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Can I still drive stick without a left leg?


BMAC

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Do to an injury while I was in Afghanistan, I no longer have the use of my left leg. I am wondering if there is any way to take my 280zx with z32 manual transmission and make it possible to drive without using my left foot. One idea was to do paddle shifters, but I have no idea on how to do it.Any ideas. Or would it be better to go automatic? Thanks

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There are several race car drivers who use robotics or hydrolics to drive and shift their vehicles. I'm sure there is some information out there I just don't know where. I'm pretty sure Chip Foose's show built a hot rod for a guy with similar needs a while back. I just can't remember if he was automatic or not. Sequentials are expensive, but there is no clutching other than first and reverse. When I was down with a broken femur I would have my sister come over and crank my zx every week until I could get in and out of it... then I would make her drive me around. I hope that you get this straightened out so you can enjoy your ride again. And thank you for your service.

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Sequentials are expensive, but there is no clutching other than first and reverse.

 

It depends... If you're paying for the transmission then you'll use the clutch on downshifts. I had a $7,900.00 Quaife sequential dog box in my racing 240Z and I used the clutch on downshifts. And I told my co driver he damn well better use it too!

 

There are a lot of clutch hand control options and most are not overly complex. The Z32 has a hydraulic clutch so its just a matter of making a hand actuator with enough leverage on the clutch MC while keeping a little bit of feel. I've seen installations where the clutch lever is on the shifter which strikes me as a pretty brilliant idea. Maybe a setup scavenged from a motorcycle?

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My go kart had a kawasaki KE 175 engine on it but no brakes or clutch when I got it so I mounted a lever on the shifter for the clutch.

 

Worked great.

 

I did add brakes later.

 

The guy who owned it before me now owns palm beach harley davidson and races a top fuel harley so I guess whatever he had that caused him to drive that scary fast kart without brakes or clutch still exists within his brain.

 

Having it on the car shifter might cause issues of you pulling it out of gear when actuating the clutch so getting it set up properly concerning shifter length and effort will make a huge difference.

Edited by HowlerMonkey
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Look into a contraption called a "Duckie." One of the guys in my car club built a Factory Five "cobra" with a Duckie after he lost his left leg above the knee in Afganistan. If you email me at pkeiththompson@yahoo.com, I can get you in touch with him. It takes some practice, but he drives his cobra just fine. There is a little lever on the shift knob that functions like a clutch pedal. That lever actuates an electric motor and bellcrank on the clutch linkage (his clutch is mechanical. Works great. Don't know that he could autocross or drag race, but you can ask him. If it were me, I would get an electronic controlled auto trans and do the paddle shifter thing: It works better for drag racing, plus autocross is usually limited to a single gear.

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When I was a kid I once decided to try this and just did all the driving with my right foot.

Bad idea.

I needed to stop fast and my brain commanded my right foot to "push" , but i was on the clutch and it was hard to over-ride the automatic response.

Once, was all I did that.

 

I think the key is a handle grip on the shifter that actuates the clutch as mentioned above. with the right geometry and pressure plate you would get used to and and have a great shift system.

Not unlike the old VWs with the auto-stick thing. My airplane, the Yak uses a handle grip like this for brakes and quickly it becomes second nature as the clutch would.

 

Plus, a few years from now you will have a really powerful chicken~choker on the right arm... if it comes to that

Edited by duragg
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Hmmm......I'll bet there is a market for something like this.

 

I do know that the toyota MR2 spyder was available with a "sequential manual" transmission that was identical to the corolla transmission and later the celica transmission. They had a supplemental unit that mounted on the transmission to do the shifting and an electrical clutch......and a complex shift management system.

 

You are probably too capable for something like that.

 

I think the best way to approach this is how the game controller manufacturers have analog clutch assigned to a paddle.

 

I'll see what I can find because having a paddle on the left hand side of the wheel would not be intrusive and wouldn't take too long to learn.

 

It can also be done mechanically and hydraulically by a lever that mounts to the column that I normally see used as a combination gas pedal/brake pedal.

 

It might not be too hard to have this lever stick out a little below and behind the turn signal stalk, hinge at the column mount, and push a rod that goes to a slave cylinder mounted out of view.

 

There is probably an existing product.

 

Something has to be done to allow you the joy of tearing up the streets.

Edited by HowlerMonkey
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  • 3 weeks later...

Some years ago, I broke my left ankle but only had vehicles with manual transmission. The single-leg operation for all three pedals was unpleasant and dangerous, but it did work, for two reasons: (1) very level local terrain, where the car would not roll backwards; and (2) low-powered vehicle with a soft/forgiving clutch. The procedure was to pull the hand brake, press the clutch pedal, shift into first, ease off the clutch, then rapidly dump the clutch and punch the throttle while releasing the parking brake. That won't work for a high-powered car which requires more feathering of the clutch to avoid a jackrabbit start.

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