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Old 02-18-2010, 08:26 AM   #15
More than one rivet loose
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Originally Posted by Jammer View Post

Paying $1500 extra for an automatic up front, then $3000 for repairs down the road, not to mention fluid and filter changes that a manual does not need, would be the tradeoff then.
My F-250 with tow package, Manual trans had a cooler. That means a pump somewhere and likely a filter.

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Old 02-18-2010, 10:01 AM   #16
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backing with a clutch

The issue for me was backing up. I have towed with a standard and now an automatic transmission and for me, the automatic is the only way to go. If it is money you want to save, I say go with the automatic. The newer transmissions will last the life of the vehicle as long as you stay within your limits and don't go crazy with what you tow and how you tow.

Backing a trailer into a tight spot really put strain on the clutch. Add, backing into a tight spot that is on an incline and you really have issues. I didn't like the prospect of clutch replacement on a regular basis.

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Old 02-18-2010, 10:23 AM   #17
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I guess I've never been in the situation of having to pull the engine or transmission to replace a clutch. I suppose it depends on where and how you drive but I find that they last until engine overhaul time, at which point it's an inexpensive repair.
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Old 02-18-2010, 05:40 PM   #18
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I'll put it upfront, I make my living working for a clutch company. Currently I'm in my 30th year of this line of work. I will not mention my employers name on the forum.

Driving habits have a major impact on total satisfaction of the package. Very briefly, to extend the service life:
1. Always start out in the lowest gear available. I'm thinking in particular of the current Big 3 Diesel offerings. Any of these engines have incredible torque at idle and will just pick up the load and go.
2. Keep your left foot off of the pedal unless it is going up or going down. This extends the life of the release bearing and release system.
3. Minimize the use of the Friction Zone. This is the period of initial engagement and starts the vehicle in motion. I'm not saying don't use it, I'm saying use it correctly.
4. Select N at lights conditions permitting of course and take your foot off of the pedal. Maximizes the service life of the pilot bearing, again extends service life.
5. Hard uphill or grade pulls, downshift. This reduces the load on the engine and transmission, let it rev a bit rather than a low RPM high torque load.
6. Do not rest your foot on the clutch pedal.

You also need to be counseled on the correct clutch system. There are stock systems, and systems that approach the charestics of 18 wheeler clutches and even twin disc systems for the Big 3 as aftermarket systems.

Sometimes a HD (ceramic buttons) style clutch can be your worst nightmare in a tight backup situation, tends to be on or off.

If you select a 4X4 (now I wish I had) use 4LO if possible to ease manuvering. I have seen some kits to create a 2WD LO with a front disconnect system.

The Big 3 in Diesels have all used what is known as a Dual Mass Flywheel (DMF) at one time or another. Ford 7.3L up to 1997, the earliest 6.0L's. 6.5L GM were built with them and the Duramax also. Dodge stayed out of them until the mid 2005 MY with the new "G56" transmission, these were built with DMF's. The DMF does a fantastic job of creating a great combination for minimizing NVH (Noise Vibration Harshness) in the drivetrain, but when a 7.3L DMF that has about 120 individual parts in it fails, that's a $$$ item.

A correctly functioning clutch should be an enjoyable part of your rig, not a tiresome bother.

A clutch is a consumable item in a vehicle, the driver is in a position of significant control of how the service life of a clutch is spent.

They also work very well with exhaust brakes, no overload on the trans like some AT's.

I enjoy the sound and driver interaction with my "handshakers".

I believe that the last mfgr. to offer new Diesel's with manuals is Dodge.

Good luck with your decision.
2007 Classic 30' SO
2005 Dodge Ram 2500 5.9L Cummins 6 Speed
1997 Dodge Ram 3500 5.9L Cummins 5 Speed
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Old 02-18-2010, 06:15 PM   #19
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Thanks for that, GC. Excellent perspective that you bring given your line of work.

I am mainly considering gassers at this point because I consider the current crop of diesels a poor value.
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Old 02-20-2010, 08:54 AM   #20
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If you are still considering a manual and find something of interest, I could offer you my test drive and stationary inspection check list for clutches. No tools req'd. for checklist.

Happy hunting.
2007 Classic 30' SO
2005 Dodge Ram 2500 5.9L Cummins 6 Speed
1997 Dodge Ram 3500 5.9L Cummins 5 Speed
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Old 02-24-2010, 05:47 PM   #21
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THe above posts answered the specific question posed. The rest of this is for those who may be wondering what the motivation is behind driving a M/T 7500-lb mile-long pickup truck that also gets used as a TV as a way of looking more broadly at, "Towing with a clutch".

The latest six-speed A/T's (with sophisticated shift parameters, integrated exhaust brakes AND integrated trailer brake controls) coupled to clean air mandate diesels make moot, I suppose, the desirability of manual transmissions as fuel economy has plummeted on light duty diesel trucks compared to many out of the past twenty years. But someone may be reading with the thought of a used diesel with manual transmission. And intends (excuse me, plans) to keep it a long time.

I owned a half-ton DODGE that suffered from both low power and low fuel economy, and, with the need for a truck to do more work for business, a long-bed 3/4T was in my future. A big-block gasser was out for reasons of life and fuel economy, so, with a diesel, what to do? My reading on for more than ten years at that point indicated that the highest mpg was achieved by guys with 2WD, the man trans, and the willingness to learn how to use them.

(4WD plus A/T runs the CPM [cost-per-mile] to levels I am not willing to pay. A truck of this sort practically needs IRS-deductible miles to justify itself).

It should also be noted that we live on the Gulf Coast, so the truck (with bedliner and topper) and the trailer represent the possibility of saving some possessions in advance of a storm, as well as flexibility in choices as how and where to live afterwards.

Having been a truck driver at several points (with difficult loads in/out of difficult places on a regular basis) I had already overcome what I considered the worst plague of American drivers: being in a hurry -- mentally -- always. And nothing wears out the clutch more quickly than being faster than the truck. Being behind the single medium-duty diesel in a light-duty truck only makes it more evident than one must wait for the engine as it drops in rpm (though not like a Class 8, especially Caterpillars) in order to complete the shift. It makes for slow acceleration (relatively).

And, as the best years for the CTD were 2003.0 thru 2004.0 (250HP and 305HP rated engines) in terms of fuel economy/power/reliability/braking/steering/ergonomics, then finding one was the key. I got lucky and found a high-mileage three year old truck at a price below one-half of new replacement list. Outstanding fuel economy, solo and towing, is the result: 23-mpg, all miles, the past 13,000 (solo only) at an average 39-mph (out of 40,000 since purchase). 13 on the backroads, 15 on the Interstate while moving a 16,000-lb TT rig in best circumstances. Highway solo has been 27-mpg on a number of tanks on my recent 700-mile roundtrips; never less than 24-mpg despite weather, traffic or load. No repairs thus far, only maintenance (160,000 miles); knock-on-wood.

Compared to my last truck I can travel nearly 1,000-miles farther on 1,000-gls of fuel (overall solo average). The improvement is 40%.

"Best circumstances" means the willingness to read the road surface (composition, width, lighting, signage, etc), the traffic, sight distances, and so forth. One chooses road speed based on gear selection, not throttle opening. The throttle has next-to-nothing to do with acceleration, it is only for moving between gears (is the way to look at it). Gear selection is based upon road, load, traffic and weather as ALL miles are traveled at 1700-1900 rpm. Zero exceptions. (Yes, I wish I had more gears in several instances that recur). The speed limit has little meaning beyond the desire to travel at about 10-mph under on the big road, or 5-mph low in town. One uses the transmission as first thought on the decision tree to create "best circumstances".

As with the excellent advice above about how to use the clutch (and Dodge tells us to always use first gear; ignore the clueless who use second for takeoff [maybe on a downslope]), there's no reason one of these clutches can't last a very long time. But one must be patient in adapting, mentally. There is a period of transition before muscle memory/habit make it effortless. I use the number of miles as 10,000 before this is probable for any driver with any vehicle.

My experience with TT towing was always behind A727 Torqueflites/Loadflites and TurboHydramatic 400's (plus a Cruise-O-Matic at one point), and I wouldn't have anything else behind a big block V8 gasser but an A/T. They have to wind up fairly high before they generate decent power. One needs a vacuum gauge to properly downshift them. But a Cummins with the man trans behind it is a marriage made in heaven as it always tells you what it wants. You work for it, not it for you . . . .

In trailer pulling with the man trans the ability to shift exactly when one wants to is a little like being able to brake as hard and as long as one wants, it is not left to a computer or hydraulics to complete the input. While one can learn to predict what those intermediaries can do, it is still not the same experience (nor, for me, the same level of confidence), as I value very fine control.

As norsea indicates above (and in another thread where we traded on our pleasure with the diesel/manual combo) the man trans adds a significant amount of control -- wider margins -- where the driver is motivated to use them. Crawl-ability is simply unmatched. For example, on those long 5 or 10-mph driveways in and out of campgrounds, or across parking lots where pedestrians can be expected I can do more than "respect" that speed limit. In backing, I do like the ability to manipulate the clutch. I'm willing to put up with the PITA it seems to be . . . . An exhaust brake is on my list, and, the next trailer will have both the Hensley hitch I own and be converted to disc brakes (I wouldn't own a TV w/o 4-whl discs either). Directly or indirectly it all has an effect on economical ownership where finer driver inputs are required to achieve a particular end.

Another way to think of it is this: I enjoy two-finger driving while towing. And the man trans is in line with that goal (as are the hitch, the brakes, suspension upgrades; the desired exhaust brake) as just a little dancing on the controls solves problems.

Not everyone wants this level of involvement when it can be simplified. In turn, I see no other way to maintain low fuel usage over fixed miles as my driving skill/attention/discipline has the proper effect on the variables of fuel consumption. This is my single vehicle. It must do it all . . and so far it does, better than my relatively high expectations.

Handy it is as well that low fuel consumption and safety climb the same tree most of the way (in terms of attention to details and proper equipment); an A/T or the man trans are just different branches . . but the manual transmission is the higher branch once safety and economy have diverged separately from the main trunk.

So for those of you out there looking at a TV where the capacity for work is not marred by higher ownership costs -- and are willing to learn/unlearn lifelong habits -- a used CTD with the man trans is worth your inspection. For those simply curious about the differences, maybe you'll run into a hotshotter or other who uses his one-ton commercially and get his take on M/T versus A/T. (Oil/gas field service is significantly harder on tractors than RV transport).

I'm guessing that the A/T's have 95%-plus of the advantages, now, versus, say, 80% previously (in driving, not in repairs) where a new truck with anti-lock 4-whl discs & stability control mated to a six-speed auto transmission with exhaust brake, trailer brake control, and sophisticated shift parameters are combined seamlessly.

It is "a new creature" in towing, IMO.

1990 35' Silver Streak Sterling; 9k GVWR.
2004 DODGE Cummins 305/555; 6-manual; 9k GVWR.
Hensley Arrow. 10-cpm solo, 18-cpm towing
Sold: Silver Streak Model 3411
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Old 02-25-2010, 07:05 PM   #22
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Wow, you are a man tran fan for-sure. I'm not a professional driver, just a gear rowing hand shaker pedal pumping guy and I really enjoy hearing the Mighty CTD do it's job.

I do not have the mileage with towing yet but my commute MPG is 20 hand calculated. I'm still a 8-5 guy and this will start as weekend trips for us.

As you stated you are a TDR member, me too, PM sent. And one thing on TDR that is a requirement for discussing something about transmissions is IF YOU DON'T OWN IT, DON'T TALK ABOUT IT! That's why I'm not listing any of my personal feelings about AT's. Interested in looking at TDR it's all about the Dodge Cummins, towing work and lot's of insightful info.

I like the control and the generally direct actions associated with MT's and clutches, no electronics, no computer, no, well you get the idea I don't own one for me.

I spoke with a customer today that claimed that their customer got 300,000 miles out of their OE Dodge 5.9L clutch, I don't have the P/W, just their word. That clutch owes them nothing.

When I talk to someone about using their clutch, sometimes I tell them it is a savings account that you can only make one deposit into. Paint a $ sign on the top of your shoes (boots in my case) and each time you use your L and R foot, you are making withdrawls. You decide, will that be a few tenth's of a penny or so, or a hand full of change or maybe a couple of Washington's or maybe some Andrew Jackson's. Remember, no additional deposits, only withdrawls or create a new account.

Some like creamy peanut butter, some crunchy. Some like Harley's some like Honda's.

First outings now scheduled for Easter weekend and the following weekend.

Safe travels to all.
2007 Classic 30' SO
2005 Dodge Ram 2500 5.9L Cummins 6 Speed
1997 Dodge Ram 3500 5.9L Cummins 5 Speed
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Old 02-26-2010, 06:17 AM   #23
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I agree 100% My first boss told me the fasterst way to get fired was to get caught riding the clutch. Like one of the first posts, ive driven two stick Macks. Currently drive a 1987 Dodge 1500 4 speed 270,000 miles and the original clutch. SAL and NOREEN

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