Chapter 12: Rebuilding the trans

Another 2 months fly by without an update.

To be honest, again with uni being back for another semester and the responsibilities of dad-hood, I haven’t really achieved too much. Well, compared to someone who knew what they are doing and has a few hours to spare per week anyway.

But…I have achieved something, and that something is rebuilding the old 3 speed transmission. I’ll make this pretty brief, because in between writing epically long essays for uni and work reports, I’m sorta over typing.

The trans rebuild has probably been the most challenging thing I’ve attempted so far. The first issue was doing this in a cramped shed without a hoist. But I managed to get the car up on jack stands and squeeze under it, fiddle around with various extensions to get the bolts holding the tranny to the bellhousing out, source the biggest breaker bar I could to undo the crossmember bolts, and slide the whole shebang out on a trolley jack without breaking anything! And the first thing I can say is, what a bloody mess. As you can see, the entire tranny was caked in years of mud and leaked oil. The top cover gasket, as expected, was the main culprit and was leaking like a sieve. The parts washer at work soon sorted that out

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After one late night and some mushed knuckles, the grimy, ugly 3 speed is out

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Looking slightly more presentable after a few passes in the parts washer

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27 of August, 1965. 49 years old at the time of writing!

After finding a NOS rebuild kit on ebay for 170 bucks (pentastar were asking 400!), I decided to just give the whole thing a birthday with new seals and perishables throughout. It seemed a bit daunting, but after some googling and juggling my two shop manuals, I managed to get it done (whether it blows up in the first 100km is another story). The hardest deal was the c clips holding the various bits together. The snap ring pliers I had were pretty hopeless, and I definitely recommend sourcing some decent ones (like the double x’s) before attacking one yourself. The needle rollers were also a bit fiddly, but nowhere near as bad as I thought. The box seems nice and smooth, and is easy to shift, so hopefully it’s a good thing. If nothing else, after a coat of Chrysler red it looks nice!

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The nice internals belie the crusty exterior. It was actually in pretty nice shape

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Everything torn down and ready for rebuilding

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New bearings pressed on the input and mainshaft

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Freshly painted and ready for rebuilding (sorry for messing up the laundry honey)

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As good as new…i hope

That’s pretty much the extent of the progress. My CV boot for my drive shaft arrived so I tried to sort that out. According to my books and the internet, you can install one of these without disaasembling the uni joint. Bull shit you can. After 3 hours of pushing and prodding I had 2 sore and bleeding thumbs, and a boot with a tear in it jammed halfway through the housing. I bit the bullet and disassembled the thing, slipped on the boot in 2 seconds and put it back together. The main issue will be centralising the uni joint which apparently you need a jig to do, but with some careful measuring I’m hoping it’ll be good enough. My mechanical guru mate reckons a bit of glue on the split boot will sort it out, hope so.

I’m now putting in the prep work to pull the motor. I wasn’t going to bother originally, but seeing as the trans is already out, I figure I might as well. Plan is to clean off the 50 years of accumulated oil and mud from the old slant and engine bay. As well as pulling the dent currently in the sump and cleaning out any sludge sitting in the pan. A few new gaskets and a clutch refresh should get me on the road. It will also make a few of the jobs I need to do much easier if I can access the engine bay. Stuff like cleaning and painting the K member and engine bay, and replacing a few bushings in the steering and suspension.

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Chapter 6: The Brakes of Wrath.

Sorry for the hiatus in posts on the blog. It’s been a busy couple of weeks.

But in the meantime I’ve been getting stuck into the val, trying to knock off the various jobs to get her back on the road as well as doing a bunch of research into what other issues I should be looking for. I figured the best place to start after getting the motor running was to look at the brakes. Basically the car had none, a push on the pedal saw it go straight to the floor with no resistance, slight problem. The good thing is, like most other things on the old girl, the brakes are pretty simple, drums all round, powered by a single circuit master cylinder with no power assistance. Not much to go wrong (with the important note that if something does go wrong with a single circuit system…it REALLY will go wrong).

The master cylinder was the obvious place to begin. It didn’t take a brake guru to see that it was probably a big part of the problem. Firstly it contained no fluid, the seals were obviously old and perished after sitting there dry for decades, and externally the cast iron body was completely covered in rust. The paint on the firewall around the mount point was completely gone, replaced by a nice patina of rust, so this had obviously caused some issues over the years requiring constant top ups. Time to do it properly.

I wouldn't be relying on this to stop me

I wouldn’t be relying on this to stop me

A rather tired looking master cylinder

A rather tired looking master cylinder

Thankfully my trusty go to guys at Pentastar have a master cylinder reconditioning service, including a full resleeve, housing sandblasting and refinishing for 185 bucks. Cheap when you consider brakes are sorta important. Firstly though I had to get the bloody thing off the firewall, and although the mounting bolts undid easily enough with some wd 40 assistance, the brake lines were a different matter. The lines had basically rusted solid to the fittings, so turning the fitting turned the line with it. No amount of wd40 was helping here. A quick google revealed that the best way to attack this issue is to tap the fitting a few times to try and break the rust seal, then use the spanner to quickly rattle the fitting back and forth, loosening and tightening it a fraction of a turn. Worked a charm, with the brake lines breaking free with about half a minute of wiggling. I think I’ll get those lines replaced though, pretty cheap job and they are fairly badly pitted on the surface.

With the master cylinder sent off, the next job is to pull off the drums and have a look at the linings and slave cylinders. Unfortunately the work area in my shed is tiny, so that’ll have to wait for a sunny day when I can roll the old girl out in the yard to work on it. That’s not happening any time soon, the rain is unrelenting at the moment.

One job I could tackle in the shed was the dropping of the fuel tank to give it a good clean out. As mentioned in chapter 5, the snake cam had revealed a pretty ugly tank interior due to the old juice evaporating away and leaving a tarry sludge build up. It’s pretty difficult to get this out with the tank still in the car, so it’d have to come out. That’s a pretty simple job on the val, with the tank held in by a single J bolt and strap. Pull out the the filler neck and disconnect the fuel line and you’re done. It’s always a good idea to empty the tank first unless you want a fuel flood of biblical proportions to cover your shed floor. I tried to siphon the small amount left in mine out via the sender, but I assumed it was blocked solid as no amount of suction resulted in even a drop of fuel being removed. Thankfully there was only 5 litres tops in my tank, so that wasn’t going to cause too many problems. Despite looking pretty ugly, the J bolt and nut were loosened and removed easily to my surprise. It’s been pretty typical of the whole car really, with most of the fasteners offering little in the way of stiff resistance when hit with a spanner. The underside of the val looks pretty ugly, and looks completely brown with rust. But a closer look reveals it is covered with a black rubberised anticorrosive coating that has kept most of the rust at bay. It is covered in Northampton red mud which gives it a rust look, but the metal underneath is actually in pretty great shape. If that undercoating was an option at purchase I have to thank the foresight of the previous owners, I reckon it’s saved me a whole lot of grief and $. With the tank dropped a patch of body, untouched by undercoat was revealed and it looked like it had just come out of the factory. And this was directly underneath the spare wheel well, an area notorious for rusting in vals.

The spare wheel area under the car where the tank was removed

The spare wheel area under the car where the tank was removed

I sometimes look at this car and think I made a blue given that it needs a lot of work to many components. But then I see stuff like this and think myself lucky, there are guys out there restoring cars in far worse nick than this old girl.

One thing there is no denying however, is that the fuel tank is in pretty poor shape. Not only is it absolutely filled with fuel sludge and tar, the inside has a fair bit of surface rust, the sender is absolutely stuffed, and the exterior, while rust free due to the undercoat has copped some pretty severe knocks over the journey. There is no doubt that this is a farm car, the tank has seen a few bottom outs on washaways and the like over the years. The dings in the tank match the pretty decent one in the sump. The reason why I couldn’t siphon any fuel out was apparent very quickly on removing the sender, it was blocked solid for about 4 inches with crap. Again, this could possibly be the reason it was parked up so long ago, maybe it just stopped due to a fuel blockage.

Lets go swimming

Lets go swimming

Fuel Drained

Fuel Drained

So far I have drained out the old fuel, which was basically black, and let the tank dry. This enabled me to give the tank a few whacks with the palm of my hand to dislodge the tar buildup on the inside surfaces and remove the most of it. But I think I might have to look at getting it acid dipped at a radiator shop to clean it out properly, and then get a panelbeater to remove most of the dents. Even then I might need a sealer treatment inside, and once I add a new sender this is racking up the dollars on a pretty munted looking fuel tank. A decent second hand job might be a better call but the issue is finding one. Might have to do some wrecker ring arounds.

One completed stuffed and clogged fuel sender

One completed stuffed and clogged fuel sender

Tank after drying out and surface cleaning, still needs some work

Tank after drying out and surface cleaning, still needs some work

One of the more severe dents in the old tank

One of the more severe dents in the old tank

Another little job I have started is degreasing under the bonnet and the engine bay. It’s actually coming up pretty good as you can see in the pictures. Just some minor surface rust to take care of, the bulk of the original paint will be fine to remain hopefully.

Firewall and bonnet half cleaned. You can see the hole where the master cylinder came out of. The fenders are a good idea of what it was like before.

Firewall and bonnet half cleaned. You can see the hole where the master cylinder came out of. The fenders are a good idea of what it was like before.