Thursday, September 13, 2007

The physics story.

By request. (And anyone wanting the dosage or brand of kelp I'm taking, the info is in the comments of the last post. I'm a dumbass. I forgot to include it.)


In my defense, I would like to first point out that my friends and I, through High School, were all too smart for our own good and were always up to something geeky, be it joining the Olympics of the Mind and building a bridge out of toothpicks to support as much weight as possible, or writing horrible parodies of lit class assignments and sneaking them into the school paper without teacher approval, or freezing ice cubes to the cafeteria tables and hiding so we could laugh when the kitchen workers tried to clean them up.

So, fast forward a couple years after high school, and I'm living in Columbus (Ohio) with one of my old High School buddies, who has a degree in drafting and is working as a draftsman while he works on ANOTHER degree in Civil Engineering. I'd dropped out of college and was working for Citibanc, but you probably have gotten the idea around here that I'm smart enough to keep up, most of the time.

One fine afternoon in September (oddly enough), when it was hotter than hell, I blew a tire at 80 mph on the main highway, and thanks to my own awareness of physics and mechanics I managed to get to the side of the road without being run over by one of the many semi trucks around me. (The trucker who stopped to help me said it was one of the nicest bits of driving he'd ever seen, and was boggled that a 22 year old girl dressed like a banker had pulled it off.) Instead of trying to change a tire at the side of a major highway with semis going past at 80+ mph, I had the car towed back to my apartment. Getting home, I changed into grubby clothes and went out to change the tire (my dad made me learn before he let me get a license; I bitched like mad the whole time... after this incident, I called and thanked him). Only one problem: the lug nuts were rusted onto the studs, and even standing on the wrench, they wouldn't come off. I waited for my friend/roommate to get home and have a go at them. He stood on the tire iron, too. Nothing. We repaired to the apartment for a couple beers and some brainstorming. (The following conversation is paraphrased. It's been a few years, after all.)

Me: "Maybe we should just take it to a garage, or call road side assistance."

Him: "You can't afford it. Besides, we should be able to do this. We know physics."

Me: "You know physics. I was the one writing your English papers."

Him: "Oh please, you learn theory faster than anyone I know." He paced a while. "Do you know anywhere to get a blow torch?"

Me: "You're going to light my car on fire? We just need a rag for the gas tank and some matches."

Him: "We heat the lug nuts, they expand and crack the rust loose, and we can take them off with the wrench."

That was a good idea, but we didn't have a blow torch. I thought about it. "What you really need is a good temperature shock, to either expand OR contract the lug nuts, right? To work loose the rust?"

Him: "Yeah."

Me: "We can use a cigarette lighter and ice water."

Him: "See? We know physics."

So that's what we did. One by one, we heated the lug nuts as much as possible with a cigarette lighter (and when it ran out of fuel, a couple books of matches mooched off the neighbors), then while it was hot, doused it with ice water.

They came right off.

I love theory.

10 comments:

Donna Lee said...

That is so cool. I had to have my car towed to the shop because my physics skills are rusty.

NeedleTart said...

The Boys thank you. Whenever I bake something and have to "mix evenly" I shake the bowl until the big pieces come to the top. Love applied physics.

Rachel H said...

Never ceases to amaze me what you can learn on a knit blog. Very Cool.

Bells said...

see I would just never think of that. Never. Too clever by half.

Jennu said...

Brilliant! I would've just used cola and toothbrush to dissolve the rust.

Amy Lane said...

So much awesome than my "I ran into a light pole because I'm an idiot"... story.

J3SS said...

you are awesome and that was brilliant. my first degree is in auto mechanics (am ASE cert) and my second is in clinical laboratory sciences. and in the shop, we use an oxy-acetylene torch or go grab one of the welders to torch rusted lug nuts off (this also works to expand brake drums to get the shoes out, etc.).

Mary Lynn said...

Great story. I'll be sure and share it with my 21 year old daughter. Me, I'm too old anymore, and can afford to have it fixed.

Catie said...

that is so cool, btw, how close are you to that undergraduate degree that is temporairly on pause?

Roxie said...

Brilliant! Most people I know would have used a can of WD40, then given up and called in a pro with a hydraulic wrench. (If you don't have AA coverage yet, get it. They come and change the tire on the freeway for you.)