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Convert to a 4 speed ??

Discussion in 'The Hokey Ass Message Board' started by Jamoke, Jul 1, 2012.

  1. Jamoke
    Joined: Sep 1, 2011
    Posts: 562


    As I grew up in Chicago real Hot Rods had 4 speeds not very many automatics, really how many powerglids ( Powerslides) were in Hot Rods not very prominent in those days There was no more fun then banging gears and doing hole shots it was like drugs for me . So as I drive my 28 sedan around its time for a change my winter project will e covering to a 4 speed.

    I Would like to get some feedback on parts you used. Did you use hydraulic clutch setup thst seems like the way to go and for your installation tips for hanging pedals for converting over to a 4 Speed . I all ready have a line on a V-Gate shifter . Did you use a floor mount pedal or hang one .

    Attached Files:

    Last edited: Jul 1, 2012
  2. Deuce Roadster
    Joined: Sep 8, 2002
    Posts: 9,520

    Deuce Roadster
    Member Emeritus

    I helped a friend do one 25 years ago in a Model A coupe. He used a Chevy master cylinder along with the cylinder for the clutch. Worked GREAT ... but it was on the firewall. He ended up putting a hood on his coupe ... because he disliked the look on the firewall.

    Back then we knew of no other choices for the clutch. :rolleyes:
  3. V4F
    Joined: Aug 8, 2008
    Posts: 3,894

    from middle ca.

    you can mount it all under the floor & it will be cool
  4. nutajunka
    Joined: Jan 24, 2007
    Posts: 1,466

    from North Indy

    There's nothing like barking the tires in every gear to get the guy driving next to you to want to stand on it. And like meationed above, put it under the floor.
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  5. F&J
    Joined: Apr 5, 2007
    Posts: 13,198


    Depends on the chassis setup, but many late 50s and early 60s did have firewall mounted hyd clutch. It looks cool to me.

    if it was a chassis setup like all the early factory v8 fords, then, it's easy to work with the ford pedals under the floor. That's very cool also

    Figure out what is in the way on your own car, to choose the best logical place to do the clutch. That's the way it always was done back then. It was not about trends or "clean firewalls". That stuff started with streetrods.
  6. derbydad276
    Joined: May 29, 2011
    Posts: 1,207


    your not gonna like the v gate for street driving ( I had one) it sucked

    go with a regular comp plus with the reverse lever
  7. Not a model A but........
    I also believe hotrods have 3 pedals and as such my 50 chevy delivery got a 4 speed. While I won't be able to help you with pedal choice, I always try to keep clutch operation mechanical if at all possible. I kept my original pedals [yeah, I realize you can't reuse model A pedals but maybe adapt 30s-40s ford pedals?]
    And went to the local U-pull-it for linkage.
    I found what I needed in a 70s ford pickup. I grabbed the clutch linkage from the pedal to the throwout fork including the equalizer bar [Z-bar] and it's pivots.
    Cut the Z-bar in half and took several inches out of the middle, reclocking the levers on it to work in my application. I found a suitible place to attach the pivots on the frame and on a bracket welded to my blow-proof bellhousing installed the Z-bar and ran the straight linkage to pedal and throwout fork.
    It used the ford pickup plastic Z-bar bushings for smooth operation and the rod to the fork was adjustable...worked many years for me.
    Regarding gearing:
    I was given a 10 bolt with 2.29 hiway flyer gears. Did a little head scratchin and came up with the solution to the "city driving" problem. I bought a common vega 4 speed saginaw with the 3 rings machined around the input shaft..there's some argument about whether those transmissions were 3.40 or 3.50 low geared but no matter...they work on the street with tall rear gears. Gave me a good top end on the freeway and driving in town was a snap.
    By the way, I strangely have a buddy with a satin black 28 sedan locally who's having problems with his gearing...seems he's trying to use hiway gears in his rear axle with a 2.20 close ratio muncie from one of his old donor 'vettes. I watched him start out from a stop leaving the local cruise and he REALLY had to slip his clutch all the way through the parking lot...not fun to drive at all!
    My old saginaw lasted through many, many burn outs and drag strip starts/full power shifts, bangshifts etc...only had to replace the reverse idler one time.
    Get a vega tranny, Curt,er whover you are and you'll love it.........promise.
  8. Dr. Frankensickle
    Joined: Feb 7, 2007
    Posts: 383

    Dr. Frankensickle
    from Kansas

    I ran a vertigate on the street,It is not a setup for pussies.Your fingers will either get toughened up or you will switch over to a standard H pattern shifter.I found that I tore up more stuff with a standard,but it is more fun.
  9. kscarguy
    Joined: Aug 22, 2007
    Posts: 1,528


    I had a wide ratio saginaw 4-spd in my 31 Model A. It worked perfect and was really easy to setup. Here is how I did it...

    I modified a GM z-bar so that it had two tabs hanging straight down. It mounted between the pivot ball on the SBC engine and a tab welded to the top of the frame.

    I just checked my notes and both arms of the z-bar had a hole 4" from center of the shaft. This allows .5" travel before the throwout bearing touches.

    I use two underfloor type brake pedals (39 Ford type) where the rod mount moves back as the pedal was depressed. One for the brake cylinder under the floor, and the other for the clutch.

    There were two rods. One was a short adjuster rod running from the z-bar to the clutch arm, It was the type used on a 69 Camaro. It is always in compression. The other rod ranfrom the modified z-bar, back to the clutch pedal and had an adjustable banjo fitting on it. It is in tension. I had a HD return spring mounted to keep the pedal up and the throwout bearing released.

    Lastly, I used a Hurst shifter body with an "Indy" shifter hande, the p/n I will have to search for. It needs to be a heavily offset shifter handle. I even had to heat it and bend it over towards the passenger. I have the handle in my parts bin, so I will look to see if it has a number on it.

    The setup worked flawlessly. I only removed it because the new owner wanted an automatic transmission...go figure.
  10. kscarguy
    Joined: Aug 22, 2007
    Posts: 1,528


    One more item, the shifter you have will just not work. It will be under your legs because the A is so narrow.
  11. Jamoke
    Joined: Sep 1, 2011
    Posts: 562


    Thank you a traditional 4 H speed work be better look better and cheaper . Thank you for all your input
  12. Don's Hot Rods
    Joined: Oct 7, 2005
    Posts: 8,319

    Don's Hot Rods
    from florida

    I'm running a mid 60's Chevy pickup master cylinder under the floor that has one side for the brakes and the other side for the clutch slave. On the transmission I am running a slave from some unknown truck, maybe an International, on a custom bracket I made to bolt it to the bellhousing. The only downside is that my brakes do not have a dual mc all to themselves, so if something should leak I lose front and rear brakes. But it has been that way for over 20 years so I just watch it.

    And I agree you really don't want that shifter on the street. I ran one on a drag Mustang and it was good for only 4 shifts in a row down the quarter but on the street it would be a real pain.

    The shifter to leg clearance issue is also something you will need to address. I had to go with a 3 speed in my 27 because a 4 speed shifter would have ended up where my right leg wants to go. As it is I had to cut and modify the Hurst brackets to move the shifter as far to the right as I could, and even then getting in low gear it rubs my leg a little.


    I found this picture, it isn't great but will give you the idea. I am using a Hurst shifter with a handle they made for 63 Falcons and it is bent way to the right. Even so I had to put some spacers in there to move it more to the right so it would clear my leg.

    Last edited: Jul 2, 2012
  13. wingedexpress
    Joined: Dec 24, 2006
    Posts: 894


    I have the same type pedal/linkage set up as kscarguy works great . you will want the shiter handle bent to get out from under your legs with a standard 4 speed.
    Last edited: Jul 2, 2012
  14. Halfdozen
    Joined: Mar 8, 2008
    Posts: 570


    I used Ford Courier/ Mazda B2000 pickup master and slave cylinders for the clutch. They're small and made of cast iron, where lots of later vehicles have plastic cylinders-?? Mounted the slave cylinder at the block/ bell housing joint with a bracket made from heavy angle, shortened the release fork to suit. Made my own pedals, so that's not much help.

    Best to do the math and figure out the various ratios for your setup, so you don't end up with too much travel or short throw with high effort. Been a while since I did the homework and build on mine, IIRC you need minimum .050" air gap at the disc to release the clutch, probably minimum 5" travel at the pedal. Work back from there. One of the pros on the board may be able to give you better info than me. A diaphragm style pressure plate will give you the softest pedal for a given clamping force.

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