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Project Rolla, My Friend Manuel – Part 2

After a long and eventful first day, it was time to get stuck into the manual part of manual converting.


The first job of the day was to crack into cutting holes in the firewall for the clutch master cylinder. Toyota was kind enough to stamp the firewall for where it should be but wasn’t nice enough to stamp where the holes should be. Dicks.

Using the gasket on the master as a template, the three holes we needed were marked out and center punched. Apparently, my center punching isn’t so much “center” punching as just stabbing around in the dark, but hey, winnings winning. Next, the holes were drilled. The two small holes were done with a step drill, and the large hole was done with a hole saw. Note for future me, don’t oversize the pilot hole for the holesaw or it just tries to bugger off all over the show.

Regardless the holes were drilled and test fitted. It was pretty close, and a small tweak with the Dremel on the edge of the big hole made it a bang on fit. Like a bought one.

With that done a rag was placed behind the holes and the edges were protected with some black Zinc paint.

Whilst we waited for the paint on that to dry we moved onto the next job. Pissing the auto shifter right the hell off. Horrible, festy thing. With the mounting bolts removed, and only a little skin removed from my hands undoing the cable retaining plate under the dash, it was out. A 10mm ratcheting spanner is a lifesaver for those retaining plates.

That meant we could feed the cables through for the manly shifter and mount that. Attaching the external retaining plate involved me sitting in the engine bay as it was easier to reach that way, and it wouldn’t be the last time I was an engine. You can see why it would be a ballache with the engine in place. Much respect to Iain for pulling the cables out of the donor with the engine still in, that didn’t look fun.

Looks like it was meant to be there all along. I may have sat in the car making car noises, shifting the unattached shifter…

Since the paint was about dry, now it was time to climb up under the dash again and replace the brake pedal with the smaller manual one and fit the clutch pedal.

This isn’t a job I want to do again in a hurry. It kept fighting me the whole way, but in the end I got it sorted. No real tricks to this, but a cordless ratchet helps a lot, and don’t forget the screws at the top of the pedals that go in vertically. If you forget these you end up with the whole lot floating around when you use them, as I had in the M328i

With the master cylinder in place, we could then fit the hard-line for the clutch. This runs from the master down to a bracket we had to add to the brake proportioning valve. This was the other time I had to sit in the engine bay as we couldn’t get the bolts for the prop valve to line back up. In hindsight, I would say remove one bolt at a time, not both. You could also fit the clutch hose to the hard-line now too.

The last thing to do in the engine bay whilst the engine was out was to replace the fuel filter. Its tucked away down in the back corner and a bit of a pain to access. I’ll tell you what, it’s pretty easy to get to with the engine out. The old one is stamped 2001!

One tip when fitting the new one is to attach the inlet pipe on the bottom first, and then mount it to the bracket. If you mount it first it’s hard to get the pipe to line up.

Now was the fun part, splitting the auto from the engine. We had the engine suspended from the crane, and used a plank across the legs of the crane to support the trans. Under the engine, pop out the little plastic cover and undo all the torque converter bolts. Now it’s as simple as removing the starter and removing all the bolts that hold the engine and trans together. Be sure to disconnect and remove all the wiring off the trans, and then use a pry bar to split the two.

And send the auto to do what it does best; be a door stop against the howling Wellington wind.

The manual box is a hard single person lift. The auto box is a moderate two person lift. Its a lot bigger and quite a bit heavier.

With the auto off, the torque converter and flex plate were removed. There are a couple of spacers on the crank, neither of which are retained. The flywheel is offered up and the new bolts torqued to spec with some Loctite on the threads. A long prybar was used on the flywheel to counter hold for torquing.

By some stroke of luck, I happened to obtain a universal clutch alignment tool many years ago with some tubs of SD1 parts I purchased. Sure enough, it worked a treat. It’s the style where you use it to center the clutch disc on the friction surface of the pressure plate and then attach the whole lot to the flywheel before removing the tool. If the disc is central on the pressure plate, and the pressure plate is centered on the flywheel, it should all line up. It worked perfectly the first time.

Then it was a matter of torquing the pressure plate bolts down, and fitting the gearbox.

Before fitting the box I had to fit the brand new clutch fork I ordered. The reason for me sourcing a new fork was that the previous one in the gearbox had cracked in a couple of places and been welded, so I chose to go with a nice new one. I ordered it based on a Corolla the gearbox would have come out of. When offering it up to the pivot point I noted it was quite loose and didn’t “click” into the retaining springs as it should. We decided to proceed anyway, thinking that everything looked OK, maybe it would sort its self out.

It didn’t, but thats tomorrows story.

We used a similar method to removing the auto to fit the manual box. Suspend engine by crane, tilt it slightly end down, and then manhandle the trans into place whilst trying to slip a long bolt into a hole to take the weight. Took a couple of tries but went together easy enough.

With the bolts all in and torqued to spec, Iain used his expertise to rewire the inhibitor and reverse light switches. The inhibitor switch usually stops you starting the car unless in Park or Neutral, so first we needed to fake the car into thinking it was in Neutral to start. This was done by joining the two big wires on the connector (Pins 2 and 3, Black and Black/White). Next was to join the manual reverse light switch on the box to the two wires from the inhibitor switch that would usually do that job (Pins 5 and 6, Red/Blue and Red/Black).

The rest of the redundant wires which would normally go to the indicator lights in the dash cluster (which my car never had) and OD solenoid were snipped back. Everything was soldered and heatshrinked nicely, and covered in corrugated loom. Sadly no photos of the completed job, but Iain did an outstanding job, looking like it was there from factory, and it all worked first time. You can spot it in some photos if you’re keen.

Before reinstalling the engine I took a look at the cambelt and waterpump. The belt had very little wear and the pump looked like it had been recently replaced. Everything looked so good we decided to leave it for now and just run it as it is. Despite its filth and looks, someone had looked after the basic maintenance at some point.

All that was left was to haul the engine and manual box back into the engine bay. This is where two people are a must, and a third would be handy. Trying to change the level of the engine, whilst pushing it around in the engine bay, checking it’s not going to hit anything like the AC condenser, and still trying to control the engine crane, was a mission. It’s doable though.

A couple of tips; First, make sure you put the right bolt through the rear mount. If you don’t, it’ll be a real bastard to get the wrong bolt back out again and you will waste a bunch of time trying to line it all up again. Second, don’t fit the LH trans mount until the engine is basically in the car. It’s much easier to do is when the trans is where it needs to be, and use a ratchet spanner on the bolts in the side of the frame rail. You can also fit the plastic clip for the AC lines afterwards too which gives more room.

So thats that, the engine was in!

It was quite late by then, so we left it for the day. The first job for tomorrow is to plumb in, bleed the clutch to check it is OK (as I had this niggling feeling).

More soon.

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