Temporary Retreat

Once again I crawled under the car to do battle with the rounded bolt holding the overdrive solenoid to the transmission. I was feeling confident. I had a set of bolt extractor sockets which I felt were up to the task, and, if they failed, some long-nosed locking pliers (aka “vice grip pliers”) that could maybe do the job. The weather was nice and I was in good spirits. This was definitely gonna work and I’d be ready to push on with replacing the broken part and getting my overdrive back in working order.

And again, that’s when the plan always falls apart.

The Last Bolt

First at bat were the bolt extractors. These are sockets that attach to your socket wrench and fit over the bolt, but instead of gripping the edges of the bolt they have sharp spiraled flutes that are supposed to dig into the metal of the bolt head and impart force that way. I’ve used these before and have seen them work wonder. Today was not one of those days though. After a few seconds of promising tension the extractor sliced right through the bolt head. I was back to where I started only now with an even rounded bolt.

Next I tried the locking pliers but even with the thinner, longer nose I still could not get good purchase on the bolt. This was again exacerbated by the enclosed work space. Finally, as a last gasp effort I deepened the slot I had cut into the bolt head previously and got a very short screwdriver in there. Encouragingly, I could twist on the screwdriver without further damaging the bolt or slipping out. But the shortness of the tool (we’re talking 3 inches from tip to tip) and the tight spot meant I couldn’t get my hand on it in a way that allowed me to really get any real torque going. Not willing to spend the next several hours in more futility, I put a new bolt into the side I had been able get out previously and put a pin in the whole thing.

Shifter Linkage Bushings

This was all very disheartening. I was truly in need of a win, and I feel I got that by replaced the missing shifter bushings in the linkage between the shifter and transmission. On the AW70 automatic transmission in my car this is a rod that connects the shifter in the passenger compartment to a selector on the side of the transmission. Each end of this rod threads through a plastic bushing in a small lever connected to the control on either side. Both of the bushings in my car had long ago disappeared and the linage was quite loose, making the sifter feel sloppy. Getting the new bushings in was mostly a matter of brute force. You have to push very hard to slip one side through the hole at the end of each control rod. I also used a flat bladed screwdriver to apply directed pressure in strategic places to help this process along. It wasn’t to hard, and soon enough I was able to reconnect the linkage rod and secure both ends with their respective locking clips.

License Plate Bracket

As a final effort for the day I decided to remove the broken and bent front license plate bracket from the bumper. The state I live in doesn’t require front plates, and at some point someone had ridden up over something and bent the bottom of the bracket horizontal. While not technically broken it looked pretty ugly so off it must come. This proved more difficult than anticipated. The bracket is held on by two bolts that thread through the bumper and are attached on the back with a 10mm nut. Getting your arm up behind the bumper to hold the nut while cranking the bolt is a bit awkward. Add to this lots of rust and you have a situation like mine where one bolt comes out after great effort and the other is frozen solid midway down the threads. I had about enough of frozen bolts for the day, so out came the rotary tool and zip went the rusted bolt in half.

So that’s where it stands today. I’m not very good at leaving problems unsolved and have a number of radical ideas about how else I might tackle this issue. For now I’m moving on, but don’t count me out yet. Mr. Overdrive Solenoid and I will have a reckoning one day.