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Magic Metal Steals My Thunder

Magic Metal Steals My Thunder

It is 3pm on a Wednesday after and I’m exhausted and flustered with my coworkers.  Its 90+ outside and I just want to go home.  I slam the door and fire Moddy up and slam it into gear. Its time to go, right now.  I burn out in every gear and leave in a flash of fury.  Noticing the gas gauge is pointing to the E already, I decided to stop and fuel up a bit.  Just a few gallons and I’m off again.  I fire her up again and off we go …. mostly.  I’m still pretty mad, so I just shove my foot off in deeper and keep going.  As I’m about half way home, I catch a red light and stop.  On green, I start to release the clutch and dart off. We’re moving but just barely, when I’m with the worst bucking and jumping I’ve ever experienced.  Freak occurrence? Nope.  Every time I got to launch … I’m met with the resistance of what would challenge the turbulence of re-entry of a spaceship with wings blown off.  I manage to avoid more stops, but in 3, 4, 5, gears my RPM’s travel the gauge but the drive train feels unaffected by the motor’s spinning.  Typical of an automatic with a burned out clutch …. fuck.  Here go, welcome to the last weekend of May.

Two experiences play a key role here.  The first one, is what it feels like to have a failing automatic transmission.  If you’ve ever had to go through that, you know what the slipping feels like from failure.  The second experience that was key to making this story find a happy ending was the episode where we learned that 91 engines are different from 93′s and the flywheels must be right in all of that.  So a clutch set up, no big deal. My uncle talked about doing his jeep clutch on a Saturday.  If that old man can do it, surely I can too!  By the time I have a moment to sit still, it is Thursday.  The website for Advance Autoparts shows they have a clutch kit for a 91 Talon/Eclipse ES/GS for $103 in stock.  I’m in for the win!  Friday night, I’ll start tearing down.  That was delayed because I didn’t get off work until almost 7pm, no biggie because I have most of the day Saturday and Sunday.

Saturday morning, I start to disassemble things.   This started off rather easy.  I removed the intake pipe and filter, I removed the battery and tray.  I removed and secured all the cables and lines.  I jacked up the car, got the tires off, got the axles out …. we’re ready to drop.   This was an interesting part, because I’m not strong enough to man handle the transmission out or down alone, with out injuring the transmission.  I eventually made a make-shift cradle from 1×4′s and put it on the lift so that we could lower it down.  Now we’re down, and off.  This is what I found:

 m_wDSCN0647 m_wDSCN0648 m_wDSCN0649 m_wDSCN0651

Interesting, at the first glance, because the clutch disk appeared to have plenty of surface material remaining.  My concern was more towards the pressure plate.  It had the looks of the magic metal that you find at the end of a rainbow.  These are the colors of super heated sudden death.  I killed it my frenzy of fury while leaving work.  But hey, we learn, right?  I had to leave for a few hours of work, so I left everything prepped but secured to fix in the morning.

Ten in the morning came early, but I was ready to go.  I know that Advance Autopart’s closest store doesn’t and will not have my parts, so I go directly to the warehouse store.  I take the pressure plate and clutch disk with me. Why? Because every time I have to get a part for this car, I seem to get the wrong one.  So I go inside and say, this is what I have, I need a new one.  Your website says you have it, for my 91 Eagle Talon ES.  The man looks me dead in the face and says “Who makes that”  No joke, that really happened.  So he says the computer doesn’t show they have it in FWD, but they do in AWD. Wierd, I thought,  so lets just compare and make certain they are in fact different.  Wow-wee are they different, and its a no-go.  They don’t have it.  The closest store that does, is about an hour away.   An hour of driving and $150 for the correct clutch… not bad.  Before I decide to do that, though, I decide to scope out Autozone’s warehouse store, 2 stop lights down the street.  I walk in with the same story, same parts, same car.  The guy gives me a look and says, “Did you buy that from us?”  I really couldn’t recall.  He looked up our phone number and found where we bought it last year. “Yep! Its right here”, he said. “It has a warranty…. and we have a few in stock.  Sign here and let me keep the box, you can be on your way”, he said to me.

WHAT?! What just happened?!  Yes, Autozone warrantied a part that wears down. Why??? Who cares.  I get the parts, and head home in a victory march that doesn’t crush the “Mommy Mobile” much, we have to take care of the little Ford Focus.

So here is some of the repair points.  I had been told to check the ball that the fork pivots on.  I looked at it, and it looked at me back.  I don’t know if it was worn, but I shimmed it anyways with a washer.  I had found, per many of the guys in the Eat. Sleep. DSM. group, that the dowel pins I was urged to keep, were in fact missing.  I don’t think they ever got installed.  Also, what is commonly referred to as the “bastard bolt”  was never put back either.   Allegedly, these guys are important, as they keep the the block and transmission aligned.  I managed to salvage the dowel pins from the 1.8L block that still resides behind our fence.  All is well.  It takes over 4 hours for myself and Mari to get this thing back together.  Here is a picture of me putting stuff back together before the test drive.


A concern of mine is that I drained the fluid in such a way that I could reuse it.  The transmission didn’t want all that it had drained though …. I had left overs!  How ever, during my test drive, there was no whining, no screaming, nothing abnormal.  It actually drove better than a week before the break down!

Overall, here is how this repair looked:

  • Parts: $0
  • Tools: $0
  • Gas: $0
  • Labor: $0

Pretty amazing right?  And I drove it to work this morning with out any new issues.  This breaks a new record for repairs!


About Ashley Young

I'm a North Carolina transplanted girl reaching my 30's. A few years ago, I procured my first DSM that would eventually mature many of my skills. This website is dedicated to the stories, adventures, and lessons that the car has brought to me over the years.
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