Solving an Issue with an Overheating Clutch

Solving an Issue with an Overheating Clutch

First Line Ltd explains how it uses its Borg & Beck testing and technical facility to look into an issue where excessive build-up of heat within a clutch caused a premature failure.

Many light commercial vehicles now incorporate a dual mass flywheel (DMF), a development that has brought great benefits to both the driver, in terms of comfort and driveability, and the vehicle in regard to vibration reduction and torque control through the gearbox. However, despite being a good technical design concept, the cost of subsequent replacements can be an issue once the vehicle is out of its initial manufacturer’s warranty, which is where First Line says the Single Mass Flywheel (SMF) replacement Clutch Kit becomes a more desirable choice.

The SMF kit is an OE designed solution that allows the worn DMF and its associated clutch components to be replaced with a traditional solid flywheel and Clutch Kit. In the past, SMF’s were unable to closely replicate the characteristics of a DMF, which put some people off fitting them, a fear that still resonates today. However, the company says this is not the case with Borg & Beck as the specification, which has been made possible by the development of the long travel damper, is near or equal to the original DMF. The long travel damper uses advanced vibration clutch damper technology to create a damper capable of up to 40° of torsional movement and is therefore comparable with the movement that was typical from the equivalent DMF at the time of the vehicle’s original manufacture.

Reduce engine vibrations

Technically the SMF will reduce engine vibrations due to the increased inertia of the solid flywheel. In addition, it is extremely durable, due to its efficient heat dissipation qualities and the lack of complex high wearing flywheel components. It is also a less expensive option than the equivalent DMF clutch kit, which then makes the following replacements cheaper still as only the clutch requires changing.

The SMF replacement kit is ideally suited to high mileage applications and low speed city driving and the demanding operating environment commonplace with LCV applications. Following the introduction of the HKF1053 all-in-one kit for the Vauxhall Combo, Corsa 1.3L CDTi, the company launched the HKF1054 for the Fiat Ducato, Citroën Relay, Peugeot Boxer 3.0L TD.

With this example, the team set about exploring the cause of a problem that was particularly common in applications where the donor vehicle had been converted, such as a motorhome or something similar and the OE clutch is put under severe pressure, the consequence of which was its premature failure.

The problem was traced to the excessive build-up of heat within the OE clutch, which was unable to be sufficiently dissipated, resulting in overheating and subsequent burnout of the clutch, usually at low mileage.

To resolve the issue, the Borg & Beck engineers re-specified the OE DMF clutch and working with First Line’s manufacturing partner, developed the HKF1054, a SMF solution. Although this still operates with the existing OE release mechanism, it has a 15mm larger diameter flywheel and a modified cover assembly that allows for a significantly improved dissipation of heat, so it is fully able to cope with the demands of these heavy- duty applications.

After being subject to durability testing, which was carried out under the sternest of conditions, the new clutch lasted 15 times longer than the OE unit, largely due to its superior thermal dissipation qualities.

In common with the original Borg & Beck HKF1053 kit, HKF1054 is also an all-in- one kit solution and comes with the flywheel, cover assembly and the necessary mounting bolts to allow workshops to benefit from the most straightforward fitting procedure.

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