Sunday, January 23, 2011

Checking in

Almost 3 months since my last post.  I'd like to say it's because I have been commuting gas- and problem-free for all this time.  Alas, no.  After commuting for a week or two I decided to fix the vibration in the drive train.  So began a series of setbacks and missteps.  Then winter set in.

Here's the sad picture of my engine compartment with everything taken out.
With the motor and transmission separated I measured the runout of the flywheel with a gauge indicator.  Less than .003" range on both the axial and radial directions.  I think most of that runout was just because of the rough surfaces, too.  So the flywheel was installed true.  The only other explanation would be that pressing the starter ring off the flywheel caused it to go out of balance.  So I took it and a new clutch and pressure plate to an automotive machine shop to have them balanced.  Here are a couple of pictures of some of the holes they put in the flywheel to bring it into balance.  The large hole in the first picture (at about 7:00) existed prior.
With the newly planed (notice the shiny front surface!) and balanced flywheel reinstalled on the motor shaft, the dial indicator showed less than .001" runout.

It's now been over a month since I took the car off the road.  It took another 2 weeks to get the car back together and on the road again.  The good news is the vibration in the drivetrain is much better.  There are still a few speeds where the car gets loud, but I think those are related to the fact that I eliminated the rubber mounts and not from imbalance issues.  The bad news is that after a few shifts the clutch stopped working.

The automotive machine shop had wanted to make sure the taperlock hub was balanced as well, so I took the extra effort to get it off.  It was stuck on the motor shaft pretty good, not the least because of some rust on the inner hub surface.  So when I reinstalled it after the flywheel balancing I put a small amount of anti-seize on the motor shaft.  My initial thought about the clutch problem was that perhaps the lubricant had allowed the taperlock hub to be pushed toward the motor by the force of the clutch.  So, out everything came again.

Well, the hub had not moved.  However, it looked like the new pressure plate was taller than the old one by about .12" so I shifted the hub out a bit, thinking that maybe I was at the end of the throw for the clutch.  Put everything back together again.  Same result.  Clutch works for a few times then nothing.  So, maybe the clutch is failing.  Before investing in a new clutch, a friend suggested bleeding the clutch hydraulics - maybe some air got in one of the lines while the slave cylinder was hanging free (I had it tied up near the fuse box to keep it out of the way while removing the motor-transmission).  Took the cap off the clutch cylinder and pumped the clutch pedal 10 times.  Miraculously, the clutch started working again.  Sigh.

By now winter had set in, and this year's winter is the real deal.  Lots of snow and lots of cold.  So even though my drivetrain problems seem to be solved, the cold is really taking a bite out of my batteries.  I am not able to get more than 120 amps out of them before the voltage sags below the cutoff for my DMOC controller.

Next entry: battery warmers....

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