Nose cone, bushing and seal - a cautionary tale.

Engines, Transmissions, running gear, etc.

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Nose cone, bushing and seal - a cautionary tale.

Postby Mark Reid » Tue Aug 13, 2019 11:59 am

There is not a lot on this topic so I thought I would chronicle my recent efforts related to the above topic.

After about 10 years of a very slow drip out of my nose cone seal, I decided to replace the seal. I decided it would be easier and better to replace the brass bushing and seal at the same time.

Mistake #1: this is when I should have walked back into the house, popped a cold beer and moved on...but I didn't.

I decided that if the old one came out fairly easy, then I would proceed with the project. I took a pair of channel locks, wrapped a towel around the brass bushing and gently twisted back and forth and it eventually wiggled right out.

Mistake #2: this is when I should have pulled the old seal out of the existing bushing, press a fresh seal into it and reinstall...but I didn't.

I purchased a new bushing and German seal believing that after 20 years, the bushing might be a little sloppy on the shaft. I measured O.D's, and length to make sure I ordered the right bushing. Got the new bushing, pressed in new German seal and began to tap it over the main shaft with a properly sided deep socket. It was going on harder than the old one came off.

Mistake #3: STOP and pull it back off before seating into nose cone...but I didn't.

As we all can attest, 80% of the aftermarket VW stuff we buy is junk and not manufactured to original tolerances. I measured everything but I.D. of bushing against shaft diameter. Regardless, I thought, well, a slightly tighter fit would be a good thing and take up some lateral play in shifts. So, I tapped it all the way in only to find that I could barely move the shifter between gears. Ok, I know it has to come but I started to get that sinking feeling because I know this one is not going to come out like the old one did. I heated the nose cone housing to give myself as much help as possible. The channel lock trick was a no-go. I began to gently tap a chisel between the housing and bushing to create enough of a gap to get some leverage behind the bushing. Then it happened, the wide diameter part of the bushing containing the seal separated from the small diameter portion - leaving the remains broken off inside the nose cone housing. After throwing some things across the garage for about 30 minutes and staring at the nose cone waiting for some miraculous shortcut out of this problem, I came to terms with the fact that I was going to have to take the nose cone off.

Now I have this car for 19 years and rebuilt/blueprinted motors, aluminum interior, new paint, new seats, etc. There was nothing on this car that I had not personally built or installed but I have never had to touch the transaxle (short of changing the grease). So, I do the usual internet research, call the Hines Gents, and reference manuals. It seemed reasonable that one could loosen front bell housing bolts, remove nose cone mount bolts, jack the rear of the trans up 4" and unbolt the nose cone. Did all that and it would not budge a half inch.

Mistake #4: Call the Hines Gents first!

The rear will not raise up because the stock rubber mount has about a 1.5" nipple that goes into a slot cut in the frame with a rubber sleeve in it. Now, I was told that you can pry a gap between the frame and mount and use a saw to cut the rubber nipple off - but it serves a purposes and I did not want to go with an aftermarket urethane without a nipple. So, the bottom line is that the tranny needs to be unbolted at the bell housing and the nose cone, then raise the bell housing about 2" up out of the mounts, pull everything forward about 2", then jack the rear of the trans up. Sounds easy but there a couple big problems. 1) The bell housing mount bolts insert from front to rear and the bolts cannot come out due to interference with the lower case (in fact, it is so close on mine that the bolt head rubs against the case). I use a hoist on a rolling track to support or pull my motor so the Hines Gents informed me that I might be able to unbolt the motor, pull it forward and twist it enough each direction to get the bell housing bolt out. In order to do that, I determined that pulleys, oil lines, coil and other things would have to come off to pull the motor forward - PLUS, I was working alone making that option not reasonable.

Now I know I need to do the one thing I didn't want to do and that was pull the motor (namely because I had just rebuilt it and installed it 4 months prior and everything was dialed in perfectly)! So I bite the bullet and proceeded to pull everything off and remove the motor (not sure if I mentioned it, but it was 98 degrees with 95% humidity in my insulated garage in Houston, TX - but at least I had the "Yes" channel playing on Pandora all day).

Once the motor was out, I removed the bell housing and nose cone mount bolts, spread the bell housing mounts apart a little, put my hoist on the front of trans and a jack under the rear, lifted, pulled forward, raised rear and "wallah", was able to remove the nose cone and replace everything. I reused the original bushing with a new German seal and a new nose cone gasket.

Going back together had additional challenges though. I had the car jacked up with my usual blocks between the axles and frame to keep them from dropping too far. NOTE: This is very important because raising the transaxle high enough to remove the nose cone puts a strain on the axle boots unless you disconnect them from the swing arms and screw up your alignment - which I was not going to do. Regardless, the transaxle is spring loaded from the swing arms. Once I lifted the transaxle high enough to work on it, it was not so easy to get it to lay back down into the mount holes (no weight of the engine to help. Again, being by myself, I was able to jump up and down on it long enough to get everything back into position.

This is a hellava lot of work just to get to a nose cone - and I started thinking "what if this one leaks after I put everything together"!? So I decided to improve upon the situation. Since the bell housing bolts are only holding lateral loads, I decided to figure out how to reverse the bolts so that they can be pulled out from the rear without removing the engine - yet still not rub on the case on the passenger side. I cut a bit over 1/8" off of the nuts and rounded two edges of the nuts (so that the nut is actually slightly thinner than the bolt head. I then cut the bolts flush with the nut when installed. I inserted from the rear, put blue loctite on the nuts and tightened to spec. Now, in theory, I should only need to remove the bell housing bolts (without removing the engine), remove nose cone bolts, jack engine and trans together, move forward, then raise nose cone - all without removing anything on the engine except maybe the pulleys.

Anyway, sorry for the long story-like narrative but I figured it might help some while entertaining others. Just remember, this entire thing could have been avoided by just replacing and seal in the existing bushing - or just grab a towel and wipe the drop off the exhaust once a week and call it a day :-)

Cheers.
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Re: Nose cone, bushing and seal - a cautionary tale.

Postby DannyP » Tue Aug 13, 2019 1:53 pm

Wow, Mark, that's a big bag of suck. I changed those parts on my trans when I rebuilt it, but I always get all my trans stuff from Weddle Industries. They have the best non-Chinese parts available today: a lot German and a good portion Brazilian.

I had to pull my motor and trans last summer because my 2nd gear synchro cracked. I've rebuilt a few transmissions so that part wasn't that bad. But all you have to do to pull it sucks. On a Vintage the motor has to come completely out. Then you have to disconnect it all, remove it, then pull the axles. Complete disassembly of trans to change one stupid brass synchro........
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Re: Nose cone, bushing and seal - a cautionary tale.

Postby Mark Reid » Tue Aug 13, 2019 2:38 pm

Yep. For this project, some have cut the frame cross member where the rear trans mounts then fabbed a bolt-up solution. There was no way I was cutting the frame. Anyhow, my mods will make it infinitely easier should I ever have to do that again.
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Re: Nose cone, bushing and seal - a cautionary tale.

Postby Mark Reid » Tue Aug 13, 2019 2:48 pm

There was a moral to the story but I fell asleep writing - and that is: If it ain't that broke, don't fix it!! :-)
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Re: Nose cone, bushing and seal - a cautionary tale.

Postby EEricson » Tue Aug 13, 2019 4:32 pm

I feel your pain.
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Re: Nose cone, bushing and seal - a cautionary tale.

Postby DannyP » Tue Aug 13, 2019 6:43 pm

I've got a motto for you: Forget about "while I'm in there."

Last year when the synchro cracked, I figured no better time to tackle that dry-sump project that I've always wanted to do. Dumbass me, that was a lot of work. Pulled the motor in mid-July and got it back together at the end of August. Buy all the parts(you have no idea how much that was! And neither does my wife!). Fabricate brackets to mount new JayCee bypass oil filter mount, oil thermostat, and dry sump tank. Remove all the case studs(including the one that holds the pickup tube) without splitting the case and replace with longer for dry sump suction piece. Replace pulley and ignition trigger wheel and VR sensor because they no longer fit. Machine pulley to take hidden trigger wheel. Make up all new oil lines. Plug oil filler in case. Yup, got it done for Vintage Festival at LRP. But stupid Scat sand seal spun loose and leaked oil everywhere. Bought JayCee pulley, and machined that to fit trigger wheel. Success! Trailer down to North Carolina for three days of hardcore driving on the best roads I've ever been on!
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Re: Nose cone, bushing and seal - a cautionary tale.

Postby albaran » Wed Aug 14, 2019 8:42 am

I posted this before, but to get around this problem I made the crossmember that holds the nose cone removable.
I made a square sleeves that slide back so you don't have to pull or move the engine.
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Re: Nose cone, bushing and seal - a cautionary tale.

Postby EEricson » Wed Aug 14, 2019 4:25 pm

DannyP wrote:I've got a motto for you: Forget about "while I'm in there."

Last year when the synchro cracked, I figured no better time to tackle that dry-sump project that I've always wanted to do. Dumbass me, that was a lot of work. Pulled the motor in mid-July and got it back together at the end of August. Buy all the parts(you have no idea how much that was! And neither does my wife!). Fabricate brackets to mount new JayCee bypass oil filter mount, oil thermostat, and dry sump tank. Remove all the case studs(including the one that holds the pickup tube) without splitting the case and replace with longer for dry sump suction piece. Replace pulley and ignition trigger wheel and VR sensor because they no longer fit. Machine pulley to take hidden trigger wheel. Make up all new oil lines. Plug oil filler in case. Yup, got it done for Vintage Festival at LRP. But stupid Scat sand seal spun loose and leaked oil everywhere. Bought JayCee pulley, and machined that to fit trigger wheel. Success! Trailer down to North Carolina for three days of hardcore driving on the best roads I've ever been on!


Danny, you are truly The Man. And you truly earn every apex you clip.
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Re: Nose cone, bushing and seal - a cautionary tale.

Postby albaran » Thu Aug 15, 2019 12:08 pm

There have been many posts about the difficulty of getting at the transmission and clutch because of the nosecone crossmember placement. I don't understand why any of the builders don't make this piece removable . Knowing what I know now, I would gladly have paid a few more dollars for that feature. The crossmember on my TR that runs above between the two shock towers is removable. There are many examples of how this could be done while the frame is being built. This picture is from an off road racer.
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Re: Nose cone, bushing and seal - a cautionary tale.

Postby Mark Reid » Sat Aug 17, 2019 2:40 pm

I get it. I've rebuilt and blueprinted my motor twice in 20 years. I can get the motor out in 2.5 hours so not that big of a deal. Just p$#$ me off because I screwed up. Albaran, I saw you post - and believe me, I considered that option but did not want to cut the frame under any circumstances or cover the VIN stamp. Its all good. Not the worse mistake I've made :-) Just wanted to share the process with others and the tip about cutting and reversing the bellhousing bolts.
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Re: Nose cone, bushing and seal - a cautionary tale.

Postby DannyP » Sat Aug 17, 2019 4:19 pm

@Ed Ericson: Thanks man, I do earn those apexes. But I'm not the man, I'm just a caveman with tools(thanks Stan!).
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