The clutch, found in a manual transmission vehicle, is what allows you to shift gears without grinding them into dust. It sits between the flywheel and the pressure plate. When you depress the clutch pedal, you release pressure on the clutch, allowing it to move away from the flywheel, in effect, disconnecting the engine from the tranmission, thus allowing you to shift gears.
One of the original 1982 set of G.I. Joe 3 3/4" action figures. Clutch was bearded, came with no weapon, and was not sold separately. Instead, he was packaged with his vehicle, the VAMP (Multi-Purpose Attack Vehicle – apparently someone at Hasbro was dyslexic) jeep. A 1984 Clutch featured a tan uniform instead of green and came with the VAMP Mark II. In 1993, a clean-shaven Clutch in a ridiculous orange suit of armor was sold as part of the "Mega Marines" series as the Monster Blaster APC Driver. He came with an assortment of oversized weapons and some "moldable bio-armor" (i.e. Play-Doh). I have no idea what was up with that shit.

In one memorable comic book adventure, Clutch returned to his home town of Asbury Park, New Jersey to find it taken over by Cobra. Sillyness abounded.

1982 filecard:


Code Name: CLUTCH

File Name: Steinberg, Lance J. SN: RA757340802
Primary Military Specialty: Transportation
Secondary Military Specialty: Infantry Birthplace: Asbury Park, NJ Grade: E-4
Clutch was a mechanic at Manny’s Mean Machines and was heavily involved in racing street machines prior to enlistment. Graduated: Advanced Infantry Training; Covert Ops School; Executive Bodyguard School; Ranger School. Qualified expert: M-14; M-16; M-1911A1; M-3A1; M-79; M-60
"He greases his hair with motor oil, rarely shaves, and chews on the same toothpick for months. Clutch still calls women "chicks."

For some reason, I found this last bit utterly fascinating when I was a kid. Thank God I didn’t try emulating any of this behavior. Well, except for the toothpick; I tried that bit, but I never made it past a day.

Comic book appearances:
* G.I. JOE: #1, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 12, 14, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 22, 23, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31, 32, 33, 35, 46, 47, 48, 55, 59, 64, 74, 75, 76, 89, 90, 91, 93, 97, 98, 99, 100, 109, 110, 145
* G.I. JOE: Special Missions: #2
Filecards and information from
A clutch is a device for controlling the torque applied to a mechanical system.

In its simplest form, its two plates with high-friction surfaces on them. One plate is connected to a source of torque, such as a motor. When the plates are forced together mechanically, it will cause the second plate to start spinning. The second plate is generally connected to a drive shaft of some description used to apply the force to a mechanical system.

There are also other types of clutches. The one-way clutch, much like it sounds, only allows torque to be transmitted in one direction. Most one-way clutches resemble ratchets. The electro-mechanical clutch is a simple clutch, with one electromagnet is used to force the plates together. A slip clutch is a form of torque limiter, its used to prevent an overload. It usually consists of a tight spring wound around an arbor, such that it can slide if too much torque is applied.

In American sports vernacular, "clutch" is an adjective alternately describing pressure situations or an athlete skilled in these situations, or sometimes a noun for these situations. According to Merriam-Webster, this usage dates to 1944.

The most common usage is in baseball, where a player may be described as a "clutch hitter" for his skills with men on base and his team needing runs. Other common uses are to describe the player in a general sense ("he's so clutch"), or by a broadcaster to enhance the viewer's perception of the situation ("this is a clutch situation for Carolina, up by one and killing off their sixth penalty").

The clutch system in most modern automobiles is comprised of two main parts, a clutch release system and the actual clutch assembly itself.

The release system is typically comprised of the well known clutch pedal everyone loves to ride with their left foot, a hydraulic assist system comprised of master and slave cylinders and clutch fluid lines, a release fork and a throwout bearing. When the user depresses the clutch pedal, pressure is sent through the clutch line from the master to the slave cylinder, which contains a piston that pushes on the release fork. The fork sticks down into the bell housing of the transmission and connects at its other end to the throwout bearing, which rides on the input shaft of the transmission and pushes against the splines on the clutch assembly.

The clutch assembly is typically comprised of two pieces. The first piece is a clutch disc that has friction material either bonded or riveted to each side. This friction material is located around the outer rim of the disc, and interacts with both the pressure plate and the flywheel. The pressure plate consists of a flat, smooth pressure surface connected to a housing that contains a set of splines. The clutch disc is typically mounted on the input shaft of the transmission and spins with it. The flywheel is bolted to the engine, and the pressure plate housing is bolted to the flywheel with the disc sandwiched in between. When the splines on the pressure plate are pressed on by the throwout bearing (due to you pressing on the clutch pedal), the pressure surface is backed away a very small amount which causes the clutch disc to be separated from both the pressure plate and flywheel. The disc can then spin freely on the input shaft of the transmission and no power is transferred. The flywheel (and the clutch pressure plate) are then the only pieces of hardware attached to and being spun by the engine.

There are many different types of clutch disc, but the most common types are either sprung or unsprung hubs. Sprung hubs contain a set of springs around the inside of the clutch disc which allow for the clutch to have that well known "range of engagement", allowing for smooth release and activation. Unsprung clutch discs are typically used more for drag racing types of applications as they have a more "on-off" type of behavior. Definitely not something you want to drive on the street.

Manual clutch.

A clutch is used to match the speed of two rotating systems; in the case of a car, this can mean the engine and the transmission.
Why do we need this? - in most vehicles, the engine is required to spin constantly, but the transmission may need to stop: viz, at traffic lights. Clearly, there's a need for a system which allows the rotation of both systems to be matched as the operator wishes, and prevents the vehicle's engine from stalling when the vehicle is at rest. Various systems have been devised to achieve this end- the clutch is just one, but a testament to its effectiveness is that it has been around for almost as long as the car has. All clutches operate via the effects of friction.

A clutch can be controlled manually or electronically- I'll detail the manual variety, as it is a bit easier to explain. Manual clutches are usually controlled by a footpedal, but any controller can suffice.

In simplified form, what happens is this:

The flywheel, a heavy disc of metal, is connected directly to the engine. When the engine is running, the flywheel is rotating. The clutch plate, a thin disc of 'friction material'- typically asbestos- is connected directly to the transmission, and faces the flywheel. Both are usually protected by some form of housing. The clutch plate's distance from the flywheel can be anything from an inch or so away, to zero distance- crucially, this distance can be controlled by some form of actuator, connected to the aforesaid controller. With this arrangement, we end up with a system where the operator can control the separation between the two systems- anywhere from fully engaged- where all engine power is directed to transmission- to fully disengaged- the engine can rotate independently of the transmission. This makes for a simple, effective means of controlling how much engine power ends up at the wheels.However, the system is not without pitfalls-

-This arrangement can generate intense heat, hence both sides need to be made of heat-hardened materials. However, it is still possible to burn out either side by 'dumping' the clutch- lifting the pedal too abruptly- or 'riding' the pedal- maintaining light pressure and thus separation between plate and flywheel.

-Over time, friction takes its toll on the linings, and can wear them out, requiring renewal of some parts.

-Both sides need to be in precise alignment, or the system will be liable to inadvertent vibrations- this can be felt as a shuddering or juddering through the clutch pedal on some vehicles.

Caveats aside, clutches are fairly simple to look after, and, if set up properly at installation, can last for a surprising length of time, depending on your driving style. I've had clutches which last longer than the car! But for maximum lifespan-

-Don't allow any oil or other fluid on the lining.
-Check your hydraulic fluid or cable distance as recommended by your car's manufacturer.
-Don't ride that pedal, hoss!

Basic clutch diagnostics

By its nature, the clutch is capable of transmitting some meaningful info to you, through your right foot, or whatever you're controlling it with. Here's some stuff to be aware of:

-Clutch slip. There's a test you can try to check the effectiveness of your clutch's operation. Find a reasonable hill, and get your speed around about 30-40 miles per hour. Be in a high gear- and floor your accelerator. If the engine revs suddenly rise, with no sign of meaningful acceleration- it can be a sign of clutch trouble. On some cars, this can just mean adjusting your clutch cable to allow the clutch plate to 'bite in' more, or checking that the hydraulic fluid reservoir is adequately filled- on others, it may indicate a worn plate which will definitely need renewing. This can also be caused by fluid- generally oil- on the lining itself. Again, this will indicate that the plate needs changed- and the source of contamination will need checked and stopped too.

-Clutch judder. If you can feel a 'thumping' or 'oscillation' through your clutch pedal, specifically at low speeds or when changing gear, this usually means that the clutch plate is misaligned.(It can mean a problem with engine mounts too: for simplicity, we won't go into that here.) This often occurs after the plate or other components have been renewed, if proper care has not been taken to check alignments. In these cases, the plate can often be realigned, if it hasn't been damaged- if it happens on a car that has an older clutch, it is worth getting it checked out to find out what's caused the judder/ misalignment in the first place. Worst case scenario is a damaged flywheel, which will mean that it, and probably the clutch assembly too, will need replaced. Bad luck Stirling.

-Funny noises. Tricky. Mechanics love drivers whos cars have funny noises- they can spend ages faffing about and charging you money. In the case of the clutch- as with humans, little creaks and whines are a common thing with age, not much to worry about there. However, if you hear a 'crunchy whine' when the engine is turning and you've got your foot on the clutch pedal, it can mean that the release bearing is beginning to disintegrate. This needs changed- get it done.

Don't try this at home?

Fortunately, clutch renewal is well within the scope of the home mechanic, depending on ability and model of car. FWIW- although you may have correctly identified the offending part on your car, most stores sell the entire set of replaceables: usually the clutch plate, a thrust plate, and possibly one or two other gewgaws, as a clutch kit, and will be loath to sell you the part solus; bow to their wisdom, and replace all the wearable stuff while you've taken the trouble to unbolt everything. And now, by way of example, here's my experience of clutch replacement on two diametrically-opposed cars:

-Austin Mini. A cinch. Clutch and housing are easy to reach- clutch can be removed with no special tools, clutch kits are easy to get and cheap to buy- £80 UKP,and you and a patient friend can do it in an afternoon if you're careful about alignment.

-MCC Smart. Don't even think about it. Inaccessible clutch, automation...yeecchhh.

In all matters of home automotive repairs, your best friends are going to be a Haynes or equivalent manual, an owner's club, and being chummy with the parts guy (they are invariably male) at your local repair store.

So you see, clutches can be fun!

Hey hey now, what's that smell?
Just like cornbread done too well.
What you need you know I got.
So hands up, who wants to rock?

A band hailing from Maryland that transcends the borders of punk, hard core, and roots rock. Formed in the summer of 1991, the band members are Neil Fallon (vocals), Tim Sult (Guitar), Dan Maines (Bass), and Jean Paul Gaster (drums). The four found themselves in post-high school lives, undecided on where the future would take them. They decided to form a band.

When asked about his free form writing style, Fallon says, “ I always try to tell a story. I make up some kind of fiction and then act like I know what I am talking about. I don’t really know about UFO’s or monster trucks, but I would rather tell a story instead of trying to sing about my life or how I feel.”

Driven by staggered drumming, melodic groove-heavy bass, thunderous guitars, and a voice so rough you'd think it had been drug across a gravel road, Clutch is at a glance an acid rock throwback, a sing-along bar band, and a good time old-fashioned gospel revival all rolled into one. Angry? Hell yes they're angry, but you know after the first few tracks they're not angry at you. The band creates a rhythmic canvas of emotion for the lyrics to span pop icon insanity, as in ‘Walking In The Great Shining Path of Monster Trucks’…

'… Well I rolled Jesse Helms like a cigarette
and smoked him higher than the highest of the minarets
Jesse James couldn’t even handle it
started looking at me like I was Sanskrit

Cause in the Great Shining Path Of the Great Monster Trucks
There’s no such thing as beginners luck
I’m the Dirty dozen for the price of one
Get it while it’s hot. Going, going, going, gone!'

…or to deliver an all out tongue lashing to the entire rap-rock community in ‘Careful With That mic…’

'So tell me, When you took the practice scholastic aptitude test
Did you know the answers or did you guess?
You rely on gimmicks to amuse your fans
And act all urban to jack up your sound scan
What’s the matter with you? How come you rhyme monosyllabically?
Is Atrophy shrinking your entire vocabulary?
Your style’s like garbage cans, meant to be taken out on a weekly basis
Ever since your first record you’ve been in a state of suspended animation
You look like Snuffaluffagus and Australopithecus
Me Cray, you Abacus…'

What I consider to be one of the band's great strengths has also been their biggest commercial hurdle. Growth. Expansion. Evolution. Refinement. Clutch is a body in motion, a creature of change. Each album reflects well the moment in its creators' lives. The problem with this? None at all if you are open minded and enjoy watching someone attempt to improve upon their craft. The record companies seem to think differently, though. Although all of their albums have had solid sales, Clutch has released seven albums on five labels.

Pitchfork, October 1991, Inner Journey Records
This seven inch is one of the rawest and most aggressive assortment of tunes I’ve ever heard. Relentless and bludgeoning, Fallon’s lyrics were already masterfully narrative on tracks 'Juggernaut' and 'Far Country'.

Passive Restraints, 1992, Earache Records
Far tighter and decidedly better crafted than its predecessor, this three song EP showed a lot of growth. Very enjoyable, and full of energy.

Transnational Speedway League: Anthems, Anecdotes, and undeniable Truths, 1993, EastWest Records
This full-length album is work of absolute genius, and featured (I believe) the bands only video for ‘A Shogun Named Marcus’. If you like hard, fast, and fun this comes highly recommended.

Clutch, 1995, EastWest Records
Most of the tracks are slower, with a more solidly rooted rhythm. I believe the band began smoking a lot of pot here, as reflected in songs like ‘Spacegrass’, ‘I have the body of John Wilkes Booth’, and ‘Big News’. One surprise on this album is the track ‘Tight Like That’ where Fallon professes his love and faith in God.

The Elephant Riders, 1998, Columbia Records
The music is more complex, and there’s an instrumental while Fallon spins yarns everywhere else on the CD. He seems to be able to write about an exhausting variety topics, such as the demise of the C & O Canal in the title track, lost love in ‘Muchas Veces’, and holiday meals gone awry in ‘Wishbone’. This is also an interactive CD, displaying part of an unreleased video for ‘Soapmakers’, links to their website, and a scrapbook of writing by Fallon explaining each song, and its relevance to his life. Rumor has it that Columbia bought Eastwest solely to own Clutch's record contract.

Jam Room, 1999, River Road Records
This album was self-released after they were dropped from Columbia. Unfortunately not many people know of its existence. The song ‘Who wants to Rock?’ has become the bands introduction to every show I’ve seen since its release. This album was looser than Riders and seems to have no teeth, no bite. I love this album, nonetheless. ‘Gnome Enthusiast’, ‘One Eyed Dollar’, and ‘Release the kraken’ are true masterpieces.

Pure Rock Fury, 2001, Atlantic Records
By far this is their best album to date. Clutch has been reborn as the power-rock band you always felt them capable of becoming. Truely, they are masters of their trade. They paint vivid pictures lyrically with ‘The Great Outdoors’ and ‘Brazenhead’, and bowl you over with musical thunderstorms like ‘American Sleep’ and ‘Frankenstein’. This CD is also interactive and shows live footage from a 2000 show at the 9:30 club in Washington, DC featuring the songs ‘Spacegrass’ and ‘Smoke Banshee’.

Clutch is the perfect example of a band playing for their enjoyment rather than trying to live up to anyone’s expectations. I have been to numerous concerts, ranging from the Waccaho Grange Hall in Hagerstown, MD way back in 1992 to last year for the Pure Rock Fury tour at the 930 Club. They are one of the most explosive spectacles I’ve ever seen, and one of the most original bands I’ve ever heard.

Additional information can be found on the band's official website

Clutch (kl�xdc;ch; 224), n. [OE. cloche, cloke, claw, Scot. clook, cleuck, also OE. cleche claw, clechen, cleken, to seize; cf. AS. gelaeccan (where ge- is a prefix) to seize. Cf. Latch a catch.]


A gripe or clinching with, or as with, the fingers or claws; seizure; grasp.

"The clutch of poverty."


An expiring clutch at popularity. Carlyle.

But Age, with his stealing steps, Hath clawed me in his clutch. Shak.

2. pl.

The hands, claws, or talons, in the act of grasping firmly; -- often figuratively, for power, rapacity, or cruelty; as, to fall into the clutches of an adversary.

I must have . . . little care of myself, if I ever more come near the clutches of such a giant. Bp. Stillingfleet.

3. Mach.

A device which is used for coupling shafting, etc., so as to transmit motion, and which may be disengaged at pleasure.


Any device for gripping an object, as at the end of a chain or tackle.

5. Zool.

The nest complement of eggs of a bird.

Bayonet clutch Mach., a clutch in which connection is made by means of bayonets attached to arms sliding on a feathered shaft. The bayonets slide through holes in a crosshead fastened on the shaft.


© Webster 1913.

Clutch, v. t. [imp. & p. p. Clutched (?); p. pr. & vb. n. Clutching.] [OE. clucchen. See Clutch, n.]


To seize, clasp, or gripe with the hand, hands, or claws; -- often figuratively; as, to clutch power.

A man may set the poles together in his head, and clutch the whole globe at one intellectual grasp. Collier.

Is this a dagger which I see before me . . . ? Come, let me clutch thee. Shak.


To close tightly; to clinch.

Not that I have the power to clutch my hand. Shak.


© Webster 1913.

Clutch, v. i.

To reach (at something) as if to grasp; to catch or snatch; -- often followed by at.

Clutching at the phantoms of the stock market. Bankroft.


© Webster 1913.

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