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I'm hoping this write up will come in handy for anyone doing a clutch job in their Solstice/Sky in the future. I've never done a clutch before on any car, so take all this with a grain of salt, but I got the car working again and the new clutch drives great! It sure was a lengthy and tedious experience though. Took me about a month and a half to get the whole thing done because I wasn't able to work on it all day, every day, and it couldn't even be at my house since my garage is too small. All said, now that I know the whole process, I could probably do it within a weekend. All of this was done on 6 ton jack stands, because I can't afford a lift.

Backstory
I have a Solstice with almost 120k on the original clutch, so the disc was on its last legs anyway. One of my friends claimed they knew how to drive standard, but then clearly didn't as I watched them dump the clutch and not know what gear to go in to. Oh well. One of my clutch springs disintegrated and a fragment of it got wedged in between the clutch disc and the pressure plate or flywheel, causing it to not fully disengage. I wasn't able to go in to gear with the engine running and even when I started the car in first, every single shift had to be perfectly rev-matched. So I ordered a new clutch (http://shop.exedyusa.com/exedy-racing-clutch/exedy-racing-stage-1-organic-clutch-kit/04802/i-177380.aspx), and got in touch with the manufacturer to make sure I didn't need to shim or anything since it's non-OEM. Turns out it's still an original fit, so no slave cylinder shimming was necessary. We got a new slave cylinder and integrated throw out bearing installed too for good measure.

Shifter
Steelmesh's wonderful writeup helped me get most of the way through the repair, but there was a few things missing that some really great people offered their advice on free of charge.
The first hiccup came early on when we were simply trying to get the shift knob off. I don't know if it was some mechanic along the way or stock, but the screw holding the shifter into the transmission was secured with ridiculously tight threadlocker. I had to remove the whole interior dash trim panel to get enough space to get an entire breaker bar on it because it wasn't coming off with regular tools.

Drive Shaft
Apparently they don't slide out of the trans like other cars, so you have to unbolt them from both the differential and transmission ends. No biggie. But the CV joint doesn't have enough play for the shaft to come out without the differential sliding backwards. So we had to jack up the differential, unbolt the 3 bolts holding it in (2 on the back of the car behind the muffler, 1 on the front of the diff near the drive shaft), and lower the jack to bring the diff down to the sway bar. That's as low as it's gonna go without removing an axle. Then, support the transmission with another jack and remove the support. Play with different jack heights on both to get the most diagonal distance between the two so they can pop out. Make sure the differential is tilting backwards a little bit so that the drive shaft pin won't catch on the inside of the diff and will come straight out. We used screwdrivers prybars, lubricant, and metal hammers, and finally got it loose after thinking it would never come out. Crazy stuff.

Transmission Bolts
There's 9 total, all 3/4 inch bolt heads - 4 easy ones, and 5 hard ones. Some of the hard ones were just mildly, and some were really difficult. To list them off:
  1. Hidden behind the block to the left side of the exhaust manifold (you'll find it if you feel around back there) - accessed with a single extension that's just the right length
  2. Beside the catalytic converter - the bolt is kinda crammed between the cat and the engine. It's not difficult to see, but difficult to get a ratchet in there because of the small spacing between the bolt and the cat. Using a hand wrench got this one out fine though.
  3. Left engine-transmission bolt (these two bolts face opposite directions as all the others - their heads are on the transmission side instead of the motor side)
  4. Right transmission bolt (this and the above were only hard to get to because its hard to fit a wrench back there. Removing the rain cover thing from right below the windshield would probably have cleared up space to get at these easier - but they're doable without.
  5. THE BOLT BEHIND THE STARTER. This one sucks - deserves its own write up in fact:
The official GM documentation, Chilton's, and practically everywhere except for a few people on this forum will say you have to pull the intake manifold, starter, or a number of other things just to get to this damn bolt. It apparently isn't too hard, but seemed like a lot of removing more harnesses and hoses and making sure they all go back in the right place. So we tried the other method of using a really long and customized extension to get at it. No dice after several hours. Someone graciously providing advice to me who'd done the repair many times before sent me a picture of the exact combination of U-joints and extensions he used. We cleared a little bit of space up to get the extension down there by removing some hoses and stuff off the throttle body and air filtration system, and also removing the hot wire to the starter to get the socket past it and to the bolt. Oh yeah - take the front drivers side tire and wheel well off too. It takes like 5 minutes and will give you much better access down in there.
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(Sorry I'm new to cars, I'm not positive what said black box is called ?)



Here's a picture of the extension we used. It was approximately 14 inches from end to end. Make something similar length and setup and you should be able to get it in there.

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Get someone beneath the car to lead it on to the bolt and HOLD IT THERE, snap a ratchet on the end, and you should have it off in 10 minutes.

Once the transmission is off, everything is fairly straightforward and standard. Replacing the slave/TOB and hose is trivial. I'll try and take some more photos if I get back up there anytime soon, but in the meantime I hope some if this information will help somebody.

Pilot bearing
The pilot bearing in this car is freaking TINY! The first tool I borrowed to pull it wouldn't even fit inside of it because of how narrow the opening is. I returned the slide hammer tool from Advanced and got the other option - a powerbuilt brand puller. It had been filed down by someone else enough to fit in the hole - but I think even stock it would've been okay. As long as your puller can get as narrow as the 15mm diameter, you should be golden. Steelmesh also did a writeup on how to convert a harbor freight puller to work on these cars. Pretty involved if you ask me though. Make sure the flat, text side of the pilot bearing is facing outwards towards the transmission. The rounded side goes in towards the motor.

Bleeding the clutch
This part is a little time consuming without a power bleeder because there's no valve. Still, I just popped the cap on the brake reservoir, made sure that hydraulic fluid was past the MAX line so it would spill in to the clutch master cylinder, and then stepped on the clutch pedal every 5 seconds for about half an hour while watching Netflix on my laptop. The first post on this discussion has a little info on this: https://www.solsticeforum.com/threads/bleeding-the-clutch.121090/#post-1749338. The car basically bleeds itself as long as you're stepping on the clutch over and over. No need for a second person for this. Detailed bleeding instructions can be found here: https://www.solsticeforum.com/threads/how-do-i-bleed-the-clutch-after-transmission-removal.61441/post-923884.

After bleeding, my clutch was RIDICULOUSLY heavy. Much more than a brand new sports clutch should feel IMHO. So I took a syringe to the reservoir and sucked it out till it was in between MIN and MAX. Made the clutch significantly lighter, and still engages about halfway along the pedal travel. Just make sure you don't go below MIN, duh.

Other stuff
I didn't cover everything in here because of how good Steelmesh's aforementioned writeup is, only the things that I personally had a problem with and figured others might too. You still have to remove other things such as the exhaust and muffler assembly, closeout panels, etc. in order to drop the transmission. When stabbing, I found it useful to put the trans in gear and spin the tail end to get the splines to line up with the clutch disc. Also get some long M12 bolts from the hardware store to help align it and keep it on track all around. I think they are M12x1.75 but I could be wrong and they might be 1.25 so check with your specific bolts before you buy them. Home Depot had exactly the right bolts in the specialty section of the hardware aisle.

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I'll add to this as I think of more advice to give, but in the mean time, I'm happy to try and answer questions if anyone gets stuck along the way and has trouble with any of the steps.
Good luck everyone!
 

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Awesome write-up, great pictures. Thanks!

Which transmission jack do you have?
 

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Discussion Starter #3

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Great info. Hope I never need it!
 

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That write up should be a help to many!

BTW, a sliding component in a driveshaft is only needed if the differential moves relative to the transmission. It usually comes as a sliding spline, either at the rear of the transmission (which can result in sealing issues) or in the middle of the shaft. Because the differential is bolted to the chassis on our IRS cars there is no need for any fore/aft accommodation. They use a conventional flange at the front and a flexible Metalastic joint at the rear to absorb a bit of the driveline shock.

I haven't done this job on a Kappa, but wonder if you detach that flexible joint at the diff, whether there is enough flexibility to swing the shaft out of the way. Maybe others will comment.
 
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