The glistening gearbox

Other than the obvious religious festival and the giving and receiving of gifts, Christmas is traditionally a time of feasting and as we all know, a good feast relies on lots of cooking.

After leaving the bearings in the fridge overnight to marinade in coldness I waited patiently until the coast was clear and whacked up the heat on the oven.   5 minutes later and with barely a sniff of Castrol permeating the kitchen and the old bearings were out and replaced by new ones.   As it is panto season I had a bit of an Aladdin moment thinking about new bits for old and then another more scary moment as I heard footsteps coming down the stairs.   “She’s behind you!” I thought but oh no she wasn’t.   It was the cat coming to see if there was any potential protein coming her way as the oven was being used at an unusual time.

I had very carefully dissembled the gearbox prior to the oven adventure.    Everything was lined up in the correct sequence, cleaned, placed in the correct place on the clean side of the sink (obviously I mean workbench there, sink is just what I call it sometimes) ready for being rebuilt.

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The way the gearbox works is there’s a big barrel with wiggly grooves in it (you may note that I am being very technical here).   There are three forks, the handles of which nestle in the wiggly grooves and the prongs nestle between the cogs of the gearbox.   When you change gear, the big barrel rotates slightly and the wiggly grooves make the forks lift or drop (depending on whether we are on an up wiggle or a down wiggle) and so the forks make different gears engage together.

I made two mistakes.

As I was carefully laying out the cleaned parts I was not quite so careful about which way round they went.   This wasn’t so bad with the cogs because it was sort of obvious (and I had a picture) but the forks are asymmetrical and I had no idea what way round they went.    I spent a jolly three hours trying them in all combinations possible until I was happy that they were correct and then carefully put everything back in the crankcase – Fellow rebuilders, do not do what the maual says and try to put it all in as a job lot.  It is impossible.   Start with the shafts and then build them up slowly from there.   It’s a bit like tetris but backwards.

This was my second mistake.   After reassembling it all and standing back to admire my clean, mouse-free, working gearbox I noticed the little white bag that contains the new oil seal for it so everything had to come out again to replace it.

In an ideal world we should be joining the cranks together this weekend.   If that happens it means that I actually managed to get my Christmas shopping completed.   Yeah, right.

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