Wednesday, March 14, 2012

The Transmission Makes its Maiden Voyage

Well, I wish I could write that everything is perfect with Ringo, but as you’ll read in a bit, it’s not…yet.

I got home early yesterday afternoon, donned some grungies, and headed to the garage. The weather was beautiful so I had the garage door open. Sadly, that didn’t last long since the descending sun shone directly into my eyes as I crawled under Ringo to finish his drivetrain reinstallation. I had rummaged through a reject box at work and came up with an assortment of large diameter heat shrink tubing that would hopefully fit over the shifter cable flange and then shrink enough to seal over the leaky sheathing of the cable. Only the largest would fit, but fortunately it was a piece long enough. After slathering RTV at each end of the tubing, I applied the exhaust of my heat gun, but the tubing wouldn’t shrink down to the much smaller diameter of the sheathing. To try and make things leak resistant, I cut pieces of rubber tubing and used tiny hose clamps to close off each end. Next I removed the transmission oil pan and installed the shifter cable end into its receptacle in the Powerglide (PG). Everything looked good so I smeared a light coat of RTV sealer on one side of the pan gasket before placing it sealer side down on the pan’s flange. A light coat of grease was spread over the exposed face of the gasket followed by bolting the pan in place following the manual’s specified torquing. Wanting to let the sealer harden some before exposing it to fresh ATF, I moved on to reinstalling the filler/dipstick tube for the trans, speedometer cable end, axles, hot air hoses, and rear wheels. Then the fuel hose was re-clamped and the battery hooked up before lowering the rear down off the jackstands. After a dinner break, I poured in about a gallon of ATF, checking for leaks all the while and had Ariel turn the key to start the engine. Sadly, there was no response from the solenoid. I verified there was 12 volts at the purple wire when she turned the key, but still nothing at the starter. I hot-wired the purple wire directly to the battery’s positive and the engine sprang to life with no untoward noises emanating from the transmission. Again glancing under the car to check for leaks, I was greeted by the sight of dryness – YES! I had her snick the shifter to Drive and lo-and-behold the reassuring slight lunge of the car and drop in engine speed signaled that the PG had gone into gear. I then had her move the shifter back to Neutral and then to Reverse and all went according to the General’s plan. After running it for a while in both Drive and Reverse, I checked the fluid level and topped it off before sending Ariel and her car on their way for a drive around the neighborhood. She came back and reported that it seemed to stay in Low longer than she was used to. She never took it out on the main street since I hadn’t yet hooked up the ground wires, so the car was brake and taillight-less. I still needed to adjust the throttle linkage which directly impacts shift points and I added about a pint and a half of ATF, so I’m optimistic it will behave correctly the next time he’s on the road. The grungies were WAY too grungy to be placed on a seat, so that “next time” will have to wait a day or so.

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