Saturday, April 8, 2017

Sometimes you just have to finish the job!

I wouldn't want to have to pick out each individual piece of fruit.
Being a backyard Jaguar mechanic is hard enough! 

The engine support bar makes things easier and cuts down on clutter under the car.  Note the lengths of rubber hose on the ends of the threaded adjusting hooks. That will prevent closing the hood and making a nasty dent.

I'm still deep into the transmission replacement of the XJS, perhaps a more realistic description is that I'm still buried in the job. On this car access is very tight, and there are a lot of contortions that have to be made to reach and remove certain components.  Like ALL of them! It is a jello mold of a car, Imagine the engine and drivetrain as huge chunks of fruit cocktail and the rest of the car is Jello poured into the mold to fill up the remaining space.

Lying on my back I used a mirror to locate the bolts.
 It took this cheap old round head ratchet wrench to get enough clearance to actually turn the bolts.

Sometimes all it takes is an old length of pipe to add enough leverage.
This pipe has actually been around my family for over forty five years!

Certain jobs are somewhat maddening at first. Removing the torque converter to flex plate bolts for instance. Frustration could leave a lesser man near tears, but after awhile an answer makes itself known. Others jobs, removing the bell housing to engine block bolts is even worse. Tears may fall. (In your garage, no one can see you cry!) Ferrari may have said that he built his cars to go, not to stop. Sir William might have said that he built his cars to go together once, at the factory. Checking the forums, I found the advice to use a yard long extension on the socket and give it a go from on top of the lowered transmission! Yes, this does seem to work. I don't know how difficult it will be to reassemble it.

Jobs like this are very labor intensive. As in a lot of niggling little things. Having to get out from under the car to go to the tool chest to get a certain tool, picking the correct wrench from  a pile of them under the car. Just trying to read the size etched on the socket or wrench with the feeble illumination of a droplight and a dirty pair of reading glasses. At least I was smart enough to write the sizes in marker on tape wrapped on sockets and wrenches before hand. This has saved a lot of frustration. The socket fell off of my yard long wobbly extension and it bounced off somewhere. I couldn't find it. I must have looked all over for ten minutes, then I decided it was time to break for dinner. After dinner I found it mocking me, sitting under one of the car ramps. Smug little socket.

Those taped numbers make it much easier to select the proper size socket.
Those aluminum Spam cans come in handy.

At one point in my youth , I was hired as a mechanic's assistant at Coliseum Motors, a Kawasaki dealership in East Oakland. I learned two very important things while I was employed there. One, at that point in a job where your workspace is a cluttered mess of dirty tools and parts,usually about midway through the job, Stop, take a break, clean up the mess. (and yourself) Organize your tools, than continue on the job. Second, is to never take on the job of fixing a basket case. This is critical to a shop, because it will consume so many man hours, costing a lot in labor. The owner will likely balk at paying the bill and the results are likely to be unsatisfactory to all.

I took the time after removing the torque converter bolts to clean up my workspace. I moved the unused floor jacks away from the working area, cleaned and organized my tools, and even set up my radio cd player. Writing about these types of repairs is probably as boring as reading about them. So I don't see any reason to go into step by step detail.

The Harbor Freight transmission jack made the job really easy.
The only real problem was that the jack just doesn't drop down far enough.

Last night I actually got the transmission down. I found that I did have to use a yard long collection of extensions, both the wobbly type, and the usual rigid type. I found that while lying on my back I could reach around the bell housing and feel the top two bolts. I found that if I stick my head up in the area of the tailshaft and look forward I can see most of the top bolts. I actually fished one extension up blindly and found the upper left hand bolt with ease. The tranny jack did a fine job of lowering the transmission but it only drops to 8 inches so I will still have to jack the car up even higher to remove it from under the car.

The top three are the hardest bolts to access.
Those deep furrows make it a bit easier to locate the bolt heads.

I ended up stacking three two by fours on the on the lifting point of the floor jack to raise the car high enough for me to remove the transmission from under the car. Transferring the old transmission from the jack onto the floor wasn't too hard, but lifting the replacement onto the transmission jack was a bit of a problem. I paid the price with a sore aching back. I thought that it was good idea to tape the top four bell housing bolts in place before I lifted the trans back into position. It went back in much easier than it came out. These top four bolts are the hardest to reach. Taping them in place saved me the misery of trying to put the bolts into the holes blind.

The bolt head is hard to see but way up there at the top.

Something I found that makes this easier was just accepting the fact that the transmission to bell housing bolts have to be removed from under the car using long extensions on the socket. I wasted a lot of time resisting this idea, trying to find a way to access thee bolts from the top side. I found that once you drop the motor an inch or so you can reach the shifter cable much easier. I just unbolted it from the bracket and shift arm. I don't know why the Haynes manual tells you to pull the console! Also you can remove the filler tube bracket at the bell housing and then the filler tube. It just blocks your access to the cooler line fittings. It took me a long time to remove them when  was limited to just one eighth of a turn at a time.

Yeah, the ratchet is way back here!

I'm almost done, but I will admit that I didn't pull a marathon session to complete the job. I know it took me well over a month. It's not like I didn't have anything else to do. I ended up taking it easy some days, some days I didn't even look at the car! Other days I put in five or six hours. Since this is a hobby car it's not like I needed it to get to work. I also wasn't that motivated. I charged up the battery while I cleaned up the garage and put away the tools.

Last Saturday I finished up all the little things that always seem to take a long time to finish up. Last night I added the ATF and fired the beast up. The motor started up without any drama, I put it in gear and felt a very positive engagement. The first time I've felt this since I got the car. I backed it out into the driveway while the exhaust burned off the spilled oil in a hazy cloud. I reversed into the street and drove back and forth several times.  Success!  It does feel good to finish up the job and make a real improvement in your car.

What's next? Well the next issue is to get the smog check out of the way and finalize the title change. Am I concerned? Always. With all my old cars I always worry until I get that clean bill of health. After the smog test I can finally finish up the transfer of title and get my new license plates. The next big project will be to rebuild the front suspension system. Then I will deal with patching up the top and fixing the windows and other numerous little niggles. After the suspension is squared away it will be time to put the XJS into my driving rotation.

Now I can turn my attention to the XJ6 which will get the suspension attention first. I need the car up for my trip to Oregon this summer.

Yes, I am getting too old for this stuff. Luckily my latest venture was conducted in the privacy of my garage.

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