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Troubleshooting Article Archive:  January 2006      
Clutch Pump Drive Belts:  An Ounce of Prevention
The call invariably comes in at five minutes after 5 on a Friday afternoon, when every other vendor that might help answer the caller's question is closed for the weekend.  The caller's been on the side of the road for four hours with a tow truck that has a shredded clutch pump drive belt.  His question:  Do I know which belt to get for that tow truck's clutch pump, and exactly how do you route the belt around all the pulleys?

The clutch pump belt runs off a pulley on the engine's crankshaft and drives the engine-mounted hydraulic pump to power the tow truck equipment on smaller tow trucks that don't use a transmission-mounted PTO (Power-Take-Off).  It's a vexing problem when you lose the belt.  With the wonderful clarity that comes with realizing something too late, the answer occurs to the caller at about the time I mention it to them:  Write down the belt number, and a belt routing diagram, before the belt breaks.

Here are three reasons to write down the belt number and diagram:

1.  Clutch pump kits do not use the original factory belt that came from Chevrolet, Ford, Dodge, etc.  The installation of the clutch pump changes the length of the belt.  You cannot walk into the auto parts store, ask for a belt for a 2005 Ford F-450 with Powerstroke V8, and get the right belt if you use a clutch pump.

2.  Clutch pump kits do not use the original factory belt routing.  The installation of the clutch pump adds at least one pulley to the engine's array of pulleys and idlers, and sometimes also adds a tensioner that is different from the original.  You cannot depend on the belt diagram sticker that came with the chassis from the chassis manufacturer to tell you how to route the belt if you use a clutch pump.

3.  Often, when you lose the clutch pump drive belt you lose the number that's written on the belt.  Sometimes the belt shreds, sometimes the belt falls out of the truck.

Cut out the tag below and write on it the clutch pump belt number and a sketch of the belt routing.  Make one tag for each truck and photocopy it.  Keep one copy in the glove box of the truck and the other copy in the office.  Then buy a spare belt and keep it in the glove box, too.