Thursday, July 28, 2016

Dangerous Dangling Drivetrain

The other day, after welding up Glinda’s exhaust system, I started the engine to check for leaks. I revved the engine and noticed it was moving significantly more than I was used to seeing. I slid back under the car and began investigating. What I found was concerning – one of the three bolts that holds the transmission to the cross-member had gone missing. I went to the bucket-of-bolts and found one that was the correct diameter and pitch (3/8-16UNC) and twisted it into the empty threaded hole. The bolt was longer than I’d hoped, and with the tight confines, took longer than I’d hoped to seat. As the head hit the cross-member I expected some torqueing resistance, but there wasn’t any – stripped out hole was my diagnosis. Not having the luxury of time to do the fix right then-and-there, I left the bolt in the hole, and said a prayer over the car.

I decided that yesterday evening I’d take on the challenge of removing the crossmember so I could access the supposedly stripped hole. With Glinda backed into the garage and her rear up on ramps, I raised her front and set her gently on jackstands. After disconnecting the clutch linkages, parking brake spring, shifter rod, and throttle rod, I unbolted the shift tube link and the left and right side struts and their associated brackets. This gave me unfettered access to the cross-member. Using the floor jack to support the front of the drivetrain, I spun off the two bolts holding the cross-member to the body and the two remaining bolts hold the cross-member to the transmission. I found that one of those bolts was loose in its hole. With the front of the trans fully in view, I took a close look at the state of the holes. It appeared the suspect hole already had a helicoil in it. This morning I searched my blog and discovered that, yes, I had put a helicoil in one of the transmission holes and it was, if memory serves, this hole.

Having used up my allotted garage time, I headed inside leaving the rest of the project to hopefully proceed this evening. I plan on putting a bolt in the helicoiled hole with a stack of washers and torqueing with the hopes of getting the prescribed 20-30 LBS FT. I’m also going to install helicoils in the other two holes as a precaution.

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