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May 14, 2003
1.5 hours

Out Damned Transmission!

Well, I'm no Shakespeare, but the transmission is now out of the car. What I expected to be a major undertaking turned out to be quite easy and it all boiled down to one simple thing: one #*!@%ing bolt I missed on the torque tube flange.

My friend John Bukowski came over this evening to help--he really wanted to help with the engine removal, but we just didn't connect in time on Saturday. Instead, he offered his services on this job, and they were greatly appreciated. Our first order of business was removing the transmission crossmember. On '41s, the transmission mount and crossmember are bolted to the frame using carriage bolts. When I tried to remove them, the square shank of the bolts spun in the hole on the frame, and they wouldn't come out. So I broke out the cut-off wheel and chopped off the bolts. Out of five bolts, we cut off four of them. The crossmember came right out after that. We now had much more room to work.

John put the jack under the transmission to keep it from falling on my head. I started prying on the flange, getting the bottom to separate about 1/8". I drove a wedge into the gap and hammered it, but the flange wouldn't give up it's grip. John stood in front of the car and pulled and jiggled the transmission while I worked below. No dice.

Then I tried putting a bolt back in and using it to tap the two pieces apart. Again, nothing.

Then John says, "Are you sure you got all the bolts?"

I replied, "Of course I got all the bolts. Do you think I'm an idiot? I've been doing this stuff for twenty years!"

Just the same, I felt obligated to show him. I grabbed the light and felt around the top of the flange. Lo and behold, ONE LAST BOLT remained. Apparently, I am an idiot. The bolt came out easily, and the transmission practically leapt out of the car when John tugged on it. Nice work, John!

Transmission 2.jpg (62887 bytes)
Note John laughing at my stupidity...

Transmission 3.jpg (64604 bytes)
Once we solved the bolt issue, the transmission came
out easily
. Important note: make sure you remove all
the bolts when trying to take something apart.

The transmission itself is remarkably compact and light, perhaps 50 pounds, even with the cast-iron case. I expected it to be much heavier, but one of us was able to lift and move it easily.

Examining the splines showed them to be in excellent condition with no wear apparent. I guess the sealed driveline of these Buicks really did its job keeping everything clean inside. I'm going to open up the case and check the condition of the internals. If I'm lucky, it won't need any work, but I'm sort of expecting to rebuild it anyway. I may try to tackle that project myself--how hard can it be?

Transmission.jpg (50979 bytes)
Transmission is remarkably compact and lightweight. Input shaft and
torque ball splines are in very good condition.

I'll have more pictures later as I clean up the transmission and check the internals for wear. And again, a big thank-you to my friend John, without whom I would have done A LOT of damage to the transmission and torque tube. John also agreed to come over again when it's time to yank the body off the frame. I'll be glad to have him.

It was also good to find another gearhead with whom I can bench race and have him understand exactly what I'm talking about. Not many guys would recognize what I mean when I talk about Tommy Kendall's IMSA GTP car and its splayed-valve 396 inch small-block in a ZR-1.

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Last modified on 02/06/2005

Thanks, Fidget!