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nifty shifter

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Post Thu May 10, 2018 11:15 pm
stewartwillsher User avatar

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Bit of a gap since my last WAFFLE, so I've resurrected this which has a motoring connection, for your amusement.

In my yoof, well I suppose about the time I moved from late teens upwards, so about fifty five years ago, I was a bit nifty with a manual gearbox, self-taught, although a bit of knowledge from the car club helped.
I was also fortunate to have befriended an awesome old gent, who, long retired, had been an instructor in the army on automobile engineering.
His own apprenticeship had been before WWI making, from sheet metal, the bearing shells for Dennis engines, who manufactured the first motorised fire engines.
This old chap had a 1930s Packard straight eight which looked like a gangsters motor.
I learned so much from him, often with reference to this huge American Classic before my eyes, including how the innards of a conventional gearbox worked.

Much of the skills I gained was perhaps because the ancient three speed boxes I had learned on, had no synchro on first, so one either had to master some ability to double-de-clutch, or you came to a standstill to select first, or made an awful graunching noise with possible damage to cogs.
Also, the decrepit state and sloppiness of the box on my first car, a 1938 Ford Ten, meant any help given to the mechanism improved driving satisfaction.
Dancing with dainty footwork on brakes was a logical extension, and useful at times when rallying or autocrossing my second car, a 1955 Ford 100E.
There were, of course, non-manual boxes, including autos, pre-select and specials like the competition Hobbs Mechamatic which had in-built disk braking for down changing, but I never owned any of those.

I did a write up, for some interested parties decades ago, of the types of changes, up and down, that were possible on a reasonably well-worn box, without causing further deterioration.
I claim, that at that time, I could perform them all, partly showing off, but also, the crudity and looseness of the boxes allowed it and even necessitated it at times.

Anyway, It might just be of interest, so I've tried to rewrite my E. L. Wisty style (ack Peter Cook) guide to manual shifting:

So, you have a normal car of the pre or post war period and its main controls, other than the steering wheel, are three pedals and a gear lever, which might be floor or column mounted.
Most only had three gears and the first of those usually lacked the synchromesh which enabled changing up or down a gear without crunching.
Conventional gear changing is what you are taught and is used by the vast majority of motorists all the time.
With constant mesh helical cut gears, the change relied on the synchro hub sliding (pushed by the forks at the bottom of the gear lever) to and fro to engage dog teeth and transfer power via the hub and a parallel lay shaft.
Racing and rally drivers, to save a bit of time, especially removing any pause when up shifting, to improve acceleration, used a snatch method.
The synchro mechanism is not too happy, but will tolerate this, especially on a well worn box.
If the clutch is not doing too well, or you have stepped into an old pre-war banger, or wishing to change down into first gear, then double-de-clutching is a useful aid to quiet smooth changes.
When the clutch mechanism is bu99ered or you just want to have a bit of fun, then not using the clutch at all is a challenge.
Add to these methods the ability, under some circumstances (racing or possibly steep downhill) while changing down a gear, to brake at the same time, and you have what is often called heel-and-toe, although often the sides of the right foot rock laterally, depending on the pedal layout of brake and accelerator.

So here are the dozen shifts described.

Up shift:
Conventional - at a leisurely pace: clutch down; move lever to next gear up; clutch up.
Snatch [Snatch was sometimes referred to as a "racing change", because it was usually the fastest, but reduced the life of the mechanism.] - clutch down to biting point; move lever (snatch) to next gear up; clutch up.
Double-de-clutch - clutch down; move lever to neutral; clutch up; pause for engine revs to drop to match; clutch down; move lever to next gear up; clutch up.
Clutchless - balance throttle; move lever to neutral, pause for revs to drop to match for higher gear; move lever (gently, with throttle holding some revs) to next gear up.

Down shift:
Conventional - clutch down; move lever; clutch up.
Snatch - clutch down to biting point; rev throttle up to match; move lever (snatch) to next gear down; clutch up.
Double-de-clutch - clutch down; move lever to neutral; clutch up; blip throttle for revs to match lower gear; clutch down; move lever to next gear down; clutch up.
clutchless - balance throttle; move lever to neutral, increase throttle for revs to match lower gear; move lever (gently, with throttle holding revs) to next gear down.

Down shift with braking constantly applied:
Conventional - right foot braking; clutch down; move lever; clutch up.
Snatch - left side of right foot braking; clutch down to biting point; whilst moving lever through neutral; blip throttle with right side of right foot for revs to match next gear; move lever to next gear down; clutch up.
Double-de-clutch - left side of right foot braking; clutch down; move lever to neutral; clutch up; blip throttle with right side of right foot for revs to match next gear; clutch down; move lever to next gear down; clutch up.
Clutchless - left side of right foot braking; balance throttle with right side of right foot; whilst moving lever through neutral, increase throttle for revs to match for next gear; move lever (gently, with throttle holding revs) to next gear down.

So there you have a dozen gear change sequences for an old-fashioned box common in the era before full synchro and autos, let alone paddle shifts.
Most racers of that era could do them and often in rallying and racing, a necessity.
Pedal shape and arrangement often was to make the tricks easier.
Although rare, some competition boxes were straight cut gears, so needed those skills for change speed and revs matching.
Clutchless did have some practical uses.
I recall driving home after night rallies, I would rest the right ankle, by driving left footed with no clutch use except when coming to a standstill.
Many years later, on a modern car, a clutch cable snapped on me.
So with a bit of jerky pulling away in first with starter, the rest of the journey home, about fifty miles across North London to mid-Essex, was cross fingers as approaching traffic lights, and clutchless.
When I turned up at the garage which serviced our vehicles, for the repair, I was greeted with astonishment that someone had an old skill.

Disclaimer: No responsibility taken nor implied if you try any of the "non-conventional" methods above and you are left with a bag of cogs to sort out.
"La Gata Negra" 2.0 HDI 2014 Swiss spec fully loaded.


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