The clutch of a manual vehicle sits right between the engine and the transmission of the car. The two moving parts are the engine crankshaft and the transmission input shaft. Transmission is driven by the engine. The engine rotates at variable speeds and manual transmissions have gears that must be shifted to transfer the engine’s power to the wheels. The key task of the clutch is crucial for smooth driving.
The major components of the clutch:
The clutch flywheel which is directly connected to the engine crankshaft and which spins with the engine’s motions.
The clutch pressure plate has two jobs: to hold the clutch assembly together and to release tension that allows the assembly to rotate freely. Several springs are present here.
The clutch disc sits between the flywheel and the pressure plate with friction surfaces similar to a brake pad on both sides that make or break contact with the metal flywheel and pressure plate surfaces, allowing for smooth engagement and disengagement.
The clutch bearing and release system work together simultaneously and are key to the engaging and disengaging process.
The clutch release bearing is connected to one end of the hydraulic (clutch fork mechanism) and rides on the diaphragm spring of the clutch.
The bearing either pulls or pushes on the pressure plate diaphragm spring to engage or disengage the pressure plate’s grip on the clutch disc when the clutch pedal is depressed and released.
The input shaft runs through the middle of the pressure plate, clutch disc and flywheel is the input shaft of the transmission. The shaft takes the input, or power of the engine, and sends it down through the gears to the wheels.
A large bearing that bears most of the shaft’s spinning load, is situated at the point where the input shaft enters the transmission vs a smaller bearing in the middle of the flywheel. The pilot bearing centres the input shaft in the centre of the flywheel to rotate while the clutch assembly is engaged and disengaged. The input shaft is what the clutch disc itself is connected to.
In practise when the foot hits the clutch pedal everything spins as one unit. When the clutch pedal is pushed, the clutch assembly is disengaged. The shaft and clutch disc spin independently of the flywheel and pressure plate.
As the clutch pedal is let out, the friction surfaces on both sides of the clutch disc begin to make contact with the metal surfaces of the flywheel and pressure plate, and the power of the engine is transferred through the transmission input shaft, through the gears and right down onto the road.
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