I know there are a few other scattered threads relating to the transmission swap we just completed earlier tonight, but I feel this occasion deserves a designated thread for final thoughts, pictures, and videos relating to the past weekend.
First of all, I owe everything to Bob, Thomas, and John (a local GP club member who helped on three of the days). These guys really made this swap happen. Thomas did us a huge favor in volunteering his garage, tools, and extensive knowledge of motors and transmissions. John had tons of pertinent advice on general automotive maintenance, assembly, and disassembly, and turned wrenches like a professional. And Bob.... I seriously cannot say enough about this man'* willingness to help others. I am continually blown away by his generosity toward me and by his attitude of responsibility. Bob tackled tons of difficult jobs throughout the whole swap, and was always there to encourage me when things looked doubtful. Not to mention the fact that three nights in a row he insisted I drop him off at his house and use his car to get home. We give Bob a hard time around here (in good fun, of course), but the reality is that you won't find a more generous, caring guy than Bob Antila. No two ways about it. And together, these three gentlemen made the swap and awesome, funny, informative experience.
Tonight was pretty wild. We got everything back together, then started up the motor. It purred like a kitten from the beginning, but something was funky with the transmission. We had the front wheels in the air, but when I put it into gear the tires did not start to roll. Everything was full of fluid, and all the connectors were in their proper harnesses. We stared at that thing for an hour getting depressed, trying to face the reality that the transmission might need to come out again. All the sudden, Bob pointed my attention to the adjustable vacuum modulator and asked if it could be an issue. I had cranked the adjustment screw all the way out in order to soften the shifts for initial break-in, so I pondered the idea for a minute. It made sense that having too little line pressure would keep the tranny from popping into gear, so I tightened up the screw a bunch of turns and tried it again. Lo and behold, the car went into gear with a satisfying "clunk", and when I let off the brakes the wheels started turning! You should have heard me laughing on the phone with Doug. It was an awesome feeling to go from sadness and dejection to excitement in that split second. I couldn't freaking believe how good that felt.
The other crazy thing that happened was on the way home. Shortly after getting on the freeway I was cruising in overdrive with the torque converter locked, and suddenly I lost TCC lockup. It was just totally gone. I was driving at 65-70mph with the engine turning 3000rpm, so I called Doug to discuss the issue with him. We eventually decided that the tranny must have purged enough air to make the fluid level drop below the point where the TCC would lock, so I quickly pulled off the freeway into a gas station to check the level. Sure enough, the dipstick barely had any ATF on it, so I locked the car and headed into the gas station to get some fluid. The only problem was that the car keys were still in the car. Add to that the fact that the gas station doors were already locked (you had to do business with the clerk through a window) and my cell phone was flashing "Low Battery" at me, things were starting to get very interesting. After about half an hour of trying to reach my wife on the phone, she finally answered just a few minutes before the battery completely died. She had to drag out of the house at 11:30pm to come get my sorry @ss from a ghetto gas station, but the car still wasn't fixed. Luckily the clerk at the station was able to sell me some Dexron III, and I put in 2 quarts with a paper funnel. After that the transmission ran smooth as glass, and the converter locked perfectly. I celebrated with another good burnout from a stoplight.
So, to make a long story short, there were two distinct times tonight when I thought this tranny had some major issues. However, Doug and Bob were able to help out with some timely suggestions, and now I'm convinced that Doug did one hell of a job on this thing. With a proper PCM tune, I expect this car to be in Zilla 1/4 mile territory in no time
. This has been a crazy night, but with a happy ending. The car is running, it'* in my possession, and it shifts like a sonuvabitch. And with all the engine repairs we did, I'm confident the motor is sealed up extremely tight. In fact, I'm sure it'* in the best shape of its life since it rolled off the factory floor a decade ago. We did a great job, and it shows in the final product.
Damn.... thank you, everyone. What an awesome experience!