What Was Your Most Frustrating Wrenching Experience?

Ouch Charlie, that really hurt.
Ouch Charlie, that really hurt.

I just spent twelve [REDACTED] hours trying to remove my [VERY REDACTED] cylinder head from my [PLEASE MOM DON’T READ THIS] 1948 Willys Jeep engine. And it was a total nightmare.

This past weekend, my friend and I removed the Go-Devil engine from my 1948 Willys CJ-2a with the goal of figuring out why in tarnation the little flathead four only makes 60 PSI of compression in all four cylinders. Something clearly ain’t right.


I broke out my Harbor Freight cherry picker, and plucked that little four-banger out of my engine bay with no drama at all (it helped that my transmission was already out).

Then I bolted the motor onto a stand, and all I had to do was remove about a dozen head nuts, and I’d have access to the four cylinders.

Except it didn’t actually work that way. That head wouldn’t budge, and we ended up spending 12 hours trying to get the thing off, eventually resorting to this:

Illustration for article titled What Was Your Most Frustrating Wrenching Experience?

Yes, I had to cut the studs. How I’m going to replace them is a problem for another day, because I’m taking a break. This damn Jeep has me beat.

Still, I would like to hear about your most frustrating wrenching experience. Maybe it was a nut that just wouldn’t budge, or a bolt that you could only turn 1/10000ths of a degree at a time. Either way, let’s hear about your suffering.

Sr. Tech Editor, Jalopnik. Owner of far too many Jeeps. Follow my instagram (@davidntracy). Always interested in hearing from engineers—email me.

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Santiago of Escuderia Boricua

Trying to fix the parking brake on the race car (e36).

The tech sheet says a parking brake was required, so I set about fixing the cable brake. The PO had removed the hardware, so I bought all new shoes, springs, and cables. The cable sleeves were rusted to the hubs. I had to resort to using a punch and a sledge to knock it loose.

Well, I got a little aggressive with the sledge and missed. Managed to damage the wheel bearing. Bought all those tools, start removing parts. I stripped all six e-torx bolts holding the half-shaft in place. I, laying on the floor under my car in December in Michigan, cut the heads off with a grinder to remove the half shaft. I then grinded flats into the remails of the bolts in order to get a wrench on them to remove them.

So I replaced the wheel bearing, got new bolts, and finally installed the handbrake with all new hardware and even new rotors.

It still didn’t work. I could push the car around with it all the way up.

At that point I said fuck it because Sno*Drift was coming up too quick. At tech, they looked in the cabin, saw the stock parking brake, and it passed tech.