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Clutch release bearing noisy


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Hi Folks,

It says this section's for people new to the Forum and/or Mantas.  Well, I'm not new to either, but I have a new problem, will that do?

We are dealing with a 1978 car with the 4-speed CIH 'box.

Fitted a new clutch release bearing, one of those plastic-y ones, and it started to squeak and squeal and make the clutch jerky after a few hundred miles.  Replaced with a decent metal bearing.  All well for about 300 miles, squealy warble started again from the new bearing.  Lived with it, as by then the diff was packing up and that took priority.  Finally got the crownwheel and pinion assembly (thanks to this Forum), fixed the diff.  Next thing, to deal with the release bearing noise.  Asked around, the finger of suspicion was pointed at the clutch spigot bearing (needle roller bearing) being worn and throwing strain on the release bearing.  Seemed to fit with the slightly iffy selection of first and reverse on occasion.  So, bought spigot bearing, bought new release bearing, fitted them.  Gear oil changed for lovely new fresh EP90.  Gear selection improved, no noise, deep joy.  For precisely 100 miles.  The first, well-remembered warbling and trilling then began faintly once more from the release bearing.

What the #*$&#!

I do not believe that 3 release bearings in a row, from different manufacturers, are all faulty.  The spigot bearing is now out of the picture.  There ain't a lot more to the system to go wrong.  Only thing offhand is the release bearing sleeve lubrication.  The sleeve is grooved, and grooved sleeves are not normally lubricated.  According to The Book, however, the sleeve should be sparingly lubricated with graphite grease.  So which is correct?  Or was a plain sleeve on early cars replaced at some point with a grooved sleeve?

Or does anyone have a better theory about what may be causing this?  Not only would the noise drive you gradually insane, it's clearly not the way the thing should sound and must indicate some stress that will eventually lead to failure.

BJ.

 

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as sutty asked ,does the noise go away when pedal pressed or get worse. 

these cars have a spring loaded pedal that applies a constant small amount of pressure to the release bearing. 

if you have replaced the spigot bearing and release bearing too then my suspicion would point to the clutch cover fingers .either worn or bent or dry. you should be able to view them in situ by pulling back the rubber grommet around the fork lever.and get a small amount of lubricant in there on the fingers/front of release bearing.  the original spec for your car would not include a plastic ring that was fitted on the fingers of later cars which was supposed to reduce noise and wear.ive had cars with and without and never noticed any difference to noise but obviously it helps stop the fingers wearing .

only ever had this before on a viva which has a solid spigot bush rather than needle.

this all assumes you have got the clutch mechanism adjusted correctly. the adjustment nut is a bugger to reach and needs a cut off spanner to get to . im sure you know about this and forgive me for suggesting it but not everyone is aware of the adjustment procedure.

ie  adjust lever position first and then cable IF required.

 ps i always  oil the end of gearbox shaft,/grease spigot, release sleeve and face and no issues. obviously too much could find its way onto the disc but a sensible amount wont cause any issues.

 

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18 hours ago, Sutty2006 said:

Does the noise go away when you press the clutch pedal? 

I have a similar issue with my 5 speed. The noise does go when the clutch is pressed. 

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Hello chaps, and thank you for all your responses.

Sorry, I forgot to explain about pressing the clutch pedal, I was too busy being cross (Ooo, Betty, I was cross!)

In the early stages of clutch release bearing noise (as now, for instance) the noise will stop with a very slight pressure on the pedal.  It can also be stopped by raising the pedal somewhat with the welt of one's shoe under it.  Once the noise gets well established and more intrusive over time and miles, the pedal needs to be pressed almost all the way down to stop it squealing.

Yes, the clutch is correctly adjusted, with the measurement at the fork at 4.3".  And yes, the method of adjustment there was clearly designed by a sadist. Heaven help the poor Bruces & Sheilas who have the early cars where ALL the adjustment is done from this point....  It has also been adjusted at the cable so there is the correct 5.9" (!) of travel on the pedal.  I defy anyone, actually, to get this to exactly 5.9", since you are measuring on an angled pedal up to a round steering wheel, trying to manipulate a stick and an expanding tape measure at the same time.  My personal method is to have the brake pedal correctly adjusted, place the foot very lightly on this then move it sideways - clutch pedal at the right height will be 1/2" above the brake pedal.  And if you know how thick the sole of your shoe is, you can judge this 1/2" accurately with time and practice.

I didn't see the clutch fingers myself, gave the car to a (qualified) mate to do the job while I was on holiday.  I'll ask him if he did the inspection with clutch cover removed, or else did exactly what I asked and just replaced the spigot bearing and release bearing.  When I have an answer, will let you all know.  Was something I hadn't considered - obviously, or I wouldn't be on here bleating for help - but may be the answer.  If so, it is not too late to rectify if if merely dry.

Thanks again,

BJ

Checked with my mate.

He said that he gave the clutch fingers a cursory glance to check for wear while he had things stripped.  So, obviously nothing broken or bent, or he would have seen it at the time.  Unless any alternative theories are presented, I'd go with the idea of the fingers being dry.

BJ

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the fact that it goes quiet with a little pressure and goes quiet if lifted does indeed suggest dry fingers . 

OR       the spring on the clutch pedal that gives the cable a little tension may be missing,weak or broken ?

the haynes book shows it as a normal type hooked straight spring but thats seldom seen except very early cars .yours will have a snail type shaft spring ( or should have !)

the way i see it is this.  a new bearing may have a slight stiffness to it and if its just skipping on the surface of the fingers rather than actually spinning that will soon start to make a noise. lightly greasing/ oiling the fingers will stop it for a very short while .so  my moneys on the pedal spring. 

if its knackered then replacing it involves unbolting the right hand side of the entire pedal box and removing it to get at the spring. easier if poss to add another conventional spring. just to give a slight load. 

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There are two different sorts of release bearing profile - flat and convex or curved

And two different types of clutch cover fingers

If you have a mismatch you'll get exactly the problems you are experiencing 

Do you have pictures of the parts you've fitted to the car jane ? 

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19 minutes ago, MrCarlos said:

There are two different sorts of release bearing profile - flat and convex or curved

And two different types of clutch cover fingers

If you have a mismatch you'll get exactly the problems you are experiencing 

Do you have pictures of the parts you've fitted to the car jane ? 

No sir, I do not, sadly. Although I doubt many people would take pictures of components anyway unless they'd been specifically asked to do so before starting an inspection or replacement.

The clutch was fitted in 2019 and it was a Borg & Beck AND RELEASE BEARING.  The latest release bearing is an SKF.  Is that any help?  But there have been several release bearings fitted to this car and they all had the same problem.  I'd say odds against them all being a mismatch.

Been mucking around with this type of car for 35 years (God help me) and gone through a fair few clutches and clutch kits in my time, this is the only one with a warbling release bearing.

But thanks for the input.

BJ

Missed your post incoming while I was replying to others!

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10 minutes ago, Brown Job said:

No sir, I do not, sadly. Although I doubt many people would take pictures of components anyway unless they'd been specifically asked to do so before starting an inspection or replacement.

The clutch was fitted in 2019 and it was a Borg & Beck AND RELEASE BEARING.  The latest release bearing is an SKF.  Is that any help?  But there have been several release bearings fitted to this car and they all had the same problem.  I'd say odds against them all being a mismatch.

Been mucking around with this type of car for 35 years (God help me) and gone through a fair few clutches and clutch kits in my time, this is the only one with a warbling release bearing.

But thanks for the input.

BJ

Missed your post incoming while I was replying to others!

Im on 33 years , the last 12 as a full time business, we're both on the experienced side !

I would just have done with it and fit a full new 3 piece clutch kit of a good quality brand - luk, valeo or the like. Then you'll maximise your chances of fixing it for good with only one more set of labour fees.

Clutch kits are now thin on the ground (nearly impossible on a 5 speed) but are out there for a 4 speed if you do a bit of part number cross matching

If it was on my ramp that would be my course of action

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Aye Carl, I reckon we are pretty experienced in respect of the old GM U-Car.

My experience is mostly of trying to fix things without enough time, money or facilities rather than as a business, however.  Don't forget, I did replace clutch and bearing as a set in 2019, and still have the problem.  Wopping in a full clutch kit could be an expensive mistake if Cam-in-head's right and it's only the spring loading that's at fault.  That's going to be my first experiment, it's quick and cheap.

You have, however, confused me over 4- vs 5-speed clutch kits.  I swapped to a 5-speed 'box on my other car back in 1996 and have been through a few clutches since, never had any trouble and never specified any different clutch.  In fact, I am certain that the "original" clutch was left in place after the 'box swap and worked perfectly fine.  What's the difference? 

BJ.

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The 5 speed clutches are a bigger diameter at 215mm than the 4 speed ones at 203mm

In practice you can get away with a 4 speed clutch on a 5 speed conversion but its a good idea to use the bigger one

Ive attached the relevant info from an old forum post - chapter and verse on clutch / flywheel variations

Screenshot_20220514-174602_Chrome.jpg

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yes the 5 speed may use a different clutch but it would br a different flywheel as well .as would moving to a 2.2 bigger clutch. 

for normal driving and for the normal carb 2.0 engine the standard clutch is fine ,4 speed or 5 theres still no power difference. gm were happy to use that same clutch on 1.6,1.9 and 2.0 .

ive had a look in the shed today and found my box of bearings. some of the bearings have a flat surface,some have a curved edge as carl mentioned but in 10 pressure plates i saw no differences to the fingers.( except a couple with the added plastic ring).

i have experienced the clutch squeak before and that was even with a correct pedal tension spring.it was a brand new bearing but unlubricated against the fingers.   a long flat stick with some grease on saw it cured thou.

 

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20 minutes ago, cam.in.head said:

yes the 5 speed may use a different clutch but it would br a different flywheel as well .as would moving to a 2.2 bigger clutch. 

for normal driving and for the normal carb 2.0 engine the standard clutch is fine ,4 speed or 5 theres still no power difference. gm were happy to use that same clutch on 1.6,1.9 and 2.0 .

ive had a look in the shed today and found my box of bearings. some of the bearings have a flat surface,some have a curved edge as carl mentioned but in 10 pressure plates i saw no differences to the fingers.( except a couple with the added plastic ring).

i have experienced the clutch squeak before and that was even with a correct pedal tension spring.it was a brand new bearing but unlubricated against the fingers.   a long flat stick with some grease on saw it cured thou.

 

No the 4 and 5 speed engines use the same flywheel for the 203mm and 215mm clutches.

 

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so just to confirm/ be sure.

this car we are having issues with now is a standard 4 speed. 

you mention that it has ( been through a few clutches) or was that your other 5 speed converted car ? wonder if there is an issue with that as clutches last for many tens of thousand miles ( mine is on 100,000 miles but was replaced at 47000 and that was only due to fitting a different engine. my brothers 2 litre sports hatch still had its clutch that he bought it with and had done at least 75000.

anyway back to the original question.  did you check the pedal loading / spring  ?

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Well now, you live and learn (and then you die and forget it all).  Thanks for the info, chaps.

I would have thought - without serious consideration - that the 5-speed was less stressed than the 4-speed with the same engine in the intermediates. bearing in mind that we are talking about the standard 20S carburetted, non-electronic setup at a nominal 100 bhp.  I can see the benefit of the greater clutch friction area though, in the sense of pulling a higher gear in 5th.  Anyway, it doesn't get a lot of stress from me these post-retirement days, and never did to any great extent even when I was younger and a bit more gung-ho in my driving.  I don't hang on to a gear (up or down) more than necessary, such as when overtaking or matching speed on joining a motorway.

Took a look at the clutch spring today, and it's a snail-type wound round the common shaft for the pedals, as illustrated in the Service Training Manual rather than the direct pull spring in Haynes.  No evidence of it being broken, certainly not missing.  Weakened, who can say?  There is certainly some pull left in it judging by the effort needed to lift the clutch pedal with the fingers rather than the relatively insensitive welt of the shoe.

I feel  the need to lubricate the clutch fingers, find out what happens, increase spring tension if that doesn't work, and then look at more exotic/expensive ideas if the ruddy noise still won't stop

BJ.

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The above was penned by me 2 days ago but it failed to post, just recovered it now.

To clarify the somewhat muddied waters:

  • The sqealer is the standard 4-speed, 19S engined car.  That's had at least 3 replacement clutch release bearings in a bid to overcome the issue.
  • The 5-speeder conversion 20S car has gone through "several" clutches as it needed a new one shortly after purchase and has since done over 125K miles, including a bit of towing and a lot of work in hilly rural areas in the intermediates as well as being a daily driver on urban stop-start while I was working.  Top of my head, the semi-joking remark about "several" clutches means 3 altogether - not unreasonable under the circs.  This is a very quiet, flexible and responsive car that never gave any problems with the clutch.

***************

Today I compared pedal spring loads.  I can realistically only do this by lifting the pedal against the spring with my hand, using the power of the leg to push down isn't very sensitive.  To my surprise, the offending 19S 4-speed squealer offered MORE resistance to lifting the pedal than the "good" 20S 5-speed.

Subjectively, I always thought the 19S had a "softer" or "easier" clutch operation than the 20S, but I kind of doubt that was due to the spring alone.  It's just not that big or strong a spring to overcome.  I always put it down to friction in other areas and the differences you find between these cars anyway, despite them being mass-produced.

BJ

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yes the spring action on actually operating the clutch would not have much bearing on its weight.

so ,given that you have tried 3 bearings and also a new spigot bearing too and we now know the pedal spring is there then maybee its time to 'grease your fingers a little' to see what happens.

like i said before.i have experienced this once before .exactly as yours.touch the pedal or lift it and the noise dissapears. that was cured by reaching in and greasing,

looking at my selection of clutches.although they look phisically the same they all have some degree of "polishing" to the ends where the bearing touches.all except the one with the plastic ring on. my car also has the plastic ring on and maybee it was designed for this very issue. dont recall seeing many if any other cars with any sort of ring on. 

IF you ever do replace the clutch cover or take the box off for a reason it may be worth fitting one if you can find one. i only have 1 spare but would like to hold on to it in case itsneeded.

 

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One can but try.  Or at least, one can but try to get someone else to do it for one, as am not very well at present and crawling about under cars is off the menu for the time being.

The car defo didn't have this problem when I bought it 18 years ago.  Unfortunately, I didn't record when it started.  It's not as clear as it might be if it had been in continuous use; it went through 3 periods of being laid up for various reasons unconnected with the clutch, and of course nobody did anything much in 2020.  I can't help but feel it stemmed from the new Borg & Beck clutch going in early 2019, but maybe it was there before that and the new clutch and bearing was put in to fix it.  I remember one episode years ago, but that was simply due to a defective NOS clutch that had been badly stored.

I'll let people know when it's been greased and what, if any, effect it had.

Thanks again to all for help and suggestions.

BJ.

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  • 1 month later...

Hello and welcome back to this everyday story of country folk.

I finally managed to get someone to put an appropriate lump of grease on the clutch fingers for me.  Result - absolutely no difference to the bloomin' noise whatsoever.  And, thinking about it, since the whole lot is meant to spin together, what is the grease actually meant to lubricate?  It certainly lubricated a fine flow of language from my mate trying to reach into the hole and get the grease into the right place rather than where it would work its way onto the friction plate.

So I still have the noise.  It's not worrying me a lot right now as I can't afford the fuel to go anywhere.  Stationary, with the engine off, the clutch release bearing gives no trouble at all....Looking on the bright side, I may have a small lottery win and be able to buy a few gallons, so are there any more ideas for stopping the release bearing from singing?  Could put a cloth over its cage like we did with our canary, I suppose.

BJ

 

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