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A slipped disc

So I had noticed on occasion when pushing the car hard that it sometimes felt like the clutch slipped. I always chalked this up to being a cold clutch in a car with a turbo that spooled entirely too fast. Nope. This was not the case.

When Mike sold me this car, it had a bad oxygen sensor. He had owned the car for about 18 months and was tired of spending money on it. The last straw in his mind was when he replaced the radiator in the car after the upper tank cracked and the oxygen sensor died. He bought the car for about $2000-it was beat to shit and still is-and dumped about $3000 in it over the course of 18 months. All of the problems with the car were pretty easy to deal with. Most of them were relatively cheap parts. He just chose to pay a local shop to do everything. One of these was a clutch job per the previous post. What kills me about paying for all of these jobs is not knowing how well the job is being performed and whether or not you are getting a good deal.

Ok, that last part is a lie. I like working on cars. Especially if it is a secondary car and I don’t need to be in a hurry to get it back together. What killed me about him paying for the clutch job is that he went back with a Beck-Arnley clutch. Basically a stock replacement. Anyone who has ever turned the boost up on a DSM with a stock clutch knows how this ends. For those of you who do not know, it ends with the clutch being a smoky mess. It’s going to happen. It struggles to hold the 17psi of the mighty Garrett T-25.

So my clutch occasionally slipped. Mostly when cold. I wanted to change it out, but with it being fairly fresh, I wanted to wait. As it turns out, having a cracked transmission is an excellent time to inspect the clutch. Sadly, I did not take pictures and have already tossed the flywheel and pressure plate on the scrap pile. What I discovered when pulling the clutch assembly off was disappointing.

There was much discoloration of the pressure plate. Lots of hot spotting. You could see where a large portion of the clutch disc was glazed over. Never in my (relatively short) time have I seen a clutch that looked this poorly. With a heavy sigh, I pulled the flywheel off to inspect it. I could see pretty quickly that whoever had turned the clutch had not bothered to properly step the flywheel. There was almost an 1/8″ of difference in the step height where the  clutch rode. You could see where the metal was peeling away from the surface in large areas from it slipping so bad. This whole assembly was junk.

Lots of cracking in the flywheel interlaced with old hot spots. A glazed clutch. Hot spots and more cracks in the pressure plate. To the scrap pile this all went. This is where I made a decision. A decision that has so far left my car sitting on jack stands for months and my pockets drained. I decided that I needed to upgrade. Not one to cheap out when possible, but paying cash all the way, I started down this slippery slope.

I needed a flywheel, pressure plate, and clutch. An OEM replacement would have worked well for months, maybe a few years. Then, I would need to go through the hassle of dealing with clutch replacement. I decided instead that I needed a lightweight flywheel and a pressure plate with more clamping force. I went for the Fidanze lightweight flywheel. 9lbs of aluminum with a replaceable steel surface. An Exedy Stage 1 (I hate this term) organic clutch, rated to 410 ft-lbs of torque. As long as I am here, I might as well go with ARP studs for the flywheel and replace the mismatched bolts that held the pressure plate to the flywheel. As long as everything was out, I might as well replace the pivot ball. I did not want to mess with shimming and thought the $12 would be worth not hassling with it.

I placed this order and it started again. I had the urge to mod.

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It’s always the small things.

So as I previously touched on in the last post, my transmission cracked while I was on the way home from the 2012 DSM/EVO Shootout. I was thinking that either the master cylinder was going out or that the clutch was having issues. Soft pedal, shifts were sketchy and hard to get in gear. I drove it quite easy after letting Jeff drive the car. I did let him know that there was an issue and that I thought the master was on the way out.

Fast forward about 6 months when the rain stopped and I was finally able to move the car to the carport to work on it. I got the car up on jack stands and had someone assist me in bleeding the clutch. Once I was under the car and the clutch was depressed, I was completely confused as the motor and transmission moved in separate directions. Great.

After poking around the car, I realized the bolt that passes through the block over the transfer case would not tighten. There was also a missing bolt next to the starter on the top of the transmission. The other bolt on the top of the transmission was about two turns from falling out of the block! This was most unpleasant to discover. I removed the slave cylinder in preparation to repair the stripped bolt into the transmission. Upon removing the slave cylinder I noticed a giant crack running through the bellhousing. This ran from the window where the throwout fork entered the transmission to the edge of the transmission.

Here you can see the crack bellhousing.

cracked bellhousing inside cracked bellhousing outside cracked bellhousing edge


So now the transmission is out. I get to asses the rest of the damage. One bolt broken off in the block where the transmission mounts to the motor. One bolt broken off in the transmission over the transfer case. The final broken bolt held the carrier for the driver side halfshaft. Drill out the bolt on the back of the block required removal of the a/c compressor and a 90* angle drill.

broken bolt in block bolt broken in transmission bolt broken in back of block


I spent most of the day dealing with these three bolts. The transmission bolt was fairly easy to remove. The bolt on the block wasn’t too bad either. Behind the motor, sandwhiched next to the front subframe? Not so much fun. I did get it though.

extracted bolts

I even made arrangements with a friend to handle repair about a week later. Chris did a good job in my opinion welding the case back up.

welded outside welded inside

I should have stopped here. I should have fixed the transmission and driven the car. I started this project in April and here it is September. It still doesn’t run.

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So it begins again

A few days ago, I decided that I needed to buy another domain and hosting services. Some place I can talk silently about whatever is on my mind. Maybe a place to host photos and keep up with my latest projects. The last blog died out due to my lack of interest and time. Maybe this time will be a bit different.

My current project is getting Janelle, my 1995 Eagle Talon TSi AWD back up and running.

I drove it to the 2012 DSM/EVO Shootout and cracked the transmission. Apparently, the shop the previous owner paid to install the clutch did a very poor job of it. The flywheel was stepped incorrectly, there were two bolts broken off in the motor, a third broken off in the transmission and the pivot ball was neither replaced nor shimmed. I did manage to make the 1100 mile trip home mostly uneventfully. Aside from developing a random miss, it did well.

I’ll continue the discussion of all things DSM later this weekend. It is currently 1AM and I should probably be going to sleep soon instead of writing this. We will see where the night takes me.

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