How Clutches Work and Common Clutch Problems

Clutches are everywhere in all kinds of machinery, and often in places you wouldn’t even expect. Everyone knows a manual transmission car works with a clutch, but they actually have more than one. Perhaps more surprisingly, cars with automatic transmission also have clutches. There are clutches in smaller machines like cordless drills and even chain saws, which have a centrifugal clutch.

In fact, any machinery or device using two rotating shafts will benefit from a clutch.

Why We Need Clutches

Usually one of the rotating shafts will be driven by a motor or sometimes a pulley, while the second shaft drives another element of the machine. Clutches, like those available through industrial clutches supplier Yorkshire-based YB Components, connect the two shafts and allow them to either rotate at the same speed or separate and rotate at different speeds.

This is especially apparent in an automobile, as the engine is constantly spinning while the wheels must rotate at different speeds according to the driver’s need, even completely stopping at times. In order for the engine to continue running when the wheels slow down or stop, the clutch must disconnect the wheels from the engine.

How a Clutch Works

Clutches work because of friction, which is the force generated when one object slides across another. Few surfaces are completely smooth – in fact, none are ever completely smooth – and it is the tiny and even microscopic peaks and valleys of each surface interacting with each other that cause friction. The rougher each surface is, the harder it is to slide them across each other.

Clutches work thanks to the friction generated between a clutch plate and a flywheel, which is the interface between the clutch mechanism and the transmission. Flywheels look a bit like a gear, appearing as a large metal disc with teeth along the outer edge. These teeth allow the starter to engage it and turn the engine over.

Common Clutch Problems

As industrial clutches suppliers, Yorkshire-based YB Components see many of the common clutch problems. The most common is when the friction material on the disc gets worn down through usage. This can happen quicker than expected if the clutch is misused. Once the friction material has been worn down, the clutch will start to slip and eventually stop transmitting power from one rotating shaft to the other.

Usually the clutch experiences the most wear and tear when the clutch disc and the flywheel are rotating at different speeds to each other. When they are rotating at the same speed, they are locked together so the friction material is kept tight against the flywheel. This is why car drivers who slip their clutches a lot tend to wear out their clutches much quicker than others.

Another common clutch problem is sticking, which is when  the clutch won’t release properly and continues to turn and begins grinding the input shaft.

If you require any industrial clutches, then contact YB Components who are the UK’s leading industrial clutches suppliers. Yorkshire-based and with local stocks ready to ship out fast and free all over the UK and the rest of the world.