Transmission sludge.

Back from a week’s research in Salt Lake City and another week in California on library business, I decided to start mechanical work by changing the transmission fluid and the oil.  To do that, I bought an oil-change pan from O’Reilly Auto Parts.  Less than ten bucks, and it allows me to collect and haul oil to a recycle center so that it doesn’t end up in a water table somewhere.


There are different designs, but I bought a small one. You’ll notice that the top screws off and a screen keeps drain plugs from dropping into the body as it drains. Transmission fluid is a lightweight hydrocarbon, meaning it is a very thin, light and almost clear oil that does not evaporate like gasoline.

Started by draining the transmission; ultimately I will have to similarly drain the oil, radiator, and fuel tank, but I expect after 36 years of sitting outdoors in the sun the fuel has evaporated.

Green is up on jack stands so I have room to work underneath him.  The plug came out with a bit of effort and I was surprised that the liquid that spurted out—was water.  About a third of a cup, I’d guess.  Water is less dense than oil, so it pooled at the bottom of the transmission case, first out of the drain. How it got there and how long it has been there, I have no clue.  It wasn’t rusty, but it came out so quickly I could not get a picture.

What I did manage to photograph was the slow, steady stream of blackish-brown gunk that drizzled out. Now I know that Green has sat in the farmyard for better than three decades, so the transmission fluid could not have been changed since at least 1987.  It was so dark and viscous that I am tempted to believe it is the lubricant I was driving on in the 1970s.  It would not surprise me if it has been there since before R. Welling bought the truck in 1973. Stuck a screwdriver into the drain hole a couple of time to encourage soft clumps of congealed oil.  Anyway, after watching it slobber into the pan for half an hour without finishing, I left it draining overnight.

Clearly it will need to be flushed to get it cleared out properly, but when I took in the oil for recycling today the mechanic said no, just run it for awhile with new fluid in it and then change it.  I was too nice to tell him it will likely be years before Green needs transmission fluid to go anywhere.




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