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Old 16-10-2015, 11:39   #31
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Re: Most embarrassing DIY maintenance moment

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Originally Posted by tstano View Post
Just laughing because your moments just don't compare to my blunders. There's one that stands far above any moment you may have thought as dumb. We were heading south and I had our outboard serviced so that I would only have to pop it on the dinghy when we anchored. Three days out and we anchored in a nice spot, dropped the dinghy, and tried to start the outboard. I ran the battery down and switched to the pull cord with no luck. Got the screw driver and drained the carb, nope wouldn't start. Pulled the carb, cleaned it, put it back....no go.
The next six weeks I rowed everywhere we wanted to go and tried to start the outboard with negative results every time. Frustrated I found a repair marina and hauled it into their shop. The mechanic was away but due back in three or four days. We waited and I got it back with word that it was all done, new gaskets, spark plug, oil, the works. Cost me five big ones.
Now I got it back on the dinghy and began pulling the cord, no go. My expletives were loud enough for my wife to come up from below.


"What are you doing?"


"Starting the outboard."


"Oh good, do you want the clip for the kill switch?"


So for six weeks I rowed us around and she thought I just wanted the exercise. In case you want to know, I haven't stopped drinking yet.


All U Get
That is fantastic. Like everyone else, I've spent a lot of time trying to start the outboard without the kill cord, but wow. Kudos to you for having the courage to share!
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Old 16-10-2015, 11:39   #32
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Re: Most embarrassing DIY maintenance moment

My wife never lets me forget this one....


We were out one day on the Olson 30 just day sailing around going nowhere. When the wind completely died. We're bobbing about a mile from the marina for an hour or so when the decision is made to crank up the motor and just motor back. An hour of futzing and fighting and the engine still won't start, and I am out of ideas. Checked the safety switch, in gear, pulled the carb, nothing is working. So we finally break down and call the yacht club, who sends out a tow to pull us in. I am really at the end of my rope, and livid since this is a 4 month old name brand engine.

So I take it back to the shop and start complaining that their engines are junk, that I want a refund for this piece of crap, and I am going to go buy some other outboard instead. The mechanic walks back into the front about 10 minutes later and hands me a bill...

Time - 20 minutes - $30
Materials
- 1/2 gallon gas - $10


Apparently I had completely forgotten to put gas in the thing... Nothing was wrong withtheengine except the operator. My wife still has that bill stored away some where and threatens to have it framed for my office every now and then.
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Old 16-10-2015, 12:00   #33
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Re: Most embarrassing DIY maintenance moment

Jeep-

Rest easy. I installed a wheel on a tiller boat... and did the EXACT SAME THING! Kinda embarrassing...
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Old 16-10-2015, 12:54   #34
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Re: Most embarrassing DIY maintenance moment

Most accurate torque wrench is a deflecting beam or torsion bar, and it never need re-calibrating either, just have to be smart enough to know how to use one is all.

My worst hole drilling incident was about 40 years ago helping a friend install a stereo in his Volkswagen. Back then of course the only drills were 120VAC. Anyone know what is just ahead of the radio in a VW? Just as the drill punched through liquid started flowing fast all over him, seems he had forgotten the gas tank was just in front of the radio, thank God he didn't hit the trigger on the drill or he would have burned alive.

Backwards steering lines, there is an Airworthiness Directive on Maule aircraft, great little bushplane, Mechanic had just competed an annual inspection on one in Alaska and wanted to show off it's short takeoff, climb ability. Got a fast run down the runway and yanked back on the yoke, yep he had the elevator control cable crossed, up was down, so the airplane nosed in and flipped over on it's back.
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Old 16-10-2015, 13:15   #35
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Re: Most embarrassing DIY maintenance moment

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Chris,
As a long time mechanic type person on everything from motorcycles, to aircraft, to boats, your story brought a smile to my face .
Anyone who tackles mechanical work, whether home improvement, or rewiring a sailboat, has had those sequential disasters that are the result of bad luck, poor understanding of the needed actions, brain farts, lack of patience, improper tools, not reading the manual, etc., etc., etc.
It's the price of admission. I can afford the boat ( airplane, motorcycle, house...), but cannot afford to have the work done by someone else. By necessity one must become a skilled technician. It would take me a long time to relate all of my f*&k ups from 50 years of mechanicing.
Good luck! Most of us have been there, learned a lot, and pressed on
As a retired mechanical type I can honestly say that my 57 yrs of
experience cost somebody a lot of money!
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Old 16-10-2015, 13:16   #36
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Re: Most embarrassing DIY maintenance moment

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Tried to true up the end of the crank, shim the wheel, rebalance it but in the end had to pull the engine and install a new crank (which of course meant lots of new gaskets, bearings, etc).
Man that got expensive real quick. Did you atleast upgrade the engine?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Stumble View Post
Time - 20 minutes - $30
Materials
- 1/2 gallon gas - $10


Apparently I had completely forgotten to put gas in the thing... Nothing was wrong withtheengine except the operator. My wife still has that bill stored away some where and threatens to have it framed for my office every now and then.
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Old 16-10-2015, 13:57   #37
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Re: Most embarrassing DIY maintenance moment

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Man that got expensive real quick. Did you atleast upgrade the engine?
No, at the time, 30 years ago it seemed like the best and cheapest option to rebuild that one. Also, I have to say, unlike many recent Volvos I thought the MD17C was a great engine.

But now for the rest of the story. This happened in St Thomas in the USVI and to put it politely, we were not in love with the local Volvo shop. So we crated the engine and shipped it back to the shop in Ft Lauderdale that I knew and trusted. A few weeks later the engine comes back good as new so I borrow a truck and head down to the port to pick it up. Get there and the shipper gives me a stack of papers and tells me first I have to clear customs. Customs??? But this is a shipment from the USA to the US Virgin Islands. Yes, customs. ^&*%$$!!!

So I take my papers down to the customs office and the agent tells me I have to pay import duty for importing a new engine, yes even if it is shipping from the USofA. Ah ha I say. This isn't a new engine, this is a used engine I shipped from here back to the states for repair and it is just coming back in to the VI. Agent expresses skepticism so I pull out another stack of papers that I wisely saved and showed him documentation of the export of that very engine.

He is very miffed that I had robbed him of his pound of flesh. He studies the papers, hems and haws, scratches his head and finally (I can almost see a light bulb light up over his head you know like in the cartoons) he asks, "Did they install new parts in the engine?"

"Well yes I suppose so", I reply.

"Then", he says with a big smile, "You will have to pay duty on the new parts installed."

So he goes through the invoice from the shop in Lauderdale and adds up the costs of all parts installed in the engine and charges me around a hundred bucks. In the overall scheme of things it wasn't that much so I got off light and he got few ounces of flesh to make him happy.

Just another day in paradise.
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Old 16-10-2015, 14:38   #38
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Re: Most embarrassing DIY maintenance moment

LOVE the quote form Marl Twain. Never heard it before but I'll use it.
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Old 16-10-2015, 23:27   #39
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Re: Most embarrassing DIY maintenance moment

All my dive buddies and I were ready to trailer launch my twin engine down the ramp. I am at the steering station and I yell to the six guys to put the plug in the stern. Unfortunately, as I recall with great chagrin...I said, "somebody, put the plug in the stern." Now I know that I should have said, "Steve, put the plug in the stern," and waited for his affirmation of assigned task.


So, we are heading out of Huntington Harbor at max harbor speed. We are excited to get out with the guys and go diving. One of the guys notices some spray coming through the bung hole over the engine hatch. He lifts the panel and water is already up the belt wheels on the big mercs. Holy Crap Batman!. I wheeled that sucker around and jumped on the throttle. We had no idea where the plug was. For all I knew it was still in the truck. Turned the bilge pump on and prayed we wouldn't sink. Got to the loading dock and one of the guys raced for the boat trailer. All of the guys jumped off the boat. Got the boat trailer down the ramp and loaded the boat on. Couldn't pull the boat even half way out of the water. Pump finally got it done. Plug in and off we went. What a humiliation and big lesson about "somebody"....could have sunk her. I was seriously looking at beaching her. Did I tell you about all of the pissy looks I got at 25 knots "in harbor"?
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Old 17-10-2015, 10:52   #40
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Re: Most embarrassing DIY maintenance moment

Yikes. That's a great lesson about being specific when giving orders

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Old 17-10-2015, 18:32   #41
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Re: Most embarrassing DIY maintenance moment

Well, I was thinking along t he lines of "don't ask, don't tell", but what the hell...

Some years ago, on our previous boat which was a Palmer Johnson built one-tonner, there was a small area in the middle of a side deck that creaked when I walked upon it. No visible flex, no hardware holes nearby, but it annoyed me and the Admiral, so I did some investigation. No signs of water intrusion, but it seemed that the bond between the balsa blocks and the upper fibreglass had failed. That upper layer was around 3/8 inch thick (serious overbuild IMO) and there was no structural issue, but we decided to have a go at fixing it.

Local advice was to drill a number of holes through the top layer and inject epoxy, then put sandbags on it to weigh it down until cured. Easy peasy, I thought, and bought some epoxy and some empty caulking cartridges. Drilled a few holes, mixed up aa big batch of slow cure epoxy and began injecting... and injecting... and mixing more... and injecting... WTF??? I ran out of epoxy, so I quit and put the sandbags on.

Imagine my disappointment the next day when, as I was removing the bags the deck creaked, just as before. Some mature reflection lead me to decide that the creaking wasn't so bad after all. Tidied up the holes, faired and touched up the deck, feeling a bit foolish about the whole thing.

But that was nothing compared to how foolish I felt later when I noticed that an overhead light fixture in the galley was... full of epoxy!! Seems that at least one of the holes I drilled went into a wiring conduit, and I had been trying to fill up the whole bloody network of wireways on that side of the boat. Fortunately, none of that wiring failed before we sold the boat many years later... after all, it was potted in epoxy, so what could possibly go wrong?

But as embarrassing as that was to me, consider the fellow who bought the boat from me. He was a bit cocky and self assured (this is a pc approved term for something harsher), and immediately wanted to make some fundamental changes it the boat that Ann and I had been fine tuning through 17 years of full time cruising. One thing was to add a through-hull for a drain for the head sink, previously pumped out through the cockpit drains aft ( the boat had but three through hull fittings below the w/l). So, he had the boat lifted by the local travel lift, and held in the slings for the quick job. Rushing below, hole saw in hand, he quickly made the one inch diameter hole through the inner hull, the foam coring, the outer hull... and the travel lift sling! Cost him over a thousand bucks to replace that sling, and a considerable amount of hilarity directed at him by all present who had tired of his attitude!

There... I feel better now!

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Old 17-10-2015, 18:55   #42
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Re: Most embarrassing DIY maintenance moment

I've been thinking about this thread for a couple of days. I like to think of myself as a good navigator a so-so sailor but a rotten fixer/maintainer. Mechanical I can manage, electrical I can install basic electornics (like a new radio) so I'm not totally clueless, but trouble shooting I'm bad at. My real weakness is carpentry though. Just can't do it.

My example though isn't carpentry related because I know better than to try to deal with wood.

My example isn't with my boat, its actually with my bike. I was doing my first oil change with this particular bike. I removed the plug from the bottom, drained the oil. I then added the recommended dose of oil. Started the bike up. The oil cap blew off, hit my eave, deflected about 30' across the street and shot a geyser of hot oil all over the bike and drive way.

It turns out, Harley Sportsters don't have a drain plug, they have a stupid hose and the plug was for the transmission fluid.

I could easily see this lesson applying to boats.

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Old 18-10-2015, 11:39   #43
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Re: Most embarrassing DIY maintenance moment

I just had to giggle at some of these stories. Just stupid little things that can go wrong with almost no effort whatsoever. Helping my dad paint the bedroom in his home. Had pulled everything off of the walls, puttied, taped, prepped the whole room. U know how it is. 70 percent prep work and 30 percent painting sort of gig.

The air conditioner, in window type, had the front plastic piece removed so that no paint splatter got to it. The aluminum webbing all covered with paper and tape. So, after the job was done I am in a hurry to get all of the paper and masking tape out of the room. Reinstalling the 4 screws to secure the plastic front plate on the air conditioner I somehow put a screw into a Freon line. Looked like "Old Faithfull" going off. My father just looked at me...u know the look..."dumb Sh-t!!!!"
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Old 19-10-2015, 07:13   #44
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Re: Most embarrassing DIY maintenance moment

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Reinstalling the 4 screws to secure the plastic front plate on the air conditioner I somehow put a screw into a Freon line. Looked like "Old Faithfull" going off. My father just looked at me...u know the look..."dumb Sh-t!!!!"
Ha! I just did the same thing a month ago at work but with a full size fridge!

We have a fridge at my work supposed to be only for the service department. Well we were having some problems with one portly person from another department stealing our food that we all bought to share, with in our department. I asked my boss about installing a lock on it to keep him out. So with his approval I happily got everything at Lowe's and started installing the lock. All the while I'm smiling thinking how fun it's going to be to see his disappointed face when he can't steal our food anymore. All in all I had to put in 10 screws for the 2 latch assemblies. Wouldn't you know on the Tenth and final screw I hit a freon line and killed the fridge.

I quickly removed all evidence (minus the ten holes) told my boss and he told me to keep quiet and not let the owner know. The fridge is still dead and my co-workers won't let me forget it.
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Old 19-10-2015, 08:27   #45
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Re: Most embarrassing DIY maintenance moment

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Reinstalling the 4 screws to secure the plastic front plate on the air conditioner I somehow put a screw into a Freon line. Looked like "Old Faithfull" going off. My father just looked at me...u know the look..."dumb Sh-t!!!!"

That reminded me of a screw in the wrong place dumb a$$ move I pulled.

Wanted to install a rear view mirror in my little motorboat so I could watch the skiers when I was towing. Found the perfect spot on the aluminum frame of the front windshield, lined up the bracket, drilled four mounting holes, all is good. Until I put in the screws which were just a tad too long and the lower screw hit the edge of the windshield (which was tempered glass) and it popped into a few thousand little pieces.
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