Maserati GranSport, Coupe, and Spyder Gear Box Oil Change.

Tools you’ll need:

  1. 22mm for side fill plug.
  2. I think 14mm hex for drain plug.
  3. 13mm for exhaust hanger bracket.
  4. Finally, 8mm for the filter screen retaining bolt.

First the drain plug is center mass of the gear box like so:

Second to this is your gearbox oil filtering screen that you should remove and clean. If you are standing directly behind the car it will be on the right side or U.S. Passenger side of the gear box. It’s actually right beside the exhaust hanger than you’ll have to remove.

Here’s a photo of it (yellow) with the draining gear box hole n the background:

20160224_132258

Here is the exhaust hanger that you must entirely detach from the gear box in order to pull the screen out of the gear box, the picture below shows the clearance issues you’ll have if not:

Here it is with the exhaust hanger removed:

Tricks and tips for these steps:

There are two 13mm nuts on the gearbox holding the exhaust bracket on. Take those off and just rotate the exhaust bracket around out of the way.

The filtering screen is plastic. Don’t try to pry it out of the gear box. Use a big flat head or small pry bar and pry it down to rotate it to free it first. Rotate it back and forth in a circle before you start prying it out. Italians and plastic don’t go together you don’t want to snap it off in the gear box.

As you can see above the screen has indeed caught some debris. Carb cleaner/Brake cleaner or the like to clean it up and then put it back in.

Make sure you put oil on the O-ring before sticking it back in the gear box to facilitate seating it. Alternatively if you damage it or it looks worn……replace it.

Finally the fill plug is located just behind the screen.

The later models do have the rubber damper all over them but there is a hole cut out on the Passenger side gear box cover for the fill plug location (driver’s side non-U.S. spec cars). The photo below is showing you it hidden above the cross member of the gear box sitting back in. This photo was taken in the exact location of the gear box screen and exhaust bracket area looking up towards the rear of the vehicle.

20160224_132322

Tricks and tips:

So if it’s stuck way up there, how in the world are you going to get a quart gear box oil container in there? Well friend your definitely not. Instead you’ll use one of these:

hand fluid pump

Additionally, this small $5 hand pump will also make it tons easier for filling up your F1 reservoir, or alternatively siphoning all the fluid out of it, reverse directions to fill it back up again.

Okay hope this helps……before I forget the gear box I think takes almost 3 quarts, or what I do is just fill it right to the fill plug hole, which is the equivalent but don’t quote me on the 3 quart thing. I usually fill it like described and move on to the next project.

Maserati 4200/GranSport Window Micro-Switch and Regulator Fix

20160717_202849

20160717_202857

So recently you’ve noticed you pull the door handle from the inside or outside of your car, and the window goes all the way down. Alternatively, it goes about half way down.  Then you get in and have to keep pushing the buttons in order to get the stupid thing up, right?

Maybe you haven’t a window issue like above instead you’ve heard a loud clunk, and now the window doesn’t roll up at all. You can just hear the motor turning inside the door but it’s not going anywhere.

Well, this article is hopefully going to help you out, and get you up and running again. If the welding, and or the micro-switch fix might be more than you feel comforable handling, but you don’t mind disassembling the door to get it out, or maybe have someone remove it for you. Please feel free to contact me, and I can send you a shipping label in order to fix it for you. The alternative to this fix is part number 387700050, or 387700051, you will see the part for each side is about $700.00 USD. The micro-switch is part number 980001800, this part costs about $140.00 USD

Causes

So what are the causes of these issues. There is a reason why I put these two issues together. It’s because if you are going to address one, I want you to address the other as well. If you don’t, you are looking for more headache down the road. I will address the micro-switch first then the structure of the window mechanism itself.

Now there are actually three micro-switches for the doors of these cars. One for the outside handle, one for the inside, and one on the frame of the window regulator that acts as a limiting switch for how far the window rolls down when you get in/out of the vehicle.

This last micro-switch is where the issue is caused, the window limiting switch. It’s very simple, the switch is intermittently failing so no longer cuts the power to the regulator as it should in order for it to stop the movement of the window:

20160717_201118

Once you get the door panel off, I will show you how in a minute, you’ll see the water shield material. You’ll pull it off and you will have this little site window that’s above the yellow wire. In there you will see the micro switch that fails for the window.

The second cause of catastrophic window failure is the pivoting/rotating  frame the window regulator sits on. If you are in there because of the limiting switch, you might as well address the more serious issue of the frame itself. When this breaks you will either hire a fabricator to address it or be purchasing another unit. Both will dig into your wallet.

20160717_202849

20160717_202857

So you get a full picture of this issue, and again, I will get into disassembly later on, here is the full pivot/rotating assembly (above) that the window regulator sits on.  Additionally, you can see the micro switch sitting to the left of the tension spring, held in by rivets.

Here’s a photo with it flipped over (below). You will notice the new welds, literally within seconds of welding it, I snapped this photo.

20160725_130533

Here are the welds with the bracket flipped over on the inside:

20160725_130522

Here is a photo (below) of the three small tack welds that hold that geared part of the frame the regulator uses to rotate the rest of the assembly. This is why you need to weld it better, it’s the three round dots in the bracket. As you can see it’s just common machine tack welds:

20160719_151859

So what happens to make the window not come back up is the regulator torque forces the toothed metal bracket away from the gears of the regulator so it no longer makes contact with the teeth. The spot welds are not enough to continue to keep the toothed part of the bracket secure like it’s supposed to be, in turn it rocks back and forth on the welds. In addition to this you could also have the spring hinge like this break:

imagejpeg_2 imagejpeg_1 IMG_65461

The above photos are used by permission of a Client of mine. They show the eventual force busting the retainer where the spring hinge sits. I believe this is because as those tack welds loosen, the window regulator actually pushes the bracket in a way it was not designed, putting more stress here, eventually braking the bracket further down.

IMG_99741

Above is a better look of where it broke. You can see the small bracket to the left of the photo (two small nuts) This is the bracket the limiting switch uses to toggle the power off. To the right you see the geared section where the regulator would sit.

Okay, so let’s cover some ground in order to fix these issues. First, obviously we need to disassemble the door panel, I am using GranSport door below. The 4200 will be similar.

Disassembly

20160717_192013 20160717_192019

Let’s start with the main metal molding piece above. After removing the above trim piece four brass colored screws need to be removed. Sorry I didn’t have a photo at this time. Before I forget DO NOT  use a metal screw driver to remove that trim piece and mar the finish or damage it. If you don’t have anything plastic, wrap black electrical tape around the small screw driver you are using.

20160717_192241 20160717_192249

20160717_194204

There’s a tiny piece of plastic in the center of your door handle. Pop that out, and remove this screw (above). Next pull the door handle out, and pop the insert off.  After you do so, there will be a small screw holding a shiny metal bracket in, that’s attached to the door handle. Remove that one, it looks like the one above.

20160717_192522Okay so this screw should be obvious, just remove it.

20160717_192649

20160717_192704

Tweeter removed, look into the center, remove that screw.

20160717_193807

20160717_193814

20160717_193939 20160717_193945

Remove the speaker grill, then the speaker itself. You will see two screws on the top and bottom that must be removed like the above photo. The screws might be a different color but the location is the same. Additionally, if you have different speakers do not worry, I put these Alpines in a while ago, they are not OEM.

Pop out the reflector, remove the screw behind it.

20160717_192329

Last, but not least, you will have screws on the very bottom of the panel, four or five that go all the way across like this one by the light. Remove all of them. Then you can pop the panel loose pulling out but then pushing up. There are metal catches to hang the panel on at the top by the window. Hold the panel there though. You still have to disconnect the bottom door light or you will mess it up.

20160717_194324

Push the light out from the door panel and push the clasp to release the light from the harness. Then re-install the light into the panel so you do not lose it. Then set the panel to the side.

20160717_194601

Next you’ll be blessed to remove the water shield material from the door. Best tip for you on this, use a heat gun on very low setting or a blow dryer on higher setting. Work it slowly to keep it together. Chances are you’ll rip it, but it’s the thought that counts!

20160717_200648

20160717_200633 20160717_200641

Two 8mm bolts hold the window in. Loosen these, pull the window up to the top, you don’t need to remove the window.

20160717_200845

 I didn’t have a plastic trim tool nearby when I took this. Plastic is preferable. I instead had a screw driver with black electrical tape wrapped over the bottom. Remember, glass and metal never mix well. But you’ll see the access hole (above) I stuck the screw driver through to hold the window at the top of the door.  The plastic you use must be long enough to insert all the way to the other side. It is sitting under the window edge. If you don’t trust yourself with just one, there is another access hole (below) you can also stick another object through:

20160717_200929

20160717_200937

Don’t worry if the plastic window retainers drop down, like above. It would be better if you just removed them and sat them out-of-the-way anyway. Note their orientation when you do so, or come back and look at these photos.

20160717_202258 20160717_202245

Okay, so first you will be removing these two 10mm nuts from the center support bracket. Please mark one of the studs and it’s location. When you remove the entire bracket from the window it can rotate around, and you can get confused of its correct orientation when putting it back in. It actually was already done for me here. The black adhesive puddy was already wrapped around the stud.

Additionally, the puddy is also covering a slotted mounting hole. This is important because, if you mark right were the nut sits, you will know how it aligns when you put it back in. Mine sat all the way on the bottom of the mounting slot. If you don’t mark it you’ll see the window will jam as you try it out once re-installed. You will then have to keep playing with it to get it where it needs to be.

20160717_201118

Finally, the last four 10 mm bolts of the window regulator assembly above, however before you do this you need to also reach into the speaker hole and detach the micro-switch harness like so:

20160717_201322

Also detach the harness from the regulator itself, you can detach the frame now as it will be easier to feel for this harness. As a picture was hard to obtain inside the door, this is where it would be located (below), sorry for the alligator clips, that’s for another trick later on. This was the only photo I had to orientate you where the harness will be located:

20160717_210812

Finally, collapse the assembly like below or you’ll never rotate it out of the window,  here are step by step photos:

20160725_131126 20160725_131116 20160725_131112

Now, all you have to do is remember the reverse of what I just showed you to get it in! Good luck…lol. BTW, don’t dig up your door. It will come out, just be patient.

Micro-Switch Fix

I’m going to detail the easier fix first but I recommend that you weld the geared bracket before completing this. If you don’t, or can’t do this, again I don’t mind you sending it to me.

Now micro-switches are nothing new for automobiles. You don’t need the one Maserati sells for $140.00. Actually just the opposite, I would recommend any brand other than OEM because the ones they used were quite cheap.

20160717_213039

Before I get into the rest of the micro-switch let me tell you how to remove the old one.  You’ll need a 5/64″ drill bit, and you will drill out the old rivets which I show above. Do it from the front side where the old micro-switch is. Then remove the plastic hold downs that hold the wire harness in place. That’s pretty much it, it is a simple process here.

Next the photo above also shows how I laid the new switch over the old one to ensure it was the right mounting point, and alignment.

There was a gentleman, that fairly recently, covered just the micro-switch fix on Maseratilife.com. My fix, I would suggest a few things a bit different. First, he covered just the switch fix, and not the bigger problems which I’ve detailed here. I don’t think you should only fix the switch and not fix the assembly itself because you will have bigger issues later on. Additionally, it’s a whole lot easier to take the assembly out and fix it correctly. But again, it’s your car, your prerogative. I’m here to give you the information not make you accept it. That being stated, I suggest a pronged micro-switch like below. Use speaker connectors or the appropriate wire connector to splice into the harness. This way, should you damage it by accident, or alternatively need to again replace it, it is an easier disconnect, instead of making multiple splices into the wire harness and shrink wrapping the wires. Before I forget, you should also shrink-wrap the connectors below, or wrap them in black electrical tape, just to be sure nothing metal bounces off of them.  They do have plastic covered connectors that will work on these as well.

20160718_100120 20160718_100112 20160718_100057

Once you are done you can install this back on the rotating assembly. I just used the same size long rivets. I used stainless steel but you can really use just about any rivet long enough that goes through. Additionally, if you’d like to use long small bolts you can do that.

Here are some photos side by side with the micro-switch I used with OEM. Don’t worry about it being smaller, just check for the diagonal mounting configuration/spacing.

20160722_134200 20160722_134151 20160722_134236 20160722_134210

I almost forgot a pretty important detail, when you wire these. You will notice there’s three prongs and I used the two outside prongs. That’s because of the multi-uses of micro-switches in general. Because our car windows’ are using it as a limiting switch, you will need to make sure you use the “com” prong, and the “NC” (Normally Closed) prong on these type of switches. You don’t have to use the switch I have, though you can buy them for like $10 for a pack of 5 on eBay. Use whatever micro-switch you want, now that you know how to wire it. Just make sure you use those prongs.  If you wire it on the wrong prongs,  power will only go to the regulator when the switch is depressed. So the window won’t work at all wire this way. Wired correctly, it will cut power with it depressed, thus limiting the movement of the window down to an inch from the top. Additionally, it’s not pole sensitive so you don’t need to worry about which wire is on which of the “com”, “NC” prongs.

Now if you remember I showed you a picture above of plastic covered alligator clips sitting in the harness part of the window regulator. Well that’s so you can operate the regulator out of the car. Just attach the alligator clips to a 12 volt source, I used a battery, then reverse the leads to make it go the other way. I just attached one lead, and touched the other when I needed to rotate it, then reversed them. If you want to get technical you can build a switch for it as well. It’s not necessary but it’s your project so do as you’d like. You will need to rotate this back and forth to align the bracket before you will weld it as well. Here’s that photo again.

20160717_210812

Fixing the Regulator Bracket

Buttressing the spot welds on the regulator bracket is extremely important if you don’t want your window sitting inside the door. I’m going to cover two parts here that may need to be attended to. The second one you will only fix if it fails, the first you should do as preventative maintenance.

20160719_151859

20160719_151902Again from above this is the spot welds that loosen up and fail. Basically what happens is the torque of the motor, and weight of the window pushes the entire bracket down away from the regulator teeth until it no longer contacts them. With no grip from the teeth it can no longer roll up or down, therefore falls.

I weld it in two places. along the ridge between the top of the two metals, which I think would be sufficient, but I also flip it over and put two welds inside.  Like so…….20160725_130533

20160725_130522

If this hasn’t failed, still works perfectly, and you are doing this for preventative maintenance, just weld it up like above. It should already be aligned where it needs to be.

If it has failed, you need to take a small hammer and tap the gear teeth towards the regulator teeth to make sure when you weld it, you don’t weld it wrong. Once it’s welded wrong you will be cutting all of the weld in order to re-align this.  You need to tap it from both ends, run the motor both ways to make sure it’s gripping like it’s supposed to.

I want to caution you again to check to make sure that it’s aligned before you weld it, by bench testing it with the tips I listed above for moving the regulator.

Now, some might try to read this, and say “I don’t need a welder. Let me try bolting it or using rivets”.  Let me help you lay that to rest. First, you don’t have the clearance to try bolting through both brackets because when the regulator moves it comes to a point they rotate within about 1/8″ of each other, like scissors. Secondly, I tried putting stainless steel rivets in one, four rivets to be exact. The torque created from the regulator made short work of them twisting them just enough to push the teeth apart. In my opinion you should weld this area. It’s strong, durable and will never be a problem area again.

Okay so here is the second fix. The regulator snaps the rotating assembly beneath the tension spring like so:

imagejpeg_2IMG_65461Notice the grooves in this above as well. It’s so the spring as the window rolls down gets tighter and helps the window back up on the upwards cycle. So here is how that was addressed:

IMG_15511 IMG_04871

Now, of course before all of this happens above you’ll need to be sure you place everything into the correct position. The only suggestion here is, if you get lost, open the other door panel up and look at that one.

Again I will add, if you want help and would like me to weld it, or fix it please contact me. I will arrange for it to be shipped here and to be fixed. You will then re-install it when you get it back.

I hope this helps.

Maserati Rim Refinishing

So among the other things I do. I really enjoy auto-painting. My first Maserati Spyder I purchased GS rims, and front/rear bumpers to add to it. I liked the new design and style. I figured most of these posts are dealing with technical aspects, or mechanics of the car. So let’s give a post about paint, and rim re-finishing. I won’t embed everything I’ve done because this would be long. Just a few for casual reading.

Here are some 19″ GS rims I did for the Spyder. They were seriously scratched up in a collision but weren’t bent or messed up when checking for being out of round. So I basically had them bead blasted to start with a new canvas.

IMAG0673

IMAG0676

So after I take the rims down I use a high quality epoxy primer before I lay down the base coat. This will both make sure you have a proper foundation that the base can stick to, but will also ensure it has the proper adhesion to the metal of the rim. Remember many times rims are made with alloys that aren’t conducive to self-etching primers.

After laying it down I usually use a Scotch Bright Pad. I’ve used grey and red pads. It’s basically a way to sand the top layer off from any imperfections that stick on the top of the primer. Scotch Bright Pads are really like using a really fine grit sand paper. I’ve even been known to use adhesion promoter on top of the Primer just to make sure the primer and base does it’s job, and doesn’t have adhesion problems.

I then lay down the base coat 2-3 coats, and clear coat, 1-2 coats. I like PPG 2021 high solids clear. I’ve tried Sherman Williams high solids clear as well but I will have to look up the nomenclature of it and add it later. It worked really well. If you especially have problems laying down the 2021 because it will sag or run like rain if you’re not careful. Try thinning it out a little more and lay down thinner coats. If not contact Sherman Williams ask them for their high solids clear. It’s easier to work with, it’s quality and lays down really nice.

So here are the rims above after full paint, PPG DBC #1 Bright Metallic Silver, 2021 PPG high solids clear.

IMAG0909 IMAG0911 IMAG0916

Here’s an example of a rim repair job on a client’s low mileage Facelift Maserati. He emailed me probably about 1-2 months after I performed an inspection on the car asking if there was any hope for the new bruised rim. To be honest, I was anxious to get the car back anyway because the dealership he purchased the car from did a terrible job on them. So here’s the rim he banged up:

20160620_101957 20160620_102007 20160621_122923 20160621_122942 You would think this would bother me but, it didn’t. This is normal here in Boston, I expect to see it. Here is what bothered me more than the curb rash:

20160622_112133 20160622_112142 20160627_094224 20160627_094234

The top photos of the caliper is the lazy work of a dealership that decided to paint the rims on the car. This car had less than 14,000 miles on it, that’s apart from the marquis. Secondly, I don’t know if the photos caught it well. Those are cracks in the base coat, UNDER the clear coat. They were very prominent when you stood beside the car. When you leaned over and touched them it was all smooth. It was terrible work, and I had to take care of the front rim. The client was a good client, so he paid me for the rear rim, and I did the front free of charge. Yes it bothered me that much, so you know I cleaned the caliper off to.

So let’s get back to the curb rash. It’s pretty standard 3″ in rough grit sanding wheel to massage the metal all back out like so:

20160623_174326 20160623_174320

Of course the rules of sanding apply to rims as well. You need to feather out each layer and have at least 1/4″ between each level or you will see the lines come up through the base coat.

Before I forget here is some good adhesion promoter I like to use.

20160623_174336

Primer is basic stuff so let’s jump over to the base coat:

20160623_180848 20160623_180852 20160623_181625

(TIP) Here’s what I do when I want to make sure to color match a rim perfectly. Take the rims and the color chips in the sun. If you’re having a hard decision between two chips, paint a mixing container as a spray out card so you can turn it in the sun as well. Manufacturers’ paint chips are really small to make a determination on if you don’t have the color code already. Remember the dealership painted these rims before hand, and no of course no record of a color code.

Above you’ll notice the lug bolts. A small touch but color match them to make the entire look come together. Don’t leave something so small to hang out like a sore thumb. I almost left the most important part out for good painting. ALWAYS follow the flash periods. Let the dry times be. You gain nothing by rushing in, and trying to rush everything.

Since I do have a mess up available. Here’s what happens when you try a clear coat from another manufacture that you think is quality but isn’t. 20160624_105849

Now I actually tried this clear coat from Kemperle before on two different hoods with their base coat. You’d think I would have known better. The hoods had the same issue, with this. I thought it was a chemical reaction or environmental reaction. The problem with that was I actually painted with PPG base/clear and it came out perfect. Nothing had changed. The base coat from them cost me almost $300 a gallon. I will never, ever do this again. It’s why I don’t use cheap paint or a paint I’m not sure of. Every time I do you find out why they paint Ferraris/Maseratis with PPG paints. The only other paint I’ve used that’s really good is Sherwin Williams. You get these type of  issues or the color matches are off by variants when you try paints that are hyped up to be something they are not or are just cheap.

So I guess you know this rim had to be sanded down and repainted, which doesn’t work as a business model of course. So what the client paid covered one rim, I did the other for free, but the one he paid I did twice. No worries we all have these stories. Let’s see the finished product and end this short post:

20160627_184934 20160627_184938 20160627_091609

 They look good in the shade and pop in the light which will catch people’s eyes driving down the road. The Client was obviously elated, and I could entertain you with a post, surely a  win for everyone!

How to Change a Clutch in a F1 Maserati

20160324_140042 20160324_134611

I think one of the longest threads I’ve ever posted on Maseratilife.com or SportsMaseratiuk.com had to do with changing a clutch in a F1 Maserati. It’s another reason why I think a separate website is so much better to host this information. Most of the time it just bleeds into the rest of the other forum topics and isn’t found again until a specific Google search is performed.

So you are either a DIYer and want to try this on your own, or you’re a shop trying to expand your experience with these automobiles.  Before I get into this subject however, I must warn you. This is not for the faint of heart. You will still need to bring the car to someone who can set the PIS on the car, and also re-write the clutch configuration data so the vehicle knows it has a new clutch in it. This can only be done with an SD2/3 tool or an aftermarket tool like the Leonardo system.

Additionally, be warned, you always need to bed a new clutch in. You should not be taking off like you are in a F1 race as soon as you are finished. No, much rather for the first 500-700 miles your shifts and take offs should be nice and smooth. You will not be going over 55 mph. Your driving should be akin to your grandmother driving a car. I assure you, you will not be happy if you glaze over the brand new friction discs in the car or hot spot the newly re-finished flywheel. If you do so you will have terrible engagement, or you will be taking the car apart.

I want to add here as well, there are really two ways to take these cars apart to do a clutch job, and depending on whether you are doing this yourself or in a shop would probably determine which way you should go. If you are in a shop I would more than likely drop the entire sub-frame with tires and all, you will have the lift to raise the vehicle. Keep the sub-frame/torque tube as one unit, take the torque tube from the bell housing.

If you are attempting this by yourself or with a friend I would leave the sub frame. Loosen it for clearance, and remove the torque tube and gear box from the sub frame but leave it in the car. Either way it is totally up to you. If you are removing the sub-frame with the gearbox and all, don’t take the trunk apart unless you are having clearance issues. You shouldn’t. The sub-frame, gearbox, and torque tube can be removed as a unit if you have the correct tools to do so.

I will be showing here, more of a private setting to take it apart though I do have the car on a lift.  My first F1 Maserati I did with cradling, in a small garage years ago, so it is possible. Contrary to what people may think you don’t need a huge garage with a lift to service these cars. If you are a mechanic, or mechanically inclined the tools don’t give you experience or skill you must have that already. If you have that you could do this in a driveway if you wanted to. I once replaced an F1 pump in the driveway of a Client’s car that was a few hours away from me. I laid on cardboard as a make shift creeper. He needed the help, and I didn’t mind doing it.

Take the Trunk Apart

 First things first, lets get the trunk apart so you can have enough clearance to slide the gear box back away from the torque tube.

20160323_164017 20160323_164538 20160323_164600
20160323_16472420160323_164741

As you can see by the photos above,  you simply first need to remove the plastic trim piece around the trunk latch before you can pull the carpeted piece up that sits in the trunk well.  You will need a Philips screw driver or a motorized tool of your choosing. You’ll also need this to remove the well itself. This is assuming if you keep stuff in your trunk you have removed it, including a spare tire if you have one.

Next is the actual trunk well itself, again a Philips but you’ll also need an 8mm because there are some studs that come through with nuts on them.  The studs should come up at the bottom of the well closest to the latch.

In the last photo above you can see exactly four holes (those are the 8mm studs) at the bottom and two on the side. On the sides its philips and sometimes you need to pull the insulation away to get to them like this:

20160323_165643 20160323_165637

When you are finished you pull the well out and set it aside. You should see this heat shield next:

20160323_165758

In order to take the heat shield out of the way. You have to get under the car. Now I’m assuming if you are at home or have your own garage you should already have the entire car about 2′-3′ in the air. Whether cradling or jack stands, you’ll want to be able to put a creeper under the car and slide back and forth. You’ll also want to be able to drop the entire exhaust to slide it out. So you need to get the car in a position that makes it easiest on you.

When you get under the car you should remove the rear valance, it’s the one below.  It will be easier after removing the valance, which is basically torx head bolts, to then remove the exhaust before we remove the heat shield.  The 4200 is a bit different how it detaches as there are other bolts inside of the valance on either side. Whereas the pic below just shows torx heads on the outside parameter and sides.

20160323_171638

Front Sway Bar and Exhaust

Next we need to remove the front cross member and sway bar in order to drop the entire exhaust out of the way. 20160323_17210920160323_17210720160323_172138 20160323_172705 20160323_172940

The first two photos above show the support cross member that has to be dropped. It’s two, 13mm bolts, on either side that needs to be removed. After doing so, pry it down and remove it. It should be concave and must be put back the same way.

Next you are looking at detaching the front sway bar. You don’t need to remove it, you can just let it hang out of the way. Both caps are easy to spot in the next photos above. I cannot remember but I think they are 14-15 mm. Remove these and drop the sway bar down.

Here is another photo with the cross member and sway bar dropped:

20160323_172944

Next we need to drop the exhaust:

20160323_172948

Unfortunately, this photo is blurred. But you can basically see that each manifold just before the secondary cats have two bolts. They are hex head bolts and need to be removed.

20160323_172944

Here in this photo above on the top right hand side you will see a metal bracket attached by the secondary cat. It’s 13 mm and is holding each cat in the same area. They need to be loosened to drop the exhaust down.

20160323_175309

There’s brackets attaching the rear part of the exhaust manifold to the gear box like above. Those also need to be detached. There’s one on either side.

Lastly, you’ll need to remove the pipes from the rear boxes like so, it’s 15mm on each box. Just rock and twist them out:

20160323_180445

Removed and out of the way it will look like this:

20160323_180529

Okay, now lets get that heat shield out of the way:

20160323_171627 (1) 20160323_171633 (1)

8mm nuts on these studs, the front ones are easy, the ones toward the rear of the car will be a bit more difficult. Use a wobble socket with wobble/swivel extensions it will help out. Then fold up the heat shield a bit to get it out of the way. Remove it from the car being careful not to scratch the paint on the rest of the rear valance.

Torque Tube and Gearbox

20160323_184751 20160323_181951 20160323_18222820160323_182017

So you are looking at 8 15mm nuts on each side to the torque tube. In order to reach the 15mm nuts on the top part of the torque tube toward the gear box you need an “S” wrench like this one.  However, toward the front you can just use a couple of long extensions with swivel/wobbles like these photos below. Obviously, the impact is optional. You can also get to the top bolts on the other side with an “S” wrench as well:

20160324_130553

20160324_132027

What you’ll want to do is detach the torque tube closest to the gear box first.  You’re not dropping it yet. You will just be detaching it in order to get the gear box ready to slide back out of the sub-frame cradling. Additionally, since you are close to the floor already you can get a jack stand to support the torq tube so it doesn’t hit the floor when you remove it from the gearbox.

Next before we separate the gearbox we need to remove the mounting bolts to the Emergency brake. In order to do so, if you are under the car, you should have it in the air anyway. You can not have the emergency brake engaged to loosen the hardware. It will create too much stress on the cable if it’s engaged.

Here are some photos of what you will need to be loosening:

20160324_124835 20160324_124841 20160324_124855If you have a 4200’s series car, the E brake will be attached to the Torque Tube. You’ll have to reach around on top, and you’ll also have it bolted into the slot of the side of the torque tube. The GS you only need to disconnect the hangers and brackets. The last picture is the hanger above the gearbox. You need to make sure and detach it or you’ll have a heck of a time getting the gear box out.  Here’s a photo of the one above the gear box that was bent when it was done not realizing it was still there:

20160324_121622

Next, you’ll go around to reach up into the trunk area. You will see the connecting harness to the gearbox on the left side of the car like so:

20160406_132105

Now, you will also see the rear cross member in this photo. But before you loosen those you’ll need to detach the half shafts on either side of the gear box going out to your rear wheels. Unfortunately I don’t have photos for that specifically, but it’s okay because you’ll clearly see where they attach. You’ll need a 13mm socket or wrench. If your car is in neutral it will make it that much easier. Just spin the rear tires to rotate around to the next bolt.  Once you are finished push the half shafts out of the way. You don’t have to worry about removing them.

Next is the rear cross member, four 13 mm bolts on either side, but also remember to detach the heat shield on the right side that folds around it. You should have a jack under the gear box. Once you complete this you’ll pry apart where the torque tube is in front of the gear box. This will push the gear box rear-ward in order to separate it. The cradling will support the gear box as you continue to pull it rear-ward and pivot it out of the cradling. If you feel you need a little more space you can un-bolt the sub-frame bolts, 3 on either side to give you more. You don’t need to completely remove them. Here’s what you’ll have when done:

20160324_152517

20160406_111905

Again you should have already had the jack stand holding the back of the torque tube up. You can just slide the gear box out of the way as a unit.

You will see the hydraulic line running down the torque tube. I don’t think I mentioned disconnecting this from right under the gear box above but it’s a quick disconnect similar to what you’d see on an air compressor. Just push it back and it will detach.  Running down the torque tube is 10mm nuts holding the hydraulic line that need to be unbolted before you can take the torque tube down.

20160324_125826

 Once you’ve done so, you can detach the other bolts on the torque tube. Place a jack to support the front part.  Pry it apart from the bell housing and lower it down. Remember this is heavy!

20160324_131235 20160324_131649

 Bell Housing and Clutch Removal

Next up you’ll need to unplug the F1 position sensor wire on the right hand side of the bell housing. I usually just wind the hydraulic line up and wire tie it together to get it out-of-the-way. F1 position sensor wire below.

20160324_133135 20160324_133209_001

Next you’ll need to get that swivel/wobble end ready again for the top bell housing bolts.  Work your way around until you have them all.

IMAG1740 IMAG1743 IMAG1745

Once you get them all out, just make sure the heat shield is out of the way above the bell housing when you start prying it apart, it will take some persuasion to get it apart. The heat shield begins to sag down a little over time. Just take the end of a hammer and press up.  It bends fairly easy.

When you are done this is what you should have:

20160324_134410

Next you will have the pressure plate and clutch still on the flywheel:

20160324_134611 (1)

You should notice nine (9) different hex head bolts around the outside diameter of the pressure plate. DO NOT try and take those out one at a time. You will strip the last couple of bolt holes with the remaining bolts as you take them out. Since you’ll want to resurface the flywheel this would be a terrible situation when you go to reinstall the new pressure plate and flywheel.

What you will do is take your 5mm or 5.5 mm hex head socket, and go clockwise. or counterclockwise. Slowly loosen each bolt about a half a turn. Walk it around just like this to slightly release the tension of the pressure plate to remove it.  When it’s off you will have the flywheel like below.

20160324_140042

No special tricks for this. Take a socket and take the bolts off, and tap the flywheel off. Be careful as well, it has a bit of weight to it like the pressure plate and friction discs do.

20160324_140247_001

The final step will be your spigot bearing- in the U.S. we usually call it the Pilot bearing. If you don’t have a pilot bearing puller, don’t fret, let me teach you an alternative method.

Basically this method is a way to apply a kind of hydraulic pressure to the back of the Spigot bearing to press it out of the crank shaft. Some guys like to use grease which is going to be really messy. I like to use bread because it’s less messy and you don’t need an air tight seal so the grease doesn’t blow back on you.

So here’s how you’ll do it. Take black electrician’s tape, or a good holding tape like this. Wrap it around your 3/8″ socket extension until it barely fits into the hole in the middle of the spigot bearing.

20160405_134601

Next shove bread into the center of the spigot bearing hole until you cannot get anymore in:

20160405_134054

Next take a hammer and put the extension right into the hole, and hammer the bread into it. Take the extension out, and put more bread in. Repeat over and over again until the Spigot pops out like this:

20160405_134103 20160405_134114

20160405_134120

Then just clean all of the bread out of the hole. If you’d like, take your new spigot bearing that you have and get a socket that covers the outside edge of the bearing. Now flip the socket around where the rachet would normally go, and hammer the new one into place.  It’s supposed to be really snug, so don’t lubricate this at all, in order to get it into the crank.

F1 Position Sensor and Thrust Bearing Removal

When you flip the bell housing up, the first thing you are going to see is the center shaft coming through the middle, the thrust bearing sitting on the sleeve, and the F1 position sensor with the wiring coming out.

The earlier model 4200’s don’t have the star set up like this where there are 5 hex bolts at each point to release. This one is from a GS so it does have it like this. A Quattroporte should also look like this. If it’s a GranTurismo S F1 car, the F1 position sensor will be off to the side a bit.  Let me show you the difference- this photo is the GS/Facelift/Quat bell housing:

20160405_151841

This one below is the really early model 4200’s assembly:

IMAG1755

 Before loosening up the hex bolts at the five points you will need to detach the hydraulic lines going to the slave cylinder of the thrust bearing. Additionally loosen the bolts holding the F1 position sensor wire in place.

20160405_152221

IMAG1757

After you pull the lines out you can remove the 5 bolts that are at each point of the star in the bell housing. Then remove that assembly, it will look like this:

20160406_102209

The photo above is how you will do the later models, however, if you have the earlier model without the star mounting, this is what you’ll need to do:

IMAG1762

Take the two opposing bolts out on either side of the base of the thrust/slave cylinder sleeve.

IMAG1763 IMAG1765

Then the thrust bearing mounting bolts:
IMAG1766

Please again note you will not have to go through this with the star mounting in the later models.

After you loosen these, you will be able to slightly clock the slave cylinder sleeve in order to get to the hex head mounting bolt underneath it. This older design was a bit of a hassle as you can see. But when you’re done this is what you’ll have:

IMAG1769

IMAG1768

Now that you have this apart, you can remove the F1 position sensor and it’s mounting base from the bottom of the assembly:

IMAG1774

IMAG1773

Tips for Installation

The magnet protruding from the bottom of the slave cylinder is a very important piece. This is what the F1 position sensor slides over in order to make the hall effect sensor work. Additionally, do not forget, this is what tells the NCR what position the thrust bearing is in. It transmits the data for clutch wear, PIS, and a host of other functions.

The pin must be pressed out, or you can remove it with a hammer and pin of like size. When you put this back on the new thrust bearing, that screw head ALWAYS faces forward, regardless if it’s a Ferrari or Maserati.

A small digression on this topic. Not long ago I helped a gentleman with his GTS F1 car. The car wasn’t shifting correctly, and throwing F1 position sensor codes. He took it apart and thankfully he sent pictures to me. The clutch had been replaced not long ago. At first, my thoughts centered around the F1 position sensor being faulty. When I received the photos I could tell right away, they had installed this magnet backwards. That, we believe, was the actual culprit though he replaced the sensor anyway. Magnets do have poles, don’t reverse them by placing the magnet backwards. Here are some photos showing what I am explaining:

IMAG1776 IMAG1772 IMAG1777

I normally do not use the OEM thrust bearing from Maserati. They had various issues to begin with, and I feel Hill Engineering makes a more trustworthy component.

IMAG1831

When you get ready to put this back together, I am kind of hoping you paid attention to how it came apart. If not here are a couple of pics to help out.

This photo is how the springs should sit in the back of the thrust bearing. Because they can fall out if you’re not careful, it’s best to post these:

IMAG1827

IMAG1829

IMAG1830

IMAG1833

20160406_102209

Flywheel Resurfacing

Most people think they have to purchase a new flywheel in these cars in order to complete the full service. I know mechanics that merely clean off the old one and re-install. That’s one extreme. The other is to purchase a new flywheel.

You can get away with not doing anything to the flywheel at all. I don’t recommend it.  These flywheels develop hot spots because of the F1 system and how it engages. This is especially true when the PIS point is high and it slips more off the line. Maybe some pictures would be better to show you. Here are two flywheels from two different F1 Maseratis:

IMAG1785 20160324_140331

Hot spots in flywheels will cause the friction discs not to engage the full surface of the flywheel face. It’s basically hardened metal in those areas where increased heat was created.

When flywheels are resurfaced minute amounts of metal are taken from the face, and run out is checked. This positively removes any hot spots and additionally removes any micro cracking on the surface as well. This will affect where the PIS of the car will be set but any tech that knows how to set the PIS, will be unconcerned about this. Before I forget most machine shops will already see where the pressure plate mounts around the outside edge and will take the same amount off here to make sure it’s all done uniformly. If you’re concerned, make sure you mention this to them when you bring it in.

Here are those same flywheels after being machined, hot tanked, and checked for run out:

IMAG1903 20160326_104432

Please notice the difference in thickness of the top flywheel from the one just below it.  The top flywheel is from an early Spyder. The flywheel weighs about twice as much as the one below it. The one below it is from a later model GS. Flywheel resurfacing will only cost about $100.

Clutch balancing comes up from time to time. Here’s my recommendation. If you have the heavy flywheel get the clutch and flywheel dynamically balanced together at a machine shop. If you have the smaller flywheel don’t worry about it and follow the service manual and clock the factory balancing marks 180 degrees apart from each other.  Below is picture of a dynamically balanced flywheel. I don’t want to draw this out by talking about tolerance stacking and why it would be beneficial for one and not necessarily the other. I can state I’ve had both tested at machine shops. The thicker ones tolerances were a bit more than the thinner one. I was specifically told not to waste money on the thinner flywheels, but the thicker ones benefitted more from being balanced together with the clutch assembly. I bring all this up because they sell kits to balance the flywheel in the car. I can say with certainty they are not necessary, and I’ve seen people charged for them when the dealership knew they would not use them.

IMAG1882

I mentioned clocking the factory marks 180 degrees from each other. When you take the flywheel in make sure they score it so it’s not hot tanked off . But here are the marks on both the flywheel and the pressure plate. It’s the yellow and white lines. When you open the new box of the clutch/pp you will see the factory mark right on the front face of the pressure plate.

20160405_150801 IMAG1781 IMAG1904

As you can imagine, this has been a very long post and I’ve been waiting to say this. The rest of installation, is the reverse of how it was removed. I think I’ve covered everything I could to help out.

Please feel free to contact me if you have a special situation or need consultation on a specific issue.

F1 and E Gear System Actuators

 

IMAG1689 IMAG1690

Again I must mention that we are going to address how this references Maseratis, very specifically, Maserati Gran Sports, Quattroportes, 4200’s, and the Gran Turismo S F1. But please also know this is applicable to Ferrari and E Gear as well, their systems are not that different, and many times use the same components. Some are in different positions and look slightly different but perform the same function.

Description

Let’s start off with a basic description of what we have in these cars as a whole. First, it’s known as a robotized gearbox control system. It is not an automatic transmission, it’s not even “Automatic” like, just because it has an “Auto” setting. The gear-box is a standard transmission gear box, it has shift forks, and is identical to a regular 3 pedal (clutch, brake, and fuel pedal) car. There isn’t any difference.   The real difference is you have the highly advanced technology, or a robotized gearbox control system controlling the physical movement of the clutch engagement, and the shifting of this car.  The system is composed of an electro-hydraulic servo system which manages the gearshift and clutch operation.

There are about 6 parts to this system as it relates to the actual gear box, and how it shifts:

  • 1.) Gearbox housing
  • 2.) High Pressure pump, commonly referred to as the F1 pump or E Gear pump. We will pair this with the Hydraulic Reservoir. As the pump receives the fluid from this.
  • 3.)Power unit. This is the 6 solenoid valves, pressure sensor, pressure relief valve, check valve, and bypass screw. (The heart of the system)
  • 4.)Hydraulic Pressure Accumulator (It stores the hydraulic pressure created by the F1 pump similar to the way an air compressor tank stores the air from an air compressor pump.
  • 5.)Hydraulic Gearshift Actuator (This literally changes the shift forks of the gearbox as the solenoids are fired for the different gear selections of the system).
  • 6.)The NCR or the Gearbox control unit, that controls the complete system by using a strategy which is based on driver inputs and various vehicle parameters.

Today we are going to be focusing on the actual Hydraulic Gearshift Actuator itself.

Hydraulic Actuator

The function of the Actuator again is to activate the gearshift forks in order to drive the gear engagement and selection movements. Basically what this does is shift the car like you would if you were in a manual transmission car.

So say for example,  you are at a stop sign sitting in neutral in a normal standard transmission car, you push the clutch in, physically with your right hand (left for UK) you move the gear shift lever over to first gear.   Well the part you cannot see as you do this, are the cables/lines attached to the side of the gear box pushing or pulling the gearshift forks in the direction it needs to go for the gear you are selecting or engaging. Let’s look at some photos as it’s applicable to these cars.

IMAG1721

IMAG1690

The top photo is a picture of the gearbox where the hydraulic actuator mounts to it.  As you can clearly see the shift forks through the opening line up with the armature of the hydraulic actuator beneath it. In this example, both the actuator and gearbox are in neutral.

Parts of the Actuator

20160707_163454

 I do not know how clear the picture above is but I think it will be enough for a bit of an overview.  The parts are:

  • Actuator (there is actually two actuators that the diagram above doesn’t show)
  • Cam
  • Hairpin Duct
  • Gearshift Command Shaft
  • Bushing

As the pressurized  fluid is released  by the solenoids it comes through the hydraulic high pressure lines to the top part of the Hydraulic Actuator. What happens here is the least understood about the Actuator itself.  Now first of all I mentioned only one actuator is titled in the diagram above. That diagram wasn’t provided to show all the internal parts of an actuator. I will show more of that below.

Here’s another thing I need to mention. I am referencing the Actuator as a whole, or the Actuators’ housing/encasing and the individual actuators that provide the function of actuating when the pressure is supplied to those chambers. Please don’t be confused.

So let me see if I can show you the two actuators that are actually inside the “Actuator” or actuators’ housing, and explain them.

20160708_110047

20160708_111521

A quick look at the photos above. The two brass objects you see in the photos are actually the two actuator end pieces with seals held in with “C” clips.  The colored diagram above only shows the smaller of the two. The smaller of the two operates the turning/rotating action of the gearshift command shaft through the hair pin duct.  This controls the selection or clocking of the Actuator finger. So for instance, if you were in a three pedal car. This would be like you going from where the “1-2” gears are at in the middle of the shift gate to pushing it over one to where “3-4” are, or all the way over to where “5-6” are. You are selecting where you what the shift finger in the shift gate to be before you engage either of those gears.  We will get really indepth with this below.

Now the bigger of the actuators not shown in the diagram, controls the actual engagement, it’s the horizontal movement that engages the gear shift forks in the gear box. Again we will get into this in-depth below but to follow our example above, you selected “1-2” or “3-4”, well this actuator moves the gear command shaft itself horizontally left or right to engage 1st or 2nd gear or into 3rd or 4th gear.

More photos:

20160708_130156

20160708_122310_001

Above is a photo of the actuator piece they don’t show, the bigger of the two, in the diagram. It’s the one that has the hairpin duct attached to it as shown in the lower photo of the two.

The top photo shows two brass type end caps in the middle of the photo. You’ll see the outside seals that keep the pressurized hydraulic fluid in the chamber. This actuator is still attached to the gearshift command shaft, but it actually unbolts from it right at where the inner C clip is sitting in the top photo.

The lower photo above also shows the cam of the upper actuator that turns or clocks the gearshift command shaft through the hairpin duct. Here are some photos of the upper/smaller actuator.

20160708_124910_001

20160708_130334 20160708_130749

Basically the seals and internals as they sit inside the Actuator housing is the same for the smaller and larger one. They just provide different functions as the hydraulic fluid is applied in the chamber itself.  Please note in the photo below I took off the other brass type end cap. There are two just like the bigger actuator with seals.

Selection and Engagement

Selection: The gearshift command shaft has 4 possible positions separated by 15 degree angles it can rotate to.  Again see the first of the photo way above of the four shift forks. Selection is the rotary movement up or down to the individual shift forks. The smaller hydraulic actuator converts the fluid pressure supplied by triggering the gear selection solenoids or valves into a rotary movement in order to move the gearshift finger to that end. The gear selection solenoids are EV3, EV4, and EV5.

Engagement: Once the rotation of the hydraulic finger has been obtained to the desired shift fork, the gearshift command shaft must then be push forward or backward to engage the gear for that fork. Again this is done through the stored pressure activated by the solenoids to the larger of the two actuators above.

The finger has three possible positions from this point: Even number gears and reverse gear/Neutral/Odd number gears. The engagement solenoids are EV1 for Odd number gears and EV2 for Even number gears (and reverse), both of them ON together for neutral.

Reading through this you would believe this is somehow accomplished slowly but it really isn’t. It happens very quickly, abruptly, and almost simultaneously. As a matter of fact, there is always at least 580 psi or 40 bar of hydraulic pressure in the system as it operates and goes as high as 725 psi or 50 bar at the beginning of the F1 pump being cycled.

Okay lets get into the brass tacks on how all of this works and functions with some pictures.

20160708_110459 (1)

The photo above is the top part of the Actuator where the hydraulic pressure lines are banjo bolted to it.[ Small digression, on Ferrari, and Lamborghini these Actuators are positioned upside down from how you’d see it in a Maserati. Some are slightly different shaped. That’s unimportant to how it functions as an actuator as it’s all sealed and doesn’t matter how it’s positioned. ]

Let me get you oriented for the photo above, because I am going to tell you what each hole is used for.

The black “Selespeed” dust cover is usually covering on the right side of the photo. It looks like this when it’s on:

20160708_104355 20160708_110036

You can see the 6mm nut size on the smaller of the actuators hanging out there. The position of the Actuator as a whole above is exactly what it would look like sitting on the side GS/4200/Quat gear box, looking down on it from the top.

You have 5 chamber banjo bolt holes. Starting at the top going left to right, the three holes are:

  • The EV#3 solenoid valve high pressure line hole
  • The EV#4 solenoid valve high pressure line hole
  • The EV#5 solenoid valve high pressure line hole

Left to right on the bottom is

  • The EV#1 solenoid valve high pressure line hole
  • The EV#2 solenoid valve high pressure line hole.

Here’s how it works in the vehicle:

  • In order for Neutral to be selected and engaged:
  • EV#1 #2#3#5 have to be on
  • In order for 1st to be selected and engaged
  • EV#1#3#5 have to be on
  • In order for 2nd to be selected and engaged
  • EV#2#3#5 have to be on
  • In order for 3rd to be selected and engaged
  • EV#1#3#4 #5 have to be on
  • In order for 4th to be selected and engaged
  • EV#2#3#4#5 have to be on
  • In order for 5th to be selected and engaged
  • EV#1#4#5 have to be on
  • In order for 6th to be selected and engaged
  • EV#2#4#5 have to be on
  • Finally in order for Reverse to be selected and engaged
  • EV#2 and #3 have to be on.

As it relates to the photo above the three top holes or EV3-5 banjo bolt holes go directly to the smaller actuator that selects/clocks (up and down movement) the gearshift command shaft actuator finger.

The two holes on the bottom go to the larger actuator that engages  (or gives left to right movement) the gearshift command shaft.

Since the actuator I photographed was messed up I cannot show you how the top or smaller actuator moves out and in to clock the hair pin. I can show you how the lower one moves just as a general reference.

20160708_111534 20160708_111540

In the middle would be “N” you can see where the bottom actuator arm is sitting. Both EV#1 and 2 have to be on to achieve this.

20160708_111555 20160708_111558

This would be Even gears engaged or EV#2 on pushes the Engagement Actuator all the way to the right.

20160708_111626 20160708_111521 (1)

This is odd gears engaged, EV#1 solenoid is “on” to achieve all odd gears.

 

Potentiometers

You might be wondering, what tells the NCR or the gear box ecu that the Hydraulic Actuator is actually in the gear it selected and engaged? After all just because you open the valves doesn’t necessarily mean the actuator finger will turn. It can and does at times malfunction correct?

The hydraulic actuator is equipped with two passive type sensors designed to monitor the actual position of the actuator finger.  One sensor monitors the selection stroke while the other checks the engagement stroke. Both are hall effect sensors that convert the output signal of the hall ceramic element into a 0-5V DC signal. A failure of these sensors will disable the engine from starting. If the car’s NCR doesn’t receive the appropriate signal it disables the car as a safety feature. Alternatively, this is also the signal the NCR uses to show the driver the gear the vehicle is in through the indicator window on the dash.

Here are two photos showing those potentiometers when they are removed from the Actuator housing:

IMAG1302

IMAG1303

Here is where they sit:

20160708_104813

If you look at how the potentiometers” armatures sit they look quite odd, but that’s for good cause and reason. If you look at the very bottom photo there’s a groove in the gearshift command shaft where both of the armature legs sit. When the gearshift command shaft is clock/rotated this pushes on the  “shift” selection Potentiometer. When the gearshift command shaft is pushed left to right this operates on the “gear” engagement potentiometer.

Maserati GranSport/4200/3200 rear tie rods.

IMAG0097

My Own Maserati with this Issue

Let me start this post with my own experience, and how I came to design and put together an aftermarket kit for the above titled cars as an alternative to the OEM Maserati replacement.

My first Maserati was an 02′ “CC” Spyder.  I was driving my wife to work at Harvard Med. School going down Storrow drive from North of the city. Now if you have been blessed with driving in Boston you realize you are amongst a special breed of drivers which could be another post altogether.

I decided to go around another car that seemed to be more focused on texting or whatever they were doing.  As I double down shifted the Mas. I swung around, and came to the front of the car to change back into the lane. As it required a bit of quick steering effort to get around the car, I originally thought nothing of this car being able to handle it……at least until…………

I came around the car, and it was almost as if the rear of the car shifted (left) and steered at the same time. I almost lost control of the car. I counter-steered which shifted the rear-end around again. My wife had that worried look on her face. I did get the car under control only to think the rest of the way there, and back home something was very wrong.

At the time I wasn’t very familiar with the rear design of this High Performance car.  After raising the car with a jack however I noticed the issue right away. Just as if you had a failing front tie rod where you could move the front tire left to right, that’s what happened for both rear tires.

Now to set some back ground with this, you should understand that, I just purchased the car, and it had less than 20,000 miles on it. There were many issues with this low mileage car I had to take care of that as a Blue Collar mechanic you would not expect from any other make/model of car with this mileage.

Rear Tie Rods?

So some high performance cars have incorporated rear tie rods into the suspension. It basically adjusts the toe in/out of both rear tires, and is designed to make the car perform better when steering and cornering. These are threaded into the rear control arms. They aren’t like the front where the inner and outer tie rods are attached to the rack and pinion of the steering system.

So What’s the Issue?

Well Maserati uses a plain spherical bearing that goes over the end of the rear ball joint stud………yes of course a pic:

IMAG0081

This isn’t bad in and of itself. What happens is the rubber you see encompassing the metal bearing part deteriorates. At which time it’s really no longer attached to the tie rod sleeve at all. It’s free to move around, and is most noticeable when the car corners, as this shifts the rear of the vehicle. As you can imagine, this isn’t a good situation. But the bad news isn’t over yet,  you also cannot purchase these separately through any Maserati parts supplier. Instead you have to purchase the entire control arm, which is roughly almost $1000 USD.

For me, it was unacceptable to purchase an entire control arm for a hundred dollar part at best. So I began to research and develop a different design that would last longer, and be a great alternative.

Aftermarket Design

The beginning photo of this post is a new aftermarket tie rod I installed on a 4200 series car, also partly shown side by side above.  Essentially, the aftermarket design is two parts.

One, a threaded tie rod sleeve long enough in length to cover the distance needed from the control arm to the tie rod end itself. It also must have the strength necessary in order to handle the dynamic load force that will be applied as the car is driven. In this situation static load force isn’t as important as they don’t really function sitting still.

I utilized a tie rod sleeve originally designed for a one ton truck to accomplish this. I knew something designed for hard road force use like this would also handle what I needed here.

The second part of this is addressing the issue of the tie rod end going over the ball joint stud but also holding dynamic load force. I actually turned to a part that’s been used for years not only in the automotive industry but, in aircrafts as well.

Heim/Rose Joints

 Naturally, when you say you are utilizing the tie rod sleeve from a one ton truck it’s easy for people to understand it could easily handle anything  this little car could throw at it.  However, most people don’t know what a Heim or Rose joint is or what it’s function is. Basically it is just a mechanical articulating joint that is used on steering links, tie rods, control rods or anywhere a precision articulating joint needs to be used.

I’m actually not doing anything new with this. You could Google this and find it all over the automotive industry, and in aircrafts.

I used the best type on the market I could find.  It’s a racing series, ultra high performance rod end. The ball is 52100 bearing steel, heat treated,  and hard chrome plated. The race is injection molded kevlar re-enforced with PTFE (also known as Teflon),  self lubricating and self sealing. The body is chrome moly, heat treated and obviously corrosion resistant. It also has exclusive features such as a thicker body for tensile strength, high radial load capacity, and finally metal to metal support for heavy shock loads. Finally, the radial static load is 68.3 kN or a whopping,  15,354.45 lbs.  The dynamic load force is estimated at just above 9000 lbs or 4.5 tons.

In comparison to the OEM part, I can not say what the actual sleeve material is made from so I cannot give you the dynamic load force or static load force of it. However, I do know people have cut the end off and threaded it to use a Heim/Rose joint. It could work but I cannot verify that it will work. It wasn’t designed for it. It was designed to have a plain spherical bearing pressed into the end. As far as I can tell it wasn’t design to cut the end off and thread it.

Here is what I can tell you about the actual plain spherical bearing Maserati uses in the end of that tie rod sleeve.

They used an SKF part number GE 15 C. The static load force was 10,125 lbs with a dynamic load force of 4,050lbs. It works in the car because the ratings are where they should be. It just doesn’t seem to last long in this exotic. This is whether it’s sitting and dry rots or is being driven on the street. Many, including myself have had to replace these. I just wanted something better, and so I created this.

As a side note before I show you pictures, let me add this, because I know I will forget. Do not put this unibody car on a four point lift to check the rear tie rods. The suspension hangs, and the car flexes and you will assume that they are okay. Please just use a jack at the jacking point and lift each side slightly to check them.

Below are side by sides of the tie rod kit I created specifically to address this issue in these model of cars. Please also see the post here on the rear ball joint dust covers. If you plan to restore your vehicle back to operating conditions you might as well replace the ball joint dust covers as well. If you are in the UK it will fail MOT, or in the U.S. these conditions of parts will lead to failed state inspections.

IMAG0078

IMAG0077

IMAG0111

IMAG0097

I added billet aluminum reducers now to the kits instead of pressed in reducers. It seemed a few DIYers over torqued the ball joint stud nut ripping the boot. You’ll see I actually have them installed above without the high angle reducers below.  It’s not difficult but sometimes simpler is best even if it’s slightly more expensive.  Here are some photos of what those look like:

 IMAG0115

IMAG0114

Here is the read out of before and after getting the car aligned. Most probably know you will need an alignment on the car after the removal of any suspension or steering parts like this.

Tie rod alignment

Please feel free to contact Formula Dynamics if you’d like to order these. Their product web page is: Here.

Maserati F1 Clutches

IMAG1783 IMAG1904 IMAG2470

Another subject you will hear a lot about with F1 cars, is of course F1 clutches.

F1 clutches in Maserati F1 cars are not like standard three pedal car clutches, nor were they ever designed to be. Generally they last about 30,000 miles in these cars. The older these Maserati cars have become the more Techs are learning about how to set up the clutches so that longer shelf lives of the clutches are documented. This includes using mods such as Formula Dynamics Drive-by-Wire system in these cars.

IMAG1843

Above is an F1 double disc Maserati clutch.  They are manufactured by Valeo.  Many times, by many different people, different types of clutches have been tried in Maserati F1 cars, usually the hot topic is Kevlar. All todate have been unsuccessful. You can get them in the car, and initially get them to work but not for long periods of time. The engagement is usually too harsh stalling out the car or too soft constantly slipping the clutch.

IMAG1845

IMAG1844

Above is a brand new stock F1 friction disc set up. Brand new you can see the mm measurements are approximately 6.34/6.21mm. Fully worn these disc will measure respectively right at 5.34/5.21. There is a manufacturer variance, so not every clutch will have exactly this mm size but it will be close. Here is another brand new clutch measured to show you the variance:

20160405_142058 20160405_142016

Clutch Wear Reading Algorithm 

Clutch wear readings are done using a Maserati specific scan tool, or aftermarket scan tool like Leonardo that can access the gear box computer known as the “NCR” in these cars. When a new clutch is installed in the car, the new clutch parameters are written into the NCR by the Technician doing the install. The NCR of the car measures the friction disc material through the F1 position sensor from this starting parameter.

That data will read like this on a scan tool.

New Closed Clutch Position (This literally means the closed clutch position when a new clutch was put into the car, and the Technician re-wrote those parameters).

I will use a previous car’s parameters: 18.281mm

Closed Clutch Position (This is the current closed clutch position in the vehicle and cannot be changed)

In this instance it was: 18.423mm

Much has been made about the algorithm the scan tool uses to calculate the clutch wear percentage, usually by people who don’t understand that computers don’t use snake oil, they use hard numbers. It is accurate, but isn’t the final say on whether a clutch needs to be replaced. For instance, if you have a high KISS point, or PIS set up (Explained in another article) it causes a lot more slippage of the clutch. You can have 50% clutch wear left, and yet need to replace the clutch because they are glazed over, or you have hot spots all over the flywheel affecting engagement.  Additionally, depending on where the car has come from you can also get an unsavory character to go in and change the New clutch settings to give you a lower wear reading for a clutch than it should have.  (Also discussed later).

Here are the hard input numbers of the algorithm the Scan tool bases the F1 clutch wear reading on from the example numbers above.

Closed Clutch Position: 18.423mm

Subtract this number from: New Closed Clutch Position:  18.281mm

this equals, 0 .142,

then it will be divided by 5.56*.

We now have, 0.025. This number is finally multiplied by 100. So the clutch is worn 2.55% in this Maserati.

The scan tool always shows how much it’s worn, not how much is left. I usually invert the number for the client. In this case, that would mean it’s 97.45% remaining.  The Maserati Scan tool does not show the Tech this Algorithm, it merely gives him the parameters of where the clutch is from New, Current, and calculates those figures with all of these number to give him/her the clutch wear percentage. So it’s very possible for him not to even know this.

I usually take those numbers myself, with my phone calculator and calculate every clutch wear reading  from the scan tool. I don’t base my clutch wear percentage off of the scan tool’s inputted algorithm. I base it off of the new/current clutch position numbers themselves.  I do this mainly because I’ve had a problem with a scan tool calculating these number correctly.

Again, the scan tool does this automatically, the NCR is merely providing the scan tool those New/Current clutch parameters. The NCR itself doesn’t calculate that algorithm, it provides in millimeters the distance worn through the F1 position sensor.

[*This number is ostensibly the actual thickness of the friction disc material on one plate, minus the metal in-between it. As you can imagine since there is a manufacturer’s variance in friction disc thickness this would also slightly throw off the actual wear reading itself.]

Physically Checking the Friction Discs

Many times I’ve been asked is it physically possible to check the friction discs of these cars. The answer is yes, with a little bit of trouble on your part you can.

There are two cut-outs around the bell housing itself not specifically designed for this but can be used to measure the actual physical thickness of the friction disc material.

20160405_151841

 

The photo above shows a cut-out basically  at the 11-11:30 o’clock position, and another at basically the 7-7:30 o’clock position.

Another view:

20160324_134410

The trick is to spin the motor so the clutch friction discs can be seen through these cut-outs. Either from the top passenger side under the hood, or under the car at the other position. If you look you could also remove the exhaust hanger from the bottom of the bell housing (the black bracket in the photo above), to check as well.

You basically are trying to line up the cut-outs of the bell housing with the cut outs showing you the friction disc of the pressure plate like below:

IMAG1883

You’ll only get a good look and measure the outer most disc which is okay because they wear evenly. If you bump the key in the ignition you can look from the top and see when that one is lined up.  Photo below

The only thing left to do now is to get a measuring tool. You already know the dimensions from above of a fully worn, and brand new clutch. You can stack long feeler gauges together, or use a long  “T” handle hex key tool to do this. For instance, a 5.5mm or 6mm “T” handle hex key stuck down between the two metal plates would give you a fairly good idea of how much actual clutch life is left. (See photo below.)

IMAG1750

I have to add this caveat here though, it’s going to be very difficult to see fractions from 5.5 to 6mms, with T handles. But, either way, there you have it.  If it’s truly a brand new clutch a 6mm should fit right down to the friction disc without forcing it.

 

 

 

 

 

F1 Pumps and Relays

This is a topic you will certainly hear a lot about with not only F1 Maserati Cars, but also Ferrari, and what Lamborghini calls the E Gear system.

I imagine this is a subject matter that could go on for quite sometime. So I am going to try and curtail it as it’s important to what we need to know for you as an owner of these type of Maseratis.

First,  let’s discuss a bit about the F1 pump. The pump is designed to produce the hydraulic pressure necessary to shift the gears in any F1/E Gear car. Because the gear shifts are hydraulically operated if it doesn’t maintain the hydraulic pressure (580-725 psi), the vehicle cannot shift into any gear, or out of any gear. The vehicle without hydraulic pressure is stuck in that gear. As a matter of protection, if the car senses there isn’t any hydraulic pressure, it also will not allow the car to start.

Let’s check out a few photos of pumps.

IMAG2570

IMAG1927

20150617_170132

20150617_171806

The first photo above is just an old F1 pump sitting beside a new one I replaced in a Client’s car. These are OEM style F1 pumps. (I will discuss aftermarket pumps here in a second). Photo two, just below it, is a gearbox and the power unit as you would see it in a Maserati Gran Sport, 4200 series, or Quattroporte  car (the top of the pump can be see to the left of the gear box beside the black hydraulic fluid reservoir). The Maserati Gran Turismo S F1 also has a power unit similar to this. The Ferrari F360/F430 configuration is slightly different but operates the same way. It’s more a kin to the 3/4th photos of the Lamborghini Gallardo.

I want to touch briefly on aftermarket pumps for these cars. There are on the market now upgraded  F1 pumps. I have nothing wrong with it per se. However, please understand IF your F1/E Gear car is operating correctly, meaning your solenoid leakage rates are with-in spec., and your hydraulic accumulator is functioning properly, you don’t need an after market F1 pump. They will last thousands of miles. I have 30,000 miles on my GS F1 pump now. They don’t normally fail in order to need an aftermarket replacement. Much rather I see more often than not people trying to compensate for failing F1 systems by using a pump that is not normally necessary.

For example, a client with a Quattroporte, was looking at again replacing, his OEM pump (after replacing it twice already) with an aftermarket upgraded pump. The problem though, was his car’s F1 pump was cycling every 8 seconds. This is why it was burning up pumps. He wanted to replace his pump instead of actually fixing the F1 system. This is a very bad idea. If you are replacing your F1 pump to circumvent the proper working of the car, I will tell you now, get ready to take your check-book out. You’re not going to save money doing this. If you fix the vehicle right you won’t have to worry about this issue. The car will be problem free as it pertains to the pump.

When the Maserati first came back into the U.S. in late 2001/2002 with the Spyder/Coupe. The  earlier model cars had problems with the F1 pump relays.  The relays were 30 amp relays,  I don’t want to get side track with the purpose of a relay as there’s tons of information on-line if you want to look up it’s purpose. They are used constantly all over an automobile for various functions. We will focus on it’s rating, how it’s rated, and why it’s an issue.   The newer 4200 cars like the Facelifts, and Gran Sports had 50 amp relays a kin to the Ferrari F360/430. They aren’t universal 50 amp relays, as universal relays usually have 4 prongs all the same width. These however have two prongs off-set from each other like a universal relay,  but they are wider/slightly longer than the other two.  You normally don’t have issues with the 50 amp style relays in these cars. Here is a photo to show you what’s being discussed.

 IMAG0048

20160715_110628 20160715_110634 20160715_110614

The top photo above has a Ferrari relay on the right, red in color., as you’ll notice the wider prongs. The two relays on the left are universal relays.  The clear one is a universal 80 amp, the black is a 40 amp universal relay from a normal auto parts store like AutoZone.  Keep those universal relays in mind though, I am going to show you how it will be helpful if you have an older 4200 series vehicle. The other three photos under the top photo is the four wide prong relay out of a GS, as you can see other than color it’s identical to the Ferrari relay.

Focusing on the older style 4200 cars, and their 30 amp relays. Their prong configuration is a little weird. They had 5 prongs, and two were needle thin. The only other place I’ve seen the same relay was an ABS relay in older BMWs. I surprisingly don’t have a photo readily available as I always change them for universal relays like above, which I will explain later on.

The 30 amp relays were problematic mainly because it pushed the boundaries of the 30 amp relays’ constant load capacity. Here’s why,  a new F1 pump motor operates at approximately 27.55 amps. Though the relay is rated at 30 amps, it’s rating is unlike an automotive fuse, where it will continue for long periods of time without issue close to that amperage rating . A fuse will only blow when it zenith reaches above that. Relays are rated at one minute intervals, in this example 30 amps, after that interval the rating deteriorates to close to 2/3rds of that, or just above 20 amps. As you can see, at least it’s my opinion they should have never of put the 30 amp relay in, in the first place. This is also why  I believe the engineers changed it in the later model cars for the 50 amp. When you do the math you’ll see even taxed. or worked hard the 50 amp relay would technically always be enough even under constant work load intervals.

What was happening in those early model 4200 cars is the contacts of the relay were becoming hot under constant switching on/off to operate the pump, and eventually welding together the relay contacts. This in turn would keep the F1 pump continuously running until the pump itself became so hot it failed, or blew the 30 amp F1 pump fuse.  Unfortunately, the relay itself though not that expensive was causing expensive F1 pump motor repairs. Even on the market today, those pumps cost around $400-450 a piece without labor to put it in.

 So something very common with these cars was to change the relay out regularly to prevent this issue with the same type of relay. It actually bled over to the newer cars as well. I don’t replace my relays with 50 amp relays, I actually replace the Maserati/Ferrari relays with 80 amp relays.  Maybe I should add this isn’t like changing a fuse for a higher amperage fuse, a very bad idea. If you change a fuse out for a higher amperage fuse you could do serious damage like fry the wiring in the car. The fuse protects the circuit from having more power come through that wiring or to the component than it can handle. A relay on the other hand is just a switch within that protected circuit. It does not allow any more power to come through that circuit than the fuse will allow. Now IF by chance it had a higher amperage come through, it could handle it.  So technically, If you wanted to put a 100 amp relay in, that’s your prerogative. The purpose for increasing it is more to give it the longest shelf life possible. Is it necessary,…probably not. But if I can purchase an 80 amp for what I can get a 50 amp then I go with the higher amperage for that reason alone, to help increase it’s duty life.

Let’s get back to the problematic 4200 relays and what you can do to put it on the same level of protection as the new Face-lifts or GranSports, and not worry about burning up the F1 pump.

Though they have the 5 prong ABS style relays, the actual base it’s mounted in allows for a universal four prong relay to be installed. I will show you some photos in a minute. But as many times as this subject has been addressed, someone will say the 5th prong is supposed to protect from voltage/amperage spikes. I respectfully disagree. A relay in this situation wasn’t designed to prevent voltage/amperage spikes, that’s what the fuse is designed for as we just covered.

I’ve also heard that it allowed the NCR of the car to determine when the F1 pump relay itself was in the off position. This could be true but, there would be no important function for the relay itself to being off or unpowered. When you have the car plugged into a scan tool, and a universal relay installed. The NCR shows when the pump is still on and off, through the relay PID.

How do I know that a universal relay will work and not cause damage to the older 4200 cars? I ran one in my 4200 Spyder for years, and when it was sold, to-date the owner hasn’t replaced the 80 amp universal relay. I think I performed plenty of R&D to safely say it can be replaced without affecting any function of how the F1 system or car operates.

Photos:

IMAG0051

IMAG0052

 IMAG0049

IMAG0050

Okay so the first photo is the base of which the 5 prong relay plugs into for a older 4200 series vehicle.  As you can see it has the extra slots for a universal relay to also be installed.

Picture two shows the clear relay plugged into the base and this is the relay I used in the Spyder. I relocated and swung the relay base down so I could actually see the contacts open and close. For R&D it was important to be able to see if there was ever a problem with the relay, and operation. Instead of opening the relay, to examine it, I purchased an inexpensive clear one.

To further reiterate, the photos I posted above with the Ferrari style and universal relays I’ve included these photos of the back and side views.  That way you could clearly see what relay was plugged into the 4200 relay base.

If you have any questions please feel free to contact me. Should you need an F1 pump like above here is an eBay listing so that you may purchase it. http://www.ebay.com/itm/Ferrari-Maserati-F1-pump-213264-E-Gear-Lamborghini-086901137-/261800911492?ssPageName=STRK:MESE:IT