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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. IRION29
    Joined: Feb 25, 2013
    Posts: 61

    from Alberta

    My first truck was a '63 Mercury (Canadian) 6 cyl. 3 on the tree. The pot metal sleeve where the shifter pinned in broke twice,hose clamp to hold together. Shit canned it, and installed a Hurst Indy floor shifter with the T handle .Bitchin! Worked in a collision/resto shop in 2006 and we had a '52 Plymouth in for minor work. Same deal flathead 6, 3 speed. The boss, me and our painter were the only ones who could drive it
    31hotrodguy and Elcohaulic like this.
  2. cabong
    Joined: Nov 29, 2005
    Posts: 335


    My buddy Nick sent me this thread, and I kinda lost track of it for a while. The reason he sent it is that we have been working on my Model A coupe for a while. When I got it, it had a 289 Ford with a three speed and 8" rear, all out of a donor '64 Fairlane. The way it was set up, you literally could not sit in it and drive. I said, column shift, Nick said Whaaat......I'm old enough to remember when hot rods were converted to column shift, 'cause it was cool. Everything to that point was floor shift. It was a pain in the but, as the firewall and floor had been modified, but Nick put his creative genius to work, and man does the result speak for itself. Everything works perfectly. Next came the gas pedal. A Slingerland base drum gave up it's footfeed, and with a little whittling and whacking, it works great. Figured I'd just as well show my seat while I'm at it. The gator is the original factory material from the interior of Nick's Henry J, which became a bitch'n gasser. Model A for Hagerty 009.JPG Model A for Hagerty 009.JPG

    Attached Files:

  3. cabong
    Joined: Nov 29, 2005
    Posts: 335


    Since we're talk'n three-on-the-tree, here's a shot of my wife's '55.... 1955  Nancy Chevy 038.JPG
  4. henry's57bbwagon
    Joined: Sep 12, 2008
    Posts: 676


    Both my 51 HenryJ's are coloumn shift. Still fun to shift gears.
  5. I had be once in a 57 BelAir, 3 speed with the 220 hp engine.
    Kept popping out of second when I let off and ground badly going into first at a stop from neutral.
    Next I went for a 4 speed, much better.

    Sent from my iPad using H.A.M.B.
    Elcohaulic and 31hotrodguy like this.
  6. 2bubbas
    Joined: Mar 19, 2011
    Posts: 610


    2 of 3 are 3 on the tree- Falcon a 4-speed on the floor- Bob K.
    Elcohaulic and Cosmo49 like this.
  7. derbydad276
    Joined: May 29, 2011
    Posts: 1,315


    learned to drive in my grandfathers chevy pick up with 3 on the tree ... later I was interviewing for a job as a porter at a chevrolet dealer ...manager had a nova parked in the bay .. 3 on the column ... told me to back it out and park it and I got the job...(no problem)... told me after 5 other kids applied for the job and none of them knew how to drive it... and that was in 1979 and it was still very common
    my latest car has a 3 on the tree
  8. Bruce Lancaster
    Joined: Oct 9, 2001
    Posts: 21,682

    Bruce Lancaster
    Member Emeritus

    Different personalities from different manufacturers and my family:
    '48 Ford...smooth, very little slop, no slop after I discovered the petrified rubber bushings at column levers and fixed.
    Very nice driving device.
    '53 Chevy...very GM. Lever could be moved all over the place without doing anything, but learning where the useful movement was didn't take long. I think EVERYTHING in the drive train had plentiful slop without any real that car, I soon learned how to go through the gears with no use of the clutch by matching car and gear speed...NOT double clutching, this was NO clutching. Only need for the clutch was to go back into first after a full stop, as the engine was unwilling to match zero speed.
    '63 Plymouth...shifter was stiff with tightly defined movement. Shifting was all multiple movements...first to second was UP-OVER-UP as three separate movements, like a diagram of how to shift. That did NOT loosen up even though the car went about a zillion miles. Shifting felt like a military parade drill.
  9. 283john
    Joined: Nov 17, 2008
    Posts: 791


    My '67 c-10 had it but the linkage and cab mounts made it a no-go after a couple of years. Swapped to the floor with Hurst Indy shifter. Would love to have another just to blow my younger friends' minds. I'm 41.
    Elcohaulic likes this.
  10. Beanscoot
    Joined: May 14, 2008
    Posts: 1,592


    Funnily enough, I did this conversion to my 64 Fairlane. I used an overdrive control for reverse, as has been suggested earlier, leaving all forward gears on the column. A happy outcome of the conversion is that second gear position is straight down from first, so that shift is much better than the stock setup.

    Didn't some early Econolines with four speeds have four in the tree?
    Elcohaulic likes this.
  11. abloch
    Joined: May 27, 2013
    Posts: 16


    Three on da tree! 3ondatree.jpg
    Elcohaulic, Frankie47 and 31hotrodguy like this.
  12. 41rodderz
    Joined: Sep 27, 2010
    Posts: 5,199

    from Oregon

    I miss my old Chevy truck with 3 on the trew. Fun speed shifting until it would hang up and under the truck I would go.:D But after a couple of times of getting up and down I installed new bushings and back to playing .
    Elcohaulic likes this.
  13. Terraizer
    Joined: Jul 18, 2006
    Posts: 505


    I have grown to love the 3 on the tree in my 1965 d1000 International pickup. It's fun to drive.
    Truckdoctor Andy and Elcohaulic like this.
  14. David Gersic
    Joined: Feb 15, 2015
    Posts: 2,257

    David Gersic
    from DeKalb, IL

    I taught myself to drive a standard with a 3 on the tree pickup borrowed from my boss. Needed it for the weekend to move some furniture. Didn’t know it was a manual until I got in.

    Fortunately, she wasn’t around. Also fortunately, it was dark out. Fiddled with the lever until I found reverse (backup lights came on). That got me out of the parking space. Fiddled with it some more until I figured out the rest of the pattern. Stalled it a few times, but eventually got it out of the parking lot.

    Linkage was worn, so it would randomly jam between 2nd and 3rd. Had to roll under the truck a few times to get it moving again.

    Drove that truck a bunch of times over a couple of years. Kinda hated it, which soured me on column shifting. I like driving a manual, but prefer a floor stick.

    Sent from my iPad using The H.A.M.B. mobile app
    Elcohaulic likes this.
  15. All 3 of my old cars are column shift, 2 of them are flipped over to the left side. Long live "The Girlfriend Shift".
    Truckdoctor Andy and Elcohaulic like this.
  16. dan c
    Joined: Jan 30, 2012
    Posts: 2,156

    dan c

    i got my first car in 1965 and, like all my friends, installed a floor shift. dad couldn't understand it, because "we waited for years and years to get column shifts!"
  17. I did a morph of 3-on-the-tree for my '53 Chevy pickup OD automatic. I installed an 80s tilt column and adapted the '53 shift lever and steering wheel.
  18. Gahrajmahal
    Joined: Oct 14, 2008
    Posts: 409


    When I was a lad we loved going to Edgewater drag strip in Cleves Ohio. We were only 12 or 13 at the time. One of the mom’s that was usually convinced to take us, drove the family Rambler wagon with “three on the tree”. I can still see little Mrs. Schultz rowing the gears in that under powered car dropping off a carload of boys, then picking us up at 10:00 or 11:00 PM after it was all over.

    My own three on the tree was in a 60’s Ford Econoline van I drove for many years. There’s a unique driving experience current youngsters will never experience, yet alone being delegated to sitting on the engine cover in the middle.
    williebill and Elcohaulic like this.
  19. plym_46
    Joined: Sep 8, 2005
    Posts: 3,999

    from central NY

    Mopar standard column shift transmissions are a bit different and in my opinion Superior to the other manufacturers. While the H pattern is the same, the shift lever goes through the neutral gate when you release it first gear. Shifting to second takes only slight pressure toward the lever while moving it straight up to second. No wiggling around in the middle of the H looking to the path to second. Slight pressure toward the dash and down and you are in high. My Deluxe model has no horn ring, so I can reach through the steering wheel and shift just fine right at the column. When adjusted correctly and lubed it is pretty slick and quick. 4.11 and OD make it a digger out of the hole and a civilized highway cruiser.
    Elcohaulic and Truckdoctor Andy like this.
  20. jnaki
    Joined: Jan 1, 2015
    Posts: 4,894



    I learned to shift a 3 on the tree in a 52 Chevy sedan owned by my cousins. We used to play in the car as a fort when we visited and it was fun. I looked at the stick shift lever and remembered their mom shifting through the gears. I had no idea what was used to make the car go forward or reverse. We went all over the neighborhood, harbors and visiting in that 1952 Chevy sedan. Our family had only one car and my mom did not drive back then.
    upload_2019-9-5_3-28-11.png 1958 Westside of Long Beach
    As we got into the play acting, it was better throwing that lever up to second and then to third. We could not reach the clutch, even with the seats forward. As we got older, then we coordinated the clutch and shifting while still using the car as a playground toy. We were hot rod racers standing still, while going fast.

    52 Chevy Westside of Long Beach

    Then, our next door neighbor moved in and his dad had a 3 speed transmission in his work truck. We played in that one, too. But, the mom next door told us to get out of that truck and not wreck it. Later on, I understood why…it was the only means of their dad getting to work and back.


    By the time I was a pre-teen, I had driven stick shift Model A transmission, another Ford Sedan with a column shift and finally my brother’s new 1958 Impala 348 with a 3 speed column. The Impala was the best, of course. But now, it was just driving around the block, when I had to exchange/move one car out to the street and move in the other in the garage. I learned to shift without grinding any gears as a pre teen.
    The little white ball from the 3 speed up in the reverse position…
    By the time I got my license, I was an old hand at speed shifting that 3 speed column shift Impala. It was fun grabbing that little white ball and moving the lever up and down. I was even good at backing up the Impala in reverse. I had plenty of daily experience moving my brother’s car out to the street when my dad came home from work. Finally, the time came that I could drive legally on the street with that 3 speed Impala and it was a lot of fun, being by myself, or even with my brother.


    Elcohaulic likes this.
  21. flatout51
    Joined: Jul 26, 2006
    Posts: 994


    I love 3 on the tree!! Haha! I put one in my 28 A roadster. Nothing like seeing the look on people's faces when I'm rowing through the gears! 20190808_173342.jpeg 20190519_195252.jpeg 20190404_132859.jpeg

    Sent from my SM-G977U using The H.A.M.B. mobile app
  22. continentaljohn
    Joined: Jul 24, 2002
    Posts: 4,629


    2AE95E82-86C3-408E-BBC8-F9A06E113E69.jpeg My roadster is 3 on the tree and it is funny when shifting , it’s like your throwing a fit to the youths. The old timers know its 3 on Da tree . My family grew up driving a old 1968 bronco with column stick..
  23. Elcohaulic
    Joined: Dec 27, 2017
    Posts: 1,329


    ^^^ That is a perfect example of a true Hot Rod.... Perfect! Not over done or antiseptic, just right.. I like the exhaust manifolds!
    continentaljohn likes this.
  24. The Shift Wizard
    Joined: Jan 10, 2017
    Posts: 2,105

    The Shift Wizard

    Second car I ever owned was a '55 Chevy Bel Air, soft top. The PO had changed it to a 3-on-the-floor. As I recall, there were more than one of those posers around in those days.
    That must make it "traditional", right? :rolleyes:
  25. 58 Yeoman
    Joined: Aug 7, 2009
    Posts: 463

    58 Yeoman
    from Lacon, IL

    When I got my 58 wagon, it was a 283 powerglide. The cast iron trans weighed about as much as the V8. I converted it to the column, and now has a warmed up 350.

    Attached Files:

  26. My first was a 50 Merc . ragtop broke the shifter tube . I had the hood off at the time and the top down , my buddy layed out over the windshield and moved the shift levers by hand . Then off to the junk yard for another shift tube .
  27. LOWDUG37
    Joined: Jan 31, 2007
    Posts: 863


    yes,this one has it 59 at marks.jpg
  28. v8flat44
    Joined: Nov 13, 2017
    Posts: 551


    3 on a tree & a flathead 8, overdrive and it really runs great.
  29. Los_Control
    Joined: Oct 7, 2016
    Posts: 710

    from TX

    I wish I had a 3 on the floor, 1949 was the last year for this.
    I have a late model 1949, it actually came with the 1950 upgrades, including 3 on the tree and E-brake under the dash.
    I just cant see removing the upgrades, even though I see them as a downgrade.
    The goal was to clear the floor to slide across the seat and exit the cab.

    Yes I still make varoom varoom noises while sitting in it.
  30. Bigcheese327
    Joined: Sep 16, 2001
    Posts: 6,686


    I'm actually in the process of ripping the crappy Hurst Indy floor shifter out of my '60 Dodge D200 and reinstalling a column shifter for the T-85. It's kind of a pain, though, Dodge Power Giant parts are incredibly hard to find.

    My '61 Falcon, '64 Rambler American, and '50 Studebaker Champion were all three-on-the-tree and I loved it. I'm looking forward to having a column shifter back in my life, though the installation is enough of a headache to make me semi-seriously look for a granny-gear four-speed instead.

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