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39 Ford trans... The real story

Discussion in 'The Hokey Ass Message Board' started by fat tire, Aug 11, 2010.

  1. fat tire
    Joined: Feb 23, 2005
    Posts: 69

    fat tire
    Member

    Ok so how many of you have actually “grenaded” a 39 Ford trans ? I am yanking the tired old 55 265 in my roadster and putting in a stout little 57 283. Currently the trans setup is a 39 open drive ford. I am just curious if I really need to go through the trouble of switching it out for a Muncie or a Saginaw :confused:
     
  2. Years ago when my 37 Ford had an 303 Olds. with a 37 tranny I went through one a week. Usually blowing out the bottom of the tranny with gears lying on the road. I also tried later gears in trans. but that didn't help. It was easier back then to find the old floor shifts in the junk yards for $5-10 bucks.
     
  3. Ol Deuce
    Joined: May 30, 2007
    Posts: 1,188

    Ol Deuce
    Member
    from Mt. U.S.A.



    Well.......If ya don't dump the clutch in first you will be fine ..............I drove a
    241 Dodge for years in my '32 with out a worry.........;)
     
  4. Kevin Lee
    Joined: Nov 12, 2001
    Posts: 7,433

    Kevin Lee
    Super Moderator
    Staff Member

    Completely destroyed one behind a flathead. But I would drive one behind just about anything knowing it's limits.
     

  5. Muttley
    Joined: Nov 30, 2003
    Posts: 18,441

    Muttley
    Member

    I blew one up a few years ago. The pin at the end of the handle was worn and shifting was sloppy, it got hung up and tore up all the gears. I got lucky since a friend of mine had just bought a nice one earlier that day. He sold it to me for what he payed...........$75.
     
    Last edited: Aug 14, 2010
  6. 392_hemi
    Joined: Jun 16, 2004
    Posts: 1,737

    392_hemi
    Member

    I haven't blown mine up, but that's because I'm too lazy to pull everything apart and rebuild it again, so I go easy on it. The non-synchro first gear is a pain in the ass for city driving. If you have an open drive setup already, then it should be pretty easy to upgrade to something else. A 283 with a muncie would be a hell of a lot more fun to drive than a 283 with a '39 toploader.
     
  7. aaggie
    Joined: Nov 21, 2009
    Posts: 2,531

    aaggie
    ALLIANCE MEMBER

    Years ago I had a '40 Ford coupe with a 303 Olds running an adapter plate to a '39 gearbox. I got way too good at replacing cluster gears and rear axle keys. Probably youthful exurberiance but it is real easy to deystroy those old trannies.

    I'm a lot older and wiser now and a good automatic trans is better.
     
  8. Deuce Daddy Don
    Joined: Apr 27, 2008
    Posts: 5,073

    Deuce Daddy Don
    ALLIANCE MEMBER

    Been there--Done that!!---At this stage you are at, save your self a lot of grief (Shearing the cluster, twisting axle key ways, etc.) just install a reliable 4 spd. trans, open drive, & 9 inch rear end-----Mines been great for 300,000 miles!!!
     
  9. 296ardun
    Joined: Feb 11, 2009
    Posts: 4,326

    296ardun
    Member

    Went through many of them, ran one behind a 324 Olds, blew it up at least twice, dropped one in my Pontiac powered '40 Ford tudor...let my then-girlfriend try to shift it, and she managed to strip all the teeth from second...but the best one was actually a '40 side-shifter behind my Ardun digger. Was racing Steve Evans and was out on him when the trans blew. Went to pull it the next day and the back came off, blew it completely in two, front still bolted to the motor.
     
  10. fab32
    Joined: May 14, 2002
    Posts: 13,985

    fab32
    Member Emeritus

    When built my av8 in 1960 ('47 flathead, .100 over, 3/4 cam:), 2 97's) I bought every top loader Ford 3 spd trans that all of the junkyards between Tawas, MI and Alpena, MI(a stretch of approx 100 miles) and managed to tear up all of them in a 2 year period (minus the one that was in the car when I sold it). You would be surprised how fast you can disconnect the drivetrain in a early banjo equipt car and reassemble it after replacing the transmission.:( Having a best friend that is a glutton for punishment helps.

    Frank
     
  11. fat tire
    Joined: Feb 23, 2005
    Posts: 69

    fat tire
    Member

    Thanks for all the input!!!! I have decided that I would like to be able to rip around a little bit more than I currently am so a muncie is in the works. Even though it means completely re-doing the trans tunnel, mounts, and drive shaft :eek:
     
  12. captain j
    Joined: Dec 21, 2008
    Posts: 124

    captain j
    Member

    I have a 50 ford f1, 4 speed , it seems to be pretty heavy duty, will it hold up or should I have to worry about grenading that also? its behind a v8 flathead, open drive with a 9inch
     
  13. 39 Ford
    Joined: Jan 22, 2006
    Posts: 1,558

    39 Ford
    Member

    I drove home more than once with the bottom of the case blown wide open, as they say you can change one pretty quickly with practice. Go late model you will not be disapointed.
     
  14. Bruce Lancaster
    Joined: Oct 9, 2001
    Posts: 21,682

    Bruce Lancaster
    Member Emeritus

    IMHO...the strongest reason to use one is to easily keep the excellent suspension geometry provided by the torque tube. If the car already has open drive, wouldn't stronger, cheaper, more speeds, and overdrive look like a good deal?
     
  15. HEATHEN
    Joined: Nov 22, 2005
    Posts: 7,591

    HEATHEN
    Member
    from SIDNEY, NY

    Right. You're running a sbc, for which standard shift bell housings are still falling out of trees. I've had guys GIVE me Saginaw three speeds for hauling them away---much tougher than an early Ford box, and syncro low gear to boot.
     
  16. Bruce Lancaster
    Joined: Oct 9, 2001
    Posts: 21,682

    Bruce Lancaster
    Member Emeritus

    Now, just drop off your old box here, and I'll convert it back to usable torque tube style.
    I'll leave a Saginaw 4-speed on the porch for you.
     
  17. fat tire
    Joined: Feb 23, 2005
    Posts: 69

    fat tire
    Member

    Haha! Bruce should I also include the old school ford trans to cheby bellhousing, clutch, and super cool linkage that was fabbed up ?
     
  18. I've beat the snot out of a few. the biggest thing is tires, if you can't get them to hook the trans will stand for alot of punishment. traction is not a friend of the early ford trans.
     
  19. 64 DODGE 440
    Joined: Sep 2, 2006
    Posts: 4,208

    64 DODGE 440
    ALLIANCE MEMBER
    from so cal

    Did the same in a '41 Merc with a built flathead back in the mid '60s. Mostly grenaded them on launch at high RPMs. Later found a big part of the problem came from excessive end play in the cluster gear...even so, don't think I would run one behind much horsepower.
     
  20. tommy
    Joined: Mar 3, 2001
    Posts: 14,757

    tommy
    Member Emeritus

    You and my cousin from Berwyn Pa. I remember him telling me that there were no more 39 trans' left in the SE Pa. junk yards. He ran one behind a nailhead in his 46 Ford. That was about 1964ish.:D

    I've had several early Ford boxes in many old Fords and I've never blown one up. I've never been a racer so I Sunday shift and they live quite well for me.
     
  21. 40fordtudor
    Joined: Jan 3, 2010
    Posts: 2,503

    40fordtudor
    Member

    Did the same thing with a 39---about one a week. We cured it by changing the rear end to 4:11. Apparently, the long windedness of the higher gears put too much strain on the ol' tranny--never had the problem again.
     

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