QOTW #90 – V8 Vantage Manual Clutch Driving technique

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Welcome to Bamford Rose and another question of the week. This week is V8 vantage and the question is how can I get a smooth pull away with the manual transmission using the clutch and reverse gear when reverse gear is pretty much the same ratio as second gear? It’s a really tall ratio making reverse very, very difficult. If you don’t do it in a set way. And it’s this set way that I’m going to explain to you now, show you now. And obviously the twin plate clutch upgrade makes the car a lot more maneuverable or usable. Your interaction is better with the clutch with the gearbox driving made a lot easier with the twin plate clutch. This car is completely standard and actually this clutch pedal feels absolutely awful.

So if you can perform this maneuver or as I will show you now, if this maneuver can be done on a pretty dreadful single plate clutch, then you can do this on any clutch, a good single plate clutch or a twin plate clutch. So a lot of comments that I read is the engine revs going too high, engine revs going too low, too high, too low. And this is because, if you have no throttle pedal pressed at all, the engine is in idle speed control mode. If you have a little bit of throttle pedal application, then it’s in a driver demand mode, and it’s not going to be trying to maintain an idle speed, which is what happens when you are in idle speed control. So the first key to a good smooth maneuver is to find the bite point on the clutch and lift your left foot to that height, and then feed in a little bit of accelerator pedal.

And then when you’re performing the transition from stationary to rolling to clutch fully out, you keep your accelerator foot the pedal in exactly the same position throughout that whole transition. And if you need to increase engine revs a little bit, because maybe the gradient that you’re on is making engine revs dip down, then at the clutch, come in and out on the clutch, and never go on and off the throttle pedal. Because that is going to confuse the energy management system. It’s going to think it’s going to be going into idle speed control mode and then when it’s too high for the speed point, it’s going to close the throttle automatically. And then when it undershoots, it’s going to open the throttle back up. So this can add to the engine revs going high, going low, and high, going low making that maneuver jerky. And when the revs go too high, burns the clutch out.

So, you know, we’re on a bit of an incline now we’re going to reverse it. We’re going to keep the engine revs below about 1500 RPM. We’re going to have a really smooth take up of drive and I’m going to press the accelerator pedal just a bit to get it out of idle speed control mode. And then as I said earlier, use the clutch pedal to control engine speed until you go from the transition of rolling through to a full driving condition from pull away. So, I’ve got the foot on the brake because we need to stop rolling forward because we’re on tilt. You could use the handbrake, I prefer to use the brake, and I’m now going to come up on the clutch pedal until I can start to feel it biting. And there it goes. I’ve got a change in engine now, and I can just see it on the rev counter drop down a bit. Now, if I come off the brake pedal then we shouldn’t roll forwards and it just wants to start maneuvering backwards. Now I’m going to put a little bit of throttle on just to get the engine revs to go just above the thousand RPM and then leave the accelerator pedal there. And now just come up off the clutch and now we’re reversing upper hill. Engine revs go a little bit low, so I want to increase the speed. And all of that is being done off the clutch pedal and not the accelerator pedal at all.

So that process of always maintaining the same throttle pedal position. And if you’re on steeper incline, then you might have to give it a little bit more throttle pedal than what I did for this incline here. But essentially the principle is the same. Get the clutch to the point in point, put the throttle application in that you need, and then never ever change the position of the throttle pedal. And if you dip low on engine speed, then press the clutch pedal in. Obviously you shouldn’t go high on engine speed because if you did, that would mean that you’ve put too much pedaling to start with. Obviously a twin plate clutch drives better than the single plate clutch, but when we fit the twin plate clutch, it’s an upgrade. And therefore everyone expects every eventuality to be absolutely perfect. So this reverse situation was tricky on a single plate clutch, any, it’s tricky if you don’t do the procedure that I just said.

So, but that maneuver on a single plate clutch it is equally the same on a twin plate clutch, it’s difficult to control. But because someone’s had the upgrade, now I’ll get a comment back saying, oh well, it’s very jerky, very difficult to drive in reverse. And some people find it difficult to pull away cleanly at first. There’s been customers sat in the passenger seat of their own car who can’t get a smooth pull away, look absolutely bemused when I drive the car in a way that I’ve just done. I keep the engine revs below about a thousand RPM going up a very steep incline in reverse. And they just, how did you do that? I can’t do that. That is the trick there by never altering your throttle pedal position. You’ve got to have a good seating position to start with because you are relying on a good fulcrum point of your heel on the floor, on both pedals and being able to put force through your knee and your ankle to control the pedals in the precise position that you need.

Rather infuriatingly, there’s one particular chap on a forum, which will say the twin plate clutch is undriveable. This is the same chap who had his seat in the deck chair position. Instead of driving a sports car, his seating position was more oriented towards how you would sit on the beach on your deck chair. And he didn’t really have a fulcrum point on his heel. And the seat was so far back that the ball of his foot was pressing on the clutch and he hardly touched his heel on the floor at all. You know, you’re never going to achieve the control that you need on the clutch pedal to master a perfectly smooth shift. But even in reverse gear where it’s not towards lead tool ratio, which is the same as second. If you just practice for a little bit, apply that technique that I’ve just shown there, you’ll be able to get a really smooth pull away, keep the engine revs low, and avoid the barbecue clutch smell. And you know, we don’t have to worry about mileage between plate clutches because they last pretty much forever. But you know, if you apply techniques like that on your single plate clutch, you’ll avoid the barbecue and you’ll be able to drag that much more life out of your standard single plate clutch.

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