124 Spider clutches

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jseabolt
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124 Spider clutches

Post by jseabolt » Fri Sep 14, 2018 9:03 pm

Comparing one car to another is like they say, comparing apples to oranges.

If you had to compare the clutch from a 124 Spider to that of another car, how would you rate it? I've always thought the clutches on 124 Spiders were rather stiff compared to other stick shift cars. Or required allot more foot pressure to operate. The only other make I can think of with a clutch like this is only a Porsche.

My Spider maybe ready for a new clutch cable. I don't know the frequency of how long a clutch cable is supposed to last but from from my experience, the cable eventually cuts a notch through the plastic liner at the pedal end and rubs against the spiral wound sheath causing friction. It also creates this "binding" effect. If that makes sense.

That's what happened to the last two cables I pulled from my Spider. The last cable I installed, I shot some Kano Penephite lube into the cable to give it some extra lubrication before installing it which seemed to help for awhile anyway.

There is no way to grease a clutch cable on the car unless you disconnect it from the transmission and unhook it from the clutch pedal. Or at least I can't see it. I tried the other day.

Most people would say, "Check your firewall, it cracks". I've never seen any cracks in the firewall on my car. I seem to think the reason this happens is the pedal starts to crack which puts the cable in a bind but I could be wrong.

It may just be that fact that my Subaru, Trabant and Citroen 2CV just require half as much foot pressure to operate and that's what's making me think my clutch cable is getting worn. So after driving one of these other cars for awhile, I jump in my Spider and think there is something wrong with it. But if driven daily, I'd probably never notice it.

Otherwise the clutch does not feel like it's binding. It operates smooth otherwise.

I may need to disconnect the cable and have a look to see if this is happening again. If it is, what would cause the cable to cut a groove into the plastic liner? Could the cable not be routed properly? Mine lays against the brake booster then runs along side the starter. Since the hole in the firewall is directly above the brake booster. Should it be routed on the opposite side of the brake booster, near the fender instead of the engine?

The other thing I have wondered about is the clutch return spring. I bought a 1981 Spider and discovered it had a cracked clutch pedal. I never could figure out how to expand return spring in order to reinstall it. I had heard you can stick some pennies between the coils to expand the spring but they were not thick enough or I never had any luck with it. I couldn't even stretch it with a pair of vice grips either.

Due to the lack of the clutch pedal return spring it never returned all the way. I could stick my foot underneath it and lift it up but it was only about 1/2". It never seemed to mess with the clutch operation. But never did like to idea of not being able to install that spring.

It's been 20 years but to the best of my knowledge, this reduced allot of effort operating the clutch. I don't know why Fiat installed such a heavy spring on the clutch pedal to begin with.

I was thinking about installing a weaker return spring to see if this makes any difference. It wouldn't take much of a spring to do this.

The question is if you wanted to install the original spring, how could you take the tension off of it? The only thing I can think of is to connect one end to something and hang a 50 to 100 lb weight onto the other end and shove something between the coils thicker than a penny to expand it out.

Or fabricate a tool out of a piece of threaded rod, some nuts and some other hardware and tighten the nuts to expand the spring and shove something between the coils. Like a bunch of flat washers.

Any thoughts?
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bartigue
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Re: 124 Spider clutches

Post by bartigue » Fri Sep 14, 2018 10:40 pm

I've had a variety of clutches and always felt the Valeos "felt" right. I'm not sure how to describe it, other than it works with about as much pressure as I'd expect it to. I had some "performance" clutches before that were very heavy, like the clutch on the last of the 911s if that makes sense, as if it took a deliberate forceful act to depress the pedal.
-----------------------------------------------------------
Brad Artigue
1982 Spider 2000
I've restored, worked on, sold, bartered, and bled for:
1970, 1979, 1980, 1981, 1982 124 Spiders -- 1969, 1970 850 Spiders -- 77 X1/9
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Re: 124 Spider clutches

Post by jseabolt » Sat Sep 15, 2018 12:33 am

bartigue wrote:
Fri Sep 14, 2018 10:40 pm
I've had a variety of clutches and always felt the Valeos "felt" right. I'm not sure how to describe it, other than it works with about as much pressure as I'd expect it to. I had some "performance" clutches before that were very heavy, like the clutch on the last of the 911s if that makes sense, as if it took a deliberate forceful act to depress the pedal.
I can't remember what clutch I have. I had a guy rebuild my engine back in 1993 and he suggested I go with a new clutch while he had the engine out. I'm assuming it's a Valeo.

Probably the weakest clutch I ever felt was on a 1985 Hyundai Excel. Before when they were building Mitsubishi clones. I don't know if these cars had hydraulic or cable operated clutches.

The effort required to depress the clutch on my Trabant is so little, I bet my 6 year old daughter could push it in without any trouble. That car uses a release bearing made of graphite!
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Re: 124 Spider clutches

Post by fp55scca » Sat Sep 15, 2018 10:47 am

jseabolt wrote:
Fri Sep 14, 2018 9:03 pm

(1) My Spider maybe ready for a new clutch cable. I don't know the frequency of how long a clutch cable is supposed to last but from from my experience, the cable eventually cuts a notch through the plastic liner at the pedal end and rubs against the spiral wound sheath causing friction. It also creates this "binding" effect. If that makes sense.

(2 If it is, what would cause the cable to cut a groove into the plastic liner? Could the cable not be routed properly? Mine lays against the brake booster then runs along side the starter. Since the hole in the firewall is directly above the brake booster. Should it be routed on the opposite side of the brake booster, near the fender instead of the engine?

(3) The other thing I have wondered about is the clutch return spring. I bought a 1981 Spider and discovered it had a cracked clutch pedal. I never could figure out how to expand return spring in order to reinstall it.. Due to the lack of the clutch pedal return spring it never returned all the way. I could stick my foot underneath it and lift it up but it was only about 1/2". .
-----------------------------------------------------------

--James, a couple of observations:

(1) and (2) above: Your cable should not cut the plastic sheath at the pedal end. If this is happening, you may have a bent pedal fork (this is common) which is putting a side load on the cable. Eventually, the fork will fail. The fork can be reinforced. Normally, the cable will route over the top of the booster, and to the inside (starter side) of the MC.

(3). What you are referring to as the clutch "return spring" is actually a clutch-pedal "assist spring". Some of the books incorrectly identify this as a return spring. This heavy spring helps to reduce the foot pressure necessary to depress the clutch pedal. Likely why your pedal feels stiff.

Your clutch pedal "return" spring is located on the back side of the clutch fork on the driver's side of the transmission. Due to a variety of reasons, it can be necessary to double the return spring (or increase the strength of the existing spring) to get a full clutch pedal return. To install a clutch "assist spring" and hook, I use a method of drilling a hole in the pedal assembly housing (bracket), and then use a spike (Phillips head screwdriver will work too) to prize the spring and hook assembly onto the pedal assembly. I'll try to post a photo of the location of the hole.
Jim Scurria
Norfolk, VA

1972 Fiat 124 Spider
1971 Spider - SCCA FP-24
1974 Fiat 124 Spider
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Re: 124 Spider clutches

Post by fp55scca » Sat Sep 15, 2018 11:46 am

--Here is a pic of the hole that I drill in the pedal assembly housing to make installing the clutch pedal assist-spring and hook easier. This spring is sometimes referenced in service manuals as the clutch pedal "return" spring, but it is not a return spring. Note that the hole I drill is highlighted in white.
clutch pedal spring install.jpg
clutch pedal spring install.jpg (180.47 KiB) Viewed 172 times
INSTALLATION:

--Drill a hole as pictured, in line with the spring bracket and the clutch pedal receiver.

--Then install the "S" shaped hook onto the clutch pedal; and separately, insert the spring into the receiving bracket located on the housing.

--Now, using a spike, or even an appropriate screwdriver as a lever, insert the lever through the free-end of the spring and into the drilled hole. Then simply "lever" the spring to the free end of the hook.
Jim Scurria
Norfolk, VA

1972 Fiat 124 Spider
1971 Spider - SCCA FP-24
1974 Fiat 124 Spider
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Re: 124 Spider clutches

Post by jseabolt » Sat Sep 22, 2018 3:42 pm

I maybe over exaggerating this a bit. It doesn't take a great deal of effort to press the clutch in. Just allot more effort than my other cars that use clutch cables. So I was wondering if it's just in my head after driving a couple of 600 cc powered cars.

Seems like the previous cable I removed was not like the one before it where the cable sliced into the plastic liner. It may have just been a poor cable made of a cheap plastic. Perhaps made of nylon instead of something like Teflon.

The other day I sprayed some lube on the pedal bushings. I can't tell if this helped the clutch disengage any better. Normally this just takes care of squeaking.

While I was underneath the dash working the clutch pedal, I didn't notice that the pedal was bent or anything. Can you tell from this photo?

Image

I'll take another look when I get off work. I drove the car today.

I know what your talking about though. Forgive me if I veer a bit off course but still on the subject. I bought a 1981 Spider and replaced the transmission along with new clutch parts. Afterwards the clutch wouldn't release all the way so the car grinded in 1st and reverse. The only thing I could find was the new release bearing was a bit thinner than the one I took out. I don't know if they sent me one for a 1438 model instead of a 1800/2000 model. If there is a difference between the two.

So I kept tightening the cable to the point the pedal snapped. Upon further investigation, I discovered the pedal had previously cracked and had been welded. So I just broke the weld. I ended up buying a new clutch pedal. I also put the old clutch parts back in and the clutch operated fine afterwards. I ended up parting that car out so I have a slightly used *new* clutch pedal up in my parent's barn loft I can use.

This so called "pedal assist spring" under the dash. I'm still trying to figure out how a stiffer spring would reduce the foot pressure involved in pressing the pedal. If you take the spring off and try to pull it apart, it's quite stiff. I'm sure this has something to do with physics. Which I passed with a "C" the second time I had to take it!
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Re: 124 Spider clutches

Post by friedman » Sun Sep 23, 2018 9:07 am

When everything is working right, a spider clutch action is very nice and not excessively hard. Having said that, hardly any spider currently has their clutch working right. I am horrified with some spiders I have driven that feel like it takes two feet to work the clutch and there is little to no feedback. I have mechanically restored several spiders and this usually requires the motor out at some point and I always install a new clutch and throwout bearing. Valeo is the brand I use and is easy to get. Lightly grease the splines and great the throw out bearing actuating arm pivot points. Always, always, always use a new cable and lube it before install. I hold an end of the cable lightly in my vice and start a motor oil drip between the cable and sheath until I see it dripping on the garage floor from the other end (could take a few hours). When everything is installed you will be amazed at the light clutch action.

At the very least, if you leave your clutch in place, install a new, lubed cable.
My 5-speed Mazda 5 had what I considered a stiff clutch pedal and later when I had to have the clutch replaced the action was much lighter so clearly as clutches wear they become stiffer, although I don't know why.
Carl in Virginia
80 spider
86 Bertone
77 X1/9
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Re: 124 Spider clutches

Post by fp55scca » Sun Sep 23, 2018 10:33 am

jseabolt wrote:
Sat Sep 22, 2018 3:42 pm
This so called "pedal assist spring" under the dash. I'm still trying to figure out how a stiffer spring would reduce the foot pressure involved in pressing the pedal. If you take the spring off and try to pull it apart, it's quite stiff.
--------------------------------------------
--James, the heavy spring serves as an assist spring because it pulls back on the clutch pedal (via the "S" hook) above the pivot point for the pedal. The foot pushes the pedal forward "below" the pivot point of the pedal. So when the clutch pedal is depressed, the assist spring pulls back on the top of the pedal, above the pivot point of the pedal. Hope this makes sense.

--So when this heavy spring is not installed, it takes more foot pressure to depress the clutch pedal and pull back on the clutch cable.

--Here is pic of spring and S-hook installation using a Phillips head screwdriver to pry the spring to the S-hook:
Clutch Pedal Assist Spring.jpg
Clutch Pedal Assist Spring.jpg (214.16 KiB) Viewed 43 times
Jim Scurria
Norfolk, VA

1972 Fiat 124 Spider
1971 Spider - SCCA FP-24
1974 Fiat 124 Spider
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Re: 124 Spider clutches

Post by jseabolt » Sun Sep 23, 2018 1:37 pm

Well what Carl says makes sense. Since I had the clutch installed in 1993, the grease on the splines is probably gone. Also take into account allot if parts wear over time which contributes to extra foot pressure.

My friend has a 72 Chevelle and I asked if I could work the clutch to see how it feels. Believe it or not my Spider's clutch has the same feel as his big block Chevy!
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