94 Topaz oil pan

Hello, I am replacing the oil pan gasket on a 94 Topaz. I removed the lower radiator hose and can move the secondary air injection hoses aside for removing the pan, but as I pull the pan down and away from
the transmission it is catching on something inside the pan. I've searched the google groups and internet lot, I've tried prying it out with a screwdriver as recommended, but it is solidly hitting something from inside. I'm wondering if the crankshaft is getting in the way. The other end of the pan near the crank pulley comes down a couple inches and I can see inside, but can't make out the other end. Thanks for the help
PS An unrelated subject, when the AC is running the engine pings tremendously. What could be the cause? Malfunctioning idle up? The car runs great otherwise, although many say ditch the car before too much fall apart.
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If you cannot remove the pan without removing something else so that you can pull the pan that way and then down, do not try to force it. The reason I say this is that the object holding the pan from falling is more than likely the pick-up tube for the oil pump. If you destroy this in the process of removing the pan, you will be looking at buying a new oil pump as well.
I know this was the case for my 1991 Ranger 3.0L, because one side of the front suspension had to be removed/dropped before the oil pan would come out.
Sharky
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