3 Speed shift fork question

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    Is this correct? I never saw a shift fork with just the one leg. This is for the second/high syncro. It doesn’t look broken off or cut, the surface is the cast finish.

    It’s a 1930 3spd with freewheeling if that makes a difference.


    I have the same transmission in my ’31, and seem to remember when we had it apart that it looks the same….I believe that it’s correct as is….


    1930 did not offer free wheeling. That looks like a regular 30 three speed to me. The shifting fork is fine, they all look like that. Be sure to replace the detent springs while you have the cover off. Good luck, Ed


    Unless it was a specially ordered 1929 3 speed, this has to be from 1931. There are no 1930 regular 3 speeds, or 3 speeds with freewheeling. Freewheeling appears in 1931. The 1930 box is 4 SPEED SYNCHROMESH.


    I don’t know what the trans year is then because it for sure is a 3 speed and it has freewheeling. I took the FW apart to free it up. In the picture you can barely see the trans and FW behind.

    Ed, I’ll replace the springs,hadn’t planned to though, and make new seals for the rails. Thanks all. Jim


    Yhe 32 has a freewheeling unit on the back of the trans. It operates with a dash lever. The 31 unit has the chrome button on top of the shifter with the rod running down the side of the lever. The 32 shifts much easier than the 31.


    And, if you’re real good and/or real careful, you can shift into 2nd and 3rd without using the clutch on the ’31 transmission, into free wheel gearing. The “non” free wheel is just pushing the shift lever further into the gear shift pattern.

    I can tell you on my ’31 I use the non-freewheeling mode, free wheel is a little scary, particularly in our rolling hills….


    I like the freewheeling trans with the button on the shift knob. It allows from the drivers seat freewheeling for silent shifting, and then locking out freewheeling for engine braking. All with the button under your hand.

    Putting the freewheeling control on the dashboard in front of the passenger makes swapping from direct to freewheeling and back a bit awkward, and potentially dangerous.

    In 1933, the freewheeling is a ‘T’ handle under the instrument panel, on the left side of the steering column, right where the driver can access it easily..

    The first year for Syncromesh transmissions is 1933. The earlier transmissions still required careful matching of gear speeds to shift silently or use of Free Wheeling.

    Greg Long


    I have the knob under the dash so if it wasn’t offered stock then somebody changed it,when I don’t know. The car had been sitting since 1957. Jim


    Yes, Greg, I agree that I like the “button” style..it takes patience to shift with the gnashing of teeth, though, as you say, and the lower the speed you shift the better. I don’t mind it, but you can sure see people behind you having to hit the brake, thinking you’re accelerating faster than you are….


    Learning to shift an early ‘crash-box’ transmission can be a test one’s patience. I can shift the Series 80 transmissions quite well, but I’ve been driving them for over 20 years. And I doubt that I’ve ever taken one of the Series 80 cars out without at least a couple of ‘noisy’ shifts.

    My ’29 roadster’s transmission internally is very similar to the Series 80, the gears, shafts and shift forks are roughly the same size and design. But driving the ’29 transmission is much different because the double disc clutch adds double the rotating mass to the input shaft of the trans. And having double discs means that there might be double the drag from the discs not releasing completely from the flywheel and pressure plate. So the ’29 transmission requires a different technique for me.

    Every up shift from 1st to 2nd, or 2nd to 3rd, requires either waiting for the input shaft and clutch discs to slow to the rpm that corresponds to the next higher gear. OR it requires double clutching to slow the input shaft and discs. When the rpm and road speed are quite slow, the time for the input and discs to slow is much shorter, and less patience is required. Thick, cold transmission lube really changes how you perform the first few shifts, until the lube/gear oil warms up and gets thinner.

    I can’t wait till next summer’s driving season, to get more time in the ’29 roadster, it is a fun and powerful car to drive. I have some issues to sort out with the steering, and must mount up my new tires. Then wait till warm weather and no mud or salt on the roads.

    Greg Long


    What years did PA use the double disc? That’s what mine has.

    The OEM seals on the shift rails are cork is there any reason to not use Neopreme with just a slight drag? Jim


    Hi Jim, the large series cars from I think 1921 or ’22 through 1928 used a multiple disc dry clutch, The Series 80/81 had single dry disc clutches. For 1929 the new inline 8 cylinder engine had a double disc clutch, this clutch was continued through to the end of the Pierce cars in 1938 as far as I know. But I seem to remember someone mentioning that the last few years had single disc clutches..

    We’ll have to wait for someone familiar with the ’36 and later cars can correct me.

    I see no reason that a neoprene seal would cause any harm, but finding one that will work with the current seal holder and seal retainer might be a challenge. With shift rails, you do want some lube on the part of the rail that is outside the seal area, so the steel is not bare and could rust.

    The old seals do have limitations and the modern gear lube is a lot thinner than the old lube used. So the seals may leak more.

    Since the trans top cover can be removed at a later date, I’d say give some modern seals or ‘O’-rings a try and see if there is too much drag, and inspect the rails to see if they are being wiped too clean by the new seals and getting some corrosion started.

    Greg Long


    Rust isn’t a problem here in Tucson, I’ll give it a try.


    I found this in PASB 72-1 page 5. Saying that a few 30s had the 3spd FW trans. The plot thickens. Jim


    That’s what is great abput P-A’s. There is the rule, and then the cars that are breaking the rules. I would be sure to keep a copy of that PASB in the car for judging. Another thing I learned today!


    Many owners of the 1930 4 speed box hated it because they didn’t know it had tob ‘timed’ when repaired and it was either so noisey they could not stand it or ruined it in use. The replacement was usually the 1931 freewheeling unit. It was easier to fit it in the power train. The 1929 unit with parking brake attached was a pain to use as a replacement. LeBaron 1931 cars usually came with the 4 speed box. It is a superior transmission, and those who are still considering replacing it should do their homework.

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