Tuesday, February 1, 2011

With the giant relief of safely pulling the engine out of my car behind me, I went back to the garage the following week to “finish” the job. After the engine pull and covering most of my mess with cat liter,I admit that I left the garage in little bit of turmoil.

The engine was still half hanging/half resting on some blocks off the ground with the transmission sitting not too far away surrounded by fluid, cat litter, and chunks of grease.

The first thing I had to do was to pull the torque converter off of the back of the engine. This is the part of taking apart cars that I hate. In mechanic speak; it was a bitch to take off. Lot’s of swearing, and scraped hands took place for the next 2 hours. Oh yeah, I said it. Six bolts took me 2 hours.

The bolt heads that connected the torque converter to the “cam shaft plate?” were extremely hard to get out for a number of reasons. The main reason it took so long (other than figuring out how I was going to attempt it) was that the access to these bolts was in a narrow gap between the flywheel back of the converter and the dust plate that butts up to the back of the engine.

The only thing that would fit in this gap was a wrench. This takes forever, especially in this case because of the limited arc range I had. You have to turn the bolt a couple of inches, take it off the bolt, rotate the wrench back and turn again. Another reason was that these bolts were tightened so tight, using the small wrench, gave me no leverage to loosen the bolts. My beloved torque wrench had to sit and watch me use every, and I mean every, ounce of strength I had. The final problem was that the torque converter, essentially being connected directly to the camshaft, had nothing to stop it from turning in the direction I WAS PULLING TO LOOSEN THE BOLTS. I liken this to the same problem people have when they try to change a tire. They usually jack the tire up before loosening the bolts. With the wheel free spinning and not having the ground to hold it in place, they just keep turning the wheel. This deflated me for 20 minutes or more as I fought a losing battle of trying to hold the converter still as I tried to wrench the bolts loose. No matter how hard I pushed the converter forward as I pulled backwards on the wrench, my pushing arm, with not really any place to put a good grip, was no match for my pulling arm.

I scratched my head and circled the engine a few times trying to decide on whether to give up. My brain finally turned on and I remembered that the torque converter is connected to the camshaft, which on the other side of the engine is connected to the damper unit. One more look at the damper unit and “Yes!” there was a big nut on the end. With a nut, comes a place to connect another wrench, giving me something to hold on to, creating more leverage. Unfortunately, with it being on the other side of the engine, meant I would not be able to hold one end and pull on the other. My wingspan is nowhere near long enough. Oh well, I may have been defeated, but at least there was a way to easily remove the torque converter with another person. But that meant I would not be able to put the engine on a stand, my soul purpose for the day. I picked up my torque wrench to start packing up, but my never-lose attitude took over, which a little ingenuity too, if I may say so myself. With the engine being straddled by the two long legs of the engine hoist, my torque wrench was just long enough to hang onto the damper nut, and reach under one of the legs. If I could somehow defeat gravity and keep the torque wrench on the nut without having to hold it, then I could focus all of my strength on loosening the converters bolts. It took a few attempts, but I was able to get the wrench to hold on as I slowly turned the bolts (and converter with them) until the torque wrench on the other side had enough tension holding it in place as it’s arm was being pulled against the under side of the engine hoist leg. Imagine a clock with its hands moving clockwise. As the second hand passes the 10 and heads for the 12, point and stick your finger on the 11. As the second hand pushes against your fingertip, it will stop. Now imagine you are on the other side of the turning bar that turns the clock hands. Eventually you will be able to keep going clockwise,while the other side is being held tight.

With an agonizing slowness and a couple muscle jerks, I was able to finally wrench a bolt free. I literally shouted, “That’s right asshole!! Huunnhhh!!!” The next 5 bolts never got any easier, but eventually I was successful.

With 2 hours of my day gone, it was finally time to hoist the engine high enough to connect the engine to the stand. I’d seen it done a million times and was halfway from putting the back plate on the engine that would slide into the stand, when I realized I didn’t have any bolts long enough to reach the engine through the plates

holding arms. I couldn’t believe it. I looked at every bolt I had and none of them would work. Normally, you use the same bolts that connected the transmission or bell housing to the engine. I had 2 that would work, but I needed two more. Unbelievable. Again it seemed as if someone was telling me not to put it on the stand. Should I just call it a day, take my torque converter victory and go home? I started to think of what I needed to do to the car. With doubts about it being too big of a project, too much money, what color to even paint the car, not enough time in the day, etc… running through my mind (kind of like a mid life crisis if you will, something that since than happens a lot haha) I decided “you know what? Who cares if the day is almost over? You’re not going to get it back, and you’re going to run out of days to get this done. DON”T BE LAZY.” So I locked up the shop (more on that later) got in my car and drove to the nearest hardware store (Lowes 20 min away) and bought 2 bolts to complete the task. I drove back to the shop, unlocked everything and finally put the damn engine on it’s stand and wheeled it into it’s own space in the garage.

With the engine out of the way, I was able to move the hoist and transmission into their own spaces, leaving the drying mess of fluid and cat litter wide open to clean up. I cleaned that space better than room I ever had when I was a kid. I broomed and dusted every little drop and spec I could, making it look better than it did before. I pushed my car into a little corner giving the shop more space, so the owners saw that I was a responsible person and wouldn’t always leave the place a mess. Hopefully this will give me leeway when I started taking apart the interior and need the space to spread everything around.

With the place looking in order, I packed up and left. To finish from earlier, the shop or garage, can be locked down like Fort Knox. It’s not in the greatest neighborhood, so there are lots of steps to take to make sure I’m safe, especially since I’m normally the only one there. First, when I drive up, there is a gate to a side driveway that leads down to the shop part of the building with its garage doors. You have to get out of the car, unlock the gate, swing open the gate, get back in the car and roll down to the shop (30ft). Then you have to walk up the slope, close the gates and lock them up. The only access inside the actual building is from the front door. Just incase there are thieves reading this, I might have said too much already, but let’s just say there are 3 more locks and 4 doors to get to the shop before you can open the hanger doors. It’s like walking into a Get Smart safe room without the lasers and eye scanners.

Whew, that was a long one.

1 comment:

  1. Keep up the great work, buddy! Can't wait to see the finished product.