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Old 05-29-2010, 08:17 AM   #1
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Hand clutch for left leg amputee

I was wondering if anybody knows anything about installing a hand clutch for a manual transmission or knows where to get one. Im sick of automatic transmissions and cant operate a pedal clutch very well with my prosthesis. I can shift but not very good. I wouldnt want to do it unless it was a life or death situation. Any help would be greatly appreciated by me and my husband, who is sick of me complaining about auto trans lol. Thanks guys!!!!
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Old 05-29-2010, 08:50 AM   #2
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Re: Hand clutch for left leg amputee

I ust have to say....My hats off to you. I have a bum left arm & hand, so hand controls weren't an option for me.

Unfortunately I don't have any specific info to share with you on this except....Check with your local hospitals & inquire about their Rehabilitation Dept. Someone there will know of a local source for what you need & all the info you'd need to get it done.
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Old 05-29-2010, 03:38 PM   #3
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Re: Hand clutch for left leg amputee

i tihnk it would have to be power assited and mounted to the steering wheel to work. I would think it would be dangerous and hard to have a lever elsewhere, and with the small amount of travel you would need to operate it with your fingers, the force needed would be pretty high. I have pretty strong hands, and i could definitely see it being pretty hard to squeeze, nevermind having smaller hands/shorter fingers. I cant see it being an easy or cheap job, but definitely doable if you found the right person.
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Old 05-29-2010, 06:50 PM   #4
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Re: Hand clutch for left leg amputee

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i tihnk it would have to be power assited and mounted to the steering wheel to work. I would think it would be dangerous and hard to have a lever elsewhere, and with the small amount of travel you would need to operate it with your fingers, the force needed would be pretty high. I have pretty strong hands, and i could definitely see it being pretty hard to squeeze, nevermind having smaller hands/shorter fingers. I cant see it being an easy or cheap job, but definitely doable if you found the right person.
Do you need strong hands to get a 10-ton crane to lift 10 tons? No....That is where the hydraulic power assist comes in.

Since they already have double hand controls for gas & brake, then adapting one to clutch use would only require a little modification.

Believe me....I looked into all this as I got back to where I could drive again. Just over 1.5yrs of no driving.....
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Old 05-29-2010, 07:07 PM   #5
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Re: Hand clutch for left leg amputee

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Do you need strong hands to get a 10-ton crane to lift 10 tons? No....That is where the hydraulic power assist comes in.

Since they already have double hand controls for gas & brake, then adapting one to clutch use would only require a little modification.

Believe me....I looked into all this as I got back to where I could drive again. Just over 1.5yrs of no driving.....
which is exactly what i said, it would need to be power assisted, and more than just your typical hydro clutch. You're not going to be able to use one of the typical universal gas/brake mechanical lever setups, it would have to be somewhat more elaborate. Actually the best way i could see doing it is having something mounted to the shifter. Maybe using some sort of servo and a potentiometer to control the servo amp mounted on a lever attached to the shifter. Oh, that could actually be pretty fun to make!
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Old 05-30-2010, 08:43 AM   #6
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Re: Hand clutch for left leg amputee

Ive searched online for hours and havent found anything on clutches. Id have thought someone would make one. I guess not. Cant find nothing but gas/brakes. Maybe I need to design and market one lol. This really sucks. I can fly a multi million dollar aircraft and operate all the foot pedal controls but cant push in a clutch. It seems like its the angle thats killin me. Ill have to come up with and idea to make a hand clutch that dont take the hulk to engage. Maybe use gears or somekind of leverage design? Any ideas are welcome....and thanks for all the input so far. Alot of people would be like screw that chick, must suck to be her. So thank you soooooooooooo much for being the most awesome car community in the entire world. I was able to help a fellow 3rd gen f-body yesterday on the road. 88 Trans Am needed a little gas to put in the carb to get er' started and I happened to have my gas can. Anyways hope yas all have a smashin weekend and happy Memorial Day!
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Old 05-30-2010, 09:09 AM   #7
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Re: Hand clutch for left leg amputee

Maybe using the clutch pedal as just an electrical switch, to turn a linear activator on/off (in/out)?

http://www.firgelliauto.com/default.php

Just need to get one with the right stroke & can use leverage to get the right stroke and/or leverage force, same way a clutch fork works.

Wouldn't be all that hard to build, but then it would be electrical & you wouldn't want an electrical short to engage the clutch suddenly & take away power driving down the road! While that wouldn't be a big deal (you'd just slow down) the short could also engage suddenly while your 2 feet away from a wall or a person walking in front of your car. That would suck!

You've got the wheels spinning in my head now. Using a linear activator, it wouldn't be very hard to build.
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Old 05-30-2010, 11:40 AM   #8
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Re: Hand clutch for left leg amputee

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Maybe using the clutch pedal as just an electrical switch, to turn a linear activator on/off (in/out)?

http://www.firgelliauto.com/default.php

Just need to get one with the right stroke & can use leverage to get the right stroke and/or leverage force, same way a clutch fork works.

Wouldn't be all that hard to build, but then it would be electrical & you wouldn't want an electrical short to engage the clutch suddenly & take away power driving down the road! While that wouldn't be a big deal (you'd just slow down) the short could also engage suddenly while your 2 feet away from a wall or a person walking in front of your car. That would suck!

You've got the wheels spinning in my head now. Using a linear activator, it wouldn't be very hard to build.
if it's built right, i think it would be safe enough. There are plenty of drive-by-wire cars on the road.
I think you'd want something a little more accurate than what you posted, but the concept is pretty spot on, and one could be made to handle the load and control it nicely. There's a fine line between slipping the clutch and total engagement or disengagement. That point will change over time too. You'd have to have pretty precise control over it, which is why i was thinking a servo and maybe a plc that can do motion control. The clutch lever could just have a pot on it, but you could get fancy and have an encoder. This could also be made as a universal unit so it could go from car to car with not too much work. A slightly cheaper route would be a stepper motor instead of a servo, and it would accomplish the same thing, except there's more chance for error.
Now here's the only part that i'm unsure of... you dont get a ton of power with a car battery, so the servo would have to be fairly small. I think gear reduction would be needed, and we'd definitely want something that was fairly high velocity to keep up so you dont smoke your clutch right away.

There might be easier ways to do it, but i've built a couple CNC machines and this is what i'm familiar with from those projects.

I really think a hand clutch setup could be made that alot of people would even prefer over a foot clutch.
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Old 05-30-2010, 11:47 PM   #9
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Re: Hand clutch for left leg amputee

I just had another thought.... I wonder how hard it would be to have the clutch and gas pedal reversed. I could then easily install a hand throttle and work the clutch with my right leg. Does that sound possible or am I barking up the wrong tree here. I know either way isnt going to be simple but I'm willing to take the time and money if it means I'll be able to drive a stick like a person with 2 legs. I just need to figure out a plan and then where to start.
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Old 05-30-2010, 11:58 PM   #10
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Re: Hand clutch for left leg amputee

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I just had another thought.... I wonder how hard it would be to have the clutch and gas pedal reversed. I could then easily install a hand throttle and work the clutch with my right leg. Does that sound possible or am I barking up the wrong tree here. I know either way isnt going to be simple but I'm willing to take the time and money if it means I'll be able to drive a stick like a person with 2 legs. I just need to figure out a plan and then where to start.
well the problem is you'd need to press the brake and clutch at the same time, most of the time. I know it is completely possible to set something up that would be awesome to drive, but i dont think this is the best forum to find your answers. This is best suited for a forum for automation, robotics, etc.
I think it's a pretty worthwhile project. It would probably be worth producing on some small scale.
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Old 05-30-2010, 11:59 PM   #11
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Re: Hand clutch for left leg amputee

I just found one online. It doubles as a clutch or brake control. I emailed for more info and price list. I hope this is what Im looking for. Im absolutely dieing to drive a stick again. Its been so long. The car I had when I lost my leg was a manual trans (88 Pontiac Fiero which my lil sister still has) .........that was like 10 years ago. Seems like 4ever!!!!!
When I find out more I'll post it so it might help out someone else in the future.
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Old 05-31-2010, 04:48 AM   #12
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Re: Hand clutch for left leg amputee

You could try installing hand controls that push on the clutch pedal instead of the brake pedal.

I bought a G-body that had hand controls installed when I test drove it. throttle like a motorcycle & brake by pushing forward on the handle. Although it would take some practice to clutch w/ the left hand and shift w/ the right, I think it could be done as the most straightforward option to install.
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Old 05-31-2010, 04:56 PM   #13
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Re: Hand clutch for left leg amputee

The only down side I can see to using a hand operated clutch is, 1 hand on the clutch, 1 hand on the shifter.....no hands on the wheel. I think the best bet is some sort of assisted clutch like suggested. A linear actuator in place of the slave cylinder on the bell housing would work, but would require someone well versed in them to get it right. It would need to be varible instead of full on/off. It would work just like the stock pedal, but would have virtually no resistance when pushing, and would probably need a spring type return to get it back up.

Basically it would work like this. The pedal would have sensors to determine how much youre pressing it, then would send the signal to some sort of controller, which would then drive the actuator, pushing the clutch fork the same amount as the hydraulic slave cylinder would at the precise pedal position. Its not impossible, but very difficult. Id try looking for someone who is very well schooled in robotics since thats basically what youd be converting to.
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Old 06-01-2010, 02:11 AM   #14
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Re: Hand clutch for left leg amputee

Ok lets think like a motorcycle, they have hydraulic hand clutches. What if one were to install the hydraulic hand lever onto the shifter? Then you have the same hand for the clutch and shifter.
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Old 06-01-2010, 03:00 AM   #15
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Re: Hand clutch for left leg amputee

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Ok lets think like a motorcycle, they have hydraulic hand clutches. What if one were to install the hydraulic hand lever onto the shifter? Then you have the same hand for the clutch and shifter.
Motorcycle pressure plates arent nearly as stiff as automotive ones. And especially not as stiff as ones for big V8 muscle cars.

But I think this is the right idea but Im not sure how feasible it is. I wonder if there's some way to power assist the hydraulics. You're going to have a certain amount of tension, you can either spread it over a longer distance and make it easier to pull or a shorter distance and make it hard to pull. The distance you can pull with your fingers isnt going to be very far if it's already around a shift ****. But it wouldn't be hard to add a bike style clutch lever to the shifter shaft either... I wonder if theres some way to use some sort of brakebooster-ish vacuum assisted clutch?


Also, what about going to a full manual valve body automatic?

Last edited by InfernalVortex; 06-01-2010 at 03:09 AM.
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Old 06-01-2010, 05:53 AM   #16
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Re: Hand clutch for left leg amputee

As a former heavy equipment mech and a licensed aircraft mechanic, I think there is a very simple solution. Your clutch is already hydraulic -- all you need is something like a hydroboost unit and a solenoid valve, which you could operate electrically.
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Old 06-01-2010, 10:32 PM   #17
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Re: Hand clutch for left leg amputee

some time ago i read about female race car driver, she drove a mustang with a t56 the thing was that she's was in a wheelchair, any how i didn't find the exact web page but maybe this can help you

http://www.tiger-racing.com/show_car_info.html
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Old 06-01-2010, 11:24 PM   #18
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Re: Hand clutch for left leg amputee

I started thinking about the post above about one hand on the shifter, other hand engaging the clutch....Then no hand on a steering wheel and thought of this Reverses lock-out shifter......

Click the image to open in full size.

I know it is for Automatics, but what about putting that handle on a T5/T56? It would position the clutch switch with the shifting hand & leave the other hand free to steer.

It would work with either an electric solenoid to engage/disengage the clutch...Or use it as a manual cable operated clutch. The cable part might be hard, unless the clutch is real soft.

Just another avenue to ponder.
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Old 06-02-2010, 01:01 AM   #19
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Re: Hand clutch for left leg amputee

Thats a pretty good idea. But it would work better with a pistol grip type shifter than the ball. The only thing about a hand operated clutch is its gonna be hard to gauge the engagement point with anything electrically operated. But Im sure it would be something that would just take getting used to.
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Old 06-02-2010, 12:45 PM   #20
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Re: Hand clutch for left leg amputee

Not really sure how much you are looking to spend and if you are really wanting a shift lever, but have you thought about paddle shifters? There is a guy I know that put paddle shifters in his 95Z. Yes it won't be the same, but would be pretty cool. His car domain site is below. I could PM you his email address if you like.

http://www.cardomain.com/ride/2248384
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Old 06-02-2010, 12:59 PM   #21
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Re: Hand clutch for left leg amputee

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Not really sure how much you are looking to spend and if you are really wanting a shift lever, but have you thought about paddle shifters? There is a guy I know that put paddle shifters in his 95Z. Yes it won't be the same, but would be pretty cool. His car domain site is below. I could PM you his email address if you like.

http://www.cardomain.com/ride/2248384
Paddles are used on electronic shifted automatics, not manual transmissions. So you'd hafta use a 4L60E. Wouldn't work on a T5/T56.
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Old 09-19-2010, 10:18 PM   #22
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Re: Hand clutch for left leg amputee

Stick with the automatic. You do just fine with that. Everyone has alot of good ideas though. Maybe someone will build a new type of steering wheel mounted hand clutch and become the next new millionaire!
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Old 09-22-2010, 03:10 PM   #23
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Re: Hand clutch for left leg amputee

I work for a company that custom builds gearboxes, does a lot of Muncie 4speeds and also sells tremec parts; and I was born with spastic and ataxic Cerebral Palsy. I have to drive my car (an automatic now) with a set of "Adaptive Controls" I use an "Accelerator Left-Of Brake pedal. I wonder with a hydraulic or cable type clutch, if you could adapt this idea to the situation; move the gas pedal to your left, for use with the reduced mobility prosthesis and have the clutch on the right for use with your "better" leg?

If someone can come up with a clutch and figure out about the DOT legalities of it, let me know. The problem in NY is that my pedal had to technically be installed by a "Licensed NY Installer" which amounts to a scam artist who hit me up for almost a grand for 2hrs of basic handtool work. In my T/A I bought the pedal out of state and installed it myself. The only rub is the pedal I got could only be hardmounted (4 socket head cap screws so its technically removeable) BUT it takes a few minutes if someone else wants to drive. So if you remove the clutch or modify it significantly, realize these may be issues. Call your DMV and get info on what adaptive controls are legal in your state.

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Old 09-22-2010, 03:10 PM
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