Drove half of france with no clutch-phew/Advice on how to drive without a clutch

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  • Bonjour mes amis (hello my friends),

    My clutch pedal went straight to the floor in my ldv convoy whilst driving through a french town on my way back to brittany from burgundy yesterday evening and after a couple of hours of fiddling around,I still could not bodge it so that it could get me back. The white plastic connector on the end of the cable that connects to the pedal had snapped and I couldnt find anything that would stay upto the pressure when the pedal was pressed.

    Finally I decided to continue the last 150 miles or so without the clutch and just hope that I didnt have to stop the van at all on a hill or at all if it was possible,although you can start the van in gear if need be.
    I had karma on my side and every junction or roundabout that I came to,I was able to approach at the correct speed and get across without having to stop the van and did so without having to make any agressive moves.

    I was a bit worn out when I got back from all the concentration that it needs,but it definately turned what was a fairly normal cross country drive into a memorale moment and has given me that extra bit of driving experience and confidence. I did once go three months without a clutch in my old ford focus estate,so at least new it could be done,though it is harder in the van to do.

    I am now on a friends drive and have got wifi,so shall be ordering a new cable tomorrow and will be bak on the road again later this week :)

    For anyone who does not know what to do if your clutch goes- You can select first gear without the engine being switched on and then fire the car up and it will jump forward and off you go in first. After this by playing around with the rev's you can change gear when the rev's and the speed are correct,so as long as you are on an open road you can happily go up through the gears and get upto speed again.
    The tricky part is knowing how to handle junctions and roundabouts and I recommend that you do this with extreme caution. If you have to stop your vehicle,you can restart it in first again,although if you are facing uphill then the chance of this happening is very minimal and you may get stuck in an awkward spot.
    When approaching said junction drop right back from any other vehicles,as the last thing you need is someone deciding to stop in front of you. Get down into first gear and approach very slowly on tight junctions and if you have good reflexes and can react quickly,you will be able to tell if there is a large enough gap in time and quickly accelerate across,though if in any doubt,stop.
    Roundabouts are different,it is better to arrive in second or third gear but slowly,and then you can judge the traffic and nip out into it when an appropiate space appears,although sometime it may help your cause to floor the accelerator and get out before the flow of traffic.
    You must slow down quite a bit before it allows the lower gears to be selected.
    If you get a stretch of road without traffic,it is a good time to play with the reves and get used to changing the gears,so that when you do get to built up area's or into traffic,you are better prepared.

    I only advise that you do this when there are no other options available and you need to get the vehicle somewhere where you can sort out the problem [plod]

    However,I hope that you never need to be in this situation :thumbup:

    Love and light to all

    Fly xx

  • Thanks DD :waves:

    Yeah,admittingly one would have to be not right to enjoy the experience. I look back and laugh now,but it was not my idea of a nice day out in the countryside !

  • Thanks Dave,I am out on my friends drive at the moment trying to fabricate a makeshift bodge out of some stiff wire and a jubilee clip,hopefully I will be triumphant and this will do me until the cable comes from the uk. Will keep you posted :)

  • Well done, , another reason why it pays to have a good battery , if tou have to keep stopping and restarting in first , it will soon drain a knakered one, I have had the unfortunate problem of clutch cable snapping on an LDV a couple of times :(

  • Thank you kindly peeps.You have my sympathies ma. It seams a bit silly that ldv chose that little plastic bit to connect the cable,rather than having a decent metal piece engineered.

    I have had no luck in attaching wire solidly enough to the broken piece today to bodge it,though will see if the plastic is solid enough to drill a hole through this afternoon and then create a wire loop to hook over the indentation on the bottom of the pedal arm.

    If I can not bodge it,it does not realy matter as am at a friends/clients house where I have got a couple of days work and have got electricity hook up,water and am on in the middle of the countryside opposite a lovely wooded river teaming with fish,birds and coypu,which I love watching when walking cockney the wonderdog at first light.

    Did I mention that there is also a bar about 150 yards away :D

    Life isnt too bad when a breakdown is such a positive experience eh :thumbup:

  • I have used plastic cable connectors before to good effect the ones you buy in a strip with grub screws to hold the cable remove the screws slide out the brass centre push both cables through it then tighten screws ui.jpg

    Works well

    Well done on your epic trip :)

  • I know the feeling, once had the clutch jam on my volvo (car) tried to use it and bent the pedal in the process it was so jammed, drove back from portsmouth area to kent with no clutch, as you say if you have to stop you start her up again in first and jump along.gear changing is just a case of getting the revs right. you have to be watching well ahead and yes it does take a great deal of concentration - easier in France I would think as traffic is lighter, certainly not fun in busy queues of traffic.

  • indeed Grendel,I would definately prefer it to happen on this side of the puddle than on the hugely populated roads of britain. Portsmouth to kent must of been a complete nightmare for you. oh la la,sacré bleu and all that.
    Though britain does have more traffic per square mile,france has more dangerous drivers and you do learn to anticipate people pulling straight out in front of you,cutting bends and coming over brows of hills on your side,as it happens so often.
    I thought that I was a good driver in britain,but feel that my driving has stepped up a clutchless gear since crossing the channel.

    Iceland would probably be the best place for it to happen,though would have to watch out for raindeer !

  • Been there, done that! Very useful tips about approaching junctions, etc., where you need to "flow" into other traffic! And as mentioned, when in doubt, STOP!

    One useful thing to know about to facilitate changing down especially, is double declutching. I know, I know: how can you do it twice, if you don't have one at all? But knowing the technique can still be helpful.

    Double declutching was used for older types of unsynchronized gearboxes. In effect you changed gear twice: once to get into neutral, then let the clutch out, press the accelerator to get the gear train up to speed, then clutch again and change from neutral to the lower gear.
    So the tip when you don't have a clutch, is to use neutral to bring the revs up to match road speed for the new lower gear. Don't crash straight from 2nd to 1st for example:

    - When you change out of 2nd into neutral, you shouldn't be either accelerating or decelerating. -the engine speed should be exactly aligned to road speed. You can usually feel the point where it's easy to slip it out of gear.

    - Then in neutral, press the accelerator to get the revs up (but not too much), then change from neutral to 1st gear - again there is just the right point where everything is "in synch" and you can just slide into gear.

    Changing up is less problematic, but going through the same stages - wait in neutral until engine revs have dropped - will be a lot easier on your poor gearbox!

  • As you say,changing up is much easier. When my clutch went in my estate car years ago,it was much easier to do,as the ldv or this one in particular has got the ford transit gearbox which can be clunky at the best of times. When changing down on a few occassions I appologized to the gearbox !!!

    I do hope Danbrogan that this did not happen to you in sao paulo,as I am sure that would be hellish.

    cheers for sharing your info


    fly xx

  • I've had the misfortune to have a dodgy clutch on two vehicles, an old car, and my campervan. It is quite possible to get home, but as you say, you need to think well ahead, and take it steady. And of course, don't force the gear to engage. You can "feel" when it is right with a bit of practice, often useful with a rev counter if you know roughly what speeds are at what speed in what gear, e.g. You're doing 30mph in third at 2,000 revs :)
    Good story and explanation, glad you made it to your destination :)

  • No, fly, I have had a few hellish moments (ok, a lot!) in the São Paulo traffic, but that wasn't one thank goodness. This happened a long time ago when I still lived in the UK. I was camping down south and had to get back home to Stockport. Worst were the junctions with uphill grades. No way I was going to stop. My guardian angel worked hard that day!
    Funny thing is how I learnt about this: When my elder brother was learning to drive, a retired uncle offered to give him some lessons. Problem was that he used to drive delivery trucks for Robinson's brewery and insisted that my brother learn how to change gear the "right" way, double declutching. Poor bugger! Took him ages to "unlearn" that.

  • Yep you use double declutching technique without the clutch peddle as Danbrogan said...on the old trucks pre synchromesh you had to use the clutch twice once to get the box out of gear into neutral to match the shaft speeds then once to select the gear.Many of the old trucks had what we called timed boxes you could light a cigarette up waiting the time for the shafts to match enought o gt the damn thing i to gear....If Im on a long run on open road I rarely use the clutch.
    Once youre moving in first gear you just get to upper mid rnage revs and move the gear up one and hold it against the gear gate your going into and it will drop in smoothly when its ready.
    Coming down the box you just need to take off the accelerator enough for the drive train to relax and drop it out of gear easy then in neutral give it a little blip on the gas and drop it into the next lower gearIt will drop in easy if you get it right.
    The lower the gear and faster you travelling for that gear the more of a blip on the accelerator you need to get into a lower gear..once you get used to the technique it becomes second nature and certainly saves the clutch cable and wear on the thrust bearings and friction plates and the gearbox a little and I think you become more in tune with the vehicle and cause it less unnecessary wear.
    Let the synchomesh work thats what its been put there for :) Its also something to think about on long boring journeys :)

  • I had the clutch cable go on my LDV convoy last week again it was the plastic fitting at the pedal end that broke. I managed to bodge it by drilling a hole through the remains of the fitting to push part of a roofing nail through, then made a loop from fencing wire around this to hook over the clutch pedal. That was the easy bit, getting it adjusted took an hour by wrapping rope between n the adjuster and bulkkhed to take up the slack. Even then I only had half the travel, but was enough to allow the engine to run while stationary in gear. I saved the old cable and will make a better bodge so I have a spare.

  • Well done,I know how hard that bodge can be. Unfortunately I only have an electric drill that is too powerful for my inverter,so that was not an option,though it did cross my mind.
    Even getting up onto the clutch pedal is a pain,before trying to adjust it.

    Bravo encore xx