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Clutch in Kitchen Sink DrainerNotes From the Road

How Clutches Work
By Mike Bumbeck/

Clutch is one of those words that sounds more or less like what it means. Onomatopoetic, such as it is. Linguistically we'll be dealing with its noun form here. While one can certainly be caught in the clutches of sin, or the talons of an eagle, the clutches we'll be focusing on are of the mechanical variety. These clutches are any of various devices for engaging and disengaging two moving parts of a shaft, or of a shaft and a driving mechanism. While many different things in the world contain clutches of some sort, we'll be focusing on the type that sits between the engine and the transmission of an automobile equipped with a manual transmission.

The two moving parts in this case are the engine crankshaft and the transmission input shaft. The engine is the driving mechanism, and the transmission is the driven mechanism. Since the engine rotates at varying speeds, and the manual transmission has gears that need to be shifted to transfer the power of the engine to the wheels, the clutch has a crucial task when it comes to carefree motoring. By nature of the clutch's hidden location, it can be difficult to visualize how it works.

A Fork, a Plate, and a Helping of Bearings
While a clutch assembly consists of many small parts, there are five major components. The first of these is the flywheel. The flywheel is connected directly to the engine crankshaft and, therefore, spins, as does the engine. Bolted to the flywheel itself is the second major component, the clutch pressure plate. The spring-loaded pressure plate has two jobs. One is to hold the clutch assembly together, and the other is to release its tension to allow the assembly to rotate freely.

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