While on the back straight of Road Atlanta with fellow Esprit owner Manny Perez during the 2002 Atlanta Historic Races, I found myself without the ability to shift and the clutch pedal had no resistance. I was able to limp back to the pits in second gear where we discovered that the problem was not hydraulic but mechanical in nature. Pressing on the clutch pedal with the engine running produced a high-pitched squeal which indicated that the clutch throwout bearing had failed
We had the car flat bedded to Lotus Cars USA where it was stored until Les Jones and I returned with his enclosed trailer to retrieve it. From here we took the car to my friends Mike Costley and Gene Troutman of Knucklehead Engineering. The following are pictures of the repair work. Click on the thumbnails to see larger versions of the pictures.
|Boot floor removed to allow access to gearbox.||Hey! Maybe that's the problem with my gearbox. There's a human head down there!||In order to disconnect the halfshafts, the upper link of the rear suspension must be undone.||Halfshafts disconnected from the gearbox.|
|When you disconnect the gearbox, the engine needs to be supported so it doesn't tilt down. Some planks of wood do the trick.||This looks perverted!||Out comes the gearbox assembly.||Here's the culprit. The throwout bearing had seized and was sheared into many pieces.|
|Those little metal bits inside the bellhousing are actually melted ball bearings from the throwout bearing.||Brand new pressure plate, throwout bearing and re-lined clutch disc.||New pressure plate attached to flywheel. Note that the manufacture date on the plate is June 6, 2002.||Brand new throwout bearing in place on release fork.|
|Gearbox is back in.||Top view of the shift linkage after it was reconnected.||Brand new, shiny coolant header tank. Heat from the engine compartment often make these crack with age and the coolant evaporates.||Boot floor back in place.|