Hydraulic Clutches Are Just Better, So I Swapped It.

Sometimes vehicles are just not made the way that you want them to be, so you are forced to take matters into your own hands and correct it.  Today’s blog is one of those situations.  See, my truck came with a cable actuated clutch, which works absolutely great for a stock clutch.  Unfortunately, I inserted Frankenstein into the equation and ruined all chances of clutch cable survival.  To be honest, I feel like all clutches should be hydraulically actuated. I know, I know, mustangs are yadda yadda, and they work fine. I know, it’s just my opinion.  Anyway, the firewall of my truck was not up for the challenge of a cable pushing harder than normal on it.  The truck is likely made from recycled beer cans (sometimes the truth hurts), and would have destroyed itself if I had used it that way much longer.  Not to mention, my left leg was getting an unnecessary workout, which made driving in traffic miserable.  I knew that there was a better way – hydraulics.

I started by commandeering a hydraulic clutch system from an early 1980′s Dodge Ram turbo diesel (yes, they really existed).  This pile of parts included a bell housing cutout that would need to be hacked into my non-hydraulic bell housing.  Cool right?

I knew that the only way to keep ambition high all day was to start off with easy stuff.  Naturally installing the clutch pedal and clutch master cylinder was the first step.  The cool thing about this was that the firewall already had a spot for the clutch master cylinder to be mounted because the V6 models came with hydraulic clutches. Sweeeeeet Action!!  Some drilling, grinding, and bending happened, and Poof!  It was done.

Next up was the transmission itself.  I pulled the transmission out, and chased it around with a sawzall and a cut-off wheel.  The TIG welder made a brief appearance on the scene, and then two pieces of aluminum became one.  It was as if it was meant to be.   The next issue was that factory 2.0L KM132 transmission didn’t have a spot for a pivot ball to be mounted.  Uh Oh…. Luckily I had some old 2.6L transmissions hanging around waiting to be stripped of their valuable parts.  Off came the front case that can be seen in this picture, some grinding ensued, and VIOLA!  Pivot ball in place  Hydraulic lines were plumbed, and fluids were topped off.  Time to celebrate? Nah.

Once wrapped up, the clutch felt better than ever before.  The pedal was about 100x easier to push down, it engaged and disengaged perfectly, and sure enough, the firewall no longer flexes at all.  I will officially declare this as the 2nd best upgrade that has been done to the truck.  The only thing that it falls behind is the engine swap itself.

When Early 1900′s Puck Clutch Technology Is FTW!

In the early 1900′s automotive engineers were trying some crazy stuff.  That is one of the reasons that I love older cars so much.  These guys didn’t really have a “norm” to start with, so they attempted to create it.  Cars in general were in their infancy and each manufacturer was completely different than the next.

The other day I spotted an engine that still had an old clutch assembly attached.  It was something that I had never seen before so I snapped off a few quick pics.  Judging by the planetary gears on the back of the clutch, it was probably from a tractor or some piece of farm equipment, but it was cool looking & genius design nonetheless.   It vaguely resembled a modern puck clutch with it’s multi-pad design.  From what I am told, you could swap those friction pads out without pulling the transmission.  Now that is a good idea!  Just imagine how much cheaper clutch jobs would be if the transmission didn’t need to come out.  Even if clutches didn’t last as long, it could be a 30K mile service that is 1 hour of labor, and likely ~ $50 in friction material.  What am I missing here?  Why was this design lost in history?  Why doesn’t somebody reinvent this for ultimate profit?  What the heck?

Exedy? You listening?

Hydraulically Actuated Clutches FTW!

A few weeks ago, I began preparing my truck for future upgrades because when I start making real horsepower I don’t want it to explode into a million pieces.  Project #1 was upgrading injectors to larger ones (650cc).  I won’t actually be using this extra fuel yet, so for now I had to tune out about 30% of the fuel to make it run at a normal air/fuel ratio.  Once the injectors were in and tuned properly,  I took it for a ride down the street.  Much to my surprise, my truck felt amazing!  It felt that way right up until the clutch started slipping and smoking. :(   I knew that I was getting close to the limits of my clutch, so I immediately started project #2, which is where this story really begins…. » Continue reading more of this post…