American Powertrain HydraMax, Modern Hydraulic Throwout Bearing Make Shifting A Breeze
By Brian Brennan – Photography By Nate Nelson
The hydraulic clutch system turned everyday clutch operation into a pleasure rather than a session at the gym. I’m sure there are plenty of us who can remember the days of waiting at a stoplight as we patiently counted down the seconds for the light to turn green, all the while holding in the clutch pedal. The obligatory leg shakes and cramps are still fresh in our minds. All because we had opted to run a 3,000-pound three-finger clutch. Ah, the days of sheer brute force. The advent of the hydraulic clutch has relieved us of this discomfort. But it’s an offering from American Powertrain in their HydraMax bolt-in underdash hydraulic clutch and pedal system that has taken the hydraulic clutch installation to a new level of ease, comfort, and performance.
The new system features an integrated under dash hydraulic clutch master cylinder and a bolt-in clutch pedal. The included clutch pedal allows for easy conversion to hydraulic or retrofit to an already-existing hydraulic clutch system by now taking much of the guesswork out of setting the system up correctly. It also speeds up and makes doing an automatic to manual conversion that much easier and quicker. The American Powertrain HydraMax bolt-in underdash hydraulic clutch and pedal system is easy to install and requires no complicated adjustments and saves you from wandering wrecking yards for hard-to-find pedals.
Hydraulic vs Cable Clutch
The significant advantage of the hydraulic clutch system is the ease of use and the smoother clutch pedal feel. Unlike the traditional cable clutch there is no need for adjustment. If there is fluid in the reservoir hydraulic clutches self-adjust and are known to last a very long time.
(For more on installing a hydraulic clutch, see The Best Powertrain Combo For Your Hot Rod.)
It should be noted that the slave cylinder bearing is pre-bled, dual-sealed, and comes with shims to adjust the distance to the clutch finders for any type of clutch setup. Also included is a fluid reservoir. (When installing the reservoir make sure it is at the same height or higher, as it is gravity fed, as the firewall-mounted master cylinder.) The range of transmissions that the American Powertrain system will work with includes any TREMEC transmission, including the T5, TKO/TKX, and T56 Magnum.
To get the lowdown on the latest HydraMax pedal system from American Powertrain we paid a visit to Alloway’s Hot Rod Shop. We found Scotty Troutman installing one of the systems on a Tri-Five Chevy. The installation is fundamentally the same for all kits that American Powertrain makes for this system: ’64-72 GM A-body cars, ’67-81 GM F-body, and ’62-74 GM Nova. (There is also a full listing of GM trucks that the HyrdaMax system will fit.)
In speaking with the technicians at American Powertrain they tell us the kit is a ready-to-use system, making it ideal for the do-it-yourselfer hot rodder. The pedal has the clutch master cylinder mounted to the pedal assembly, complete with hose and a ratio correct pedal. By having the correct pedal ratio, it prevents you from inadvertently overstroking or understroking the system, thereby guaranteeing a perfect pedal every time. There is minimal hardware consisting of a few bolts and a new sleeve and it is all provided.
You will pull out the factory clutch pedal and then install the provided American Powertrain pedal. Once installed you will notice that the new clutch pedal and factory brake pedal have their same OE relationship. Included in the kit is a new bolt with a machined sleeve that allows the brake pedal to pivot along with holding the clutch pedal assembly in place. The basic reservoir comes with a barbed fitting on the bottom with its own two-piece bracket. In the Alloway’s Hot Rod Shop installation they opted to make their own bracket, allowing it to be installed to the inside of the firewall, now residing within the interior.
It’s truly a simple swap, whether you are retrofitting your hot rod or installing from scratch, the American Powertrain HydraMax bolt-in underdash hydraulic clutch system is a breeze and a welcomed addition. MR
Alloway’s Hot Rod Shop