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Aftermarket gets down to the specifics of the day-to-day for one of Schaeffler’s REPXPERTS, who specialises in LuK Clutches

12.08.21

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Day in the life

Aftermarket gets down to the specifics of the day-to-day for one of Schaeffler’s REPXPERTS, who specialises in LuK Clutches

Being single can be fun, but it can have its disadvantages, especially if you are a flywheel within the clutch of a modern engine, where the strain can get to be too much. We say “too” but we mean “two” as in dual, as in dual-mass flywheels (DMF), as opposed to traditional single-mass flywheels. Are you following us so far? 

Well, this is the message that Lez Crossley, a Schaeffler REPXPERT with a laser focus on LuK clutch products has been getting over for the last eight years. However, despite delivering training to technicians across the UK every day, it’s a message that still needs to be put out there. Lez said: “Although the DMF has been in production for over 35 years, it’s still a mystery to a lot of mechanics to be fair. I’ve been with Schaeffler since 2007, and I have done all the shows, like Mechanex, over that period, and I remember at one of the first ones, someone said ‘What’s up with DMFs? Why do we have them? What’s wrong with a solid flywheel?’ And do you know? If I went to a show today, I can guarantee someone would come in and make that same comment, they’d ask me why they are there and why we need them!”

So, what’s the answer?

“What mechanics need to think about are the objectives that drive the vehicle manufacturers (VMs), which are cost, fuel economy and emissions. Cost because they need to be profitable, fuel economy because that’s what their customers need and emissions because they have a legal obligation. The ideal scenario for VMs therefore is to produce small capacity engines that, working with the necessary transmission technology, are also powerful enough to allow their vehicles to travel at 70mph at as low rpm as possible (which is known as ‘downspeeding’), which delivers the low fuel consumption and emission goals that they seek.

“Instrumental in that solution is the DMF because, the result of the trend towards smaller capacity forced induction engines with fewer cylinders, is a significant increase in the torsional vibration these units produce. The DMF absorbs the majority of that vibration through its sprung mass, which, due to its complex design, allows it to provide up to around 180° of movement.

“This allowed VMs to get a long way towards their emissions targets, but it was the development of the LuK DMF flywheel with an integrated centrifugal pendulum absorber that took it to the next level, as that technology can absorb close to 99% of torsional vibration, allowing engines to operate smoothly at a very low rpm.”

Day-in-day-out


There’s the why behind the ongoing need for very specific DMF-focused training to take place, and the day for Lez starts with getting the equipment together in the van to allow him to do the training at the garage itself. 

“Then we do the first part of the training course, and after explaining that our LuK 2CT training is IMI-approved, we introduce double clutch technology and the reasons why it was developed. We then explain a little about the other components, which then gives us an opportunity to talk about some of the replacement parts we provide, such as the LuK RepSet 2CT, Schaeffler’s unique repair solution for dry double clutch systems, including Volkswagen’s DSG.

“This naturally also gives us an opportunity to introduce the DMF, why the VMs fit them and what they need to look out for when working with them. This means that when they are dealing with a problem, they will understand the reason why it is there, how to check it and what to look for when it is getting to the end of its life, for example.”

We wondered how familiar many are with these systems. “You get both ends of the scale,” observed Lez. “You will have somebody that has come prepared and has looked it all up online beforehand, and they have a reasonable understanding of it. Then you have those who are just attending to gain some knowledge.”

Diagnosing the fault


A lack of knowledge is often reflected in how the systems are treated in the workshop, and how problems are diagnosed: “In a lot of cases, when they get a vehicle in that has a knocking, they just assume that the DMF is to blame. They don’t necessarily understand what other factors could be causing a problem. It is a case of looking at the symptom, not the actual cause.

“As we said before, the DMF is a solution that the VMs rely on and more than 130 million DMFs have been produced for original fitment, and, because of the cost pressures they are under, it’s designed to last for two clutch lifetimes, under normal conditions. Even so, if they have a vehicle in that has done 100,000 miles, they often automatically assume that the DMF will be worn because of wear and tear, but in many cases, it could well be that something else on the vehicle is causing it to wear out prematurely. 

“Any extra misbalance in the engine due to the fact that you have a misfire or an EGR valve that is blocked, or anything else that upsets the natural rhythm of the engine will basically then overwork the DMF. So, testing and measuring the movement of the DMF is an important part of the repair process, rather than simply replacing it.

“All this information is explained during the training, and it is all also available through the REPXPERT app, which is mechanics can install for free on their smartphones.”

Purpose 


Considering we are talking about a very specific area of the vehicle, it can take a long time to cover all the relevant information, so you want to make sure as many people as possible are in on the sessions: “As I said, it is a IMI-certified course, and there are usually two of us in the van that carry out the training.  On a garage visit, we usually train anywhere between one and four technicians during a normal day. Sometimes you go there and it could be that two garages have come together, and one has said to the other ‘we’ll do it at your place’, which also makes better use of our time as well.”

Of course, over the last year it has been a bit different. Indeed, pre COVID-19 most of our Day in the Life articles were done in the field, but here we are online. With this in mind, we asked Lez if he had been doing a lot of online training:  “I did a lot of Zoom calls, but was also on furlough so it was very disjointed. However, we are back out visiting garages again and doing what we enjoy doing. “

Lez has been in the industry for 35 years, moving from being a parts manager in a dealership to a career on the component side with the likes of Febi Bilstein and ultimately Schaeffler. We wondered if he envisioned a life as a trainer back then: “It definitely came as a surprise. Earlier on, I would not have had the confidence. It’s only as time has gone on and I have a better understanding of the product that I am dealing with, so in the end, it was a natural progression.”

Over the last year, others in the REPXPERT team have been doing the short-sharp online instructional Tea-Break Training sessions and the LuK guys have been a big part of that: “I feel these have been a real benefit to mechanics,” affirmed Lez. “It was something we were somewhat forced to do out of necessity, but they were really well received, and it complements the live training nicely. You can get a certain amount across in a live training session, but if you can also do it in little pieces, getting the main points across, and keep re-delivering it in different formats, it all helps to get the message across.”