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"Stabbing" a manual trans

Discussion in 'The Hokey Ass Message Board' started by blowby, May 3, 2013.

  1. blowby
    Joined: Dec 27, 2012
    Posts: 7,883

    from Nicasio Ca

    Been many years since I've done a clutch job, an automatic here and there. In the next few days I'll be doing the final (hopefully) install of the T5 behind my flattie. The bell housing has no access hole, and I have no pilot tool, though I suppose I could make one. On half bell housings we used to leave the pressure plate loose so you could wiggle the trans into place, then tighten it.

    I have an image of me on my back, exhausted, trying to get the dang tranny into the pilot bushing. Not as strong as I used to be. So looking for any tricks or tips. Have my wife sit in the car and push the clutch pedal once I get it past the disc?
  2. JohnEvans
    Joined: Apr 13, 2008
    Posts: 4,883

    from Phoenix AZ

    Simple buy ,rent or make a tool !! Might even borrow one from autozone etc.
  3. I have had some luck centering the clutch plate edge with the outer edge of the pressure plate then tighten.
  4. Fast Bill
    Joined: Jan 2, 2011
    Posts: 40

    Fast Bill

    A little trick I use is to put studs in the bell housing trans bolt holes. They guide the trans straight in. Once it's in, pull the studs one at a time and put the correct bolts in. We have a pilot shaft. Cheap plastic, but works great.

  5. gas pumper
    Joined: Aug 13, 2007
    Posts: 2,956

    gas pumper

    The only issue with T-5"s is that there seems to be a lot of variations that need to be addressed when you put all the parts together and that requires test fitting as you go along. Lenght of pilot bearing on input shaft, lenght of splines on input, clearance at rear of clutch disk to splines on trans input, lenght of bearing retainer where TO bearing rides, lenght of TO bearing to fork, Diameter of front bearing retainer to bellhousing. All these things need to be fit before the final assembly and I found that doing these checks one at a time is the way to go. resulting in putting the trans in and out about 10 times before you finally can put the 4 bolts in.

  6. czuch
    Joined: Sep 23, 2008
    Posts: 2,688

    from vail az

    I've made a few broom stick pilot shafts. Other than that, a lovely assistant on the clutch pedal who will rub those aching arms,,,,,,,,,,,and get you a beer.
  7. I have not had good results from the plastic alignment tools. The concentricity is just not good enough. Use a good metal tool or an old input shaft. Probably the broomstick mentioned above would be better than a cheap plastic tool.
  8. belair
    Joined: Jul 10, 2006
    Posts: 8,737


    I will be doing this w/a Saginaw 4-speed soon. Glad to be reminded of the little tricks.
  9. GassersGarage
    Joined: Jul 1, 2007
    Posts: 4,728


    Oh man, I just had a flashback changing the clutch on a Ford Top Loader. It's a heavy sum bitch flat, on your back. Trans fell off the jack so I called a friend to help me lift it onto the jack. We couldn't do it so I asked my roommate to help too. He's the strongest guy I ever met but also pretty hefty (as in fat). He crawled under the car to check it out, then I heard a "clunk"! Next thing, he's asking for the trans bolts. He did it himself!!!!!! :eek::p
  10. big M
    Joined: Mar 22, 2010
    Posts: 709

    big M

    You can get a universal alignment tool relatively cheap, brands like KD, Lisle, etc.
    make them. These use a cone on a shaft with a selection of different ends to fit your pilot bushing.

    The plastic ones sold with the kits are often warped and not true, and can lead to aggravation.

    In the past, when I did this for a living, before scrapping a junk transmission, I would save the input shaft for future clutch jobs, as they were perfect for aligning the disc. I must have twenty different ones saved up.

  11. Mr48chev
    Joined: Dec 28, 2007
    Posts: 29,786


    Big M said almost what I was going to say. The best pilot shafts are old input shafts from Junk transmissions but the "universal tapered cone ones with the different ends to fit the pilot bushings work ok and the plastic ones seem to be ok for one one go but don't like much rough handling. You sure can't hang a pressure plate off one while you get another grip like you can with an old input shaft.

    One thing I do with automatic transmissions and it should work with most manual trans and that is to take a couple of longer bolts and run them through two of the mounting holes in the trans and screw them into the bellhousing so that the longer bolts act as guides to help line up the trans and hold some of the weight. A guy could cut the heads off a couple that were several inches long and cut screw driver slots in the heads and have a set you could just screw in and then stick the trans on.

    I've never seen anyone have any luck with the have the helper push the clutch pedal while he stabbed the trans thing.
  12. upspirate
    Joined: Apr 15, 2012
    Posts: 2,281


    Before I bought a tool,I did the close alignment then slid in as far as I could while someone was in the car to push pedal in when necessary.

    Worked OK for me on a Buick Skylark, Duster 340 and Pontiac GTO.

    Like others, I bought a metal tool that worked sorta OK, but when I got an old input shaft from work, that worked the best.
  13. shinysideup
    Joined: Sep 1, 2008
    Posts: 1,627

    from ruskin, fl

    1.Bolt up the pressure plate and clutch with a cheap alignment tool.
    2.Attach bellhousing and throwout arm.
    3. bolt on transmission.
  14. X2 on the old input shaft. If that's not an option, maybe a flex head GearWrench would allow you to tighten the pressure plate bolts AFTER you get the trans stabbed?
  15. EchoOfGecko
    Joined: Aug 4, 2010
    Posts: 254


    I must be in the minority here, I've never had an issue with a plastic alignment tool, especially considering they're only a few dollars. Seems a heck of a lot easier than trying to locate a scrap T5 in a junk yard to salvage the input shaft or spending an hour making a wood one.

    I just did my T5 a couple weekends ago by myself. I installed the clutch and pressure plate with the no-good plastic tool, installed the fork and throwout bearing and used a bungee cord against the fork arm to hold the bearing against the fingers so it didn't move around, pulled the no-good plastic tool, and slid the trans in. Easy peasy.
  16. oldtom69
    Joined: Dec 6, 2009
    Posts: 546

    from grandin nd

    haven't lived until you you do a double or triple disc clutch.not only do you need to be centered on the pilot bearing but the splines on all the discs have to be in line wth each other[and the feature is starting in 10 minutes]:eek:
  17. poprockcrusher
    Joined: May 17, 2009
    Posts: 123


    lisle makes an alignment tool el cheapo
    I have had good luck with my index finger
  18. Gman0046
    Joined: Jul 24, 2005
    Posts: 6,260


    upspirate X-2. Many times I've replaced transmissions before the plastic alignment tools ever became available. Leaving the pressure plate loose, stabbing the transmission and depressing the clutch was the only way to do it.
  19. mashed
    Joined: Oct 15, 2011
    Posts: 1,474

    from 4077th

    I wouldn't. Assaulting a Mexican cross-dresser is a serious crime.
  20. I've always used an input shaft from a junk trans when I could get one. Check with scrap metal places and look on their pile of junk transmissions.
  21. Rusty O'Toole
    Joined: Sep 17, 2006
    Posts: 9,604

    Rusty O'Toole

    I've made my own on a wood lathe, or used a dowel wrapped with black tape, even lined up the clutch plate by eye before tightening down the pressure plate. The old trans shaft is good, so is the special made pilot shaft, but there are other ways to get the same result.
  22. blowby
    Joined: Dec 27, 2012
    Posts: 7,883

    from Nicasio Ca

    Thanks for the tips guys. I know it's not rocket science, but I also remember times when even with a pilot tool I ended up under there with a trans that refused to go in...and afraid to let the trans rest on the clutch disc without being in the pilot hole. Gonna for sure makes some guide studs, and check all the T5 nuances mentioned.
  23. Rattle Trap
    Joined: May 11, 2012
    Posts: 358

    Rattle Trap

    I have always used a ratchet handle for alignment. All you need to do is find something that is the same diameter as the shaft.
  24. Dapostman
    Joined: Apr 24, 2011
    Posts: 294


    I have actually held a transmission while another person bolted the clutch in place. I was a hell of a lot younger then, and plastic pilot tools weren't available; I'm going to buy a pilot tool this time.
  25. Saxon
    Joined: Aug 9, 2008
    Posts: 2,157

    from MN

    Dont know what that means... But noted.

    Put on your thinking cap, not your over thinking cap :) never had a problem with the plastic tool.
  26. oldwood
    Joined: Mar 13, 2010
    Posts: 979

    from arkansas

    She never had any problem with shaft alignment before...
  27. gasserjohn
    Joined: Nov 9, 2008
    Posts: 1,219


  28. Kerrynzl
    Joined: Jun 20, 2010
    Posts: 2,283


    Paul, I’ve just tackled a similar problem this week Dropping a 4D56 Mitzy diesel engine into a 4 x 4 [ everything is too heavy too shunt around ]

    Here’s what I did.

    I used a long reach 3/8 drive “Tube socket” from my toolbox
    I tried to get the nearest size too the pilot bearing [ in my case the socket narrowed down to a neat-ish fit ]

    Then I wrapped masking tape around the socket to “Build it up “ to be a tight fit inside the clutch plate.

    Presto! a homemade alignment tool.

    Another way which is HAMB unfriendly

    when changing FWD clutches and I’m too lazy to pull the gearbox completely out [ Usually on the missus’ car ]
    I pull the gearbox back enough to lift the pressure plate out of the gap.
    then I use 3 small dabs of contact glue on the clutch plate and align it carefully on the pressure plate.
    Drop the clutch / pressure plate into the gap and bolt it up .
    Then re-assemble everything

    Now the fun part!! Go out and do a series of good hard launches in your missus’ car [ skids are better ] to “burn off” the glue.
    Explaining to your missus that ‘Abusing her car was totally necessary” can be entertaining sometimes

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