Tired of stretched clutch cables? Follow along as we install a McLeod Mustang Hydraulic Clutch Conversion Kit on a Fox Body Mustang!
If you have had any experience with the 1979-2004 Mustang, you know that stretched clutch cables and broken factory clutch quadrants are not an uncommon thing to find. Over time, the constant pressure and tension that is on the clutch cable causes it to fatigue and stretch, which if not monitored, will lead to improper clutch engagement. Usually, you can tell if your clutch cable is stretched by the clutch trying to engage with the pedal just off of the floor. Another sign is that if you push the clutch pedal in, and it won't go into gear, or try to start the car while in gear and it tries to move on you, then the cable is not fully disengaging the clutch properly. There are two ways to fix this, you can keep the cable style actuation and replace it with an upgraded billet aluminum quadrant, adjustable cable and firewall adjuster, or you can switch over to a hydraulic clutch setup that will eliminate the possibilities of stretched cables and give you a more enjoyable soft clutch pedal like the new cars have.
There are several benefits to upgrading to a hydraulic clutch setup. Like I mentioned before, it will give you a nice easy clutch pedal which makes daily driving your Mustang much more pleasurable, especially in stop and go traffic. I'm sure everyone that has a high pressure performance clutch knows what I'm talking about here. Stop and go traffic with a stiff performance clutch can get old very quickly. The beauty of the hydraulic unit is that you can still have the performance of the stiff clutch, but the pressure is not transferred to the pedal any more. The Hydraulic fluid does all the work for you now. Another benefit to the hydraulic setup is that you don't have to worry about header clearance like you did with the cable set up. I have seen numerous instances, as well as have personal experience, of a clutch cable that has failed due to being "cooked" by the headers. It's a nerve racking experience to be going into a corner on a road race track just to find out you have no control of your clutch due to a damaged cable. The hydraulic setup has a braided steel line that is routed away from the header primaries, and is not affected by the heat given off from the header.
McLeod Racing just released their Hydraulic Clutch Conversion Kit for 1979-2004 Mustangs at SEMA this past year. It won a first place award in best new street performance products, and it’s easy to see why. This kit is engineered very well and comes with everything needed to perform the swap. Countless hours went into developing this kit as a true bolt on application with no modification necessary to the factory layout of your Mustang. I'm doing the conversion on my personal 1993 LX Coupe and will go step by step through the process.
By far the easiest way to do this swap is to use a car lift but it can also be done on jack stands, it will just make it more difficult and time consuming. As a general rule of thumb. If you are comfortable with changing out your own clutch, then you should be able to do this swap. If a clutch swap exceeds your own mechanical skill level of working on your car, You will need to take your car to a reputable mechanic or automotive shop.
The first step in the swap is to remove the factory cable and quadrant. With the factory Mustang quadrant removed, reinstall the new aluminum quadrant that comes with the McLeod kit. With the new quadrant is installed, now you can start installing the supplied firewall adjuster. With the firewall adjuster held in place, "flat side meets up to the flange" Mark your holes for the mounting holes to be drilled. With the holes marked, take the supplied #29 Drill Bit and drill the mounting holes in the firewall. Next, install the firewall adjuster and attach with supplied phillips head screws.
With both the new quadrant and firewall adjuster installed, have a buddy/wife/girlfriend/anyone with a second set of hands hold the master cylinder in place while you secure the cable to the quadrant on the inside of the Mustang. There will more than likely be slack in between the master cylinder and the firewall. That's what the firewall adjuster is for. Adjust it out until the master cylinder nose seats into the cup of the adjuster. There should be enough tension on the cable to hold it in place, but not too much that it is actuating the plunger.
Now You can mount the Fluid reservoir to the shock tower. NOTE: Reservoir must be in location that is easily accessible to fill, and must be higher than master cylinder for proper bleeding purposes. There were no bolts supplied for this. I used some bolts & lock nuts I had laying around the shop but you can use various forms of fasteners to attach it. Just make sure that it is firmly attached and not able to move. With the reservoir in place, take the supplied red rubber hose and connect it to bo the the reservoir and the master cylinder. Secure hose by tightening each end with supplied hose clamps.
Now on to the main aspect of the conversion. You will have to pull the transmission out of the car for the next few steps. The bellhousing does not have to be removed as well unless you have a transmission that incorporates the transmission and bell housing together, like a T-45, 3650, T-56 etc. Once you have removed the transmission, make sure the adjustable center sleeve of the hydraulic bearing is screwed all the way in so it is flush with the rest of the bearing. Lube the O-rings on the inside with DOT 3 brake fluid to prevent damage to the O-ring during installation. Install the bearing making sure that the adjustable side of the bearing is toward the rear of the transmission.
You need to take 2 measurements. The first measurement is from the clutch diaphragm fingers, to the mounting face of the transmission. "where the trans meets the bellhousing". This needs to be saved or written down for future reference. Mine measured 2 7/8" or 2.875" if you hate fractions as much as I do.
The second measurement needs to be from the transmission face to the front edge of the hydraulic bearing where it would meet up against the clutch, Mine was 2 7/16" or 2.438" subtract those to measurements to come up with the amount the hydraulic bearing needs to be spaced out.
The difference in the 2 numbers has to be no more than .300" and no less than .100". In my case, the difference was .438 which was out of tolerance so I had to adjust the bearing out some and re-measure until it was within specifications.
Once your measurements are correct, re-install the transmission to the bell housing and feed the hydraulic lines out the original clutch fork hole. NOTE: Make sure that the bleeder line of the bearing is on the top side of the bearing!
With the transmission back in the car, Connect the AN-4 hydraulic line from the Hydraulic Bearing to the master cylinder.
Next you will connect the red rubber hose to the end of the master cylinder and the fluid reservoir,
Once the line is in place, fill the reservoir with DOT 3 brake fluid and have an assistant help you bleed the system like you would your brakes. You will start by bleeding the master cylinder then move to the hydraulic throwout bearing. With the system fully bled, you can now adjust the firewall adjuster to your desired clutch release point.
* * * NOTE: it may take several Bleeding sessions to achieve proper function of the Hydraulic set-up. Be patient and make sure there is no air trapped in the system! * * *
Well, that's all there is to it. The job will take you the better part of a full day to complete if you don't run into any complications. Now you can enjoy a soft pedal and know that you don't have to worry with a stretched cable ever again.