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Part 1



At 3000 miles, I replaced the OEM torque converter (pulley and belt assembly) on my 2014 Ranger 900 XP. There are a bunch of great videos on how to do it so I will direct you to them before you do the swap yourself. What this article is about is the stuff many of the videos leave out. I bought my DuraClutch through Hunterworks and Todd is awesome but, he has a life too and I only had one question come up (of course, on a Sunday!) so I didn't expect a text back until Monday. Here is the other stuff that might pop up if you decide to swap to the DuraClutch.


First of all, the instruction that come with the DuraClutch (DC) are very basic. They assume you know how to get the cover off your machine and there are some tricks I discovered to that. But first, here's what you get in the box with your new clutch assembly...








To get my cover off, I was faced with the air box in the way. The simplest solution I discovered was simply to leave the airbox intact (closed) and undo the three screws holding it on the frames and then undo the three hose clamps running to it and remove it intact. Problem is, when I tried to remove the screws, they just turned. Evidently, the "assembly technician" in Mexico did not have his screw gun calibrated to "middle tight." It was on 100 ft lbs and destroyed the screw, rendering it unwilling to unscrew. I had to put a load of "help" on it from behind the screw head to get it to back out. The other two were also nearly stripped. I re-assembled the same screw in the same hole with two washers to keep the stripped part from going to the frame. Worked great...





Now, with the air box safely out of the way, I discovered the plastic cover has clearance issues coming away from the case on the bottom half. Primarily, there is a zirc fitting on my machine that is right in the way, so I removed it (upper blue by the bottom of the cover). I still ended up "tweaking the cover to get it to come off after removing the 8 sheet metal screws that hold the cover on.






Once the cover comes away, the removal of the old primary and secondary is easy. But I was initially stunned to see a dry zirc fitting at the output shaft to the front differential! No way could you get to this thing without having the cover off. I made sure to make a big note to remind myself to lube that zirc before replacing the cover.






The secondary comes off first, replaced by the new secondary. Getting the pulleys to remain still is the job of the special tool that comes with the kit. Its a spanner on one end with a smaller hook on the other end. As Todd said, there is no easy way to use this thing but, I hooked mine on the lower frame bits... Here the tool is jamming my old primary...




One concern that triggered the call to Todd was, when I replaced the secondary, the DC unit is wider than the OEM secondary. I has about half an inch of spline on the DC secondary sticking out from the transmission splined shaft. That is normal.


I borrowed a friend's removal tool (puller rod) for the primary and found it a bugger. Rather than stripping the threads on the puller, I removed it, greased them and the tip of the puller and screwed it back in. It took a fair amount of torque to finally pop the old primary off. My engine crankshaft was pristine. I wondered how easy this would be for guys who drive their Rangers like submarines underwater? A little rust would make that a lot harder.


Once the secondary is happily torqued on (45lbs) you use the spanner wrench supplied to pry back the flyweights, opening up the pulley enough to get the belt in about an inch. That gives you enough belt to get the primary installed.



The last step was to clean the engine shaft with alcohol and re-install the new primary. To manhandle the primary, I left the puller halfway in with 1/2" of the rod sticking out the back and it made getting the primary on quite easy. Use the new hex bolt supplied with the DC and torque to 60lbs and you are done.
 

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Part 2


So what is the big deal with DuraClutch? From the outside, the DC primary is only slightly bigger...





The big difference is in the construction. The DC has a clutch pack built into the assembly that engages under centrifugal force as the RPM increases off idle. You can see them by sliding the sheave over. This clutch surface allows almost instant transmission engagement as the idle comes up and the engagement is very smooth. Plus, the valley of the primary is slightly deeper resulting in a lower granny gear feel on initial takeoff.






The secondary is a different design and reportedly more robust that the OEM secondary. The DC secondary does not come apart like the OEM so I could not get pictures for you.





Once the Dc is installed, all that is left is re-installing the cover (Don't forget to lube that fitting!) and the airbox. I got all that done and started the machine up. The DC makes some faint clanking and rattling at idle. I drove it about 500 feet and when I came to a halt, I heard something grinding. I recognized that as the primary grinding on the cover but, only at idle. I drove back to the garage and it only did it again at idle.



Todd's instructions from Hunterworks identifies a way to "tweak" the cover to ensure you have the max clearance. Didn't work for me. Another option was trying to heat the cover and bend out some more room. Not a good idea on heavy ABS plastic and it would likely revert once summer returned. Here is what my inside cover looked like after I sanded the damage lightly. It was a scratch but that told me I needed to take down the high spots on the primary.







I measured the cover and checked it for warping. It was nice and flat. Turns out, the nuts on the primary are a sharp edged tall nut that creates a conflict. So, I used a flap sander on my 4.5 inch welding grinder and took about 1/16th off with the engine idling and the primary spinning. Did the trick. And you can still get the nuts off if necessary.





I gotta give The Hillard Corporation a big FAIL for zero clearance on the bigger primary. For $1400, there should be no clearance issues. But, the fix was simple. It would be nice if they would incorporate this idea into production because it kinda sucks to grind your clutch cover after installation. I spent an easy hour trying to get the cover to not make contact. It would work great until I drove a distance and then went to idle. Then is sounded like a 10 inch chainsaw was trying to cut its way out of my motor.



After the cover issue, I called it a day, having only drive up and down my driveway. Initially, I did not like the feel of the clutch engagement and the higher RPMs under 10 mph. The next day I took it out for a faster cruise and discovered I liked the DC a lot. The clutch pack has to wear in like any abrasive surface and mine is way more positive now, and will get better. (I remembered the first drive on new brake pads feel like no brakes until they bed in.) The cool thing about the DC is, the RPM winds up to 4000 RPM until about 20 MPH and then holds 4000 RPM as the DC transitions to 30 mph, still at 4000 RPM. This means the vehicle is quieter at 30 mph than the OEM system. Above 30, it takes another 1000 RPMs to get to 40 mph. That saves the engine from running at such high RPMs at those speeds and seems a lot quieter as well.


So far, the only learning-curve item is the fact that the belt is never disengaged, like the OEM unit. So, when you come to a stop, if you don't want a fast deceleration under idle engine power, if you feather the power slightly, it slows down very nicely. There is a point on my throttle where the power is totally idle, or slightly power on. If I get into a position where the throttle bounces back and forth, it can give you a surging feeling as you come to a stop. Just something to get used to. The last 5 mph should be done at idle. I'll train my right foot.


Hope that helps someone out there on the fence about whether to make the jump to the DuraClutch. I found it especially smooth when hauling my chipper shredder out to grind up some downed branches. The more I drive it, the more I like it.
 

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After 100 miles...

Many posters who have swapped to the DuraClutch have said that it transformed the way their Ranger drove. I would agree with that.


(Once again, for new owners: The OEM "transmission" has no real clutch. The clutch job is performed by the belt in the torque converter (two-pulley variable speed device). Your OEM clutch feel is a rubber belt being grabbed by your primary as the pulley gets narrower with engine RPM. In the DuraClutch, the belt is ALWAYS held tight by the primary and secondary pulleys. The clutching function is handled by a real honest-to-gosh centrifugal clutch (just like a mini-bike) built into the middle of the primary. As RPMs rise, the friction pads come in contact with metal and eventually "lock up," essentially freezing your primary to the engine output shaft.)



After 50 miles or so, my DuraClutch clutch pack had bedded in (worn in like new brake pads do to give maximum friction on engagement) and it hooks up smoothly and positively once you get a little RPM going. The DC hooks up at a lower RPM than the OEM belt "clutch" primary and, because of the way it's designed, the Ranger now has a new "granny gear" after initial clutch hook-up. Clearly the Hillard engineers wanted to make sure the clutch pack had plenty of time to get locked up before much strain was put on the clutch pack. This subtle design feature works really well and helps protect the clutch pack from slippage.


Another way they protect the clutch pack is by the way the springs and counterweights in the primary and secondary are set up. The engine initially goes to a slightly higher RPM as your Ranger accelerates but as speed increases, the secondary takes up more effort. (This keeps the clutch pack firmly engages at ow speeds.) The result is as your engine gets up to 3500 RPM, the ute slowly accelerates to about 30-35 mph. To go 45 mph only requires 1000 more RPM. My initial feel is, the DC lowers noise somewhat due to the lower RPM at higher speed.


Negatives? I kind of miss my ability to coast the last 10 mph to a stop. The DC remains hooked up until about 1 mph. I used to cruise into my garage and kill the engine as I coasted to a stop where I would just touch a plastic garbage can as a parking "marker." First time I tried that with the DC, I nearly banged my head against the windshield! It stopped right now. Is that bad? No. Just different. You cannot push the ute with the engine off unless it is in neutral.



Another "learning item due to the constant engine engagement is doing gradual stops. In the mornings I haul two of my dogs for a ride in the bed. I try and decelerate as smoothly as possible and when the OEM system switched into coast mode, a smooth stop was easy. With the DC, unless you want to slow fairly rapidly under engine deceleration, you have to feather the gas. If you have just the bare minimum of gas going to slow your deceleration and you hit a bump that causes your gas-pedal foot to get right in that "minimum gas-no gas" zone, you can get an oscillation going where the ute starts lurching to a stop. The trick there is to get off the gas at a slightly higher speed to prevent this. For rock crawling, that constantly locked-up feel would be killer coming down hill.


But, because your belt is always tightly held by the pulleys in the DC, when you go to accelerate from a walking speed after the clutch has disengaged, the DC clutch pack smoothly re-engages and the ute power comes on without that "lurch" we all experienced with the OEM pulley system. That instantly puts a smile to a Ranger owners face.


And, after 6-8 hours of operation, not a sound from my pulley housing cover. Sanding the nut edges down just a tad totally eliminated the clearance problem I experienced. The DC does make a quiet "rattling" sound at idle but, that totally goes away once the clutch lock up under power. With the quieter pulley operation at speed, I am noticing new noises from the drivetrain I'll have to troubleshoot. I think the half-shafts coming out of the transmission are a little worn and are clunking of squeeking under way. Wish those were lube-able.


Net-net: I am glad is swapped to the DuraClutch. I wish Polaris had offered this as stock for their machines. Thanks again to Todd at Hunterworks for his assistance in getting me set up with the right DC system for my Ranger 900.
 

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Thanks CCRay for great information and photos of duraclutch installation and general info. A friend and I installed the duraclutch on my 2017 ranger 900xp (non-EBS). The installation went pretty smooth. it was low 30s for temp so not all that comfy. We currently have tracks on for winter use for accessing our cabin in the mountains. Having engine braking when working on steep slopes will be very nice. It was really easy to notice the difference in take off from a stop. We back the ranger into a shed on wheels near the access road for winter. Since the shed opening is about 7'-6", backing up the ramps into it has been a challenge with the tracks. With the duraclutch, the lower rpm engagement and lower speed is fantastic. Along with the STI Traction Control System that I installed the 1st winter of use, I am really happy with Duraclutch additions to my ranger. Before installing the TCS, I had a real issue turning in powder snow as the rear tracks would just push me straight.
 

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Update on my Duraclutch installation. After a winter of using our ranger with the new duraclutch, I am fully satisfied. I have been running all winter with tracks on and love the ease of take off and the control of engine braking when going down steep hills. I have to back into a narrow shed with ramps when i leave the ranger. This was really a challenge with the jerky take off before - so smooth now.
Love it.
 
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