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jonathan909

A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Stupidity

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It's been quiet for a couple of days, so I thought I'd break the silence with a report of what kind of idiot I can be.

Now that the holidays are over, everyone's back to work and school, and I can get some quiet time to crank up the stereo and get things done, I'm bolting up the heads on this EJ25D rebuild so maybe I can get the mill back in the car during the Chinook this week.  Body count on this timing failure was three slightly bent exhaust valves, otherwise things look good.

Having done the left head, I mounted up the right last night just before bed, and first thing this morning torqued it up.  For anyone who hasn't done it, it's a procedure, and I still find some Zen focus in it, something I discovered a five or six years ago when I did my first head gasket job on this car, just after I bought it (my first Subaru).  I'm normally very task-to-completion driven, but in the middle of torquing one of these heads for the first time, I found I wasn't thinking the way I usually do, rather, I was really enjoying the process.  Quite a memorable moment for me.

Anyway, in half an hour or so it was all torqued, so I went to the exhaust cam next, since I'm always nervous about falling lifters.  But when I put it in place and reached for the cap... its markings were wrong - they were for the intake.  So I looked at the cam - intake too.  Confusing... I know where I put them just before bolting up the head... there are the exhaust parts.... oh...

I'd put the head on  upside-down.

It's truly amazing, the big things you can miss when you're focusing on little details.

We're all used to trying to be the smartest and most helpful we can, but I doubt I'm the only one who has these moments (and I have a few more, some pretty hilarious).  Feel free to share.

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I mixed up the intake and exhaust cams on a 25D a few years ago - of course it had to be the driver's side head. Distractions abound when you are trying to run a shop and wrench at the same time..... The engine did not run well at all this way but was completely undamaged - of course I rotate them over by hand to ensure there is nothing binding so no interference took place. I had to swap the cams around after it was in the car and we had attempted to run it. That's a frustrating event for sure. Put a major F*ck in my day and the schedule. Customer was a good friend though and didn't mind the delay.

Because I we do it professionally though.... not many mistakes get made around here. Half the jobs we are on auto-pilot because repetition. Most of the "problems" we run into are getting the wrong parts, or not being able to get the parts in a timely manner. 

I had a friend/customer who installed a short block I supplied to him and called me saying oil was everywhere and it was flowing out of the block like a faucet. He installed the head gasket upside down with the oil port hole on the wrong end. Oil was erupting from the joint between head and block like a volcano. 

I had a block come in from another shop with THREE stripped head bolt holes. I guess they accidentally bought DOHC bolts for a SOHC engine. What I don't understand is who keeps torquing the bolts after one of them strips? Let alone THREE of them? Just a single bolt hole being stripped will ensure a blown gasket almost immediately. Let alone three. Why keep trying to go through the sequence? It's not an easy repair - I charge $100 per hole for the pleasure. I would have demoted that tech back to sweeping and mopping if he worked here. 

GD

Edited by GeneralDisorder
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19 minutes ago, GeneralDisorder said:

to go through the sequence? It's not an easy repair - I charge $100 per hole for the pleasure. I would have demoted that tech back to sweeping and mopping if he worked here. 

GD

I am suprised that you would have kept him on GD LOL

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Once upon a time I was a younger man and made an honest mistake that cost the company more than my monthly pay. A crusty old shop foreman swept it under the rug for me and kept me from getting fired. I try to return the favor. It would depend on the tech of course. If they made a regular habit of fastener abuse or hammer & chisel apprentice work they would be pushing their toolbox down the sidewalk. 

GD

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We all make mistakes.  The main issue is a) was it done because you didn't know any better (not intentional) and b) did you own up to the mistake or try to hide it from being discovered.  In my line of work if you don't follow b) people can die (no road shoulders at 30,000 ft).  The other concern is like GD says is it a continuing case of mistakes.

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Awesome sharing mistakes. Both are gold and I’m sure you’ll both look back at them with the same light given enough time. 

I’m sure I’ve made mistakes but the only ones I can think of were more about learning - like pulling a gearbox down three times (on the bench) to work out why reverse wouldn’t work. Turns out you can’t put phase two gears sets into a phase one case set hand have all gears including reverse work.  There was a lot of time wasted there. 

On the first EA82 rebuild I did - had both cams orientated at 12 o’clock when the cam belt went back on. It took me some time to work that one out. Never got it wrong since. 

I don’t work in a shop and I’m not professionally trained either, it’s only my own mechanical work that I waste time on, much like Jonathan909.

Cheers 

Bennie

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As you've all illustrated, our work exists on a continuum from the "fun and games, keeping my own stuff running and staying stimulated by learning new things", through work for an employer and/or customer, to mission-critical/man-rated, where mistakes have the most serious consequences.  As fate has had it, I've never been involved in the latter, and some of the very best programmers I've ever worked with have been categorical about not wanting that kind of responsibility.  My career has been in the middle, and often as a contractor, where those mistakes sometimes came out of my own pocket.

But back at the lighter end of the scale, here's another learning-on-the-fly boner move:

For the longest time I had a persistent - and increasingly severe - drivetrain vibration in my old beater '91 Dakota 4x4.  At one point I was so frustrated I was determined to just start disconnecting things until something changed.  So off came the front driveshaft.  No change.  Then one front drive axle - I pulled it out and took it for a spin.  No change.  Then the other drive axle.  I headed out our driveway and about a quarter mile down the access road to the secondary highway (we're out in the country).  As I pulled out onto the highway, both front bearings (without the axles supporting the load) gave out, planting the front end on the pavement with the wheels splayed out like in a cartoon, or a newborn colt that can't quite stand up yet.  I wish I'd had a camera - as I stood back and looked at it I just couldn't stop laughing.  Then I trudged home, got the jacks and tools, and sorta wedged it all back together again well enough to limp back to the garage.  To cap it, while I was fetching the tools, my girls' school bus driver passed by the poor thing, so the story got around.

As my former business partner and I say:  We know it's built right because we did it six times.

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I have a story to tell about one of my adventures. I had bought a project car that was not running when I bought it and I didn't know much history about it. I was doing an engine swap because the original was seized, I had an engine from a 2000 Outback that I wanted to put in a 2001 Outback. No big deal I had done several before. I had done the headgaskets already on the donor engine so I just needed to just swap the cam gears, crank gear and intake manifold and some minor modification to the breather hoses in the area of the PCV valve no big deal. So I stick the replacement engine in and go to bolt up the flex plate and it isn't lining up the bolt holes are about 1/4 inch off. Come to find out the previous owner had put in a transmission out of a forester and the torque converter was a slightly smaller diameter. I had to take the engine back out to swap flex plates. I was a little worried until I did the research, I wasn't sure if a forester tranny was the right one but found out the final drive ratio is the same so it all worked out.

 

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Man i think i have all you bozos beat. I have told this story before but...

My first ej22 swap and first top end rebuild on a subaru i mixed up the intake and exhaust valves!

I'm sitting there blaming the wiring for my engine running on two cylinders! Lol! 

Luckily I did a compression test and when i pulled the head i saw something that i must have done drunk, cause i don't remember that! 

Super luckily this was a clandestine pre-test start because I was so confident that i was going to bring my girlfriend at the time who very reluctantly let me take the ea82 out of "our" project. I would have been in the doghouse had she heard that mess, the ej22 actually revs up pretty smooth on two cylinders! 

By the doghouse i mean the one in my 77 g10.

I came clean in the end and showed her the video. We had a good laugh

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Holditasec... I've never had the heads off of an EJ22 - I've just messed with various EJ25s.  Are you saying the intake and exhaust valves are the same size and easily interchanged?

 

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3 minutes ago, jonathan909 said:

Holditasec... I've never had the heads off of an EJ22 - I've just messed with various EJ25s.  Are you saying the intake and exhaust valves are the same size and easily interchanged?

 

No, two different sizes. Dunno how you’d stuff that up!

Cheers

Bennie

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2 hours ago, el_freddo said:

No, two different sizes. Dunno how you’d stuff that up!

Cheers

Bennie

Exactly. If i would have just glanced at the stupid thing before installing! I took the time to lap the valves with that two part compound and all that other nonsense. I thought i was the man, but i had egg on my face. 

Luckily they sell single head gaskets for like $15 and you can reuse the bolts :rolleyes:

And i did learn the easiest way to install the timing belt from that ordeal however!

Edited by sparkyboy
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1197sts - Trying to mate up flex plate and TC?  I've managed to bodge that one up too!  Gottta be about eight years ago that I had to replace the 4.0 litre straight-six cast iron beast in my '97 Grand Cherokee - it was really high-miles, the pistons had been slapping for years (I just didn't know that's what it was called), and finally put a rod through the block.  So I picked up a used mill from a Jeep guy in the city (sidebar:  Nice chap, but if anyone's wondering if Canada has hillbillies, the answer is "yes".  They come from Moncton, N.B.).  After an abnormal amount of swapping of manifolds, water pumps, and brackets (the morons at Xler had reversed the rotation of the pump between the model years, so everything attached to the belt needed to be futzed with), it was lowered into place and ready to bolt up.

Only the TC and flex plate (and the block and bell housing) would not suck together.  After trying just about every Brute Force and Ignorance (nod to Rory Gallagher) trick to get them to mate, I finally pulled the motor back out in pure frustration.

Buddy I'd gotten it from had been running an MT, and I hadn't spotted the pilot bearing in the end of the crank, which by this time had been bottomed into the cavity so hard that I couldn't grab it, nor was there any room for the ol' grease-and-dowel trick.  I ended up grinding the sonof@b!tch out.

Edited by jonathan909
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