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Old 10-07-2019, 01:28 PM   #1
dmsfrr
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Default clutch problem in a '57 T-Bird

I recently bought a driveable project '57 with a 3spd OD transmission. I haven't done anything with clutch hardware since the 70's and don't remember as much about it as I'd like.

Some background info (a novel in a three paragraphs)....
The clutch seemed to be working fairly well but the action was all near the top end of the pedal travel. The adjustment nuts on the threaded rod to the throwout lever/arm are approx 1/2 to maybe 3/4 inch from the end.
While beginning to pull away from a stoplight the other day I felt and heard a sound like a big spring popping in the clutch pedal while the car tried to jump the crosswalk. Driving it the last few miles home the clutch still works well but the action is now closer to the floor and the pedal sags instead of coming up the last inch or two of pedal movement.
A '71 stickshift Merc I had back in those days used to break the inner/lower arm of the clutch cross-shaft with a similar result, so I looked at the linkage first and didn't notice anything unusual. There is a large clutch pedal spring under the dash roughly parallel with the steering column, at first glance it seems ok too. (but I could be wrong)

My dilemma: I'd like to drive the car for another month or two if it's an easy fix because the weather here is still nice enough... but the engine and trans will be coming out this winter for some other work and if fixing the clutch will be a bigger project I'll just pull the engine sooner instead of later.

Where and what do I look for next?
.

Last edited by dmsfrr; 10-11-2019 at 06:57 PM.
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Old 10-07-2019, 03:06 PM   #2
scicala
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Default Re: clutch problem in a '57 T-Bird

Back in the 60's some diaphragm type pressure plates would go bad with similar symptoms, however the one I experienced the pedal went halfway down (and got stiff). Only in this case you could NOT disengage the clutch at all. I don't think diaphragm types were used on 50's Fords, so probably not your issue. Just thought I would mention it.


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Old 10-07-2019, 07:12 PM   #3
miker98038
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Default Re: clutch problem in a '57 T-Bird

That big spring mounts from the dash side of the big pedal bracket to the clutch pedal, and works over center. Pulls the pedal up, then goes over center to assist holding it down. I’d look at the linkage from the pedal to the spring to see if something failed.

The other thing you might check is the bearing on the engine side of the clutch shaft or z bar. It’s a split bronze bushing that locates the ball on the end of the shaft. I’ve have loose or off center motor mounts cause 1/2 of it to fall out which makes the linkage really sloppy.

https://www.larrystbird.com/product/...on-2-required/
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Old 10-08-2019, 01:38 AM   #4
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Post Re: clutch problem in a '57 T-Bird

Here is an ILL that may help locate components -
Attached Images
File Type: jpg Clutch Linkage - 1955-57 BIRD.jpg (71.6 KB, 26 views)
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Old 10-08-2019, 10:40 AM   #5
dmsfrr
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Default Re: clutch problem in a '57 T-Bird

Thanks to all, guess I just didn't keep looking enough.
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Old 10-08-2019, 11:37 AM   #6
miker98038
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Default Re: clutch problem in a '57 T-Bird

You might also want to check that spring 7523 is in place. Something about your story rings a bell from a long time ago and that spring, but it’s too dim for me to remember clearly.

That and 7592 and it’s attachmemts. That might come off the pedal, but stay up and look ok. Doesn’t explain the change in engagement though.
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Old 10-08-2019, 03:39 PM   #7
Alaska Jim
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Default Re: clutch problem in a '57 T-Bird

I am with Mike on the pedal spring under the dash. That is the first place I would look. maybe a little hard to get to or even see.
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Old 10-08-2019, 04:57 PM   #8
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Post Re: clutch problem in a '57 T-Bird

A guy brought in a 73 COUGAR 351CJ with inoperable clutch. Looked under the dash and the support bracket had failed. It has non-serviceable press-in bushings. Had a machinist replace the bearings with roller bearings and replace all linkage bushings -

On Ill -


4001508 - Main Supt
7551- Pedal Bushings
7517 - Bushings on Equalizer
7523 - Retracting Spring - Notice it also has an adjustment.

You need to go though the entire system. Remove driver's seat ...

Your '55 SHOP MANUAL will describe the '57
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Old 10-11-2019, 11:43 AM   #9
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Default Re: clutch problem in a '57 T-Bird

Quote:
Originally Posted by Alaska Jim View Post
I am with Mike on the pedal spring under the dash. That is the first place I would look. maybe a little hard to get to or even see.

Use a mirror and flash light, it may have even broken off close to where it hooks into the bracket. Under the car is worth a look too. Make sure the z-bar is in place where it pivots. Unhook it at both ends and see how good it rotates. I had one of the z-bar arms on my '64 Ford tear off at the tube. Chased my tail yanking the transmission and replacing the TO bearing for nothing.
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Old 10-12-2019, 07:27 PM   #10
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Default Re: clutch problem in a '57 T-Bird

I experienced the identical clutch pedal problem on my '55 Vic that dmsfrr noted.
Miker suggested checking the z-bar bushings, so I took a few minutes to lift my '55 Vic and peeked at the bushings. They are intact. However, I noticed the adjusting nuts on the clutch release rod 7521 were finger loose and there was 5/16" clear space before engaging the clutch. After doing the nut adjust/tighten I now have the proper clutch and pedal operation. My clutch pedal now retracts fully without hanging up part way like it did before.

Thanks, Ford Barn
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Last edited by Anteek29; 10-13-2019 at 02:43 PM.
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Old 10-15-2019, 11:07 PM   #11
dmsfrr
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Default Re: clutch problem in a '57 T-Bird

Sorry to take so long getting back,
had to wait for my contortionist license to be renewed.
Took a second/better look at the big spring and its pivot hardware above the clutch pedal, haven't found a problem up there, yet.

However... the engine side z-bar bushing is very loose and may be partially missing. Haven't taken it apart yet for a closer look, need to get the car higher off the floor first.

There is no adjustment left on the threaded rod to the throw-out lever arm. Hopefully that will improve slightly when the z-bar bushing problem is fixed. I'm assuming the clutch disc material will be very worn when I can see it.
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Old 10-15-2019, 11:17 PM   #12
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Default Re: clutch problem in a '57 T-Bird

It’s been a long time, but my problem with half a bushing was very similar to yours. I know it’s a pain, but I’d focus on that. Mine had to do with the engine being slightly off center (to the pass side) and excessive movement allowed to to be spit out. If it was worn or split (more than the 2 pieces) when it “popped” out you might well have heard one of the springs as slack was added to the system. If the clutch was working before, fixing that should put you back on the road till the weather changes.
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