If you have spent any time around a manual transmission, LS-based car, you know that there is very little to complain about. The T56 and TR6060 transmissions are known around the world as excellent gearboxes and they can be built in a variety of ways to handle everything from daily driving to all-out racing. Behind a stock motor, both the T56 and TR6060 are almost indestructible and with a number of awesome aftermarket clutches available, you can almost never make too much power for these units. So, if the clutch and transmission are so good, what can we complain about?
Well, for Kevin DiOssi, Associate Editor of our sister magazine High Performance Pontiac, his issue was with the clutch hydraulic system. "The factory setup was notorious for not fully engaging First and Reverse, but my biggest issue was wide-open throttle (WOT) shifting. My GTO could be a royal pain when you would try to get it into any gear at WOT." After a bit of searching, we found the issue to be directly related to the miniscule factory-installed clutch master cylinder, which, according to Tick Performance in Mooresville, North Carolina, was designed by GM to purposely slow shifting to save parts. "To save the expense of fixing drivetrain parts under warranty, GM used a weak clutch master cylinder designed to keep shifting slow by limiting fluid volume and restricting its flow. Unfortunately, these limits and restrictions introduce a whole new wave of problems, including the infamous gear lockout in the upper rpm, inability to engage First or Reverse gear while stopped, clutch pedal sticking to the floor, and a whole host of other issues. If not upgraded, the factory master cylinder will lead to premature clutch wear (and ultimately failure) and transmission damage. With our kit, we call it adjustable because you're actually adjusting the amount of fluid that the system flows. You've likely seen people modify their stock master cylinder to be 'adjustable' - unfortunately, all you can adjust with this setup is the dead space in the pedal. There is no way to make the factory cylinder flow significantly more fluid."
With the problem clearly identified and the benefits obvious, we turned again to Tick Performance for help, ordering one of the company's infamous adjustable clutch master cylinder kits, which shipped complete with a custom Tick/Tilton adjustable master cylinder, an unrestricted braided stainless steel clutch line to replace the factory rubber unit, and all of the hardware we would need to do the install. With our parts en route, we booked some time with our friends at Corvette Masters in Maitland, Florida, and followed along as they installed the new Tick Performance adjustable master cylinder in Kevin's 2005 Pontiac GTO.
If you are thinking about tackling this installation yourself, don't fret. Although both the master and adjuster are in tight spots, Chris and Robby from Corvette Masters had no problems getting to any of the components. Add to that some great install instructions from Tick and you have a 2 to 3 hour install on your hands, with some easy-to-feel results. According to Kevin, after the install and some quick bleeding of the hydraulic system, "With the new master, the effort has been greatly reduced and feels no different than part-throttle shifting. I admit that the combination of the Monster Level 3 clutch and this Tick master cylinder can be quite the calf workout, but once you have gotten used to it, it becomes the way you want a car's clutch pedal to feel. For performance driving, I wouldn't want it any other way." And neither would we, so follow along with us to see how it all went together and give Tick Performance a call next time you miss that 2-3 shift. Despite what your friends say, it may not be your fault after all!