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3 on the tree to AT conversion (stealth)

Discussion in 'The Hokey Ass Message Board' started by Comet, Aug 6, 2009.

  1. I was wondering how hard it would be to convert an early 50's Chevy with a 3 speed to AT on the column and keep the 3 speed linkage (in the cab of the car anyway) so it looks like a 3spd. I'm not usually into fake looks, but this would be for a gal I know. Anyone done this?
    Last edited: Apr 20, 2010
  2. missysdad1
    Joined: Dec 9, 2008
    Posts: 2,986


    Kugel Komponents makes a kit to connect the column shift lever to the transmission shifter linkage "stub" of a TH350 - type tranny. It's essentially a rod with two rod ends and a linkage lever for the transmission. Not expensive and is designed to be shaped to the individual application.

    Here's a link:

    Hope this helps.
  3. Frankie47
    Joined: Dec 20, 2008
    Posts: 1,842

    from omaha ne.

    Bump, this could be interesting.
  4. Hank
    Joined: Feb 18, 2005
    Posts: 234

    from Wisconsin

    I had that on mine a while back. I just opened the shift mechanism on the colum and locked it with some washers so it would only actuate one lever. Then just ran a push-pull rod to the trans. The only bad part was there was no colum lock outs. If you wanted to shift from high to low and then to reverse at freeway speeds there was nothing to stop you. For a good driver it works OK. I would never let anyone else drive cause they could do some major damage to the car and themselves. I eventually took the AT out in favor of a 5 speed.

  5. My old 40 Ford sedan was like that,,,just remove one of the shifter rods and attach the other to the automatic transmission,,,

    You will have to modify the single rod or make a new one but it's been done many times

    BTW,,It would be wise to run a netural safety switch to prevent the car from cranking in gear. HRP
  6. d2_willys
    Joined: Sep 8, 2007
    Posts: 4,146

    from Kansas

    Get a Powerglide steering column and install it (obviously without the indicator). That will provide lockouts.
  7. The powerslide column pattern is not like the late model shift pattern, so no lockouts are there.

    I swapped out my powerslide for a 700r4 and used the s-10 parts and made it work, simple fabraication and it works
  8. 49ratfink
    Joined: Feb 8, 2004
    Posts: 18,027

    from California

    I don't know how much the Kugel arm shown above is but I just got a piece of steel rod, threaded the ends and put some heim joints on each end from the hardware store.

    mine used the stock 3 speed linkage box on the column in the engine compartment.

    as stated you can shove it into park or reverse while tooling down the road. stuck mine in reverse once for about 1/10 of a second. not fun. ran into my sandblast cabinet once due to the no neutral safety switch.

    doing the same thing on a car I am putting together now. DEFINITELY will have a neutral switch this time and I am going to try to rig up some sort of stops where you can't bump it into reverse. I'm thinking I'll get something from the junk yard and modify it to work

    as for being fake... it's only fake if you leave a fake clutch pedal in the floor.
  9. stealthcruiser
    Joined: Dec 24, 2002
    Posts: 3,748


    I had a 64 Ford Econoline Van...........Changed over to a V 8/ C-4 combo, and we used the 3 on the tree shift mechanism........Everything was backwards,,,,,,,Park was all the way down towards the seat..........

    It was pretty stealthy............
  10. cafekid
    Joined: Dec 4, 2008
    Posts: 380


    ive done it to a 54 bel air and it was simle remove all shift linkage in the engine compartment hook a rod up to the main shift arm and hook the other end to the trans.... you can buy the rod type kits from lokar and thats really all you need
  11. BarryA
    Joined: Apr 22, 2007
    Posts: 643


    Hi Hank
    You didn't perhaps retain the column shift for this did you? I am still looking for a viable way to go 5-speed in my '64 Valiant and retain the column shift.
    Apologies for 'jacking your thread Comet.

  12. Tcoupe
    Joined: Nov 14, 2003
    Posts: 314


    I just made up a whole new shaft from the shift arm on the column, I used an extra support from another car under the hood then a linkage with heim ends to the trans. I also welded a shifter lockout from a 67-72 chevy truck on the column under the hood. I will get some pics later.
  13. sawzall
    Joined: Jul 15, 2002
    Posts: 4,724


  14. I really like to work under the KISS principal, Keep It Simple Stupid.
    On my 53 Ford Club Coupe I put a 390 and C6 in it. I just pushed the clutch pedal to the floor and used 2/3 linkage to shift the trans. On this particular installation I did not have to do any bending or any thing the 2/3 arm went right in to the C6 linkage. There is no shift Indicator though! But it is pretty easy to tell what gear you are in.
  15. pasadenahotrod
    Joined: Feb 13, 2007
    Posts: 11,776

    from Texas

    Rodders have been doing that since the automatic became acceptable in the hobby and even before, just didn't tell about it!
  16. oilslinger53
    Joined: Apr 17, 2007
    Posts: 2,500

    from covina CA

    It's the easiest way to do it actually. easier than a floor shift kit.
  17. Thanks everyone, some good info. I didn't think it would be too hard, just wanted to know if anyone did it and how it went.

    I might do that! :D But I'd weld it to the brake pedal so she can brake with either foot! Haha.

    Edit: I periodically get messages from people asking how this went. So I thought I should update the thread. After driving this car awhile, I fell in love with the 3 on the tree and decided not to do it. Plus, the gal I was going to do this for is scared to death to drive the car :D
    Last edited: Apr 20, 2010

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