Thunderbird SC
Ford Stock Flywheel
Swap to
McLeod Aluminum Flywheel

Please read this before doing any work

Table Of Contents:

Section 1 - Introduction

Section 2 - Items Needed

Section 3 - Removal Of 5-Speed

Part A - Removal Of Interior Pieces
Part B - Removal Of Exhaust
Part C - Removal Of Driveshaft
Part D - Removal Of Transmission
Part E - Removal Of Clutch Assembly
Part F - Removal Of Stock Flywheel
Part G - Removal Of Pilot Bearing

Section 4 - Aluminum Flywheel Instillation

Part A - Install New Pilot Bearing
Part B - Install Flywheel
Part C - Install Clutch Plate
Part D - Install Pressure Plate

Section 5 - Reinstalling The M5R2 Manual Tranny

Part A - Installing The 5-speed
Part B - Installing The Driveshaft
Part C - Installing The Exhaust
Part D - Bleeding The Slave Cylinder

Section 6 - Installing Interior Parts

Section 7 - Testing

Part A - Stand testing
Part B - Road testing

Section 1 - Introduction Here in is my best attempt at creating a complete documentation of my swapping from a stock flywheel to an aluminum flywheel.

First a little history about the stock flywheels. In 1989 Ford came out with the revolutionary car, the Super Coupe. Unfortunately Ford found out after only three months of 'production' that the Duracast crank they had chosen for their 215hp, 315ft lbs torque car was not sufficient. The stresses the Duracast crank was going through continually snapped and created other problems for the engine; because of this Ford changed the crank over to a Forged setup. Here is the first difference in flywheels in the Super Coupe, cars produced before March 1989 all had Duracast cranks. These cranks are externally balanced by the flywheel (5-speed) or flexplate (AOD). The cars produced from after March 1989 through 1993 all used the same flywheel and clutch assemblies. In 1994 Ford decided to increase contact area of the clutch with their increase in horsepower and torque. They went from an 11" clutch to 11.5".

Because of this, it is important you know what you're looking at when you upgrade your flywheel. If your 100% stock and have an early 1989 then your flywheel will look like this. If your SC was produced after March 1989 then it will not have the indention, which is the counterweight for the Duracast crank and is what balances the engine.

Pictured here is what the McLeod looks like up against the weighted early 89 flywheel. You can really see the difference.

The stock flywheels weights around 30 to 40 pounds, while the McLeod flywheel, a light weight aluminum setup with a steel insert for the contact area, weights only 14 pounds.

The principal of a lighter flywheel is easy to understand. It takes less force to make a light object, say a basketball, than it would a heavier object, say a cannon ball. The principal is the same with the flywheel, it takes less force to rotate the flywheel and therefor you actually acquire more force at the rear wheels. If your drag racing your flywheel's rotational velocity will change at least 8 times in the course of the track (assuming you use four gears). When you accelerate the flywheel speeds up and then each time you shift the flywheel slows down, so for each time you shift gears, you are changing the rotational velocity twice. The less weight you have to turn, the quicker the engine can spin up and the more you can get to the rear wheels.

Ok, that is enough principals, let's get on with the show!

Section 2 - Items needed


  • 1 - Aluminum Flywheel
  • 6 - New Flywheel Bolts
  • 6 - New Pressure Plate to Flywheel Bolts
  • 1 - Bottle Locktite
  • TOOLS:

  • 4 - Jackstands (tall)
  • 1 - Jackstand (shorter)
  • 1 - 3 Ton Jack with high-lift ability
  • 1 - Tranny jack
  • 1 - Tranny tie-down strap
  • 1 - Torque wrench
  • 1 - set of combination metric wrenches
  • 1 - set of standard metric wrenches
  • 1 - #2 Philips screwdriver
  • 2 - Flat head screwdrivers
  • 1 - set of metric sockets (8mm to 18mm)
  • 1 - set of standard sockets
  • 1 - short ratchet
  • 1 - long ratchet w/pivot head
  • 1 - 6" extension for ratchet
  • 1 - 18" extension for ratchet
  • 2 - Universal joints for ratchet
  • 1 - pry bar (at least 18" long)
  • 1 - Bottle of liquid dish soap
  • 1 - Creeper
  • 1 - blanket
  • 2 - Dozen or so rags
  • Section 6 - Removal Of 5-Speed Part A - Removal Of Interior Pieces Open the lid to the storage area of the center console and remove the three philips head screws. Open the ashtray and pull the tray out then pull the E-brake all the way up. Gently start to pull upwards on the beauty plate, making sure to tilt it up from the back of the car first, as you will have to unhook the ride control and fog lights (if so equipped). There are two things you can do at this point, you can remove the shifter knob and the boot will come up, or you can pull up the beauty plate high enough to gain access to the two bolts that hold the shifter arm together. You can now remove the beauty plate.

    It is advisable for you to do the rest of this interior removal procedure, if not followed you could cause severe damage to the lower shift boot ($150+ from Ford). Remove the two screws in the bottom of the compartment in the center console the two in the middle, and the two at the front. At this point the console should pull up, towards the rear of the car, and out. Once removed pull out the four bolts that hold the lower shift boot to the floorboard.

    Part B - Removal Of Exhaust First, jack the car up and put it on four jack stands. It is advisable to go in stages by, starting in the front, jacking the car up to the lowest position on the jack stands. Now jack the rear of the car up until you have the car at least 2' off the group (you'll need this for clearance of the transmissions). Once the rear is high enough, go back around front and raise it to match the rear. *SAFETY TIP* When using the jack make sure the wheels are able to roll properly. Position the wheels so they are already facing in the direction of travel the jack will go when the car goes up in the air. If careful attention is not paid here, you can actually have the car fall off the jackstands possibly injuring or killing you and really damaging the car. The car will be on the jacks the remainder of this walk-through.

    Unbolt the rear part of the exhaust from the resonator. The easiest way to remove the rest of the rear exhaust is off the black rubber hangers. To do this get some liquid dish washing soap and rub it all over the head of the metal shaft that sticks out of the rubber supports. You can then take a pry bar or long screw driver and gently work the metal hangers out. Be careful and have some supports ready, this unit is heavy and will hurt if it lands on you. Put this part out of the work zone.

    Removing the catalytic converters and resonator assembly is a bit more difficult. First, remove the O2 sensor on the passenger side and set it aside. On the driver's side remove the heat shield using a u-joint and ratchet, this will save your knuckles. Now you can see the nuts that are holding the downtubes to the headers. Again, use your U-joint and ratchet to remove the two nuts on each downtub. Go back to the resonator and gently pull towards the back of the car. You will see the hangers that go into the tranny crossmember slowly coming out (you can apply soap here if you want too, but it really isn't necessary). Make sure you have supports because this unit is almost as heavy as the rear part of the exhaust. Put this part out of the work zone.

    Part C - Removal Of Driveshaft First you will need a 12mm combination wrench that has a 12point surface to it. This will be used in removing the four bolts that hold the driveshaft to the differential (dif). Set the E-brake so the driveshaft will not turn on you and remove two bolts. Release the E-brake and turn the drive shaft 180, set the E-brake, and remove the remaining 2.

    There are two ways you can remove the driveshaft, the harder way is to drop the gas tank and the rear U-safety cage. The way I prefer, and the way shown here, is to lower the dif. First remove the ABS sensors that are attached to the dif and push them up out of the way. Now you'll need a 15mm combination wrench for the top of the bolt and a ratchet for the nut. I used a 4' long piece of pipe on the end of the ratchet for leverage. Completely remove the front two bolts and loosen the rear two so they have about 1/2" clearance between the nut and the chassis. Make sure you have a smaller jackstand ready and let the dif rotate downwards and rest on it. You will want to lower the dif as far as you can for optimal clearance. It is very heavy and needs to be supported during the rest of this swap. Now pull the driveshaft towards the back of the car pulling the yoke out of the back of the tranny. If you are unable to get it to come all the way out, you'll have more clearance when the tranny starts to come down (more on that later).

    Part D - Removal Of Transmission

    Take a piece of cardboard and draw an oval on it and then poke holes around the oval (about 1/2" diameter). This is going to represent your tranny and we are going to put the removed bolts into this. Starting at the top of the tranny take a short ratchet and a 1/2" socket and remove the bolts, working your way down. (Leave the bottom two bolts in). If you didn't disconnect the battery early, you had better do it now. Remove the starter (again 1/2" bolts) and the leads.

    Put the tranny jack underneath the M5R2 and strap it down. If you don't have a tranny jack you can use a regular floor jack, it's just a bit harder. Either case, it's important that you strap the tranny to the jack. These things weight a lot and they can easily break bones. I used a cargo-ratchet type strap with a regular floor jack.

    Now is the best time to remove the hydraulic line that goes from the master cylinder into the slave cylinder. When you look at the connector at the tranny you can see a white collar. This collar needs to be pushed into the sleeve so it can hit the release springs. Get two small, flat-head screwdrivers and gently push in. Make sure you work your way around and push the collar completely into the sleeve. With a bit of effort you can now pull the line out. Have a small cup or dish handy in case the hydraulic line leaks. If your seals leak then you will need to replace the line.

    Now that you have it strapped down remove the last two bolts on the front of the tranny. On the driver's side of the tranny unplug all of the wires. Remove the two bolts that hold the rear crossmember to the chassis.

    If your drive shaft didn't come all the way out you will need to gently let the tranny down and work the driveshaft out. You will only need to lower the tranny about 2" to get this accomplished.

    Now pull the jack and tranny towards the back of the car. This removes the input shaft from the crankshaft and clutch assembly area. Once you have it cleared, slowly lower the tranny to the floor. If you have problems pulling the tranny out it's because there are two alignment dowels that go from the tranny to the engine block. To get around this problem you can take a pry bar and gently work your way around the outside of the tranny. If you use the oil pan as a pry point do so VERY GENTLY! It's cast aluminum and can break VERY easily.

    Part E - Removal Of Clutch Assembly

    There are six bolts that hold the pressure plate to the flywheel. If you are going to reuse the old pressure plate you will want to slowly work your way around loosening all 6 bolts a few turns at a time. This will make sure that you keep equal pressure on the release arms in the center of the pressure plate. Be careful during the last few turns, as the pressure plate has no other supports than these bolts. The unit is heavy and can hurt if it hits you or damage other parts of the car. The bolts will not be used again, so discard them.*SAFETY TIP* The stock clutch is still made with asbestos. Asbestos is a health hazard and caution should be used when working around dust. Make sure proper safety equipment is worn.

    Part F - Removal Of Stock Flywheel The stock flywheel can be removed by extracting the 6 retaining bolts. These bolts will not be used again, so dispose of them. *SAFETY TIP* Old flywheel and Flexplate bolts can have microfractures in them. Anytime you do work on these items it's always advised to change them out.
    Part G - Removal Of Pilot Bearing There are two methods of removing the pilot bearing. The first one, which is the easiest, is to either purchase or rent a dual or triple prong slide-hammer type puller. The other way to remove the pilot bearing is to fill the cavity inside the crank with VERY dense packing grease, take an object with a slightly smaller diameter than the needle bearings inside the hole and hammer it into the grease. The principal is the hydraulic pressure will send the bearing flying out. I've not had too great of success this way, so I would advise to just go rent the puller unless you want a face full of grease.

    Section 4 - Aluminum Flywheel Instillation Part A - Install Pilot Bearing To install the pilot bearing simply put some long-life lithium grease on the outer part and gently tap it in. Make sure you only tap on the outside of the race being sure not to damage the bearing.
    Part B - Install Aluminum Flywheel The flywheel should either be new or if it's an old one, have the steel surfaced replaced. If you did purchase this used, never assume the surface is good, repeating this job in a few days would not be a fun task. The flywheel is another one of those items that is heavy and can do some damage if dropped on your body.

    Get your 6 new flywheel bolts and install the flywheel. It's important that you put locktite on these bolts and they are torqued to specs. The flywheel will require a star pattern to be used when tightening it down to ensure proper seating.

    Part C - Install Clutch Plate The clutch plate should be set inside the pressure plate. Make sure you have the flat face going towards the flywheel.
    Part D - Install Pressure Plate Make sure you have the proper shoulder bolts for the pressure plate. Incorrect bolts can cause vibration from misbalanced engine.

    Again, use locktite and tighten the bolts to specs. Make sure the clutch plate is centered with the pilot bearing and inner part of the crankshaft before tightening them all the way down. Again, a star pattern should be used. As you tighten the unit to specs the release fingers will be slowly pressed in by the pressure plate. It is important you follow the star pattern here, or you can create a serious issue with your release fingers.

    Section 5 - Installing The M5R2 Manual Tranny Part A - Installing The 5-speed Slowly jack the tranny up, being sure to keep enough clearance for the input shaft of the transmission around the clutch assembly. Once you have the input shaft lined up with the center of the clutch plate push the 5-speed forward. Starting at the bottom of the transmission install the bolts. Your now having to push the guide pins back in place, so it will not slip right into position. Do NOT install just one bolt at a time. Install the bolts in the star pattern again, which provides a proper seating of the tranny. Once you get all of the bolts in and the tranny sitting flush against the engine block tighten them to specs.

    Install the starter and reconnect it's leads.

    Attach the rear crossmember to the chassis. Make sure your rubber damper pads are in place. You can now release the strap and remove the jack from under the tranny.

    Part B - Installing The Driveshaft Slide the driveshaft forward and push yoke into the back of the tranny. Raise the dif up and install the front bolts and tighten all dif bolts to specs.

    Now pull the driveshaft the rest of the way back till it meats the flange on the front of the dif. Apply locktite and install the four 12mm bolts. If you can fit your torque wrench in there, then tighten them to specs, if not then do a "rough" judgement on it. Reattach the ABS sensors.

    Part C - Installing The Exhaust You will want to install the front part of the exhaust first. Soap up the metal rods and slide them into the crossmember mounts. Then install the four nuts that attach the cat-resonator assembly to the headers. Install the driver's side heat shield and the passenger side O2 sensor.

    Slide the rear exhaust into place. Soap up the hangers and starting with the middle hanger insert it into the black damper. It's a little rough, but with some pressure you can get the hangers into the rubber supports. Then install the rear hangers.

    Part D - Bleeding The Slave Cylinder Attach the hydraulic hose to the slave cylinder. NOTE: Do NOT remove the plastic that is wrapped around the hose, it's there for removal purpose. Make sure the plastic is slid all the way towards the plastic hose side and firmly press into the slave cylinder until it clicks. If your hose was used and looks damaged, you might want to replace it. The o-rings will, and do, leak.

    *Safety Tip* Any type of brake fluid is bad for your health and the environment. Extreme caution should be used when messing with this stuff. Don't get it in your eyes our mouth. Wipe it off your skin if you come in contact with it. If you get it on your paint, get it off IMMEDIATELY, because it'll take the paint off. Fill the fluid reservoir with DOT3 brake fluid. Have someone get inside the car to help you bleed the slave cylinder. To do this have an old piece of water house ready and open the top valve. Attach the hose and have the person GENTLY press down on the clutch pedal. After they have the pedal all the way down remove the hose and tighten the valve. Tell them to let up on the pedal. Once the pedal has returned to its upright position loosen the valve, put the house on, and repeat the process. Be sure to check the fluid level and fill if necessary. I found that for every two presses of the clutch pedal I had to fill up the reservoir. If it goes dry, you have to re-bleed the entire system again.

    TIP: If the fluid coming out is dirty, continue to bleed the system until it runs clean.

    Now we are finished under the car, so go clean up.

    Section 6 - Installing The Interior Parts Reinstall the weather boot.

    Tighten down the lower part of the center console.

    Reattach the shifter assembly per the way you removed it. Attach the ride control and fog light switches (if so equipped) and attach the beauty plate with the three philips screws.

    Section 7 - Testing Your now finished with the install, right? WRONG!

    Now is the time to test it! Just because you have it installed doesn't mean it's not going to have problems. Listed here are various problems that can occur and solutions to them. All of the following tests can be performed with the car in the air. Please note: you need to make sure the car is SECURED on the jackstands before doing this. Do not get the car in excessive speeds. You can tell a lot about the car just by having the rear-wheels doing 5 to 10 mph.

    Part A - Stand testing

    I get no power to the car.
    Did you attach the battery cables? If no, attach them.

    I can not get my car to start.
    Did you attach the clutch position switch? If no, attach it.
    Did you attach the starter cables to the starter? If no, attach them.
    Is the starter just spinning? Then you might have the wrong starter. Make sure it's attached firmly.

    I can get the car to start, but I can't get the clutch to engage
    Check to make sure it's pressing against the fingers of the pressure plate by having someone press the clutch while you watch the throw-out bearing. If it doesn't move, rebleed the system.

    The car runs fine, but I grind going into a gear.
    This is not good news for you. More than likely you have a bad syncro. Pull the tranny and have a shop look at it. A rebuild may be in order.

    The car runs fine, no grinding, but when I put it under slight power I get some bad vibrations.
    Check to make sure all of the bolts are tightened. This includes Driveshaft, dif, crossmember, and tranny to block bolts.
    All of bolts are fine, but still vibration. Try loosening the bolts (dif, crossmember) and letting the driveline find it's "natural" center. If it goes away under slight power then re-tighten the bolts.
    "Natural Center" didn't work, now what!? Remove the driveshaft to dif bolts and rotate the driveshaft one bolt hole. Retighten and test. if it still vibrates continue process until it's better.
    This still isn't working, HELP! Did you check the U-joints of the driveshaft? If you didn't check them and make sure they are good, replace if needed.

    Part B - Road testing

    Now, lower the car and take it for a test drive on the road!!!!

    If you have problems, check the Stand Test above for answers.

    Use of this document and anything contained within these pages is at the users own risk. By using this information contained herein you shall not hold TBK, TBKHomeworld, or any of it's parties responsible for any damage to your car or injury or death to yourself or any persons, animals, planets, or objects. Please be careful when you perform this work. Follow all safety procedures listed here and everyday safety procedures. USE YOUR BRAIN! Please be kind to the environment and dispose of toxic chemicals and substances properly.