Sunday, July 31, 2016

Transmission will not shift into reverse on Tremec T-56 transmission

Problem: Car suddenly and inexplicably won't shift into reverse.

The usual tricks do not work, including:
  • Shifting to first gear, then reverse
  • Shifting to fourth gear, then reverse
  • Rolling a bit forward
  • Letting car idle, stationary, with clutch out, before trying for reverse
  • Letting the clutch out a bit with the brakes on (to try and align transmission gears without moving forward)
  • Pumping clutch
  • Removing the floor mat to get an extra bit of clutch travel
  • Forcing the gear
  • Shifting into reverse with the engine is not running
If you have a reverse lockout solenoid, it may feel very much like the solenoid is preventing you from shifting.   This will seem to be "confirmed" on those few occasions when you can shift into reverse when the car is not running by overcoming the spring pressure of the solenoid/shifter mechanism, but this trick will (probably) not work consistently.

Unfortunately, this can be caused by a myriad of problems, ranging from trivial to expensive.  These include:
  • Low clutch fluid (refill clutch fluid)
  • Air in clutch lines (bleed clutch fluid)
  • Worn/low transmission fluid (change)
  • Broken reverse lockout solenoid (replace)
  • Worn master cylinder (replace)
  • Worn slave cylinder (replace)
  • Worn reverse synchro (replace)
  • Worn motor mounts (replace)
  • Worn shifter bushings (replace)
  • Worn clutch / flywheel (replace)
You will probably be convinced that you need a new reverse lockout solenoid because yours feels like it is stuck, and/or worried your clutch is about toast.

However, before you despair and resign yourself to another dealership visit for a new reverse solenoid, clutch or transmission service, check that tiny little hydraulic clutch reservoir under the hood.  In my case the reservoir was dry, meaning the clutch fluid was a touch low.  Topping up with less than 100 ml of DOT-4 brake fluid seems to have fixed the issue. 

Note that any DOT-4 will do.  If you add quite a bit, pump the clutch slowly 10-15 times after topping up.

A dry reservoir is a sign of a leak.  If you haven't had any shifting problems before, the leak may be new.  Keep an eye on it and repair as necesary.

Note: This obviously assumes you haven't done something dumb like accidentally install a CAGS eliminator on your reverse solenoid by mistake.  This can happen if you purchased the wrong CAGS for your vehicle.  This should be obvious, however, since the reverse gear will immediately stop behaving once the incorrect plug is installed, and come right back once it is removed. 

I'm not going to say which car I personally have, but the Tremec was used on several, including:

  • 1997-2007 Corvette
  • 2005-2007 Corvette Z51
  • 2001-2004 Corvette Z06
  • 1993-2002 Camaro
  • 2004-2006 Ram SRT-10
  • 1992-2007 Viper
  • 2000 Cobra R
  • 2003-2004 Cobra
  • 2004-2007 Cadillac CTS-V
 Happy reversing!

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Installing the Oxford Anchor 14

So install was a pain.  Drilling concrete is never easy.

Besides a pencil/Sharpie, earplugs, a level (if wall mounted), pliers, gloves, glasses, etc, you will probably need to acquire:

-  A decent 1/2" hammer drill.  A rotary hammer is better, but expensive.  Consider renting one, it may make life easier.

-  Masonry bits in various sizes from 1/8" through 3/4". 

Why so many bits?  Several reasons:

-  You need the smaller sizes because nobody in their right mind will try to drill a 3/4" hole in concrete straight off.  Start with a very small pilot hole and work up slowly.

-  Masonry bits can wear out quickly.  You may need two or three of the smaller sizes to get four holes.

-  The bracket fasteners are 16mm.  They will not quite fit into a 5/8" hole, and DO NOT try and tap them in or they will deform and/or come apart.  They will fit and tighten in a 3/4" hole if you cannot find the requisite 16mm bit.

-  Many of the "all-in-one" drilling/driving sets have a few masonry bits.  But they probably go up only to 3/8".  Chances are you'll need to buy one or two of the 1/2", 5/8" and 3/4" sizes, respectively.  (I ended up going through a few small bits but only needed one 1/2", one 5/8" and one 3/4". for ten holes.)

-  A good masonry bit will bite and drill relatively easily.  If it is not biting, it is probably worn out.  Or maybe you've hit rock or rebar.

-  The bit bits are a little expensive at $10-$15 each.  I found them cheapest at Home Depot.

More details:

-  The commenters are right.  Drill ONE hole first.  Mount the bracket up, then mark & drill hole #2.  Repeat until you get all four.  Trying to mark and drill four at once is a recipe for at least one to be off-center.

-  If you're having trouble getting your initial hole on center, you can use a "regular" titanium or high-speed bit to get a dimple to center the masonry bit.

-  If you end up with bits that melt, flatten, pancake or mushroom - i.e. an  un-drillable hole - chances are you hit some rebar.  In which case you can spend $100 on a carbide rebar cutting bit, or move to a new location.  After melting nine bits (!) I eventually chose the latter, which is why I had ten holes and not eight.

-  If you miss or have to shift, you will have some leftover holes.  Fill these in with weatherproof grey silicone or similar.

-  ALWAYS completely thread the provided fasteners to ensure they thread cleanly.  I had two that were difficult to thread, and they could have caused problems if I'd inserted the anchors without clearing them.

-  I tightened mine with a torque wrench, but only because I had an inch-pound wrench lying about that I had inherited but never used.  You will need the right adapters, bits etc. to let you put a 6mm hex key on it.  I used the 3/8" torque wrench, a 3/8"-to-1/4" adapter and a deep 6mm 1/4" drive socket.  To make the 6mm hex bit I cut the long leg off of the L-shaped hex key that came with the bracket.

-  I have no idea how you're meant to hammer the ball bearings in to the bolt heads.  You'll need a punch, I guess?  I didn't try.  Will be easy if floor-mounted, but IMHO rather unnecessary.

-  Hammering the cover plugs into the bracket is hard.  Expect to miss and mark up your nice new bracket.  (Note mine were wall-mounted - floor-mounted might be easier to keep on target.  Maybe use a rod or something between the cap and hammer to avoid hitting the bracket itself.)

-  If you have difficulty removing a fastener and end up leaving parts inside the hole, you can fish them out with a magnet.  They are steel and not aluminum.

I had to make a cardboard & cloth pad to let me lean against the drill with my body, without crushing my hands or squashing myself too badly.  It takes a LOT of force to get the bit moving sometimes and I simply cannot deliver that with my arms alone.  Knee pads or a mat are also highly recommended.

Sunday, July 10, 2016

McAfee "Navigation to the webpage was cancelled" upon uninstall attempt

You know, it is no wonder people have such an ambivalent perspective of AV companies. 

On the one hand, they all provide free services to the benefit of everyone.  Every AV-protected PC is one fewer target.

On the other hand, they seem like pricks when they:

(a) accidentally bork thousands of PCs - which, to be fair - are highly-publicized but extremely rare occurrances, or

(b)  Seem to intentionally make it damn-near-impossible for the average Jane to remove their unwanted AV product - which often comes pre-installed - from their own PC that they paid good money for. 

Now, we all know they need to make money like everyone else, and AV is not an easy business. But try and lose more gracefully, people!

This is so pervasive that McAfee and others have resorted to creating "removal tools" specifically designed to uninstall their software.  Which makes them just about the ONLY companies in the world who cannot figure out how to accomplish this, without error, using the built-in Windows un/install tools that have been around since - well, Windows itself.

If you do get a mysterious, uninformative and seemingly unresolvable error - like, say "Navigation to the webpage was  cancelled" while trying to uninstall McAfee, it just raises more questions than answers.  It says you can "Refresh the webpage", but you seemingly can't - are you doing something wrong?  Did it uninstall or not?  Is it still working or not?  How do you check?  How can you know?

Anyway, the McAfee Removal Tool seems to take care of the issue by completely removing McAfee AV.  Just be sure you download it from a McAfee site, and not some sketchy file-sharing site that might have a Trojan horse nasty masquerading as the legitimate removal tool.