Posted by: cordy74 | April 14, 2009

Chronicles of Cordy 1: …just a flesh wound

As some of you may know my wife recently broke her foot and sprained her ankle in one fell swoop.  She did this in a parking lot while stepping off a curb.  While I am not going to make any comments on here she would be the first to tell you she is the “graceless wonder” and was definitely living up to her Polish heritage.  This incident also led me to think about something that occurs to me time and again:  why haven’t I broken any bones (that I am aware of)?

If you have read any of my recent posts about my dad (see the Chronicles of Dad category for further explanation) you will know that he has broken several bones, been lacerated, shot, impaled and nearly immolated.  He likes to call himself the Man of Steel.  Thus I am the Son of the Man of Steel.  Does this make me invulnerable?  It must.  I haven’t been vulnerabled yet.  Wait, that doesn’t sound right.  Never mind.

Thinking back I began to wonder if my lack of broken bones, lacerations or burns means that I have not lead as exciting a life as I should.  Upon more ponderance I started to remember some incidents in which I probably should have been injured much more severely than I actually was.  I should have been hospitalized several times in my life but have only been once; that was for a kidney stone…not my fault.

The most recent accident that should have warranted a trip to the emergency room involved me replacing the wheel bearings on my ’98 Ford Escort.  In order to perform this repair you have to jack up the front of the car, remove the wheel and hub and have the old bearing pressed out to be replaced by the new bearing.  Once the new bearing is installed…well, as the books say, “assembly is reverse of disassembly.”

I soon realized that to fully reattach all of the suspension components to the hub the front strut (shock absorber thingy), which was fully extended, would have to be compressed to bring everything back into alignment.  Most do-it-yourself auto parts stores will loan you a very simple tool to perform this feat; you just have to be willing to take the time to drive over there and pick it up.  Not me.  Oh, no.  I can fix anything in existence using nothing more than a 2×4, a car jack and a sledge hammer.  I’m like the redneck MacGyver except not as handsome or successful. If I can’t fix it with these tools I can certainly make it unrecognizable.

My task: compress the front strut.  My solution: a 2×4 of questionable strength and two car jacks.  The sledgehammer was left by the wayside for this one.  I placed a jack on either side of the strut and straddled the piece of wood across them.  As I raised the jacks the wood would raise the bottom of the strut, slowly bringing everything into alignment.  Once the strut was raised I was able to install the two sets of nuts and bolts in the lower control arm which just happened to be on the very bottom of the hub.

Once the bolts were in and the nuts started I just had to tighten everything up.  So there I was with a wrench in one hand and a ratchet in the other, tightening up the nuts.  My right hand, the one holding the ratchet, just happened to be placed directly beneath the hub which was being held up by the 2×4 which was in turn being held up by the two jacks.

Just as I went to put the very last turn on the last nut there was a loud crack as the 2×4 split.  Since the 2×4 was about 12 inches in front of my face it sounded like a gunshot.  The next thing I knew the hub had come rocketing down as the strut unloaded.  Remember, my right hand had been directly under the hub eeking that one last turn out of the last nut.

With sloth-like reflexes I was able to jerk my hand out milliseconds after the hub hit my wrist sending it bouncing off the driveway.  Luckily the car was jacked up and hub was still suspended about a foot off the driveway after the strut had decompressed.  Otherwise my arm probably would have been trapped under the car.  If that had happened I probably would have crapped myself several times before my wife finally came out to see why there was a woman screaming in the driveway.

After taking a couple of minutes to calm down and ensure myself that nothing important had been amputated I went ahead and finished up assembling everything that was left.  Once that was done and all the tools were picked up I noticed a little bit of swelling on one side of my wrist.  There were also a couple of nice abraisions on each side of it from the hub and the driveway.

Did I go to the doctor?  Of course not!  Other than the swelling, a little discomfort and a slight loss in range of motion I was perfectly fine.  The swelling and discomfort were completely gone within a couple of days.  Range of motion was back to normal within a week.  I truly am my father’s son.  By the way, the car drove perfectly for a couple of months until what I suspect was a timing belt break.  It still sits in the driveway awaiting some more TLC.  I’ll try not to let the car bite me this time.

Finally, always remember that you should use the right tool for the job.  Around my house I am usually the tool that gets to do all of the repairs.  Right, wrong or indifferent I’ll get the job done one way or another.



  1. “Tightening up the nuts..”

    • Heh. What’s even funnier is that I almost lost both of the nuts while I was working on the car.

  2. Nice Gordon.
    The spring compressor thingy usually can be borrowed for FREE from most auto parts stores. I do appreciate your ingenuity w/ the jacks though.

    I sincerly hope that the escort is up on blocks in your driveway for your neighbors to appreciate.

    • Well, Lonnie. You CAN get the compressor things for free but you have to want to take the time to go get it. If I’m in the middle of a job there’s not much aside from lost or missing parts that will make me stop and head back to the parts store. It worked, didn’t it? As I stated before, don’t worry about having the right tool for the job because I AM the right tool for the job.

  3. Love it! I think you missed your calling-you need to write a book and be the Kentucky (dare I say Redneck??) version of Dave Barry! Seriously, this was the funniest thing I had read in several weeks!

    • Thanks for the compliments! I just have to say….you must not have read much in several weeks, have you? 😛

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