Which clutch to use on the rebuild? I've read the forums that rave about the Th400 and Watts, Jack Rabbit clutches, and also read they are junk! Why not stick to the old steel Ford clutches. A couple re-builders I've spoken to use the new type clutches. Confused?!
2 comments removed by Chris webmaster.
Jonathan, if the original plates are in good shape, and you have a good brake drum, and the spring and adjustment are good the standard Ford clutch works perfectly. There is no reason to replace it with anything else.
The original Ford clutch works fine for me.
I'm putting a Jack Rabbit in the Centerdoor ..I like the Turbo 400 that is in the Fordor also. They work great but not sure if they work "better" than the original. My original clutch had signs of burning and warping and also cut into the gear.
I'm real happy with my Ford clutch.
I have been using a Watts clutch pack for 13 years with no problem, they are no longer available though.
Turbo 400 clutch as the other new style replacement clutch give a good free neutral if you have to push your car around like you a chevy heehee.
But the shift or grab more harder with less slipping
I have run them all but now I only use the stock ford clutch works just fine smoother and with 5w30 or simular oil getting it to roll is easy and shift smoothly
I've been using the Ford clutch for 35 years and the guy before me used the same one for 30 more. There may be some things that can be improved upon but the Ford clutch ain't one of them!
Turbo 400 discs are nice as long as they are not allowed to slip. If your present steel Ford discs are burned, then you will probably also burn the Turbo discs. Then one of two things happen; either the friction material disintegrates and falls out leaving too much clearance in the clutch pack, or the friction material delaminates from the disc and becomes a free-floating washer between the steel discs. Either way, you will "fail to proceed."
As a engine re-builder I've never had or seen a modern replacement clutch pack fail, but I've got a large box full of the originals, cracked, burnt, warped and chewed up. I don't blame the design, just the age and some bad driving.
I am running Ford disks now, no real issues with them. I have run both the 400 and Watts disks in the past and would use them again but here is my experience with them.
The 400; worked fine but were well used when I installed them and I just wore them out.
The Watts was also used, I got the end play for the clutch to drive plate too tight, mixed parts and oil flow issues, they over heated and got swollen up binding the clutch from lack of oil. Boy they sure let the smoke out! Other then that mishap, yes I would use them again. Both gave a good free neutral.
I have a Watts clutch set-up in mine. Yes the clutches do grab more than the steel discs. But with the Ruckstell, I drive it more like a three speed than the traditional method when taking off from a dead stop (Ruckstell low, Ruckstell direct, Ford direct). This allows me to get going without "feathering" the clutch much at all. I have tried driving the car with traditional low-high method but the clutch seems to be grabbing too much, and I really don't like it at all.
I have replaced four sets of the turbo 400 disc from people slipping them, one set had the new modern spring but it had a Collieppe hanging on the rear for some extra weight, so it got the steal clutches back in it.
There are t-400 disks made for drag racing that hold up to a lot more slipping than the standard ones. I was going to use some in my last rebuild but decided to use the stock Ford system.
I had a Watts in my old speedster. I really liked the clutch action. Really nice neutral. I'm sorry to hear they are no longer available. Zero problems!!
You guys are Great! Thanks for the input. I am going with a Ford clutch.
I thought R V Anderson was in the process of finding new fiber material to use in lieu of the original Watts material. What became of that?
I am currently deep in research with this very question. I have four engines with the Turbo 400 plates and only one car has given me issues. Three have performed very well, smooth engagement, no slip and a very "clean neutral"
When the 4th engine was rebuilt, the natural choice was to convert to the Turbo 400 design again. Unfortunately, this time my engagement into high gear was crisp at first however as time went on it became harsh and now it's down right savage! I estimate that it has deteriorated over approx 1000 kilometres in the three years it has been in use
There are different materials available for the Turbo 400
forward / direct clutch plates. The ones in my troublesome transmission are the Rabestos brand, green in colour and Criss cross grooves. They are in excellent condition as they have never slipped due to the way they engage every time
The other engines have been in service for over 10 years and I have no way of recalling if they have the green plates or the alternate biscuit coloured ones made by Borg Warner which have radial grooves plus a softer composition friction material.
Automatic Transmission clutch packs are not designed to slip and shift qualities are controlled by oil used, clearances, oil pressure and material of bands and clutch friction material
I have also found a sloppy fit of the universal joint into the transmission drive plate however there weren't any symptoms of backlash when driving the car or noise when shifting from 1st - reverse.
The only other differences between the troublesome transmission and the other three is a new coil spring was fitted (ex Lang's) and also for the first time I used new steel plates (also from Lang's) that are bluish in colour from new and not from slippage and this is a early Drum without the steel slippers to prevent the plates from chewing into the drum. The drum is still in excellent condition and the situation is the same if you use all original Ford plates or the Turbo type, it's still metal to metal or metal to cast iron.
I also changed the brand, grade of engine oil plus added a pint of auto trans fluid but neither of these altered the shift feel making me think it was a mechanical issue.
I had also posted recently questioning end float of transmissions as initially I believed it was the .047" float added to the problem but I don't believe this is the cause now
Richard Gould and Allan Bennett have been involved with my progress and I will keep you informed of the outcome.
Alan in Western Australia
Richard, I found some material and had a run made. That run sold out and I am working on another one. Of course the material cost had increased by several hundred bucks from the first run. I had hoped to have them by Chickasha but it looks like they'll be waiting when I get back.
Whats the verdict on the new material I wonder.
I have only used the Ford clutch in my cars. They work very smoothly when properly adjusted.
A friend in the club has a clutch, which was in the car when he got it. We don't know what kind it is. It has a very very stiff spring and is very hard to let the pedal out into high without a jolt. He also has a bad left ankle and it is painful to use that clutch. We are going to investigate into the why. I would hate to have to pull everything apart to fix it.
My car came to me with a Jack Rabbit clutch installed. It is fairly "grabby", you have to feather it somewhat going into high. If it ever wears out, I have an original Watts clutch waiting on the shelf to try.
Norman, maybe your club friend can let the clutch out in high with the hand brake handle instead of with the foot?
Watts needs a stiffer spring to avoid slipping, but I don't feel any problem with mine - I have a wood band for low that doesn't need any spring for the band, so maybe that's a compensation - but between neutral and high there shouldn't be any difference.
The big plus with Watts is that the large discs are made of soft material that doesn't damage 1909-25 brake drums like standard and Turbo 400 clutches can do. The other plus is the truly free neutral when cold. Only negative besides availability / cost would be the risk for wearing it out quickly if running misadjusted for any longer distance.
The standard clutch is the sturdiest, especially with a '26/'27 brake drum that has lug shoes protecting the lugs in the brake drum.
I run a Ford clutch in both of mine and just never saw any reason to do anything else. I leave it parked in High gear and use 5W-30 oil and hand crank almost exclusively (Year round for what that's worth. Granted, we don't have real cold winters). And no, I've NEVER jacked up a wheel to get one started.
We have used the turbo clutch sold by Lang's on all of our engines unless customer specified otherwise.
We haven't recorded any issues or unhappy customers for that matter. Stops the creep and a clean engagement.
I have used Watts clutches for many years and like them a lot. The ones RV now makes are fine too, but last I heard he didn't make any yet for the '26-7 tranny. I used one of Lang's (mentioned by J&M above) on a '26 I built and it worked well too.
I have used the turbo 400 clutch with good results. Remember that they are designed to be applied by a powerful hydraulic piston and must not slip under power. Always use a new spring with any kind of clutch or at least check the tension of the old one. Proper adjustment is also crucial.
The original clutch will give great service if built, adjusted, and operated correctly.
If interested from my end, on the very crappy 19 engine in my Crappy 24 Runabout Lizzhe, I replaced the clutch in 2015 as it slipped pretty bad if I'd get into it hard with a set of turbo 400 discs I had modified according to the book a bunch of years earlier that were hanging/waiting on the wall and did it with out removing the engine from the chassis. Junktard Mechanicking all the way.
Original everything except the light brown turbo discs. I set it up and my word does it grab tight. I had to modify HOW I let that clutch out but it works good and grabs hard. Hard. Oh my, the nasty ridges in the drum!... Very free neutral!
I suspect that since everything behind the engine is just as bad or FAR worse than what's in front of the U-joint, I'll have some serious shaking, grumbling and barking from the U-joint-rear end until I do a rebuild on that one.
Gosh, what a sweety. I love that ol' model T.