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Lakewood Bellhousing Installation

Due to the manufacturing process for the bellhousing, the centerline of the bellhousing bore may not be aligned with the centerline of the crank. Lakewood recommends that you check this alignment and make any corrections if necessary. Installing a bellhousing that is not centered with the crank can result in poor shifting, clutch engagement problems, worn pilot bearing, as well as accelerated wear on the transmission bearings and gears.

Unfortunately checking the alignment is a major pain in the neck... literally if you're working with the engine in the car. The procedure for checking the alignment is to mount a dial-indicator on the flywheel so that the plunger contacts the lip of the bellhousing bore. With the bellhousing securely mounted to the block, rotate the crank 360 degrees and observe the gauge. The total travel of the needle, divided by two, is the amount of misalignment between the crank centerline and the bellhousing bore. Lakewood specifies no more than 0.005" misalignment. Any more than this and you should correct it using offset alignment dowels in the block or welding offset washers over the dowel holes in the bellhousing.

Over the course of a week we installed two Lakewood T5 bellhousings, one in our Project '67 and the other in Jim's '65 coupe, and both measured within specification (0.004" and 0.003" respectively). However, due to factors mentioned below, our initial measurements were way off and we learned quickly that if you aren't meticulous in how you set up the bellhousing for measurement you could end up with false readings, which would lead you to correct a problem that doesn't exist...which means you would have actually created a misalignment.

Mounting the dial-indicator and stand
The commonly available magnetic stands, with all their arms and clamps, are bulky and interfere with the bellhousing as you attempt to rotate the flywheel. We spent a good hour trying to figure out how to mount the indicator so that it fits in the bellhousing without interfering with anything. We found that the best way was to mount the gauge on the stand using only one of the clamps, as shown in the photo to the right. We tried using the flexible "snake" type of indicator stand, but it doesn't bend tight enough, as you can see here the gauge needs to be at a 90 deg. angle on the stand.

dial indicator
Mounting the dial indicator as shown worked the best for us. A magnetic base is a must have.
block plate
Install the Lakewood block plate, then the flywheel. Remove two flywheel bolts across from each other to allow the magnetic indicator stand to sit square in the center of the flywheel.
dial indicator
The dial indicator must contact the lip for the full 360 degrees! You'll need a small mirror to read the gauge as it turns over.
jim
Jim takes a nap after removing and installing the 30 pound bellhousing for the tenth time.
hardware
In order for the bellhousing to contain an explosion the supplied hardware must be installed in its proper location as listed in the instructions.
 

We found that the best way to mount the magnetic base to the flywheel is to remove two flywheel bolts directly across from one another. This allows the base to sit flat on the flywheel and gives you room to position it as close to the crank centerline as possible. Be sure to install the Lakewood blockplate behind the flywheel, and secure the bellhousing with all six bolts before you measure the alignment! We tried measuring the alignment without it and found our numbers to be way off.

The most important thing to check for when setting up the dial-indicator is to ensure the tip makes contact with the bore lip for the full 360 degrees!
The bore of the T5 bellhousing turns out to be just about the same diameter as the length of most dial indicators. Thus while it may look like the indicator tip is contacting the lip, it may not be and you'll get false readings. We ran into this problem at least a half-dozen times. You should watch the top of the plunger, if it looks bottomed out the other end is most likely not making contact.

Once the gauge is mounted correctly, set the bezel to zero and slowly rotate the crank (or have a friend do so.) As you can see in this photo you wont be able to always read the gauge as it rotates, so use an inspection mirror. If you rotate the crank and find that you're getting high-readings through half the travel, then the indicator goes back to zero for the remaining 180 degrees, it means the indicator is not contacting the lip. We'd see as much as .030" runout at the halfway point, then the indicator would come back to zero. The activity of the indicator needle should emulate a mirror image, where for example, you get 0.010" travel above zero and 0.010" below zero. In this example the total travel would be 0.020", divided by two, indicats 0.010" misalignment.

Measure until you get repeatable results
On our first attempts we were seeing numbers all across the board, from 0.010" to as much as 0.040". We found that if you only installed two of the six bellhousing bolts, while it may seem secure, the bellhousing is not flush with the block, which gives a false misalignment. We recommend that when measuring alignment you install both the bellhousing and blockplate and use all six bellhousing bolts, torqued properly. Also make sure the dowels in the block and mating surfaces are clean and free of any crud or paint. Once we went through these precautions the runout for both our bellhousings were within specifications. We removed the bellhousing and remounted it three more times to ensure we could reproduce the same reading each time. Only then can you be confident you have an accurate measurement. If you are not sure and you install corrective dowels, you may make the problem worse.


Correcting misalignment

dowels
washers
Offset dowels (top) and weld-on washers available from Lakewood.

If you have between 0.005" - 0.025" misalignment, you can correct it with either offset dowels or welding on washers over the dowel holes in the bellhousing itself. The offset dowels come in 0.007", 0.014" and 0.021" offsets. Insert them in the block, and use a screwdriver to 'clock' them in the right spot. You'll need to measure again to make sure you're within spec.

If you're bellhousing requires more offset than this to correct the problem, or you want a permanent fix (the dowels need to clocked every time you remove the bellhousing) you can weld on alignment washers over the dowel holes in the bellhousing. However we would be very skeptical of any misalignment over 0.020", this would indicate to us that perhaps the measurement is incorrect or there is a problem with the block or bellhousing. Before welding any washers we'd advise that you obtain another Lakewood bellhousing and recheck, or check your bellhousing on another block. To weld the washers you'll have to slightly enlarge the dowel holes in the bellhousing, then bolt the bellhousing to the block using the supplied longer dowels. Take a measurement, then carefully tap the bellhousing into position with a mallet, re-measure, and do this until it is centered. Finally torque the bolts, re-measure to make sure you didn't disrupt the alignment, then slip the washers over the dowels an weld them in place.

Other Modifications
Because of the larger than stock size of all Lakewood bellhousings, it is inevitable that you will have some sort of clearance problem, be it with headers, clutch linkage, exhaust, etc. The solution for most of these interference problems is to grind material off the bellhousing to gain the needed space. Technically the manufacturer, the NHRA and SFI consider any modifications as voiding the SFI certification. However the reality is very few cars can fit a larger bellhousing without slight modification. We had to drill two holes to mount our clutch fork fulcrum because we're using the early style mechanical clutch linkage. The Lakewood T5 bellhousing is set up for the cable clutch mechanism.

In addition, because the 302 in Project '67 is a 1990 block, there is no mouting location for the block pivot for the early style clutch equalizer bar. Windsor-Fox Performance sells an adapter designed to allow early mechanical linkage to work with newer blocks, but it is setup for the stock bellhousing. We had to adapt it to the Lakewood which required some clearancing of the flange and also cutting some standoff spacers as seen in the photos below.

spacer block
Because we're using the early style mechanical clutch linkage (rather than a cable operated clutch) we had to transfer the spacer block from our stock bellhousing to the Lakewood.
drill bellhousing
Rather than re-measuring where to drill the mounting holes, we fabbed u pa template by bolting a straight edge to the pivot boss in the stock bell and drilling two holes in the ruler corresponding to the holes for the spacer block

spacerblock
Then we simply bolted our ruler "template" to the pivot boss in the Lakewood and drilled the two holes.

clutch fork
Here's the mechanical style clutch fork mounted in the T5 scattershield

Shown is the Windsor-Fox pivot adapter for using late model blocks with early style clutch mechanisms. Note how the stock bellhousing has raised bosses. Because the scattershield flange is flat we had to measure and make spacers so the adapter is at the correct height.

We used steel bushings cut to the correct height. We also had to grind the flange on the Lakewood to obtain clearance for the adapter



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Pressed from 1/4" thick heat-treated steel, the Lakewood scattershield may save you from severe pain, but poses some heartaches during the installation process. Shown is part# 15203 for 289-351 engines and a T5 transmission.

Contacts

Lakewood Industries
Mr. Gasket Performance Group
10601 Memphis Ave., #12
Cleveland, Ohio 44144
216.688.8300
www.mrgasket.com

 


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