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Vern's Challenge

Michelle Sirnio

Jack Sirnio

Rick Stivers

Chuck Pedretti

Adam Sparks

Bill Shortridge

Adam Sparks 2


Frank Sanborn

Jason Caniglia

Ron Cox

Bob Gumm

D. Blackner

A Contoni

Merl Explains Threaded Ends

Jack Starcher



Vern's Winner

Mike Harris


Richard Stull

Dave in PA

Dick Wentland

Jeff In Upper Michigan


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Vern Stark Feb 23, 1999: Hello fellow motorheads, Since I'm in digest mode, Merl may have already explained the Never Pound on the Threaded End of Anything. All this talk of broken studs, easy-outs and drill bits got me thinking. So how about a contest, for "The Stupidest Willys-Related Thing I've Ever Done." The prize is nothing fancy, a nice red streamer labeled "Remove Before Flight" that we use at work. It would make a nice decoration in your garage. Mostly what you're competing for is a chance to make a fool of yourself on the list.

You'll have to reply on the list. No private messages to me, that would defeat the whole purpose. I'll keep it open for a couple of days, to give us digest guys a little time to catch up. So I'll close the contest on Thursday, Feb. 25 at 7pm Pacific time. I'll be open to suggestions as to who is the winner. I'm also open to bribery and flattery. (Example - Vern, you are a powerful and influential man. Let me pay off you mortgage...)

Various factors will determine the winner:

Did you realize what would happen and still did it anyway?

Have you done the same, exact thing before?

How much did it cost to fix?

Did your spouse find out, and if so, how did you explain?

The next morning, did you have a foggy recollection of being photographed and fingerprinted?

I'll start things out with "The Stupidest Willy-Related Thing I Ever Did" was when I was making new uprights for the outer windshield frame on my 48 CJ2A. The tubing had to have a sunken spot formed like the original where the inner frame slides out to the side. I made up a little die and put the whole shooting match in my arbor press. After a little while, the frame of the $200 press broke in two. Imagine my surprise. It may have been from the 4 foot long cheater bar I was using. The straw that broke the camel's back might have also been the sledge hammer on the end of the cheater bar, I'm not sure.

So let's here your story. No cheating either, so you can't rush out and do something stupid just to win.

Good Luck


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Michelle Sirnio Feb 24, 1999: Hello Vern, I have a story for the contest "The Stupidest Willy's Related Thing I've Ever Done". A few years back near the time that my husband and I first met he used to work on that Jeep all the time. I mean all the time. It was his baby I wasn't I got all the time that was left over after he was done working on it. After months of spending our Friday night's in his grampa's old shop it was road worthy (or so he seemed to think)! So on a chilly fall day with no top on the Jeep emerged from the rickety old shop. It was going to be driven for the first time in at least a year. So we got into it and we began to make the drive to his parent's house (thank goodness he lived out in the country). That Jeep would have been dangerous on a highway. So we're driving and it starts backfiring and making awful noises and while he insists that it is because it has sat for so long I disagree. I say I think A spark plug wire has came of. He disagrees and keeps driving to his parent's. All of A sudden a hood latch pops off and flies through the air. Now I am thinking let me out because I think the Jeep is gonna fall apart. Luckily we make it to his parent's house he pop's the hood (which wasn't difficult because now we only have one hood latch) and Owe look what a surprise, one of the spark plug wires has came undone. So I knew exactly what I was talking about. With a wounded ego he fixed the problems and the jeep went back to the shop for more work. That has been about three year's and the jeep is slightly more road worthy these day's. The only difference now is that when we got married it moved to a different shop were we live now and that is were it sits as I write. There is always some kind of change to be made to it to make it exactly what he want's. He has had it for 10 years and after all the work it really is something (I need to say that so he isn't so embarrassed that I told this story). Anyways I thank every one for reading my story! Happy Jeeping!

Michelle Sirnio

1 embarrassed husband

4 wiener dogs

And A Cat

47 CJ2A (road hazard)

73 Jeepster Commando

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Jack Sirnio Feb 24, 1999: Hi Vern I caught my wife in the middle of her story so there was no stopping. But little does she know that isn't the stupidest thing I have ever done involving my jeep. One time when I had been working on it for sometime I was so excited to drive it. It was a sunny beautiful day it was such an exciting thing my gramma took pictures. So down the road I went to a friends all proud because it was on the road finally. My friend was surprised when I pulled into his driveway in my jeep. I was there for a while when another friend of mine stopped by and he started to look at my jeep. After looking it over he asked me how long I was planning on driving it with two lug nuts on each wheel. So as you can see I so excited to drive it I over looked an important thing. I had only had two lug nuts on each wheel because it only moved in and out of the shop. PRETTY STUPID HUH!!!!

Jack Sirnio 47 CJ2A (very road and trail worthy)

73 Jeepster Commando ( road and trail HAZZARD)

and 4 weiners

oh yeah a cat too!

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Rick Stivers wrote: Jack, At least you put them on. This is the long running story of the plight of my 48 CJ2A. When my dad decided it was time to retire the CJ2A and replace it with a CJ5 he parked it out back of the barn. It had an externally mounted vacuum windshield wiper motor with a bad seal. It sat be hind the barn for over 10 years. When I went home to get it, I installed a battery and tried to start it (First dumb move). All it would do was emit a one-time click each time I turned the key (Not original). I decided it must be stuck so I tried to turn it by hand with a breaker bar and 3 feet of pipe. The open-faced nut on the front of the crank was not built for that kind of torque so I crushed it. Well, I decided to just tow it home (The tow story has been posted before but that came before the archives so I'm not sure if anyone has it). Let it be enough to say you should not try to pass a truck, doing 70MPH, going down hill, and using a tow dolly.

After I finally got the CJ towed the 650 miles home I started to work on it in earnest. I soaked the engine for about two weeks before I got impatient again. I removed the head (breaking numerous studs) and looked into the cylinders. They were full of water and rust. I decided to remove the engine and lay it on it's side to pull out the pistons. With the engine removed the pistons still would not move so I found a piece out landscaping timber (just the right size to fit in a cylinder) and started knocking them out. When I got to the number 2 piston, it went down most of the way and jammed. I was ready to clock it a hard one when I thought, "I wonder if the rod is hitting anything". I looked and sure enough the piston had caught on the bottom lip of the block. I had to knock the piston back up into the block to free the rod, then it tapped out just fine. The # 3 piston came out with little effort but the # 4 was the worst. It took 6 hard blows of the 6lb sledge to budge the piston at all. It was wedged in so good that I had to move it one heavy blow at a time with it sticking many times along the way. When it got near the bottom it jammed tight. I kept pounding and pounding but it just wouldn't move (yes, you know what's coming) Finally I hauled back and slammed that hammer down with everything I had and with a metallic clank the piston went sliding out the bottom and across the room. With it went the bottom oil pan lip from the engine block. I had snapped off a 6-inch long section of it. This engine was history my friends.

It all worked out for the best because I bought a 46 CJ2A for $100 and installed its engine in mine. I could go on with more stupid stories (there are dozens), but you guys would say "I'm not listening to any more advice from this guy, he's a fool." :-)

What can I say? My wife and kids still love me and I really identify with Tim The Tool Man Taylor. Have a great Willys day.

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Chuck Pedretti Feb 24, 1999 : Here's my stupid story, when I got my cj2 home, I wanted to pull the wheels off to look at the brakes. So I took all the lugs on the right side wheels off with a little jumping on a breaker bar, and moved to the left. After about 10 minutes of jumping up and down on several of the lugs I came to the conclusion that this side must have been parked in the water because the lugs were frozen on (it was rustier than the other side). So I got my 5-foot piece of black-pipe on my wrench to try to unfreeze them, and broke off 9 of the 10 studs. The last one wouldn't turn or break, by this time I was pretty fed up and gave the breaker bar a good kick (to the right) and surpassingly it spun. Even then I didn't understand, I figured I stripped it. This is how I found out the hard way about the reverse threaded lugs on the left side.

(This is the dumbest thing I'll admit to anyway :)

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Adam Sparks Feb 24, 1999: Heh, mine isn't anything too overboard, well it did get me into the flaming Jeep club!

I was working on replacing the points and condenser on my F-Head and didn't disconnect the battery while I was doing this, duh.

Well anyway, I brushed the positive wire against the side of the distributor and it welded itself on and proceeded to heat up the condenser till it glowed cherry red and then the wires caught fire creating quite a bit of smoke in the garage. Didn't have and still don't have a spouse but my roommate was quite amused as he stood there drinking homebrew and watching me try to blow the fire out!

Least that's how I remember it...

Now where did I put that beer?

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Bill Shortridge Feb 24, 1999: My entire experience with this car is my entry.

I have had my '46 CJ2A for a number of years and until this summer it sat uncovered on the side of my driveway - the kids love playing army in it. It arrived on a flat bed tow truck and had not moved for who knows how long before that. Recently I have begun fixing it up. I poured some gas in the tank and it promptly all dripped out the bottom of the tank though a number of small holes. I got a new tank, put it in, oiled the engine, fired it up, and drove about mile and stalled. I saw bubbles streaming into the fuel pump bell and remembered how soft the fuel line was when I replaced the tank. The next weekend armed with new fuel lines and filter I started off and drove a mile and stalled. The temperature gage was running hot and a "friend" of mine who happed to see me stalled on the road said he had the same problem and solved it by using a heat shield wrap around the fuel line and re-routing it as far away from the engine as possible. The next day having re-routed and covering the line I drove my son 1.5 miles to his soccer game without stalling. On the way back it stalled twice. After not touching it for several weeks I tried to start it again and it refused. I pulled a plug, held it on the block, turned the engine over and barely saw any spark. So the next day found me replacing the coil, points, plugs, and wires. It still would not start. At some point I noticed the gas was not getting as high as the filter in the fuel pump. Yes, the gas tank was empty! I put in some gas and it started right up. I drove about a mile and it stalled. Well I thought, I've replace the tank, the lines, the filter, and there is gas in the tank….it must be the fuel pump. After several weeks to locate and take delivery I put in a new fuel pump. I drove several miles and then it stalled. I opened the hood and gas was pouring out of the bottom of the carburetor. Several weeks later and a new carburetor, I drove about 2 miles to eat dinner and on the way back…it stalled. After getting my wife to tow me back, I had a couple of beers, suddenly said "&%#$" and went to bed early. The next morning my daughter and I pulled out the "New Gas" tank (my 1st improvement), unscrewed the doohicky that the fuel line connects too, and low and behold there was a big ball of gunk plugging up the top. I flicked it off with my forefinger and over the last two weeks I have driven it about 30 miles with no stalls or murmurs. While I have not "banged" the head off a bolt, driven without lug nuts or spark plug wires, I have spent more money on solving a non-problem, than I spent purchasing the car in the first place. I am no millionaire, but apparently I have more money than brains.

Ps. Did I mention that all this time I was "test" driving it the brakes were really soft and I keep thinking I would tackle the air in the lines problem after I solved the engine problem. Well I did. There was no brake fluid in the reservoir at all. Fortunately this little problem only cost me a jar of break fluid and not my life.

One important safety note to the list, don't ask me for mechanical advice.

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Adam Sparks Feb 24, 1999: I guess this entry would count as a dual entry of myself and Jason Caniglia since it was his 3B and my stupidity. Jay traded a 79 CJ-5 at Wabash Summer Fest last year for his 56 CJ-3B.

Well as we were attempting to get it at least back to my place it died. We called another one of my friends to come pull it home with his TJ, thankfully the 3B had a tow bar on it. We got it back to my place and promptly set out to fix the problem. At this time it still had the Carter YF on it, now a Solex. The whole thing was a comedy of errors. We couldn't figure out why it wasn't getting fuel, all we knew was that the guy had put an electric fuel pump on it and it wasn't working. Instead of checking the fuel pump we assumed something was wrong with the fuel flow regulator then the wiring, so we rewired the whole thing! Still didn't work. Finally somehow we got it to work by chance I think, Jay set off for home which was 3 hours away in a new vehicle! 10:00 he calls me, "Adam can you come pick me up and take me home?" I had to be at Purdue's farm in Northeast IN the next day anyway so I went ahead and took him home. The 3B was back to my place. I spent weeks working on it. We finally got the fuel problem figured out, it was flowing the fuel out the drain tube on the carb and down towards the distributor like it was going down hill but instead of going down the front of the engine it went down the side! Got the carb cleaned out and solved that problem. That was all one week.

Then a few weeks later Jay came back down to my place. While we were at it Jay and another person pirated my new points, condenser and coil off my CJ-5 while I was asleep! Thinking this would make the F-Head run better they put all this on. While this may have helped we just couldn't get any spark out of it! We tried a new ballast resistor, rewiring, everything you could think of. Finally I consulted my friends on Jeep-L. "Have you gapped the points?" Doh! That might help!!!! Heh that did it, it ran, we put the Solex on it ran even better!

Then two weeks later Jay came back down again, minus his 3B since it was still at my place and it wouldn't start! Sounded like the Bendix wasn't engaging or something like that. Well take the starter off my CJ-5 and put it on Jays, still nothing. By this time it's dark and we've had lots of beer. Someone came up with the bright idea, what if the battery was dead? Heh, pulled my TJ up and hooked the jumper cables up to it and lo and behold it worked, the Jeep started but it wouldn't turn off. The generator has been replaced by a Chevy 112 Amp alternator off a late model truck and the diodes on the side have separate connectors rather than just one plug so you can switch them. At some point in time they got switched and the Jeep wouldn't turn off since the ignition switch didn't cut power to the ignition any more!

So it cost us about three or four weeks of effort, new wires everywhere and lots of beer trying to solve the problems of the 3B.

That's my other Dumb Willys Tricks stories, submitted by Adam Sparks for myself and Jason Caniglia.

Lesson learned, check the obvious first!

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Merl Feb 24, 1999: Oh, so many choices. Which one to pick?

Windshield glass. My 2A has a 3A windshield. The windshield had original glass that was in good shape with a 1949 date on it, but the original rubber gasket was old and cracked. So while I was doing some fix-up and paint on the windshield frame I decide that this would be the time to replace the rubber gasket. The old hard-as-a-brick gasket yielded the glass easily after some strategic cuts with a razor knife, I then place my order for a new gasket with my favorite "everything automotive" mail order parts house. When the windshield frame was finally ready I began the glass installation and immediately ran into problems. The glass just seemed too big and wouldn't all drop down into the gasket on the frame. Push one long side down in, the other long side pops up. Soap is applied, things don't get any easier, just harder to hold on to. The gasket had one of those T shaped rubber inserts that was supposed to lock the glass in, so I tried pushing one side down and using the rubber insert to "lock" it in, but with the glass in the gasket I have BIG problems getting the insert into it's slot in the gasket...there's just no room. What? Did this piece of glass expand while I had it out? That gasket is an "original replacement part", no reason it shouldn't work! But, I'm determined to get this thing together. So I find a couple of 1" x 4" slats and press one side in, rest the boards on the edge of the glass and gasket, and actually clamp them in place. By golly, that side sure ain't gonna pop out now! So being mighty careful, I try and put even pressure on the other long side. My fear is that I'll crack this beautiful 1949 windshield glass so even pressure is the key. It *almost* goes in. Its late at night, my frustration mounting higher and higher, I apply more slippery stuff, WD40 this time, no help. It just needs to go down a little more...I give up for fear of breaking the thing. I decide to take the wimpy way out and just take it to a professional the next day and have them install the glass for with all these things a heavy burden on my mind I go to bed. The next morning as I was leaving for work I walk by the 2A in the garage and see all my clamps still in place, with the windshield oh so close to going in. I think it actually called out to me, "just push a little harder...its almost there...just push a little harder". You guessed it, before I left for work the glass was so cracked up I had a hard time seeing through it.

Later that day I took it in for new glass. They called me about 4 hours later saying that the rubber gasket was defective, it wouldn't hold the T insert. It was only then that I realize that it was probably also too thick, certainly NOT an exact match for the original. Cost? $20 for the defective gasket, $140 for new glass, gasket, and installation, and at least $5 in soap, WD40, and hand cleaner. Total of about $165 when I could have just had a professional do it in the first place for about $30. --

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Frank Sanborn Feb 24, 1999: I'd like to say "Been there, Done that!", But I'm so sick of that phrase that I can hardly stand it!

I've done the "waste half a day trying to loosen left hand thread lugnuts" thing (I didn't break any though...) After watching me struggle all morning, my Dad walks by and asks if I need some help. He grabs the four-way, gives a little tug to the left, then tugs to the right and off comes the nut. He smiles and hands me the wrench back. Thanks, Dad....

I've done the "new fuel lines/fuel pump" cure for crud in the gas tank. I was able to give myself a little solace by saying that the pump and lines were old anyway and would need to be replaced sooner or later...

And then there was the time I was cleaning the glass sediment bowl form the fuel pump. I was heading into the house to rinse it out and was tossing it back and forth in my hands as I walked. Not being a very good Juggler, I managed to drop it from waist level on to the concrete floor. My mind shifted into slow motion as I watched it fall, knowing what was about to happen. But to my amazement it didn't! The bowl hit the floor and bounced, making a beautiful ringing sound! I sprung into action and made a gallant effort to catch it, but instead, managed to swat it across the garage, where it hit the wall and fell to the florr and broke into several pieces. I was still in high school when this happened and had very little $$, and very little knowledge as to where I was going to find a new one. The Jeep sat for about 6 weeks while I tracked down a replacement. So remember, Glass sediment bowls have ONE bounce in them........One......

And then there was the much anticipated test drive after a long repair on my CJ-5. At about 45 mph I realized I hadn't hooked the hood latches. The dent is still there....

Let's see, ....there was the leaky fuel pump and the backfire through the carburetor on my Willys pickup that lead to a ...well.....small fire...

And then there was the time that......

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Jason Caniglia Feb 24, 1999: O.K. Vern, here it goes mine. Please note that this incident happened while working on a Jeep, even though it wasn't a Willys. Also note that this is a duel entry for the "Darwin Award" and for this contest. ;-)

I had no training whatsoever on how to work on a Jeep but I figured I'm a good student and how hard could it be if I had the manual. What I realized that fateful day was that the manuals assume you have some basic mechanical knowledge.

I needed to take off the skid plate to work on something, so, I got under the Jeep and started unbolting the skid-plate. As the last bolt was coming off, the entire skid plate and tranny came down on top of my chest...that's right, I didn't know that the skid plate held up the tranny!

So, I'm pinned under the tranny, holding on for dear life. My wife is out of town and there is no one around. I'm pushing as hard as I could just to keep the tranny from crushing me and I'm starting to get tired.

Fortunately, I had just jacked the Jeep up, so there was a bottle jack next to the tire. I barely reached it and slowly turned the crank on the jack until some of the weight was off of me. I then slid out from under the skid plate and thanked my lucky stars I survived that one.

Lessons learned:

* Never unbolt something until you look at the logistics of what will happen.

* Never work on a vehicle without someone knowing where you are.

* Never get under something you are unbolting.

* If you don't know...ask, don't let your pride get in the way of your life.

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Ron Cox Feb 24, 1999: OK, OK. After reading all the entries to date, I am inspired to write a story of stupidity and taking things for granted. I used to have a CJ-5 (it even ran!). One day, I was working under it, and it was also up on ramps. Stupid me didn't block it but it was in gear. I wanted to adjust the free play in the new clutch I had just put in so I asked my wife to help. Asking my wife for help is the last resort as she hates, and I mean hates my Jeeps and working on them. Anyway, I asked her to push the clutch in and assumed that she would also put on the brake at the same time. She didn't. It started to roll off the ramps and I grabbed hold of the tranny X-member and went with it. It has enough clearance so I wasn't too worried. As I was being dragged across the floor through various wet stains left by the Jeep, the tire ran over my foot. At this time I was busy trying to get my foot out from under the tire and my wife was yelling for me. She thought she finally killed me after threatening to if I brought homes another Jeep. By the time she climbed out of the Jeep, I had worked my way out from under the tire. When she found me relatively uninjured, I thought she was going to kill me! She was yelling at me, "Why didn't you answer me. I thought I killed you!" I tried to explain to her that I was just trying to get my foot out from under the tire and it wasn't really that bad but she wasn't buying it. At least I still have a Jeep and it's even a Willys, even better in my book. She still doesn't like me working on it when no one is around though. (other things have happened since this incident) It's too bad we moved, I used to live just behind a fire station. It was kinda handy.

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Bob Gumm: Well, you guys have sure done some dumb things alright, but I think my experience with the Willys (Jeepster) should take the cake. I was out on a date with a girl and was on my way to the drive-in when I got held up at a railroad crossing (after dark) where a train was slowly moving back and forth in front of me switching cars into and out of sidings. It happens that the crossing was one of those where there is a down slope to the tracks, and an up slope leaving the tracks on the other side. I had sat there for quite a while, holding the brakes with the engine running, when I decided to just kick it out of gear and set the parking brake and put the lights down on parking. My date and I then became more interested in each other than anything around us. Suddenly, I felt the car bounce and looked up to see the bottom of a box car going across the front of the hood on my Jeepster; I quickly (nearly in one motion) put the car in reverse, released the brake (which evidently hadn't been working anyway), and backed the Jeepster out from under the boxcar before the rear trucks of the boxcar got to me. The total damage to the Willys was a bent headlight rim and a nice grove in the hood where the tension rod (used for structural support of the boxcar) creased the ridge that goes down the center of the hood on the '50 Jeepster. There is still a very small irregularity in that ridge where repairs were made, and it is a lasting reminder to me to NEVER TRUST PARKING BRAKES again. By the way, after a brief conversation with the railroad brakeman, no report was filed, and my date and I proceeded to the drive-in show when the train finished switching.

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D. Blackner Feb 24, 1999: Well I haven't done anything too stupid with my cj yet, but in buying it I did the stupidest thing of my life. I was on vacation in Colorado with my children, (my wife was home enjoying the solitude and working on her doctoral dissertation) and we were looking at a couple of CJs and trying to decide which one to buy. There was one that needed a lot of work that I could see,(and even more that I couldn't see) but it ran and the guy wanted 1000 for it. My 15 year old son liked this one because it had a radio. The other one had a hard top, PTO winch, new frame, extra tires, newly rebuilt engine and a custom 4 wheel trailer with brakes. He wanted 3000 for it. You can guess what this dunce did. I bought the cheaper one thinking that I could rebuild it. Yes folks, I am close to the 3000 total now and it is still in pieces all over the shop. Top that.

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A Contoni Feb 24, 1999: My first attempt to rebuild a Dana/Spicer 18 Transfer Case last fall was one of many Stupid Stunts I have and will perform. I began to disassemble the Dana 18. Got it all apart except the shaft that holds the low range sliding gear and the shift forks. I tapped on this shaft with an a assortment of different hammers, and it wasn't budging at all, so I decided to take it to work and use the press. I get the press all set up and the boss pumps while I watch to see if it's going to come out. A little pressure and it slid a hair then a POP. I don't see anything so a little more pressure,(2 tons approx.) now a bigger POP and SNAP too. I just broke off a chunk of the flange where the shift fork rides on the sliding gear. (#%&*), What am I going to do now? Well, the damage is already done (or is it) so a little more pressure (4-5 tons) and another louder SNAP. I just cracked the transfer case itself in the area between the lower inspection cover mounting surface and where the shaft comes through the case. Double (#%&*), My transfer case is now junk. There was a snap ring in there that I missed. Soon as I found and removed it, the shaft slid right out with hardly any pressure at all. If the first one wasn't stupid enough the second was really good.

This started a great topic to take jabs at me during work for the next 2 months. I was able to buy a complete xfer case though for $75 and ended up with a complete brake assembly which I didn't have, and the twin sticks with spring clips, my sticks had been cut in two during a fiber body replacement by a previous owner. Another stupid stunt in itself.

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Merl wrote: Oh man, you guys are killin' me! <g> Great thread. "Never Pound On The Threaded End Of Anything" The threaded end thing is "an old saying that I just made up" after bending up the threads on lots of my 2A's steering components while trying to replace some parts. I had tools at my disposal that I should have used instead of a hammer, but instead I chose the brute force method and wound up messing up these threads. A short while later I went through the windshield episode and another thing or two, and I realized that this philosophy can be applied to more than just things with literal threads. Most things mechanical have a right/easy way and a wrong/hard way to manipulate them. The trick is to find out where the "threaded end" is and apply the correct force in the correct way. About this same time I was using the 2A as a sort of stress outlet due to pressures at work applied by my new boss, whom I just couldn't get along with. At some point I realized that my problems at work were directly related to me trying to "pound on the threaded end" of things. People are not near as simple to figure out as a Willys, but after I learned where *not* to "pound" at work I was able to get along a lot better.

So I keep that saying at the end of my mail as a reminder to myself... Almost everything has a threaded end, pound at the wrong place for too long and you'll wind up beyond the point of no return. To bastardize a book title, its sort of a "Zen and the art of Willys maintenance" thing. Never read that book. Maybe I should've. ;-)

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Jack Starcher Feb 24, 1999: You want stupid stories, I got 'em. Most of mine involve pain and blood. Not that I'm an idiot or incompetent, I just don't realize when I'm too tired to keep on working. Since it's not Willys related I won't tell you about why my right thumb is so pointy on the end. So here's a Willys story;

August, 1998.  Hot day pushing 100 here in Ohio.  I'm out in the driveway stripping my frame using a 4" grinder with a knotted wire wheel.   I'd been at it most of the day, have to admit I'd had two or three foamy pops, and was getting close to having the whole thing done.  I'm soaked with sweat, grimy from 50 years of mud, grease and rust, and wearing an old pair of high-tops (with no laces or socks),   a pair of cut-off sweats and my safety glasses (I learned that lesson earlier in life).  I had long ago gotten tired of holding on the switch for the grinder and placed it in the locked position.  I was all bent over working on the bottom side of the frame when the wheel grabbed hard and yanked the grinder out of my tired hand (yes I was using only one, the other hand was steadying me on the frame).  Somehow, the grinder bounce around and off the frame and ended up in my bare stomach.  It did it's little dance there for awhile while I struggled to straighten up.  Once I got stood up, that stupid thing (see it's the machine that was stupid, not me) still wouldn't let go of my flesh with help of gravity.  I tried to reach for the switch (that was dumb) and lost some flesh on my hand.  Finally I grabbed the cord and yanked the grinder away where it fell to the ground still running.  I managed to pull the plug without further incident and began to survey the bodily damage (my body, not the Jeep's).   The sweat and dirt burned like crazy in all the little cuts (think of all those little wire ends slice around) around the main groove (3/8" wide x 5" long x 3/16" deep) right across my belly button.  I quickly grabbed a clean shop rag and pressed it to my stomach and pulled on my T-shirt before my wife saw what happened.   I stood in the garage for about a half hour (drinking a now much needed foamy pop) before I could get started cleaning up my mess.  Got everything put away and went to take a shower to clean up me and the cut.  I managed to keep the wound and my pain hidden from my wife for a couple of days, then I had to admit the whole story to her.   She already worries when I work on it when no ones around, luckily my friend across the street is a paramedic and she asks him to keep an eye on me when she knows I'm working on it.  (That's why I tried to hide it, don't need to give her any more ammunition against the Jeep)

Anyway, I have since caught my self doing this and other stupid things without adequate protection.  Wanna hear about my welding sunburn? (never weld in tank tops and shorts, kiddies) Jack Starcher (My wife does refer to me as Tim) Lewis Center, Ohio (Paramedic across the street) '46 CJ2A (Literally being built with my blood, sweat, and tears)

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JRyanB98: Yeah...I was waiting for the "right time" to tell my girlfriend about my Willys purchase. I don't think there would have been a right time ;-) She found the bill of sale and hollered "What's this?!?" Things seem to go over smoother when you tell them up front.

My friend had a stupid accident with my Willys. We were getting ready to grind off the hood bolts (before we realized it opened up that far back)...he touched the grinding wheel almost immediately after he turned the thing on...that put a nice groove in the end of his thumb. He calmly handed the grinder to me and jumped around the yard for a few minutes. It was hilarious. He had just smashed the crap out of his other thumb trying to get the radio out of the shop when some junk fell off the wall. Of course there's always other non-Willys stupid stuff we've done with cars... Willys must bring out the stupid in us ;-)

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Stephen_J_Perialas Feb 24, 1999: All of us do the mechanical dumb stuff, cuz we THINK we KNOW what we are
doing... But not to many of are blatantly stupid. My entry falls in the blatantly stupid category.. Did two of these in the same day....

First stupid thing I did on that fateful day was to buy TWO CJ2As Without telling my wife.

Second stupid thing was when we were unloading them from the trailer at my friends house (so my wife would not know about them, was going to tell her later at the "right time" ) The wheel on the tongue stand had dropped off somewhere, so I jacked the trailer off the hitch ( this is beyond dumb ,right ) and proceeded to stop the tongue from dropping to the ground with my leg. Needless to say if you put two jeeps on a trailer you are going to overload the tongue weight..

I guess I am lucky to still have a foot and lower leg.. 32 stitches and a broken ankle later my wife had to pick me up at the ER. I thought possibly that maybe some sympathy was in line, and that she would forgive my discretion... NO WAY.. Her comment was " See, there is a God, and SHE got you.. " Oh well, she has since forgiven me, 5 jeeps later...

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Vern Stark Feb 26, 1999 We Have a Winner!: Dear Friends, A big thank you to all who took the time and entered the contest. This was no easy contest to judge. Last night I was wondering why did I have to say I'd pick a winner. There was so much good stuff, all my co-workers were wondering why I was laughing so hard at my computer. So I hope I don't upset anybody with my pick - I could just see somebody staring at their computer and saying "I was robbed, I was way dumber than that guy."

The wire wheel grinder story certainly made me grimace. The fact that his wife had the neighbor keep an eye on him was very telling.

Running yourself over with your own jeep is also quite the accomplishment, especially when you factor in the enraged, jeep-hating wife.

In my mind, I could see that boxcar start to run over the hood of my imaginary Jeepster. Now you didn't specify, but apparently the girl in the story did not go on to become your wife, right? I thought it would be fun to send your prize in a huge box so you would have to explain to your wife how you won this contest.

I could just see myself wrestling with the windshield, finally making the right choice and deciding to take it all to a glass shop. And then shattering it the next morning.

I'm also kind of partial to arbor press stories, too. My press is/was not that big and so it couldn't develop the force needed to crack the x-fer case. But maybe if you factor in my propensity towards big hammers...

But I think the prize will have to go to the person who stretched the boundaries of the husband/wife/jeep interaction process. I think many of us realize the complicated process of just how a marriage can co-exist with vintage jeep ownership. You need to factor in both partners' hopes, dreams, emotions, and ambitions. Open, caring, and honest lines of communications are vital. Situations need to be considered from all points of view. And then you do EXACTLY what your wife says or you are dead meat. (I can see a bunch of guys nodding in agreement.)

So without further ado:

For bringing home a pair of old jeeps without his wife even having the faintest idea, Mr. Stephen J. Perialas is the winner in my book. The second part of his story, where he proceeds to break his ankle and get 32 stitches, is merely icing on the cake. I wouldn't have expected much sympathy from my typically loving and patient wife, either. In fact, she might have broken my other ankle in that situation. Or at least my check-writing hand.

So if you'll please send me a mailing address off-list, I'll be sending the prize your way. I bet your wife still brings up this incident from time to time, doesn't she?

Thanks again for all the fun,


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Stories Added Later

Mike Harris 30 Feb 2000: I have a dumb Willys story which might just take the prize. I had forgotten about it until last night (actually the missus reminded me - the mind tends to block painful memories in self defense)...

Some of you may recall I got my wagon "for free" from the mother-in-law after having sat for ten years in her garage (boy, *there's* a story in a sentence). After towing it home and getting it started I tried driving it up and down the driveway. It went great until I tried to mash the brake pedal and it went straight to the floor.

Welp, Big Dummy musta thunk that the fluid evaporated or sump'n, I filled up the master cylinder, bled out the lines and got pretty good pedal pressure. Coudn'ta maybe,... leaked out, eh Einstein?

Next morning, Monday, I head out the door for work, the pedal pressure is still good, and hey, why not take the Willys? I make it to work without incident (!). At quittin' time, pulling out of the lot the pedal is seeming a little spongy. What would any sensible Willys owner do? Get out & check it? Not me. I kept going.

Approaching the first intersection the brake pedal hits the floor, and this is a BIG intersection, six lanes, 50 MPH. Parking brake - great! No! It's well-lubed from the leaky rear seal & prob'ly hasn't ever been adjusted anyway.

Let me paint the picture a little. This is Irvine, California. New Townhome Condominiums for the Professional. Executive office parks with manicured grassy berms at the sidewalk so that the Beemer drivers won't inadvertently glimpse a loading dock. Employees Must Use Rear Entrance At All Times.

I see a gap in traffic to the left, with one of these nice grassy berms past it, and head for it - what choice? Maybe the berm will stop me. Well, not quite - up the curb and over the berm, leaving four-inch-deep divots as I bounced into the office-supply-superstore parking lot, holding on for dear life. WHEE-HAW!! OFF-ROADIN IN IRVINE! I'm sure I managed to scare the Lean Cuisine out of more than one poor secretary-type as that ugly ol' gray Wagon came over the top. I sure scared myself.

I managed to whip the wagon into a 180 to avoid the plate glass, then it was another trip over the berm which finally got me stopped. I crawled back to the company parking lot in first gear/low range, where I had the leisure to poke at the large wet spot on the backing plate where a corroded spot in the metal brake line had been spraying fluid.

If this doesn't win me some kind of honorary bonehead award, I'm quittin' the list!

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Bernadette 31 March, 2000: Hi folk. The short version goes like this; So I took the cap off the hot radiator, got hit by superheated steam. Lost all the skin on the underside of my left arm plus about 15%-20% on the left side and front of my body. Didn't feel it immediately. I was in shock I guess. The burns down my back were from hot water dripping down from the roof overhang as I tried to get the cap back on. Spent the next month in the burn unit of Martin Army Hospital having the burned tissue scraped off twice a day so new skin would grow instead of scar tissue. Ever spend a month lying on your right side?

Before I go into the long version, can someone tell me what the statute of limitations is on insurance fraud and grand theft auto? Ummm, not me personally but it is an aspect of this story. I didn't get caught for stealing the M-113 armored personnel carrier so I am not worried about that part. I put it back when I was done.

I still don't think it was as dumb as the guy on the trail in front of me who, when his jeep started to slip into a ditch, stuck his leg out to stop.

And I thought this group was going to be about finding replacement parts.

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Richard Stull 11 August 19, 2000: Here is why I never drink alcohol (anymore) when working on my cars.

Warm summer afternoon in my driveway in Colorado Springs. The sun is shining, the oldies tunes are on the radio and I am doing a little work on my 59 Willys Pickup. The pickup has a dome lite that sometimes stays on because of a sticking switch in the door. No matter what I do, the switch will continue to stick and I start worrying that it will leave me stranded in the backcountry with a dead battery. Well, I am trying to decide the best way to deactivate the light while doing the least amount of damage to my good old pickup. While I ponder this weighty decision, I decide to quaff a single Coors Light Silver Bullet. After about twenty minutes I come up with my solution to this highly technical problem: Cut the wires leading to the light and tape the ends! Brilliant idea! I know that I can easily restore the light if I choose to do so by rejoining the wires. Anyhow, out comes the wire cutters, electrical tape and the deed is done. What a smart boy am I! That can of Coors must have raised my IQ 50 points (to an amazing 65).

That night as I talk to my girlfriend and tell her of my mechanical and electrical prowess, she listens patiently and then asks "Why didn't you just take out the bulb from the dome light?" A brief period of silence followed by me throwing things around the garage and looking for the cat to kick. After a bit, the irony of the situation hits me and I start laughing. My girlfriend looks at me like I am nuts and just shakes her head. Now, can anyone be this for plain stupidity?

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Dave in PA wrote: I guess I gotta share this one: After spending nearly 8 months cutting and welding, I finally get the first Willys I ever owned on the road. A 1949 cj3A. I hand built the body using only the dash, firewall, grill and hood. I also custom made the gas tank ... a big one. It was basically 9" deep, reached from one side to the other and about 15" from front to back. I put a couple of baffles inside to keep fuel from sloshing too much. The filler was a 2" piece of pipe with a filler cap from a trucking supply company. The inlet is between the driver's left knee and the tub. I had a dipstick for a gas gauge and installed a tach in the hole in the dash. The tank held over 20 gallons of gas. Plenty of fuel, right? I mean, hey, how much fuel can a 4 popper use? One morning on the way to work, the longest planned trip since I had plates and insurance on it, it starts to stumble and died on the side of the road. I used the starter motor to pull it to the side, kind of in a ditch. My wife was following me as a precaution. We work for the same company. She stops and picks me up, we go to work. After work I go back to the poor Willys in a ditch and start fooling around with the fuel lines (all new), then the carb (solex that was on the jeep when bought) when I decided the carb needed to be rebuilt. I took the carb off the intake with my Gerber pocket tool and took it home. It's about 9:30 at night now. About 12:00 -12:30 I bolt the carb back onto the manifold. i hit the starter, the battery is dead. I hook up jumper cables and try again. I coughs to life for 5 seconds. I fooled with the carb for another hour before I try the fuel flow into the carb. Nothing. A light bulb goes off in my head. I took my fuel gauge dipstick and dropped it in the tank. Again, nothing on the stick.   DOH! The willys is on an angle, any fuel in the tank is all the way on the other side away from the pick up tube that is in regular location.  I go home, and scrounge every gas can I can find, stop at the local all night gas station, fill up. and go dump the gas in the tank. It is now about 2:00 am. I drive the Willys home, stopping at the all night gas station to pump an additional 10 -12 gallons of gas in it. I then walk the 2 1/2 miles back to get the other car. Yes, I spent the better part of 8 hours holding a flashlight on the side of the road trying to diagnose an empty gas tank. That sucked and now, 6 years later I can finally tell the story with a smile on my face.

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Dick Wentland: My dumb stunt story involve a trouble light, a snow storm, a knot on the front of  my head, and one on the back.  I had been out thumping around in my 56 m38a1 during a snow storm. When I got home I was eager to park in the warm garage. As I pulled in I had a curious thought pop into my head, and I decided to grab that trouble light and slide immediately under the rig to check out my thought. The snow was melting, and it dripped on the light bulb. The bulb blew. The hot glass landed on the tender flesh on the inside of my bicep. I jumped up and cracked my forehead on something very much like steel, and in recoil, pulled back and 'macked' my head on the concrete. All this in about a milisecond.  I put the lamp away, put some neosporin on the burn, took some aspirin, and got coffee. Never went under the jeep after a snowstorm with a light again.

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Jeff Bonno: I was reading the tales and just had to send you mine.   Many years ago about 75 or 76 my buddy and I were chasing around the old town dump with my 47 cj2a when we came on a narrow path between junk the only thing in our path was a piece of silver wire so we just drove over it.   about 10 feet further we both landed on the hood ( windshield strapped down).  so thinking we had snagged something I put it in reverse and got all of three feet before a sudden and hard stop.  at this point we each leaned over our own side of the jeep and tried to look across the underside of the jeep.  to our surprise the entire bottom of the jeep was a huge ball of the silver wire.  must have been a spool of it buried there.  It was wrapped around both driveshafts and all four wheels.   our entire tool kit consisted of one pair of vise grips thank god they were the ones with a wire cutter in them.  two hours later we made it home to complete the cleanup with bolt cutters.  this little adventure took out all the brake lines and all the pinion and transfercase seals  I still have the jeep and I still think about the wire every time I am working under it.  we did a lot of dumb things back then but the jeep always came through for us.  Later.  Jeff in upper Mich.

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This page last updated September 05, 2001

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