Vehicles

sonett - replacing transmission

The primary issue preventing driving the Sonett was that the transmission was frozen. Metal bits came out when draining the transmission fluid. It looked like bearing parts. Perhaps the transmission could be rebuilt. That is expensive though. I opted instead to get a used transmission off ebay as it was known to work and very cheap. It may have other issues, but at least it should get the Sonett moving which is good enough for now.

To get the old transmission out, I had to remove the front body piece, drain all the fluids, then pull the engine and transmission as one unit.

Getting the engine and transmission out was a very time consuming process. The design of the car is straight forward enough but it just takes a long time to undo all the pieces necessary. This was further complicated by the fact that my Sonett has factory A/C which is ALWAYS in the way of what you are trying to do.

Another problem was that my exhaust was one solid welded piece with no slip joints. Factory original exhausts are supposed to have a joint just after the header. Without that joint, it is impossible to get the exhaust low and wide enough to withdraw the engine. I ended up cutting two exhaust hangers and the joining pipe between the two main pipes.

The entire process took me a solid 3 days of work start to finish, and those were some very long days.

I am hoping that the modifications that I made will make it easier to do this job in the future. Here they are for the curious.

  1. Cut one point of mounting bracket of AC compressor. It is unnecessary and always got in the way. Also getting the bolt out was nearly impossible given its location.
  2. Cut exhaust so two halves could be separated and withdrawn from engine compartment.
  3. Ran AC hose on inside of AC belt pulley. Makes access to AC belt easier.
  4. Ran radiator hose over valve cover instead of between valve cover and alternator. In its old location, it prevented tilting alternator towards engine and thus I could not put slack in alternator belt. I cant believe it was supposed to be that way from the factory.

 

Besides replacing the transmission, I did a bunch of other things while I was in there.

  1. Took a wire brush to frame under engine to remove rust. Repainted with rustoleum primer and top coat.
  2. Replaced several radiator hoses that would be impossible to get to without engine out. Most of the radiator hoses are not hoses at all but metal lines. The rubber parts are just a few inches long at the start and end of the metal lines.
  3. Replaced fan belt and AC belt. They are completely separate. A failure of one would not affect the other. Interesting. I guess AC was an option so it makes sense.
  4. Regreased axels ball bearings. Well they aren't exactly ball bearings, maybe roller bearings is the right term. The rollers are not in a cage though. Strange design. Never seen that before.
  5. Cut left inner fender cover so it can be withdrwawn without removing AC line (thus depressurizing system)

 

Pictures

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Mark Ashcraft was kind enough to include these instructions with on my orders
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tape to help prevent chiping
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I am still finding water on the car, this time in the wheel housing
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yuk, salt water did some work to the wheel hub
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will remove that inner fender cover
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note the AC line that runs through the
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flexible brake line will be replaced at a later date. I have parts on hand
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cut the panel so I didn't have to empty AC system removing AC line
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horn
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not sure what that nub is
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water in the casing of the headlight electrical lines. I think this is from me rinsing the car
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three bolts hold back of hood to the frame by drivers door
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2 bolts hold bumper to frame from on one side, 4 bolts total
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bumer removed. it is actually quite heavy
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headlight flip up mechanism. this was by far the hardest part
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they bolt is an 8mm and there is a loose nut on the back. Its a two person job
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coundnt find radiator drain plug so I disconnected lower hose, actually very hard to get to
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stupid bolt holding AC compressor in place. This part of the bracket will be cut off later.
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old AC v belt, Gates 7455 11A1155
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best access to the nut holding headlight mechanism in place
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new engine lift
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Henry has a new play area for a little while
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hood removed
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blower motor. It doesnt work, may put in some time to figure out why
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radiator empty, there is still coolant coming out other hoses
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upper radiator hose removed
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back of alternator is easy to get to
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remove coil plug
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a shot of the oil pressure sender unit
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remove one electrical wire from oil pressure sender unit
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fan belt goes from crank to fan then to alternator
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disconnect starter wires. I am getting good at this step, plenty of practice
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throttle linkage must be removed
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note the tube running between valve cover and alternator, will be rerouted later
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alternator removed, Bosch 0120400656
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Charlotte and Nikki visit to check on the progress
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Charlotte is not sure the car will ever go back together
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metal strap kept two metal coolant lines in place
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remove speedometer cable from old tranny. note all the rust on the frame
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new transmission going in looks rough, but i can shift it into all gears so it is an upgrade
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removed bolt on shift linkage right at tranny. I had to do the same thing inside th car.
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I should have left the bolt at this link and only undone the one inside the car
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thank goodness I got an engine leveler. It was pretty much required.
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Yoni, my helper for the day, decided to get some pictures of me working on the car
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exhaust loosened, see later picture for the flange thingy that goes in that gap
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this flange came out of the exhaust where the pipe meets the exhaust manifold
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the backside that fits flush against the exhaust manifold
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good way to get started lifting the engine + tranny but later we had to remove back 2 bolts
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had to remove axels from tranny
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easiest way to remove axels is to tilt wheel out away from tranny
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inside car, bolt holds tranny to rubber mount on frame
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had to cut exhaust connection pipe
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finally exhaust removed. this took a LONG time
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stupid AC compressor bracket. Will cut off the closet flange as it is not needed
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exhaust thingys. left one all cleaned up and ready for reinstallation
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liberal use of copper rtv on back of exhaust thingy
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exhaust reinstalled
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coolant line rerouted to over valve cover instad of in front. makes alternator removal MUCH easier
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replaced this coolant line as well
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