What’s the chance?

Anyone that has done almost any kind of automotive work can probably remember a “whoops” moment. You know the one, where it seems like your life suddenly went into slow motion. It could be the bolt you dropped down into then engine bay, or the screwdriver in your pocket that you sat down in your seats with…etc. You always look back and just have to shake your head.

Recently for me, I had one of those moments that really ranks “up there” with some of my other “whoops” moments. On old VW Rabbits there is a timing hole in the transmission which allows for you to aim a timing light to set your ignition timing (you all see where this is going right?). The hole is slightly larger than the size of a half dollar. From the factory these came plugged with a plastic cap that threaded into the hole. Unfortunately these are almost always seized into the transmission, and the first time you go to remove them, they become brittle, and fall apart. This was the case on my VW pickup truck project. Since the truck is almost done, I just left the hole open figuring there isn’t much chance of dropping anything in it. Boy was I wrong!!

It all started with wiring up my new electric fan to the radiator, It requires me to remove the battery to get to the mounting bolts. As I walked over the truck with my mini ratchet and 10mm socket, I bent over to loosen the positive terminal, when the socket decided to slip off of the ratchet. It proceeded to bounce only once, on the edge of the battery, and “SWISH” (Imagine a NBA player hitting a game-winning 3 pointer) right into the timing hole in the transmission. All I could yell to myself was “What’s the chance of that!!!”. After a few angry attempts with needle nose pliers, I knew I was most likely going to have to remove the transmission, all for this one little socket. I was not pleased.

I went into work and talked it over with a few of the guys here in our office. Being that all of us are “Car Guys”, they all had a similar story of that time when they dropped something down into an engine, transmission, or just into the engine bay, only to spend days fishing it out. It then dawned on me.. we recently pulled out a old Video Scope that we used to carry in our catalog. This thing is a few years old, but still works great. I figured with the video scope, I could locate where in the bell housing of the transmission that the socket was laying. Then, I could insert a strong telescoping magnet into the hole, and hopefully lift it up out. Being a “gadget” nerd, I was all for playing with….. errr….. I mean…. “testing” the video scope!

I am happy to report that after a few tries, and about an hour fishing the camera around in the hole to locate the socket, I was able to get it out! This was quite a relief, as I was dreading having to remove the transmission again! Along the way I snapped a few pictures. You can spot the “Stanley” on the socket on the monitor, it was all the way at the bottom front corner of the bell housing!

What was your most memorable “whoops” moment? What did you have to do to fix it? Post a comment and share!

Click the pictures below for the larger versions of each!

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