Sunday, October 6, 2013

Transfer Case Update

Delving a little deeper now into the Eagle’s drivetrain woes…

The false neutral thing (unsurprisingly) did not turn out to be the problem, at least not the main problem. When I got underneath the car and found the lever that changes the transfer case from 2-wheel drive to 4-wheel drive, you may remember that I had hoped to find it accidentally between the two settings, necessitating only a turn to one direction or the other to restore wheel movement.

Not only was this not the case, but the lever refused to move out of whatever position it is in. I pushed, pulled, pounded, and otherwise tried to force that lever to move until I had busted three knuckles and exhausted all hope. This leads me to suspect that there are big problems not only in the transmission, as I previously knew, but also in the transfer case. So the time has come to remove both of them.

For a car, this is like removing its liver and a kidney. We’re talking major surgery. I’ll most likely take the transfer case to a transmission shop and say, “Give it to me straight, doc.” If they say it needs to be replaced, I have some potential sources for that. This will also be the easier of the two to remove. To get it out, you have to remove the skid plate (already out), drive shafts (already out), speedometer cable (also out), the vacuum actuator (which switches it between 2WD and 4WD, partially out), and then it should unbolt from the transmission and be able to be lowered out.
After I took off the skid plate I took a picture to show the proliferation of greasy mud that comes from off-roading a leaking car. That cable near the top with the one clean spot is the speedometer cable. Behind it is the front drive shaft, and below that you can see at least an inch of mud covering the horizontal brace and transmission mount. Those yellow and green things are vacuum lines.

Here is the transfer case now with both shafts and the speedo gear removed. It was secured above a brake line out of the frame, but the cable still made it into the top of the photo.
Then comes the transmission. That process will involve draining the fluid and then removing the following: dipstick and tube, starter motor, most of the exhaust system, the throttle and gearshift linkages, and a few other assorted items before it can be unbolted from the engine block. Once it’s out, the plan is still to undertake a rebuild myself, notwithstanding the laughs I often get when I tell people this. It will take longer, but at 1/8 the price of having someone else do it, the appeal of going that route is undeniable.


  1. You'll get plenty of laughs until you tell an Eagle enthusiast that you're planning on rebuilding it. They'll just smile and say "Well yeah, why WOULDN'T you rebuild it yourself? It's the easiest thing in the world!" That was my experience, anyway.

    Oh, and I'll bet $5 you'll get to skip the whole "drain the transmission fluid" step...

  2. You mean because it will have all leaked out already? There's actually quite a bit more still in there than I thought. It only needed about 8 oz. to get up to the full line on the dipstick. I also forgot to mention in the post that when I took the speedo gear out of the transfer case, it turned out that that was not quite as bone dry as your mechanic had led you to believe. It was a good thing I had a drain pan about 2 feet away.
    So, moral of the story - my feeling is that there be fluids in them thar gears. I'll have a definitive answer by the next post.