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View Full Version : getting rid of the shift on the column.



eroc
10-18-2000, 11:45 AM
hows it going everybody, i got my first problem that i could use some input about.
i own a 64 chevy with the 90 and the shift is on the column. i have heard and witnessed firsthand that these can be headaches. as is, my 1 to 2 is real sloppy and the whole pattern is backwards. i wanna change it to an automatic, so is there a conversion kit that would fit?? if so, who makes it? has anybody else done this?? blah blah blah.....thanks guys.
e-roc

AJAX
10-18-2000, 12:27 PM
THE EASIEST SOLUTION TO YOUR PROBLEM IS A B7M SHIFTER. I'VE USED THEM TWICE IN THE PAST AND THEY WORK GREAT. GOOD LUCK

AJAX
10-18-2000, 12:30 PM
THAT SHOULD HAVE READ B&M SORRY

AJAX
10-18-2000, 12:33 PM
ONE MORE THING I JUST THOUGHT OF, DON'T FORGET THESE VANS DID COME WITH 2 SPEED POWERGLIDES FROM THE FACTORY. YOU COULD STILL USE A FACTORY STEERING COLUMN IS YOU WANTED, JUST HAVE TO DIG ONE UP.

smiley
10-19-2000, 08:59 AM
The play, slopiness, and stickiness in the shift linkage comes from worn bushings and a need for a lube job. It would be cheaper to fix the original, if you'd prefer to stick with the manual trans.

eroc
10-20-2000, 08:45 PM
thanks for the imput guys. however i would prefer to get rid of the column, so i think i will replace the tranny with a turbo 350 and put in the b&m kit. i just dont have the patience for the manual 3speed. this guy i know said he would help me do it.

AJAX
10-20-2000, 11:58 PM
DON'T FORGET ABOUT THE 700R. THAT OVERDRIVE IS A GET CRUISING GEAR. GAS MILEAGE IMPROVES DRAMATICLY! 65 MPH AT 1800RPM WITH A 273 REAR END.

vannman67
10-28-2000, 08:00 PM
Hey guys, just my little bit of input here. I just installed the 700R4 in my 67 108" Sportvan. I used the B&M light truck shifter installed just in front of the doghouse on the floor. Clearance there is good. I needed a 12' cable to make the run from the shifter to the trans, but with some adjusting and a little help from my 12 year old we got it right. I will be removing the shifter from the column soon. So anyway, the B&M works great and the LT shifter gives you about three inches more height so you're not reaching for the floor every time you want to shift.

eroc
10-31-2000, 08:25 PM
hey vanman67,
thanks for the crucial input. thats kinda what im going to do. im glad its doable. even though you did it to a 67, does it seem the same for a 64? the only concern i have now is, can i still use the radiator thats on my 6 now or will i have to get one for an automatic (it will either be a turbo 350 or a 2speed power glide)? did you change yours or run into this problem?
thanks eroc

vannman67
11-01-2000, 08:24 PM
I am having a little difficulty in shifting gears at this point. I'm not quite sure what it is, but my van isn't running yet so I don't know if that will make a difference. As for radiators, I bought an aluminum radiator from Griffin Thermal Products. Their radiators use two 1 1/2" tubes instead of the typical 3/8" that most OEM probably are. I also had mine made with no filler neck because of the way they mount in the vehicle. As far as cooling the trans fluid, I plan on buying an exterior cooler from Perma-tech.

rustovan
11-15-2000, 09:23 PM
I have a 66 w/ the powerglide. Are you saying I can take my column shift off and convert it to a floor shift? p r n d 1? I would be more than eager to do this instead of having it on my column. What kit would I use. Or am I just being lazy because you literally have to pick up the column to shift out of park, down to drive and up to nuetral to start.(that took awhile to figure out.) Shoul i just take it to a tranny shop and have him redo the linkage?

[This message has been edited by rustovan (edited November 15, 2000).]

Vanner68
11-15-2000, 10:52 PM
Trans shop probably won't want to mess with that 34 yr old column. the B&M floor shift will give you the PRNDL pattern with a positive reverse lockout gate, i.e. you have to pull a small knob up to go into reverse. a nice feature if you ask me. since it sounds like you would prefer a floor shift anyway, this is likely your best bet.

Joe Copsetta
11-16-2000, 03:55 AM
I'm right with you. I am thinking of doing the same thing myself. I've considered a 350 turbo or the powerglide. I've owned my 65 for two years and have had one problem after another with the shifter. I'll kinda miss the three on the tree, but atleast the head ache will be over. B&M sounds like the way to go. Let us know how you make out.

greg showers
12-01-2000, 04:15 PM
i went thruogh this same problem about three years ago when i stuffed a 350 cid in my 69, i tried to keep the three on the tree, but wound up doing nothing but "popping wheelies" with it. linkage was binding for the throttle, you could push the gas pedal about half way down and nothing, then just a hair more and the wheels were off the ground, well anyway the shifter knuckle where it attaches to the steering column blew apart and there i was stuck in 2nd gear in the middle of cross town traffic at rush hour. any way i tried to rig up a shifter to work,(one for a truck to replace the column shifter) it worked ok for a while i had to cut the original linkage in half and add threaded ends on it and this worked for about a month (reverse shifting pattern)it just wasn't right,so i bought a 350 turbo trans. and bought a b&m shifter but i had to buy a 10 foot cable to reach back to the trans without having to tight of a bend in it the instructions say what the tightest curve is, well anyway while i was at it i removed all the throttle linkage and replaced it with a gas pedal from a 85 chevy van (drilling required) and a throttle cable from Lokar cables, i believe it is a 10 foot length also, i installed the shifter on top of the dog house and only drilled one hole through it for the cable and four little holes to bolt the shifter down. i also used a piece of 1/16 thick plate to reinforce the shifter so that it doesn't rip loose when you try to shift, or go from driver side to passenger side or even from front to back, it is a sturdy mounting arrangement, but it does get it the way sometimes, the cable is routed back along the bottom edge of the lid and drops down at the hinge to go to the trans, it then loops back behind the transmission and then goes to the mounting bracket that attaches it to the shifter on the side of the trans. with all of the routing and all it will take between 8&10 foot of cable (depending on where you mount the shifter). i can email a routing diagram if you need, but this is definatly a good route to go as it doesn't interfere with anything.unless you are still using the stock linkage for the throttle,(i would recomend changing that to a cable setup also.

TurboVan
12-10-2000, 12:30 AM
When I converted my three-on-the-tree to a powerglide, I removed the 1st and reverse shift rod, then shortened the 2nd and 3rd rod to line up with the clutch bellcrank (or whatever it's called),welded one of the arms on in a different spot,and made my own link from there to the tranny. I later installed a Turbo 350,and later still a Turbo 400. Next up is a 700R4. Sounds like a lot of work now, but it didn't seem bad at the time,and it preserved the stock column appearance. Since I had moved the engine back four inches, I couldn't just bolt in the linkage from a '67-'70 van. Whatever works! ... I'm also using a cable throttle: I took the original bellcrank off the back of the doghouse and attached it under the floor with a link to the gas pedal (to reverse the action),and hooked up a cable to the carb from there. All this stuff has been working reliably since 1971,so I must have done something right.

duece
12-10-2000, 01:27 AM
Hi.
new to the site, glad to have found it.
I have a '68 108" handi bus, W/ a powerglide. I would like to replace it with a 4 speed any hints?

Vanner68
12-10-2000, 01:35 PM
4 speed stick or automatic? If you want the stick, fuhgeddaboutit- the linkage is way too rare and too dificult to fab. the 700R4 can be done with a B&M shifter as described above.

painterchris
12-10-2000, 05:28 PM
Hey, I was actually pondering transmissions just yesterday. I am still on the hunt for an elusive 3-speed manual plus overdrive, but I haven't found one yet. Anyway, I was wondering...Are the 1st/reverse and 2nd/3rd shift levers on a 4 speed muncie manual the same as on a 3-speed muncie? If so, converting to a 4-speed is possible. Most likely, however, you would have to install a 2nd lever somewhere in the van (under the dash maybe) to put the tranny in 4th gear. By putting the standard shift lever in neutral, you could shift into 4th. Of course, it would probably be a waste of time since your 4th gear would have essentially the same ratio as the old 3rd gear. So, you would simply be adding an extra gear ratio in the middle of the range where you don't really need it. I still think that a 3-speed with overdrive is the way to go, but they are pretty rare.
Later,
Andy.

smiley
12-11-2000, 09:34 AM
Well, since it's come up, I have a line on a factory 4-speed manual shift linkage for our vans. I got the info in the mail last week and was going to post it on the site. He even sent me copies of the linkage diagrams from a shop manual. Anyone interested?

solid side 65
12-11-2000, 12:34 PM
i have seen two factory four speeds in 68-69ís. as i remember the steering column had three levers at the bottom two for rods and a cable for the reverse gear. the trans (a T 10?) had a unique tail housing with the van upper mount-hanger. my buddy cracked the tail housing mount and was down for a while until he found a wreaking yard in texas that would sell the tail housing only.we later found a 108 window van with a four speed in a wreaking yard we returned the next day with tools to remove the column,linkage and trans...but were too late someone beat us to the gold.
smiley: please post the info, thanks

painterchris
12-11-2000, 07:09 PM
I am curious: isn't the 4th gear in a 4-speed the same 1:1 ratio as 3rd gear in a 3-speed? So, you are adding a gear to the middle of the range without improving your top-end speed at all. It would be cool as a novelty, but wouldn't really provide any performance boost. MAybe I'm wrong, but I talked to the guy who rebuilt my 250 motor and he basically said that unless you change the rear end, the only way to improve your top-end speed is to use a tranny with an overdrive.
Later,
Andy.

painterchris
12-13-2000, 11:59 AM
Okay,
So I've been doing some more transmission research in my quest for the elusive 3-spd with overdrive. According to the people I have talked to, here's the deal:

The 3-spds with overdrive are very scarce and getting parts to fix them is nearly impossible. I found one of these trannys in california, completely rebuilt for $900. This is a simple way to do it because you only have to fab a cross-member and shorten the driveshaft to make it work. Everything else just bolts up the same.

A better way to do it is to install a 4-speed. However, if you want to improve your top end gear ratio, you also need to change your rear end. More work. Plus, you have to have a 4-speed column or create a custom linkage of some sort. However, this is more fuel efficient than the 3-spd w/OD and it is less likely to burn up if you haul a lot of weight or have a high torque engine.

Another possibility is to use a ford overdrive. Either, use a ford 3-speed w/OD transmission (requiring a crossmember, new linkage, custom bellhousing, new driveshaft, etc) or use a "top-loader" overdrive unit. I got cut off before I could talk to him more about the top loader OD. Again, repair parts for these can be very hard to get.

Of course, you can also make the switch over to an automatic, but that will require: new linkage, new column (or custom floor shifter), crossmember, driveshaft, rear end, etc.

Anyway, I still really want to use a GM 3-spd w/Overdrive unit. I unfortunately am short of cash right now. If I could locate one cheaper than $900, I would probably do it.

Just thought I'd let you all know...
Andy.

punkvanner
12-14-2000, 03:01 PM
putting a 4 speed saganaw would be simple my dad did it in his car the forward gears would all be 4 on the colum with first taking place of the reverse and to shift to reverse put the colum in netural and have another shift lever for reverse mounted next to your seat and fabracate some lincage it also wors as an anti theft devise because they cant find the reverse

painterchris
12-14-2000, 08:34 PM
Yeah, the one guy I talked to about transmissions told me about that 4-speed rig. Again, the 4th gear ratio is still 1:1, so there really isn't any advantage to doing this unless you also re-gear the rear end. BTW, I located a 3-speed saginaw w/OD for $475 in Arizona if anyone is interested in it. I tried putting a regular saginaw in my 64 this summer, but it didn't work. I switched out the shift rods, but the shifter linkage was binding in 2nd gear, so I pulled it out and put the old GM 3-spd back in it. So, if anyone is interested in trying the 3-spd w/OD, send me some e-mail and I'll give you the contact.
Later,
Andy.

papaooomowmow
12-27-2000, 09:16 PM
I've got a 4sp on the column with a PTO for reverse on the dog house. The shift is sloppy and if you aren't careful you can get it into reverse & forward at the same time, ouch! Wait to put a 700/4 in with the B&M on the doghouse, should be $2500 installed. It should be easier for others to drive since it has a built 327 etc.etc. I'll let you know when it's in.

smiley
01-18-2001, 09:21 AM
Okay, here's the info I have on the 4-spd. linkage for sale:

"1968-1969 column shifter $225. Shift handle knob flat on top with 4-speed H-pattern in raised letters. Have handle with shaft, lower end bearings and three levers at bottom. The three speed has two levers at bottom. I do not have the transmission or the shift rods. You'll have to improvise. Have a detail of the shifter (here: www.vcvc.org/stuff/4spdlink.jpg (http://www.vcvc.org/stuff/4spdlink.jpg) ) from a repair manual that led me to find this item through Hemmings in 1986. Never installed and no longer have a Vintage Chevy Van. If you do, call Claude (334)666-4994".

There you go.
Smiley



[This message has been edited by smiley (edited January 18, 2001).]

marwink
02-01-2001, 07:00 AM
I think every early van owner wonders what might be done to improve on the transmission. Especially if you run the stock three speed on the colume. I just replaced the V-8 in my van and went to an 11 inch clutch. Changing the bell housing and making an adapter for the transmission bearing collar sure made me think of different options. I have a 4 speed that would bolt right up to the bellhousing but would have to go through all of the above mentioned shifting linkage hastles. I concluded: The top gear is the same as the three speed so what would I gain? With a 350ci engine, I have enough power in any gear. I would only be adding another gear to fight with. If I were going to change to something else, I would sure want it to be easier than what I have. I would have to go along with the 350 turbo automatic or one of the newer 700whatevers. As far as a transcooler goes, I know they make external coolers that can be mounted any where.
Here's a big question for anyone. Has anyone ever blown up a stock GM three speed manual from too much power. I don't mean from a missed shift, but from just pouring on the steam and "wham" she lets go. They seem pretty tough to me. <YMMV>
Mario

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bostonvan
02-01-2001, 12:56 PM
<BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by AJAX:
DON'T FORGET ABOUT THE 700R. THAT OVERDRIVE IS A GET CRUISING GEAR. GAS MILEAGE IMPROVES DRAMATICLY! 65 MPH AT 1800RPM WITH A 273 REAR END.<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

If i wanted to swap out my th350 (auto) for a 700r4, does that require shortening the driveshaft and fabricating a crossmember? The gas mileage is killing me!

bostonvan
02-01-2001, 01:00 PM
Also, if anyone is interested in a newly rebuilt th350 auto, let me know. Would swap for a 700r4. Tranny is in the van and works great, its just the fuel economy thing.

Vanner68
02-02-2001, 06:41 PM
Marwink- The stock Saginaw truck 3 speed is pretty tough, but really won't handle over 300hp (net) The guys at Edelbrock told me this when I was asking about their 415hp small block kit. Any trans behind that much power would need beefing up, and the 10 bolt rear is iffy. I have the truck 12 bolt in mine (6 lug axles) it's almost indestructible.