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Clutch replacement


John S

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A question for my fellow four-speed Monte Carlo owners. When it comes to clutch replacement which route would you go? Would you get a rebuilt one from a parts house such as Napa or a new one from another parts place. The last time I replaced the clutch on the first Monty I owned back in the 1980s I was working at a GM dealership and got a factory clutch. I don’t need a pressure plate that requires 1000 foot pounds of force or needs a hydraulic port-o- power to depress. It’s a street car but now and then I like to turn it loose.

John S

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I put four rebuilt pressure plates in my 61 Impala in six weeks so I never again used a rebuild always new heavy duty. I got mine at Norm Day's Speed Shop in Middletown IN back in 1967. He was a drag racer that was very successful here in the Midwest. That was the last clutch I ever had to buy

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Rebuilt clutch failure was one of the reasons I went with new GM clutch for my last Monte Carlo. I also bought a new Hays clutch in my 66 Impala years ago. Over the winter when I brought the car out in spring the clutch slipped so bad I had a hard time getting it out of the garage. That clutch and pressure plate had about 400 miles on it. Don’t need a racing clutch just a good heavy duty clutch and pressure plate.

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I always use new parts when ever possible, I avoid rebuilt anything.  I didn't even know they rebuilt clutches or pressure plates I would never use them if I needed one. New costs a little more but worth it in the long run. I did have to get rebuilt calipers for the rear of my truck but on the monte I put new.

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Rebuilt anything is trouble waiting to happen. Have you noticed if you anything rebuilt there’s a core charge so it can be shipped back and rebuilt again. On new there is generally not core charges (if there is it’s because the parts house is adding a core to get the product back to sell to a rebuilder, to make additional bottom line dollars). The rebuilt units have been rebuilt several times and that’s why everyone is saying stick with new. And I also agree, new only. Unless of course you really like doing the job several times. Nothing beats experience. My two cents. O and don’t even get me started on “lifetime warranties” better known as lipstick on a pig. 

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1 hour ago, MC1of80 said:

New all the way! 

It’s been many years since I’ve replaced clutches. What brand or make would you recommend? I’ve seen many different names Centerforce, McLeod Ram and each one makes different types which one would you recommend.

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I would go with a diaphragm style clutch as opposed to a 3 finger. The 3 finger is more of a race style in that it takes more leg effort to depress the clutch pedal. This is due to the higher clamping force of the 3 finger. 

The factory used a diaphragm style. I would recommend getting the biggest clutch you can. 11" 11 1/2" or possibly a 12". Depends how large, in diameter your flywheel is. 

Any of the companies you mentioned make a good product. I personally like centerforce and McLeod.

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7 hours ago, MC1of80 said:

I would go with a diaphragm style clutch as opposed to a 3 finger. The 3 finger is more of a race style in that it takes more leg effort to depress the clutch pedal. This is due to the higher clamping force of the 3 finger. 

The factory used a diaphragm style. I would recommend getting the biggest clutch you can. 11" 11 1/2" or possibly a 12". Depends how large, in diameter your flywheel is. 

Any of the companies you mentioned make a good product. I personally like centerforce and McLeod.

Yes definitely the diaphragm clutch. The clutch on my Monty is an 11 inch I’ll do what I have done in the past have the flywheel resurfaced. I was not familiar with some of the name brands out there today as I’ve said it’s been a number of years. I have never had a problem in the past with original equipment GM clutches may not be able to get them anymore I just want a pressure plate and disc that will be good for every day driving and stepping on it periodically

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Your clutch will depend on the engine torque, car weight and rear gears. Not long ago I finished up the Camaro 375 HP 402 car. I went with the McLeod Super Street Pro. Advertised for up to 550hp mildly modified street cars. Very light pedal and seems to hook well although I am not past the break in point yet so haven't really hit it. Also flywheels are inexpensive but repairs to the car and your legs aren't so but a new steel flywheel and ARP bolts.

 

rotin

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5 hours ago, rotinrob said:

Your clutch will depend on the engine torque, car weight and rear gears. Not long ago I finished up the Camaro 375 HP 402 car. I went with the McLeod Super Street Pro. Advertised for up to 550hp mildly modified street cars. Very light pedal and seems to hook well although I am not past the break in point yet so haven't really hit it. Also flywheels are inexpensive but repairs to the car and your legs aren't so but a new steel flywheel and ARP bolts.

 

rotin

My Monte Carlo is stock 350 4 barrel four-speed 3.31 gears. I do believe in heavy duty but I also don’t believe in overkill. When I bought my first Monte Carlo a 1970 402 four-speed car the clutch was so stiff it would break the swivels. I have never had problems before resurfacing  fly wheels if the fly wheels in good shape, not heat checked or damaged no reason they can’t be resurfaced and re-used. As Dennis stated earlier about lifetime warranties I don’t fall for that either. When they are talking lifetime warranty are they talking the lifetime of a mosquito, housefly, or a salamander they don’t specify what the lifetime is.

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The problem with resurfacing a  flywheel is, you loose mass. Yes I realize there are minimum specs and I have no problem with a one time reface. The thinner they get the more problematic thy become. Liken it to a brake rotor you can keep it in spec but you reduced the mass enough to cause faster heat up and warping. A flywheel the same principle. You know what a warped brake rotor feels like now imagine that in you drive train. Again just my two cents 

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I do understand that anything can only be turned or resurfaced so many times. I do remember a number of years ago a some of my motor head friends switching out flywheels and having problems. Evidently getting the wrong fly wheel. Not balanced too light, too heavy a lot of that has to be taken into consideration when purchasing another fly wheel

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On 10/10/2021 at 6:04 PM, John S said:

A question for my fellow four-speed Monte Carlo owners. When it comes to clutch replacement which route would you go? Would you get a rebuilt one from a parts house such as Napa or a new one from another parts place. The last time I replaced the clutch on the first Monty I owned back in the 1980s I was working at a GM dealership and got a factory clutch. I don’t need a pressure plate that requires 1000 foot pounds of force or needs a hydraulic port-o- power to depress. It’s a street car but now and then I like to turn it loose.

John S

John

Up here on the North side of "the Atl":   I just saw your post on clutches and flywheels. FWIW I have some thoughts based on my work with my old bucket of bolts. I am running a 454 (no the car is not stock...far far from stock) so my flywheel has to be externally balanced. If you have not made a decision yet I would consider a GM flywheel. I have never had an issue with the stock stuff and assuming they are still available that might be a good way to go. I hadda have the ext. balanced 454 wheel but you can use a GM wheel from just about any Chevy V8.

Clutch and PP choice....... Due to a few surgeries at 1 and 2 years old related to correcting ankle troubles I needed a light clutch feel. The ankle has arthritis and minimizing pedal pressure for in-traffic situations was very impt. to me. I went with a Center Force PP and a stock GM disc. Those choices along with clutch linkage that has heim joints at the rod ends makes for a solid lockup AND nice pedal pressure for my ankle. I also lengthened the clutch pedal just a slight bit, maybe 5/8 inch (second Pic) for a little extra leverage.

I don't race the car and am not slamming gears very often. Now and then a good run thru the gears is about as aggressive as I get these days. Feel free to get back with any questions you might have.

Ray

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8 minutes ago, LS65Speed said:

John

Up here on the North side of "the Atl":   I just saw your post on clutches and flywheels. FWIW I have some thoughts based on my work with my old bucket of bolts. I am running a 454 (no the car is not stock...far far from stock) so my flywheel has to be externally balanced. If you have not made a decision yet I would consider a GM flywheel. I have never had an issue with the stock stuff and assuming they are still available that might be a good way to go. I hadda have the ext. balanced 454 wheel but you can use a GM wheel from just about any Chevy V8.

Clutch and PP choice....... Due to a few surgeries at 1 and 2 years old related to correcting ankle troubles I needed a light clutch feel. The ankle has arthritis and minimizing pedal pressure for in-traffic situations was very impt. to me. I went with a Center Force PP and a stock GM disc. Those choices along with clutch linkage that has heim joints at the rod ends makes for a solid lockup AND nice pedal pressure for my ankle. I also lengthened the clutch pedal just a slight bit, maybe 5/8 inch (second Pic) for a little extra leverage.

I don't race the car and am not slamming gears very often. Now and then a good run thru the gears is about as aggressive as I get these days. Feel free to get back with any questions you might have.

Ray

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I like what you’ve done, nice job. I too have issues with six knee surgeries I don’t need a very stiff clutch. If my fly wheel is OK I plan to resurface if not I believe I can still get a GM fly wheel that is my preferred way to go. I have never had an issue with GM parts. I believe that if my flywheel has lasted 51 years it should last another day. In my experience some companies will not honor warranties unless you purchase the entire kit from them and get every part associated with them. They do not like it when you mix and match parts. I have done a little bit of research and found that an 11 inch pressure plate and disc through GM are still available, Although the disc Shown is a fine spline disc. But I should have no problems finding the 10 spline disc. I also drive in the same manner as you do. Thanks for your help if I have any issues or questions I will get back to you.

John S

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John......

WOW the cars are almost twins!

I think guys sometimes get too carried away with the latest go fast item and miss out on rock solid GM stuff that can be counted on to deliver the goods for years. A good shop should be able to resurface your wheel, assuming there are not deep cracks or a crazy amount of distortion due to heat. Sometimes I think a resurfaced GM unit is a better final product than a new one. Of course that depends on the supplier. Crazy high RPM stuff pretty much demands special parts but thats not what we are talking about here. Considering the shortages of EVERYTHING these days resurfacing sounds like a good option.

Ya got me beat as far as trips to the Operating Room with your knee. I got "by" with three visits to fix a birth defect called "club foot".  Most of the pedal pressure reduction came, of course, from the Center Force but the linkage and the extended pedal each contributed a bit and every bit counted when I was sitting in traffic on GA 400 or I-285. With the old setup it got to where driving the car all day had me taking Aleve the next day or so. I actually considered going to an automatic but "real cars have three pedals" as they say.

Might be fun to get the cars together for a photo op sometime? If we can find a 3rd FIrst Gen in black we would have a trifecta with all three years represented!  Keep in touch, let me know how the project is going.

Ray

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It looks good. I like the dash. Also is that a five speed? I want to put a tremec TKX In to lower the RPM and help with highway driving. When I get the ambition to get around to that I may have some questions for you. And yes GA 400 and I-285 up north is a mess.

John S

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7 minutes ago, John S said:

It looks good. I like the dash. Also is that a five speed? I want to put a tremec TKX In to lower the RPM and help with highway driving. When I get the ambition to get around to that I may have some questions for you. And yes GA 400 and I-285 up north is a mess.

John S

 

GA400 and 285.....I could leave it all behind in a heartbeat but the other half is pretty well dug in. I grew up in Northern Connecticut away from all the congestion in "The Atl"!  On the wrong day, in the wrong frame of mind the traffic around here makes me nuts!

It is a Richmond 5 Speed with 1 to 1 in 5th gear. Been in there since forever, I just recently swapped out the first gear gear set from 3.27 to 3.04. Makes for a very nice setup with the 3.31 gears in the rear. Pretty close ratios as ya go thru the gears, no big drops in RPM at shift points.  I would consider going to 3.00 in the rear maybe or even 2.73 for the highway but the 3.31's get it done for me both in town and on the highway.

Old first gear in Richmond was 3.27 which left the overall gearing in first just a hair lower than 4.88's. It was okay on the highway with 1.00 x 3.31 but 3.27 x 3.31 was like a truck in town at the stop sign  / stop light.

Thanks for the compliment on the dash. Dash was all home built by yours truly using Classic Instruments gauges. Carbon fibre is 3M "wrap" material, never liked that GM fake wood. Just my opinion on the faux wood...to each his own as they say. Saw a Lexus at the dealer with some carbon fibre accent areas then saw another MC that a guy had done with the wrap. It was all history after that. history after that.

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22 minutes ago, LS65Speed said:

Old first gear in Richmond was 3.27 which left the overall gearing in first just a hair lower than 4.88's. It was okay on the highway with 1.00 x 3.31 but 3.27 x 3.31 was like a truck in town at the stop sign  / stop light.

I have a Doug Nash 5 speed (before the Richmond version) in my Camaro right now with 3.27 first gear. The rear has 3.08's and is a pretty nice combo as you mentioned. Only problem I have with that trans is hard shifting when you get in the upper rpm ranges, which they're pretty famous for. I finally bit the bullet and ordered a TKX recently with the same 3.27 first gear, since I didn't really want to change the rear gears out.

Did they get the problem sorted out when Richmond took it over?

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19 minutes ago, jft69z said:

I have a Doug Nash 5 speed (before the Richmond version) in my Camaro right now with 3.27 first gear. The rear has 3.08's and is a pretty nice combo as you mentioned. Only problem I have with that trans is hard shifting when you get in the upper rpm ranges, which they're pretty famous for. I finally bit the bullet and ordered a TKX recently with the same 3.27 first gear, since I didn't really want to change the rear gears out.

Did they get the problem sorted out when Richmond took it over?

Honestly my driving style never put the speed shifting ability of the transmission into question. There are videos out there about how to improve the shifting problem by messing with the detent mechanisms, the sliders (not the syncro rings or the dogs), the springs and the little balls that are part of the detent system that is in one half of the case. I never thought to even try the recommended procedure when I swapped out the 3.27's for the 3.04's, I just didn't wanna power shift it bad enough to be bothered. The outlined "fix" is pretty simple and it might help but if ya don't see a problem why try to fix it?

If I recall right the 1 / 2 and 4 / 4 syncro assys are stock GM Muncie stuff which works fine in the Muncie so I gotta think the issue is elsewhere in the trans. The fix outlined in the videos does not involve the syncro assys so I guess I put some credibility in the purported fix. Another theory of mine is the syncros ability to lock up the gears in the Richmond versus the gears in the Muncie. The RIchmond gears are wider and heavier than the Muncie gears so maybe the syncros are not up to the task of speed shifting the Richmond at high RPM as they obviously are in a Muncie? Beats me.

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I rebuilt it years ago, plus sent the internals out to a specialized trans shop for some machining, etc that was supposed to make it better. It didn't really make a lot of difference. The other thing they say is to make sure the bellhousing runout is within spec, which it was. No biggie, the TKX is supposed to shift like butter.

Thanks for the ideas though, maybe I'll look into it. The other option is to put it up for sale, those things still command a pretty good dollar.

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1 hour ago, jft69z said:

 "The other thing they say is to make sure the bellhousing runout is within spec, which it was. No biggie, the TKX is supposed to shift like butter."

I totally agree that the new transmissions are, as a general rule, much nicer shifting. Don't know about that new TKX but if it is an internal rail shift mechanism that will contribute to the smooth shifting feel. As to the bell housing runout checks I can only offer the following. Back in the day we swapped transmissions and bell housings and engines around the way ya change shirts. I bet we tried every permutation and combination of parts that was possible. We never ever checked the bell housing runout. We bolted things together and things worked.

Today excess runout seems to be the fall guy for every transmission durability and shifting issue that exists. Its sorta like I said earlier about clutches...people get all heated up about the latest go fast parts (or bell housing runout specs in this particular post) and somehow lose sight of the fundamental stuff. As I just said we swapped GM bell housings and transmissions and engines and things just worked. I dunno for sure but I am willing to bet that more blame is laid off on runout than should be.

 

 

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Oh yeah, I agree about the runout blame game. I did the same as you, swapped transmissions, clutches, bellhousings etc with no issues in the past.

The reason I went with the DNE was I just kept breaking too many 4 speeds, lol. Still, after running into the hard shifting issue with it, I tried to cover all bases. Nothing seemed to help, which basically reinforced the stigma that most sources acknowledged about its shifting issues.

Still, it held up where none of the 4 speeds did which was nice. I have a lot of broken part souvenirs,  and expensive "clutch alignment" shafts around here.

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9 minutes ago, jft69z said:

Oh yeah, I agree about the runout blame game. I did the same as you, swapped transmissions, clutches, bellhousings etc with no issues in the past.

The reason I went with the DNE was I just kept breaking too many 4 speeds, lol. Still, after running into the hard shifting issue with it, I tried to cover all bases. Nothing seemed to help, which basically reinforced the stigma that most sources acknowledged about its shifting issues.

Still, it held up where none of the 4 speeds did which was nice. I have a lot of broken part souvenirs,  and expensive "clutch alignment" shafts around here.

Ya junk transmissions sure make good tools. Lol. 

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