Today, there’s a wide array of clutches available on the high performance market, from complex race-only equipment to street only pieces. In between are some pretty neat combinations – hardware that is perfectly suited for both the street and the strip. And like the race-only gear, it ranges from basic to sophisticated. What follows is a look at two very different clutch “systems”. Check it out. The range of possibilities is endless.
Yesteryear has a melancholy pang to it. Plenty of folks pine for it. Some cling to it. Certainly, as writers, we dig the “modern” computers we use for writing these pieces along with all of the other “modern” things they can do for us, but when it comes to cars (all sorts of cars), yours truly just happens to like stuff that can be fixed. And fixed easily (OK….we suspect it has something to do with old age and familiarity, but lets not go there!). Now, as it turns out, we also happen to dig stick shift cars. And for us at least, clutch assemblies fall into that simple (and familiar) category.
Way back when (or at least in the 1970s), the clutch package to have was a Borg & Beck/Long combination pressure plate, a sprung hub disc (with a Marcel) and some sort of steel flywheel. There was a very good reason for this combination. Most will recall that the old diaphragm pressure plates found behind most Chevy’s (and other GM products) offered pretty good pedal feel, but they often had one ugly tendency: They could stick to the floor at wide open throttle. Not exactly good. And cast iron flywheels (of any sort) weren’t exactly good news either. When (not “if”) they decided to depart, they had a tendency to take big chunk of the car with them. If you didn’t have a scattershield, then your personal body parts were at the mercy of the departing hardware too. As far as the discs were concerned, some of the really good ones happened to be copies of Chevy’s L88 Corvette disc. They worked and the springs never rattled out. Overall, it was a dirt simple arrangement. It got the job done and unless the clutch was incredibly abused, it seldom failed. And if and when the clutch package needed service, the steps required for maintenance were equally dirt simple. Life was good.
That was then. Time and technology marched forward. Sophisticated multiple discs became the norm. Disc diameters shrunk (some by dramatic margins). Some setups seen in racing circles went from two to three or more discs. Soon there were a lot of different pieces contained within the bellhousing. These new clutch packages are obviously fabulous with light pedal pressures, great clamping power and so on, but to me at least, they lack one basic ingredient: They’re not exactly simple.
So what’s a guy to do – especially if you’re like us and stuck in what some might consider a forty-or-so year old simplicity time warp? That’s easy. Just check out the following. You’ll still find hardware of choice from the Seventies (and in future issues, we’ll look at some much more modern technology). But even with the advances, the basic premise for a back-to-basics clutch package is the same: A Borg & Beck/Long combination pressure plate, steel flywheel coupled with a sprung hub disc.
In the photos and captions that follow, we’ll take a close look at today’s old (new) single disc clutch setups from the folks at McLeod. Check it out. If you yearn for the simplicity of yesteryear, this clutch setup is for you.
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Placentia, California 92870