January 2005 Newsletter

Clutch Cable
Thought you might enjoy the following experience:

I was putting the Shop ’58 Cabriolet back together. There were only a few parts left. I decided to install the clutch cable. I got everything clean and verified that the adjustment nut which tensions the bowden tube was operational and that the clevis pin was free to engage. Decided to feed the clutch cable through the tube in the tunnel from the front. It is a little easier to grease the cable as you push it into the tube from the front. Got it in about two feet and it stopped. Well, it must be old caked grease so we will try from the rear. Pulled the cable out wiping off the grease and went to the rear and fed the cable through the tube greasing it as I went.

Went about three feet and stopped! Pulled back the cable wiping off the grease. Got some thin wire and ran it through the tube from the rear. Stopped again at three feet. Got some thicker wire like a coat hanger and pushed it up the blockage. Clamped on some vice grips and hit with a hammer. That got it! Pulled out the wire and inserted the clutch cable greasing as it went. It stopped! Damn, must really be a blockage. Found a long accelerator rod that was broken at one end but still had one threaded end. This might work but I should put a point on the threaded end. Did this on the grinder.

Pushed the rod through the tunnel until it stopped. Clamped on the vice grips and hit it with a hammer. Got it through the blockage. Pulled the rod back but it hung up at the blockage coming back. Put on the vice grips and hammered towards the rear. No luck. While the pointed threaded end went through the blockage the back of the threaded end wasn’t pointed and is hanging up. No problem, we will just push it through and pull it out from the front. Put on the vice grips and hammered it forward. It went about two feet and stopped! Hammered on the vice grips backwards and forward. No luck. The rod is jammed in the tube. What to do? Maybe the tube is kinked in the tunnel. The blockage seems to be at the transverse tube between the front and rear floor pans. I’ll have to pull the heater control and shifter to see. Of course this is the early shifter with the pin and cotter key connecting to the shift rod in the tunnel.

After some work, the heater control and shifter are out. But I can’t see any damage to the clutch cable tube. It seems like the rod should have come out the front. I see a lot of rust dust at the front of the tube but not the pointed rod end. I get a wire and find a clog of old grease and rust at the tube end. I pick at this and blow with the air hose. Clean about two inches. Get back under the 356 and hammer forward on the vice grips clamped to the rod. There it goes, it’s through the clog. Pull the rod forward with vice grips having to bend it to clear the front bulkhead.

The tube is open but I’ll have to clean it out. Tried the air hose and got some crud. Tried the clutch cable again. No go. Rigged up some tubing and a small funnel to the front of the tube. Poured in some lacquer thinner, placed a towel at the rear of the tunnel tube. Funnel is topped off but not flowing much. Then I see a puddle on the floor pan! The lacquer thinner is leaking out of the tunnel tube and of course messing up my nicely painted floor pan. I can see some repair welds on the side of the tunnel close to the floor. When damage to this area was repaired some weld must have gotten inside the tube which slopes from the top of the tunnel at the front to close to the floor level at the rear. I am going to have to cut out the side of the tunnel to make the repair but I can’t do that until later when fumes from the lacquer thinner have evaporated. So far, three hours into a simple clutch cable installation.

After a break, I run some wire in the tube and measure the distance to the clog. It is just behind the shifter opening in the tunnel about five inches. With a flashlight I can see the tube and there appears to be no damage. Let’s try ramming it again. I have some stiff thick wire that we use for fender beading. I push it through the front of the tube and attach vise grips when it hits the clog. Hammering on the vise grips I break through and run the wire back and forth a few times then remove it. I attach a paper towel at the end of the tube and blow air through it. Inspecting the towel I find rusty lacquer thinner and small pieces of metal. I push the stiff wire through the tube all the way to the front and move it back and forth numerous times. I remove the wire and insert the clutch cable and it goes right through. All that is left is to pull the cable and grease it as I reinsert it and install the bowden tube and attach the cable ends to the pedal cluster and clutch pivot arm. Four hours for a fifteen minute job. Now you know why some shops won’t work on forty to fifty year old cars and why those that do have to charge what it takes.