How Familiarity In The Shed Breeds Carelessness
It seems some of us don’t always consider the likely consequences of our mechanical exploits, me included .
Many twin-cylinder BMW owners have burn marks on the inside of their left arm. It’s a simply fact the machine needs to be warm when turning, and reaching forward to tighten the timing adjustment can often mean interaction with a hot header pipe. Sometimes a white singe, other times, a blister-engendering roasting. One mistake is understandable, repeat transgression is probably stupidity, just look at their arms.
Similarly, I have a habit of manoeuvring machines before they have cooled into tight spaces in the sheds. A three-inch muffler scorch on my left leg is the result of the last good go. My friendly bone cruncher thought I should go to hospital (I was about to paddle 50km down the Murray), but I declined.
Self-inflicted wounds, just wear it.
Some try much harder than me. The bloke who thought he would run a bike on the centrestand. Yeh, okay, but then he engaged first gear and lent on the back of the bike. Hmm, machine took off, he held on (and cracked the throttle open) and graded the side of the garage. ‘But, I have done it heaps of times, but never lent on the back of the bike.’ Surely you could take the bike for a ride.
Some go further to create bodily harm, like being run over by their own vehicles. I visited Gyro Carless of Ecco Engineering some years ago to do a story on his Syndicate Superbike Kawasaki. The human ‘windbreak’ (his words) when explaining poor drag-strip times on an old BMW was limping.
“What happened to you?” I asked. “Run over by that f**king thing,” pointing to an immaculate ’65 Mustang parked in the laneway. Apparently Gyro was tuning the car while it was in Park, motor running, when the Mustang decided to head for the wall at the end of the driveway. “I wasn’t going to let it hit the wall and destroy a $20,000 paint job so I stood in front of it.”
Apparently he was well under the car when Smithy heard a yell and stopped the car. A good thing as Gyro probably would’ve been necked by the beautiful chromed bumper. Stupid! But I understand the passion.
Friend and ex-motorcycle insurer Rod Garnett struck a similar problem when tuning his ’70s Mazda ute which has a hot 6.3-litre V8 from an HSV in the back (don’t ask – it does wheel stands!). He’d removed the switch that stopped itself self-selecting and it trapped into reverse and smacked him into another car. Lucky bloke – no organ injuries, two cracks in his pelvis, broken tailbone, pain and suffering. When he tried to get out of the vehicle, having driven home, he realised that a trip to the hospital was in order.
His wife chided, “You haven’t tried childbirth – more painful.” His response, “Yeah, but the pain doesn’t go on for months.”
Now he actually thinks it’s funny bare one thought. He turned away as the accident unfolded, so he has a fair imprint of his butt in the left-hand rear guard. “That will be bloody difficult to beat out.”
Then there’s, of course, the farming fraternity acceptors of risk and happy to take a fall in the course of business.
Take Austin, 2.0-metres tall, who decided you didn’t need to be on a horse to turn cattle. Ride up beside and put your shoulder in. A concept that worked for six months until a cow, blind in one eye, pushed him over. While our hero gathered his senses, the cow kicked out and punched five spokes out of the rear wheel.
I guess, even if you’ve done something dodgy long enough, you think the consequences won’t happen to you. It can, especially if the motor is running!