I almost broke both legs...

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Jan 14, 2005
I am usually very safe with what I do, but after a few beers I decided I had time to replace the adjustment return spring on the right rear brake of my 88 62.

I had just put 3 beautiful racks of baby back ribs in the brine and was really hungry, so I was kind of in a hurry to get this and a few other things done. I so wanted to go sit down, enjoy the smell of the grill and relax a little on my only day off this week. I had been bushhogging all day in the hot sun and I thought, "gosh, it is only one spring it won't take long",, so I got the factory jack to lift the back wheel and was going to get a piece of wood, but again I thought I would only be in there for a few minutes.... I put the jack on the ground, with grass, it looked fairly dry...and level..it was a mix of gravel and grassy dirt..

after fighting with the brake assembly for a few minutes while on my knees I had to sit down, the gravel was really hurting these old bony knees...

I almost grabbed the wheel (so my feet would be flat on the ground, and knees up) to sit on but thought I did not have the car jacked up very high and it might be hard to lean down between my legs into the brake mechanism... so I sat flat on the ground with my legs extended under the spring/axle...

a few more minutes struggling trying to get the springs back on, I broke the big spring,,, ugh,, so off to the barn to get another, came back about 10 minutes later,,,, kneeling again,,,, OK now I have to take the whole thing apart to get that spring on,,, so I sat down with extended legs again,,not thinking much of it...

I struggled and got frustrated because I had to disassemble everything AGAIN..and get up again, I mean really it is only one small spring,,, double UGH!

I got up to get a screw driver and needle nose pliers out of the back of the truck to get the retaining clip off so I could fit the adjuster pin into the retaining hole on the keeper mechanism,,, so when I got back to the wheel I squatted down with my back to the cruiser right then the jack leaned back and the cruiser sat down on the brake assembly, the back passenger door was open and knocked me over...... just 10-15 seconds before both my knees/legs were under that leaf spring, even though the vehicle moved very slow when it rolled back there would have been no where for me to move I was kind of boxed up to the truck... I could not swing to either side because of the jack and I could not back up because the tire/wheel was right behind me

I could not lift my knees because the truck was coming down towards them, and there was only a few inches clearance to start with anyway...

maybe I could have spread my legs enough to avoid the spring, but my feet pointing upwards with my steel toe boots would have probably been crushed,,,

I do not know for certain both legs would have been broken, but I am pretty confident my knees would have been wrecked,,,I know my GF would have panic-ed and would have not known what to do to lift the truck, the axle was laying on the ground, so how do you get a factory jack up under it to lift it off,, she might have been able to get the second factory jack under the frame and lift it up enough to get me out... but that jack is attached inside and hard to get out, I would have been stuck under the the weight for minutes...

Diana was across the yard a good 100-200 feet, even if she heard me...over the 2 stereos playing, I think she was on her phone watering the garden.. the tractor was close to her, but she would have had to come to me then go back to the tractor then have the wherewithall to drive it over to me, through our obstacle course of a yard of trees, carport, horse trailer etc... and then be able to use the FEL to pick the vehicle up,, that would have taken minutes and could have caused more injury as the vehicle shifted a little when being picked up

after a few deep breaths and realizing what bullet I had just dodged... I decided not to drink anymore beer until the work was done, and I was safe...

I used my tractor FEL to pick the vehicle up to finish the job...with a wheel chock and a jack stand just in case..

I usually chock the front wheels, I usually at least put the wheel/tire under the axle, sometimes I put a jack stand and the wheel under there,, but as I said, I had a few beers and was in a hurry to be able to relax.... so let this be YOUR warning it sure is mine.

we at the fabulous ribs in the rain at around 1030 pm,,, all body parts intact and accounted for :bounce2:

BE SAFE!! or don't do it...
Glad it didnt' get you! I've got a uncle missing a couple of fingers, he made an impression on me to ALWAYS make sure to use stands or if away from home, put the spare under the axle.
Man 'O' Man am I glad to hear you did'nt get caught up in the gravity storm! I'm in the habit of sliding the tire under one of the frame rails for safety.

I'm glad you're ok.
Bob, as a mechanic for years, we did get careless and in a hurry once in a while. I was always lucky not to be around when a vehicle came down, but I was watching a cop show on TV one day and saw a fellow smashed under his car with his legs sticking out,,,VERY DEAD. I have never worked under a vehicle since w/out jackstands.
Glad you're ok Bob! I'll bet those ribs tasted way better after that though...
Thanks everyone. The ribs were fantastic, smoked with peach/pecan wood, and sauced with a fusion of a sweet soy/sesame and traditional southern spicy tomato BBQ sauce.

I learned a lot that day and hope sharing my close call helps others remember to keep safe when working on these things. You can replace burnt baby back ribs, you can drink beer another time, you can repair your vehicle in the morning,,,, but once a body part is maimed or destroyed-end of game...sometimes putting things in perspective helps....I have driven 6 months without that spring... so why was I in such a hurry that night.....

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