Progress & The Week From Hell (Part Two)

This is where things started going off the rails. So the next step, now that the engine was more or less ready to go, was to assemble the new flywheel, clutch, and pressure plate and re-attach the transmission to the engine. Not too awful of a job.

The flywheel itself mounts with six bolts and can only be aligned a certain way – one of the six is offset a bit. From there, there’s a special tool that goes through the clutch and into the crank to keep the clutch aligned. When the pressure plate is installed, it’s default orientation is to press the clutch to the flywheel. This makes it critical that the clutch is properly aligned for when the transmission’s input shaft is inserted into it.

Now the kit I ordered was a Valeo OEM replacement with a single-mass flywheel. I won’t go into the differences between single-mass and dual-mass at this point, but the tool that Valeo included with the kit was absolute trash. It didn’t fit into the crankshaft and barely held the clutch in place at all let alone properly aligned. I had to trim the end of the tool, and shave down the splines so that I could get it inserted into the crank. After some fabbing and mucking about, I got it to the point I was satisifed, and mounted the pressure plate to the flywheel. Another issue with this Valeo kit is that the packaging was pretty trash as well. When I opened it up and looked at the contents, everything was all over the place.

In particular, the flywheel has three nubs that fit into specific holes in the pressure plate. In the course of shipping, the contents got tossed about real good, and one of those nubs got sheared off. Two out of three ain’t too bad, and it didn’t affect the mounting of the pressure plate fortunately. From that point, it was on to the slave cylinder and thrust bearing.

I don’t have any pictures of the slave cylinder, but it’s fairly straightforward. It’s a hydraulically actuated bearing that, when you press on the clutch pedal, pushes the pressure plate inward which through some witchcraft releases pressure on the clutch itself – allowing it to spin freely. I say some witchcraft because normally you wouldn’t expect pressing inward would relieve any pressure, but that’s what it does, and I can’t exactly explain it in text. Just trust me, ya scrub.

The slave cylinder got bench-bled to get all the air out and to fill it with clutch/brake fluid, and I mounted it in the transmission’s bell housing. I also picked up a shim kit for the slave cylinder from Nothing Leaves Stock (NLS) specifically for the 02M model transmission. Quick detour, here’s some backstory of why…

Since I’ve owned the car, there was a notchy difficulty in going from first to second gear. Has always been there. Another particular symptom I ran into was the car not full disengaging when in first gear or putting up a fight taking it out of first. Picture this, you’re at a gas station and you reverse out of the parking spot. Everything = Fine. Throw it into first, and start heading towards the exit. As you’re coming up to the exit, you clutch in, to prepare to come to a full stop. After you clutch in, but still moving forward, the revs stay somewhat high and you can feel the engine exerting some torque through the transmission to the wheels still. The clutch is to the floor, and if you try taking it out of first, it fights you. If you leave it in gear, as you come to a stop, something almost gives way, the revs drop to idle, and you’re good. It’s almost as if the clutch isn’t full disengaged – either the pressure plate isn’t getting pushed far enough to fully release the clutch, or who knows what else it could be.

Now the shim kit is two pieces of metal that sits between the slave cylinder and the transmission itself. It’s not super thick, but it’s enough to give the cylinder a bit more throw – presumably enough to completely disengage the clutch after its installed. I did a lot of research and a lot of people reported no more notchiness and a much smoother feel in first/second gear. I’ll take it!

So I installed the kit and bolted up the slave cylinder no problemo. From there, I tried to clean up the transmission as best as I could. It was covered in dirt and road shit, so while it looked a lot better than before, it still wasn’t anywhere near 100%.

With the help from mi padre, we got the transmission lined up and jockeyed the input shaft into the clutch and got the transmission to the point where I could thread some bolts and slowly go around tightening them, thus bringing the transmission closer and closer together. Follow the proper torque specifications for each bolt and booyah, everything is back together.

At this point I also reinstalled the starter, as the two bolts that hold it in place also contribute to holding the transmission to the engine.

We still aren’t at “Shit Week 2019” quite yet, and it’s a doozy, so I’m going to conclude Part 2 here and conclude everything up-to-date in Part 3. Stay tuned, I’m not sure I want to subject myself to more PTSD from the problems I’ve encountered thus far…

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