Tired of Junk Clutch Hydraulics

Synchros shot? Weird noises while shifting? Not sure what needs to be replaced?
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InlinePaul
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Tired of Junk Clutch Hydraulics

Postby InlinePaul » Thu Mar 23, 2017 6:47 pm

So I bought the 2001 Ford Ranger with a manual transmission back in 2011. The original slave cylinder went out at 70,000 miles and was replaced only to be eaten by a blown release bearing 10,000 miles later. At that time the slave, release bearing, and clutch were replaced. Then we discovered that the master cylinder was leaking and that also was replaced, all about at 80,000 miles. Around 100,000 miles the master cylinder was leaking again and had to be replaced.

A 119,000 miles it was apparently leaking again as it would get hard to put into first gear unless I pumped the pedal about 40 times and that would last maybe a day. I took it to the shop and the bleeder screw was frozen. They did not want to mess with it because if it broke I would be out of a truck and I really don't want to take the bus. I decided that I should get quality parts so avoided the chain parts stores and went to the Ford dealer for Genuine Ford parts (not Motorcraft). So the shop installed everything. It had all new hydraulics: master, slave, lines between.

I got it back and it was great, well actually seemed a tad too high. There was no free play at the top, but a nice amount of space at the bottom, about 1.5 inches, where it was completely disengaged. But, after a few weeks I started loosing pedal and the space at the bottom (what is that called anyway?) was reduced and free play appeared at the top, first a half inch, then an inch, and now close to 1.5 inches. I have practically no pedal at the bottom and have to pump it 20-40 times before I can get into first gear. How is that for dropping $700 to fix the clutch hydraulics?

I blame it partly on cheap junk parts made in China, and partly on the concentric slave. My 1984 F100 had hydraulic clutch linkage and I never had any trouble with it. The hydraulics lasted over 200,000 miles without even a fluid change.

The other problem is these concentric setups are near impossible to bleed, though the shop did a nice job as evidenced by the great amount of pedal at the bottom with it disengaged (at first). My 84 F100 actually had a clutch fork and the slave was on the outside of the tranny.

So, I am taking it back next week for them to fix it, but I am about done with this truck. Maybe unhook the rev limiter and see how high it'll rev! But seriously, I am thinking more and more about getting an older, somewhat restored or well kept, truck that has a mechanical clutch linkage.

When did the hydraulic linkage come in? I think Mustangs still had mechanical in the 1980s. Ideally get mechanical clutch linkage and throttle body injection. I am sure port injection would all have hydraulic clutches.
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Re: Tired of Junk Clutch Hydraulics

Postby Rope-Pusher » Thu Mar 23, 2017 10:57 pm

Ram Pick-m-Up went to hydraulic clutch release somewhere around late '80s / early 90's. It was the external slave type - the slave was NOT concentric to the trans input shaft.

The difference in clutch pedal effort was incredible. The first time I drove one, I pushed the pedal down like I would have on any other v-8 pick-m-up and my foot just slammed the pedal against the downstop. Not only was the peak pedal force reduced, but the system operated more smoothly and the pedal return force was higher. The difference in cost to go to hydraulic clutch release systems was around $30 per vehicle. That is a lot of money to add to the cost of the "standard" vehicle....you couldn't charge the customer more to cover the cost because everyone was trying to keep the base price of the vehicle low to compete with the other pick-m-up sold by competitors. Still, the improved performance helped sell the idea that the added cost was going toward increasing customer satisfaction. Did I mention that noise and pedal vibration were also reduced?

It almost seams tummy that there is something or somethings else causing your slave and master cylinders to fail so early. Maybe the clutch pedal bracket or the pedal arm is worn or deformed such that the master cylinder rod is being pushed into the cylinder at a non-optimum angle. Maybe the ball-stud/pin on the lever arm is bent, worn or corroded such that it is wearing out a bushing where the rod attaches to the pedal arm. To really see what is going on, one, or two must get their head down there and watch for where the lost motion is coming from when the pedal has freeplay before you can feel the pedal force increase as you depress the pedal. It could even be that a bushing on the pedal arm pivot shaft is worn.

Yes, concentric slave cylinders are more difficult to bleed, because you would really want to be able to bleed them right at the cylinder, but it is buried when the trans is attached to the engine, so the bleed is outside of the bellhousing, not at the end of the plumbing. I would recommend that after the system is assembled and bled, you should pump the pedal let's say 50 times ("fifty times" - there, we said it) and bleed it again. The idea is that the 50 pedal strokes would help to get air bubbles out of the tail of the hydraulics and up into the line where they could be bled-out. Evaluate the function and you may need/want to pump 50x and bleed again. Having about 1.5" of pedal clearance to the downstop when the clutch is disengaged is just about where DOG intended it to be IMEO.
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Re: Tired of Junk Clutch Hydraulics

Postby InlinePaul » Fri Mar 24, 2017 12:24 am

Ram Pick-m-Up went to hydraulic clutch release somewhere around late '80s / early 90's. It was the external slave type - the slave was NOT concentric to the trans input shaft.

I definitely prefer the slave to be outside the tranny. It also makes it so you can change the clutch without having to bleed the system.

The difference in clutch pedal effort was incredible.


That was the first thing I noticed when I got my '84 F150 was the light pedal compared to the older truck with mechanical linkage. My first clutch was a '63 Chevy and other than the seat partly dropping through the rusty floor and my setting the interior on fire once, I have fond memories of that car. It was a three-on-the-tree and the clutch pedal seemed great. I don't recall any issues with it.

Then I got the '77 F100, also three-on-the-tree, and I had a lot of problems with the clutch pedal being hard to work, which I determined was largely due to the cross shaft not having lube. It would chafe and bind at the cross shaft, but there may have been more to it. My '84 was the best as in over 200,000 miles I never had to do anything to the clutch hydraulics, though I eventually had to mount a bracket on the rusty flexing firewall near the clutch master cylinder so it would stop flexing and disengage properly. Then the '95 F150, which was fairly good but for a failed master cylinder at one point. But this ranger--nothing but trouble. Clutchdisk has an S10 of the same year and has had zero problems with the clutch.

It almost seams tummy that there is something or somethings else causing your slave and master cylinders to fail so early. Maybe the clutch pedal bracket or the pedal arm is worn or deformed such that the master cylinder rod is being pushed into the cylinder at a non-optimum angle. Maybe the ball-stud/pin on the lever arm is bent, worn or corroded such that it is wearing out a bushing where the rod attaches to the pedal arm. To really see what is going on, one, or two must get their head down there and watch for where the lost motion is coming from when the pedal has freeplay before you can feel the pedal force increase as you depress the pedal. It could even be that a bushing on the pedal arm pivot shaft is worn.


This is entirely possible, as was the case with my '84 and the flexing firewall. However, it did work perfectly when I got it out of the shop and for a few weeks. I actually was afraid that there was a problem because there was no free play at the top of the pedal.

Yes, concentric slave cylinders are more difficult to bleed, because you would really want to be able to bleed them right at the cylinder, but it is buried when the trans is attached to the engine, so the bleed is outside of the bellhousing, not at the end of the plumbing. I would recommend that after the system is assembled and bled, you should pump the pedal let's say 50 times ("fifty times" - there, we said it) and bleed it again. The idea is that the 50 pedal strokes would help to get air bubbles out of the tail of the hydraulics and up into the line where they could be bled-out. Evaluate the function and you may need/want to pump 50x and bleed again. Having about 1.5" of pedal clearance to the downstop when the clutch is disengaged is just about where DOG intended it to be IMEO.


Well, if it needs 50 pumps its got them and so if they rebleed it and it stays, I am good, else I take it in several more times until a rebleed finally gets all the air out. There must have been air somewhere that worked its way back into the wrong place. I do recall looking at the master cylinder after driving about 2000 miles and it was getting pretty bad and the master was full.

But I think the auto companies need to build stuff that actually can be repaired without repeat visits. I find it hard to believe these guys who drop 10s of thousands on Mustangs and such are putting up with crap clutch hydraulics. Does Ford get better quality for those cars?
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Re: Tired of Junk Clutch Hydraulics

Postby potownrob » Fri Mar 24, 2017 1:11 am

time to honor your namesake and get a mid-90s F250 w/ the 4.9 :twisted: 8)
BUT DEM FAHGLEITZ!! :shock:

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Re: Tired of Junk Clutch Hydraulics

Postby theholycow » Fri Mar 24, 2017 10:28 am

InlinePaul wrote:Clutchdisk has an S10 of the same year and has had zero problems with the clutch.

I can confirm that the pre-concentric S10 hydraulic system is pretty decent. Despite my backyard-engineered hacking, my clutch master cylinder has not failed after >5 years and >100,000 miles in my car (and who knows what its history was). The external slave failed when the half-assed bracket I made cracked and allowed it to hit the exhaust manifold every time I stepped on the clutch pedal, and that is the only hydraulic failure I can remember. If I could have used a 1994 S10 bellhousing then the external slave would have been mounted better (and mostly protected inside the bellhousing), yet still easily accessible to replace without having to disassemble anything else.
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Re: Tired of Junk Clutch Hydraulics

Postby InlinePaul » Fri Mar 24, 2017 1:59 pm

theholycow wrote:
InlinePaul wrote:Clutchdisk has an S10 of the same year and has had zero problems with the clutch.

I can confirm that the pre-concentric S10 hydraulic system is pretty decent. Despite my backyard-engineered hacking, my clutch master cylinder has not failed after >5 years and >100,000 miles in my car (and who knows what its history was). The external slave failed when the half-assed bracket I made cracked and allowed it to hit the exhaust manifold every time I stepped on the clutch pedal, and that is the only hydraulic failure I can remember. If I could have used a 1994 S10 bellhousing then the external slave would have been mounted better (and mostly protected inside the bellhousing), yet still easily accessible to replace without having to disassemble anything else.


Clutchdisk's S10 is 2001 and has the concentric slave, but has had no issues in about 35,000 miles he has had the truck. Think it is all original and he bought the truck with 78,000 miles on it.

I guess the probability of having three sets of clutch hydraulics go bad in 50,000 miles is pretty small, but that just means I am in the tail of the probability curve or perhaps I am an outlier.
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Re: Tired of Junk Clutch Hydraulics

Postby InlinePaul » Fri Mar 24, 2017 2:04 pm

potownrob wrote:time to honor your namesake and get a mid-90s F250 w/ the 4.9 :twisted: 8)


Well the Ranger is inline, but also I had the 4.9 in my '77, '84, and 95 Ford trucks. I do like the feel of the 4.9 torque monster, but the way I drive I was getting maybe 13 mpg. The Ranger is fun to drive and gives me 23 mpg. I go into the 5000s rpm range a lot for fun. A mechanic at the shop I go to has same Ranger and engine with manual tranny and he never takes it over about 3000 rpm. Says he gets 29 mpg! Well a loss of 6 mpg is worth all the fun I am having. The little 2.3 DOHC 4 valve per cylinder engine is a scream above about 3500 rpm it really moves. But Clutchdisk's S10 is more streetable with his good torque off idle, much nicer drive, but not as fun to wind out as the Ranger.

Also just got a custom cat back installed with heavy 2.25 tubing, a Dynomax Super Turbo muffler, and the pipe turns out in front of the rear tire. Sounds absolutely wonderful--like half a 4.6L Mustang, which more or less that engine is. No rice in the exhaust sound at all, but a deep throaty sound, and a beautiful sound when wound out.
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Re: Tired of Junk Clutch Hydraulics

Postby InlinePaul » Fri Mar 24, 2017 2:08 pm

Actually, would love to have my first manual back. It was a 1963 Chevy Biscayne inline six with 3 speed on the column and non-syncro first gear. Might want to put a 4 speed with floor shifter in her though and that non-syncro first meant if you were rolling into a light and got too slow to move out in second, you had to stop before shifting into first. Not the greatest. Should have learned double clutching, but at the age of 18 I was just happy to have a manual. On dirt roads I would lock up the brakes to downshift into first. Ha ha!
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Re: Tired of Junk Clutch Hydraulics

Postby theholycow » Fri Mar 24, 2017 2:13 pm

InlinePaul wrote:I guess the probability of having three sets of clutch hydraulics go bad in 50,000 miles is pretty small, but that just means I am in the tail of the probability curve or perhaps I am an outlier.

On this question I am with Rope-Pusher. I suspect that there is something else going on that is causing it.

Just pulling a guess out of my ass here, but can a maladjusted or failed input shaft bearing (along with a worn or failed pilot bushing/bearing) allow a wiggling input shaft to put too much stress on a concentric slave cylinder? Rope, your thoughts?

Are you using the recommended fluid, common DOT3 brake fluid (if not recommended), or something fancy (amsoil/redline/etc)?

Then of course there are the excellent suggestions that Rope had!

I wonder if another model's hyrdaulics would fit?
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Re: Tired of Junk Clutch Hydraulics

Postby Rope-Pusher » Sat Mar 25, 2017 2:50 pm

In clutch release systems that use a fork to actuate the clutch release bearing, like with an external slave cylinder or a control cable, the fork pivots off one or more ballstuds inside the bellhousing. The area inside the bellhousing is exposed to a lot of heat and clutch dust, so often it is difficult to lubricate the contact between the clutch release bearing fork and the ballstud so that it will stay lubricated for the life of the clutch. To compensate for this, there is often a plastic cap on the top half of the ball stud sphere to eliminate the metal-to-metal contact. Sometimes, for whatever reason, the plastic cap fractures and chunks break off, so that it no longer has a spherical contact to the pocket in the fork. This can add friction to the pivoting of the fork, it can also require that there be some compensation of the fork position, i.e. an adjustment of the hydraulic or cable release system. Sometimes, this might mean that the adjuster mechanism reaches the end of it's range of operation and no further adjustment is possible. This could affect pedal freeplay or the engagement point location.

By the way, if I haven't mentioned it previously, the amount of pedal movement between the point where the clutch is just fully disengaged and when the pedal is at the downstop is referred to as "Pedal Reserve".

If you don't have enough / any pedal reserve, you might not be getting the clutch to a fully-released condition. There will be harsher shifting, notchier and with higher shift efforts, as the synchronizers are being worked harder because the clutch is dragging on the flywheel. Worn synchronizers might not be able to prevent "Clash" during shifts under these conditions.

If there is excessive pedal reserve, it could mean that when the pedal is depressed to the downstop the clutch release bearing is stroked too far. This could over-stroke the diaphragm spring on the clutch cover, which could result in contact of the spring to the inside of the clutch cover, or with the damper springs in the hub of the clutch disk, or even the pressure plate contacting the inside of the clutch cover. Eventually, the diaphragm spring may fracture due to the extreme flexing.

Goldilocks prefered when the clutch release bearing moved mayby "8.sumpin" mm when the pedal is at the fully released position and not more than "9.sumpin" mm when the clutch pedal was against the downstop. This may correlate with ~1.5" (25 mm) of pedal reserve. Your mileage may vary. Package was packed as full as humanly possible by a machine, lather, rinse, and repeat.
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Re: Tired of Junk Clutch Hydraulics

Postby InlinePaul » Sat Mar 25, 2017 6:45 pm

Pedal reserve. Now to remember that!

can a maladjusted or failed input shaft bearing (along with a worn or failed pilot bushing/bearing) allow a wiggling input shaft to put too much stress on a concentric slave cylinder?


Well, the clutch has 40,000 miles and had a new pilot bearing when it was installed.

We did replace the release bearing when the new Genuine Ford slave was installed. Also pretty sure they would use the correct fluid, but wrong type of hydraulic fluid seems like it would take a lot longer to degrade things.

I will tell the shop #1, see if can bleed and get pedal reserve back. #2 inspect for any bent, loose, malaligned, or otherwise out of place parts in the pedal assembly that might put a bad angle on the plunger in the master. #3 See if any wiggle on input shaft with pilot may be causing excessive wear of slave.

It may be there were just some remaining bubbles that over time moved to the wrong place, but that is more wishful thinking.

Truck goes in next Thursday.
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Re: Tired of Junk Clutch Hydraulics

Postby Rope-Pusher » Sat Mar 25, 2017 7:42 pm

Remember that time you took Clutchdisk to Edgewater Amusement Park? Ok, so maybe it was Boblo Island? ...Cedar Point?

My point is - He owes you! Remind him of that. Tell him to stick his head down by the pedals and look for flexing, freeplay, bad geometry, etc.

Is there any hope of looking inside the bellhousing as you actuate the pedal? Is there a peephole where he could look in, mebbe using a mirror?

Even if it's going to the dealer for service, you should know as munch about it as you can before they see it. Maybe you can even tell them what you see as being wrong.

On a beautiful Sunday afternoon in the midst of the French Revolution the revolting citizens led a priest, a drunkard and an engineer to the guillotine. They ask the priest if he wants to face up or down when he meets his fate. The priest says he would like to face up so he will be looking towards heaven when he dies. They raise the blade of the guillotine and release it. It comes speeding down and suddenly stops just inches from his neck. The authorities take this as divine intervention and release the priest.

The drunkard comes to the guillotine next. He also decides to die face up, hoping that he will be as fortunate as the priest. They raise the blade of the guillotine and release it. It comes speeding down and suddenly stops just inches from his neck. Again, the authorities take this as a sign of divine intervention, and they release the drunkard as well.

Next is the engineer. He, too, decides to die facing up. As they slowly raise the blade of the guillotine, the engineer suddenly says, "Hey, I see what your problem is ..."
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Re: Tired of Junk Clutch Hydraulics

Postby InlinePaul » Sun Mar 26, 2017 10:23 pm

My shop is pretty good so I was planning just to have them inspect all the moving parts. They can look in the peephole of the bell housing which is maybe 1.5 by 2.5 inches. They will do all that.

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theholycow wrote:Why in the world would you even want to be as smooth as an automatic? Might as well just drive an automatic...

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Re: Tired of Junk Clutch Hydraulics

Postby Rope-Pusher » Mon Mar 27, 2017 8:57 am

So,....are you the Priest or the Drunkard?
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Re: Tired of Junk Clutch Hydraulics

Postby InlinePaul » Mon Mar 27, 2017 9:41 am

You got me there. I obviously can't be the engineer. Ok, the drunkard, but former drunkard now. The experience caused me to talk to the priest and reform my life. :D
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