What Should You Look for When Choosing an Installer?

What Should You Look for When Choosing an Installer?

We receive numerous questions on our tech line or with the E-Tech form about installers and installation.     

Here are three commons themes: 

  • A customer asks for a recommendation on an installer for their clutch system. 
  • We get a call because there’s a problem with a clutch put in by an installer.  
  • Finally, an installer calls who ‘inherited’ a job from another installer who botched the job.

Just like when looking for a doctor or lawyer, it is important to look for the best installer based on your vehicle and how you intend to use it.

Today’s vehicles are highly technical and require a good understanding of the drivetrain to install an aftermarket clutch and hydraulics system.  

Good working knowledge of the clutch and release systems is vital when installing an aftermarket part.

A dealership installer may have a great deal of knowledge on a specific car or truck, but their experience is often limited to using factory parts.  

This is in no way a knock on dealerships; I know many qualified technicians at these establishments are performance savvy.  But honestly, I’ve spoken with many over the years who I would not put into that category.

If you have a specialized vehicle that is even slightly modified, I advise you to seek a reputable shop that specializes in your type of vehicle.  

In other words, if you are a Mustang, Challenger, Camaro, or Corvette guy, look for someone who specializes in modifying these models. 

You will get the knowledge needed on your specific car; chances are they have already run into any of the minor concerns associated with an aftermarket clutch or hydraulics installation.

As you evaluate the installer, you are really looking for someone who will take their time on the installation and do the job right the first time.  

These folks tend to stop when there is an issue or question and evaluate the best path for resolving the concern.  They understand that things happen and that it may be necessary to take time to do extra measurements or make a phone call when they have a question.

They should also take the time to review the products with you and discuss any additional items or modifications that may be needed as the installation proceeds.

Often these specialty installers are a dealer for RAM and many other product lines. That means they’re familiar with the products and the techniques necessary to perform a successful install.  

A RAM hydraulic bearing or Dual Disc clutch system install requires proper measuring and fitting to ensure a successful installation the first time. A good installer will (or should) also walk through the proper break-in procedures and be able to answer any questions you may have about what to expect from the clutch or hydraulics system.

The bottom line is, while RAM Clutches or any manufacturer does their best to provide products that are easy to install and troubleshoot, the benefit of having a specialist perform the work should make your experience much better in the end.

Is the Dodge Challenger Market Slipping Through Your Fingertips?

Is the Dodge Challenger Market Slipping Through Your Fingertips?

If you are like me, your daily commute probably has you seeing multiple Gen 3 Dodge Challengers running up and down the road.  

These cars come in many configurations, from V6 to the basic V8 R/T up to high horsepower Hellcat and Demon versions. Go to any local car show or cars and coffee, and you will see tons of these cars lined up in the lot.

Amazingly, this platform utilizes the same basic dual disc clutch system from model years 2008-2021, with Hellcat and Demon models using a slightly larger 10-inch diameter clutch. 

Dodge was the first of the big three automakers to embrace dual disc technology platform-wide. Ford and GM used these clutches sparingly in specialty vehicles like the GT500 and ZR-1 Corvette. 

When I talk to customers in the field who own these cars, most have no idea it even has a dual-disc clutch!

With this many Challengers running around, it is undoubtedly a market for clutches that should have your attention. Additionally, many models are in the secondary and third market due to clutch changes and performance modifications as the cars become easier on the pocketbook for the younger crowd.

Fortunately, RAM saw this coming early. We have been busy developing Challenger clutch systems that address levels from basic replacement upgrade up to race only and three-disc models that address power levels beyond 1000 hp.

Our newest and most affordable systems feature our Concept 10.5 dual disc clutch in a package designed to work with the factory flywheel via a friction plate attached directly to the factory flywheel surface. This provides a flat and stable platform for the clutch system and makes it compatible with the factory hydraulic system without needing any slave spacers or shims. 

In addition, our optional billet aluminum flywheel is designed to work with this package and even accepts the factory clutch for those that insist on ‘keeping it stock.’

For those looking to step up their game in performance and power even further, Force 10.5 and Pro Street dual disc models are available, including the flywheel and using organic or metallic friction materials. 

You can even round out the package with our aftermarket hydraulic release bearing kit and get easy adjustability, setting up the bearing height for most clutch systems.

Check out the full RAM line of clutches and hydraulics for the Gen 3 Challengers, and get in the game on this lucrative market!

 

The Ideal Measurement for RAM Hydraulic Bearings

The Ideal Measurement for RAM Hydraulic Bearings

Part 2 – Aftermarket Bearings

 

Last month we discussed the importance of properly setting up the factory internal hydraulic bearing with your new clutch system. The few extra minutes it takes to measure and set up these bearings correctly is just as important with an aftermarket release bearing like our RAM units.

Most aftermarket bearings are built on a principle of ‘gap’ or bearing ‘freeplay’. In comparison, factory slave cylinders are set up based on ‘preload.’ The measurements are just as essential to ensure your clutch system will operate correctly and provide a long service life.

RAM delivers an assortment of shims with each kit to help you. Keep in mind that clutch and transmission packages vary widely in their setup heights. It is not uncommon to need extra shims or a longer anti-rotation stud. These parts can be found in our store when you search for ‘hydraulic accessories‘.

The ideal gap for a RAM hydraulic bearing is .150-.200″. As your clutch wears, the fingers will get taller and this gap will diminish. So you want to have enough to allow for wear over time without the bearing bottoming out on the fingers and causing the clutch to unload or slip. I prefer to target the .200″ number in your setup, especially with a dual-disc clutch.

Some things to watch out for as you do this install:

Once you have completed all of your setup measurements, manually extend the bearing to its full travel, then check the stud length. It would be best to trim the stud so the tip is engaged in the bearing anti-rotation slot but not protruding far enough to hit the clutch cover.

Make sure you leave slack in your hydraulic lines to allow the bearing to move forward and back.

Also, ensure the lines will not contact the clutch fingers or cover. Some installs require a 45-degree fitting to angle the lines back away, especially with three-finger clutches.

When performing the bleed, leave the system closed and pump, pump, pump! Make sure you have an assistant keeping the fluid reservoir full. You will need to pull the pedal back up as you do this with your toe. Expect to get a pedal ‘feel’ about halfway up before continuing to bleed like a conventional set of brakes.

We provide a handy setup instructional guide and a video of an install on a 6-speed transmission to help you understand the process. Once you have completed this the first time, you will have an easy time with any additional installs you may do in your shop or helping a friend with a similar installation.

 

Why It’s Important to Measure During Hydraulic Bearing Installation

Why It’s Important to Measure During Hydraulic Bearing Installation

Part 1 – Factory Hydraulics

It used to be pretty easy to do a clutch change with mechanical release mechanisms.  

Simply grind the flywheel, install the new clutch, then re-adjust your linkage to position the release bearing for proper release and pedal position, and you are back on the road. Unfortunately, it is not as easy with today’s factory slave/internal hydraulic release mechanisms.

Ford was the first to use an internal hydraulic release bearing or slave in their pickup trucks during the late 1980s.  These early models were limited in travel, very finicky to bleed, and often failed.  The designs have improved over the years, and almost any new manual transmission vehicle sold will have this type of system.  Beyond this, installers did not completely understand how they worked and often got in trouble when installing non-stock clutch components.

Internal slave bearings start in a ‘sprung outward’ position and work on the principle of preload.  The bearing has a set travel length, and as the transmission is installed, the bearing is compressed or preloaded a certain amount to provide the forward movement needed to disengage the clutch.  The trick is to have enough preload to achieve adequate bearing movement to disengage the clutch yet still leave some room for wear in the clutch system.

For example, let’s assume a slave bearing with a total potential travel of 1 inch.  We ideally want this bearing to preload .600-.700” when the transmission is installed. This would leave .600-.700” of travel available for the master cylinder to move the bearing forward and disengage the clutch and still leave .300-.400” of travel for wear of the clutch disc.  

As the wear occurs, the fingers of the clutch get taller and decrease the amount of travel available for wear in the slave bearing.  When the system is entirely out of this ‘wear room,’ the bearing will bottom out on the fingers and eventually cause the clutch to slip.

Most aftermarket clutches will have a ‘clutch height’ (the distance from the backside of the flywheel flange to the fingers of the clutch, fully assembled) that is different from a factory clutch.  

This measurement is so critical when you make a clutch change, regardless of the brand.  

We strongly recommend checking the preload on any install, even if you are just replacing a stock clutch with a stock clutch.

We have developed a great video explaining this procedure, along with documentation and a worksheet to help you.  Changing a clutch in a later model vehicle is usually no picnic – it is more than worth the extra 15-20 minutes to run these measurements, and make sure when you finish the install, it will be the last time you have to do it!

 

 

When is Centrifugal Clutch Pressure Effective?

When is Centrifugal Clutch Pressure Effective?

Centrifugal clutch pressure, or ‘counterweights,’ can be a tremendous aid to achieving the optimum clutch combination for high power drag racing applications. In racing situations, some ‘slip’ is required on the initial launch, and the clutch needs to be progressively locked up as the car accelerates down the track. But is it effective in a streetcar application?

First, we need to understand the method for increased holding power in a clutch. This can be done three ways – additional static or clamp pressure, increased coefficient friction clutch disc materials (with higher heat and holding capacities), or using centrifugal pressure. 

The first two methods – increased clamp load and more aggressive friction material, are constant. If you have this increase in holding capacity, it doesn’t matter if the engine is turned off or spinning 7000 RPM.  

Centrifugal pressure, on the other hand, is dependent on engine RPM. So if you look at a graph on centrifugal pressure, the curve starts off very shallow at around 5500 RPM. Then, as the engine RPM increases, this increase in pressure goes up by the square of the engine RPM. Around 7500 RPM, the curve would be roughly 45 degrees upward, and at about 9000 RPM the curve is shooting virtually straight up.

Herein lies the problem with centrifugal pressure in a street application – most street engines make the bulk of their torque at RPMs much lower than 7000, some as low as 2500! 

Centrifugal pressure cannot address this high torque in a low RPM situation. The only way to handle it is with a higher clamp load, more aggressive friction material, or a combination of these two. 

If you look at a pressure chart for a RAM 11 inch diaphragm pressure plate like those found in an Musclecar, HDX, Powergrip, or Powergrip HD set, and compare it to the pressure curve of an aftermarket centrifugally assisted pressure plate, the centrifugal plate application will have to operate up to 9000 RPM to reach the equivalent holding capacity of the RAM pressure plate. 

How many street engines are going to see this kind of use?

A fourth method of increasing holding capacity has emerged in the last ten years – the street dual-disc clutch. The beauty of these clutches, such as the RAM Concept 10.5, is that you can have your cake and eat it too – a high capacity clutch system that does not require extreme static pressure or too aggressive of friction materials to achieve the same holding power.

What is the takeaway? 

Be knowledgeable about your application and what you expect from your clutch system, and don’t fall for sales hype for your street or street/strip vehicle’s clutch system.

 

How to Avoid Clutch Chatter

How to Avoid Clutch Chatter

Clutch chatter is one of those subjective topics – what is ‘too much’ chatter to some folks may be ‘just a little’ chatter to others.  It really boils down to your driving experience.  Chatter usually happens as the clutch is engaging. It occurs when the pressure plate is alternatively grabbing and slipping the clutch disc, making the car shake as the engagement is occurring.  

So what are some of the factors that contribute to making a clutch chatter?

Aggressive friction materials – metallic clutch discs have a much higher coefficient of friction and, in turn, are ‘grabbier’ or more likely to chatter.  Much like metallic brakes versus organics, you can feel the difference.

Lack of marcel, or ‘squish’ in the clutch disc carrier – When you look at most clutch discs from the side, you will notice a small wave in the metal carrier between the facings.  This is called the marcel spring. It can vary in thickness from as little as .010” to .045” when the clutch disc is engaged or compressed.  The more marcel a disc has, the better it can absorb the shock of engagement and resist chatter.  

Alternately, more marcel translates into more finger travel or release length to achieve disengagement.  So it takes a gentle balance.

Improper gearing – If a vehicle has a high rear-end gear (lower numerically) or a very high low gear in the transmission, the ability to get the clutch engaged smoothly is more difficult. The clutch needs to be slipped more initially to get the vehicle moving.  This builds heat in the disc and can cause the clutch to chatter.  In most cases, you are looking for a minimum of a 10:1 low gear to rear gear ratio to help optimize your initial take-off (low gear X rear gear.)  This is especially critical if you prefer to let out the clutch from an idle!

Solid or poly engine or transmission mounts – Any time you stiffen the drivetrain mounting, it is more likely to transmit pulses that can turn into chatter on takeoff.

Bent or excessive run out of the clutch disc – If the clutch disc becomes bent, perhaps by rocking the transmission on install, letting it hang from the disc without support, or using the bolts to draw the transmission onto the bellhousing, the clutch disc can easily become bent and will chatter excessively, if it disengages at all.

Vehicle weight – When combined with any of the above factors, the heavier the car is, the more chance you have of experiencing chatter on initial takeoff. NOTE: See improper gearing above.

It can be very challenging to select the proper clutch for your application. You must be mindful and honest with yourself as you make your clutch selection. By keeping the factors above in mind, you can avoid or minimize the amount of chatter that you may experience in your particular application.  A dual disc clutch is always a great option to help avoid chatter in higher horsepower vehicles since you can get great holding power without using aggressive friction materials. 

 

Miscellaneous Ramblings of a Life Long Clutch Guy

Miscellaneous Ramblings of a Life Long Clutch Guy

Beginnings in the Clutch Business 

My earliest memory of a street customer using one of our clutches was around 1972. He was a local guy with a Gremlin X, and he lived near our house. 

One night, shortly after installing a three-paddle metallic disc, he drove by our house, stopped and told my dad, “watch this.” He revved it up, dumped the clutch, and picked the front wheels up about two inches.  It was the first time I had ever seen that on the street, and I’m pretty sure the neighbors did not appreciate it near as much as I did!

We started working in the family business early in life.  At age 13, I worked at the shop full time in the summer.  My brother Pat did not want to miss out, so when he turned ten, he also started working half days.  I could never thank my parents enough for instilling a strong work ethic in us early on.  We actually had money and learned how to save it!  My kids complained up and down when I ‘made’ them work during high school, but as soon as they got out into the real working world, they thanked me.

Memories Around the Track 

Very quickly, our annual family vacation became the US Nationals at Indy.  One of our favorite things to do at night after dinner was to ride around the parking lots of the motels and watch the racers working on their cars.  It was not unusual for fuel cars or Pro Stockers to be serviced at night, changing engines, or doing other work right there in the lots.  Once in a while, they even started them up. However, there was probably a lot more than just working on cars going on out there, looking back now!

One year at Indy, almost every funny car racer was getting clutch discs from RAM.  One of my biggest heroes was (and still is) Tom ‘The Mongoose’ McEwen.  He would invite me into the trailer, walk me all around, fill my arms up with Mongoose swag and then say, “go tell your dad I need some clutch discs!”  I still have a small notepad that I used to get autographs from almost every fuel racer at that race.

Lessons Learned from My First Car 

My first ‘clutch car’ was a ‘67 Camaro RS.  The first clutch we put in was a 3200 pound Borg & Beck pressure plate and a six-paddle metallic disc.  It would chatter so badly at times you would think the dashboard was going to fall right out, and the pedal was so stiff your left foot would start shaking at a long stoplight!  Only one person other than me could ever figure out how to take off smoothly.  It never slipped, though!  44 years later, I still have this car.

One of the first things my dad told me after getting the Camaro was, “your daily streetcar can’t be your race car.”  After three engines and two transmissions over 4 years, I finally believed him! 

Everybody I grew up with who drove hot rods also had a ‘winter beater’ car they drove daily.  Mine was a ’69 Impala with a 327 two-barrel.  During cold winter mornings on the way to school, it would tend to stall out after about half a block of driving.  I’d have to get out, remove the air cleaner, prop the choke open with a pencil, and then it would start right back up.  We called it ‘the hovercraft.’  It felt like the whole body moved in the opposite direction when you went around a corner. I sold it to one of my best buddies, and he drove it for many years.

How RAM Clutches Came to Columbia 

In 1983 RAM moved from Canton, OH to Columbia, SC.  I had just graduated college and moved here in the fall.  People often ask how we ended up in Columbia.  The real answer is that my Mom and Dad missed a turn on the way to Myrtle Beach and ended up in downtown Columbia, and they decided they liked it here!

A Lifetime of Learning (and loving) the Business 

I started learning the technical assistance side of RAM during college. I would answer the phone, get all the customer info, place the call on hold, and discuss it with the current tech guys. Then I would get back on the line and pass along the advice.  It seemed very cumbersome at the time, but little did I know how much knowledge I was gaining and how many of those same folks I would still be talking to today.

When you do something for so long, you gain more knowledge than you ever realize. For example, one day before leaving for a show in Ohio, a friend was sitting in my office waiting to leave and listening to me answer some tech calls.  When I got off the phone, he was just shaking his head.  

 “What?,” I said  

He said, “I can’t believe you can just spiel all that info out off the top of your head.  You never even looked at a catalog or anything!”  

I guess that was the day I realized I knew a lot more about clutches than most anybody that was ever going to call me for assistance, let alone most of my competitors.

I know I spoke of it a few months ago, but something that has always driven me crazy are companies that have ‘customers’ running their product decal on a car, and they don’t use that product.  Some of our competitors like to do this, often in cars that they don’t even remotely make a product for.  We don’t require a customer to run our decal and consider it an honor if they decide to do so. So if you see a car with a RAM decal on it, you can be damn sure that car really has a RAM clutch in it. 

2021 marked my 38th year full-time at RAM and 46th year working within the company.  I would not trade my life in this industry back for anything.  It is a huge blessing to work with your family every day, and the friends, acquaintances, customers, reps, and yes, even competitors I’ve gotten to know. One of the greatest accomplishments in life is to love what you do and grow with it each passing day.

Wishing you and your family the best through the Christmas holidays!

“Will You Sponsor My Race Car?”

“Will You Sponsor My Race Car?”

Like any good racer, you probably do your best to secure whatever levels of sponsorship you can for your racing operation. Maybe you partner with local establishments to help give them exposure at races and events. You could develop contingency deal programs with your sanctioning body. And perhaps you even have corporate-level sponsorships.

We often get asked if we will ‘sponsor’ a racer.  Most of the time, the person is seeking product in exchange for exposure for RAM on their car.  As a racer, you typically do not see many ‘full’ sponsorships given by product-specific manufacturers.  

Our take on this is fairly simple – we cannot play favorites.  In many classes where our clutches are popular, multiple racers are using the same product, and for us to ‘sponsor’ one of these racers and not the others is not fair, in our opinion. 

What we do offer to all RAM customers is a high level of support through technical assistance and advice wherever and whenever possible.  We have many years of experience at the track, so we can often answer questions that go well beyond the clutch system itself – including rear end and transmission gearing that go hand in hand with putting together a successful racing operation.  

When you look around today, not many companies have this experience to offer.

RAM supports several drag racing and circle track sanctions throughout the country and remains very active with almost all grassroots ‘stick shift’ groups and IMCA in the circle track market. We feel this is the best way we can give back to those who support RAM.

Some racers graciously decide to put a RAM decal on their race car.  

This is not something we ever require. 

If you see a RAM decal on a racer’s car, it was their choice to put it there, and you can be assured they are using RAM products.  

One of my pet peeves is companies with their logo or decal on race cars that do not or cannot even use their products.  Sometimes you see the companies promoting these relationships in a way that would falsely lead people to believe that that racer is actually using their product.  

Trust me. You will never see that happen with RAM.

Selecting a clutch company goes beyond the product itself.  Make sure you will get the support you need and deserve once you do purchase that part from the company of your choice, be it a clutch or any part for your street or race car.

Don’t be Intimidated by a Transmission Swap!

Don’t be Intimidated by a Transmission Swap!

Driving your muscle car can be an awful lot of fun!  What’s not fun is buzzing the engine at 3000+ RPM driving down the highway or backroads for long periods of time and watching the gas gauge needle make a more rapid descent down to zero. Or seeing the wear and tear on your engine from extended high RPM outings.

A transmission swap may be just the thing for you.

Moving into a five or six-speed transmission affords one or two overdrive gears, which will help reduce your cruising RPM and make your drive much more enjoyable.

The transmissions of choice right now are the Tremec TKX five-speed and T56 six-speed models. There are many reputable companies out there selling these transmissions and complete transmission packages. RAM works with several of them to provide the clutch system.

When it is time to make your clutch selection for this package, don’t just settle for whatever clutch package the distributor offers.  They may have their ‘own’ brand clutch systems.

RAM has been working on and building clutch systems for transmissions back into the early 2000s. We have several packages tailored for these applications based on your anticipated use of your vehicle.

Don’t Forget the Flywheel

The flywheel should never be overlooked when setting up a new drivetrain system.  Don’t just reuse that factory cast iron flywheel that may be thirty or more years old! Instead, make sure to use a quality billet steel (street use) or aluminum flywheel (track use).  New flywheels such as RAM billet models are typically a bit thinner overall than factory flywheels. As a result, they can allow more space to fit the clutch system with an internal hydraulic release bearing.

Pick the Right Kit

Most of the transmission distributors use some version of the factory internal slave cylinder or hydraulic release bearing.  RAM has hydraulic bearing kits specifically designed for Tremec five and six-speed transmissions.

Five-speed kits include a billet replacement front bearing retainer that allows for more space in setting up the release mechanism with whatever clutch you decide on, whether it is a single or double disc.

Bottom line?  Do your homework on a transmission package that is best suited to your needs and the use of your vehicle, and don’t be afraid to select a different clutch, flywheel, and hydraulics package than just what they ‘happen’ to offer.

 

Fine Tuning Your Drag Racing Clutch Combination

Fine Tuning Your Drag Racing Clutch Combination

 

Does this sound familiar? You just received your brand new drag race clutch system, and you can hardly wait to get it put in and fire up the engine! You have a baseline starting point for the clutch static pressure and counterweight settings. Everything should be fine to just head to the starting line of the next big event and let ‘er rip, right? 

Probably not! 

While we typically recommend starting points higher than we think you will ultimately need, that does not mean that your unique combination of gearing, engine, tire size and driving will be right on the money every time. 

But, like most anything else with your race car, taking your time and having patience will pay off in more consistent performances and success with your new system. 

What do we recommend? 

Testing runs will be most beneficial to make sure you have the clutch adjustments correct before heading to your next event. Keep in mind that the base or static pressure will control what the car does on the launch, and the counterweight adjustments will regulate the lockup of the clutch through the gears. 

Start by working with the launch and dialing in the base pressure setting. Just leave the starting line a few times and note how the clutch is feeling and what your crew members are seeing (if you have a data recorder, this is where it will be helpful!) Getting a lower RPM will give you a better indication of whether you have the static pressure right or not. ‘Soft’ or ‘lazy,’ or no wheel speed at all on launch will usually indicate the need to increase the static pressure. Continue to adjust and make hits off the line only until you are satisfied with the performance. 

Once you have the launch down, it’s time to see what is happening with the gear changes. Go ahead and leave and pull a gear or two only. What is the car doing on the shift? Is it soft, or is the clutch not locking up? What does the data recorder show is happening? You may need to increase the counterweight on the fingers. Add a gram or two and retry. If it hits too hard or spins wildly on the shift, you will need to take some counterweight off the fingers. A gram or two on each finger can make a huge difference during shifting, depending on your RPM. 

What are the ‘ultimate’ settings? 

When you can get the car to launch with controlled wheel speed and have just enough counterweight for the clutch to hold in high gear on the big end of the track, you are there! 

Keep in mind if your clutch setup is brand new or freshly serviced, it will be a little soft on the first hit or two, so tuck that info away as you make your fine-tuning adjustments. Then, with a bit of patience and an afternoon of testing, you will be on the way to optimizing your clutch combination and turning on those win lights!

Differences Between Clutches for Circle Track Cars and Stock Cars

Differences Between Clutches for Circle Track Cars and Stock Cars

Circle track racers face different challenges when selecting a clutch for their race car.  The biggest is the drivetrain rules package for the sanction or specific track.

You can set your car up to legally race at one track and go down the road 50 miles and the next track will have a completely different set of rules.

It takes careful investigation to determine what will be legal for your car and select a proper clutch system to meet those particular rules.  Some tracks will specify a certain flywheel weight and that’s it. Others state you need ‘stock style 10 or 10.5-inch clutch’ but nothing more.

Learning how to apply these rules to your car is the trick!

To accommodate a wide variety of rules packages for ‘street stock’ style classes, RAM offers billet steel flywheels in several different weights: 10, 12, 14, and 16 pounds.  We make the ultimate lightweight pressure plates with billet machined pressure rings under 12 pounds, modified factory pressure rings around 14 pounds, and stock weight at about 17 pounds.

For disc selection, you can choose between solid center hub organic or metallic clutch discs.  You can evaluate these products and watch some informative videos here.

The key is to evaluate the rules for your particular sanctioning body carefully, or if you run independently, the requirements for each track at which you plan to compete.  Select the components that fit within these rules packages.  You’ll now run the lightest possible combination and still work within the guidelines.

If the rules allow for the use of a multi-disc clutch, you can select from RAM Assault Weapon 6 ¼ inch dual or triple disc models or the RAM 7.25 series units.  Each of these are ‘button style’ clutches and will work with a factory-style automatic transmission flexplate that matches the balance of your engine and ring gear tooth count requirement.

Multi-disc clutches are smaller in diameter, allowing the motor to accelerate and decelerate quicker, which lets you drive further into the turn before letting off and get back into the throttle quicker coming out.  Your engine will maintain its peak operating RPM range for more extended periods.

We are always here to help you make the best selection of clutches for your circle track application!  Use the convenient E-Tech form to send us your vehicle details, and include any rules relevant to your track.

We’ll reply or call you with a package that will meet your needs, give you long service life, and most importantly, help you optimize your engine and driveline package!

Answering Frequently Asked Questions About Clutch Adjustment

Answering Frequently Asked Questions About Clutch Adjustment

A common tech question I receive focuses on adjusting the mechanical linkage on a clutch system. Many folks have a problem getting ‘enough’ adjustment or are having hard pedal and release issues. Fortunately, there are a few things you can try to get things working properly again. 

If you are having trouble getting enough travel to disengage the clutch and your clutch rod is maxed out, disconnect the rod and manually pull the fork up until the release bearing is just touching the clutch fingers.  At that point, your fork should have a forward angle in the bellhousing window (driver’s side pivoting forks) or a rearward angle (passenger side pivoting forks).  

If your fork is sitting in the middle or opposite of the optimum angle listed above, you could easily have a leverage or travel issue.

So what exactly causes an adjustment problem?  

It could be that your pivot ball or bellhousing has been changed at some point. Maybe your car had a different style diaphragm or previously used a lever style clutch and the finger height is different on the new one.  Some GM applications in the mid to late ’60s, such as the Corvette, used a long release bearing from the factory in conjunction with a ‘flat’ fingered diaphragm. Now, the clutch you are replacing it with has a high cone and comes with a short-release bearing.

Your solution is to either change the pivot ball out for a longer one or use a longer release bearing which will correct the fork angle and kick it back into a higher leverage position.  Usually, this also addresses the insufficient rod adjustment length.  If you are using a scattershield, the best method is to use an adjustable pivot ball.

RAM offers release bearings in short, medium, and long lengths to help you correct these fork angles.  

Another common question is, ‘how much freeplay should I adjust for’?  The most important thing to know is that freeplay at the pedal is NOT the same as freeplay at the fork.  When checking for bearing clearance you need to be checking it at the fork.  We usually recommend a minimum of ¼” bearing clearance between the bearing and the fingers.  Remember that as your clutch wears, the fingers get taller, or closer to the bearing.  It is better to adjust for maximum free play (or, minimum release), so you are only traveling the fingers of the clutch as much as needed for full disengagement. 

Getting your fork angled correctly and the bearing adjusted properly will allow you to experience much easier pedal effort and require less travel to achieve full disengagement of the clutch system, making your drive much more enjoyable!

Have more equations about proper adjustments? Send us a message through our e-tech form!

How Our E-Tech Form Can Answer Your Questions Faster

How Our E-Tech Form Can Answer Your Questions Faster

Getting Answers to Your Questions Using E-Tech

We receive a lot of feedback on our electronic tech support or E-Tech. It’s a way many customers get answers to questions or problems they’re having. If you’re someone who prefers to make a call, there are some specific reasons why using our E-Tech form helps you receive answers to your questions without waiting on the phone.

Provide Your Information All at Once

By using the E-Tech form, we can get you answers to your questions quicker. It allows us to gather all of the information we need and recommend a solution or help you troubleshoot your problem.  Often when a customer calls in, they need to go back and find important information. Utilizing our online form will eliminate multiple phone calls to determine what we need to help you the first time.

E-Tech Gives Us Time to Consider Your Questions

When you are having an issue, sometimes it requires us to think about what is going on.  We may need to physically check some part or dimension or research a combination that is out of the ordinary.  On the phone, this might mean giving you a quick and possibly incomplete answer. We may have to call you back (perhaps multiple times), or worse, think of something else we need to check after you’ve hung up.

Our Online Form is Available at All Hours

We often look at these E-Tech forms during off-hours or over the weekend.  If it is a question that we can answer without physically looking something up or measuring at the shop, you’ll usually receive an answer faster than waiting on a call during work hours.  And most likely, you’re working on your project over the weekend anyway!

You May Answer Your Own Question

Providing information to us about a problem forces you to think more about the issue you are experiencing.  Customers tell me that filling out the E-Tech form turned on a light bulb and helped them solve an issue before even sending it to us!

E-Tech Helps Us Manage Technical Support

We all wear many hats around RAM.  We thoroughly enjoy helping our customers with application questions and support, but doing so takes up a lot of our time.  Using E-Tech helps us better manage our day. It ensures orders are shipping quickly and efficiently, and rebuilds get handled in a reasonable timeframe. And we’ll have time to address other customer service issues throughout the day.

There are Many Ways to Get in Touch With Us

Maybe you or someone in your circle is not an ‘Internet person’ and still prefers the phone.  You can always request a call back once you have provided us with the basic info we need to help you with your situation! Many requests and issues can only be handled by phone, and rest assured this service is still available.  And you can always shoot a quick email to [email protected].

Now that you know all the different ways to get in touch with us, send us your questions so we can help you with your build!

True or False-Hydraulic Bearing Myths Debunked

Adding hydraulics to early model cars has become very popular, with many people doing swaps of late-model engines and/or five and six-speed transmissions.  There are several positives to making this switch and a few falsehoods to remember.

TRUE– Switching to a hydraulic bearing will free up space in my engine compartment.

Making a change to hydraulics eliminates all of the factory mechanical linkages. It frees up space for later model engine swaps, big block or tall deck motors, and the use of simpler header systems without worrying about clearing the factory linkage.  Additionally, most late model blocks do not have the mechanical Z-bar pivot facility to attach to the engine block.

FALSE– Hydraulic bearings are not reliable for street use.

At one time, this may have been the case, but with refinements in RAM hydraulic bearings’ design to incorporate larger o-ring seals, the overall life of these systems has increased significantly.  Proper routing of the feed line and insulation from heat are also key factors.

TRUE– Installing hydraulics is easier than you think.

Many companies now offer exact fit master cylinder systems that will mount to your firewall correctly and attach properly to the pedal. They’ll provide the correct push angle and ratio to keep pedal effort down.  Watch for RAM to introduce these master systems in the coming months!

FALSE– Setting up a hydraulic bearing is a pain in the butt.

RAM has made it simple to properly set up a hydraulic release bearing by providing in-depth videos and instructions that walk you through the process of installing these units.  Do you have to take measurements?  Yes!  Do you need to take your time and do it right?  Yes, especially if you are like me and prefer to only do things one time.

TRUE– Hydraulic bearings can be used with earlier lever-style clutches.

By simply changing out the snap-on bearing face on RAM hydraulic bearings, you can install a wide face bearing that will accommodate Long Style and Borg and Beck clutches.  It is required to use 45-degree fittings coming out of the bearing to route the lines back in the bell housing away from the clutch cover and avoid contact.

FALSE– Pedal effort will be lower with a hydraulic bearing.

Pedal effort encompasses several factors.  The size of the master cylinder has the greatest effect on pedal feel.  Larger masters will have heavier effort.  Getting the sizing correct will minimize effort and get the proper bearing travel to disengage the clutch correctly without over travel.  The other major factor is the pickup point of the master cylinder rod on the clutch pedal.  Maintaining the proper pedal ratio will minimize the pedal effort.

Send us an email at [email protected] with any questions about our hydraulic bearings or fill out our tech form! 

Selecting the Right Clutch System to Avoid an Overload

Selecting the Right Clutch System to Avoid an Overload

I talk all the time about the load factors that affect the clutch system on your street or race vehicle.  One of those is ‘use of the vehicle’.  Let’s dive a little deeper into why this is important when you make your clutch choice.

Use of vehicle may be something as simple as driving your car to car shows on the weekend or heading out to the local dairy pop for a quick snack.  It also might mean that the same vehicle gets slicks bolted on it and heads to the race track five times a year.  In the first case, the driveability of the car is most important.  Funny thing is, it is still important in the second case, but we have to be mindful of the much higher load the clutch system will see at the race track.

A vehicle that will see higher loads at the track will have to be clutched adequately to hold against that load, so you are going to have to use a setup that may be a level or two higher than you would normally use for your weekend pleasure car.  In some cases, this may mean a bit of compromise in the driveability you get for everyday street driving. Of course, the best solution to this situation is to use a dual-disc clutch system, where you can essentially have the best of both worlds, the smooth street engagement, and the higher torque load handling capabilities.

So what about that regular weekend car show cruiser?  Assuming this car will only see some ‘spirited driving’ or an occasional stoplight blast, and otherwise is used for pleasure driving and shows, selecting a system that is right on your power level will be the best choice.  Additionally, if this happened to be a restoration or vehicle that has skinny ‘factory style’ tires, the load on the clutch will be minimal since the tires will tend to spin before you overload the clutch. In this case, you may want something as simple as a Musclecar clutch set which provides the best street driving experience short of a stock replacement clutch set.

As always, we are here to help you make these critical decisions.  Hit me up at [email protected], or use our convenient tech form for a detailed recommendation based on your vehicle’s specifications.

 

6 Internet ‘Tips’ That Will Destroy Your Clutch System

The internet can be a great thing. If I need tips on how to cook my steak properly or paint my bathroom, a quick Google search will deliver the information I need. On the flip side, you can find bad information in your search as well. This especially applies to your vehicle. Be cautious on what you read about selecting or using your clutch system based on “tips” found on a forum or social media page. In many cases, the people offering advice have no experience and are really trying to look important!

Here are some of our favorite bad tips found online:

  1. ‘Take off in second gear at the drag strip. It will cut down on your tire spin’. Well, yes, it probably will. It will also bog the engine (if the clutch is up to the task), and if not, the clutch will slip horribly. Expect to see a plume of smoke from under the car of your buddy who tries this trick.
  2. ‘Don’t worry about breaking the clutch in, just let ‘er eat!’ A clutch needs to seat properly to give you maximum performance and life. If you back out of the garage, put it on 5000, and dump the clutch, expect slippage, failure, or at the least, greatly reduced clutch life. If you want to learn more about properly breaking a clutch in, check out our blog post.
  3. ‘I hooked my truck up to a tree, then just slipped the clutch to break it in’. Or, ‘Just pull up against a wall and slip the clutch to get her seated’. It is hard to even comment on these two, but suffice it to say that proper break-in is critical to the clutch’s life, and trying to shortcut or cheat this procedure will cost you down the line.
  4. ‘Use your traction control at the drag strip to cut down on tire spin.’ Will this work? Maybe, but most traction control systems cycle the brakes and/or engine RPM to do their job, putting an extreme load on the clutch system. Turn off all the engine controls when racing.
  5. ‘I just slipped my clutch a whole bunch to put heat in it and break it in.’ The process of breaking in a clutch is about systematically seating the friction materials on both sides of the disc to the flywheel and pressure plate, similar to bedding in brakes. Introducing extreme or quick heat to these unseasoned components will cause the components’ to warp, and from there, watch for premature slippage and even non-release from your new clutch system.
  6. ‘Race cars don’t break in their clutch, and I don’t need to either.’ It’s correct that race cars don’t break in their clutch, but a race clutch is typically seated with higher initial pressure on the first few runs, and then the pressure is backed off to optimize the combination. Also, race clutches get constant maintenance to keep surfaces flat and consistent and maintain repeatable performance. This doesn’t happen with a typical street vehicle.

Do you have any doozies to share? Let us know!