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 2. Every journey starts with a single step

…or in this case a 100km drive back from Mandurah

So after shaking hands with the reluctant seller Natasha, I then tackled the next rather pertinent problems…how was I going to get this thing from it’s garage in Mandurah to my home in Bunbury over 100km’s away. Additionally, where was I going to park it up while I slowly got it back to a condition where it could be drivable?

The solution to the first problem was a car trailer, something I had had no experience in using but I guess there’s a first time for everything right? Keeping in mind I had an immobile car with a flat tire and no brakes, I was able to source a trailer with a rather impressive winch hanging off the front of it, and through my growing list of Valiant contacts managed to rustle up a spare tire and wheel to change out the flat. A week later I was in the Commodore, stepdaughter riding shotgun and a trailer bringing up the rear, all set for bringing my baby home.

Getting it on the trailer was a breeze with the winch. I simply wrapped the end of the winch chain around the enormous K frame, from which you could have dragged the Queen Mary into dry dock. In the process I was nicely covered from the elbows down in 40 years of oil and dirt. That left the job of tying it down. I’d had nightmares for the last week of my (albeit rusty) pride and joy ending up on it’s roof somewhere down the highway after coming off the trailer. I placed old tires in front of the front wheels, then tied the car on by wrapping 3 tonne tie down straps around a front tire and tying it backwards, and a back tyre and tying it forwards on opposite sides. I’ve heard this is the best way to go about it as it allows the car to ride on it’s suspension. I left the winch hooked up tight to the K frame (despite the hire guy specifically telling me not to do that as it might harm the winch ratchet. Hell if that got damaged I’d buy him the $10 part, I wanted the extra tie down point), as well as tying a spiderweb of ropes aft from the diff housing and forward from the K frame. Whatever I did worked as it stayed on the trailer solid as a rock while the 6.0L V8 in my commodore warbled along all the way home like the trailer wasn’t even there.

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50 years of Aussie motoring

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Note the tie down strap around the rear wheel tied forward. The other side had the same deal on the front wheel, tied back. Worked a charm

First job at home base was cleaning a hole in the shed for the new acquisition to live, a quite challenging task which required the removal of several moving boxes filled with got knows what. Whatever it was had generally had 2 moves without being unpacked and so was deemed expendable, to the tip it went. The Val now had a cosy little space in my shed, with millimetres of breathing room fore and aft and barely a foot either side. Working on it was going to be tight, I steeled myself for the inevitable task of rolling her out every time I wanted to do one of the million tasks that would need tackling. I was going to have to get her running soon, or end up with legs like Arnie from pushing it in and out on a regular basis.

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The old girl in her new home. A tight fit!

It was time to get to work….