Maximum Distress, Part 2

Things did not go as planned last weekend with the clutch replacement. By now, we had hoped to be able to take the driveshafts to a shop to have them reconditioned and to take the flywheel to a machine shop to have it resurfaced. Neither of these things has happened. We were unable to disconnect the driver’s side driveshaft from the transmission, which was proving much more difficult than expected. Getting to the flywheel would be easier; we just ran out of steam.

Yesterday Michael and I tried to pry the driveshaft out of the transmission without success. Last weekend we tried to do this when the transmission was still on the car using a slide hammer but had no luck. Doing this with the transmission off the car adds somewhat to the degree of difficulty because it’s hard to keep it from moving.

So our first task today was to remove the clutch assembly from the car. The friction disk looks okay. Compared to the new part, the old one appears to have about half its life left. The flywheel also looks to be in good shape. In fact, it’s good enough that we don’t see the need to have it machined. Both these observations fit with my self-assessment that I’m kind to the equipment.

Friction disk

The pressure plate is another matter. The plate itself is okay. It’s just that it was tearing itself apart in an apparent effort to divorce itself from its neighbors.

One bolt hole was completely off, two more were seriously cracked

I will probably never know exactly what happened as a result of the spin. Perhaps this part was already failing. I do know that I didn’t have any abnormal noises before the spin, but did hear something I didn’t like when driving the car around the paddock afterwards. The noise was gone by the time I got on the highway. I’m pretty sure that noise was the debris inside the bell housing.

Inside of the bell housing scored by debris

The diaphragm spring has also seen better days. Looks like the throwout bearing was grinding it away. The throwout bearing is why we embarked on this repair. It’s visually intact but when you spin it, it makes an obvious noise. I hate to think of how this would have turned out if that little sucker wasn’t crying out to be replaced.

Diaphragm spring wear

We finally did manage to get the driveshaft out of the transmission. We oriented it so the bell housing was on the floor (well, on boards actually) with the driveshaft pointing up. Both Michael and I had to stand on it to keep it from moving while Daniel went at it with a big pry bar. Our first few attempts fell short, but we finally overcame friction and got it removed. High fives all around and break out the beer.

We still need to use a press to get the driveshafts disassembled to the point where we can take them to get reconditioned. Michael has that lined up for later in the week. We’re finally nearly almost close to half way done.

Maximum Distress, Part 1

I’m a big King Crimson fan. On one of their live albums they have a track called “The Law of Maximum Distress”. I learned this week that that is Robert Fripp’s name for Murphy’s Law. I don’t want to exaggerate. It’s not like Murphy’s Law is a constant companion for me. But Murphy does show up fairly regularly. By titling this post “Maximum Distress” I’m not suggesting that everything is going wrong.

Distress is defined as “anxiety, sorrow, or pain” or “to give simulated marks of age or wear.” In psychology it is “unpleasant feelings or emotions that impact your level of functioning.”

So why am I talking about Murphy’s Law and anxiety or marks of age or wear? Well, this weekend we embarked on a program of winter maintenance for the Elise. Perhaps “embarked on” isn’t exactly true. She’s been parked for a few months now. When last we discussed the car, we had replaced two of the motor mounts. Timing is everything: when test driving the car, we couldn’t help but notice that the clutch’s throwout bearing was making noise. If we’d have noticed this before our work we’d have combined the jobs and saved some effort.

In any event, it’s time to do some major work on the car. It’s not just replacing the clutch. In addition, we’ll take the passenger side driveshaft to a local specialty shop for refurbishment (the CV joint boot is weeping), we’ll replace the two remaining motor mounts, and we’ll replace all the wheel studs. For good measure, when we reassemble the rear suspension we’ll take the preventive action of replacing the hub carrier bolts.

The reader may recall that the motor mount broke when I spun the car at my last track day. I was running on slicks and made a slight error that resulted in the most violent spin I’ve ever encountered. Actually, it’s the only time I’ve spun the car except when I had a mechanical failure. That’s happened twice, both times a sheared hub carrier bolt.

I don’t know one way or another whether this spin caused any of the other damage we’re addressing, or whether it’s just wear and tear. I’d say “normal wear and tear”, but because I’ve done on the order of forty track days (and the previous owner did quite a bit of autocross) I don’t think it falls under the “normal” category. And although I’ve only run slicks a few times, running on slicks radically increases the forces on the car.

And so it begins…

The original plan was to take a day one weekend to dismantle the car to get to the clutch. One day the next weekend we’d replace the clutch and put everything back together. In between, we’d take the driveshaft in for servicing. (We could do that work ourselves, but parts alone from Lotus cost more than having somebody else do it.) Some online research led us to a nice writeup with plenty of photos. This guy indicates the clutch job will take twelve hours for first-timers.

Now, of course, anybody who knows me knows that I’m not doing this myself, no matter how good the instructions are. I’m software, not hardware. I will mostly stand around trying not to get in the way while Michael and his friends do all the work. I’ll run to the store if we find we need something, and I’ll supply the pizza and beer.

Suspension disassembled

So when we got started yesterday, we planned to have everything taken apart by the end of the day. It was Michael and Daniel doing the work, and our good friend Murphy showing up a few times to lend a hand. At the end of the day we were still quite a way away from our goal. This is where Maximum Distress comes in for me. I’ve watched everything get taken apart. Car parts are everywhere. We’ve used every known size of wrench and socket known to man, even had to go out and buy one we didn’t already have. It would be a slight exaggeration to say it looks like a bomb went off in the garage.

Motor dropped

We worked seven hours yesterday, and Daniel came over again today and we spent another five. The fellow who wrote up our instructions said the whole job would take twelve; we’ve got twelve hours into it and we’re not quite at the halfway point.

Transmission

I have every faith that Michel and Daniel can put it all together. There really isn’t any doubt in my mind. But it’s all too much for my pea brain. Given an infinite amount of time and a patient mentor and I could probably do it. I’d undoubtedly have a few extra parts left over, and I’d have had to do many of the tasks two or three times because I put something together upside down or backwards. It would by my hell, my Maximum Distress.

Finally, the clutch!

I’ve now adjusted my expectations. I’m thinking it’ll be two more weekends before we’re done. We managed to leave enough room for Genae to park her car, so at least she’s not relegated to the driveway. But the bad news is that Michael put a bit too much effort into this given his recent back surgery. He’s now in a solely supervisory role.

More distress soon!