12 March, 2007

DAH-YAM! Spent the Entire Weekend Replacing a Clutch

(if you can name the component, you can sympathize with my hardship! by the way, that's how dry our interior of the bell housing was too, way to go toyota.)
sheeyat! my brother in-law: scotty, my father in-law: bob, my cycling complicitor and homeboy: kenny, and myself spent some quality time under a 2000 4runner this past weekend. here's what I learned: pay the extra whatever to have somebody else have the heartache...naw, it was actually okay. my head hurts from hitting sundry parts of the undercarriage and jack stand. my finger tips and knuckles are pinched and abraded. my hips hurt from the concrete garage floor. i got some sweet, homemade mousse hair-action from clutch fluid, oil, and undercarriage hubris accumulating on my receding hairline. i looked like an asian "spanky" from the subtely racist series our gang. apparently i don't do enough core muscle exercise because my abdomen hurts and my neck muscles hurt too from lifting my hyrdoencephalitic melon for 16+ hours, and we lost an hour of precious sleep due to congress being cheapskates, other than that it was a blast (not)!
kenny to the rescue! scotty and i were about to throw in the towel when the manual suggested we take off the exhaust system and to be ready to use a hacksaw just in case it corroded itself into oblivion. kenny suggested we take another angle in unbolting some pesky bell housing bolts without tackling the removing of the exhaust manifolds. thank-you kenny. oh he also lent us a slide hammer to excise a pilot bearing from the crankshaft. oh the joys of finding more challenges!!!also under his suggestion, we replaced the rear main seal gasket and gasket for the rear plate as well. oh yeah. that was a biggy.
the culprit: melissa my lovely wife and her clutch stompin', coasting ways. for reasons unbeknownst to logical driving practices, she has the habit of depressing the clutch on long, mountain descents or preparing to stop at stop signs (and keeping it depressed rather than placing it in neutral).
here's what we saw: a flywheel's surface area completely glazed with clutch material, a clutch wore almost to the wear groove, an okay pressure plate (that we replaced anyway), an okay throw-out bearing (that we replaced), an okay clutch fork, an okay pilot bearing (that we replaced), no leaks on the rear main seal (replaced that too), and a clean, interior of the bell housing (which incidentally has two bolts at the 1200 and 1:30 position that's a muthuh to get a hold of).
big props to...the previously mentioned homeboys, especially kenny who was creative and had a mad tool selection to pry out the pilot bearing, scotty for being so methodical and level headed and bob for having the third hand and tool selections from hell. we were so happy when the car started and we didn't hear a BANG in the bell housing...i think we goofed on some wiring harnesses in such a way that some of the dash lights don't come on when it's supposed to. i feel more of a sense of relief than accomplishment. i guess that'll come a week later, when we know that melissa hasn't broken down off of 93 or something. in fact, i better call later today to see if she made it to work.
the verdict: major learning curve here. the most mind numbing aspect was torquing the 100 or so bolts down (where on some you had to secure the nuts as well), and torquing them down up to 60 foot-pounds in the most whacked-out angle underneath a car. the next was labeling the wiring harnesses, the last was noticing the orientation of little things you remove can bite you in the butt during installation (i.e. washers go on the nut end of the bolt not the head end of the shaft, man, that sucked, the 4wd selector!). for people who've done this more than once this is probably a pittance, but for a newby participant in the clutch changing world, it was pretty damn technical. the whole installation of the transmission onto the engine block was like playing operation except the tweezers are a 500 pound transmission/transfer case and the organ was a fixed, super tight tolerance engine block. instead of the buzzing sound, you get a messed up pressure plate or a chewed up spline. the thought of being sloppy on an otherwise non-major component which later could potentially have catastrophic effects can drive one mentally ill.

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