Dropping gearbox, how hard a job?

Drew20

Active Member
Messages
256
Reaction score
55
Location
Beaconsfield
changing the fluid with 50/50 MTL has improved things, but not as much as I'd hoped. I'd like to drop the box for a rebuild, and am wondering how easy this is as a one man job at home.
Plan is to put car on ramps front and back to gain space, drop full exhaust, drop prop, support rear of engine with a support beam, so I can remove box support and lower the rear of the engine a bit.
Then, do I just take the box off, or do I take the bellhousing too? (I have the external cylindrical clutch slave, in case it makes a difference). I've read up in the Haynes and it's not hugely helpful

Thanks
 

Stevehose

Well-Known Member
Site Donor $
Messages
8,949
Reaction score
1,269
Location
New Orleans, LA
You've described the process, get a curved wrench to access the top 2 tranny nuts. Remove the gear shift lever where it attaches to the rod. Bellhousing can remain in place. I did a 5 speed swap on jackstands in my garage by myself so it's not that difficult. While tranny is out replace all the shift lever bushings, the shift tower support bushings, and the foam on and around the shift lever hole in the tunnel. New guibo (M5) and center bearing too.
 

Sean-e9

Member
Messages
41
Reaction score
13
Location
Helsinki
If you’re doing it as a one man job, I highly recommend getting a proper transmission jack if you don’t have one already. I recently pulled the gear box and transfer case out of my E60 535i xDrive using the 800 lbs Transmission Jack from Harbor Freight. I elected to use a ratchet strap instead of the supplied chains to secure the gearbox to the jack as the chains left a bit of play between the box and the jack. Using this made it relatively easy for me to pull the gearbox without an assistant.




Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk
 

Drew20

Active Member
Messages
256
Reaction score
55
Location
Beaconsfield
You've described the process, get a curved wrench to access the top 2 tranny nuts. Remove the gear shift lever where it attaches to the rod. Bellhousing can remain in place. I did a 5 speed swap on jackstands in my garage by myself so it's not that difficult. While tranny is out replace all the shift lever bushings, the shift tower support bushings, and the foam on and around the shift lever hole in the tunnel. New guibo (M5) and center bearing too.
If I leave the bell housing in situ, how do I release the input shaft from the clutch/ clutch release arm? Is that tricky?
Re curved wrench, do you mean the half moon curved spanner type tool? Like this https://www.amazon.co.uk/Draper-07210-Half-Spanner-Pieces/dp/B007H7062G
Thanks

Will look at trans jacks, I hadn't seen one like that before your post, only the vertical ones. I take it that your jack is way better than balancing the box on a normal trolley jack.
 

Stevehose

Well-Known Member
Site Donor $
Messages
8,949
Reaction score
1,269
Location
New Orleans, LA
You just pull the tranny out. The release bearing is held in place by the wire thing, it can be removed and reinstalled through the slot in the bellhousing. However, come to think of it, since you are going to remove the tranny I would also remove the bellhousing so I could clean inside there and replace the clutch and pilot bearing. And "while you're in there" you could replace the rear main seal, that way you shouldn't have to go back in there in your lifetime. That's what I did because I never want to lie on my back with a tranny on my chest and my nose 2" from the bottom of the car again. I also used a HF jack.
 

rsporsche

Well-Known Member
Site Donor $$
Messages
7,365
Reaction score
1,014
Location
Atlanta, GA
having done this years ago without the benefit of the HF tranny jack, i highly recommend getting one and taking a lot of the pain out of the job
 

Belgiumbarry

Well-Known Member
Messages
971
Reaction score
459
Location
Belgium
yes, curved wrench and a gearbox lift.... i may not complain as i have a 4 post lift.
Great advantage of separate bellhousing/box : on reassemble for final entering the pilot bearing with the axle tip one can push the clutch , comes free and easy to center it in .
 

JMinNJ

Active Member
Site Donor $
Messages
395
Reaction score
98
Location
New Jersey
I recently swapped out a noisy 4 speed getrag on my e3 for a much quieter one. I left the bell-housing in place and just removed the exhaust, the drive shaft and four bolts that hold the trans to the BH. I supported the rear of the engine with a floor jack. I did have the advantage of knowing my clutch components were new since I did an automatic to manual swap the year before.
I strongly recommend using a transmission jack to do this job. This is the $99.99 jack I bought from HF:

https://www.harborfreight.com/450-lbs-low-lift-transmission-jack-61232.html



john
 

Drew20

Active Member
Messages
256
Reaction score
55
Location
Beaconsfield
You just pull the tranny out. The release bearing is held in place by the wire thing, it can be removed and reinstalled through the slot in the bellhousing. However, come to think of it, since you are going to remove the tranny I would also remove the bellhousing so I could clean inside there and replace the clutch and pilot bearing. And "while you're in there" you could replace the rear main seal, that way you shouldn't have to go back in there in your lifetime. That's what I did because I never want to lie on my back with a tranny on my chest and my nose 2" from the bottom of the car again. I also used a HF jack.
Thanks all, lots of good info. My clutch should be good as it was replaced when the current box was installed in 2017, however I'm keen to swap out the pilot bearing as it was not swapped out and may be dragging a bit. So I think I drop the box, then go back for the bh, and remove clutch. Do I need a puller for the pilot bearing?

Barry, could you explain your bit again about pressing in the clutch. I think it was something useful about centring the clutch.

I've done clutches on VW golfs, but nothing like this before. On a Golf you can use an engine crane to easily support the box, plus the clutch release mech runs through the box input shaft (= no faffing with release bearings), and no seperate bh either.

I hope to rent or borrow one of those tranny jacks, can't justify the cost or the space in the garage for a tool I will only use once or twice. Everything's always twice the price in the uk ☹
 

m5bb

Well-Known Member
Site Donor $
Messages
1,494
Reaction score
234
Location
Peachtree Corners, GA
If you're going to take out with the bell housing like I always do then a set of really long extensions to get to the top 2-3 bolts is the easiest way. I mean like 2 feet long. You can look at the Parts diagram so you can see what's up there and how many. 2 of the tops bolts you can barely see. Remove the trans support and drive shaft of course and let the engine tilt down at the back. Then you may be able to see those bolts.
These trans weigh close to a hundred pounds so unless your a body builder I would recommend a helper to pull it out and put back.
Like Steve said, while you're in there do it all.
 
Last edited:

Belgiumbarry

Well-Known Member
Messages
971
Reaction score
459
Location
Belgium
when you remove bellhousing and clutch , you will have to align those items with a tool... so the axle can go in up to the pilot bearing. Most problems are when the clutch is not 100 % alignend with the pilot bearing. Pressing the clutch makes it free and easy to get it full "in" .
 

m5bb

Well-Known Member
Site Donor $
Messages
1,494
Reaction score
234
Location
Peachtree Corners, GA
Yes, there's a $5.00 plastic alignment tool that is the same as the spline on the transmission.
You put this in the clutch disk when assembling the disk and pressure plate and this aligns the disk so the trans input shaft will go in easily.
This is usually easier because you don't usually have the clutch hooked up to be able to push the arm to release the pressure plate as someone mentioned earlier.
Remember you might need to leave trans in gear so you can grab the output shaft to the driveshaft and turn it slightly to get the splines to line up at the clutch disk.
 

bfeng

Well-Known Member
Site Donor
Messages
1,815
Reaction score
367
Location
Massachusetts, metrowest
I hope to rent or borrow one of those tranny jacks, k ☹
One of my old jacks has a removable saddle. I mounted a small piece of 18mm plywood on he jack with some eye bolts for straps. I kept the bout loose so the plywood platform had some freedom to wiggle around a bit. This works quite well as a poor mans transmisson jack.
 

Drew20

Active Member
Messages
256
Reaction score
55
Location
Beaconsfield
Thanks for all your experience, I'll look at my smallest jack to see if it can be modded, but otherwise I'll just buy the jack for £100, and then sell it on afterwards. Keen on an easy life.
Think I just need to get my hands dirty now.....
 

Drew20

Active Member
Messages
256
Reaction score
55
Location
Beaconsfield
Yes, there's a $5.00 plastic alignment tool that is the same as the spline on the transmission.
You put this in the clutch disk when assembling the disk and pressure plate and this aligns the disk so the trans input shaft will go in easily.
This is usually easier because you don't usually have the clutch hooked up to be able to push the arm to release the pressure plate as someone mentioned earlier.
Remember you might need to leave trans in gear so you can grab the output shaft to the driveshaft and turn it slightly to get the splines to line up at the clutch disk.
Ok, me more Q, looking for a clutch alignment tool on amazon and eBay, cheapest I've seen is over £20. Am I missing something, or is this just the I-live-in-the-UK tax?
 

Stevehose

Well-Known Member
Site Donor $
Messages
8,949
Reaction score
1,269
Location
New Orleans, LA

lloyd

Active Member
Messages
421
Reaction score
75
Ok, me more Q, looking for a clutch alignment tool on amazon and eBay, cheapest I've seen is over £20. Am I missing something, or is this just the I-live-in-the-UK tax?
Having the "right" tool can make a job easier, but there are certainly workarounds when it comes to centering a clutch disk. It is possible to align or "center" the clutch by eye. It is also possible to center the disk using an old transmission input shaft or an appropriately sized dowel, sockets or even a screwdriver. Come to think of it, I vaguely recall using an 1/2" drive extension that worked in a pinch, although it may have been for a different vehicle. Here is a link to a video of one such workaround.



On a slightly different subject, on another blog, in connection with a "noisy clutch" thread, a poster inquired about Honda branded "Urea" grease. Perhaps someone here is familiar with this product and can offer some insight into any advantage it might provide over tried-and-true high pressure molybdenum grease.

Taking liberties, the image is obviously not from E3-E9 BMW, but illustrate a use of this grease "similar" to the lubrication points on most mechanical clutch assemblies, including the E9 and E3 models. ;)


 
Last edited:

StephenZ

Active Member
Site Donor
Messages
220
Reaction score
73
Location
Valencia, CA
Yeah...if you pull the trans w/o bellhousing, you can literally lay under there and do it with your hands. The 4 speed weighs as much as a medium dumbbell in the gym. I pulled my E3's like that, and a couple 02's that way, too... then pulled the bell after to take care of the clutch and whatnot.... the 4 spd is so small.
 
Top