E50 Noisy Clutch Plate??

Zach K /
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Recently brought my girlfriends 77 Newport back to life. Tank is finally clean, carb no more leaky, polished chrome, paint is waxed, new trans fluid & spark plug, all new cables & switches. Life is good.

Was good. The other day she said that when she stopped at stop signs the engine would start making a random clunky knocky noise. WTF.

I started it up, and at low idle I got the same random clunky sounding knock. Pulled the head and cylinder. Not hitting the plug, cylinder & piston look great. Piston rides great on the connecting rod without play, connecting rod is nice and smooth on the crank. WTF.

Drain the ATF. Oooh pretty sparkles!!

Drop the engine, split the case. Everything looks good inside. No signs of wear. No signs of any seals or bearings that are shot. No sloppiness to anything.

Decide it has to be in the clutch somewhere. (note, this is my first time dealing with a clutch issue)

>>>> Question <<<<

Anyway, I go to remove the clutch plate retaining ring, and notice that the clutch plate just kind of "floats" inside of the clutch drum (nothing to keep it flopping back and forth against the clutch), and the thrust pin in the clutch plate has quite a bit of play in it. Is that normal? It seems like there should be something that keeps the clutch plate from flopping around.

When I pulled the clutch plate off, the inside of the conical part (facing the clutch), has a nice sparkly coating. Definitely getting closer to the problem! Unfortunately, I had to stop there because my clutch puller isn't here yet. Arriving Friday I think.

Guess I'm looking for suggestions about what my issue could be.... thanks!

On another note, I did successfully manage to rebuild the nearly frozen freewheel sprocket. Boy was that fun. LOTS of tiny little ball bearings.

(edited)

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