Terlingua Racing Team Mustang Clutch Installation

Published on 16 March 2023 at 17:56
Mustang GT350 pilot bearing
Shelby GT350 Mustang new flywheel installed
Terlingua Shelby Racing Team GT350 interior

The new clutch and flywheel arrived from Real Steel on Monday but as Russell has his weekend on Monday and Tuesday we didn't get to fitting it until Wednesday. First job was to check that everything looked right, when I ordered the parts there were lots of questions and a few unknowns - the car is so heavily modified that we could not be 100 per cent certain of anything until we checked and double checked the new parts against the old ones. It all looked good so we set about the process of putting new bits where old, worn out bits used to live - this is where it all started going painfully wrong.

Our pain centered around the pilot bearing - a bronze or phosphor bronze bush that lives in the end of the crank that the end of the gearbox input shaft goes in to. The one on the car was very badly worn, the new clutch kit came with an assortment of bearings so all we had to do was remove the old one. That turned out to be very much easier said than done, I think somebody had installed it with high strength retainer, it was not moving by any of the usual methods. In the end we employed a jig saw, a chisel, a variety of hammers, a slide hammer puller, plenty of bad language and about 1 1/2 hours of blood , sweat and tears. I am also glad to report that Russell has excellent reflexes and when I missed the puller with the hammer and it came perilously close to his head, the speed with which he moved would have shamed yer average kick boxer. Not bad at all for a bloke of his age, sorry Russ. 

Anyway, after teaching the bearing a valuable lesson in humility, it eventually succumbed to our superiority and fell to the floor in 2 pieces. Getting the new one in took about 20 seconds and a few well aimed hammer blows against a suitable piece of wood so as to not damage it and have to go through the whole thing again.

Everything else went back in although getting the gearbox to locate on the dowels was a bit of a faf, I think we were both a bit tired by the time we got to that stage, it had already been a long day and these old top loader transmissions are pretty damn heavy. We got there in the end though, it's always very satisfying to hear that clunk when everything is at the right angle and  the mating surfaces of gearbox and engine meet.

We got the rear mount on and the bolts that fix box to engine block, I attended to them while Russell did the gear linkage. By the time I had to rush off for my evening nosh and Russell had another job to do we were pretty much there, I'm not happy with the actuating rod, it's non original and a bit of a bodge. It will do for now but I want to make something better, when I go back today I will take some measurements and see what I can come up with.

We still need to replace the propshaft, gear lever, gear lever surround, right hand exhaust header, starter motor and both exhausts but that's all easy stuff. Russell is insured to drive it, I am not so he will pilot it, hopefully I get to ride shotgun in a technical advisory sort of capacity.

so it's now the next day and everything is back in place and looking good. We didn't hit any real snags, the clutch adjusted up nicely, the exhausts and prop all went back easily. It was time to test. Malc had turned up so as it was his car we democratically decided he should test it, or rather Malc, democratically decided. He reckons it's better than it has ever been and was well chuffed but mentioned that the brakes were hopeless.

We left him in the car and raised it back on the lift to see what we could see. I asked him to put his foot on the brake and there was literally nothing on the rears. We went and had a look in the master cylinder reservoir - empty. So we topped it up, bled the lines and tried again. There was a bit there but not much.  We had a further look and realised there was a proportioning valve so we had a go at adjusting it - the wrong way to start with and then half a turn the right way. Malc tested it each time and said it was getting better. We kept going until the rears locked up before the fronts then backed it off half a turn, I think that's about right, Malc said it was very much better. He's an ex BTCC driver so he knows what's right and wrong.

I strongly suspect the previous owner had set the brakes up for doing burn outs, Malc wants to drive it without such shenanigans - although he did demonstrate that it's quite capable of lighting up the rears without locking the fronts. He also verified that it was a limited slip diff and that the car is really stable with both back wheels spinning. Naughty Malcolm.

The last photo is of me sat in the car, I have my best trousers on. I took a quick video so you can appreciate the sound and vision. https://www.youtube.com

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