5 scary scenarios DIYers face
Halloween is right around the corner, and any number of scary ghouls and goblins will soon be at your door asking for sweet treats. The holiday got us thinking about DIY experiences that don’t leave our minds so easily. A few projects still keep us up at night, and the thought of repeating certain procedures can provoke a cold sweat. We aren’t saying cars are cursed or possessed—we’ll leave that to the movies—but we all know at least a few vehicles for which it was hard to prove otherwise.
From losing tools to stripping threads, here are the scariest scenarios we’ve encountered in the garage.
Using a spring compressor
The McPherson-strut front suspension design has a lot going for it, like easy installation and cost-effectiveness. Sadly, changing springs or dampers in McPherson struts can be a terror. A spring this powerful is essentially a pipe bomb, and cheap or home-fabricated spring compressors that underestimate the spring’s stored tension are legitimately dangerous. Just the thought of hearing a creak from the spring compressor and seeing a spring shoot off at full force gives us nightmares that would make most horror flicks look tame.
Discovering rust under a paint bubble
You would never pick at a scab, but sometimes you can’t help but give a light poke at that discolored spot on the quarter panel of your classic. Next thing you know, your finger has promoted inner fender to the prestigious status of outer fender. The damage only gets worse from that moment: Iron oxide takes over, a pestilence that no spooky campfire story could ever conjure. Rust is a threat that hangs over everything in your garage. You’ll start seeing the brown-ish red everywhere, until even your mixed drink seems to include red rum. It can drive a man insane, that rust.
Losing a bolt
We all know what it’s like when the bolt or tool that you just had in your hand is—poof—gone. A portal to the fifth dimension opened, swallowing that one small but critical piece of your project. The thought of where that piece of hardware went will haunt you. I’m not scared of Casper, but I am terrified of where that piston pin circlip might have gone.
Stripping a bolt
At last, final assembly. Your workbench is covered in perfectly clean, ready-to-assemble parts. You painstakingly kept all the threads of all your fasteners clean, but somehow a hard-to-reach bolt that only requires 35 foot-pounds of torque just … won’t … tighten. All of a sudden, “righty-tighty, left-loosey” becomes “righty loosey, lefty also loosey.” The split second your wrench meets no resistance, the horrors of dealing with the consequences come into sharp focus.
Burning through paint
The paint on a vehicle can get really shiny if you remove enough of it to eliminate scratches, scrapes, and other imperfections. However, the mere thought of burning through the paint of their beloved classics has kept thousands of owners from so much as looking at an electric polisher. Thanks to modern compounds, this automotive horror story no longer needs to strike fear in your heart. Random-orbit polishers and diminishing-grit compounds allow you to be gentler with paint than ever before, even if the process requires a certain touch and understanding, and the fear of burn-through lingers in the room like a ghost.
What would you add to this list? Let us know in the comments below.