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> Barillaro Speed Emporium Muscle Z-Bar Kit - How To Install A Muscle Z-Bar
post Feb 7 2011, 06:48 PM
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Barillaro Speed Emporium Has Introduced A Strong And Durable Clutch Linkage To Replace The Flimsy Factory Equalizer Bar
From the February, 2011 issue of Mustang Monthly
By Jim Smart
Photography by Jim Smart

How we feel about our classic Mustangs gets complicated because we're intoxicated by their good looks and fun-to-drive characteristics. Yet there are elements that can make them darned frustrating to live with. Window and door mechanisms are challenging because you never know when they're going to act up. Jittery voltage regulators make the ammeter dance around like a nervous neurotic. Undersized radiators frequently leave us hot under the collar. And then there's the flimsy clutch linkage that tends to fold over when using a high-performance pressure plate and clutch. Even with the stock clutch, the linkage delivers more than its share of grief.
The vintage Mustang's stock clutch linkage isn't a bad design. In fact, it isn't much different than most from the era. When properly installed and adjusted, it works quite well. But when we ask the stock equalizer bar (also known as a Z-bar) and its linkage to handle the added pressure of a high-performance clutch setup, it can bend or break-or both. This is where the Muscle Z-Bar from Barillaro Speed Emporium makes a nice, drop-in replacement for the stock equalizer bar even if you're running a stock light-pressure clutch.

We've enlisted the help of Mustangs Etc. to guide us through the process of Muscle Z-Bar installation and clutch adjustment.

This is the Muscle Z-Bar kit from Barillaro Speed Emporium for '65-'66 Mustangs (#MB2001). What makes it better than stock is its heavy gauge steel with deep penetrated welds, spherical pivot points, and adjustable Heim joint rod ends. Operation is smooth with solid stability once installed and adjusted.

The Muscle Z-Bar is fully adjustable at the clutch fork and at both ends of the clutch pedal pushrod.

This enables you to fine-tune pedal height to get your clutch exactly where you like it.

This is the '65-'66 clutch linkage with an adjustable pushrod between the clutch pedal and equalizer bar.

For '67-'73, Ford moved the clutch adjustor underneath at the clutch fork.

To begin removal of the factory clutch linkage, the clutch pedal pushrod is disconnected from the equalizer shaft. It's a good idea to use WD-40 or other penetrating lubricant before fastener removal.

The clutch pedal pushrod is connected under the dash via a cotter pin. Remove the cotter pin to release the clutch pedal pushrod.

The clutch fork security spring is removed to free up the fork and equalizer shaft.

The clutch release rod is disconnected next by removing the cotter pin.

The clutch equalizer shaft bracket is removed next. Two bolts are removed using a 1/2-inch box end wrench. These bolts cannot be seen, which means doing it by feel.

The factory clutch equalizer shaft (also known as the Z-bar) is removed next.

Here's the factory clutch equalizer shaft assembly. The two-hole bracket fastens to the framerail beneath steering column. The empty end sits on a pivot stud screwed into the block or block bracket. Muscle Z-Bar uses the stock bracket and pivot stud.

The stock nylon bushings are removed...

...from the chassis bracket and engine pivot stud.

The Muscle Z-Bar assembly includes felt seals, which keep dust and dirt out of the spherical pivot bearings, which take the place of the original nylon bushings.

The Muscle Z-Bar is installed as shown, with the stock bracket returning to its original location.

Anti-cease is used on the Heim joint threads for easy adjustment in the future.

Here's the Muscle Z-Bar clutch release rod installed and ready for adjustment.

The clutch return spring has been installed. Adjustment comes after clutch pedal pushrod and Heim joints have been installed and adjusted.

Installation varies from car to car. In this case, our clutch pedal pushrod was not parallel with the equalizer bar. Mustangs Etc. just happened to have a Thermactor smog pump shim in stock, using it as a shim on our clutch pedal pushrod and equalizer shaft to get the rod parallel.

Adjustment begins by getting the Heim joints (rod ends) so the pedal is at rest at the stop. Underneath, adjust the clutch release rod so the release bearing doesn't touch the clutch fingers, yet it releases at a comfortable point in pedal travel.

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