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Gearbox / clutch?

Discussion in 'Engine & Transmission' started by steve_4802, Nov 6, 2016.

  1. steve_4802

    steve_4802 Active Member

    Messages:
    271
    Location:
    Sunshine Coast
    G'day all,
    My 1800 camper has had intermittent gearbox issues for the last couple of years and it's now getting extremely troubling - being stuck twice yesterday in car park and at traffic lights unable to engage a gear. Please read on, I'd love thoughts and advice - particularly if it's a clutch or gearbox issue.

    BACKGROUND:
    I've had the car for 5 years and 2nd has always been a little firmer (kind of 'clicks' in) to engage but always went in and all other gears felt fine. Then after a while I noticed 1st was sometimes a little tricky to find but I developed a habit of going via neutral and 1st always went straight in.

    About 2 years ago after a service (where we also changed rubber bushing I think for gearstick?) I soon lost access to all first three gears after about 15 mins of driving. Took it back to mechanic and we changed out all the linkages.

    Over the last 1 year the gears have been intermittent with 1st and 2nd often very tricky to find and recently I've been caught and unable to find first or second for a minute or more. But at other times the gears work very nicely indeed.

    Have been previously advised that everything external to the box is tip top so must be in need of gearbox rebuild. I had resigned to that fact and figured next time it gets too bad I'll take it in and get the full rebuild on the box.

    DIAGNOSIS INFO:
    However, yesterday I was stuck at lights and resigning myself to hand over many thousands for a rebuilt gearbox. Then after getting home I noticed that when the engine was off gears went in and out no worries (would have loved to have discovered that while blocking traffic at lights), it was only when the engine was turned on that I couldn't find gears. Does this mean it might to be a clutch issue not a gearbox issue?

    So it's like the clutch is dragging. If I pull up in 2nd, then it can be hard to get out of gear and sometimes very very difficult to find a gear and can grind / knock into gear.

    When I can eventually find the gear I can happily sit there with foot on clutch and it's not like the drag is so bad that I notice the car trying to drive away.

    Other interesting point of note, it seems as if the trouble finding gears tends to be much improved when I first turn on the car. E.g. this morning all gears were easy to find in garage yet same thing last night I couldn't find a single one. So perhaps it might be heat related?...

    I CHECKED:
    I checked clutch cable and freeplay this morning and looked OK to me. I even went so far as to measure the travel of cable at the pedal and at the clutch lever. I guess I hoped to find that the cable might be moving far less at the clutch lever hinting a broken clutch cable mount or other movement in the cable. Interestingly I did find the travel at pedal was 25mm and at clutch was 16mm, but there will be some loss at bends along the way and this might still be right? I was going to try tightening the cable and noticed it was already at the end of the thread so nothing left to tighten. As I have a spare cable I was going to replace anyway but just as I was about to start I decided, it can't be the cable because (at least when completely cold) the gears shift fine - if it was the cable then regardless of warm / cold etc it would always be a consistent problem. So I didn't change the cable and instead logged on here to get some thoughts.

    MY THOUGHTS:
    I really don't know. But the fact that it engages when engine is off and appears, possibly, to vary depending on if hot or not makes me think it's a clutch dragging issue whereby for some reason, but not always, the driving plate may not completely disengage correctly?

    I could have a bash at a clutch plate myself, but that's a hell of a lot of work to afterwards find that it's a gearbox issue. In which case I'd have to pull the engine again and send the box away. I'm not well setup with a good garage so don't want to pull the engine more than once, but equally I don't want to pay for an unnecessary gearbox rebuild.

    I'd love thoughts on what might be wrong and particularly if it seems like gearbox or clutch.

    If you've read this far - thanks!
     
  2. David H

    David H Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    3,439
    Location:
    newcastle
    Hi Steve,
    It sounds like a 'process of elimination needed' working from the cheapest to the dearest. I'd be putting some sleeve under the cable adjuster ( or move the support bracket more toward the rear) to get less pedal play (manual says 5/8th inch at pedal) & see what happens.
    'Unable to select' should be consistent regardless of heat if it's the clutch (unless the dragging clutch drags more with heat because it's dragging & causing friction/heat) so it's bit 'hit & miss' as to my thoughts.
    Next time it happens do what you did in the garage. Turn the car off & see if you can select a gear. If you can my bet is the clutch.
    Just for joy of understanding I'd also check the box drain plug for any 'brights' to see what may be happening on the inside.
    My experience is they get 'notchy' in first & second when synchro rings are worn.
    Cheers,
    David H
     
    Last edited: Nov 6, 2016
  3. grumble

    grumble Active Member

    Messages:
    928
    Location:
    Taree
    The most common cause of this is the spigot bearing seizing onto the mainshaft causing the shaft to spin even when the clutch is depressed. the next most common is oil on the clutch plate which will then stick to the flywheel or pressure plate,unfortunately either one involves the engine removal. My gut feel is the spigot bearing but i have been wrong before ( just ask my wife :rolleyes::rolleyes::rolleyes:o_O)
     
    cbus and David H like this.
  4. steve_4802

    steve_4802 Active Member

    Messages:
    271
    Location:
    Sunshine Coast
    David and Grumble, cheers for the advice. As it's the cheapest of all solutions I changed out the clutch cable today just to ensure I was certain that was OK before going further.
    It was a worthwhile exercise as the clutch cable was about to go and was probably hanging on the last 25%. This may have caused enough stretch in the cable to explain the symptoms but I won't know till I live with it for a few weeks.

    By the by, getting that threaded clutch cable through the tube is a giant pain. I had the tube off and all still really had to give it some. So much so I was worried I'd strip the thread. Got in there but does seem like the sort of thing that could have been a bees package larger.

    As it's such an intermittent problem I'm not sure if the new cable solved the problem but for now at least it's ok.

    Dave, I actually was sure to put a little more pre-tension in the clutch cable just to be sure when I replaced it. It certainly has less play than before (basically none) but it's still quite a way from slipping so I'm happy erring on that side for now. Plus I figure the new cable might slip a little.

    Another tid bit of info I found when changing the cable was that unlike what I expected, the first (about) 10mm of pull on the clutch lever is very light and you can move it fairly easily with your hand under the car. It's only after that first 10mm that it firms up hard enough to feel like it's moving the pressure plate. As such, I couldn't really set any freeplay (with the target 1-2mm gap behind the clutch lever) as then the cable would just take up the first nothing part before really doing anything. Is it normal that the first part of the clutch lever stroke doesn't do much? I would have thought this isn't usual? Still, I'm making do with it and will see what comes from the tweaks I've made; I'm just giving it a bunch of pull but ensuring it's still got about 1/3 peddle stroke before slipping under load.

    Grumble, very good thoughts, if the tighter cable doesn't work I will look into your points. By spigot bearing do you mean what Bentley calls a pilot bearing? That does seem like the sort of thing that could be heat sensitive... ditto for oil on the plate.

    Time aside, is it only about $300 to fix up a clutch issue? I don't need to pull the transmission do I, just the engine and work from the back of the car? I don't have a good working space so just pulling an engine alone is a fair challenge.

    Of course if it is a clutch issue, the other option I may consider is, given my tranny is a dirty oily mess, getting a rebuild on the gearbox while the engine is off to just get everything tip top. However, the more I think about it the more I'd like to fight this fire cheap and only fix the root cause.

    Seems unlikely to be transmission at this stage, would you agree?

    I'll keep you posted if it further develops - no news is good news! Should it go bad the first thing I will do is, while the car is still hot, get under and over tighten the clutch cable just to be certain it doesn't somehow need a little more when it gets hot. Not that it should, but it would at least completely rule out cable related issue.
     
  5. David H

    David H Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    3,439
    Location:
    newcastle
    Hi Steve,
    Nice to see you got some progress. I had a long winded post just posted & when I did I saw the above & saw you had gotten somewhere so deleted it.
    One of the best tools for removing a frayed cable (so you don't need a bees package larger) is a pair of wire snips so it can come out from both ends & always grease & straighten the bowden tube before attempting insertion!
    Manual says "5/8th inch/18mm" at pedal free play before strong pedal. My mechanic & most Kombi drivers have it less adjusted. I've got short legs so like a full pedal! 1/3rd pedal before slip sounds okay.
    Clutch is just engine out. Long time since my mechanics done one for me but I would guess as under $500 labour included.
    My guess is you're on a winner with the cable. One of the properties of hi tensile material (the cable) is the way it deals with heat & just gets springier & doesn't break. Just less effective & gives lots of warning as the strands break individually & pedal gets sloppier.
    I agree. Bet this runs great now & a very cheap fire to fight & now you know what a failing cable feels like!
    Cables best replaced in entirety including Bowdens tube & front clip. New tube means they're easier to thread as they come straight! See Bus Stop to find the spare which I always carry! A chat the Club helped me with follows. http://forums.kombiclub.com/threads/post-your-roadside-assist-photos-here.26472/page-19
    Cheers,
    David H
     
    Last edited: Jun 17, 2017
  6. Grantus

    Grantus Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    14,628
    Location:
    Southern ACT
    What is this high tensile cable and bowden tube you all speak of? o_O

    Is it located inside my Kombi's hydraulic lines between my clutch master cylinder and slave cylinder?? :rolleyes:

    :p
     
    Gordon D likes this.
  7. David H

    David H Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    3,439
    Location:
    newcastle
    No Grantus.
    A long way from there, about 10 years before they invented hydraulics at least! It's nice to see the kids are an improvement on the parents!;) But your comment was very funny! I'm still laughing!:D
    Cheers,
    David H
     
    Last edited: Nov 6, 2016
    Grantus likes this.
  8. grumble

    grumble Active Member

    Messages:
    928
    Location:
    Taree
     
  9. grumble

    grumble Active Member

    Messages:
    928
    Location:
    Taree
    Steve I will be very surprised if it is the gearbox when adjusting the clutch you will find that as you pull down on the cable the arm moves freely until it reaches the thrust pad on the pressure plate,adjust the nut until the distance that the arm moves is approx 3mm, if you overtighten the nut the thrust race will ride the pressure plate and cause other problems.
    The Americans call a lot of parts by different names but the spigot bearing is the pilot bearing. Also have a good look at the rear engine mountings when the engine is out.
     
  10. Mordred

    Mordred Super Moderator Staff Member

    Messages:
    2,689
    Location:
    Penna, Hobart
    When you changed the clutch cable did you get the kit that has the bowden tube in it? If the old one has a groove worn in it, it can cause issues with the new cable dragging, and can also be a pain to get the threaded fitting through. The kit with everything is 5-10 buck more but to buy them separately is quite a bit more expensive. I always change the lot over if I am doing one as it saves the effort of fixing something later.

    Adrian
     
  11. steve_4802

    steve_4802 Active Member

    Messages:
    271
    Location:
    Sunshine Coast
    Hi Adrian, just the cable as that is what I had on hand. I will buy a Bowden tube and cable as spares for next time, now that I know that can / should also be replaced.
     
  12. Mordred

    Mordred Super Moderator Staff Member

    Messages:
    2,689
    Location:
    Penna, Hobart
    Not guaranteeing it is the problem but it may be a factor. Good luck.

    Adrian
     
  13. jjdz

    jjdz Active Member

    Messages:
    127
    Location:
    Oakhurst
    we are having a similar problem we think it is the spigot bearing as we changed everything else. we did not know there was one and gave the engine a good clean when it was out which probably did not help I was told one way to see if it is the spigot bearing is get the car on a flat road have it in gear with foot on clutch and rev the motor to see if the car wants to move forward my car does it also make a whining noise when sitting still waiting to see now you go good luck we are to flat out at the moment to try and fix looks like a job for early next year
     
  14. steve_4802

    steve_4802 Active Member

    Messages:
    271
    Location:
    Sunshine Coast
    G'day
    Even if it's not, it just sounds like good practice.
     
  15. steve_4802

    steve_4802 Active Member

    Messages:
    271
    Location:
    Sunshine Coast
    jjdz, sorry to hear you're in a similar boat. Have you already pulled the engine and done the clutch? Just missed the spigot bearing?
     
  16. jjdz

    jjdz Active Member

    Messages:
    127
    Location:
    Oakhurst
    yes got the box reconditioned new clutch all new bits and pieces between box and gear shiftier was all good for a while gear selection was greet just started making some noise when first started up then got worst now after a longer drive changing down is hard sometimes and it grinds in reverse leave it the next day all gears are good
     
  17. David H

    David H Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    3,439
    Location:
    newcastle
    Hi jjdz,
    Sure sounds like spigot bearing. They're an often overlooked part to the clutch assembly. I see so many bad habits of drivers regarding their clutch usage (not suggesting yours) but don't sit at traffic lights in gear with clutch in. The spigot bearing is a dry bearing in the flywheel supporting the exit shaft (from the gearbox) thru the clutch. Due to being 'dry' it doesn't take much effort to overheat it & cause damage to bearing surfaces & thus 'drag' (meaning friction & noise). If it had oil that would dissipate heat coming from 'load'. My dirt bike has a 'wet' clutch bathed in oil. I can sit all day at the lights with the clutch in.
    They're a small bearing that sits inside the flywheel & as such (being small the pitch is high... bit like little dogs & big dogs) make a high pitched noise.
    Hope this helps trouble shooting & sorry if you've got to go back & R & R again for a $40 bearing.
    Hope it makes next year for you.
    Cheers,
    David H
     
  18. Gordon D

    Gordon D Active Member

    Messages:
    270
    Location:
    Brisbane
    Hey Steve - sounds like my '73 is starting to behave like this as well so many thanks for putting up such a detailed analysis.
    Only became an owner about 6 weeks ago and at the time of roadworthy, the observation from the mechanic was that there was a bit of play in the gearshift and I have quite a long throw for the gears (I need to lean slightly to select 1st and 2nd and I am a 6-footer so reach shouldn't be an issue) so he has suggested fitting a Quickshift.
    However, being a bit limited on funds I was going to hold off but on Saturday while driving, I got into a similar pressure situation as you and couldn't for the life of me find 1st or 2nd. The next day she was behaving perfectly fine for a while and then started to misbehave again. I will pop under her on the weekend and check the cable and linkages to see if there is anything obvious and/or loose.
     
  19. steve_4802

    steve_4802 Active Member

    Messages:
    271
    Location:
    Sunshine Coast
    If you can't get it in gear in a pressure situation, as you put it, see if turning engine off and putting it in 1st then (with clutch as usual). Worked for me and If works for you may be handy if you get stuck.

    Mine is otherwise playing well at the moment and will hopefully keep giving.
     
    David H and Gordon D like this.
  20. David H

    David H Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    3,439
    Location:
    newcastle
    I'm feeling brave so:rolleyes:..........If gears selection/engage are a problem.....turn engine off.....select 1st gear (& if it won't select 1st with engine stopped you're a tilt tray:mad:).... don't bother with the clutch (or you can if you wish)....activate starter. You should now move forward & engine start. That's thru that intersection in 1st. Rest is just management:D.
    Recommend the short shifter Gordon D. Had them on every Kombi I've owned.
    I had to get out of the drivers seat & take a walk:p. I'm short!
    Cheers
     

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