Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Refitting is the reverse of removal

Aye, right.

Easter is come and gone, and I'm told that the weather was gorgeous. I missed it because I spent the whole time in a pit in the garage underneath JulieD.*

Yes, this weekend's entertainment has been the fitting of a new clutch. You'd think this would be a relatively simple operation - it's half a page in the workshop manual. OK. you're meant to use a couple of special tools, unavailable since the early seventies, but improvisation usually works.

Oh how wrong you can be.

First off, remove the gearbox. Simple really, just undo those two bolts and... Ah. In order to get to those two bolts, first you have to remove the carburettors, which means undoing the fuel line. Cue petrol all over the place. Wonderful.

But I'm nothing if not persistent. Bloody-minded some might say. So carburettors and other in-the-way ancillaries removed, I proceed to the two bolts. An hour, much swearing and the blooding of three knuckles later, they are removed. So push the gearbox back and drop it out onto the waiting jack (it's a heavy old thing).

Only I can't. There's brake lines in the way. These were renewed some while ago by a garage I no longer speak to. They were responsible for the paint job too, and anyone who's seen JulieD up close will know just what a bunch of cowboys that makes them. Leather chaps and riding off into the sunset they were, Palomino ponies and ten gallon hats. Bunch of bastards, the lot of them. And they put the brake lines in the wrong place.

So more swearing; more hours getting grease and tiny, itchy particles of rust in my hair, nose and eyes; more bloody knuckles. But finally, the gearbox, she is out. Hooh bloody ray.

Compared to all that palava, the removal of the old clutch (very much knackered - worn down to the rivets if you know about these things) was relatively straightforward. Except that the last time it was done, some long-forgotten mechanic broke off one attaching bolt in the flywheel, of which more later.

Even getting the gearbox back on was almost a breeze. I had to hit it a couple of times, and threaten it with the scrapheap, but eventually it slid home with a satisfying clunk. Then there was just the small matter of putting back all the things I'd had to remove - things, I hasten to add, not mentioned at all in the half page (with murky, indecipherable black and white photos) of instructions in the workshop manual.

But eventually it was all done, and I'd checked there were no spare nuts and bolts lying around, suggesting I'd forgotten something really important. So start her up and into reverse...

Graunch. Not good.

Back under the car, adjust the clutch cable, try again.

Graunch. Really not good. Clutch is not engaging at all. Scratch head. Think. Mutter rude words under my breath.

Back under the car again. Remove clutch inspection cover. Peer at it for a while.

Aha! Due to the missing bolt, and the tiny size difference between the old clutch (made by Sachs and Fichtel) and the new one (also made by Sachs and Fichtel), the adjustment figure given in the manual is completely wrong.


So pretty much all of yesterday was spent, trial and error wise, adjusting the clutch driven plate clearance - or something like that. A couple of turns at a time. Reconnect cable, adjust for correct slack, climb out of pit, start engine, engage gear, graunch, stop engine, clamber back down into the pit and start again. Oh joy. I could probably have removed the gearbox, taken out the clutch completely and hazarded a guess at the right clearance adjustment, but the thought of going through all the motions of that little game again made me weak at the knees. Chances are I'll have to do it sometime, but not if I can try something else first. So I tried, and tried. All afternoon.

There was one point where I thought I'd got it just right. But when I lifted my foot off the clutch pedal, all ready to reverse out of the garage, nothing happened at all. Oops, too far.

Late last night, I finally reckoned I'd got it right. The gears still graunch a little, but they always did that, and until I get a new bolt to replace the broken one, I'm not likely to get it set up right however much I try. Typically, this isn't a normal bolt, oh no. Not your bog-standard metric or UNF thread, easily purchased at any good motor factors, or indeed hardware store, even in Aberystwyth. Not one of the thousands of shiny new stainless steel bolts I have all mixed up hugger-mugger in a big box in my garage.** No, this is a metric fine thread, which means I have to go to a specialist to find one. I know a specialist, but he's in Swansea, which is somewhat inconvenient.

But I digress. I'd finally got the thing set up to a point where it would at least work for the time being. This meant that I could get the car out of the workshop and back into my own garage. Since the workshop is part of the research farm here, I was using it over the bank holiday weekend so as not to be in the way when it was needed during the week.

One final time then. Get in, start up, engage reverse. A bit of a graunch, but then it slotted home and didn't move backwards. Lift the clutch pedal, bite, motion. Hooray. Switch off and clamber once more underneath to tighten everything up and tidy away the tools.

Hang on. What's all this petrol doing pouring down the side of the engine and onto the floor?

Bugger, bugger, bugger, BUGGER!

The fuel line had split. For no other reason than to spite me. OK, so it's probably the same one fitted to the car in 1967 and probably should have been replaced a while ago. But why split now? When I've been fighting this thing for three whole days?

I suppose I should look at the bright side. The fuel line might have split whilst I was barrelling up the M6 at seventy miles an hour, caught fire and destroyed the car.

Mind you, at least then I wouldn't have to worry about adjusting the bloody clutch.

*stop tittering.
** they came like that when I bought them, and life's too short to sit around sorting M6, M8, M10 and M12 bolts of different lengths, washers, lock washers, nuts and other assorted fixings into individual boxes. At least it is for me. Guddling around in the morass gives me a sense of hope that I might possibly find what I'm looking for, too.

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Blogger Stuart MacBride said...

Maybe this is a result of eating too many dried liquorish tadpoles.

Drinking slightly too much beer should sort you out though.

April 10, 2007 2:31 pm  
Blogger Trace said...

My eyes veiled over pretty quickly during this blog entry. I am SO not a mechanic type person! LOL! I may have to take some kind of course though, just to get SOME kind of a clue.

April 11, 2007 2:59 pm  
Blogger JamesO said...

But you drive a Jeep, Trace. They're just big meccano kits, easy to take apart and tinker with. Just ask Stuart;}#

Actually, I kind of glazed over writing the thing.

April 11, 2007 4:46 pm  

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