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Heavy or Lightweight Clutch? The Great Debate

Heavy or Lightweight Clutch? The Great Debate

There seems to be a common misconception that a lighter weight clutch and/or flywheel is going to make your car faster or perform better.  We even have one manufacturer in our industry that tells you “put in an aluminum flywheel and make more horsepower!”  The fact is it depends on how you use your car or truck that determines whether you can benefit from a lighter weight clutch or flywheel.

Remember the job of the flywheel – to transmit inertia to help you get your car moving.  On the street, this means slipping the clutch less on takeoff to get rolling and make a smooth transition.  At the drag strip, balancing flywheel weight with gearing will allow you to launch most efficiently without excessive tire spin or bogging the engine.  This is especially true in heavier vehicles!

It Depends…

In general, a street car benefits most from a moderate weight flywheel and clutch package that provides the best driveability, both on takeoff and at low speeds driving along.  If you have ever been in a heavily cammed car and driving along at lower engine speeds, you may have noticed a ‘bucking’ or ‘jumping’ that occurs when the RPM drops too low.  Having more flywheel and clutch weight in this case helps to smooth out the lower RPM engine pulses and keep the driveability smooth.

Drag cars of all different power levels can use lighter weight units IF the proper gearing can be used in the transmission and rear end.  If these gearing options for the transmission are not available, some extra flywheel weight may be needed to achieve a proper launch.

When Lighter is Better…

Applications that can really benefit from lighter weight clutch and flywheel combinations are in circle track, road race or autocross vehicles.  These applications require the engine to accelerate and decelerate quickly to make the most of the combination.  A lighter assembly allows you to drive further into the turns and have the engine decelerate quickly, and accelerate quicker out of the turns to get the engine back up in the peak operating RPM range.  This is why circle track clutches are often multiple disc and smaller diameter.

Balance is Key

So for street, balance is the key.  To that end, RAM introduced a line of lighter weight steel flywheels over the last 2 years that help provide the inertia needed for good driveability, yet allow for a crisper throttle response than you would get with a heavier steel flywheel.  Pair these with the Concept 10.5 dual disc for a great combo of holding power and driving experience!

As with most decisions you make about what parts to use in your vehicle, it pays to carefully consider what you expect from it in the situations you encounter daily.  Do I need this system to allow me to comfortably cruise around, or do I have a different performance objective?  Carefully considering these ideas will help you make the best choice for your car or truck.

Navigating RAM’s New End User Technical Support

Navigating RAM’s New End User Technical Support

During the crazy period of Covid 19 ‘lockdown’, we have taken the time to revamp many of our internal procedures at RAM in order to faster and more efficiently support our RAM end users.  One of these is revising how we handle technical support questions and issues.

Clutches and hydraulics are some of the most technical products to recommend and troubleshoot.  There is a variety of information we need in order to either recommend a clutch system for a specific application, or to troubleshoot problems.  Having all of this information up front helps us to not only make the best recommendation for your specific application, but also to more easily and quickly help solve any problems or answer any questions that may come up.

To achieve this goal, all future end user technical support will be initiated from the website ramclutches.com.  By clicking on the ‘Get Technical Support’ button at the top of all the pages, you will be able to submit a support request that will provide us with all the necessary information to help you with your application.  This saves numerous phone calls back and forth just to get the initial information we need to best assist you.  Once this information is received, we will be able to quickly analyze the questions or issues, do any research that is necessary, and get back to you with good answers to your questions.  Additionally, you will have a hard copy of these answers that you can refer back to in the future.

Once you enter this technical support space, you will find many other useful documents.  All of our instruction sheets are available from this section, as well as many helpful videos that cover subjects such as ‘How to set up your RAM hydraulic release bearing’.  We also offer a large FAQ section, which may answer your questions without ever having to submit a support request.  We will continue to build on this section to help make it easier for you, our customer, to find the information you need to solve a problem, even on the weekends.

And speaking of weekends, we often check these support requests during off hours, as we are able.  So even though it may be Saturday when you are working on your project, you may be able to get the help you need without waiting until Monday.  More involved requests that require us to check or measure parts will be handled the first following work day.

Digital technical support is not going to solve all questions and situations, but by providing the initial information, we can then call you with additional questions or recommendations as needed, or if the questions or recommendations are just too detailed to be handled electronically.

We are excited about these changes and keeping RAM Clutches on the forefront of technology, not only with our products but also with our procedures to better serve you, our valued customers.

How Do We Design a New Clutch System for a Specific Application?

How Do We Design a New Clutch System for a Specific Application?

When we decide to create a new clutch system for an application, there are many factors that need to be evaluated before the chips start flying!

The first thing we do is evaluate the clutch that came in the vehicle.  How is the pedal effort?  Where is the engagement point on the pedal?  Does it take much RPM to take off right now?  Is there any chatter?  Does the car accelerate well or feel like it lags?  By evaluating these ‘driveability’ factors, we are better able to decide what the features and benefits of a new clutch system will be.  This helps guide the R&D process.

For instance, the first time we drove a fifth gen Camaro, we immediately noticed that the clutch engaged right at the top of the pedal, and that the release length (point when the car begins to move on the pedal stroke, to the point when it is fully engaged) was very long.  This actually led to the creation of another product that has become very popular, our Pedal Height Adjuster system.

The next step is to disassemble the car and evaluate the factory unit.  Later model vehicles utilize internal hydraulics, so it is critical that we design our package to fit not only within the constraints of the bellhousing, but also within tolerances that will make it compatible with these factory hydraulics.  We also look closely at the unit overall weight, and try to determine if making the clutch either lighter or heavier would be an advantage in driveability for our new unit.

Many of the later model clutch systems are much heavier than most people realize.  The clutches in newer Mustangs, Challengers, C7 Corvettes, and Camaro’s are upwards of 55-65 lbs.  These units are roughly 20-30% heavier than the assemblies found in earlier generations of these vehicles.  The additional mass can greatly improve the low end driveabililty in today’s performance cars.  Coupling this increased mass into a dual disc clutch system and you now have a setup with a relatively light pedal effort, great holding capacity, and nice smooth engagement and street manners.

Once the system is designed around the factory hydraulics, holding capacity, and pedal effort we then begin the process of machining the components and doing the installation.  After the clutch system is assembled and tested in the shop we do the initial installation and begin testing the unit’s performance – in other words the fun part of our job!

So as you can see, we put a lot of thought into what we want a clutch system to be based on the vehicle itself.  It is not enough just to take your last great design and adapt it, we must always be thinking ahead to the next great design!

What You Need to Know About Shipping Charges

What You Need to Know About Shipping Charges

Over the last year we have seen a pretty good spike in shipping charges from both FedEx and UPS. Shipping companies know EXACTLY what it is costing them to ship these packages based on weights and dimensions. We certainly deal with this increase on our end when we ship products to our customers.

But very often, customers ship us parts for repair, and we know everyone wants to pay the least amount for shipping as possible. Here are some things that we’ve learned, and you should know, to minimize these shipping charges.

How to Save Money When Shipping Packages TO RAM Clutches

Heavy Packages Get an Extra Charge – FedEx is now placing surcharges on shipments over 50lbs. This is pretty easy to achieve when shipping clutches and flywheels. UPS does this also but it is not shown on the shipping label detail and thus ‘hidden’. Breaking up your packages into multiples under 50lbs may save you money.

Package Dimensions Matter – When shipping parts, it can pay to keep dimensions to a minimum. Of course you need to package your shipment well, but using a huge box may cost you more than you need to be spending. Try to use a box that best fits your needs instead of just any old box that might cost you more in the long run.

How to Save on Shipping Charges When Ordering FROM RAM Clutches

Home Delivery – A bonus of FedEx shipping home delivery is that now your package can get delivered up to 7 days a week. The downside is that they apply a special fee for home delivery versus a business.  We are checking all shipping addresses prior to shipment to make sure we are using the correct service.

Ship to Your Place of Work – Having your package sent to your place of work/business will save you shipping charges versus home delivery. Keep in mind, if you ‘work’ at home or your shop is located at your home, for shipping purposes UPS and FedEx MAY treat your location as a home delivery.

Ship Using Your Account – You may receive a special discount or perk if you regularly ship from your business. We can ship your order using your UPS or FedEx shipping account on request.

By being aware of these tips, you can help save yourself some extra cash! If you have any questions about packages being shipped from RAM Clutches, or need to make a special shipping request, email us at [email protected]. We’re here to help!

What We Need to Know to Build your Race Clutch

What We Need to Know to Build your Race Clutch

When putting together your race car, the clutch is often one of the final pieces that brings everything together. For a clutch to perform well it has to have enough capacity to handle your combination – the engine, chassis, gearing, and tires. Too little capacity and your clutch will have a very short life with disappointing results and elapsed times. As a general rule, it is always better to have a little more capacity in your clutch system than you need. Always consider the load factors below in selecting a clutch system:

  1. Engine – we need to know a little about your engine. How many cubic engines is it? What is the horsepower and torque of the engine? Even if you do not have precise dyno numbers, a solid estimate will help. Lastly, we need to know the intended operating RPM of the engine – what the RPM will be when shifting and leaving the starting line.
  2. Chassis – it is important to know how much the car weighs (with driver) even if it’s a close estimate. Is this a complete tube chassis car or a back half car?
  3. Tires – what size tires are you planning to run along with the rollout of the tire? The tire is what is applying the grip to the racetrack, and ultimately provides the load back through to the clutch system.
  4. Gearing – what are the rear end gear and the transmission ratios? Ultimately, the rear end gearing should be determined through the engine operating RPM, car weight, and tire size so that you cross the finish line at the upper limit of your desired RPM range. The transmission should then be geared to optimize acceleration and traction through low gear with the subsequent ratio drops in each gear keeping the engine in the optimum RPM range.
  5. Other factors such as rear shocks, struts, four link settings, and tire pressures will also affect your clutch system, but they should be able to be worked around in the clutch adjustments if you have properly applied the information from the engine, chassis, tires, and gearing above.

Lastly it is always good to understand your expectations of the clutch system as well. With a clutch system that is frequently serviced like a Pro Stock Car, you can push the capacity harder (smaller size, less plate load) because it is constantly being maintained. In other applications where the clutch is serviced periodically, you need more capacity (larger size, additional pressure) so the clutch system will provide a more consistent and longer period of use between servicing.

If you have further questions about selecting the right clutch system for your race car, please reach out to us at [email protected].

8 of the Slowest Ways to Resolve Your Tech Issues

8 of the Slowest Ways to Resolve Your Tech Issues

We receive many technical phone calls with questions on our products, and at RAM Clutches, we’re always here to help. But like you, we want the quickest answers to our questions, and the quickest way to resolve our problems. There are many things that are a big hindrance to us helping you quickly and efficiently, but these are a sure fire way to slow down that process. Here are our tech line’s greatest hits:

1. I didn’t read the instructions

Yes, we always think we know exactly how to put things together and don’t need to read instructions. Some products are simply more involved to install than others. Just like IT support will ask if you’ve turned it off and on again, we’ll ask if you’ve read the instructions first.

2. I don’t have the part number

If you really want us to be able to help you with your application or part, we really need to know what you have. Just describing it makes it very difficult to diagnose any problems or help you deal with an issue.

3. I haven’t checked the website for more information

Every RAM instruction sheet is available on our website.  Additionally we have product install videos that help you step through the installation of items such as our hydraulic bearings.

4. I don’t have the setup measurements

To help troubleshoot any hydraulic bearing installation, we MUST have the setup information included on the worksheet with your instructions. You cannot diagnose bearing problems by looking through the inspection hole and guessing. This form gives us the information we need to help you troubleshoot your hydraulic bearing install.

5. I didn’t do the setup measurements

In this case, there is NOTHING we can do to help you until you drop back and follow the instructions to set the hydraulic bearing up properly. Chances are pretty good that if you do this, you will solve your own problem.

6. I didn’t measure the factory bearing preload before installing my hydraulic clutch

Perhaps it seemed like a pain to do, but the extra 15 minutes to verify preload when installing a clutch with factory hydraulics may have saved you hours of work later if you have a disengagement issue. We provide very detailed video instructions for this procedure in the hydraulics section of our instruction pages on the website. We WILL ask you for this setup number information if you contact us and say your clutch won’t release.

7. I bought a used clutch, it’s red

There are many used clutches out there floating around. These can range from 1 to 45 years old.  We cannot possibly tell you what clutch you have by describing it, let alone know what the static pressure is. We can POSSIBLY help you partially identify it if you take pictures and email them with your question to [email protected].

8. I bought a used billet race clutch. How should I set it up?

This is similar to the above except more dangerous. There are many of these units floating around and some could be 30 years old or more. Before even thinking about buying a used race clutch, look for the most recent SFI certification date, as well as the first, to determine how old it is. If the unit is out of date, it will have to come back to us for inspection and recertification, at which time we can check the static pressure, what levers are in it, and possibly help you with setup. Remember, if the deal  looks too good to be true, it probably is.

7 Reasons a Dual Disc Clutch is a Better Choice for You

7 Reasons a Dual Disc Clutch is a Better Choice for You

I get asked all of the time, why should I use a dual disc clutch? Or, why should I spend all that money on a dual disc clutch?

Driveability

We work hard to make all of our clutch systems as user-friendly as possible. We have been driving, racing, and tuning performance cars ourselves for over 40 years and know first-hand that trying to drive a clutch that is too aggressive on the street is just not any fun.

Less Static Pressure Needed

When you use a dual disc clutch you are essentially doubling the holding power of the clutch system without adding any extra pedal effort. This allows you to have the extra performance and increased friction surface area without ending up with a left leg that is twice the size of your right from a stiff pedal!

Less Aggressive Friction Materials Needed

By using multiple discs, we can use organic friction material for most street-driven applications and maintain a very smooth engagement and good street manners. The same application with a single disc clutch would require a more aggressive friction material that is more likely to chatter on takeoff.

More Upgradeability

Typical customers do not do their entire build at one time. It may progress over a few years starting with a few bolt-ons, then eventually grow to include forced induction or nitrous. By starting with the dual disc when you are still at the lower power levels, your combination can continue to grow without the need to keep stepping up clutch levels every time you make an improvement.

Affordability

When you price everything out, the difference between a single disc and dual disc is minimal, and taking into account the other plusses listed here to using a dual disc, it really starts to make more sense.

Better Clutch Life on the Street

Using a dual disc clutch lets you see an increased clutch life over single disc units due to the overall higher capacities that these clutches give you.

Better Clutch Life at the Track

By using a dual disc clutch with metallic friction, you will see increased clutch life at the racetrack also. Metallic friction materials stand up to the heat much better, and with the increased number of friction surfaces in the dual disc clutch, you will get better heat dissipation which equals increased life.

More questions about using a dual disc? Drop us a line at [email protected]!

6 Ways to Set Yourself Up for an Epic Clutch Installation Fail

6 Ways to Set Yourself Up for an Epic Clutch Installation Fail

Over my 38 years of selling clutches, it seems I would have seen just about every possible mistake that can be made on an install, and then someone out there pops up and surprises me! Many of these may seem painfully obvious to you, but it can’t hurt to review!

  1. Installing the Clutch Disc Backwards
    Often I wonder how this is even possible, yet we receive returned discs for alleged warranty that are virtually turned inside out bent when a customer tries to put the disc in backwards. When you have the flywheel installed on the engine, lay the clutch disc up on the flywheel and rotate it some. It must sit flat the flywheel and not be contacting the flywheel bolts as you rotate it. It the disc does not sit flat, make sure you have it in correctly, or stop until you figure it out.
  2. Using Power Tools to Tighten Down the Clutch Cover
    This is a huge no-no and written in every instruction sheet RAM has ever provided. Tightening down the cover puts a load on the clutch cover flange since you are pulling it down against the pressure of the diaphragm or coil springs. Using powered tools can cause this flange to become bent, which in turn will leave the fingers uneven once the clutch is fully tightened down. This can cause extreme clutch chatter.
  3. Tightening the Cover Bolts Down All the Way at One Time
    Another way to damage the flange of the clutch cover is to tighten the bolts down completely in one shot instead of in a star-shaped pattern. This can damage the flange and cause the fingers to sit unevenly. Tighten the cover bolts ONLY with hand tools, and use a star-shaped or crisscross pattern, a few turns at a time, just like torquing your wheels in place.
  4. Improper Release Bearing Adjustment (mechanical or cable linkage)
    Setting the proper release on your clutch is very important – not only initially, but periodically going forward. A mechanical linkage should be adjusted for minimum release; that is only enough release that the clutch will disengage cleanly for shifting. This will result in a pedal lower to the floor and leave maximum freeplay. As the clutch disc wears, the fingers of the clutch will get taller, and if you have the bearing adjusted too close, it could ultimately unload the clutch fingers and not let the plate put its full load on the disc. This will cause undue slippage and wear.
  5. Not Resurfacing the Flywheel Before Install
    “The flywheel looked pretty good so we just went ahead and installed the clutch.” I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard this. No matter how good the surface may look, if you want the new clutch to seat properly it needs a fresh friction surface to seat against. Otherwise it would be like installing new brake pads and reusing the old rotors.
  6. Changing Out Only the Clutch Disc
    Obviously the clutch disc is the part of your system that will physically wear the most. Changing only the disc is setting yourself up for problems. As the clutch, disc and flywheel wear in, the surfaces build a taper that the clutch disc will conform to. If you install only a disc, it is going to make contact on just the outer edges and will never properly seat. Ultimately this will cause premature slippage and most likely will also chatter on takeoff.
4 End-of-Season Clutch Maintenance Essentials

4 End-of-Season Clutch Maintenance Essentials

Does this scenario sound familiar? Racing season ends and the car gets pushed in the corner or left in the trailer. Sometime around the middle of February, or in a worst case scenario about a week before the first event, you decide it’s time to start getting ready for the new season. Whoops!  I forgot the clutch was slipping a little on that last pass, or it has been 50 runs since I had this thing out and inspected. Sure enough, you pull it out and it needs rebuilt.

That is the time of year that we get bombarded with rebuilds and RUSH rebuilds. Not only does it put you in a bind to get everything back together in time, it is hard for us to process the unit thoroughly and get it back to you in time.

So what should you do in the offseason?

  1. CLUTCH INSPECTIONDo this sooner rather than later. Now is the time to make sure you have all of your clutch components fresh and make any changes or upgrades to the system to improve performance.
  2. PRESSURE PLATEInspect for warpage and signs of extreme heat. A pressure plate will build a taper to the inside edge over time that grabs the clutch disc only on the outer edge. This can either cause the clutch to get more aggressive on launch, or slip on launch. High heat signs include bluing of the metal, shiny spots on the surface, and heat cracking or smearing in extreme situations.
  3. CLUTCH DISCHere you need to know your minimum thickness and the number of runs on the disc. On sintered iron clutches, you will usually hit the run limit before you wear it out. We recommend no more than 75-100 passes on these discs as the hubs and rivets will tend to fatigue over time, and if this disc comes apart, it will cause major damage in the bellhousing, or worse…
  4. FLYWHEELSteel or aluminum flywheels should be inspected for the same signs of wear as the pressure plate. Many times the flywheel can be resurfaced, but with aluminum flywheels it may be necessary to replace the insert.

Keep in mind that these components wear as a system. As the disc wears and surfaces on the pressure plate and flywheel wear, the disc will conform to those surfaces. Thus, just changing a disc or pressure plate and using other components that are not fresh and flat will not allow for proper seating of the new component. This will throw your combination way off when you hit the track, or worse yet might just fail.

While you are inspecting these components, be sure to check all of your backup parts. There is nothing worse than being at that first event of the season, having an issue, and when you go to change out the clutch all you have is last year’s worn out backup that you forgot to send in for rebuild!

The offseason is also a good time to review your run records and data and determine if other changes to the car may help improve performance. Rear gearing, transmission ratios, tire sizes and types can be modified or changed based on the data you review to help improve your performance for the upcoming season.

If your budget and time allow for it, plan to test over the early months of the year. This track time is valuable to helping improve your performance for the season, and allows you to try different combinations and parts away from the time constraints of big events. Remember that great teams are built in the offseason, so choose to be different and ready for the 2020 season!

Common Mistakes made in Single Disc Clutch Set Selection

Avoid these pitfalls when making your single disc clutch set selection

Previously, we have discussed many of the factors to consider in selecting a clutch for your application. Now let’s take a look at some of the things NOT to do when selecting a single disc clutch set.

Not taking into account your expectations from the clutch system

When we spec out a clutch for your application, the most important thing is to understand your expectations. Are looking for smooth engagement? Is holding power at the track the most important thing for you? What about balance? We always ask these questions when customers inquire about the clutch selection. Understanding your expectations and what you hope for the clutch to do helps us determine the right build for your vehicle.

Ignoring load factors

If you haven’t reviewed our previous blog about load – this is a good time to do so.  Don’t fall into the trap of picking a clutch system solely based on the ‘rating’ of the unit.

Assuming that the clutch rating is etched in stone

This goes back to the load factors (as you can tell, this is important).  We have seen plenty of situations in which a customer selects a clutch rated for up to 650 horsepower and it slips at 500. We also see the opposite happen. A customer is using a clutch with a rating far below the power level. Be sure to take into account the load factors, use, and driving style in your selection.

Reading the wrong information online

There is good information on the Internet and you can learn a lot about clutches and your system. But beware of “keyboard jockeys” who post and may not have any experience with a particular clutch (but they do have a lot of opinions). Do your research on who’s writing the content you’re reading and make sure they have knowledge and experience with the product you are interested in.

Picking a clutch because ‘that is what my buddy uses’

Similar to reading online, don’t be deceived by information that may not apply to you. You may think your cars are the same, but when reviewing the load factors you will see that there are differences that need to be taken into account before making your final selection (tires, shift RPMs, gearing, etc).

Buying a cheaper unit because it’s ‘all you can afford right now’

If this is the case, you need to carefully consider if it is worth waiting a little while until you can purchase what you really need!

Under buying when you know future mods are coming

Think about your long term plan for your vehicle. A future mod that will be beyond what your system can handle is something to consider. Better to step up now and make sure you are covered into the foreseeable future.

What are the mistakes that you have made in the past?  We would love to hear from you. Check out our blog and our YouTube channel for more information on clutches and the work we do.

6 Common Mistakes of Hydraulic Bearing Installation (and how to avoid them)

 

You’ve been thinking about installing a hydraulic release bearing in your vehicle. This is a great choice for gaining valuable space in your engine compartment and simplifying the clutch release system. Before you pop the hood, let’s go over some common mistakes (with real examples) to avoid for your installation.

1. Not Taking Your Time with the Install

A hydraulic bearing install is not a simple drop-in Carefully read the instructions and make sure you understand how to install the bearing will save you countless hours of frustration. Read the instructions.  Re-read the instructions. Then watch our tutorial that walks you through the complete process.

2. Not Precisely Measuring the Setup

It’s critical to have the correct measurements. We provide very detailed instructions and video to help you through the setup of the bearing. A setup sheet gives you the exact measurements you need to successfully install the bearing. You’ll need a quality set of dial calipers for your measurements. Take your time and check to make sure your numbers are accurate . If you email for tech support, we will ask you for these measurement numbers!

3. Not Using Teflon Tape on the Fittings

The inlet fittings to the hydraulic bearing must be installed using Teflon tape. You may think you have a super sealing liquid or other miracle product; don’t fall for it. Trust us, we have personally made this mistake.

4. Improperly Diagnosing Leaks

Nearly every call we receive involving a leak with the hydraulic bearing can be attributed to the fittings or hose connections. The best way to diagnose the origin of a leak is to hang the bearing under the car with the lines connected and have someone operate the pedal. Pinpoint the cause of the leak precisely using this method BEFORE you contact us. This will save you lots of time that would be lost if you sent us the part without locating the leak.

5. Improper Orientation of the Bearing/position of the Bleed Fitting

For easiest bleeding of the bearing, the fittings should be angled between the 9 and 3 o’clock positions. Do not point the fittings down. The top fitting should be connected to the bleed line. When you perform the bleed the fluid is forced up and through the bearing, reducing the chance of air bubbles.

6. Setting Too Little or Too Much Bearing Clearance

Let’s be frank. Both of these are bad. If you do not set up the minimum clearance of .150”, you are not leaving enough room for the clutch to wear and it could fail prematurely.  Setting up too much gap will cause the bearing to bottom out on the snap ring. This results in non release of the clutch, or potentially blowing the bearing off the piston. Keep in mind – the RAM bearing is a constant contact bearing and once you cycle the pedal, the bearing only returns as far as the clutch fingers push it back. It is always starting right at the fingers.

We have created a specific E-tech form just for hydraulic bearing questions or issues. This starts the conversation so we can help if you have questions or issues. Avoid these traps and you will enjoy your hydraulic bearing installation for years to come!

Why We Race

Why We Race

Why does RAM Clutches race?  We could just build our clutches for street or street/strip based on the OEM design, add more aggressive friction material, and call it a day.  This is called ‘bottom-up’ design. But we do things a little differently. RAM chooses to manufacture specific units for a variety of classes from Pro Stock to Street Stock.  We then use ‘top-down’ design and apply what we learn in abusive racing conditions to build a much better product for the street or street/strip applications. The result of this is excellent performance while maintaining driveability, which means you get the most enjoyment out of your vehicle.

Working with our race teams provides us with valuable knowledge and feedback that helps our design team build a better product for you.  We are not just at the track putting stickers on cars for promotional purposes. We are there to learn! We constantly evaluate different types of unit weights, static pressures, friction materials, and release pressures to achieve the best performance for a given application and situation. The end result is we are able to offer products that perform well in your car.

What does this all mean for you? To provide the best possible product for your application, we need to have the most accurate info about your car in order to make a recommendation.  It is why, in previous articles, we have explained in detail how to evaluate your application based on the load the vehicle will experience. We’ve set up our E-Tech help tool to make asking questions and improving your system simple and easy.

Is your muscle car a track car or a cruiser? Will it be taken to the track once a month or just to see how it will run? Is on-track performance of the utmost importance to you or is low-end driveability? Will you make further upgrades on the build or are you buying a clutch for the completed project? These are questions to keep in mind when working with us. The answers will help provide the highest performance product for your needs.

Looking to get started? The RAM E-Tech tool is the best way to communicate. Once we know more about your situation, we can take your information and evaluate exactly what the expectations are for your application.

We want to understand your car and how you intend to use it so we can help. Whether you are restoring a Muscle Car with a crate engine and Tremec Transmission or turning your late model Camaro or Mustang into a beast at the racetrack, we’re here to build the best system for you.

Check out our site for more information and resources, including our blog and a video library.

7 Things that are Putting a High Load on your Clutch System

7 Things that are Putting a High Load on your Clutch System

In previous posts, we’ve discussed the load factors of your clutch system and how to use this info to make the best clutch selection.  Now it’s time to look at some of the situations that put a hard load on the clutch, and create the most opportunity for the clutch to slip, wear prematurely, or even break.  I’m sure that none of you have ever done any of these things…

  1. Chassis Dyno – The chassis dyno will inflict about the most load on the clutch system.  There is no tire slippage (in most cases) and the goal is to load up the drivetrain to the max in order to tune and obtain numbers. Taking your vehicle from the install lift to the dyno rollers with no break in and you are asking for the clutch to slip.
  2. Taking off in the wrong gear – Whether intentional or unintentional, the load from taking off in a higher gear is extremely hard on the clutch system.  We see customers trying to leave in 2nd gear at the track in order to reduce tire spin.  It will probably do that… and also cause the clutch to slip or wear out quickly.
  3. Traction control at the race track– Always make sure you turn traction control off when you are at the race track (or on the dyno). Traction control methods will load the clutch system harder and increase the risk of damage to the clutch system.
  4. Shifting 1st to 2nd, then back to 1st – Most good racers will admit when this happens, it inflicts a severe reverse load on the driveline that can cause clutch hubs, diaphragm straps, or in severe cases, clutch covers/rings to break.
  5. Not rev matching on downshifts – Autocross and road racing is where this is most common since downshifting it is critical to match RPMs as you re-engage the clutch. Failure to do this will put a hard reverse load on the plate or floater and straps, causing bending or breakage. In other words, you will not be racing anymore that day.
  6. Lugging the engine at low RPM – If you have ever driven along and the RPMs dropped enough for the car to start ‘bucking’ or ‘jumping’, you have lugged the engine.  This puts extreme stress on the clutch hub center section and is a big cause of clutch disc breakage.
  7. Not clutching at the end of a big drag strip pass – Don’t use your engine as a brake at the end of a drag strip run. Push in the pedal and kick the car out of gear – the reverse load against the clutch can cause damage or breakage.

These are just some of the major situations we run across on the tech line.  You may have invented your own – if so, we’d love to hear about it! Be smart about how you treat and use your clutch system and it will be your friend for a long time.

Debunking the Myth of Flywheel Selection

Debunking the Myth of Flywheel Selection

In our last post we discussed selecting the proper clutch for your application based on load factors the clutch will experience.  Today we tackle the dos and don’ts of selecting the correct flywheel for your application.

Have you ever heard this line before?  ‘Put in a lighter flywheel and you will make more horsepower.’  Some manufacturers will tell you this, and it is simply false.  Heck, I once had a customer who was told a light flywheel would ‘increase his gas mileage!’  Is it possible for a lighter flywheel to create quicker engine acceleration? It can, depending on the gearing of the car.  Will it allow the car to decelerate quicker? Absolutely. This is why circle track and autocross racers want to use the lightest possible flywheel and clutch combination for their vehicle. It allows the car to drive deeper into the turns and have the RPM drop quicker as they let off the throttle. The engine can then accelerate back into the peak range quicker out of the turn.

For your street driven car, flywheel selection is critical to the driveability of your vehicle. The job of the flywheel is to transmit inertia to help get the car moving; be it pulling away from a stop sign, or leaving the starting line at the drag strip.  The proper flywheel weight, in conjunction with the correct gearing, will optimize your driving experience. Other load factors discussed in “It’s all about the load, silly!” will also affect this, such as vehicle weight.

It’s All About the Load, Silly!

It’s All About the Load, Silly!

The typical tech call for a clutch recommendation starts like this: “How much power will your RAM xxx clutch hold?”  Customers have been conditioned by other manufacturers to select their clutch by ‘stage’ or ‘level’ or ‘rating’.  While the horsepower and torque are certainly important, they are not the end all of clutch selection.  We have seen plenty of 400 horsepower applications that can slip a 650 ‘rated’ clutch.

I am much more interested in hearing about the load factors that the clutch system is going to see.  These are more important in the initial recommendation.  So what are the biggest load factors to consider?

  • Vehicle weight – this is perhaps the most important load factor as well as selection factor in determining the clutch needed.  Simply put, the heavier the car, the more work the clutch has to do to hold without slipping.
  • Vehicle gearing – This applies to both rear gear and low gear in the transmission.  Higher rear gearing (lower numerically) requires more slippage on takeoff to make a transition, and puts a much bigger load on the clutch with a harder launch or acceleration.  Likewise, a higher low gear in the transmission could be like starting out in second gear in terms of the load the clutch will see.
  • Rear tire used – as you might imagine, a larger, stickier tire or slick that is more likely to hook up and not spin is going to put a much harder load on the clutch.  So what tire will you be running?
  • Use of the vehicle – If you plan to spend time at the race track where traction is good compared to the street, this is going to load the clutch system harder on launch and through the gears, whereas on the street it might be more likely that the tires will spin.
  • Horsepower/torque – Yes, this is certainly a selection factor to consider as it will affect the load the clutch sees.

Now consider this worst case scenario – a potential customer has a 4000 pound, 450 horsepower muscle car that they are converting from an automatic to a manual.  They have meticulously acquired all of the parts to do this conversion including pedals, linkage, etc.  They install a Muncie transmission with a 2.49 low gear and leave the 2.90 rear gear in the car that it had with the automatic.  What is going to happen when they let out the clutch on this combination?  LOAD LOAD LOAD!  Not to mention, they will have to slip the clutch for an eighth of a mile just to get it rolling and engaged!

Bottom line?  Get all of your ducks in line when selecting and setting up your clutch system.  Give yourself the best chance for success by making smart decisions not just with the clutch, but also with your gearing.  And have realistic expectations for what you will do with the vehicle and how the clutch is going to perform based on the load factors you introduce into the combination.  Understanding these load factors will help you make the best selection of both clutch and flywheel, which we will tackle in another blog post.

Picking the Right Clutch is like Picking a Suit

Picking the Right Clutch is like Picking a Suit

So here you are.  Clutch feels like it is starting to slip.  Or it feels mushy.  Or it isn’t disengaging completely.  Time to pick a new one, but how do you know what to choose?  This title says it all, picking a clutch is like picking a suit.  No one size or style is going to be right for everybody.  You need make your selection based on YOUR car and YOUR desired ‘feel’ and ‘performance’.

Here is how NOT to pick a clutch.  Put a post on your favorite social media platform and ask for advice.  You will get 532 different answers and some of them will be from people who don’t even have a clutch in their car, or just advocate for a specific brand because their ‘buddy’ has one in their car (or did in 1980).  Instead, consider these more personal questions:

What are my expectations for a new clutch system? 

Do I want it to drive smoothly and have a light pedal like stock?  Do I need extra holding power for engine upgrades, now or in the future?  Am I okay with sacrificing some driveability (i.e. smoothness of engagement) in order to have a higher holding capacity?

What sort of load will the new clutch system see in my car? 

Load is the most important factor in selecting a clutch, and we’ll talk more in depth about that in a future column.  For now, keep in mind that this means any factors that will contribute to more load on the clutch system.  These include, but are not limited to, Tire size and type, rear gearing, low gear in the transmission, and perhaps most importantly, the weight or mass of the vehicle.  Any time you are adding load to the clutch system, you must compensate in kind with your selection.

What kind of driver am I, and where is the car going to be used? 

This is where you have to level with yourself!  If your intended use is to drive your car every other weekend to car shows and back home to the garage, you probably don’t need an aggressive clutch that is capable of massive holding power.  Conversely, if you are a ‘spirited’ driver, or if you ‘beat the crap out of’ your car, or go the track every other weekend, you need to compensate properly in your clutch selection with something capable of holding more power or withstanding higher loads.

Don’t get hung up on horsepower ratings. 

The most important factors in your clutch selection are those listed above.  Sure, the horsepower is a consideration, but it’s far from the only one.

When I get a call asking for a clutch recommendation, these are some of the most important questions I ask.  And the manufacturer you choose should be asking the same questions.  If they are not, find one that does and truly cares about getting you in the right clutch for you, not just selling you the ‘one size fits all’ cookie cutter suit.