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European Car Magazine - GTV6 Project

 

Part 9 - Clutch Repair & upgrade

European Car Magazine - March 1996

Author - Paul Mitchell
Photos by the author

   

In our series to date, we've covered many of the areas that may require special attention in keeping a typical GTV6 on the road and performing reliably. Along the way, we have also been able to include some performance modifications and mechanical upgrades with the intention of making the GTV-6 more enjoyable without negatively affecting the driveability or character of the car. One of the last stones left unturned, so far, has been the clutch. The subject of this article will be clutch replacement with an updated part, yielding an improvement in both performance and reliability.

Before it ends up in the waste can or junk pile, let's take a look at the clutch that came with the GTV-6, as it is truly a unique design that provides a high level of performance and bears some attention before making the decision to upgrade. It is not only remarkable for its location, at the rear-mounted transaxle, but for its construction: a dual-plate dry clutch. Almost alone in this distinction, the number of other performance cars featuring this arrangement in the last 30 years can be counted on one hand. Providing more surface area, its ability to avoid unwanted slippage may seem a bit like overkill when considering the GTV-6s 154 bhp.

The hydraulic actuation of the clutch is the same for most Alfas, indeed most cars, and its most remarkable feature is that it's thoroughly unremarkable and reliable. The clutch pressure plates and discs are relatively trouble-free-but after a high number of miles, when they finally begin slipping, the plates tend to go away quickly. Average life expectancy of the dual plate clutch is 75,000 miles with a conscientious driver.

 

With the clutch housing secured in a vise, the pressure plate may be removed prior to releasing the driveshaft flange.

This is the working surface of the transaxle mounted flywheel still mounted in the housing. No point in removing the flywheel to be resurfaced as it is replaced as a unit with the new pressure plate and disk.

A surprise to many owners planning their first GTV-6 or Milano clutch replacement is that the only way to perform the task properly is to replace the entire clutch pressure plate, disc and flywheel assembly. It comes from the factory pre-balanced, and to reuse your flywheel while replacing the pressure plate and disc will only ensure that you will suffer from severe driveline vibrations. These vibrations are not only unpleasant to feel, they will also eventually lead to failed driveshaft flex couplings, flywheel bearings and transaxle input shaft bearings. Obviously, little is to be gained by skimping, so plan to do the task property.

In compensation for the added expense of flywheel replacement, the owner will save a bit on labor when compared to most other cars, since the entire assembly can be replaced without the removal of the transaxle.

Another issue the owner must resolve before beginning the work is whether to replace the clutch-flywheel assembly with the original dual-disc type, or retrofit the newer 3-liter Milano single-disc clutch. Considered by many to be an upgrade from the dual-disc type, it benefits from having established its reliability by handling the additional 30 bhp and additional ft-lb of torque of the 3.0 Milano. Life span tends to exceed that of the dual-disc, and this alone qualifies as an upgrade.

Both clutch assemblies are manufactured by Sachs, and are very high-quality, well-engineered components. Both are available through the dealer and aftermarket network, and usually are in stock. Sachs has been relied upon by many European manufacturers as an OEM source and is well known for its engineering services, shock absorbers and other automotive components.

 

This is the backside of a single disk clutch pressure plate

The working side of the single disc pressure plate.

Having driven GTV-6s with both types of clutches, the only discernible difference is a slightly different feel to the pedal-the dual-disc seems to have a less-progressive take-up. Of truly no functional consequence, the choice is up to the owner, though the fact that the original-type, dual-plate clutch is a few hundred dollars more than the other option will certainly be a factor. The average cost of the dual-plate assembly is $650, while the clutch assembly for the Milano 3-liter is $350.

Whichever type of clutch assembly is chosen, removal and replacement is the same. It will fall well within the ability of the owner with a free day, a set of common hand tools, and a will to see the project through. Remember, don’t skimp on will. When your knuckles are bleeding, and you’re up to your elbows in transaxle grease, you'll need all the will that you can lay your hands on.

When replacing the clutch, check the pivot for the clutch arm for stress cracks, as this is not an uncommon failure on older cars. This part is available through your dealership or parts supplier. Also to be replaced at this time is the throw-out bearing (provided with the clutch assembly), the selector-shaft-support bushing, any driveshaft flex-couplings showing wear and the center-support bearing-if it should be needed. Servicing the driveshaft will be the subject of a later article in our GTV-6 series, but don’t put off any driveshaft repairs until it's published, or you'll end up being very sorry and very poor.

Special thanks to Stewart Sandeman of Alfa Performance Connection [ (714) 588-0500 ] for allowing the photography for this article to disrupt his daily routine. Most Alfa Owners Club members will recognize Stewart as the technical-hotline director who has eased the suffering of many owners through his good work at APC and on the hotline. His experience spans the Alfa Romeo spectrum from pre-Giulietta to beyond Callaway twin-turbo, and he has saved the author from the threat of walking and unnecessary financial abuse many times.

 

Tech Procedure

Parts required:

  • Clutch assembly, with flywheel, GTV-6 twin disc or 3.0 Milano single-disc type.
  • I Selector-shaft bushing and boot.

 

Required tools and supplies:

  • Complete set of metric hand tools, including a torque wrench.
  • Puller, type for pulley.
  • Lift or jack with stands.
  • Wood block, small, 4 to 6 in.
  • Loctite(r) 242 (blue).
  • Grease, high-temperature.

 

The single clutch disc for the later type 3.0 liter Milano clutch.

Here is the entire twin disc pressure plate and flywheel assembly including the two discs. One is on the bench while the other can be seen retained in the flywheel on the right.

 

 

Procedure

  • Begin with the car on stands or on the lift. Remove the center muffler portion of the exhaust system, leaving in place the front and rear portions.
  • Free the rear of the driveshaft by loosening and removing the nuts and bolts securing the rear flex coupling. Some levering of the driveshaft may be required to free it, so don't hesitate to do so.
  • Free the gear-selector shaft from the shift linkage at the transaxle.
  • Locate the rear cross-member supporting the front of the transaxle, and support it lightly with the jack. Loosen and remove the bolts located at the ends of the cross-member, allowing it to be supported by the jack. Lower the jack slowly, while watching the clutch slave-cylinder hydraulic line to ensure that it is not stretched excessively. Place the wood block between the body and the cross-member to keep the cross-member in the down position. Loosen and remove the large bolt through the center of the cross-member and the front of the de Dion tube.
  • Loosen and remove the nuts surrounding the clutch cover and withdraw the clutch cover containing the flywheel and clutch assembly forward and down, away from the car. The entire cross-member will come out with the clutch cover. Remove the throw-out bearing (thrust bearing) from the clutch fork. Use the jack to lower the front of the de Dion tube by placing it at the center of the tube at the Watts linkage and raising the jack.
  • Free the nut securing the driveshaft yoke at the front of the clutch housing and remove the yoke by gently tapping with a soft mallet or with a puller. Withdraw the clutch flywheel assembly from the clutch housing. At this time, replace the gear-selector shaft bushing and boot in the clutch housing, lubricating the bushing with a liberal amount of grease.
  • Insert the new clutch flywheel assembly into the housing and replace the driveshaft yoke and nut while applying Loctite 242 (blue) to the splines of the yoke. Torque the nut to 69 to 77 fi4b (9.5 to] 0.5 Nm).
  • Apply a small amount of grease to the pivot of the clutch fork, after first verifying that it is in good condition with no cracks. Replace the fork while engaging the throw-out bearing and replace the assembled clutch housing flywheel assembly. Torque the nuts retaining the clutch housing to the transaxle to 21 to 24 ft-lb (29 to 32 Nm).
  • Replace the driveshaft in the tunnel and torque the nuts securing the flex couplings to 41 to 42 ft-lb (55 to 57 Nm). Replace the exhaust-system center section.

Road test the car and begin enjoying more solid power hookup.