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Bristol Dragway and The Busted Transmission- Part Two: September 2010

Picking up where we left off in Part One of this story, I mentioned before that this whole turn of events stung quite a bit and that it took some time for both the car and I to heal before I could tell the whole story. Well, while part one was the kick in the gut, part two is the triumphant return to the streets. It's only the resiliency of the human spirit that makes this hobby possible when things go awry. Most every car guy I've met is wired this way. We don't let adversity get us down for long. We collect our thoughts, plan how we're going to get back in the game and do whatever it takes to meet our goal, even if it means eating Ramen noodles for a month to pay for a new part. Pretty cool.

After parking the car for a month to clear my thoughts and find that renewed energy, I threw my favorite jumpsuit on (I highly recommend these for garage work) grabbed my beloved 12, 14 and 17mm sockets and went to work. My plan was a little short sighted, as I just wanted to get the damaged transmission out of the car as fast as possible.

Talon in the garage

The parts were flying off, as you can see from my stockpile of axles, crossmembers, exhaust and stuff. DSM Parts

I got the transmission out in record time. Not too bad for only doing it one other time when I first got the car. DSM Transmission Removed

Here she is. Wounded, but still tough enough to bring me all the way back home. Luckily there was no external damage to the case that I could see. DSM Transmission

So now that I had my transmission out on the garage floor, what do I do with it? Over the years I've slowly challenged myself to tackle increasingly complex automotive jobs. It aa started with porting the 14b turbo on my Eclipse back in 1999. That was a big deal back then, precision work compared to working on my old V8 Trans Am. From there it was cam swaps, timing belts, engine swaps, welding, etc. Looking back, I've amassed quite the curriculum vitae thanks to the car hobby. I've thrown a 4G63/Powerglide combo into a Starion, and have even got a Mazda 1.6 engine to run with a DSM 4G63 ECU! Surely I was ready to tackle a transmission rebuild on my own...right? So I consulted with someone y'all might know and he set me straight:
The Healing

With my newfound heavenly advice, On Monday I gave the friendly folks at ShepTrans.com a call and told them all about my dilemma. I talked to the man himself (Mr. John Shepherd) and we talked through a solid rebuild plan that would get me the strength I needed without sacrificing the drivability that I enjoy so much. So I boxed up the broken hunk and sent it away. The drawing was just to give the folks up there a laugh or two. Maybe I have a bad sense of humor, but I still find drawing mustaches on people side-splittingly hilarious. Shep Box Drawing

Packing Up Transmission

All wrapped up and ready to go

While the transmission was spending some healing time of its own in Ohio, I replaced the clutch and flywheel. I didn't expect to replace the flywheel, but after looking closely, I found a ton of tiny stress cracks. Keep in mind this is an ACT Chromoly piece. I know the ride home with only 5th gear put some serious heat into this thing. Cracked Flyweel

Much better. As Whitney Houston once said, "Crack is wack." Especially on your flywheel. New Flywheel

I also took this opportunity to purchase/install a new ThreeSpeed scattershield. It is a great piece and looks bomb-proof. Three Speed Scattershield

Here's the factory Mitsubishi steel shifter bushing that replaces the plastic crap that dissolved away to nothing in my car. Why didn't they use this from the start? The part that caused it all

Finally the day had come! I picked this sucker up at UPS, and could barely contain my excitement as I signed for it. When I got it home I immediately unboxed it. The box

Let me tell you, this is the best box/packaging I've ever seen. It's amazing. Shep Trans unboxing 1

Shep Trans unboxing 2

Shep Trans unboxing 3

And there it is - what a thing of beauty. I got it back in the car so fast, I didn't stop to snap a single photo. transmission

Here's the car back to its former glory. Street worthy once again and far more capable than before. The transmission is 100 times better than my old wore out lump and it's nice to have piece of mind that I can trust this thing. I used to worry about my old 220,000 mile transmission failing on me every time I beat up on it. Now I can shift at 9500 rpm with confidence - and that is pretty darn important. Who doesn't love a story with a happy ending?

Thanks for reading!
-Tom All done and ready to roll