After 17 months, we are a two car family again!
As those who know me are aware, I undertook the challenge of replacing the clutch on my 1996 Ford Explorer. At work, it became a bit of a joke, whether the co-worker who was building his own house would finish before I got the car running again.
A bit of history, first.
I had been having trouble with the clutch for a while, which manifested as being increasingly hard to get the car into gear. Imagine, if you will, having to slam the gearshift into gear, and you've got a pretty good idea. My dad and I kept attempting to bleed air out of the line, as the books we found indicated that a slipping clutch was an indication of a bald clutch, and that hard shifting was air. Finally, bleeding at home did not seem to provide relief, so the mechanic power flushed the system, and gave me about another week of driving time on it, with the admonishment that 'the clutch definitely needs attention'.
Within a week, I was unable to start the car in reverse, and struggled to shift. The weather was fair, I found a local supplier that had a clutch repair kit with a pilot bearing, pressure plate, clutch plate, and a replacement throwout bearing. Reading in my repair manual, they recommended replacing the slave cylinder as well,so I bought one of those as well. It being the mild part of fall/winter, I started out working on the driveway, crawling in and out on the concrete. Surprisingly, it wasn't long before I had all of the pieces off, to some extent or another. My one 'shortcut' that I took was to not detach the driveshafts from their axles, and instead leave it sitting on the rear engine cross bar mounting point, for the front driveshaft, and on the ground for the rear driveshaft.
To get to the clutch plate, I had to remove:
1. The transfer case skid plate
2. Detach the front and rear driveshafts from the transfer case
3. Remove the transfer case
4. Remove one of the exhaust pipe sections that wraps around the transmission
5. Detach the rear engine crossbar, and lower the transmission and engine, this left the engine attached in the engine compartment, and a little bit of a heartstopping moment as it looked like the engine would hit the fan.
6.Removed the starter motor
7.Disconnected the transmission and attempted to lower it gently onto the ground
At this point, I was just using a lot of sweat and swearing to get the parts off, as I thought it wouldn't be too hard. I removed the pressure plate, and the clutch plate, and, since it was recommended, also removed the flywheel for resurfacing. Napa not only resurfaced the flywheel, but also knocked out the old pilot bearing, so I was all set to start putting stuff back on. Seemed pretty easy!
As I started putting parts back on, I torqued everything down, and made sure that the pressure plate was tightened in quarter turns, in a star pattern, etc, which ensures that the springs inside are compressed evenly. I was a little surprised by how quickly the torque wrench hit the torque that I had set, but figured the difficulty in getting the bolts off was due to the lock-tight that was applied to them. Before trying to put the transmission back up, I changed out the slave cylinder. The transmission was raised in place by a combination of jacks, jackstands, paver bricks, and holding with various arm, leg and shoulders. Also interesting to get back up was the transfer case, as it has nicely rounded corners, and so was constantly falling or shifting. Plus, since the transfer case sits just in front of the fuel tank, it took some finagling to get it into place. Reattachment of the rest of the parts went pretty smoothly. Bleeding the clutch did invoke a brief incident, as I put the cup inside the passenger compartment, then crawled under to open the valve. As I crawled out, I caught the tubing with my hand, knocked the cup over, which dropped all of the brake fluid onto my face. I quickly closed my eyes, and sat up, taking the bottom edge of the door right on the forehead. I then walked as quickly as I could into the house, with both eyes tightly shut, until I could wash my face off. Sure enough, had a nice gash in the middle of my forehead.
But wait - you might be wondering why it took me a year and a half to get a working car...
Starting the car up in neutral, I found that once again, I couldn't shift into first. So, I turned the car off, put it into first, and started the car again. This time the car lurched forward, heading straight for the garage door, before I let go of the key. It was clear to me that I had done something wrong...