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Adding EBC Brakes & a South Bend Clutch on a Daily Driven Cummins Diesel

Clutch to Go & Brakes to Whoa!

Fred WilliamsPhotographer, Writer

Most of the time you want everything in your vehicle to move smoothly. Bearings should turn easily, tires should roll without problems, and oil should slather up all the parts in your engine block so they can spin to high heaven. But sometimes you want some friction, namely in your clutch and your brakes. The friction between your clutch and flywheel transfers power to the transmission, while the friction between your brake pads or shoes and the rotors or drums is important to keep your truck from launching off that cliff, or into a tree. Friction is important for both the go and the slow of your 4x4.

Our big white 2010 Dodge (Ram) 3500 has been dragging trailers and cruising highways as well as bouncing down dirt roads for over 100,000 miles, and we knew the friction components were getting worn down. The engine felt a little less peppy, and the brakes were overdue for new pads at least.

We could have swung by the local auto parts store and replaced everything with stock, but we chose to upgrade to a South Bend Clutch organic clutch and a set of EBC brake pads and rotors. Both companies offer high-end components for high-performance vehicles, but this truck is only running 35s and doesn’t have gobs of engine upgrades, so we went with their entry- to midlevel parts. Both will work as good or better than stock without any reduced life of the parts.

We took the truck to Diesel Power Products in Spokane, Washington, to get the work done and found the results gave the truck a new lease on life.

We started with the brake job and replaced the rear rotors and pads with new yellow pads and slotted and dimpled rotors. The rotors are slotted to help clear out dust and dirt and to run much cooler, resulting in less brake fade, all important attributes for a big truck that tows regularly and sees backroads. The rotors swap on with ease since they don’t require removing the hub like on some full-floater axles.

The Yellowstuff rear EBC pads are made of an organic material that offers the best of both worlds with greater friction for stopping power and reduced brake dust that is easier to clean off. Plus, their break-in coating helps you stop better right from the start.

Front rotors were also slotted EBCs, but this end of the truck got Orangestuff pads designed for even better brake life and aggressive stopping to help pull the big 1-ton down from highway speeds in a flash. Adding brakes to both ends of the Ram isn’t hard, but EBC has a 1,000-mile break-in period where the first 50 to 200 miles of light braking are for “bedding in.” We really wanted to go out the door and slam on the brakes to see how much better they were, but we followed the instructions for at least three full tanks of fuel. When we finally got to test the brakes we were impressed. The heavy crew cab could stop at least a full truck’s length shorter than it could with the old pads and rotors.

With 100,000 miles on the white truck we knew a clutch was coming soon, since a third of those miles had a trailer tagging along behind the poor truck. We had installed a South Bend Clutch in our Ultimate Adventure truck this past year and returned to South Bend Clutch for a tow rig clutch in the white truck. We knew we wanted an organic clutch since this truck sees lots of on-off-on maneuvering with a trailer and gets stuck in lousy SoCal traffic, but we were torn on the single- or dual-disc options from South Bend Clutch. We finally opted for the mild single-disc clutch (bottom) since the Cummins under the hood is bone-stock and we have no plans to hot rod it for more power, as we want our tow rig 100 percent durable.

The stock Cummins 6.7L engine uses a dual-mass flywheel (bottom) designed to reduce vibration from the engine, which can cause noise. But these dual-mass flywheels can fail when excess power is applied. The South Bend Clutch kit comes with a solid flywheel (top), and although we did notice a noise increase using it in place of the dual mass, it was very slight.

The signature dual-disc clutch that South Bend Clutch is famous for is perfect for big-torque diesels, but it has an annoying characteristic of being loud at idle with the clutch disengaged. We drive a lot of street traffic in Southern California and knew that the single disc would work fine with our stock engine, but if you are even considering an engine upgrade for your diesel you should go with the dual disc.

The South Bend Clutch has more clamping force than the stock clutch, which means the pedal feel is heavy with the stock hydraulics. South Bend Clutch offers an upgraded heavy-duty hydraulic system that keeps the pedal feel like stock, but it can still support an engine with up to 900 lb-ft of torque.