took my index finger too, and ran it between the belt and the power steering pump. I really thought that was one of those stupid moments where you lose a finger. But I was fine. Felt like I'd hit my finger with a hammer.

I'm almost ashamed to admit it - but I was lucky not to have injured myself, and maybe someone will be reminded, from my careless mistake, to keep fingers clear of moving parts. Not that anyone needs reminding - I sure didn't. But I did it anyway! I'm shaking my head as I write.
 

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While changing out the suspension, I loosened the spring pan without properly constraining the front spring, when I got to the final thread.... BANG! the spring jumped out of there like a CANNON, hit the floor and bounced against the wall, and left me sitting there looking, and feeling, very stupid and lucky to not have been hit. People die that way.


Propmtly logged on to the BB. and learned how to remove the front pan with the "threaded rod technique" Easy as pie and plenty safe.

Reminds me of my some of my favorite engineering quotes:

"experience is a hard teacher, beacause it gives the test first, and then the lesson."

And

"good judgement comes from experience...and a lot of that comes from bad judgement"
 

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1971 set (Spider, GTV, Berlina, Montreal)
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I was once checking for top dead center on a 1750 by sticking a 3/8 extension down the #1 spark plug hole. I was off by 180 degrees so I rolled the engine over a full turn to get there. I quickly learned that it would have been much less expensive if I had removed the extension first. Both valves were badly bent and the threads in the plug hole were flattened.
 

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Er, not an Alfa but you'll laugh.

I decided that I wanted to remove the instruments from my 70 Mercedes 280 so that I could make the clock work, clean the inside of the lenses etc, etc...

So I removed the the multipin connector and all the illumination plugs and unscrewed the speedo cable then unscrewed something that I didn't really know the purpose of. I took the instruments inside, and proceeded to dismantle the assembly on the kitchen table. After about 1/2 an hour I got hungry and realised I had nothing in the house so I decided to go to the shops, but the only car I had at home was the Mercedes. I thought, "i'm only going 2 kilometers, what do I need dials for?"

So, I made sure there was nothing electrical exposed and set off. About 100 meters down the street I felt my foot getting warm and then realised that I could smell engine oil, THEN I realised that the mystery screw-in connection was the high pressure oil line direct from the engine that sent a signal to the oil pressure gauge, and it was hosing engine oil all over my jeans and into my shoes!!

Years of working on cars with nothing but electric cables and mechanical drives to their dials had left me totally naieve to the relatively primative MB solution! I didn't injure myself, and I was very lucky that the shop that sold my wife the jeans she had bought me had one last pair left in the same size, or I might have been.
 

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A couple years ago I swapped out the 1.6 mtr for a 2.0. I then swapped in the 10.5mm 101 cams from the 1.6 to the 2.0 In the middle of having everything apart I somehow got 1 cam journal cap mixed up. Timed the cams, started the mtr up and it ran great! for about 3 minutes. The intake cam locked up in that journal and stopped that mtr dead. It snapped the internal chain sprocket into 2 pieces. The top end stopped but the bottom end kept spinning. Every valve that was in the way bent. I was so PISSED!! I just paced around the garage and front yard for about a 1/2 hr trying not to throw anything, inconsolable. So I had to pull that mtr right back out. Later on I found the little 7mm retaining bolt on the cam sprocket with a U shaped bend in it. Amazingly enough the cam didn't bend and only the #1 lobe took a little bit to clean up. Expensive screw up but I learned and didn't physically get hurt.
 

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I broke a brake caliper bleed screw once. :rolleyes:






Oh, and the time I did a full tune up only to end up with a crank/no start condition. Seems I forgot to install the distributor rotor. :eek:
 

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Work on or race cars for enough years and you (I actually) could write a book of these screw-ups.

My very first engine overhaul (not an alfa) was over Christmas vacation my freshman year - burned up an engine driving home, go it rebuilt and finished on the morning I had to leave for school. Merrily opened the oil filler and started pouring oil in. A few minutes later I saw a pool - maybe 10 feet in diameter - of fresh oil flowing around my shoes.

Forgot the drain plug!

BTW - driving home from Pasadena that vacation, I stopped in Gorman to add some oil. This was back in the days that the service yahoo did it for you. He didn't tighten the oil cap, which came off. In the next 60 miles I blew all the oil out of the engine. Blasting along 99 at 1 am the car just started slowing and slowing. Finally with the pedal floored and the car slowing to under 25, I pulled over about 5 miles short of Greenley, a nothing farm town several miles off the highway.

The engine nearly glowed it was so hot, and several pinstons were fused to the bores.

The idiot lights never came on as the wunderkid had knocked the harness loose.

R
 

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Did it yesterday. I was installing the trunk lock/license plate light assembly on my 1961 102 Spider restoration and was all excited that I had finally gotten all the fiddly little pieces assembled. I was test fitting it to make sure it was all adjusted correctly and would actuate the latch. When the body was repainted, the mounting holes ended up a little smaller than before, so the mounting studs were a tight fit and it took a bit of a shove to push it through. Did I happen to mention that the trunklid was propped up with an old broom handle?

You can guess the rest: I shoved, the broom handle slipped, the trunklid came down on my head, I went ouch pulled back and the lid slammed onto my left hand. The only saving grace was that the broom handle kept the lid from slamming all the way shut and my hand was only bruised instead of broken. So, I'm standing in the driveway saying a few choice words and suddenly I see lots of blood dripping on the ground. Go inside, look in the mirror and there is a stream of blood down the side of my head. Fortunately, the wound was not too big (head gashes are pretty spectacular in the wound size to blood spatter ratio).

Oh, the car was undamaged...:D

Arno Leskinen
AROC-USA National Concours Chair
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You just made your weekly sacrifice to the God of Internal Combustion - Alfa Romeo division. Since you shed a little blood, the next seven days of Alfa work will be trouble free. Quick!....do something important!

Did it yesterday. I was installing the trunk lock/license plate light assembly on my 1961 102 Spider restoration and was all excited that I had finally gotten all the fiddly little pieces assembled. I was test fitting it to make sure it was all adjusted correctly and would actuate the latch. When the body was repainted, the mounting holes ended up a little smaller than before, so the mounting studs were a tight fit and it took a bit of a shove to push it through. Did I happen to mention that the trunklid was propped up with an old broom handle?

You can guess the rest: I shoved, the broom handle slipped, the trunklid came down on my head, I went ouch pulled back and the lid slammed onto my left hand. The only saving grace was that the broom handle kept the lid from slamming all the way shut and my hand was only bruised instead of broken. So, I'm standing in the driveway saying a few choice words and suddenly I see lots of blood dripping on the ground. Go inside, look in the mirror and there is a stream of blood down the side of my head. Fortunately, the wound was not too big (head gashes are pretty spectacular in the wound size to blood spatter ratio).

Oh, the car was undamaged...:D

Arno Leskinen
AROC-USA National Concours Chair
102
115
116
 

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I was installing the (square) headlights in my '84 Alfetta sedan a few years ago after it came back from the paint shop.

I noticed the right headlight was not lined up correctly, it was pointing down slightly. I figured one of the metal mounting tabs was slightly bent so I had the brilliant idea of applying some pressure to the headlight with my hand while it was in place to assist in bending the metal tab back into position so I could screw on the nuts there and then. Whalla...

Well there must have been a hairline crack in that headlight because the lens gave way... 0.0001 seconds before this my hand was pressed hard against it with most of my bodyweight ready to follow through!

The shard of glass that was left cut very deep into my hand below my thumb and it seriously looked like my thumb was about to fall off…

I made it up to the kitchen and luckily my brother was home because I was about to pass out by this stage. He called the ambulance for me…he didn’t have his licence at the time. They drove me to the hospital and they all agreed it needed to be stitched up by a plastic surgery expert but this guy wasnt available until the morning. They wrapped it up and gave me some strong pain killers (strong my a*ss!).

Its all good now, another scar to add to the ever growing list, but this was the first Alfa inflicted one :eek:
 

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Fess Up your Mess Up!!!!!!

Did I happen to mention that the trunklid was propped up with an old broom handle?

...You can guess the rest: I shoved, the broom handle slipped, the trunklid came down on my head,
I had a similar experience about 16 years ago; that seems so long ago now. The power strut had gone out which held up the GTV-6 hatch in the back; Pat's solution was a metal pipe, the proper length, grooved at the top to fit the bead that needed to rest on it. That was fine and good; I put the metal pipe in place, Lee was wandering around the driveway waiting for me to load the stroller. You've got it, I apparently hit the pole loading the stroller over the back into the hatch and didn't realize it. I don't remember hearing the hatch slam closed, I don't remember being hit etc. I don't know how long I was knocked out. I woke up with Lee wandering, crying "Mommy." I remember getting up off the ground, somewhat dazed and unsteady, picking Lee up and taking him in the house.

I called Pat, he drove home from Torrance and from there it was to emergency. When Pat got home my purple shirt was now totally red, my hair was crusted and matted in the blood and gash that looked like a huge zig-zag running the top of my scalp. Pat told me I had to change shirts, I couldn't wear the bloody one to the ER. (Like they've never seen bloody clothing before?) I had no idea what he was talking about, I was so out of it; I didn't realize that my shirt was not red fabric and couldn't understand why he wanted me to change shirts. Anyway, after x-rays, observation, and I don't remember how many stitiches, I had such a whopping headache and could not wash or comb my hair for several weeks while it all healed.

What did I learn from this....it's less expensive to replace the power strut. I'm very lucky that Lee was not hurt or had not wandered off while I was out.

I have one more story about how I caught my sleeve on fire, tried to burn down the garage, and forced Pat to ruin a perfectly good rebuilt engine in the process --- but I'll save that one for another time. Bet you can hardly wait.
 

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Back when I had my first Alfa, my red 2.5 Milano, I turned the key and it wouldn't start. Keep in mind I was just learning but I knew enough to figure out it was the battery (no starter, lights dimmed). So what did I do?

Well...I popped the hood and first checked to see if there was crap around the terminals. There wasn't so I popped off the battery filler cap in attempt to see, for whatever freakin' reason, if the thing was low (I guess I should have checked the headlight fluid while I was at it, yeesh). I couldn't see inside the battery very well so I got out my lighter, stuck my eye near the hole and KAPOOF!!!

Luckily I survived with my eye sight, only singed eyelashes and an eyebrow. It ended up I had just left the lights on.
 

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Again, not a Alfa but my pals '69 Roadrunner about 20+ years ago. There I was, lying in the snow at 10 pm with a transmission on my chest. Ahh the smell of gear oil on a cold January night!!! We put everything back together, fired up the beast and... hey, what's that strange whirring noise? We had put the clutch disc in backwards! We took it all apart and got things right by 2 am! The joys of youth :)
 
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