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flathead owners - does 2nd gear slip out on you?

Discussion in 'The Hokey Ass Message Board' started by Coupe-De-CAB, Apr 23, 2007.

  1. Coupe-De-CAB
    Joined: Sep 30, 2004
    Posts: 2,098

    from Nor Cal

    I noticed with my '51 Flattie, my stock 3 speed tranny when i cruising in 2nd on the streets if i don't hold onto the shift knob, it slips into neutral somtimes:( does this happen to you as well?
    any way to fix it, or is this normal and something i have to live with?

    thanks in advance:)
  2. flatoz
    Joined: May 11, 2003
    Posts: 3,173


    not uncommon, usually means the syncros are worn, can be fixed but box out to do so.
  3. Jive-Bomber
    Joined: Aug 21, 2001
    Posts: 3,383



    No worries, its quite common on the ol' Ford 3 speeds. My 39 slipped out of second if I decelerated in gear at all.

    Baron vo Mike and I rebuilt my entire tranny, every syncro, bearing, etc., and I STILL pop out of second- Just on a longer/ stronger decel.

    Funny, huh?
  4. arkiehotrods
    Joined: Mar 9, 2006
    Posts: 6,230


    My 46 Ford with 8BA does the same (and my 56 Nomad with M-21 pops out of 3rd when I decelerate). Here's some stuff I found online.

    Paul Midgette: 7/24/2000 - 1/1/1900 5:09:55 PM
    transmission problem
    Hi everyone. i`m pretty sure my 35 ford has the original 3 speed manual transmission. It runs great except it will sometimes jump out of second gear while accelerating. The stick will just jump to the neutral position. Does anyone know what a common cause for this problem might be?
    Bill M: 7/24/2000 - 1/1/1900 6:03:41 PM
    RE: transmission problem
    paul....its the high and second gear synchromesh is worn either the blocking gears or the hub insert are worn out
    32tom: 7/25/2000 - 1/1/1900 6:41:45 AM
    RE: transmission problem
    I had a problem with the shifter forks once. put a different top on the trans and the problem went away
    rumble seat: 7/25/2000 - 1/1/1900 1:57:41 PM
    RE: transmission problem
    Paul: Jumping out of second gear: Too much end play in the main shaft, worn main drive gear bearing, worn mainshaft rear bearing, worn bearing inside the main drive gear, sprung transmision shifting forks, worn shift rails in the trans top, worn locator pin in the trans top, weak shift rail springs, worn synchro hub assembly, worn synchro teeth on second gear, worn gear teeth on second gear, worn gear teeth on second gear in the cluster.... or any combination of any of the above!
    When you`re in second gear and let off does the gear shift lever move about an inch towards neutral?
    If so, I`d look at the end play in the main shaft as well as the synchro hub assembly. Also look at synchro teeth on the second gear. Look at the two sides of the teeth. Notice there are 3 teeth in a row that are shiny. And exactly 180 degrees on the other side of the gear are another 3 teeth that are also shiny. These are what the gear is constantly working against. Grind the three synchro teeth off both sides using a bench grinder or whatever you have. You don`t have to be too fussy... just grind them off the best you can. Now the second gear has to work against new synchro teeth and will stay in gear a lot better. This is done to a lot of truck gears from the factory so it`s nothing really new. I have done it to both of my cars. Just my thoughts... rumble seat.
    Ron: 10/03/2001
    I find that the cases stretch over time. Measuring the distance between the snap rings on an assembled main shaft and adding .010' and cutting the case to this dimension is a good starting point for any rebuild. I cut this on the rear surface in a mill. Hope this helps, Ron
    JD: 10/03/2001
    Steel shims (pinion shims were "handy") between the main shaft shoulder and rear bearing, unless you have a mill(?). Once upon a time there were selective washers behind second gear. Ball syncros will allow gentle spring stretching, and there is almost no limit of pressure that will prevent shifting,(test with shift lever, not fingers) and the ball "pocket" in the shift ring can be deepend slightly with a Dremel grinder (gently!) The bush clearence on second gear can be quite huge with no problem---"if" the end play is kept close. Usually it's the front bearing or the needle roller in the input. I have seen detents so worn they won't hold in any gear.
    From Brian, NZ (2/24/04)
    The synchro hub & drum assy on up to '38 models and the separate synchro ring '39-54 type, all rely on other factors in the box to facilitate an ideal working environment.
    Wear factors on the synchro teeth of 2nd & input shaft gears.
    " " " " 2nd gear bush & end thrust areas.
    " " " " front & rear ball bearing housing holes.
    " " " " mainshaft snout & bearing.
    " " " " spigot shaft end [& the bush or bearing].
    A Quick fix for Steve's '40, if there is such a thing, and you are lucky, would be to replace 2nd gear & the synchro drum [or assy] & detents & springs & eliminate any 2nd gear & mainshaft end-float.
    If a box has been jumping out of 2nd gear for any time, the synchro teeth [NOT the synchro rings], on 2nd gear & the corresponding splines in the synchro drum end up with a tapered wear pattern, replacement is the only cure.
    With good hydraulic brakes there is no need to change down before a corner.. change down as you go through is better when there is little or no load on the box or engine.
    As the great Aussie Bathurst driving champion [Peter Brock], says on TV.... "GEARS are for GO.....BRAKES are for SLOW"

  5. HHRdave
    Joined: Jul 31, 2006
    Posts: 1,068

    from So Cal

    You can buy a rebuild kit for the top loader that has stronger springs and balls to prevent this. Hot Rod John in Ohio has them on evil Bay, his seller name is : plainjane038 He is at Hershey, LA Roadster show, etc etc. He is basically the early ford toploader authority, he's done these for years. His kit is only $25, and takes care fo the problem.

    99% of all of top shifter mechanisms that I rebuild, the springs are broken and have lost their tension. Also, the 2 balls are usually flat spotted. This kit doesn't look like much, but, these are all specially which are made here in Cleveland, Ohio. This kit is like putting VIAGRA in your top shifter! The following items are included: 1) 2 special heavy duty springs-3 times stronger than original 2) 2 undersized balls which fit better in the shift rails 3) 2 new roll pins which hold the folks to the shift rails 4) 3 new welsh plugs 5) a new 3-piece bullet shaped unit which takes the place of the solid steel bullet in your shifter 6) an instruction sheet. You won't believe the extra snap and positive shifting you will receive after this installation. This kit fits only 39 and later tops (39 car and 39-52 light duty pick ups). I have sold hundreds of these kits and everyone loves them. FREE SHIPPING IN U.S.!! I have vastly improved the 1939 (and later) Ford top shifter repair kit to the max!! There is a bullet shaped unit which is a solid piece between the 2 shift rails. I have made a new unit which is split and has a heavy duty spring between them. The unit keeps a more positive pressure on the shift rails. Eliminating the jumping out of gear problem. If you have already bought my old kit previously, please give me a phone call about updating your kit. Thanks, Hot Rod John at 330-468-3027.

    Attached Files:

  6. zibo
    Joined: Mar 17, 2002
    Posts: 2,346

    from dago ca

    in the '40, the sideshift tranny slips out of second on a down shift as well,
    but it is easy to shift in to gear so I probably won't fix it yet.

    in the '29, the '50's od sideshifter slipped out of 2nd, but when I accidentally
    took it apart too much I replaced the synchros and now its right on.

    good luck!
  7. Coupe-De-CAB
    Joined: Sep 30, 2004
    Posts: 2,098

    from Nor Cal

    wow... you guys rule!
    thanks for all the info everyone, i'm gonna start with HAGEN-HOT-RODS idea and call hot rod John for his kit and try that out first to see if it fixes the problem:)

    I'm sure glad it's not just me and it's a common thing with these old top loaders after all the years of wear and tear!

    I'm sure i could live with it for now, but it might get old after while:(

    once again thanks for all the great advise fellas, this is a good place!

    Jay- see ya in Paso if your going?
    God bless...
  8. I remember this happening to most of the flattie powered rods I had back in the 60s. I also remember seeing rods with a big steel hook mounted on the dash. The trick was to slam the stick into the hook, but it must have been clumsy pulling it out of the hook. I believe it's an old stock-car trick.
  9. tommy
    Joined: Mar 3, 2001
    Posts: 14,757

    Member Emeritus

    You didn't say what year the trans is but that kit won't work in a stock 51 Ford 3 spd. That kit is for the floor shift early Ford trans. If your 51flatty has a 39 trans behind it, then...never mind.:D
  10. Bruce Lancaster
    Joined: Oct 9, 2001
    Posts: 21,682

    Bruce Lancaster
    Member Emeritus

    Yeah--that trans is a close cousin of the early Ford, but no real interchange.
    Focus on upper shaft--probably actually a stack of different wear/loose points!
    Front to rear: Look at pilot bearing, front trans bearing, pilot bearing where input and output shaft meet, rear bearing.
    Next, and possibly most important, examine meeting place of those two shafts...usually actual endplay of shafts is nearly eliminated by bearing reainers at ends, but there is play in the middle, allowing movement, and excess play in second gear. In earlier trans, rear shaft can be moved forward by adding slingers, probably something similar can be done with a '51, and examine 2nd gear. The central gap problem also drastically cuts into synchro engagement depth...
    Ball and spring equivalent to that discussed above is in the side cover. There are notched sectors attached to shift levers with a ball and plunger between them...take apart the side cover, replace seals there, and look for a small spring that is stiffer than what you have.
  11. Flatheaded
    Joined: May 17, 2005
    Posts: 338

    from Nordakoda

    I just put one of John's kits in my '39. Solved my "jumping out" problem. Give him a call, he's really helpful.
  12. Bruce Lancaster
    Joined: Oct 9, 2001
    Posts: 21,682

    Bruce Lancaster
    Member Emeritus

  13. Retrorod
    Joined: Jan 25, 2006
    Posts: 2,027


    Our three speed behind the 8BA was doing that too, and she had to be double clutched going into was just wore out. We fixed it this past won't do it anymore.

    Attached Files:

  14. Improper adjustment of the shift rod between column shift and trans.

    Worn bushing on the shift rod not allowing proper engagement of 2nd - not going all the way in, in other words.

    Excessive wear on the 2nd-high shift arm and/or the shift rod end allowing it to be too sloppy.

    Overly heavy shift knob.
    Common back in the day, guys ran pool balls on Ford column shifts and it wasn't long until the trans started popping out of 2nd.

    All external problems as you can see.
  15. Digger_Dave
    Joined: Apr 10, 2001
    Posts: 2,517


    Question please; is the bell housing from Ford? The one piece stamped steel type?
    And who's adapter are you using between the bell housing and the tranny??

    Nice looking mechanic! :D :D
  16. Retrorod
    Joined: Jan 25, 2006
    Posts: 2,027


    That bell housing was the original piece that was on the 8BA when it came out of my son's 1951 shoebox. It's a nice stamped steel part. The adapter is the Offenhauser plate.....the T-5 bolts right up to it. We used a Ford front bearing retainer that had to be turned down from 4.9" (outside flange dimension) to about 4.60" so that it would slide onto the adapter plate. The Ford bearing retainer allowed us to use the original release bearing and fork with out bushings or sleeves. The mechanic is none other than Flower usual she is doing most of the work...........I just help :)
  17. Retro61
    Joined: Jan 23, 2006
    Posts: 651


    Coupe-De-CAB, I'm so glad you posted this question, i'm having the same problem with my 3-speed behind a '49 8ba. Lots of helpful knowledge found here. Thanks!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
  18. happens on mine as well, but I can live with it no big deal yet..
  19. Flat Ernie
    Joined: Jun 5, 2002
    Posts: 8,406

    Flat Ernie
    Tech Editor

    WHICH Offy plate? Got a p/n?

    WHICH Ford front bearing retainer? From WHICH transmission?
  20. Coup,

    My '39 tranny dropped out of second, I shortened the shifter and used a small glass knob and it stopped dropping out. I can even backpeddle 2nd with no problems. Turns out my shifter knob was too high and weighed too much.
    Joined: Jan 26, 2005
    Posts: 152


    Yep, back in the day when the flathead ruled the short tracks so totally that they ran seperate non ford classes, and before quick changes came into common use, you set up your rear ratio to run second on the quarter mile and third on the half mile. If you saw a car without a hook, it belonged to a raw rookie. If they were positioned and bent just right, the shifter would slide along the side of the hook and pop in almost by itself. For the bigger tracks you just loosened the nuts and rotated it out of the way. Popping out of second was definitly a common occurance. I remember sitting in my dads car, play racing, and making the shift into the hook. Oh yeah, when they went from asphalt to dirt, the only thing they did was change the tires and steer reverse lock. Some difference from the specialized world of racing today, Eh. Sorry guys, but you really sent me to nostalgia land with this one.:rolleyes:
  22. Sticher1
    Joined: Nov 17, 2004
    Posts: 627

    from Ct

    did that to me so I fixed it real good put in a s/10 5sp now no more worries
  23. Fe26
    Joined: Dec 25, 2006
    Posts: 543


    I used one of Hot Rod Johns kits, it didn't solve the problem, there are gremlins in my box, but it made the gear shifting very snappy and tight. When I solve the problem his kit will be a real asset.
  24. Jive-Bomber
    Joined: Aug 21, 2001
    Posts: 3,383


    I'll be there in the 39 Merc Cab-- Looking forward to seeing your coupe again...
    We can compare baby stories too....
  25. Retrorod
    Joined: Jan 25, 2006
    Posts: 2,027


    ..........I'm digging thru my pile-o-reciepts for that bearing retainer part number.
  26. Coupe-De-CAB
    Joined: Sep 30, 2004
    Posts: 2,098

    from Nor Cal

    people who say that they sleep like a baby, obviously have never had one:)
    looking forward to seeing you as well brother.

    My tranny is a '39 , so that Hot Rod john kit should work!
    thanks again guys for all you help and information regarding the 2nd gear situation.

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