One last teething problem and then it'll never go wrong again (unless it does)

Mazda 323 GTX clutch slave cylinder

Small victory: Mazda Amy has a working clutch! (Again.)

Obviously, I had a working clutch at certain times when she returned to the road. Not long ago, though, I had an hilarious (by hilarious I mean terrifying) incident while parking, in which my clutch pedal went straight to the floor with no resistance and the car kept moving and...no, that was not nice. That's definitely not something your driving lessons prepare you for, since driving instructors own modern cars that work, rather than old shit that works when it's in the right mood.

It just so happens that, a few weeks earlier, after working on my brother Alex's old shit Land Rover, he had exactly the same problem, and his save (turn off the ignition and slam on brakes and full-force it out of gear simultaneously) prepared me for what I would have to do, if I ever had to do the same thing. Like watching some automotive version of Bear Grylls making a tent out of an otter or whatever, not something you will think you will use, but now I know how to deal with that situation, not that I'll ever have to do that...

So it goes. I drove her home very carefully because she was actually dangerous; I am glad the clutch failure happened during low-speed reversing rather than the clutch engaging while I was in first gear waiting at a junction onto a main road. The episode scared the shit out of me, and so she came off the road until I worked out exactly why that happened and how I could make it not happen again.

I was not entirely sure about any of this, and until I was entirely sure, I would not drive her.

Rewind a few months. While I was cleaning out thirteen years of accumulated "might need that some time in the rebuild" shit from the interior, I found...a clutch slave cylinder.That was not my purchase; Alex bought it when he owned the car back in 2007. I didn't like the look of it; it looked like generic poorly-manufactured aftermarket blah that might be useful for something else some day, so I threw it into my big box of parts and didn't think much more about it.

So. It did strike me as strange that Alex would have randomly bought a clutch slave cylinder rather than any of the other parts that the car needed. I had a word with him and he could not remember why he bought it. He also couldn't remember whether he had any problems with the clutch. This is understandable; 13 years have passed since he had it on the road.

Fast forward to today! I bought a clutch master cylinder with the intent of replacing both cylinders. As I found out today the master cylinder I ordered was entirely the wrong part, so I was prepared to write the day off and wait until I could find a master cylinder that was actually the right part. But on a whim, we pulled back the boot (dust cover, as it is called in the Colonies) of the slave cylinder and a bunch of fluid came out. For those of you who don't get it, the proper role of the boot/dust cover is not to hold in fluid. (The bits of liquid mess you see in the photo would be freshly-liberated clutch fluid.)

So, the slave cylinder was clearly the problem, which is nice, because that means it wasn't the master cylinder (for which I had the wrong part) or the clutch itself (which is only available from ACT these days and costs £500). With the "new" slave cylinder not looking like an OEM part, it was dismantled to see if anything was wrong with it before any attempt to fit it...and yep, there was a lot wrong with it. There was machining swarf inside the bores, the bores felt horrible, and most inexplicably the hydraulic fittings seemed to be threaded to Imperial rather than metric. Trust me: when you have the option (I don't) of getting OEM parts, get OEM parts or parts from reputable tuning companies; the quality of aftermarket generic parts is rather variable, and by that I don't mean surprisingly good.

Oh well. Bores were cleaned, swarf was eliminated, Imperial threads were tapped to metric, a thing was fitted and actual working car again. For real this time! Until something else breaks.

Onwards!