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Old 11-14-2012, 09:35 PM   #1
HSTuning
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Southbend Clutches

Lately, we've seen some threads popping up about Southbend and it seems like there is a lot of speculation and confusion about how or why the people who are having failures are experiencing them. After some back and forth at the shop here today, we decided to put the information we have about these situations out here on the forums for all to see, maybe putting some minds at ease. Remember, to date we have not experienced a single failure with these clutches since we started installing them.


We have installed dozens of the Southbend Stage 2 and 3 clutches and haven't had any issues to date, but just the other day one of our customers became concerned that his shifter was hanging up a little coming out of reverse very intermittently. So, we told him we would remove the transmission and inspect the clutch to check the disc (Stage 2 daily, old type non silent) for ejected springs. We didn't expect to find a problem because the issue he was concerned with was very, very subtle but we were curious. He had seen some of the information on these forums and if nothing else, we could put his mind at ease about the springs in the hub. We removed his transmission and found everything to be just the way it was in August when we installed the clutch. Our initial thoughts on inspection were:

- The disc slides freely on the input shaft, no binding
- The slave is clean and appears to be in good working order
- The pressure plate fingers appear to be at a consistent height
- The springs in the hub are all in place and intact
- The shift linkage is moving freely

We showed the customer the components and asked him if he'd like us to re-install the stock clutch or the Southbend, or if he'd like us to send the clutch to Southbend for inspection and he chose to just re-install the Southbend as the initial concern was pretty trivial and the hub springs were obviously intact. He did mention that he wished he'd used the silent version because of the chatter, so we jumped on the phone to see what it would take to get the "silent" components as a partial kit.

We'd heard that they were implementing some new components, and our first phone call to Southbend confirmed this. They told us that they were moving away from silent/non-silent option to a new disc, and that we could send in the old disc and flywheel for modification. The owner of the car jumped at the opportunity to upgrade since the transmission was already out.

When we got the box back from Southbend, we immediately opened it to check out the clutch and compare. We were extremely excited to see the new hub design, it looks like an incredibly well built disc. You can see here that they switched the six-spring hub for a four-spring design.



We didn't have the chance to measure the diameter of the disc, but Southbend told us the diameter is slightly greater and required opening up the lip on the flywheel very slightly:



Here is a shot of the other side of the hub:



Now timing might be a coincidence but I believe we got a new clutch out of the first batch, if not the very first of the new style. Also, Southbend is having this disc made for them by Exedy. Most of you will probably associate them with performance clutches for Japanese cars, but you probably don't know that they manufacturer the OE clutches for a ton of Japanese cars as well. What's my point? Exedy is a huge company with strict quality control. I was actually pretty excited when I saw the Exedy logo if for no other reason than to be able to compare this clutch to the Sachs hubbed units. After seeing the design, and realizing it was made by Exedy for Southbend I had some pretty steep expectations from this new unit.




We installed the disc immediately and we were very happy for a number of reasons:

- The transmission installed very easily, the fitment between the clutch splines and the input shaft was perfect. We always use the factory clutch alignment tool, the tools Soutbend provide (and everyone else for that matter) does nothing for alignment other than to give you a lever to eyeball the disc into place. The tool that every one seems to be providing is for cars with pilot bearings in the crankshaft, if you want an OEM factory tool call us they are $24 or they can be purchased directly through the VW parts program for slightly less. Here is a picture of the factory tool on the left and the plastic tool on the right:



- The clutch pedal feel seemed to be quite a bit better than the older Stage 2 clutch. After each employee here tried the clutch the consensus was "how it should have felt from the factory with perfect engagement height"

- This clutch wasn't advertised as "silent", but merely the new revision. We noticed the difference immediately. Here is a video of the car with the A/C on (we have 20 ft ceilings with cinder block walls, you can hear a pin drop from across the room). We don't have a video of the older style, trust me this one is quieter so far.


http://youtu.be/Q3ikl_fpvOU

I called back to talk to our rep at Southbend, as we knew there would be loads of questions from our customers once they'd heard about this or seen/driven this particular car. They cleared things up for us and I'm going to do my best to put info about these revisions out there, so please keep in mind that we are only here to help and feel free to ask away and I'll tell you what I know.

Southbend is acknowledging the issues with the early design, obviously as the effort was put forth to create a revision. Revisions happen all the time (coil packs, diverter valves, you get the picture), it just happens that clutches aren't as easy to change and I think that's why some of the MK6 owners get frustrated. So I'll go ahead and get to the bottom of the problem here, which really centers around the fact that our 02Q transmissions and TSI engines don't have a pilot bearing in the crankshaft.

When the transmission has an input shaft that's used with a pilot bearing it provides some stability and prevents the shaft from flexing or moving around. I'll admit that I'm not sure why VW chooses to do this with the FWD manual platform (DSG's have pilot bearings), but it sure would help us out with noise and input shaft movement. Another contributor that we discovered a while back at the drag strip, is that the older style Stage 2/3 clutches were making a ton of noise until we started making passes and launching the cars on a prepped surface. It seems like this was almost needed to break in the hub springs, as cars would consistently become quiet after they were abused. We definitely did not see that one coming, and we are inclined to believe that some of the cars having failures/extreme noise were probably just being used as commuters never seeing that drive line shock. Combine very stiff springs with input shaft and disc float and it seems like that's where the problems were coming from. I'm also inclined to believe that Southbend is probably the most prevalent clutch in the MK6 aftermarket, so the failures that were happening probably probably seemed bigger on the forums here in part because the sample is bigger than the rest of the market. I think there are other contributing factors to this as well, like Southbend getting blamed for mis-aligned shift cables, or crappy LSD installs where shims and gear height were ignored. You wouldn't believe some of the stuff we see coming in from other shops, I'm not saying we are perfect but some times all I can do is shake my head.

Obviously they have made some revisions to improve the parts moving forward, but we also talked about the cars that already have the early parts. They are set up to help anyone who has issues under the 1 year warranty, and are currently weighing things on a case by case basis. They have a new Stage 2 disc that will be manufactured by Southbend, and according to them the Stage 3 discs will be replaced with the Exedy units for warranty. The Southbend made parts will not be available for a few months, so any current Stage 2 warranty concerns will be replaced with the Exedy disc.

What if you are out of the 1 year warranty? They are looking to help this group and have a very reasonably priced upgrade program. Again, this is case by case for now but they are upgrading this group for $200. This is not simply because you are out of warranty by time. The reason things are considered on a case-by-case is because you can't pair a new disc with a severely worn pressure plate or flywheel and a pressure plate would need to be replaced along with the disc. Essentially equates to a fresh clutch for $200 which includes return shipping. That's pretty reasonable for fresh parts.

Cliffs notes:

- Southbend knows old Stage 2/3 are noisy and there are hub issues on cars that AREN'T abused
- New revisions available for warranty failures (4 spring hub now, not 6)
- Upgrade program very reasonable for out of warranty issues
- New parts seem to be pretty quiet for now with awesome engagement
- VW probably has a reason for not giving us a pilot bearing, but I don't care and still wish we had one
- The number of failures vs. the number of Southbend clutches in cars is probably pretty low
- If you are having severe trans noise at idle, try seating the springs with a few launches it's way easier and more fun than pulling the transmission out. (I'm kind of joking here, but also a little serious).

Again, I'm just hoping to help here. We haven't had issues, but know some have and we are always happy to share our findings. We are excited about the new parts available and we're glad they are being made available to the customers who have already been using the early parts.

Cheers

Last edited by HSTuning; 11-14-2012 at 09:41 PM.
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Old 11-14-2012, 09:50 PM   #2
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Can you get the new 4 spring disk as a drop in option like the old stage 3 disk was?
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Old 11-14-2012, 09:55 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by twistid View Post
Can you get the new 4 spring disk as a drop in option like the old stage 3 disk was?
These disks are specific for the Southbend single mass flywheel and Southbend pressure plate.
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Old 11-14-2012, 10:13 PM   #4
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Frigging right. Exedy makes a FANTASTIC product. Had their street disc on my Acura and it would handle 5k hard launches all day long. Great street setup.
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Old 11-14-2012, 10:20 PM   #5
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Dave, Thank you for a great post and review of the new SBC units. I'm glad to see that SBC has addressed the issues and come up with a better (we all hope) design. I am happy to spend another $200 if the time comes.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dave@HSTuning View Post
Another contributor that we discovered a while back at the drag strip, is that the older style Stage 2/3 clutches were making a ton of noise until we started making passes and launching the cars on a prepped surface. It seems like this was almost needed to break in the hub springs, as cars would consistently become quiet after they were abused.
This makes me feel better about giving my clutch hell at the track last weekend
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Old 11-14-2012, 11:32 PM   #6
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Nice to see some forward progress with this
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Old 11-14-2012, 11:38 PM   #7
apa11393
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I'm very happy with my stage 3 daily non silent... Only problem I'm having is the gear noise when accelerating in all gears between 1000 and 2500 rpm is very loud. Do you guys have any experience with this? Will it get better over time?
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Old 11-14-2012, 11:54 PM   #8
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I have a stage 2 daily silent kit sitting, waiting to be installed. It came directly from sbc last week. The disc is from sachs and has a 4-spring hub. So its obviously not the new southbend disc, and not an exedy disc.. I understand i shouldnt be too concerned, but how many revised discs have they already had??
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Old 11-14-2012, 11:55 PM   #9
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Dave, you mention that the Stage 3 disk is being replaced with the Exedy disk. Does that mean the stage 3 drop-in disk is also now an Exedy unit? Or can someone else straighten me out here?

Also, very interested in how the TSI can forgo the pilot shaft in the manual and keep it in the DSG! Just want to get in on the thought process there. I'll probably never get it, but I can only imagine..
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Old 11-15-2012, 12:20 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by project92raddoslc View Post
Dave, Thank you for a great post and review of the new SBC units. I'm glad to see that SBC has addressed the issues and come up with a better (we all hope) design. I am happy to spend another $200 if the time comes.



This makes me feel better about giving my clutch hell at the track last weekend
x2
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Old 11-15-2012, 01:13 AM   #11
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Dave, This clutch is awesome, I'm enjoy it!!

Again, I really appreciated you guys help.

You guys are awesome!!
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Old 11-15-2012, 06:37 AM   #12
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Part numbers and price?
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Old 11-15-2012, 10:21 AM   #13
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why doesnt exedy come out with their own kit?
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Old 11-15-2012, 12:35 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by apa11393 View Post
I'm very happy with my stage 3 daily non silent... Only problem I'm having is the gear noise when accelerating in all gears between 1000 and 2500 rpm is very loud. Do you guys have any experience with this? Will it get better over time?
It's very hard to respond to this. Any single mass clutch is going to create more noise, it's the trade off for torque capacity. Because noise levels are subjective it's impossible to give you an answer with out hearing. My best advice is to seek out some one local who is familiar with the MK6 chassis cars and performance clutches to evaluate this for you.
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