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1988, 90 Bell housing noise

I guess after > 2years of excellent service, my audi (1988, 90)finally had 
its first
major breakdown.

The car is non-quattro and has a five speed.  Yesterday I noticed that there 

is a loud grinding noise coming from the bell housing.  This noise typically
subsidize after a minute or two.  Sometime it goes away completely and 
there remains a slight clunking noise.  Doing my garden hose trick, I can 
pretty much
pin point the noise coming from inside of bell housing.   The noise sounds
like the ring gear is grinding against something, (maybe the starter the 
even-though this is tough to imagine.  I have checked the starter and it is 
pretty tight.  Also I can not hear the noise (thru my hose) from the 
starter.  BTW
I could not feel the upper bolt of the starter).  Also the noise seems to be
completely independent of the clutch (in or out).

Was wondering if any of you have gone thru this.  The car has ~110K mile so
a clutch job is not a bad idea.  However if this can be fixed without 
pulling the
tranny, I believe my clutch will probably last another year.

As usual thank for the help....