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So for those that have kids or taught someone how to drive stick, what are you tips. This was our first outing and he did ok, I am just looking for sage advice from the collective group. He will be 17 in December and feel this is about the right time to get him started. 

Joe Fortino 

 

-2016 Beck Suby Speedster - Batavia, IL

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I taught my son on both the Cayman and the Spyder. The Cayman is easier, it has more momentum in the flywheel, and more torque. My daughter wants to learn, we need to find the time.

At the Motorcycle Safety Foundation license school, they had us sitting there for 5 minutes just repeatedly finding the engagement point. Both feet down, just rocking forward and back, forward and back. The school bikes were all 100cc, except for 2 200cc bikes, one of which I rode because I was one of two people there who had ridden before.

Of course, you can do that all day long with a wet clutch, not so with our dry clutches.

My BMW R100 has a very car-like dry clutch. One that will need replacement soon, after 63,000 plus miles.

Last edited by DannyP

 

@*LongFella posted:
 

...No gas pedal... just working the clutch and learning how to get the car going without the gas pedal...

 

@DannyP posted:
 

...At the Motorcycle Safety Foundation license school, they had us sitting there for 5 minutes just repeatedly finding the engagement point. Both feet down, just rocking forward and back, forward and back...

 ^^^^ THIS

If you've been driving an automatic for a while, your right foot has developed the light feel you need for driving, while your left foot has been dozing on the floor.

Getting that knack for the friction point is the keys to the castle.

In a parking lot, have him practice getting the car moving with no gas pedal at all. If he can do that five times in a row without a stall, he's home.

 

Last edited by Sacto Mitch

Danny’s tip of finding a parking lot and just doing 1’st gear starts over and over is great.  Once you’re moving, upper gear shifts are much easier.

Once he/she feels semi-comfortable starting from a stop, find a parking lot with a very gentle slope uphill and park on that and do the start from stop again.  As Danny said, let them find the clutch engagement point on the slight hill and play with clutch engagement:  More pedal push = slip backwards.  Let the pedal up = slide uphill.  I first explained the mechanics of what’s going on with the clutch and my two both understood that right off.  Then they could understand why the pedal movement translated to car movement and how it was controlled. 

Once they get the engagement feel, then show them how to hold on a hill with the handbrake to not roll backwards downhill when stopped, then do the start from stop thing assisted by the hand brake.

Both my kids learned on automatics - That’s all we had back then.   My son now has 6-speed 911 and has gotten pretty good with it.  He’s always taken to the Speedster without much trauma, but he’s had a motorcycle for about 20 years, too, so that helps.  My daughter and her hubbie are both quite happy with Their automatics.

@Sacto Mitch and @Gordon Nichols you guys are spot on. His left foot was completely useless for the first 10-15 minutes. I’m fortunate as I don’t need to do the parking lot thing and we can just do circles around the neighborhood. I had him try just coming off the clutch without using the gas. He was much more frustrated than I was which was nice to see. We have some slight inclines that we will give a go once he has a better feel for the clutch. 

Thanks for the suggestions guys and keep em coming. 

@Joe Fortino posted:

@Sacto Mitch and @Gordon Nichols you guys are spot on. His left foot was completely useless for the first 10-15 minutes. I’m fortunate as I don’t need to do the parking lot thing and we can just do circles around the neighborhood. I had him try just coming off the clutch without using the gas. He was much more frustrated than I was which was nice to see. We have some slight inclines that we will give a go once he has a better feel for the clutch. 

Thanks for the suggestions guys and keep em coming. 

By the time I was of driving age we lived in the country and had a house with a circle driveway. My driver’s training involved more than a few hundred laps around the circle drive so I could learn how to start off without stalling. After that I had to find a hill so I could learn how to start off while being on an incline. After that everything else was easy. 

Last edited by Robert M

 

 

My first encounter with a clutch was when, at 18, I picked up my first motorbike at the dealer. I was by myself - no one to coach me.

I must have stalled it a dozen times in a row in the parking lot - having to kick start it again each time.

Finally, the light went off. Slow engagement is better. I had been dumping the clutch every time the bike started to move - and the mighty 65cc had no torque at all.

I finally 'got it', and was able to make it home OK. I think trying to teach this point is almost futile. It's something we just have to learn on our own, at our own pace.

Maybe we'd learn quicker if we had to kick-start our cars.

 

Last edited by Sacto Mitch

At 14 y/o my first bout with a clutch was in a 1954 Cab over straight truck at my friend's father's junk yard. To set the scene ...it had a canvas truck body cover as well as a canvas for the cab roof, I fired it up, into 1st gear and it lurched hard as l let the clutch out, the 100 gallons of old and smelly water that had accumulated on the truck box canvas transferred onto the cab's canvas top which ripped in an instant from the weight and down into the cab onto me .....

Last edited by Alan Merklin

My friend Vic taught me in his 70 Camaro LT in the marina parking lot around the corner from my house. Wide ratio Saginaw 4 speed behind a 2 barrel 350 with headers is perfect for this. You didn't need the gas pedal with that car; I got the takeoff point in about 30 seconds. We spent most of the next hour attempting to do the Jim Rockford 180, but his 225/70/14 Dunlop radials made that very tricky. 

I grew up in the era post American muscle. Most every kid had a small beater car and they were all stick. Remember when you were charged more for an automatic at the dealer?

My daughter was given a free car by a family member, a Fiat 500. Terrible little car but she loves it and of course, a 5 speed.

I taught her in 3 1/2 hour lessons. First in an empty parking lot and moved to a country back road where we just pulled to the side if another car came along. Just clutch work over and over, then 1st to second and stop. Do it all again. 1st to 4th over and over. Do it all again.

Couldn't take the car alone until she was proficient on good inclines. I took her to a 45% hill to show her it was possible  but beyond her at this point. I still hear kids would alter their routes to not be at hills at a stop light....my wife tried to tell her to use the parking brake on hills; my daughter said no way I want to learn how to drive this properly 

Patience and a sense of humor made it all work. An understanding that you're going to stall a few times. She's been great for a year+

I learned how to drive on one of these:

A close look will show two pedals for the left foot, a clutch (inboard) and left brake (outboard) about 2' down from the seat.  I was 6 years old when I first learned how to work the tractor and I had to get off the seat and stand on the clutch with most of my weight to move it.  Fortunately, the throttle was a small lever up under the steering wheel which you set and it stayed.  Life got easier when I was seven and weighed more.

I went for my DMV driving test with a 3-on-the-tree Dodge Dart.  After it was over and the DMV guy gave me my license paperwork, he said: "I bet you grew up on a farm."

When I asked how he knew he said "You can always tell a farm kid.  They drive like they've been doing it for ten years."

Boy, was he right.

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I'll bet I've taught 20 people to drive a manual transmission, most of them a long time ago. Back then, the key was to be in the right car-- nothing very nice, and nothing with a "three on the tree". The more precise the linkages were, the better it went.

Hondas and Miatas are at the absolute top of the heap for somebody learning. The clutch feel on both is second to none-- I think the engagement point for either is 2" of pedal throw, which is the exact opposite of the old muscle car with a heavy duty pressure plate and "grabber" clutch disc. The shifters are tidy and precise, and it's never a question if you are in gear or not.

We always started in an empty parking lot, and every time the "learner" was 100% frustrated about a half hour in. The key for teaching them was to just keep encouraging them-- to let them know that they would get it, and that everybody who's ever done this has done the herky-jerky/stall-the-car thing 100 times before they got it.

Once he gets the engagement point, the next trick is to get him to push the clutch before stopping. In order of difficulty, that's up there as well. Shifting between gears while in motion is cake. I always have the person I'm teaching hover over the clutch-- I don't worry about them riding it until after they have everything else. Try not to overwhelm him with all of it at once, cringing on every crunched gear, etc. is generally not super-helpful. They want to master this as much or more than you do.

Tell him that it's just like riding a bike-- you fall and fall and fall, and then you ride off like you've been doing this your entire life. I'm unsure what it is in our physiology and psychology, but toddlers take their first steps about 2 days before running off down the street, and kids learning to drive a stick do the same thing. They'll fry off 1/4 of the clutch disc, stall the car for a couple of hours, forget to clutch at a stop, and generally think they'll never get it-- right up to the point where they do.

He wants to learn. That's not all that common any more. It's 10x easier to teach somebody that sees the value of it than somebody who doesn't (I've done both). I realize I'm just a sexist pig, but this (like backing a trailer) is simply a skill a man should have, whether he uses it or not. That being said, over half the people I've taught have been young women, my daughters (both) and sister included.

He'll do great.

 

Last edited by Stan Galat

"I realize I'm just a sexist pig, but this (like backing a trailer) is simply a skill a man should have, whether he uses it or not. That being said, over half the people I've taught have been young women, my daughters (both) and sister included."

I got a chuckle from that, but maybe not why you might think.

We live on the other side of town from the Tufts University large animal hospital that gets lots and lots of horse patients.  All of them get delivered in snazzy rigs of a horse or stock trailer, often one that can fit 2 - 6 big animals, and a BIG tow vehicle.   Often the rig is a real semi-trailer and tractor.  You've probably seen those on the highway from time to time.  Almost all of them (easily over 80%) coming to Tufts are driven by women and most of those rigs, even in this day and age, are standards.  One of the delivery areas, for those horses that can walk, are "pull-throughs" where they do a big sweep around the parking lot and then pull into a long parking spot for the rig and bring the horse into an examination area (looks like a training barn).

If the patient isn't ambulatory they have to pull into the same lot and then back in to the surgical loading area - a distance of about 40 yards with a kink turn in the middle and then back up to the loading dock which is adjustable up and down for the height of the trailer.  Watching an animal get delivered is really something as these women sweep through the parking lot and back that big rig in like it's a sedan.  They maneuver those rigs easily as well as any man I've seen and then they jump out to handle the animals, too.  So it might be handy to teach both boys and girls how to back up trailers - you never know when either might become a "horse person" and need that skill.  It's the same process whether on a lawn tractor or a big rig.

The trailers we had on the farm had steering front wheels that were turned when the draw bar moved left and right.  Backing them up was really hard because you had to first back to the side you wanted it to move towards and then, once it got half way there, quickly move the tractor and drawbar to the other side in a sweeping "S" motion and then push it to where you wanted it.  Usually this required smaller and smaller "S" maneuvers as you backed up.  It was totally non-intuitive til you got the concept and a lot harder than a single-axle trailer.  Backing up my car hauler or utility trailer was a breeze by comparison.  Just another useful life skill learned down on the farm.....

@Stan Galat posted:

 

We always started in an empty parking lot, and every time the "learner" was 100% frustrated about a half hour in. The key for teaching them was to just keep encouraging them-- to let them know that they would get it, and that everybody who's ever done this has done the herky-jerky/stall-the-car thing 100 times before they got it.

 

 

The secret it to lie to them? 

My daughter stalled a total of maybe 10X over three lessons. She wasn't frustrated and knew it's part of the process in understanding each individual clutch. She did understand general stick fundamentals from watching me/asking questions and being on my motorcycle many times.

Once she was generally competent and released on her own, she could take her car to work in town as an PSW. 

I knew she was fine when she'd come home every now and again for a week and be so mad "grrrr, I stalled once and this guy behind me gave me the horm!" She was aces in a week but maybe she's a child prodigy....

When I was a kid (before everyone wore seatbets), sitting in the back seat,  I would rest my chin on the back of the front bench seat in my parents' cars and studied how they drove.  I'll bet I watched my parents' feet for hours on end.  I was fascinated with watching each foot, and how the subtle movements in each pedal worked the car.

In my entire life, I stalled a stick shift twice.  Both times were on an incline.   But I over-reved the engine a lot of times, over-compensating for not wanting to stall.

Last edited by Jethro

I echo a number of the comments I read.  The feel of the clutch.  I remember going to a parking lot with my wife and teaching her to just feather the clutch until the car started moving.  Once the car was in motion and the clutch fully disengaged, I told her to press it in with the brake and come to a complete stop.  Then start the process over again, and again and again.

I think all too often, people just pop the clutch once they feel the car is in motion.  

I learned on my dad's 67 shelby.  That clutch was very heavy.  My weak legs had issues feathering it.  My dad, being impatient, just told me to bring the car up to 3500-4000 rpms and pop it.  I learned, albeit improperly, how to start off each time by laying a patch.  Probably not the best car to learn how to drive stick in.....

It wasn't until I drove an s-10 pickup with a 4 banger that I realized the art of feathering a clutch.

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