On a Camaro with a manual transmission the clutch is a critical piece if you want to gain any sort of forward momentum. It’s the crucial item that connects the engine to the transmission, and without it, rowing through the gears of our F-bodies would be virtually impossible. As we ratchet up the output of our engines, the clutch becomes even more important, and the associated parts need to be designed to hold the power and dispatch it properly through the transmission and rear wheels−where all the fun happens.
We at Camaro Performers magazine have a vast interest in high-performance clutch systems, so we contacted the folks at Centerforce to see if there was anything new on their shelves for us to give a try. They were pleased to inform us of their Light Metal (LM) assemblies. According to Will Baty, of Centerforce, “The original intended use of the LM series was for the circle track racers, but as the newer cars started coming with five and six-speed transmissions, and with a low first gear, the LM clutches started really taking off. For the guy who has a large displacement, or blown engine unraveling tons of bottom-end torque, the Light Metal clutch really helps to utilize the engines’ torque potential without smoking the tires. It reduces the inertia, making the car feel like it has a taller, or higher first gear, which in turn, allows the car to accelerate without blowing the tires off as easily. For on-track situations, the LM assembly really shines coming out of a corner. You can really feel the car accelerate quicker as you run through the gears.”
According to Centerforce, their dual-friction LM clutch wasn’t any more difficult to install than any other units. To test this out, we brought Jose DeAnda’s ’01 SS to Don Lee Auto, in Rancho Cucamonga, CA, for a little clutch TLC.
With the trans in we were able to re-connect the hydraulic line and various wires. All that was left to do was re-attach the driveshaft and exhaust system. Since we pre-bled the new slave we shouldn’t have to bleed the system, but we did need to top off the clutch fluid. Centerforce recommends a 400-500-mile break in period, so you’ll need to take it easy on the new clutch. This needs to be done around town where you’re actually using the clutch often, so a long cruise on the highway doesn’t count.
The Drill Mod
Centerforce recommends that if you have more than 10-20,000 miles on your clutch master that it be replaced when installing a new high-performance clutch. This is especially true if your clutch fluid is dark and dingy looking. This is a sign that the seals and internals are breaking down. Even if your clutch master is in great shape, you may need to pull it anyway to do the world-renowned “drill mod”. This procedure is done to remove the restriction that GM so cleverly put in the line from your clutch master to your transmission. The restriction was put there to slow the movement of hydraulic fluid and thus the clutch operation. The theory was that this would reduce shock to the driveline, but the cost is poorer clutch operation in performance driving.
This restriction cuts down your line’s inside diameter (I.D.) by about 50-percent, and by drilling it out you can end up with much quicker pedal response. It basically involves removing the steel braided line from your clutch master. By using a 1/8-inch drill bit, slowly remove the obstruction put there by some cruel GM engineer. Just be sure to flush out the line before putting it back on your car. Our understanding is that ’01 and newer clutch masters, like the new one in Jose’s SS, have this obstruction already removed, but if yours has one, drill it out. You can get complete blow-by-blow details on how to do this simple modification over at www.installuniversity.com.