My God, has it really been four months since I posted anything about the Tempest? Yikes. Well, having finally purchased a new daily driver, sold the Caddy, and survived a newborn and my wife’s sister’s wedding, I made time to get back under the old car and get the transmission project restarted. A little help from my father-in-law made me realize that, for whatever reason, the new transmission wasn’t going to clear the exhaust, even though it is dimensionally identical to the old one. Apparently gravity was enough of an aid in getting the old one out, because the only way the new one was going to squeeze between the exhaust pipes was if I was somehow able to levitate it in place and turn it on a 45 degree angle. I resigned myself to the fact that the exhaust was going to have to go. I soaked the manifold bolts in penetrating oil for a few days before realizing they weren’t going to come out without a torch and more finesse than I was willing or able to apply. So I bit the bullet and cut the pipes off with a cutoff wheel as far back as I could. Once the tranny is installed, I’ll cobble the exhaust back together enough to make the car drivable and then get a new exhaust installed in the Spring.
Meanwhile, with the exhaust out of the way, I was easily able to get the tranny mated up with the engine all by myself. I quickly hand-threaded the bellhousing bolts in enough to secure it and got the crossmember lined up at the back of the transmission. Two problems immediately became apparent – one, the crossmember sits too far forward to allow me to remove the oil pan, so I’ll have to do that with the tranny supported by the jack, not too big of a deal. Second, however, I discovered that my original crossmember had shrunk by about two inches when I removed it (in other words, the ends had rusted off), and I can’t stretch it to fit into the new rubber cushions and mounts that I bought way back in the winter. So I’m off this evening to look at a used part that came off of somebody’s parts car, and hopefully that will get me back on track.
With that squared away, all I have left to do is replace the tranny filter and gasket, mount the new crossmember, fix a broken ground strap, bolt the flywheel to the torque converter, hook up the shift linkage and speedometer cable, reroute the vacuum line for the modulator valve, modify the throttle linkage for the kickdown cable, hook up the driveshaft and the exhaust, change the engine oil, and fill the transmission. No sweat, right? At this rate, I’ll have it together just in time for Thanksgiving.