Sometimes depending on other people leaves you wanting to nuke the world.

I may have mentioned from time to time some of the disadvantages of locating outside the smallest, most apparently pointless, most obviously dying little town you ever encountered in the course of a long life. Among these disadvantages is the inevitability of proving the truth of the old saw, “It’s hard to get good help.”

I decided at the beginning that there was no point in bugging anybody about the Jeep. It would get done, I reasoned, when it got done. This was a mistake, probably brought about by my own reluctance to talk to people on the phone and especially to have unpleasant conversations with people on the phone. But after a week passed, having heard nothing at all about this rather straightforward job for which I had already supplied the part, it seemed not unreasonable to ask how things were going.

Things were not going well. Indeed it could be fairly said that things were not going, full stop.

The roots of this begin almost two years ago, when (using Generous Reader money) I bought the Jeep a new set of tires. That became an adventure in itself. Among other things I asked the shop to purchase and install 20 new lug nuts, since the nuts that had always been on the Jeep were mismatched and badly worn. They ordered the wrong nuts for the wheels, installed them anyway, and then just to make absolutely certain it was a cock-up they overtorqued them. I was aware of this problem but figured I’d leave sorting it out to someone with an impact wrench: In fact it was on the list of things for them to fix last week.

Guess what? In attempting to remove the front wheels so they could repair the axle, they rounded off one of the lug nuts. And then, apparently never having heard of techniques for cracking a frozen nut, they … stopped right there. For the record, “I was in here all day Saturday chipping away at it” is not going to be taken as mitigation by the customer you just disappointed to the point of homicide.

I came home yesterday in a rather bad mood and just sort of sulked for the afternoon – frankly obeying the “post every day’ rule barely even occurred to me. And except for that business there’s still nothing going on here at the Gulch so I still don’t have anything good to say.

About Joel

You shouldn't ask these questions of a paranoid recluse, you know.
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18 Responses to Sometimes depending on other people leaves you wanting to nuke the world.

  1. Ben says:

    A good hand with a cutting torch can burn off a lug nut with no danger to the wheel, and sometimes even leaving a seemingly untouched stud.

  2. Kentucky says:

    There are those days when you are pretty sure you’d have been better off doing it yourself with a large hammer and enthusiasm rather than deferring the job to a “professional”. It might take longer and the end result might not be as pretty, but at least you eventually wind up with a “job well done” as opposed to seething disgust and the distinct impression you have been thoroughly hosed.

    I feel your pain.

  3. coloradohermit says:

    I’m sorry to hear about this screw up! I’m just glad to hear from you as I was getting worried and imagining all sorts of misadventures and you lying out in the desert with a Corgi threatening to eat you to survive.

    If nothing else, it makes me very grateful for the wonderful competent service people we’ve come to know and rely on over our 30 years here in this little mountain town.

  4. Jesse in DC says:

    They make special sockets for just such a thing. They have sort of a reverse thread that will grab what is left of the nut, and the more you try to turn it, the tighter it gets. Have them get a set…

  5. phred ! says:

    I just went through the same thing with my son’s car. the local tire shop couldn’t break the lugs loose, so I was left to my own devices. Several rounded lug nuts and a busted tool or two later, I ordered sockets of the type that Jesse mentioned. Overnight soak with snot (pblaster), place new socket on the impact wrench, then let it do the work. I wasn’t sure which were going to give up first – the lug or the impact driver. The tool prevailed, eventually.

    Having a hired “professional” get hung up on lug nuts is irritating.

  6. czechsix says:

    There are “professionals” and then there are “professionals”. Sorry to hear you found one of the idiots. Half a dozen ways to get that sucker off, chipping away at it isn’t one of them lol.

  7. terrapod says:

    Smoke wrench to heat the nut up, then soak in PB for a few hours. This has worked for me every time and on occasion have had to use a pipe wrench with an extender to break it loose, after that a normal wrench or impact tool handles it. Sounds like the local guy is not really very proficient at his trade, pray is he much more skilled as a welder than mechanic.

  8. Joel says:

    pray is he much more skilled as a welder than mechanic.

    Thank you for that. I honestly hadn’t enjoyed that particular worry for almost six minutes before reading your comment.

  9. Mike says:

    Joel after dealing with the lower end of the wrench turner spectrum for the first few years after moving out to the boonies, I can say that I feel your pain. Just remember one thing, if you shoot this guy, you will go to jail. Stay calm and eventually things will sort themselves out.

  10. Joel says:

    Geez, I’m not going to shoot anybody. Hyperbole! If I were a congresscritter I’d have used a nuke.

  11. Mark Matis says:

    Of course, you could always take TB with you next time you go to his shop, and slather some shaving cream around his mouth just before you walk into the guy’s shop…

  12. Paul B says:

    Well, they are making cars easier to diagnose and fix so they will attract barely warm sentient’s to work there. I got a car once from one of those kind of mechanics for the tow bill. Let the daughter drive it while at college and sold it for 3 times the tow bill several years later.

  13. Ben says:

    I don’t know if cars are any easier to fix these days, but they do seem to be a lot more reliable than the cars of my youth. That’s at least partially because fidely things like distributors and carburetors don’t even exist any more. There’s not much to “tune” on an engine because adjustments have been replaced by software.

  14. Will says:

    He’s a WELDER, and he can’t figure out how to get them off??? Holy crap! Have the idiot weld a piece of metal to the bad nut. What you use depends on how recessed the nut is in the wheel. I’d be inclined to weld a 1/2″ socket extention to it, use an impact gun to blow it off, and then cut it off for the next bad socket, if needed. Getting one of those nut removing sockets might help, but if a tool store isn’t close, USE THE WELDER!

    Frankly, if he used the correct sized, quality socket to start with, he wouldn’t have the problem in the first place. The shop should also have a 24″ breaker bar or flex bar for dealing with lug nuts. If the gun won’t budge them, that bar should.

    Does your Jeep have left-handed threads on one side of the vehicle? Chrysler products used to have this, but finally gave up on it by the 70’s, IIRC. Long time since I’ve encountered this, but it can really cause problems if not noticed. The lugs and nuts normally had an “L” on the end to warn people.

  15. Joel says:

    😀 No, no left-hand threads.

  16. Mark Matis says:

    At least it didn’t have any when you dropped it off…

  17. Joel sez:
    “but figured I’d leave sorting it out to someone with an impact wrench”

    Now that’s funny!

    Kinda’ LIKE 4wd – just enough to get one REALLY in trouble.

    I used to say that if I ever took on an apprentice (for detailed woodworking/jewelry/inlay/etc.) I’d make them use only hand tools until they could do the work properly – and only then allow them to use power tools.

    We buy tires and service contracts from a regional chain for our vehicles – and I still have a rule to only send them loose tires on the rim. I’ll do the install myself as at least then I know it’ll be done right.

    I wish I had a nickel for every time some tradesperson gave me that shit eatin’ grin and assured me they had the situation well in hand!

  18. A.C. says:

    It’s the same in many places. Where I live, trying to get things done becomes a calculation based on how it will be affected by a local workforce that bounces between inept, misinformed, comical, and “Rome has fallen”. If I need a plumber, mechanic, or electrician I’m going to have to do it myself. On the other hand I can choose from several good butchers and there are dozens of outfits with earthmoving equipment. Digging holes and cleaving a roast… I can hire that done. The rest of the time I’m on my own.

To the stake with the heretic!