T56 Clutch Install Notes

by Matt T
(RocCityZman on www.camaroz28.com)

Matt posted this in the LT1 Tech section at www.camaroz28.com and because the message board is very popular, posts only stay on the message board for a few months.  Because of this, I asked Matt if he'd like me to put his experiences up for all to see on a web page!   Well, here you go!  Thanks, Matt!


In the spirit of cz28.com and for all of the information I have taken off this site off the past two years I thought I would contribute my own experiences installing a clutch in my ’94 Z28. The project lasted 2 1/2 days and I pretty much did it on my own. I did need some help putting the tranny back up, and I probably should have got some help taking it down, but oh well.

The reason I am writing all this is to help some people who may be considering doing this job themselves sometime in the future. I am certainly no mechanic, and my tool access is limited, but I really thinkn anyone with the time and space resources should give it a try. I am always trying to learn something new about my car, and I can’t really afford to take it into the shop every time I need something so this is a job born out of necessity. This is also the biggest home-reapair job I have ever attempted. Certainly not a big project for some of you gearheads out there, but for me it was pretty major. So I guess the bottom line is this is quite manageable for someone with a little basic automotive know how.

Just to be clear – this is not a step-by-step list of how to do the job, but rather a supplement to what is already out there. Also, I am not a professional mechanic. I am not ASE certified. I am just a guy with a car that wants to give something back to the cz28.com community! Now that I have those disclaimers out of the way we can get started!

Below are some really good links to some on-line documents to help you step-by-step. This is meerly a document of my own notes and thoughts in addition to the documents cited below.

The main documents I used were as follows:

*Brian’s clutch install. Pubilshed on www.installuniversity.com. Probably the best clutch install page I found. Thanks FIREBALL wherever you are! Great pics, great notes, and a list of required tools! I know this is done on a LS1 SS, but the application is pretty much the same.
*David Wilson’s Clutch Install Notes David installed a clutch on a ‘96Z. No pics, but a good write up.
*This page on WS6.com. I found the link in Brent’s fix it pages. Not too much written instruction, but nice pics. Shows a SLP Clutch/PP install
*My Haynes manual. Chock full of torque specs!

Here are a few more things you may need in addition to what’s on Fireball’s page:

*4-5 quarts of transmission fluid. The debate rages on as to what kind is the best (do a search and you will see). Redline, Honda, and Mobil 1 seem to be some of the top choices. Really any Dex III will do if you can’t get you hands on those. I used regular Mobil Dex III and it’s quite smooth, no problems at all.
*A jack and at least 6 jack-stands. You will need 4 just to get the car up, then 1 to support the engine while you have the transmission out, and one to support the rear end. I had an extra scissors jack and my spare tire jack that worked out fine. I used a block of wood under the oil pan to support the engine. There is a lip on the spare tire jack that fits really nice under the rear end. I didn’t pump them up too high, just enough to support them.
*A transmission carriage for your jack. Man I really wish I had one of these! I pulled the tranny out onto my legs and that thing was HEAVY! Also, I needed a buddy of mine to help me put it back up. I didn’t have a special tranny holder, so we used the extra hands to help balance the tranny on just the jack, this worked just fine.
*Some blocks of wood of various sizes. 4 x 4’s, 2x4’s, etc. These were very helpful in supporting the engine under the jack and holding the flywheel if you don’t have a flywheel holder. You will definitely need something to hold the flywheel to get the correct amount of torque on the flywheel bolts.
*Do yourself a favor and get a new rear main seal. It takes all of about 10 minutes to replace it and can save you some major heartbreak down the road. I ordered a Fel-Pro Teflon seal ahead of time from Autozone for $16.99. When I got the seal I went to the hardware store and for a piece of 4” PVC pipe (regular white) to use as my install tool. All you have to do to get the old seal out is take a flat head screwdriver and use your rubber mallet to pound it in one of the removal slots (there are three, any one will do). Follow your seal manufacturer instructions for installation. I say that because the Teflon seal I bought needed to be installed dry, while others may need a thin coating of oil to be installed. It just so happened that my seal was leaking out of the bottom. The consequences of not doing this simple preventative maintenance are a ruined clutch when oil spits out the back of the crank onto your new clutch components. Not fun.

During the project I noticed a few things that were not noted in any of the install pages that I thought I would add. These are not in any order except that which I remember them in:

*Re-attaching the clutch fork to the transmission and throw-out bearing is a major PITA unless you follow this simple procedure. What makes it so tough is the fact that you have to tighten the nut down on the fork while trying to slide the fork end around the TO bearing. If you pull the trans our far enough to get your hands in there the fork ends up too far from the TO bearing. If you get close enough for the fork to engage the TO bearing you can’t get your hand up between the bell-housing and the trans to tighten down the nut. What the engineers at Borg-Warner designed was actually pretty clever (unlike those GM engineers!!!). There is a block that the bolt screws into on the back of the fork. On the other side of the fork is another block. There are also two spring-type guides that the block slides under. What you need to do is tighten the nut and block down, but slide the fork away from the TO bearing so that you can re-attach the trans. Once the transmission is reattached you just push the fork up around the TO bearing. The nut is already tightened and the fork won’t go anywhere! Genius!! If that wasn’t clear don’t worry, you’ll figure it out when you see it.
*On attaching the transmission: My friend and I tried for an hour to get that thing to line up and it seemed like it was just a few mm off. Finally we decided to just try one bolt at a time. We would try one of the 4 bottom boltholes with one bolt each, just trying to start a thread. Once you have one, the rest will come. There doesn’t seem to be any special order, just keep trying. Once you get all 4 in you can tighten them down. Just keep your eyes on the two alignment pins on the trans. They should line up with holes on the bellhousing (I might have that backwards, the pins might be on the bellhousing). In either case make sure they are lining up. As long as they do you will slowly see the trans line up perfectly. Then you can put the two top bolts back in with the mega-extension you’ll need to create.
*On removing/installing the two top transmission to bellhousing bolts: I found a couple techniques for this. One being the use of an extra long extension (like a three footer), the other using multiple extensions. I preferred the multiple extension technique as it allowed for some “flex”. What I mean by that is because of the way the extensions connected, the long mega-extension actually curved and allowed what I think would be more clearance than with a single extension.
*On removing the bellhousing to block bolt in the 10 o’clock position. You will need to jam a piece of 2x4 between the bellhousing and undercarriage. The bellhousing is just too close to the undercarriage to allow a socket to get lined up correctly. I just used a rubber mallet and a small piece of wood. The undercarriage flexed just enough to allow me to get my socket and swivel extension in there for a minute. When the bolt is out just pull the wood out and you’re good to go. You’ll need to repeat the process to get the bellhousing re-attached.
*Re-attaching the torque-arm to the transmission: There are several pieces of bushing, nuts and bolts that hold the transmission, torque arm, and catalytic converter together. I highly advise making a mental note or taking a picture of what this looks like before you take it apart. Also, there is one piece of the torque arm bushing with a long bolt on it. I recommend attaching that to the tail-shaft before putting the transmission back in place. If you don’t you’ll be fighting with the torque arm trying to get it in. I ended up un-bolting the torque arm cross-member and pulling down on the torque arm until I had the bushing bolted in. I think I bent my pan-hard rod in the process. Crap. Oh well, now I have an excuse to buy an aftermarket one!!!!
*Be sure to mark the u-joint when you’re taking the driveshaft off. You’ll want to put the driveshaft on in the same direction you took it off. I didn’t and in the process found out my rear u-joint was shot. I figured that out when one of the caps fell off and I had to spend 10 minutes picking needle bearings off the garage floor. Then re-pack the bearing only to find out the vibration is maddening. Well, I ended up with a new u-joint and I think my DS is out of balance. Which is weird ‘cause it never caused me any problems before. Oh well, guess I’ll have to get a 1LE!!!
*The SLP and stock GM clutch have the same part number. The 1LE and stock transmission mount have the same part number. I know because I ordered the PP & TO bearing from gmpartsdirect.com and the 1LE trans mount and clutch disc from SLP. I thought it was weird, but the SLP price on both was great so no complaints here. Just be advised that I think the SLP advantage is in the flywheel and PP, not the clutch disc.

That’s all I can think of for now. I hope this helps someone out. I’ve taken a lot of information off this board in the last two years and this is my way of giving a little back. Please feel free to add to this if you can think of some tips I may have missed.

Matt T

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