The Pendulum Swings
Back in the mid-'70s, my roommate built a '69 Camaro for competition inthe Jr. Pro Stock class at the local dragstrip. We were young andrelatively poor, so what money was available went into go-fast parts andcorners were cut on other things. After a motor upgrade, we had a cartoo radical to drive on the street, but we couldn't afford a trailer, sowe flat-towed the car to the track on a chain behind my '64 Dodgestation wagon. One weekend we arrived at the track and put the slicks onthe car, but a summer downpour hit and the event was cancelled.
Because we didn't want to get wet changing tires, we opted to tow theCamaro home with the slicks still on it. All was well on the rough ruralroads, but when we hit a smooth stretch of asphalt, things gotinteresting. Traveling at about 40 mph, the Camaro began to swingpendulum-like from side to side, with each swing arcing a bit largerthan the last. On about the third swing, the wagon joined in, and onabout the fifth swing both cars began a synchronized 360-degree spinwith the chain still taut between the vehicles. Midway through thesecond rotation, both cars left the road, narrowly missing a telephonepole, and slapped together with a sickening thud. The damage wasrelatively minor, but the change in attitude was major. Today I own acar trailer and still get a queasy feeling seeing anybody tow with achain or rope.
Quite a few years ago, a friend of mine was having his helper take asmall-block out of a Chevelle. The helper had gotten everything loose,and they hooked a wrecker to the engine to extract it. The wrecker,hooked only to the chain on the engine, picked the front end of the caroff the ground, and my friend got under the car with a long steel bar toattempt to pry the motor loose! Mind you, there were about six peoplestanding around watching what was going on, until I spoke up and asked," What happens when you break the motor free?" He got out from under thecar quite quickly.
While I was living in Denver in the mid-'70s, my '63 Corvette was stolenand stripped, but I got it back and rebuilt it with a 377ci small-blockand a new Super T10 transmission. My buddy and I had the engine andtrans, less heads and intake, ready to swing in about 9 p.m. onChristmas Eve. We installed the heads, Rochester Fuel Injection, andheaders, filled the radiator, and checked the wiring, timing, and hoseconnections. I climbed in and turned the key, but the balancer movedmaybe 11/44 inch and no more. We discussed the possibility that the12.5:1 pistons were hitting the chambers, even though I had performed aclay check without the gasket.
We drained the coolant and pulled the heads to inspect for contact butfound none. By now it was about midnight. We reassembled everything,rechecked everything we could think of, and again the engine barelymoved. Finally, my friend asked if I had installed the gearshiftlinkage. He looked at me and I looked at him as we both realized whathad happened. I had accidentally locked the transmission in two gearssimultaneously, making it impossible for the engine to turn over. Idepressed the clutch, turned the key, and it started right up. We brokein the new cam at 4 a.m. on Christmas morning.
One night I went to my friend's house to see what he was up to. He wasworking on his truck, trying to find a short in the headlights. Everytime he turned on the lights, it blew a fuse. I told him I had a testlight at home, but he said he had a quicker way. I watched as he took ablown fuse, wrapped it in tin foil, and put it back in the fuse block.He pulled the headlight switch, and after the smoke cleared, we foundthe shorted wire all melted. "See, all we have to do is replace this onewire," he said proudly.
Back in about 1969, I was running a '68 Chevelle in Modified Production,and the rules mandated a steel hood with the provision that you couldadd a hoodscoop. Not wanting to chop up the stock SS hood, I bought aregular Malibu flat hood and was going to have a buddy at a body shop'glass the scoop to the hood. I didn't own a pickup and being in ahurry, I figured the quickest way to transport the new hood would be toset it on top of my '56 Chevy beater and drive carefully to the shop. Meand a buddy stuck our hands out the window to hold it down.
All went according to plan until I drove by the tire shop where anotherfriend worked. Upon seeing me, he yelled, "Get on it!" I did, and aboutthe time I hit Second gear, the hood got away from us. That hood flew aswell as any airplane. It climbed, stalled, and crashed straight down onthe pavement right in front of several oncoming cars. Luckily no one hitit, but it crumpled like tin foil.
White Deer, TX