Sunday, August 7, 2022

Back to the '68

It's been a while since I worked on my Mustang - having a new house to play with has taken up the better part of four years and it isn't finished yet. Like the car, it probably never will be.

I've owned the my 68 coupe since September 2008, and I started tearing it apart properly in the Spring of 2010. I finally had it running, registered and insured, and filled up with premium gas, by the end of the Summer of 2021. It has been a long-running joke in my family that the car would be ready for the Olympics - we just weren't sure which one! I drove the car to the September BAMA meeting – this marked the 68’s first General Meeting appearance since Fall 2009. I was careful to get photographic proof:

The car was running ok on the trip down to Hayward apart from a strange clanking sound when in third gear. I tried to keep out of third as much as possible on the way back. This plan was worked well for a while, but untimely failed. I was doing about 65 on Highway 13, less than two miles from home, when the car emitted a very unpleasant clunking sound and ground to a halt. I’m not sure exactly what happened, but it was apparent that the car was stuck in gear, probably fifth, given that was where it crapped out. Somehow, I managed to start the engine and get the 68 rolling, but this only got me as far as the freeway off ramp where the car stalled out on the upward gradient. The remaining mile of the journey was completed on the back of a tow truck.

The following weekend we had another couple of pallets of concrete delivered, and while I was working through that it became apparent that all the dust and mess in the garage was not going to be helpful if I started tearing the Mustang’s drivetrain apart. Not to mention that working on the car was the last thing I felt like doing.

So, as documented elsewhere in this blog, I Carried On Concretinguntil we had worked through more than six hundred (600) eighty (80) pound bags and moved out thirty (30) cubic yards of dirt and rock. At the time of writing the basement construction has finally been completed bar painting the concrete floor.

Or to put that another way, now is the perfect time to see if I can get the Mustang back on the road. This is how the 68 looked with the cover removed. This photo does not do justice to how dusty the car was. The car has not moved from this spot since it was winched off the back of the tow truck last year. And how could it when it is stuck in gear? 

At this point, I still didn't know precisely what was wrong with the car - given the symptoms, I was thinking the clutch or transmission - or both - would be a good place to start. It's worth noting that the clutch pedal still goes up and down and the shifter stick can find all the slots in the box. I used the equipment below to lift the car off the ground and began my inspection.

Discovery #1 - a small stain immediately below where the fuel line joins the filter - probably a gas leak. It's certainly something to fix, but unlikely to be the responsible for the drivetrain failure.

Discovery #2 - a much larger stain below the junction of the engine and the bell housing; now we're getting somewhere!

Next step: pull the driveshaft. This was a good opportunity to wipe off all the concrete dust.

Then, remove the shifter stick - it is much easier to do this without a carpet and a shifter boot in the way. I also disconnected the clutch cable, the backup lights and the speedometer cable. 

Time to pull the transmission - or what my grandfather would have called tut gear box. My Dad's old friend Billy Sultana once dropped an open automatic gear box on this left hand. When the injury finally healed up, he had some gruesome zig-zag scars on his fingers where they were sliced by the cogs. I didn't want that to happen to me, so I called in Samuel Sheep to help:

Getting the transmission mount and crossmember out wasn't very difficult - one of the crossmember fasteners was actually missing - oops - but the transmission bolts were tough to access. We had to get creative with a mixture of long socket extensions and a universal joint to get at all the bolts. After that there was a lot of pushing and pulling the transmission and wiggling of the floor jack before we could snap the picture below. I could not have done this without Sam's help.

Next, we had to pull the bell housing and the clutch. The bell housing bolts were very difficult to get at, and I had to use all my strength to get them undone. The clutch was a bit easier. The clutch was one of  very few components which was not either restored to original condition of replaced with a brand new part; one of my BAMA friends donated a slightly used one. There wasn't anything obviously wrong with the clutch, but I already have a much nicer replacement on hand. From what I can tell, the flywheel is still in decent shape. Hopefully the rebuild goes as smoothly as the tear down. Stay tuned to find out!

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