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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!