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Minor update

Fenchurch is back on the road again, having replaced the gearbox with a rebuilt one. It was getting late when I finished so I just had a quick run up and down the road outside. It felt OK in all gears, first and reverse are now virtually silent, and the new clutch seems to have a smoother action than the old one.

The job took me rather longer than morris1000's impressive 5 hours. I've no idea how he managed to get the box back in without removing either the engine or the gearbox crossmember. Getting the top of the bell housing past the steering rack was very awkward even with the rear of the engine lowered as far as it would go and with a pit below the car so I could can stand up rather than lying flat on my back.

The rebuilt gearbox had one slight fault - the spring-loaded detent that stops you accidentally changing into reverse instead of fourth was jammed. Upon closer inspection it appeared that some water had got into the the back of the remote control unit (there was no gearstick fitted, so it had an open hole on the top) and it had rusted slightly inside. The simplest solution was to just swap the remote control unit from my old box (which was still in excellent condition) onto the new one.

I did have to cut a corner to get the car back on the road this weekend. The clutch pedal doesn't return fully while the brake is pressed (the brake pedal hinges on the clutch shaft). I was hoping I would be able to get away with just replacing the brake pedal bushes, but upon taking the assembly apart (rather an awkward task in itself as the spacer tube had rusted onto the shaft) I discovered the clutch shaft to be quite badly worn and pitted from rusting. Several other parts of the clutch linkage are badly worn too. If I'd waited until I could get hold of the parts to rebuild it all properly it would have meant several more days off the road, so I decided to just clean and grease the old parts and reassemble them.

Morris Minor engine and gearbox
Here is a pit-eye view of the underside of the car after replacing the gearbox.

Comments

It's very shiny under that car, Alex...

The trick is in twisting the 'box as it comes out. I think i twisted it to the left as i pulled it back and up simultaneously, whilst lifting it up through the floor of the car. I was very surprised that I didn't have more trouble lining it up again, but I could view the spline through the little peery-hole in the side where the left-hand-drive clutch lever would go, if it were left hand drive.
It's definitely impossible without turning the box. I think you have to get the nose of the input shaft through the pressure-plate half of the thrust bearing, then push the box downwards hard enough to move the ring down a bit against the springs. Then you waggle it about and swear a lot and hurt your shoulder, and on about the sixth attempt the bell housing scrapes past the rack. The nose doesn't reach the driven plate until after you've got the bell housing past the steering rack. I think I got the box out by turning it anticlockwise but there was no way it would go back in that way round and I eventually managed it with the box turned clockwise.
Proof of the pudding will of course be when I try and do it again. I may have found a 1098 box locally...

(Anonymous)

I was puzzled by the 'box out/Xmember in' thing too :) Still, I'm sure it's true, but I can't imagine how it's done. Probably the infamous 'big hammer' was involved...

(Anonymous)

Oops - that was Bigginger, btw :)