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.

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