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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 ramtech@ramclutches.com.

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 ramtech@ramclutches.com 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 ramtech@ramclutches.com, 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!