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clutch death - short story/ all lbc

Subject: clutch death - short story/ all lbc
From: David Councill <>
Date: Wed, 10 Jan 1996 21:14:22 -0700
I am looking for some clutch assistance - but I have to throw in my tale of
woe first. Besides, what happened to the travel tales of Andy Ramm? So here
is my story:

After reading of the warm weather in Australia over Christmas and stories of
some of our California readers driving with their tops down, I looked
outside to see the typical cold Montana winter with several inches of snow
cover. My 71 BGT anxiously awaited its next trip out of the garage.

Granted it usually made the short four mile city trek every day to work
except during inclimate weather. But finally the opportunity to make a
highway cruise came up again. I needed to make a trip to Fromberg, some
forty miles away for a job interview. Oddly enough, the snow had begun
melting while temperatures reached the balmy fifties (low teens in centigrade).

The moment was perfect and the car was running great. I edged the orange
beauty onto Interstate 90 and started to reach a comfortable cruising speed
- fourth gear, 4k rpms, and a speedometer reading of 90 mph (actually low
seventies but I have the wrong speedo for the car right now). It was great.

As I exited the interstate to turn onto the secondary highway that would
take me the additional twenty miles to Fromberg, I began to slow down for
the stop sign. Then when traffic cleared, I pressed in the clutch pedal and
prepared to shift to first gear. But when I let up on the clutch, nothing
happened. It felt like the clutch was stuck fully depressed. So I jumped out
of the car and began to push it single handedly to the gas station some 100
feet away.

I opened the hood and on first inspection, I found that the clutch fluid
reservoir was empty. No problem I thought. I will fill it up, do a quick
inspection, and be on my way. But oddly enough, the clutch acted like it was
still fully depressed. An inspection of the slave cylinder revealed that the
piston had actually popped out. It was lodged in such a way that the clutch
was in fact pushed in.

I did a quick rebuild. I called my wife for backup, and when she arrived, I
began to bleed the system. Just when most of the air was bled out, the
piston popped out again! So I put it back together, and decided to drive
home without the clutch. But no matter what I tried, I could not get the
timing right to drive without a clutch (any suggestions out there?).

But I could start the car while in gear which I did. So I drove home in
second gear. Now my car sits in the garage again. I have to give it credit
though - it may break down, but it always makes it home. And in this case,
it was an exciting drive home and the weather was perfect. When I was lying
on the ground playing with the slave cylinder, I could only think how the
weather was perfect for this (in fact it felt hot by Montana standards).

Now that I am at home, I am pondering my next steps. Why would the slave
piston pop out? I rebuilt the slave cylinder last year and replaced the
hose. The clutch master cylinder was replaced with a new one some eight
years ago. My Haynes manual refers to "operating lever free travel" but it
does not explain it any more than that, and I don't know of any such
adjustment to alleviate the possible excess travel. I must admit that when I
rebuilt the slave cylinder and replaced the throw out bearing last year
(when I took the transmission out to fix its oil leaks), the clutch had to
be fully depressed to work when before it only had to go halfway.

I hope this was not too long winded (hopefully it was entertaining). So now
I ask for suggestions so I can play with the car this weekend (repairing it
that is). I have had the car for 13 years and even now it can throw some new
things at me. But any ideas that will keep me from pulling the transmission
out will be appreciated.

David Councill                                                       

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