As usually seems to happen, the problems started when I was up in the mountains camping, up past Red Feather Lakes off Green Ridge Trail. While driving up and down gradually sloped hills on the way up to camp we started to get whiff of an all too familiar smell. Either my brakes were unable to release or I had a much more serious problem, considering my current proximity to home. At that point the engine was still keeping time with the road and with a little care I was able to make it up to our campsite.
I ended up driving it home without too much incident at a maximum of 40 mph on Highway 287. Although the smell of burning clutch followed me all the way there, I didn't notice any driving problems. The next day the engine started to race a little under anything more than extremely light throttle while on the way to the shop. At that point I was just happy to have made it home without towing involved.
Everything came apart without incident and I was happy to find my gas tank looked great inside with no rust or any other debris. Although it is probably quite possible to pull the transmission out and do the clutch job without taking out the interior, the extra initial effort definitely paid off when it allowed me to sit eye level with the crank and use an engine hoist to lift and balance the transmission when removing and installing it.. The most difficult problem arose when it came time to remove the pilot bearing from the crank. The inner race had come out with the transmission and the outer race was rusted to the crankshaft. With the tools I had available to me the only way I could find to remove it was to very carefully grind it down in two places until it was thin enough to crack and apart and fall out. For this I used a Dremel and took my time. It took awhile to complete but worked out quite nicely.
Not only was the clutch disc very thin and nearly exposing the rivets, but had a light coating of oil. The entire inside of the bellhousing area had a thick coat of dirt/oil that was stuck on like glue. Considering the location of the oil leak it was obvious that I should go ahead and replace the rear main oil seal while everything was apart. The old seal fell out so easily I was surprised it could hold any oil in at all (it basically never did). I had no problem putting the new one in and promptly put on the newly resurfaced flywheel and new clutch. I ordered the clutch kit from Man-a-fre which came with the disc, pressure plate, pilot bearing, throwout bearing and alignment tool. My particular build date gives me a four speed transmission, F engine and diaphragm clutch. If you are doing this job for the first time, check to make sure what type of clutch you have before ordering. Ordering the wrong parts is never fun.
Since the transfer case was out of and easily accessible, it seemed like a good time to pull apart the parking brake assembly and see what was causing it to be completely useless. It ended up being a combination of things. First off was the massive coating of oil. I don't think there was any friction left in those pads at all. The other major problem was a terribly unassembled collection of parts. I found several pins sitting on the pads about to fall out and the whole assembly was only half put together. Even when the cable had been pulled tight, it was only pushing the pads around a bit and not with very much pressure. For the time being I pulled the backing plate off and finished putting everything back together. I needed something to drive and since the parking brake never worked anyway it wasn't a big deal to live without for a while.
Everything went back together quite nicely and is now leak-free and running great. The clutch is nice and smooth and adjusted better than it was before. Overall, it wasn't too bad a job, just a little time consuming and working on it only at night certainly didn't help. I am definitely glad to have it back on the road and running again. Hopefully I go awhile before something large comes up again.