I took the Great Pumpkin out the other day, to try and pump some much needed carbon dioxide into the very cold air. Some greenhouse gasses are badly needed – to warm up what has been the coldest “summer” in memory. It is two weeks away from June and it has dipped below freezing here in SW Virginia twice in the past few days. We have had several days of “highs” no more than 50-something, which is appropriate to March.
At any rate, I figured I’d do my part of help and rolled the ancient icon of a better, vanished time out of the garage and headed north, to the coffee shop where I am still allowed to sit in the parking lot and drink my coffee – without Fear Masking to get it.
The trip down was great. Not quite a full stop at the sign and onto the main road. Line her up and – rolling start, so the tires have a chance – dump the throttle and here we go! The shaker’s door opens wide, air gulps down the chasm of the Quadrajet’s secondaries, to be exhaled in copious warmth and wonderful smells from the twin splitter tips out back.
Full afterburner – all the way there.
It was headed home that something went awry. I noticed it as soon as the road opened up and the transmission – a modern (or more modern than my TA’s original) transmission would not shift into overdrive. Then it would not shift out of second.
I feared that soon it would not shift at all – and so kept going. In a situation like this, stopping can be smart – or dumb – depending on what’s wrong. If the problem was due to low (because leaking) fluid and I kept on driving, doing so would be exceptionally stupid – because running an otherwise healthy automatic low on fluid can quickly Corona it. But I was on the 85 percent side of sure that it wasn’t a leak that was my issue. I saw no puddles and smelled no smoke and besides all that I know my car in the way that owning a car for 30 years creates an intimacy that most marriages never achieve.
So I banked on something else – and in that case, stopping could mean permanently stopping. So I kept going, in second, all the way home.
And made it.
The Great Pumpkin is a “lucky ship” – like the battleship Scharnhorst (well, maybe the Scharnhorst wasn’t so lucky as she now rests at the bottom of the deep).
In any event, back in the safety of drydock – and access to tools.
With trepidation, I dropped the pan, wondering whether anything would drop out with the pan; whether anything other than fluid would be in the pan. Chunks of things are never a good sign. But – as luck (so far) would have it – no chunks or anything unusual. Just the fluid and a little very fine silt, normal to find in the pan.
So, what next? Suspicion fell on the governor, a gear-driven thing with weights and springs that reacts to spinning (centrifugal force) to govern the shifts. The Pumpkin’s tranny – not Bruce – is a GM TH2004R and these things apparently have a weakness in the governor. The spring sometimes goes and when it does, so do your shifts. So I pulled the governor out of the valve body – the hydraulic circuit box that is the heart of every automatic – and looked to see.
But the spring was fine and the governor seemed ok.
Which is good but doesn’t explain the lack of shifts. There is an electric solenoid that could be the source of the ‘infection.” Another possibility is a stuck accumulator or a little piece of something in one of the many tiny hydraulic passages, which is a possible consequence of long periods of sleep.
The TA only comes out once a month or so – and less, lately Because Corona. The fluid only had about 2,000 miles on it but then so do the tires – and they were new back around 2002.
One other contender is the TV – throttle valve – cable, which needs to be adjusted just right for the shifts to happen right. It’s possible the cable is out of adjustment. Or – and this can be determined easily with the transmission’s undersides exposed – the lever it’s attached to that’s supposed to depress a plunger that tells the tranny (not Bruce) when to shift could be awry.
So, we’ll see.
Everything goes back together – after rechecking everything that can be checked without actually taking the tranny out (not for a date; sorry, Bruce) later this week, once the parts I need arrive.
In the meanwhile, put your hands on the TeeVee and pray with me, Ernest-style, to the Motor Gods:
Thou foul green spirits, come out! Heaaaayuuuhlll!
. . .
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