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History Are there any "three on the tree" lovers out there?

Discussion in 'The Hokey Ass Message Board' started by Elcohaulic, Aug 3, 2019.

  1. Budget36
    Joined: Nov 29, 2014
    Posts: 4,309


    On a PU...makes I recall, three on the tree was the least expensive way to option a vehicle. Drove plenty of them in the day...up through the early 80's with a delivery Van..happy to not have one anymore:)
    Elcohaulic and crashfarmer like this.
  2. My 1st car was a '40 Chevy with vacuum assist 3 spd column shift. I have had many since then. Now have the '50 Buick with 3 spd column shift.

    Cosmo49 and Elcohaulic like this.
  3. I might have thought the same...but my 15 year old son loves driving my pickup with a 3-on-the-tree and we are putting one in the pickup we are building for him as his daily now. Cool that you are passing it on to your son too.
  4. s55mercury66
    Joined: Jul 6, 2009
    Posts: 3,980

    from SW Wyoming

    I really like driving them. The first one I remember driving was my ex brother in law's 3 cylinder 2 stroke SAAB, with 4 on the tree. The next one was a DKW with roughly the same equipment. Kinda hard to text while shifting though...
  5. rmorris
    Joined: Jun 3, 2017
    Posts: 102


    Was 4 on the floor a double date?

    Sent from my iPhone using H.A.M.B.
    Atwater Mike and Ron Funkhouser like this.
  6. Had a 76 dodge dart 6cyl 3 on tree and mom had a 78 Burb 6 cyl 3 on tree both was no issues, Would drive one again in a heartbeat.

    Most of my other stick cars was shifted via the floor.

    Would like to see the yuppie millennial youngsters try there luck LMAO !
    Elcohaulic likes this.
  7. 302GMC
    Joined: Dec 15, 2005
    Posts: 6,268

    from Idaho

    Use an overdrive cable. No sense cutting holes in the floor ..
    Elcohaulic, 31hotrodguy and Cosmo49 like this.
  8. 54BOMB
    Joined: Oct 23, 2004
    Posts: 2,101


    My sister had a 64 Chevelle with a 6 and a 3 on the tree with an electric overdrive handle under the dash . Really nice car to drive .
    I had a 64 Galaxie 3 on the tree that flat out sucked due to worn out equipment, that car got a 4 speed pretty quick.
  9. Ty C. Denton
    Joined: Jul 10, 2019
    Posts: 44

    Ty C. Denton
    from Austin, TX

    I love the three on the tree in my '52 3100 (I'll love it even more when I get my synchro problem resolved, but that's another story)! I remember riding along with my grandfather in this truck and watching him go through the gears and always thought it was so cool! I also like the looks of bewilderment from friends when I take them for a ride—most of whom can't even drive a stick so the column shift really throws 'em for a loop, haha!
    guthriesmith and Elcohaulic like this.
  10. jazz1
    Joined: Apr 30, 2011
    Posts: 1,482


    My first car, a ‘63 Rambler had 3 on tree. My only other was my ‘79 F100, learned about changing bushings on that linkage They okay, not a selling or buying feature IMO
    Elcohaulic likes this.
  11. slowmotion
    Joined: Nov 21, 2011
    Posts: 3,205


    Had two, both '62s, an Impala & a bubbletop, both 283s. The Impala received a Muncie soon after. Wish I had 'em both back.....:(
    Elcohaulic likes this.
  12. ramblin dan
    Joined: Apr 16, 2018
    Posts: 2,150

    ramblin dan

    I often wonder what a 20 year old of today would think of if you said a car had a three on the tree?
    Elcohaulic likes this.
  13. 31hotrodguy
    Joined: Oct 29, 2013
    Posts: 2,014


    I drove my black 57 with a 3spd OD for years. I took it out when I couldn’t speed shift 2nd to 3rd any more and put in the Muncie. With that being said my 31 roadster project is a mercury 3spd OD column shift so that should be fun.

    Sent from my iPhone using The H.A.M.B. mobile app
    Cosmo49 and Elcohaulic like this.
  14. Marty Strode
    Joined: Apr 28, 2011
    Posts: 5,167

    Marty Strode

    Just for informational purposes, when I coupled the early Ford column to the Saginaw trans, the ratio was far too quick, like 2" between low and reverse, at the shift knob. I built longer arms for the trans, and rectified the problem. IMG_2174.JPG IMG_2184.JPG IMG_2187.JPG
  15. Rusty O'Toole
    Joined: Sep 17, 2006
    Posts: 9,298

    Rusty O'Toole

    They work fine if they are in good shape. Inspect all the linkage, replace worn bushings and parts, sometimes you have to take the column linkage apart and weld or braze worn parts. Get out all the slop, adjust correctly and they work slick.

    Maybe not the thing for a race car but for ordinary road use they are great.
    31hotrodguy and Elcohaulic like this.
  16. Jay71
    Joined: Sep 15, 2007
    Posts: 856


    Original 265 and 3 on the tree in the 55. The thing is bullet proof.

    Attached Files:

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  17. 1ton
    Joined: Dec 3, 2010
    Posts: 401


    I've only owned one. It was my first vehicle. A 1965 international pickup. I remember that finding second gear was always a challenge. Had to go for the shift but pull the lever towards me, just a touch, before it would go in gear. Always an adventure.
    Elcohaulic likes this.
  18. banjeaux bob
    Joined: Aug 31, 2008
    Posts: 5,944

    banjeaux bob
    from alaska

    I never minded column shifters. All of the mechanism on the ones I owned were pretty well experienced by the time I had them. I got pretty good at moving the stick just right to avoid getting in between the dogs.When the failure did occur I could pull over, lift the hood, jiggle the offending part just right ,and continue on my way.....even in the dark.the joys of youth.
    31hotrodguy and Elcohaulic like this.
  19. 1oldtimer
    Joined: Aug 21, 2003
    Posts: 7,609


    3 if my vehicles are 3 on the tree. I’ve always had at least one since my second car.
    Elcohaulic likes this.
  20. rmorris
    Joined: Jun 3, 2017
    Posts: 102


    My 1st car was a 55 Chevy, v-8 with a 3 on the tree. I put a Hurst 3 speed shifter in after too many power shifts into 2nd caused the linkage to bind. The benefit of the floor shift was that when I put a 4 speed knob on it, I gained a gear.

    Sent from my iPhone using H.A.M.B.
    31hotrodguy and Elcohaulic like this.
  21. MeanGene427
    Joined: Dec 15, 2010
    Posts: 1,464

    from Napa

    I have 2 right now, and both cars are stock and original. 57 Sedan Delivery w/ 223 Six, and the 66 Fairlane wagon with 200 Six- both still shift fine. Also good theft deterrent
  22. jnaki
    Joined: Jan 1, 2015
    Posts: 4,907


    Having learned to shift 52 Chevy with a column shifter as a little kid, then in in a Model A floor shifter as a teen was a nice comparison. The floor shift mode felt better. But, the first real car I drove was the 1958 Impala with a 3 speed column shift. The 4 speeds did not come out until 1959 for the big Impalas. The comparisons here, were that when we installed a 4 speed transmission in a friend's 57 Chevy Bel Air, that was the epitome of shifting for us. The transition from all gears just seemed to go smoother.

    upload_2019-8-6_3-15-52.png The white ball shows evidence of the reverse mode.

    The Impala 3 speed on the column was a stock item. My brother had ordered it with the stick shift. It was a fast car for the times and the challenge was always there to shift from 1st to second as a speed shift method. It was the biggest move and sometimes hard to make without grinding gears. But, the 2nd to 3rd final shift was a snap and for some reason, never a problem in the coordination.

    When I taught my mother to drive the 58 Impala with the 3 speed, she knew where the shift lever should go in coordination with the clutch. But, it was a small 5’2” older lady that had never been in a car with a heavy duty clutch and such power from the motor. She could get it to 2nd, but the clutch played games with her leg and we were hopping on down the road from 1st to 2nd each time. The 2nd to 3rd was a snap and was not a problem.

    After a week of driving lessons, she offered to change over the transmission to an automatic. She did not say what kind of automatic, so it was a newly modified C&O Stick Hydro that solved all driving problems. After a few runs around the neighborhood, she was happy and of course, still fast off of the start line, without any bucking bronco scenarios. Put it in “D” and stomp on it.


    But, with the gearing we ran in those days, 3:55 vs 4:11 vs 4:56, it just needed something else to make it right. A 4 speed, or even a 5 speed would have made driving better. Even the high speed long distance drives with a 6 speed make cruising quiet and fun. Who speed shifts a 5-6 speed, anyway?

    By the way, teaching my wife to drive her first stick shift car (4 speed, then 5 speed) was a snap. I guess being 20 something is better than 50+ when learning to shift and drive.
  23. southcross2631
    Joined: Jan 20, 2013
    Posts: 4,022


    Having grown up with 3 speed column shifters they are second nature to us old guys , but I was working at a Ford dealer in Northern Az. we hired this young guy to be the shop clean up guy and we had a Ford Econoline pickup . I told him to bring it in the shop to empty the trash can. I heard him start the engine but the truck never moved. I looked outside and he was staring at the dash so I walked out there to see what he was doing and he said he didn't know what to do next.
    So I had him move over to the pass. side and we had column shift training . After about 2 hours he could drive it just fine.
  24. I learned to drive on a car with three on the tree. My first car had the same. There were two types of shifters as I remember. The earlier type had the shift tube mounted on top of the steering column, the later type had a tube inside the steering column. The type with the shift tube on top of the column was far superior to the other in my opinion. It shifted much smoother and was way less likely to hang-up between gears than the type with the internal shift tube. I've owned a number of both over the years and I've cussed the internal tubes many times for hanging up between gears!
    Atwater Mike and Ron Funkhouser like this.
  25. tiredford
    Joined: Apr 6, 2009
    Posts: 494

    from Mo.

    I'm almost 70 now and can't believe the column shifter trend now. The first modification we made was converting to floor shift. Column shifters were for old people and guys with pocket protectors for their pencils. NOT COOL
    dan c and Atwater Mike like this.
  26. 1oldtimer
    Joined: Aug 21, 2003
    Posts: 7,609


    I had to do something similar with my '64 Chevy panel. I went from the old crash box to a syncro'd first Saginaw, but with no adjustable arms. Had to lengthen and adjust the angle of the shift arms.
  27. 1oldtimer
    Joined: Aug 21, 2003
    Posts: 7,609


    I can see that it is/was totally uncool. I like them because I like semi stock (hard for me to hack into a really clean body) and you never see them around which makes for a good theft deterrent.
    Cosmo49 and 31hotrodguy like this.
  28. 1946caddy
    Joined: Dec 18, 2013
    Posts: 1,705

    from washington

    Did someone say three on the tree ? :D
    th (10).jpg
    31hotrodguy likes this.
  29. oldskool.
    Joined: Sep 11, 2010
    Posts: 53

    from florida

    One of many of my stovebolts with a 3 on the tree was a 56 chev pickup that had the smoothest shift I have ever used. There was the perfect amount of play in the steering that I could drive with my left arm hanging out of the window have my right hand on the right side of the wheel and go thru the gears effortlessly using only my baby finger to shift. Only a week before I had just purchased a new OT truck only to park it because the 56 was so much more fun to drive!
  30. Atwater Mike
    Joined: May 31, 2002
    Posts: 10,264

    Atwater Mike

    My Mom said I drove her crazy with the 'shift-shifting'. My '40 Coupe had 3 on the tree, but I changed it to a '39 floor shift, behind the 364 Buick engine.
    My '36 Ford Five window got the '40 trans, and steering column and wheel from the '40.
    Then came the '61 Cad coupe De Ville. ('bubble-top', so cool) Cheap, 2 years old, trans was burned up. Wilcap adaptor, (old stuff, this was 1963) my bud 'Muff' was a Cad guy, sold me a stick flywheel, clutch, '37 LaSalle box.
    A week later, I had a Cad with a tall stick floorshift, my Mom took a ride with me and said, " was cheap..." But then followed up with, "Just because it doesn't belong there? Is that why you do it??"
    31hotrodguy and williebill like this.

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