I learned over many years that anything you make or do, the first time, is not only the most expensive, but also the most dangerous. The first time a little kid chews gum they are at risk of choking on it. The first time you use a knife to peel an apple you may cut your finger. The first time you ride a bicycle out of the yard, you may fall off. The more times you do it, the more sure you are of what you are doing.
Also, cost of making things drops by magnitudes as production increases by magnitudes. Today, you can buy a ‘toy’ calculator for a dollar or two that has more computing power than a million dollar 1950’s IBM. Of course, the peripherals would still cost a lot, but the power is there.
But, in this case I am going to refer to the mistakes that are made doing something the first time.
Some weeks ago, I used my new floor jack to raise the 2009 Mexican Sienna to change the oil and filter. To make sure I learned to do it right, it took me more than an hour to get it up with jack stands in place. I would do something, then re-read the manual for the jack and for the jack stands.
I would put the jack under the front jack point, and get down on my stomach to make sure it was right. And, that is the way the whole operation went and that I was using the jack and jack stands correctly. It went really well and I was satisfied with the results.
It took me two days to find the tire man at home to swap in the old Cooper tires for the ones I smashed on the curbing pieces. Night before last he showed up and his daughter called me to let me know he was there. I assumed he had been on a binge, which is the normal reason for a Mexican man to disappear for two days. But, there were no signs of it when I went to his shop and had the work done.
Yesterday, I decided to put the one tire/wheel back on using the new jack. I pretty much went through the same rigmarole as before, except operation of the jack stands and jack I felt comfortable with.
I put down a tarp, an old WWII shelter half, which the local military surplus guy in McAllen moans when I tell him I use it for car work. I have had those since around 1962. (But, of course, he also whimpers when he sees what I did to my WWII machete. I filed it until it looks like a large butcher knife…)
I slid the jack under the rear jack point, looked under and moved it until it looked right, then got down on my stomach and moved it around, then jacked it up until it was close to the target. I went through that sequence at least four times, until it was right at the jack point, and visually directly under it, or so I thought.
I jacked it up a ways, then suddenly the car settled back down an inch or two. I thought, “???”.
I got under again, and instantly realized I had put the cup of the jack not on the jack point, but directly behind it. It looked like it was perfectly in place, but it was not. And, something crumpled. Inside the car, the rear fold down seats are about an inch from fully folding into place.
I soon realized this was purely a visual error. I knew exactly what I needed to do and where the jack was supposed to go. The carport is on a hill side, so when I looked under there, I was looking at sunny blue sky, and thought the jack was where it should be, but it wasn’t. So, the unibody behind the jack point was pushed up.
I take responsibility for my mistakes. If it costs a lot, I will live frugally the next year and no depression over my stupid error and no crying. Life is filled with mistakes, and when one makes a mistake, if no one is killed or injured, spend your time and energy fixing it as best you can, and for certain learn from it. Life is too short, especially when you are 75, to spend a lot of time beating yourself up because you messed up.
So, here are my questions. Does anyone who knows about unibody or whatever you call it, believe I have just totaled my car?
Or, can the guys who patch up all the smashed taxis that run into trees and rocks and things in the area deal with unibody as well? Or, if they start to weld back there, are they going to blow up the gas tank or set the car on fire? I realize you can’t know because you are not looking at the car, and you don’t know the body repair guys here, but if you know body repair, you may well have an idea what is involved. I don’t.
Do I need to flat bed it, or if I drive it a short distance at low speed, like 35 mph, will the tire wells at the first pot hole drop down on the tires?
Once I realized it was a visual error, not a stupid factor as such, except I should have looked at it from the side the first time, I thought, well it was a pretty stupid thing to make such a visual error, but all my errors do not approach the big error in October, 1966. And, life goes on.
Any other comments that are productive? I know very well it was a stupid error not to look at it from the side.