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Let's talk about "Saginaw 4 speed"

Discussion in 'The Hokey Ass Message Board' started by Coke-bottle, Apr 16, 2010.

  1. Coke-bottle
    Joined: May 14, 2008
    Posts: 273

    Coke-bottle
    Member

    I've found eraund me one saginaw 4 speed out from a corvette (I think) with nice HURST linkage in it. So my next project is to put it behind a semi stock SB chevy 327 with lot of speed parts.

    Say what you think or your experience with this tranny. I know somebody think this is a bad tranny choice and some other viceversa :confused:

    How mutch lbf can support?
     
  2. propwash
    Joined: Jul 25, 2005
    Posts: 3,858

    propwash
    Member
    from Las Vegas

    I'm positive that Corvettes never came with OEM Saginaw 4spds. It was more common on LoPo Camaros, etc.

    Good trans as long as you don't plan on pouring 450hp to it - at least not abruptly anyway. Best way to tell is that the gear levers are all in the side cover - on Muncie and T10, the reverse lever is on the tailshaft. I've used Sags in several conversions, CJ5s with mild sbc V8s, numerous Austin-Healeys, etc.

    dj
     
  3. They're good if you don't beat the snot out of them. They don't stand up to repeated hole shots, I've seen a few grenade in Chevelles from such abuse.

    The fact that you got it with a Hurst shifter is a major plus. I had to go with a Mr. Gasket shifter when I put one together in a Nova years back.

    Bob
     
  4. mtkawboy
    Joined: Feb 12, 2007
    Posts: 1,213

    mtkawboy
    Member

    I had a 68 Camaro 327/275 that had one in it and it was a hard shifting piece of crap. Dont even think about shifting it fast. Just my opinion but I wouldnt waste my time with one
     

  5. TERPU
    Joined: Jan 2, 2004
    Posts: 2,261

    TERPU
    Member

    I have one behind a 2x4 327 in a '54 Chevy hooked up to a 12 bolt posi. I abuse it frequently and so far so good it shifts nice and tight and the ratios are perfect for the car. I've had Muncie's too. They all have a limit but what you describe it should do the job well. Don't drop the clutch from a dead start and it'll last a long time.


    Tim
     
  6. 56sedandelivery
    Joined: Nov 21, 2006
    Posts: 6,554

    56sedandelivery
    ALLIANCE MEMBER

    Actually, they did put them in Corvettes; probably more of a cost cutting measure than a performance related issue. My 72 Nova SS came with one when I bought it new. It had a tendency to wear out the 1-2 shifter fork; I think the slider was bad, but GM cheaped out on the warranty. After the second time, I put a Borg Warner Super T-10 in the car. Now, I currently have a 3 ring Saginaw 4-speed, AND a Saginaw 3-speed WITH overdrive I just bought, for FORTY dollars total! The plan is to make one of the 4-speed Saginaws with overdrive (the 3 and 4-speed Saginaws use the same case and mainshafts that makes this possible). As long as you don't beat the thing too badly, or put a lot of power to it, it should be fine. Butch/56sedandelivery.
     
  7. Truckedup
    Joined: Jul 25, 2006
    Posts: 3,899

    Truckedup
    Member

    Most say no,but maybe,got proof?
    A Saginaw in good shape,many are beat up ,shifts pretty damn good.The synchro design is the same as a Muncie only a bit smaller in size.The higher the first gear ratio,like a 2.54 rather than 3.50, is stronger and able to manage about 300 hp.I have built quite a few of them that seen abuse and held up fine.
     
  8. billbrown
    Joined: Dec 24, 2007
    Posts: 595

    billbrown
    BANNED

    the saginaw is fine for a cruiser.
     
  9. crackerass54
    Joined: Jun 1, 2009
    Posts: 364

    crackerass54
    Member
    from dallas

    In something light it will handle a little power, I have two in the garage, one with no bottom and one with no side, I'm alittle abusive though. They probably would have lasted indefinatly if I wasn't so hard on them.
     
  10. J&JHotrods
    Joined: Oct 22, 2008
    Posts: 549

    J&JHotrods
    Member

    Saginaw's are real great to have-as long as you have 2 or 3 lying around, ready to overhaul:D. Those ol sags are what taught me how to rebuild manual trannies. Always had a spare on hand. Clutch dumping and traction don't go hand in hand with those. But like most guys here, I was extremely abusive on those as a teen. If you treat 'em like your grandma, they'll hold up ok.
     
  11. 270283
    Joined: Jun 11, 2006
    Posts: 404

    270283
    Member

    I also had one in a 275 horse 327 Camaro back in 68 and raced that car for two years on the street and strip and had no problems with it. My brother bought the car from me and drove it for several more years. It was a 2.54 low unit which is the strongest one. I never had slicks on the car (pure stock rules) but dumped the clutch off the line and powershifted every gear. I wouldn't hesitate to use another in a similar situation.
     
  12. I've had a few and like Terpu I've had pretty Good luck with them.

    I also learned a hard lesson on one way back when. Never power shift a loose 4 gear.

    If it is in good shape it will actually take quite a bit of abuse. It helps to know how to drive. They are not a forgiving as say an old Buick with a Dyna flow. You have to use a little finesse with them. But I suppose that you are willing to learn how to shift one if you don't already know, right?
     
  13. johnod
    Joined: Aug 18, 2009
    Posts: 778

    johnod
    Member

    I had one out of a vega in my 56 chev years ago,307 sbc, worked fine as long as you don't abuse it.
     
  14. jrlemke
    Joined: Dec 20, 2009
    Posts: 83

    jrlemke
    Member

    I abused the hell out of the one in my 52 Chev. I have a 322 Buick with tri-power and a 4:11 rearend with traction bars. Mine has the O.D. on the back. Never broke it in 20 years of use. Hurst shifter and a lot of power shifting. Gonna put it in my 61 Hawk this fall.-JRL
     
  15. draggin breath
    Joined: Feb 5, 2006
    Posts: 509

    draggin breath
    Member

    A hollander interchange will show what year vettes came with them. You could always tell which cars had Muncies on a carlot because they leaked.The saginaw proved to be a better unit and the General phased out the muncie. A saginaw from a Vega was great in a car with street gears because of the lower ratio first gear.
     
  16. BLUDICE
    Joined: Jun 23, 2006
    Posts: 1,476

    BLUDICE
    Member

    I had one in my T Bucket w/327 w/ double hump heads & dual quads.I also had a 36" tall stick shift..so to do any "power shifts" could be a problem, but it held up pretty good. Only grief it gave me was once or twice a summer it would get stuck between 1st & 2nd gear. I would be sure to have a cresent wrench with me & slip under the car and give it a little jiggle. I was told that it was common. Mine came out of a '68 Chevelle. I got on it real hard one time..kicked in both carbs..had some real sticky Mickey Thompson's 12" wide...hammered 2nd and raised the front wheels about 3" and broke both engine mounts....so I say hav fun with it.
     
  17. The Saginaw 4 speeds were definitely available in Corvettes in the late 70's. They were used with the standard engine options, but not with the L-82 higher performance engines. Actually, the wider ratios of the Saginaw were much better for around town cruising. I have one in my daily driver '78. It works fine.
     
  18. granny
    Joined: Apr 1, 2009
    Posts: 56

    granny
    Member
    from WA state

    I've got a lite street/strip car w/ a heavily abused 3.50 Saginaw. Drag radials, 3.73 gears, and a ceramic disc. The Sag held up fine in stock form, just didn't like shifting at 8k. I made some homemade pro-shift mods on 2nd and 3rd gears, shifted great, but had to tear it down every 2 months during the summer to dress or replace the dogs on 3rd gear (second lasts all year). Got tired of that, so i modified a Liberty faceplate for a Top Loader to fit my 3rd gear...

    [​IMG]

    Synchros, pro-shift, and faceplate all in the same case. Hardest part was figuring out how to assemble/disassemble with the bigger dia dog rings. I would have ring'd 2nd gear too, but i couldn't figure out how to make it fit w/o losing reverse.
     
  19. granny
    Joined: Apr 1, 2009
    Posts: 56

    granny
    Member
    from WA state

    Use the wrong oil in them and they won't shift. If it's too slick, the synchros won't be able to slow down the next gear very quick, and it will take forever to shift.
     
  20. THE-SYNDICATE
    Joined: May 13, 2003
    Posts: 802

    THE-SYNDICATE
    Member

    Ah..... Good to know! What is the recommended lube for these?
     
  21. granny
    Joined: Apr 1, 2009
    Posts: 56

    granny
    Member
    from WA state

    My recomendation is Redline MTL

    Oil approved for GL-4 is ok, but GL-5 approved hypoid oil that is also backwardly compatible w/ GL-4 is not going to shift well, at least not in my experience. Avoid anything that is also recommended for use in your rear differential. The EP additives are hard for the synchros to deal with.

    Also, don't use chassis or wheel bearing grease to hold the needles and thrust washers in place during assembly. It will contaminate your oil and make your Saginaw shift slower. Vaseline will do the job.

    If you have one w/ the wrong oil installed, it's going to be hard to change the oil in the car without a drain plug. The bottom bolt on the tailhousing goes all the way thru to the maincase, but it's not low enough to drain all the oil out. Might have to change oil a few times to get rid of most of the EP additives. I put drain plugs in mine.
     
  22. Coke-bottle
    Joined: May 14, 2008
    Posts: 273

    Coke-bottle
    Member

    Thanks for the info. I think I follow the saginaw way :D.
    For the chevy to saginaw users, what's flywheel-clutch-starter combo dimansions and tooth of your choice??
     
  23. torchmann
    Joined: Feb 26, 2009
    Posts: 787

    torchmann
    BANNED
    from Omaha, Ne

    I have one was supposed to come out of a corvette
    It has the t handle shifter with reverse lockout
    It's missing the shifter ball
    I have another out of a 77 camaro and another with metric bolts out of a 1980 something pontiac 4 cylinder rear wheel drive car.
    That pontiac also had a manual saginaw steering box that fits my 71 firebird and the shifter on it is wierd...
    It's shifter has the reverse lockout and didn't bolt to the tranny it bolted down to the top of the tranny tunnel.

    I bought an 81 4speed transam for parts that had a 305 chevy in it but also had the borg warner T-10 and a disc brake rear.
    I have a thread in my profile with some info on how to switch over to original style eldorado caliper rear brakes.
    you can get the calipers new and make the brackets.
    http://www.jalopyjournal.com/forum/showthread.php?t=342508


    I'm using the t-10.
    My brother went through a few sags in his 327 65 chevelle. they all cracked the housing where the reverse idler shaft is suspended by a small cast iron protrusion into the gear case.
    He switched to the saginaws with the stiffener rib under the belly like mine and stopped breaking them. the old ones always broke in first gear or when getting rowdy backing up.
     
    Last edited: Apr 17, 2010
  24. 56sedandelivery
    Joined: Nov 21, 2006
    Posts: 6,554

    56sedandelivery
    ALLIANCE MEMBER

    I have two CHILTONS, a 71 and 76 edition. According to them, the Saginaw 4-speed was used in Corvettes starting in 67, and continued through 76 (my 76 edition CHILTONS), and I'm sure latter. They were probably only used in the standard, baseline type, low performance V-8's. Muncies are also listed for the same years, probably with the higher horsepower engines. I know, who wants to believe a Saginaw was used in Corvettes? But, unfortunately, it's true. Butch/56sedandelivery.
     
  25. Toner283
    Joined: Feb 13, 2008
    Posts: 1,327

    Toner283
    Member

    I have had one in an O/T Malibu w/ a SBC & 4.11's & I beat the crap out of it for several years & it never gave me much trouble. Only issue was the same as BLUDICE had - it would stick in 2 gears at once. had to get someone to rock the car a little while I manually moved the shift arms on the side of the case from under the car. I attributed that more to the shifter than the trans itself.

    maybe not as good/strong as a muncie or a T10 but mine worked great.
     
  26. Truckedup
    Joined: Jul 25, 2006
    Posts: 3,899

    Truckedup
    Member

    You have actual experience with this oil over a period of time with a fair amount HP? Just asking because I think the MTL is too light,like a 10-30 motor oil.Those lighter oils are usually for trannys with gears that run on roller bearings,not directly on the shaft like Saginaw and Muncie.I've used the Redline MT gear oil that's a 75-90 weight recomeneded for brass synchro trannys.The tranny shifted very nicely.I put together a Saginaw for my El Camino with just plain old 90 weight GL-5 gear oil I got from Tractor Supply.This one shifts very nicley also.
    But is the tranny has worn synchro hubs,the teeth all rounded,it ain't gonna shift worth shift no matter what kind of oil you use.
     
  27. granny
    Joined: Apr 1, 2009
    Posts: 56

    granny
    Member
    from WA state

    My experience does not see the thinner oil having much practical effect on the Saginaw's 1/2/3 gear bearings, or their ability to carry load. The big reason may be that these gears don't actually spin on the mainshaft while power is being transferred thru them. All the Saginaw's parts that are transferring power (in forward gears) are spinning on needle/roller/ball bearings.

    In my case, I feel it's likely that the face of the gear teeth on the input shaft would be the 1st place that any ill effects of too lite of oil would show up. With the exception of it's 2nd and 3rd gears, this box has spent 2 years in a street/strip car that runs mid-6's at around 105 in the 1/8th. The car drives everywhere it goes, including the 130mi to/from the track 2-3 times a month during the summer. Zero trailer miles. Neither the gear teeth, inner bearing surfaces, or the mainshaft show abnormal wear.

    GL-5 seems to work fine most of the time on the street, but i find the real test to be when you ask your synchros for a good quick shift above 6500.
     
  28. Flat Ernie
    Joined: Jun 5, 2002
    Posts: 8,406

    Flat Ernie
    Tech Editor

    I've heard you can adapt the overdrive from a Saginaw 3-spd to the 4-spd - anyone ever do this? Heard of it?

    For the life of me, I can't remember where I read about it...
     
  29. granny
    Joined: Apr 1, 2009
    Posts: 56

    granny
    Member
    from WA state

  30. 56sedandelivery
    Joined: Nov 21, 2006
    Posts: 6,554

    56sedandelivery
    ALLIANCE MEMBER


    granny's posted the link to the article. I have the real article; well, at least the necessary parts to do it. I bought a 3 ring Saginaw 4-speed AND a Saginaw 3-speed, with overdrive, two weeks ago for FORTY dollars; for both of them. It's possible to do this conversion as the 3 and 4-speed Saginaws share the same case and mainshaft. Butch/56sedandelivery.
     

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