Turbo 350 Transmission Project – Extraction

I spent a handful of nights in the garage over the last week, slowly but surely making progress on my transmission replacement.

The above off-kilter photo is the pan of the existing tranny.  You can see the fluid dripping off the pan bolts, one of the reasons I’m eager to replace this thing.  I started by dropping the pan and disconnecting the cooler lines to drain as much fluid as I could before I removed the entire tranny.  Miracle of miracles, I was able to get most of the fluid into the drain pan and very little on myself.  While I was under here, I also disconnected the vacuum line to the modulator, the shift linkage, the speedometer cable, and the kickdown switch.

Next, I unbolted the driveshaft from the rear axle.  Before I dropped it out of the way, I marked the u-joint so I can put it back in the same position.  I vaguely remember reading somewhere that putting the u-joint in a different orientation could result in a driveline vibration.  I’m not sure if that’s true or not, but better safe than sorry.

I slipped the front of the driveshaft out of the transmission and kicked it out of the way gently rolled it aside.

With that task accomplished, I moved back to the transmission and removed these two bolts, which separated the transmission mount from the crossmember:

I next spent about an hour trying to remove the two brackets that hold the crossmember to the frame, so that I could slide the crossmember back to give the tranny room to drop out of the car.  It took a while because of the location of the bolts in the frame and the condition of the brackets.  I’ll be replacing these:

The next step was to remove the three bolts that hold the torque converter to the flywheel.  However, because this is the direct connection between the engine and transmission, every time I tried to loosen a bolt, the engine would freewheel and the bolt wouldn’t turn – I needed a way to keep the engine from turning over.  I thought about trying to wedge a screwdriver into the flywheel somehow, but thought better of it.  I decided to call it a night and do a little more research.

A quick internet search revealed two suggestions: the seriously old-school method, which involves removing a spark plug and feeding rope into one of the engine cylinders.  When the engine turns over, the piston will bind on the rope without damage, allowing you to loosen the torque converter bolts.  I like leaning on tried-and-true techniques, but this seemed time consuming and a little too old-fashioned.  Instead, I took the second suggestion: putting a socket and long breaker bar on the crankshaft bolt and wedging it against the frame.  Using this method, I was able to easily remove the three bolts, leaving just the six bellhousing bolts that fasten the tranny to the engine block.  The bottom four we relatively easy (once I got the dipstick and ground strap out the way), but the top two were right at the top edge of the engine and a bit of a reach from under the car.  Of course, it didn’t help that  in my late-night delirium I nearly herniated myself trying to loosen one of them by turning it to the right.  As they say, lefty-loosey, righty-tighty.  I persevered, and now the only thing holding the transmission in the car was friction on the locating pins that are pressed into the engine block.

I slipped a floor jack under the transmission, slid the crossmember as far back as I could, and wriggled the tranny around until it cleared the floorpan and the exhaust.  It was at this point that I discovered, despite my best efforts, that there was still a fair bit of fluid in the transmission, and it was pouring fluid all over the floor from several orifices.  Good thing I keep a thick piece of cardboard on the floor.  The next struggle was trying to get the transmission out from under the car.  Of course, even though the car is up as high as I can get it, there wasn’t room for the transmission to clear the exhaust or the frame while on the jack.  I gingerly pushed it off the jack and dragged it out on the floor.  Success!

Completely spent (and with a sleeve-like coating of grease and grime on my forearms that required fifteen minutes of scrubbing to remove), I went to bed.  Up next, I need to order some parts, and then start figuring out how to get the new transmission in the car against the pull of gravity.

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