Out with the old, in with the, old? And thank you tiny Japanese hands.

So last Wednesday the clutch slipped on the Mazda. I’d already ordered a replacement one ready for when the engine comes out but decided to do it now before the long drive this week. What a shitter of a job! Got it up in the air nicely Wednesday night and its oil draining (which was black!) then Thursday I attacked it. The book says to remove the PPF, exhaust, slave cylinder and remove. For those who don’t know, there’s a large girder underneath the car which bolts the differential and gearbox together – they call it the power plant frame (PPF). The bolts holding it together are tightened to 89lb, but these were a lot tighter, and seized! I didn’t think any of the parts had been replaced before but maybe they had, or maybe using cadmium plated steel bolts in aluminium wasn’t a good idea by them.

I’d also had another problem with the car since Monday night when I left the pub. It was odd, the charge light came on but the headlights stayed bright. I had two choices, stay in the unlit pub car park freezing and wait for recovery or see what happens on the way home. 20 miles later the charge light went out. This was the same Tuesday and Wednesday so I did a bit of meter reading and decided that it was coming on when the alternator was putting over 16 volts into the car, meaning the alternator must be duff. So whilst it was up in the air I did some Google searches to find it’s over £200 for a new one! Bollocks to that, I found a “tested” one in Milton Keynes for £30, bargain. So as I left my dad to wrestle with a stuck bolt I shot off and collected it. He could be a good contact as he’s an MX5 breaker, however, keep reading…

I supported the engine off a block and tackle on the RSJ in the garage rood. Out comes the propsaft, off comes the PPF, now for the gearbox. Or maybe not. These bolts which are meant to be around 40lb (from memory, could be 50lb) was just as tight as the PPF. This is why a suspect it may have been fiddled with before. And amazingly, one of the bolts was so buggered it damaged the thread in the engine as it was removed. The more I was working on this car the more I was realising how small Japanese people are. You need seven joints in each finger to reach a lot of these bolts. Something which necessitated the need to remove the coil pack, held in by a bolt in quite possibly the worst position ever conceived. With that eventually removed it was time to call it a day. I had to go into college in the evening and everyone was dying from exhaustion.

The next day whilst waiting for help to arrive I decided to replace the alternator. As it turns out this is an easy job, when the car isn’t three feet in the air and when the under-tray is removed! After removing it, and cursing as I couldn’t get the bolt back to put the new one in I removed the under-tray and it was a piece of piss. Of course that’s ignoring the bolts which broke when removing the tray… Help arrives, the remaining bolts get removed, the gearbox stays where it is. It’s bloody heavy and it was getting caught on the exhaust I still refused to remove. No way was I touching exhaust bolts which may be been there for 23 years! It also didn’t help that the clutch slave cylinder hadn’t been removed… I didn’t read that part in the manual until then! The exhaust had (note, had) some insulation on it in terms of fibreglass wrapped in metal and its lip was catching on the bell housing. With some effort and careful twisting the gearbox was eventually out. With it on the ground the slave was removed as when the car was up in the air it was noticed to be leaking and a replacement ordered. And the exhaust insulation was hacked off!

The clutch was fecked. Down to its rivets and burnt. I’m happy I replaced it now as between last Friday when it was put back on the road and next Wednesday when it’ll be having its engine removed it will have clocked up near 700 miles. I get around… So now it was time to put the gearbox back, sans slave cylinder. Again, a rubbish job. It wouldn’t go into the hole for it in the body work as it was still hitting the exhaust. A rest with the gearbox on my stomach and another assessment and I spotted how to get it up there. Funny how you can struggle for ages then get a clear thought which makes it all fall into place! Then as Haynes says, refit was the reverse of removal.

When all was said and done and after maybe 16 hours the clutch, slave and alternator had been replaced. Except it wasn’t that simple. Now there was a new fault when the engine was hunting, hesitating when driven and generally crap. Saturday I got my multimeter out and checked over the O2 sensor, throttle position sensor, air flow meter and timing. All seemed fine and there were no error codes. I checked the charging circuit and it was putting in 17v, just the same as the older alternator… I also noticed that the charge light was dim with ignition on and with the engine running the light pulsed. Hmm… I wonder if it’s the alternator. This is when I found out it was far easier to replace with the car on the ground. What do you know, it fixed it! And, the charge light fault seems to have been cured, for now. Bloody thing!

Oh, and amongst all this mayhem I found out my 2010 fuel hose on the Herald had perished and was pissing fuel everywhere.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *