Aus Car Update 3 - The clutch


<Chris> 5-Dec. The clutch. So it had never been that brilliant, and I had no idea when it was going to fail on us, but recently, most hills were showing the problem. I rung around and found out how much parts were going to be. Talk about variation. Repco ~$500, Nissan ~$230 but Autopro $120!!! Guess which one I went with. The next problem was going to be actually getting the gearbox out of the vehicle. My Haynes/Gregorys manual told me what was necessary, but it's amazing how 10 bullet points can turn into a major mission. It's all in the bits they don't say. They did warn that the transfer case weighed 50kg, from comparison (because they don't actually say) I would say that the gearbox weighed about 100kg. Theo had access to a trolley jack, but I figured we'd need something else to substitute for a custom made transmission jack, enter creative skills...

What's that I hear you ask? My custom super duper height adjustable transmission stand. Parts $5.45 from Bunnings. I tested it by jumping on it, but I guess I'm 20% short of 100kg's now. More on that later.

To remove the gearbox you had to remove the following:

I know, the front seats? I thought the manual was kidding and I'd be able to shortcut things a bit, but it turns out it's all with good reason. You see these 4wd's aren't quite like cars. The ability that they have to drive through rivers/streams requires waterproof seals around everything and the gearbox levers were no exception. So to remove the rubber seals you have to remove the carpet, to remove the carpet you have to remove the seats! So I've half dismantled the car and I haven't even got underneath it yet. I had assistance undoing everything (my nephew Zeke).

The list continued with remove the following:

I tried to get away without separating the transfer case from the gearbox, but by 10pm I'd had Theo under the car with me all evening and the whole thing just wouldn't come out, so we agreed that I'd remove the transfer case the following day and see how we went. Theo had already suffered an injury. To reach one of the awkwardly placed gearbox bolts we'd been using 2 extension bars and 2 universal joints. Naturally that's pretty hard to hold in place and as he was laying on his back the whole lot came tumbling down and struck him on the bottom of his eye socket. The immediate lump turned into a pretty impressive black eye and he got quite a bit of stick about it at work.

This is the eye a whole week later

6-Dec. The transfer case came out pretty easily, but I still couldn't shift the gearbox. That night we spent even longer on it, and I did myself an injury. I couldn't maneuver the whole gearbox with my arms while lying on my back, so I was using my legs, but my shoe slipped off the edge and I whacked my ankle on it, splitting the skin and causing pain and bleeding. Eventually we decided we were just going to have to get brutish with it, so we made some dents in the firewall and just yanked on it. The output shaft was getting stuck on the pressure plate teeth and I was worried I was going to damage the pressure plate, but eventually it came out... and in slow motion, landed on my custom gearbox stand, one screw ripped out, the brace twisted around, another screw ripped out and it all landed on my arm. Fortunately it all held up just off the floor, and although I couldn't get out, after Theo rolled it over, I slipped my arm out, no damage done. We removed the pressure plate then time for bed.

The transfer case

Upgraded stand with additional bolts

Output end of gearbox

Input end of gearbox

7-Dec. The first thing I did was upgrade the stand by adding additional bolts and using longer screws. I didn't want it to collapse again. (I did read afterwards on my packet of screws that minimum embedment was supposed to be 20mm and I probably only had 15mm).

The spigot bushing and the thrust bearing were both worn, so I called the guys at Autopro to get them in, then cleaned up the pressure plate and flywheel. I took the old thrust bearing and carrier down with me, because I wanted to see if I could get it pressed out/in to the carrier - I didn't fancy spending hours belting it with only screwdrivers and hammer. It turned out this was very fortunate, because the new one was the wrong bearing. They said they couldn't get a replacement until the morning, but after I explained that I was planning on finishing it tonight and could I drive somewhere and get it myself they made arrangements to go pick it up for me, and pressed it into the carrier for free - excellent service!

As I was hammering the new spigot bushing in I made an almost game over mistake. I used a socket to drive it, and flared the new bearing out. I considered putting the old one back in, but after looking at the situation I couldn't even work out how I was going to get it out. I didn't have a slide hammer, and the old one had just gotten pulled out by the weight of the gearbox on the input shaft (ouch, not exactly standard practice!). I decided to turn the socket over and just keep hammering. This appeared to bring it all back together. I guess we'll find out in the future if it lasts :-)

Bolting the new clutch plate in with the pressure plate was fairly straightforward. I wrapped electrical tape around a socket and extension bar to make a clutch centralising tool.

When Theo got home, we settled into the task of getting the gearbox back in. It wasn't without it's drama's either. Firstly getting the input shaft in past the pressure plate fingers while the gearbox just wouldn't get past the firewall. It was sitting just on the edge of the fingers, and eventually we just jacked it hard onto it until it sprung past - boy I hope that pressure plate is tough. That left us with barely enough space to get the silicon sealant around the face of the gearbox. It's amazing how it seems to dry so slowly when you're waiting for it, but how fast it drys when you've still got to maneuver things around. Then, just when it was all drying, the thrust bearing lever came unclipped. Fortunately working from memory of the internal layout (because you couldn't see anything) through the lever hole with a pair of pliers and a piece of wire we were able clip it back in and avoid having to remove the gearbox again.

Eventually we got it all back together again (it was very late, rather early the next morning) and the interior wasn't back together (hence not road tested) but it was done.

8-Dec. We're planning to go up to Moe to do some work on some of Theo & Katrinas units, so while everyone got ready for that I finished with the seats and checked it all worked. Sigh of relief, it was all good.