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How much abuse can the Ford 3.03 take?

Discussion in 'The Hokey Ass Message Board' started by havi, Dec 9, 2011.

  1. salf100
    Joined: Oct 13, 2009
    Posts: 431


    Its a 3.03 light duty 3 speed trans. I jeep shifter can be installed pretty easily. Ive never done it, but know folks that have and can pass alone some info on the swap.
  2. I have the mid-sixties RAN version w/ T-150 Jeep shifter and short pickup tail-housing.
    Strong, compact and full synchro 2.99 low gear. Makes a good fit in the early Ford X-member and looks old-timey to boot. Going this route in lieu of the side-shift LaSalle
    I had mocked up in my coupe for years. (Can take some pics, if interested.)
  3. Did the Jeep top shift conversion (mid 70's CJ) worked out great. Internal parts were hard to find till I called Kajunjon, had everything I needed. Also of interest, a early 80's CJ bellhousing from behind a four cylinder gives you a SBC pattern on the block side and the toploader pattern on the transmission side.
  4. OahuEli
    Joined: Dec 27, 2008
    Posts: 5,037

    from Hawaii

    I know this is an old thread, but does anyone know if a toploader 3 speed is the same length as a toploader 4 speed?
    The 3 speed I have access to is a 1970 model.
    Last edited: Jul 29, 2016
  5. RichFox
    Joined: Dec 3, 2006
    Posts: 9,927


    4 speed is about 7 inches longer than the three speed.
  6. Depends on what car the respective transmission came out of. There's three different lengths on the 4-speeds, and at least two for the Ford-only 3-speed, not including the truck or GM versions. Generally, for a given application (motor/body) they were the same length.
  7. falcongeorge
    Joined: Aug 26, 2010
    Posts: 18,341

    from BC

    Will depend on tires. In a hard hooking car, you can shear off the small-block top loader tailshaft.
  8. Gary Addcox
    Joined: Aug 28, 2009
    Posts: 2,348

    Gary Addcox

    RichFox, you have lots of posts on the HAMB, and I trust your opinion, so here goes. I don't want to hijack the 3 speed theme, but I am looking for a Chevy 3 spd/O.D. trans. It is going behind a 327 slightly pumped in a '40 sedan. No hard driving anticipated. Presently, the frame is stock with flathead trans and banjo rear. It is a running, driving car with all new wiring and I don't want to pull the body. I have a cast iron bell housing from decade ago. I also want to keep the column shift if at all possible. Otherwise, 56sedan delivery from WA might have the shifter I will need. Any help would speed me along. Thank you. Might see you at T.R.O.G. West ? Gary
  9. RichFox
    Joined: Dec 3, 2006
    Posts: 9,927


    I really don't know anything about Chevy three speeds. I would suggest Squirrel on here as a great source for info. I have put a Ford three speed top loader to a Chevy bellhousing. Pretty easy to do. And my new three speed Pontiac came with a clearly marked FoMoCo transmission. No OD though. Right now it looks like I won't even make SpeedWeek. Trying to be OK for the Cook Shoot Out.
  10. Relic Stew
    Joined: Apr 17, 2005
    Posts: 1,123

    Relic Stew
    from Wisconsin

    Since this is back up, I'll add to this:

    For transmissions in general, the less torque multiplication through gearing, the more input torque they will handle.
  11. I know from personal experience that the FE version of the 3.03 is all-but-unbreakable. I had one in a FE-powered '58 Ford Ranch Wagon and that was the ONLY driveline part I never broke; clutch disc hubs (until I installed a Schiefer disc, which just moved the failures rearward), u-joints, axles, and 9" pumpkins all broke regularly. GM installed them as the 'base' transmission in both the GTO and the '65-up 442, although these are pretty rare. One other difference IIRC is the six and some/most small V8 versions had aluminum tailshaft housings, the 'big' version was all cast iron.
  12. town sedan
    Joined: Aug 18, 2011
    Posts: 1,290

    town sedan

    The 3.03 in my '60 Fairlane came out of a '64 six cylinder Galaxie. According to the shop manual its gear ratios are:
  13. falcongeorge
    Joined: Aug 26, 2010
    Posts: 18,341

    from BC

    And I know from first hand experience (see my photo on the broken parts thread) that at the 500/550hp level that the op is talking about, if the car hooks, a 2.78 low toplader can shear output shafts. Been there, got the t-shirt. Mine is a cast iron tail-shaft housing, FWIW.
    Op, do a litle research on somewhere like yellow bullet or the FOrd racer forums, you will find that sheared output shafts are relatively common. The good thing is, the output shafts are not overly expensive or difficult to replace, and they will act a bit like a fuse for low gear, which IS expensive to replace.
    The 3.03 trans will be inclined to shear the output shaft on launch at a lower power level than the 2.78, due to the increased torque multiplication.
    If you are REALLY putting a 500hp 400 in a fairlane and launching it hard, if it hooks, you will treading a very fine line on output shaft breakage.
    Last edited: Jul 30, 2016
  14. sunbeam
    Joined: Oct 22, 2010
    Posts: 4,839


    I'm glad to know my grand son is not abusing his 76 F 100 He's been running a RUG O/D for 2 years now behind a warmed over 390. But why does he keeps wearing out rear tires? One thing about top loader trans many have a vent hole in the cover you must use a gasket not silicone as a gasket.
    Last edited: Jul 31, 2016
    OahuEli likes this.
  15. OahuEli
    Joined: Dec 27, 2008
    Posts: 5,037

    from Hawaii

    The tire wear has something to do with metal content in the right shoe. I had a similar problem as a young'un. Some people call it "leadfoot".:rolleyes::D
  16. 51box
    Joined: Aug 31, 2005
    Posts: 883

    from MA

    I can add for a fact also that the Dearborn transmissions will not bolt on and work with a jeep t150 shift tower. They are heavy duty RAT code with a longer case. I had to modify the shift forks wider apart to make it work on my Dearborn.
  17. Texas Eli
    Joined: May 28, 2012
    Posts: 40

    Texas Eli

    I just picked one of these up today, a pull from a '66 Ranchero that was converted to a 5-speed. Only $50, Craigslist score.

    I thought the cases were all the same, with only tailshafts varying? The T150/3.03 hybrid is my goal.

  18. 29AVEE8
    Joined: Jun 28, 2008
    Posts: 1,384


    A "RAN" code will work Not a "RAT" the cases are NOT the same. A '66 Rancho should be a "RAN" check the code before you invest in the T-150 shifter.
  19. mrjim
    Joined: Jul 22, 2010
    Posts: 48

    from Norco Ca

    Hi there 29AVEE.
    Do you remember how much distance??one fork or both??
    Thanx JIM.
    Joined: Jul 20, 2006
    Posts: 2,424


    I had a 68 firebird that had one in it. Very durable transmission I traded it to a circle track racer for a Muncie 4 speed
  21. PacaRacer50
    Joined: Oct 3, 2010
    Posts: 155


    I had one stock in my 1963 Ford F100 long bed with the old 292 y block. I tried to get the y block to quite pissing oil everywhere and just could not make it stop for any length of time so out she came and in went a 375hp 390 hi performance engine out of a 1962 Galaxie I found in a junkyard. The 3.03 toploader never failed until it finally flung the circular spring and three little blockers for the 1st gear synchronizer out leaving me stuck in first gear. After I fixed that I lost a c-clip holding in one of the wrist pins in the 390 which took out cylinder #2 on the drivers side so I stuffed a 428 CJ I bought from a friend in there and let her rip.
    I never had another problem with that 3 speed stick again and the guy I sold it to in the mid 80's is still driving it about as hard as I ever did.
    Do you self a favor if you keep it a side shift: Look for a Hurst Master Shifter for it. Its the same basic heavy duty design as the Competition Plus used on the 4-speeds but made only for the 3-speeds. It is light years ahead of that crappy old Hurst Indy shifter. I put one in my 63 F100 and never ever had any issues with it. You can powershift the crap out of them without worrying about missing any shifts or over throwing the syncros.
  22. T. Turtle
    Joined: May 20, 2018
    Posts: 194

    T. Turtle

    Got one on my 64, 289 Comet but it will be swapped for a McLeod 5sp hopefully this winter. It may be strong but for my use here in Austria (windy country roads and mountain passes plus some Autobahn driving) it's a total pain as you never seem to be in the right gear and changing the diff still will only get you an "either/or" situation, not "both". I since have found a Gear Vendors o/d could fit the toploader but those cost more or less the same as the 5sp which to me is crazy. If I had a the chance again I might have done it though, using a Hurst Master Shifter as PcaRacer50 suggested instead of the slow column change plus an o/d shift switch on the stick as trucks have. Too late now:)
  23. I got a spare 3.03 laying around if anyone's interested

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