Centrifugal clutches are a bit different than the style of clutch you might be familiar with. They aren’t used much on cars, but are commonly found on vehicles like scooters and go-karts. Like the clutches we’re used to, though, they’ll fail if you put a ton of stress on one.
Instead of using a pressure plate to connect the engine to the transmission, centrifugal clutches use centrifugal forces (hence the name) to push out a set of internal spring-regulated brake shoes until they touch the bell-housing, transferring power.
The Warped Perception YouTube channel, taking a suggestion from a viewer, decided to point an ultra-slow-motion camera at a couple of centrifugal clutches and see just how much stress they could take by running them in place. The first, mounted to a diesel go-kart engine, fails in spectacular fashion, with the bell-housing melting to pieces, sending the shoes and spring flying.
The second, attached to a high-revving 29cc single-piston gas engine, breaks most of the welds holding it in place before sending its spring out of the housing.
The latter clutch has a completely open face, giving us a good look at how centrifugal clutches actually work. Thanks to the magic of slow-motion cameras, we can see the shoes expanding closer and closer towards the housing’s walls, before eventually making contact, and transferring energy.
Take a look at the spectacular fail below:
Image credit: Screenshot/ Centrifugal clutch in slow motion