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Clutch upgrade


Real men are fanatics
This isn't a question, really. Just trying to seed the knowledge base here a little bit. :)

My '89 F-150 in my signature was making a nasty grinding noise but only when the clutch slipped. It was getting worse and worse over time, and I eventually took it to a mechanic, thinking it was the clutch, and I didn't have a place to tear down a 4x4 truck and change it.

They said it wasn't the clutch, but it was the tranny itself. Uh-oh. I waited patiently and finally scored a used T-18 off ebay for $250 shipped to my door. Not bad at all.

It arrived, and then it got put on the shelf because I knew we'd be moving soon and I'd actually have a place to do this.

We moved, and about a month ago I finally decided to tear into it.

Rather than pull the motor (I don't have a picker) I decided to go at it from underneath. I thought it would be easier (maybe more work, but less fighting and aggravation) to just remove all the drivetrain components starting from the back.

I bought a mechanical tranny jack from harbor freight for $60. Out came the skidplate, driveshafts, transfer case, tranny crossmember, tranny to t-case adapter, and tranny. Since I'm probably going to end up keeping the truck, I figured at 155k, it wouldn't be a bad idea to tear into it a little further and see how the clutch was doing. Off comes the bell, slave cylinder, and pressure plate.

The bad news - the clutch is a hair away from the rivets. Probably half a hair. The good news - I get to upgrade it to an 11" clutch. :)

After doing a little research, only the HD F-250 and F-350 got the 11" clutch. All other part numbers are the same. I checked my flywheel, and sure enough, it's drilled and tapped for the larger pressure plate. So I price shopped around and ordered an 11" Luk Pro Gold clutch kit from Carolina Clutch. I had my flywheel ground locally at a machine shop (Capitol Clutch and Brake in West Sacramento). They also flipped my ring gear as it was pretty well worn, and more importantly, sold me a pilot bearing puller.

The old pilot bearing was simply not coming out using the dowel/grease method. It wouldn't even budge, it just snickered at me. The pilot bearing puller made real short work of it. $30 well spent in my book.

The 11" clutch and pressure plate cleared the bell just fine, so this is literally a bolt-in upgrade.

The tranny jack made it *pretty* easy to get everything back together. The T-18 weighs about 150 lbs by itself, so there's no easy way to maneuver it into place. I finally got it close enough to start one bolt, then another, and then it went back together. Whoever said that a tranny should just magically slide right back into place is a liar. :)

The shifter was a hassle to get back in. My first try, the shifter was in neutral, but it wouldn't engage any gear. When I started the truck, it tried to move, so it was stuck in a gear. Don't know which one, other than one of the forward gears. I tried three or four more times, and it finally dropped into the correct place and I could shift it again.

I filled it up with fluid (the tranny and the case; the t-case oil was filthy and looked nothing like ATF), took it around the block, made sure there no noises or leaks, and it's as good as new.

All told, it took about 2 weeks, working anywhere from 1 to 6 hours a day on it. Probably about 15 hours total, but I have no air tools at all. I did everything by hand. I don't have a lift, so I did it all on my back on the concrete driveway. And this is Sacramento, so it was about 100 while I was working on it.


Redneck Prognosticator
Belton, MO
fantastic post!

Thanks for sharing, and :welcome:



Real men are fanatics
Like your Sig Andy.

I kind of figured that would go over well here. :)

And thanks Ryan... looks like a good thing you have going here. Willing to help out in whatever way I can.

Can I get my post count and rep points transferred? :D


Real men are fanatics
Screwed again. :D


Staff member
So I'm curious, was the noise in the trans, or just the clutch after all?


Real men are fanatics
Least here you will be screwed by friends and they'll let you know when they do it. :guns:

Better to be screwed by friends than.... not screwed at all?

Hmm. Needs work.


Real men are fanatics
So I'm curious, was the noise in the trans, or just the clutch after all?

Well, I narrowed it down to either the input bearing in the tranny or the pilot bearing, which was completely dried out.

I took the cover off the old T-18 and didn't see anything obviously wrong. The input shaft, when spun by hand, did make a little rattling/grinding that I didn't like though.

So know you know how much I know about it. :)


Staff member
Does sound like the input support or center bearing went south...


I just finished changing my clutch and it is smooth as butter now. Before when stopped at a redlight I could hear jingling, like little bells inside and it was difficult to shift and would not go into "R" unless the truck was off. Turns out two of the five springs on the clutch plate had come out and the other three were trying to. Now all I have left to do if finish putting the u-joints back in.

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