Today I spent another day with Murphy, this time with automatic seat belts.
My daughter says, “Hey! The seat belt won't go back in!” (the auto shoulder belt)
“Wonderful (not),” I thought.
Murphy dogs me but I hoped he was just going to laugh as I jumped through all the hoops. How hard could this be? He didn't laugh out loud — yet.
The console has to come out to get at the seat belt retractors and it comes out a lot easier if the seats aren't jamming everything against it so out comes the passenger front seat.
Two of the five seat mounting bolts come out VERY hard — they'd been cross threaded. . .
Murphy laughed really loud. I think he might have even given me the finger. . .
I was a Helo Mechanic/Aircrew in the Marine Corps. When you fix it and then go flying in it, you are HIGHLY motivated to do the job right. As a result, I am a hard-core Tool Nazi and a hard core Safety Nazi. The two are related. Before a job, we inventoried our tools against a checklist and again after the job was finished. If you didn't have the same tools afterward, the job was not 'DONE'.
The results of 'shortcuts' can be fatal. On the helicopters with two horizontal sets of rotor blades (and no tail rotor) each set of rotors sits atop about 1000 pounds of gearbox. The blades overlap above the fuselage and in order to keep them from hitting each other, there is a sync shaft between the front gearbox and the rear one. That shaft is about 8 inches in diameter and is solid.
One of these airplanes came back after a 3 hour flight and we popped off the cowling over the sync shaft for some routine maintenance. Someone had 'pencil whipped' his tool inventory and left a pair of dikes inside. In flight, they had gotten wedged between the shaft and the airframe. They began to cut into the shaft. When we found them, they had cut through over two thirds of the shaft. Murphy was surely elsewhere on that day.
I was not going to chance someone dying because I took a shortcut on some seat mounting bolts.
Murphy danced a jig while I took a die to the bolts and cleaned up the threads and a tap to the female threads in the chassis. Not a fun experience--
Out came the console and sure enough,the passenger side retractor was shot. Fortunately, someone on this board posted a warning to Read and Heed the “DO NOT REMOVE THIS COVER” or I'd have surely let Murphy talk me into it.
Then I got to repeat the trick in my parts car. There were no cross threaded bolts but my parts car is outside and it was hot and it rained a bit while I was doing this (not while I was inside the car, only when I was half in and half out). Murphy snickered all the while.
I took the driver's seat out in the parts car because I needed the plastic guide that the lap belt goes through to replace the broken one on my car.
Murphy must have found a more attractive victim because he left for a while.
I replaced the retractors without incident and decided since I already had this much apart, to replace the burned out light under the shift lever quadrant
You'd think that 4 Phillips screws wouldn't be a big deal but Murphy had sneaked back in and one of them was stripped — not the threads mind you, the HEAD! How often do you see a stripped head on a Phillips screw? Murphy roared.
With the help of a lot of cussing, I got the screw out, swiped one from the parts car, replaced the light bulb and put everything back together.
I put up my tools (yes,I counted them), squared away the shop and got in the car to drive it out.
I discovered that I'd neglected to thread the shoulder belt through the plastic guide between the seat and the console!
Since there was no safety issue, I decided to mess with that 'next time'.
As I drove out of the shop, Murphy shot me a sloppy salute accompanied by maniacal laughter and vanished. . .
Any 20 minute job is only one broken bolt away from a three day disaster. . .