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February 13, 2000 Article
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I was lying under my convertible yesterday installing the new headers it needs. It is down hill to spring and it is this time every year that I go through both of our "TOYS" to get them ready for summer cruising. The convertible needed new headers, the gas gauge repaired and a new steering box. The Mustang needs the tachometer repaired and a new tranny mount. Naturally they both get complete services too. I had only just begun removing collector bolts when my Wife came out to the garage and suggested I stop for awhile because she had to go into town.

Are you wondering what her going to town has to do with me working on the car? Well let me answer that question. It is called SAFETY. For years, I have made it a practice NOT to work under a vehicle when there is nobody around. And yes, the car was properly supported with QUALITY stands and still had a jack under one side as a safety precaution but SHIT HAPPENS. Even the best of equipment can fail and I prefer not to take unnecessary chances. I will tell you a story about something that happened many years ago. A fellow I knew was doing some work on his car on a nice sunny afternoon, so he decided to work on it in his driveway. He had to remove the differential and it wasn't going to be that big a job. I drove past his house on the way to a store and I beeped my horn at him, I could see his feet under the car and he waved at me. I was at the store for awhile and when I drove by his house I again beeped the horn and again he waved one hand. I got home, unloaded the groceries and something occurred to me. My friend had both rear wheels off his car and I seemed to remember the one brake drum assembly that I saw as I drove by was very close to the ground. It was not high enough to be on a stand and I knew that the guy's feet were sticking out the back of the car and he had waved at me. But something just didn't seem right so I rushed over to his house. What I found was a very scary situation. The fellow was pinned between the rear axle housing and the ground. The cross pin in one axle stand had sheared off and let the whole assemble fall down across his chest. This had happened just as he had reached for a wrench so it had pinned his arms at his side and he couldn't even push up on the unit. I ran next door to get a neighbor to help and call for an ambulance. The weight of the unit had crushed his chest enough that he could barely breathe and it took awhile to get him out. He was taken to hospital and had suffered a number of broken ribs. He had been stuck there for nearly three hours and he told us that lots of people had gone by but he couldn't yell for help. All he could do was move one hand and everyone thought he was waving, just like I did. Since that happened, I NEVER work under a vehicle if there is no one else around or if I don't have a choice, I arrange to phone somebody every so often. In that way if something happens and I cannot phone, they would come over to check things out.

I even had a need for that exact thing a few years later. I was putting an engine into a truck and was inside the compartment trying to line up everything. When I reached to release the hoist, the engine slipped down and pinned my leg and at the same time I dropped the handle for the engine hoist. There I was, STUCK. I couldn't reach the handle to raise the engine and I was in a closed garage. In an hour, a friend arrived because I hadn't called him as I had arranged and he jacked the engine up off my leg. I was just bruised bad and the leg was stiff for a few days. THINK ABOUT IT.

"TOOT" Rick "The Wrench" - Feburary 13, 2000
Copyright of Rick The Wrench, 2000

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