Day 1230 – So Far, So Good

Picked up my van from Mike’s Import Auto Repair. So far the clutch shuddering seems to be fixed. The symptom was when starting from zero or, worse, starting from zero in reverse, there would be a horrible shudder, or chatter, when starting off.

If i carefully, oh-so-carefully, mixed the clutch and power there would be virtually no problem (reverse was still pretty bad, but forward was ok). Trouble was it was hard for me to concentrate on my clutching while paying sufficient attention to other drivers. This was a particular problem in Rapid City, South Dakota when Annette and i were on our Badlands, Black Hills, Devils Tower tour.

I had been told that i probably needed a new clutch disc and/or throwout bearing. But, i argued, if that were the case the problem would manifest itself all the time. The symptoms i was seeing did not appear until the engine and drivetrain were fully warmed up. Additionally, on hot days it was worse than on cold days. The only answer, i reasoned, was some kind of trapped air in the clutch system (the VW Vanagon uses a hydraulic clutch with the master cylinder behind the dashboard actuated by the clutch pedal attached by a LONG metal hydraulic line to a slave cylinder attached to the driver’s side of the transaxel).

It is one of those mechanical systems that works perfectly until it doesn’t.

The first real clue that the problem was in the hydraulic system rather than the clutch itself was when i asked Brian B. to bleed out the system. For the first fifty miles the clutch was great. But after that the pedal began feeling funky and the shudder, especially in reverse, returned.

In my not-entirely-mechanically-oriented-brain the symptom was akin to skipping a stone on the surface of one of our 10,000 lakes; since there was some kind of mitigating crap in the system the clutch disc was skipping on the flywheel as they came together. When the system was bled, the crap was displaced and the system worked better… the disc now came against the flywheel with certainty. But air, or more crap, leached into the system over a short time and the problem returned.

Now, armed with a new master cylinder, the mitigating crap has been eliminated and hey, presto! the clutch is now acting like it should.

Perhaps tomorrow it will cease such operation and my next entry will be a tale of woe, but, as yesterday’s post suggested, i hold out hight hopes.

On another note, there is still nothing new to report on the closing, or on the money situation. I learned that my sister is having her house painted so there is evidence she is putting some of the estate money to use, but i remain committed to keeping my place and not, yet, raising a fuss. My mother chose her to be the excutor of the Will. I will respect that decision no matter how strongly i feel it was in error. She’s driving the bus.

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