Words and Photos: Supplied
Blüsteele is celebrating the arrival of a new 4x4 to its manual transmission fleet, this time looking to the Mitsubishi Triton as an example of how a simple upgrade can bring important improvements. The Triton is one of the trickier vehicles to use for towing and off-roading thanks to the factory-fitted dual-mass flywheel, which made it an attractive challenge for the Aussie clutch specialists to conquer.
Chris Rippon, director of Blüsteele Clutch, explains that the ‘Survivor Series 4x4 Triton’ is used mostly for towing, which includes the company’s Subaru WRX race car to racing meets and a caravan for the quintessential Aussie getaway into the bush, with some off-roading in the mix, too.
The basis for this build is a 2020-model Triton GLX from the MQ Series that was introduced in 2015 and has been mostly unchanged, bar some incremental changes here and there. Like all MQ Triton 4x4s, it is powered by a 2.4-litre diesel turbo four-cylinder engine producing 133kW at 3500rpm and 430Nm at 2500rpm. While they are not huge numbers, the real-world feeling of throttle response has been improved thanks to Blüsteele’s own Survivor Series 4x4 heavy-duty clutch kit.
Rippon explains that the Triton’s factory flywheel is essentially not a great choice when it comes to towing and off-roading – or any heavy-duty application – and how their new Survivor 4x4 Series clutch kit overcomes that.
“The Mitsubishis come out of the factory with a dual-mass flywheel and they just don’t lend themselves to towing or off-road use at all.
“I’ve got the old one out of ours and it’s only done 20,000 kays and it’s failing already. Because of the way they make a dual-mass flywheel, you can’t make them heavy duty and they just fall apart really quickly.”
Many new diesel turbo utes are geared tall, so it's hard not to slip the clutch and of course, slipping the clutch generates a lot of heat, which kills a dual-mass flywheel. To overcome this, there are two flywheel kits offered by Blüsteele Clutch to help Triton owners who want to tow or go off-road with their manual transmission vehicles – the Survivor Series 4x4 clutch kit and a heavy-duty option (part number: BMW9741). Both come with a chromoly flywheel.
Weighing in at 22.1kg, the new flywheel from Blüsteele is 1.5 kg lighter than the factory Mitsubishi dual-mass flywheel, which weighs 23.6kg. It doesn’t sound like much, but the knock-on effect of a flywheel that’s 6 per cent lighter than factory is that throttle response is livelier.
“The lower mass flywheel can affect the torque response, but it really changes the way the vehicle drives and it feels much more spritely,” says Rippon.
“You’ll notice that, even compared to the Nissan Navara and Ford Ranger, it runs rings around them. Just taking that little bit of weight out of the flywheel really helps. But it doesn’t affect the towing ability of them.”
In our own drive of the Triton rig that Blüsteele has put together, the response - which has only a snorkel to affect the induction to the bog-stock 4N15 turbo diesel four - is quite rapid and nimble compared to the same model with a standard flywheel.
There’s the typical whistle of the turbo as it spools and creates pressure for the oiler to get motivated, but it’s the quicker movement off the line that is also quite noticeable. For those that want even more from the engine with some modifications, the heavy-duty clutch is a must to both handle the torque increase and also make the most of the power thanks to the lighter mass in the flywheel.
The Survivor Series 4x4 kit from Blüsteele also comes with a self-adjusting clutch, as per the manufacturer's set-up, so while it might be a heavy-duty clutch, the pedal feel is very similar to that of the factory vehicle.
“Fitting the flywheel, we were able to put a heavy-duty clutch in it and it still has a self-adjusting clutch as per OEM,” Rippon explains. “So it has the same feel it’s no heavier – maybe lighter if anything. It drives really well but it’s heavy duty.”
Before you Begin…
There are some points that anyone undertaking a Blüsteele heavy duty clutch replacement must note before they begin. This applies to workshop pros as well as weekend warriors.
One of the most obvious challenges highlights a slightly frustrating design feature that the Triton has - there's no dowel for for the flywheel. That means you have to lift the flywheel up into place (remembering that the lighter Blüsteele unit still weighs 22.1kg) and then, when trying to fit it on, there are seven different ways it can go on, but only one way it properly fits. So, you’re holding over 20kg up there while fiddling around – it’s a job to set aside for a time when you can get a mate involved, if possible.
Also, the bolts for the flywheel go right through the crankshaft into the oil galleries, so if you don’t seal the bolts thoroughly, you will have oil leaking through them. You’ll need to put Loctite on the bolts - like any bolts you’d use on a flywheel - but you really need to make sure they are sealed well in a Triton.
Additionally, the Triton runs a concentric slave cylinder, so the setup is much different to that of a LandCruiser, for example, which has a conventional thrust bearing. The concentric slave cylinder set-up on the Triton can also be a bit tricky to bleed.
All of this is a good reason to head over to Blüsteele’s YouTube channel, where Chris goes through everything you need to know and do when installing their clutches. Just watch and learn.
Not just a Clutch
As for other mods on the Blüsteele Survivor Series Triton, Rippon and the crew kept things relatively simple, as opposed to going all out like they’ve done with a 70 Series ’Cruiser that’s been tuned and tweaked to produce around 1200Nm.
The Blüsteele Triton rides on Blade Series 20-inch off-road rims with 265/50 x 20 all-terrain tyres. There's a catch can and snorkel fitted, too, but perhaps the second most important upgrade after the Survivor Series clutch kit is a set of Bremaxx ceramic brake pads on the front calipers. These not only help with brake feel through the pedal but give some sharp stopping power - rather important when towing.
As an off-the-shelf upgrade for any late-model Triton, the new Survivor Series clutch kit seems a no-brainer. Not only do you get a much tougher set-up than the factory dual-mass flywheel, but it’s lighter and brings improvements to throttle response – there might even be a smidge better fuel consumption in there, too.
For those that are thinking of upgrading other components relating to the engine, then a Survivor Series clutch upgrade should be at the top of the list, as it will certainly stand up to the task.
As for the Blüsteele Survivor Series 1200Nm LandCruiser project, stay tuned, as we’ll also be covering that build, which will show just how incredibly tough the Blüsteele clutch kits are (if that isn’t already clear!).