Archive for May 5th, 2008

The Toy – Sucess At Last

It’s hard to even think about what is now behind me. The Toy is moving and I’m elated beyond belief!

None-the-less, it’s cathartic to review what led up to here and I wouldn’t want anyone out there thinking we just slapped the clutch back in and 5 seconds later all was well….

Let’s start with problem #1 – the clutch alignment tool that the catalog “highly recommended” I order to prevent costing myself more money later when I damaged the clutch did not fit….I repeat…It DID NOT fit. So at 8:38 p.m. (again with the 8:30 at night) Keith and I piled in the Jeep and ran to Advanced Auto Parts (which will soon just be garnishing my wages so I don’t have to worry about carrying my wallet). I purchased one that was smaller and hoped for the best. Add a little duct tape….and you get a working clutch alignment tool. Perfect. [remind me to lodge my complaint with victoria british]

Ok. So on goes the clutch which again, was easier said than done because the housing is heavy and the flywheel is WAY under the dash and so forth and there are disconnected knobs hanging all over. And while I’m short, I’m not tiny – as demonstrated in the picture of me contorting myself to clean the flywheel. And the garage is cramped. Not to mention I’m a weakling and I couldn’t hold the housing up at arm’s length to get it stabilized on the pins. [fortunately Keith could] With perserverence, we got that bad boy bolted down. Whew.

Next. Well next was the fun part right? This is where we have to face the reality that the transmission has to go back in. It’s just sitting there on the jack, with its newly installed clutch fork and shaft with happy grease fittings just waiting to make our lives hell. And of course we have no choice, because unless we put this back, the car is not going anywhere. Sigh…

Please note that while we are smiling in this picture, it’s only because we’ve just managed to get the transmission into the car. Not attached, just up and in. The smiling will stop shortly. Believe me, because here we face another flaw in the car’s design, the clutch lever sticks out too far to just drop the transmission in. The hole in the floor is perfectly sized for the housing, but you can’t just drop it in there because stuff gets in the way. Lots of stuff….lots and lots of stuff. See, the smiling has stopped and it’s early in the process.

I’ll not bore you with the painful details (including how I nearly lost my maglite to the bell housing…) of man-handling, wrestling and generally wailing on the transmission. The good news is, before it killed us we won. Oh sure, we were battered, bruised and covered in motor oil (and probably some other car stuff as well…not sure, the Toy just keeps oozing) but we had accomplished our mission.

From that point it was mostly just trying to get the car back together, which again, is no mean feat. Half the things are bolted thru something else which doesn’t make a lot of sense or won’t light up and after a while you get this serious desire to just drive the bolts through the holes with the lead mallet (which is supposed to be used to take the wheels off). And then suddenly you find yourself sitting on the floor pans, stretched out across the transmission cover holding epoxy and hoping you can get the gear shift knob to glue on and stay for a change.

I probably should detail the pain and suffering of installing the seats, but since I’m going to have to bring them back out again (barf) I will suffice to share that I put my foot through the transmission cover trying to get the passenger seat to slide on the rail and we are still missing one bolt out of the driver’s seat. Don’t ask….at least they are installed and are fairly sturdy.

So now it’s time to tempt fate. It’s time to take her off the jack stands. Theoretically this could be disastrous. Because who knows, she may decide to crumble in half after all of our hard work. She may decide to reject a front stand after we get the back ones out. In short, the Toy may still have a few tricks that she’s holding onto…But since I’m typing this, I’m clearly not dead or seriously maimed, which means she complied nicely and found herself back on solid ground.

And now it was truly time. Time to see if she would move of her on volition. She started up after a brief hesitation [probably need a new battery after all this time]. Shifted into reverse (which by the way…if you lift UP on the gearshift, and then sideways is a bunch easier than just wailing on it sideways….why did I not know this?) Held my breathe, pressed gently on the gas…..no grinding noise, no shuddering, no bucking, no stalling….She rolled out of the garage as if it was only yesterday that she’d been driven.

SUCCESS….at long last…..

We took a few moments of preventative maintenance – don’t want my brakes to fail or my tire to fall off during the send off. Off comes the center spinner hub for a quick check of the right front brakes and it was time to go for a joy ride. Not too far…just around the neighborhood a few times. A small child noted that “your car is very small.” He’s right, she is. But what she lacks in size, she sure makes up for in style (if I drive fast enough you can’t see the paint chips and dings!).

After the gas spewing incident, the tank was rather low, so Keith suggested that in order to avoid running the car out of gas which would seriously have marred this momentous occasion, we filler her up. So I stopped to grab my wallet, pointed her up the hill, and tested her out around a few curvy turns. I have to remember how to drive her, little different than my regular vehicle. How was it I spent less to fill up on the “good stuff” than I do to fill up my regular vehicle with the “cheap stuff”? Who knows. And at this point, I could have cared less!


Back home we played “what do we need to fix to pass inspection” which mostly involved poking at some of the wires until they were slightly more secure than they had been [just get me downhill to the inspection station and we’ll replace the fittings later!]. By the time Chad came home from a long day of golf, the Toy was just sitting out with the other vehicles and I was making a list of things to buy for some minor repairs. He was elated to see she’d moved out of the garage…..I think he was somewhat stunned when I told him we’d already gone for a joy ride up to the gas station. I suspect he’d harbored serious doubts that my car would ever move again and that he would have to one day stage an intervention and stop the madness.

And so, here’s where I give my Thank You speech……

  • First and foremost to my Dad, who for some reason bought the Toy instead of the MGB that fateful day in 1991. And who, despite his better judgment, decided to not sell her for something a little more reliable and lot less expensive, despite having her title in his name until I was 25!
  • To Chad, my very patient husband, who showed much good humor about my second car being a garage hog, a money hog and a time hog. Who kindly ignored the smell of fuel and oil and other car yuckiness seeping into our foyer. I told you I’d get her going!
  • To Keith & Bob who got me started on getting her started. Especially Keith who has logged WAY too many hours in my garage with my car and somehow still takes my phone calls.

chris on May 5th 2008 in Vehicles