Tuesday, October 7, 2014

This End Up

When I first constructed the engine cradle, it wasn't really designed to be used a bunch of times.  I never thought that far ahead.  Today's post covers what happened when a hot and bothered shade-tree mechanic experiences a failure with a critical tool... after first losing his patience.  I got so caught up in solving the problems that I failed to take any pictures.  So sorry!

Engine Husbandry
A couple of years ago, I mated the transaxle to the engine under cover of the bus in my real estate agent's drive way (See Transaxle Transition).  I figured, "if I could do it in MS' drive way, I can certainly do it in mine."  Sure.  Like before, I removed the mating studs first.  Unlike before, I had the pilot bearing in the flywheel, so the mating was much harder.  With a small wheeled 2-ton jack holding the transaxle up, I was not able to maneuver the input shaft through the pressure-plate, clutch and flywheel.  Instead, I did what my old wrestling coach once described to me.  I put the transaxle on my belly/chest and heaved it on, twisting it until the splines of the clutch fit into the input shaft, and then slid it home.  I slid myself out from under the transaxle and slid the jack into my place to hold it together.  I don't want to do that again.  One more reason to cut a removal valence into the rear apron.

With the transaxle and engine mostly mated, I rotated the transaxle such that the stud holes lined up, and slid the bolts in.  At the time, I'd forgotten that the adapter plate had 3 settings: 0*, 15* and 50*.  I nutted the studs down, and rather than take my winnings and going home, I doubled down and tried to get the bell-housing mounts set before calling it a day.  The driver side is easier to get to, so I started there, and after 10 minutes of up/down with the jack, I was able to slide it through the hole, the mickey-mouse mounting ear and against the nut.  Then the trouble started.  I couldn't get it all the way through to the nut, nor could I get the other bolt started at all.  Jack up, jack down.  Shake engine.  Repeat.  30 minutes.  40 minutes Nothing worked.  On one of my attempts, the engine shifted on the cradle.  Instead of leaning over to the left, it was leaning over to the right, and partway off the cradle.  The cradle was also showing signs of weakness, with it separating in a few places.

Is It Bleeding?
At this point, I kind of freaked out, but it got worse.  I reached in through my home-made top-side engine hatch to pull on the driver side mounting bolt.  Rather than grab the bolt, my head hit the hinge.  Hard.  Sudden pain and blood ensued.  Instinctively, I slapped my hand against the gash.  Ordinarily, that would have been good; pressure on the wound and all that.  My hand, though, was wrapped in a grease/oil covered glove, so the cut now had oil and grease in it.  Fortunately, Boo was gardening near by, heard my curses and came over to see what was going on.  She snapped into nurse-mode, cleaning it out with various potions and butterfly taping the gash closed.  Once calmed back down, I went back out to survey the wreckage.  The engine was shifted clockwise by a couple hours, and from underneath, it was clear the transaxle wan't in-line with the centerline of the bus anymore.  I resolved to simply get the one bolt out and call it a day.  20 minutes later, the whole operation was sitting on the ATV jack and cradle, though woefully mis-aligned and partly rolled over.  I cracked a beer and left it for the night.

Getting the engine/transaxle upright was a series of "how about this?" ideas.  I had the cradle and jack somewhat square under the engine, but simply tugging on the engine didn't really budge it.  I tried nutting-down the nose of the transaxle, but that didn't work.  I placed a steel bar across the top of the engine hatch and used load-lock webbed hooks to attach the engine to the bar.  I then slowly lowered the jack.  The engine shifted.  I moved the jack, supporting it in its new orientation.  I used the other jack under the cooling fins on the right side of the transaxle to help it rotate.  I changed the ATV jack so it was perpendicular to the engine.  This proved to be most effective: leveraging the steel bar/hook and the secondary jack, I settled the engine onto the ATV jack.  Then, while pushing the base of the oil pan with my foot, I pushed down on the turbo.  The engine rotated while the ATV jack moved to the right.
After a series of similar moves, the mickey-mouse ears seemed aligned with the holes in the mount.

Engine, Meet Hatch Lid
Once the engine was upright, I slid under the bus and got the passenger-side bolt in.  Note for my future self: always start on this (passenger, right) side.  If the engine flops over again, better that it flop onto the turbo-side: you can put a jack there.  There's no good spot to set a jack on the right side.  After about 15 minutes, I had the bolts in, and tightened down.  Probably a personal record.  Once in, I thought the engine looked a little funny.  The intake felt high and the oil pan appeared to be pointed at the ground instead of slightly to the right.  My fears were confirmed when I set the engine hatch on top of the intake.  Drat.  now we know that the 0* adapter plate configuration would not have fit.

After all that, I wasn't going to start all over again.  Instead, I thought I'd try rotating the engine 15* by removing the transaxle mounting studs.  Since I'd already installed the starter, that had to come out first.  Then, I re-supported the engine with the cradle/ATV jack, set the steel bar with the hooks and removed the 4 studs.  I repeated the pushing on the oil pan, intake and turbo like I did before.  The engine shifted somewhat quickly into an almost-there position.  I had to do the final little bit while laying alongside the left side of the engine.  This was arguably pretty hazardous.  I slipped the lower left stud through the transaxle and pulled down on the turbo while wiggling the stud.  The engine needed to shift about 1/4", but it sure felt dicey.  Once the first one was in, I knew it was aligned, so I slid the upper left stud in and dashed around the right side and did the starter-stud and lower right studs.  Once nutted and torqued, I dropped the ATV jack, and re-set it with the cradle.

It was a crazy couple of days getting the transaxle and engine roughed back in.  I still had the transaxle nose-mount, CV joints, rear engine mount and all of the accessories to do.  I'll post on that later.  Fortunately, there was virtually no more drama after I got the central mount done.
Thanks for following along,

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