Thursday, December 26, 2013

Some 'Splainin'

An oldie, but a goodie
Indeed, the rebuild has begun. The case has been mostly emptied, and soon it will be time to start the tedious process of taking apart, cleaning, and putting back together every section you see out on the table down below. After my glorious Festivus victory at Ye Olde Battle of Torque Converter, everything came out pretty much like the book said it would, so that was a relief. Some things were reluctant to move, since bolt threads can get pretty set in their ways after a few decades, but a little WD-40, as usual, provided the necessary persuasion.
this is a weird, bird's eye, wide-angle shot, but you get the idea.

This is the first time the transmission has been opened up since it failed, and I’m pleased to be able to provide a definitive diagnosis, as follows, for all the symptoms that have been observed, both by Worth and myself. 

The transmission started out its failure with a screeching sound when in operation, which turned out to be its death throes. It then failed entirely, and did not respond at all when the shifter was moved into gear – it was like the transmission and wheels were unaware of the presence of the running engine.

Oddly enough, I had a dream, before I even got the transmission out, that the problem was in the torque converter, and that a new one would cost $91. Why? Who knows. But, strange to tell, that’s almost exactly what a replacement will cost, and even if I hadn’t chosen to cut it apart, it would have needed replacement anyway. Alert readers will remember my long struggle to remove the converter, which was royally stuck in place. The root issue was as described by a user in yet another forum I visited…

“…it looks like they overheated the Torque Converter. What happened then is that the fluid in the converter became really hot and caused the inner pump gear to grow and seize. The converter hub is either distorted and wrapped around the step on the ground sleeve and/or is distorted enough that it won't pull out through the bushing. It will take 2000-4000 lbs to pull it out. You'll need a really solid bar and some jack screws. The pump, torque converter, and most likely the ground sleeve are ruined.”

Once I got the torque converter and pump out, I could see that the hub on the end of the torque converter that connects to the pump just behind it, had indeed warped. It got deformed so badly that two large pieces broke off of it (photo 1 below), and the rest curled back and hooked around the bushing (photo 2 below), making the torque converter impossible to remove. 

that piece of metal in my hand, and another like it, used to help drive the pump, and likely snapped off when the pump gear overheated and seized.

slightly below center, the warped and jagged thing around the shaft
The torque converter could still spin freely with the engine, but the pump - the transmission’s heart - was now not being turned. This means that there was no fluid pressure or circulation, which I observed in another entry a while back. When these things are lacking, then you are having a bad problem and you will not go to space today.

Symptoms: screeching, then an eerie silence and immobility.

Diagnosis: no transmission fluid pressure, due to a terminal overheating failure of the pump gear and converter hub, which in turn was likely due to a fluid leak.

Treatment: new torque converter and pump, as part of a complete rebuild.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

The Obligatory Christmas Post

On the twelfth day of Christmas, the Eagle gave to me:

12 pushrods pushing...

11 tiny rust spots...

10-inch wide rims (well, almost)...

9 starter gear teeth...

8 steel clutch plates...

7 ignition wires...

6 pistons pumping...


Four-wheel drive...

Three ash trays...

Two different keys...

And a sketchy OEM bumper jack.

Monday, December 23, 2013

It's a Festivus miracle!

So I procured an angle grinder and some metal cut-off wheels and went at it with all I had. There we were... me and the transmission... locked in mortal combat. The air filled with millions of sparks, which - fun fact - are actually little white-hot bits of metal, and when they land all over your arms because you're wearing short sleeves in December (because Arizona), you end up with countless tiny burns all over. So now you know.

That Swedish guy found that his torque converter was stuck because of some bearing or something down in the center of it. I finally got into the middle of it, aaaaanddddd.... still stuck:

Advantage: transmission. So whatever was stuck was way in the back. 

It was getting dark, so I had to put down my weapon for the weekend. But with renewed strength, I courageously returned to the field of battle today after work, and finally, what should have been the easiest part of this project was done.

As Rigby would say, check out THIS!

Yeah, there's a little square of steel around the input shaft still, but that appears to be part of something that goes back into the pump, so it shouldn't be a problem at this point, since the pump needs to come out and be replaced also.

Off to the side, the dragon lay slain in pieces on yonder back patio, forsooth. The deed is done, and the peasant village is saved.

That dusty sludge is transmission fluid dragon's blood mixed with steel dust and probably disintegrated bits of several cutting wheels. Tomorrow, the rebuild starts.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Man vs. Machine

There’s an old saying that goes, “when all you have is a power drill, everything looks like a torque converter.”

No, that’s not quite right… is it? Oh well, close enough. The sparseness of recent updates is due to one thing. When I got the transmission out of the Eagle, I was expecting to have to be extra careful with the torque converter, to make sure it didn’t accidentally slide off of the input shaft and hit something, like a vital organ or foot or whatever. This is a common enough concern in “the biz” that some wholesale parts suppliers actually sell little metal brackets to hold the thing in place while the transmission is being removed.

Source: Full disclosure: I currently work for these people.

It was ironic, therefore, when I went to remove said torque converter, and it came out about 1 cm before saying “clunk” and stopping. It was stuck. I pulled harder. Stuck. I rotated and tugged and wiggled it, but no dice. Tried to pry it out with a crowbar. Didn’t budge. Took a cue from an online forum and brought over a large friend with a second crowbar. Nothing. The same large friend put a strap behind the converter and pulled hard enough to lift the 115-lb transmission into the air several times. Haha, nope!

At this point I got a little desperate. Maybe I’ll just drill the thing to pieces to remove it. I was planning on replacing the 30-year-old non-repairable part anyway. So I got out my drill and biggest drill bit, picked a spot, and went for it. It took a long time to get through what appears to be about ¼” of solid steel. So long, in fact, that I abandoned this line of attack and tried to drill some holes right near the input shaft, to see if I could unstick what was stuck. Long story short, I blunted several drill bits, got iron filings everywhere, and ruined 2 chisels in the process, and the torque converter still won. The transmission’s been out for almost three weeks, and all I’ve done is clean it.

Just... pathetic, really.
Defeated, I went back to the forums. After a diligent search, I literally found some Swedish guy whose stuck torque converter experience matched mine to a T, right down to the amount of movement that it had on the shaft. His solution was not fundamentally different from mine, but was far better executed. He cut the torque converter to pieces with an angle grinder, and even had pictures showing the (successful) process.

I’m pretty sure that stuff like this was what we were all so excited about in the 90’s with this new internet thing (remember the “Do you… Yahoo?” commercial where the old fisherman uses the internet to find a better fishing bait?). I took a short break from taking the “information superhighway” for granted, that day. Also, it’s a good thing Scandinavians learn English.

New post to come, once I’ve secured an angle grinder.

Saturday, December 7, 2013