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Thread: Free Wheeling?

  1. #1

    Free Wheeling?

    Would someone explain the difference between "free wheeling" and just coasting with the clutch in?
    Redman1960
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    Re: Free Wheeling?

    From 1934 Plymouth sales literature -

    The free wheeling transmission allowed the driver to release his foot from the accelerator and allow the car to coast while still in gear. In effect the free wheeling prevented "engine braking" and the engine was allowed to run at idle speed while the car coasted along on its own momentum with the transmission still in gear. When the driver wished to speed up all he had to do was step on the throttle.

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    Senior Member Steve Braverman's Avatar
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    Re: Free Wheeling?

    The difference is that you can't just let the clutch out to regain your engine braking. Truly a useless feature that two of my cars have.
    Steve Braverman
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    Re: Free Wheeling?

    Here is my guess.... Freewheeling seems to take place between the regular transmission and the differential, within the overdrive unit. Depressing the clutch disengages the transmission from the engine. So, I conclude that in freewheeling mode the transmission is connected to the engine but not to the driveshaft, and transmission parts are still moving. In depressed clutch mode, the transmission is not connected to the engine, but still connected to the differential. Therefore the transmission parts are moving in relation to the rear wheel speed. In other words, to answer your question, it is the same result.

    By the way, I would like to contact you regarding your last name. E-mail me at jack_redman@hotmail.com when you get a chance.

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    Senior Member De Soto Frank's Avatar
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    Re: Free Wheeling?

    Clarification,

    Overdrives do have a free-wheeling feature when the OD is engaged.

    "Freewheeling" was a non-OD option that was around from 1931 to '33, then went away.

    It was basically an over-running clutch that allowed the engine to drive the wheels, but not the other way around.


    And in the days of primitive brakes, I'll bet there were more than few accidents resulting from folks not being able to slow their cars down in time when Freewheeling was engaged...
    Frank McMullen
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    Re: Free Wheeling?

    Clarification of the Clarification

    Some overdrives have free wheeling and others do not.

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    Senior Member Steve Braverman's Avatar
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    Re: Free Wheeling?

    Quote:
    By the way, I would like to contact you regarding your last name. E-mail me at jack_redman@hotmail.com when you get a chance.


    Whose last name are you referring to?
    Steve Braverman
    Aura Vincit

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  8. #8
    Senior Member De Soto Frank's Avatar
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    Re: Free Wheeling?

    Okay, I'll bite...

    Which did and which didn't ?

    I'm familiar with the '39 & later semi-electrics... I presume the earlier ODs did not have free-wheeling ?
    Frank McMullen
    1928 Ford 49-A Special Coupe
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    Re: Free Wheeling?

    Moore for Model T Fords do not and my Toyota pickup does not. How is that for earlier and later?

  10. #10

    Re: Free Wheeling?

    As an example, for 1931, Pierce Arrow introduced a Warner 3 speed synchromesh transmission with integral freewheeling unit. The freewheeling feature operates in 2nd and 3rd, and could be locked out if the driver preferred. It is interesting in that they advertised that when freewheeling was selected, the car transmission could be shifted between 2nd and 3rd or 3rd to 2nd without using the clutch (as long as the car was coasting with the freewheeling unit engaged). In looking through the literature, it was supposed to improve fuel economy by a quoted 12%, and quiet down the car, by allowing the engine to idle down when the car is coasting with the freewheel unit engaged.

    In practice, with freewheeling being selectable, I use the conventional shift pattern when going through hilly areas, and let the freewheel operate when the road is level....it works out ok.

    Happy Motoring

    31Pierce43

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    Re: Free Wheeling?

    1932 Packards (and other years I think) have a similar option. By turning a lever on the steering wheel a vacuum system is brought into play that literally sucks the clutch pedal to the floor any time you lift your foot from the accelerator. Drift up to a stop sign, change gears without touching the clutch, advance the accelerator and the clutch slowly engages. Works better in theory than in practice, apparently. Difficult to adjust properly. Wasn't freewheeling outlawed in about 1933?
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    Senior Member Steve Braverman's Avatar
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    Re: Free Wheeling?

    Quote:
    Wasn't freewheeling outlawed in about 1933?


    My 1933 Franklin still has it. The knob says "Coasting Out."
    Steve Braverman
    Aura Vincit

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    Senior Member De Soto Frank's Avatar
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    Re: Free Wheeling?

    The Moore unit for Model T's - is this a period accessory or a modern unit that someone is retrofitting for the T ?


    The Dual-matic "overdrive" that I had in my '61 Willys truck did not free-wheel; but it was also a manual upshift/downshift deal with a lever ( four stalks coming up from the floor!).
    Frank McMullen
    1928 Ford 49-A Special Coupe
    1930 Chevrolet Special Sedan
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    1948 & '50 Chrysler NY'ers
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    Re: Free Wheeling?

    Period unit aftermarket for both cars and trucks.

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    Senior Member trimacar's Avatar
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    Re: Free Wheeling?

    31Pierce43 has it right, I have the same, a 1931 Pierce Model 43 phaeton; it has a standard 3 speed/1 reverse transmission, with the addition of a button on top of the shift lever, which when depressed changes the transmission from a standard to a free wheeling. I do not believe that free wheeling was ever "outlawed" or illegal, but, at speed, it is somewhat scary. And as also noted, with some slight practice and attention to engine speed, this Pierce transmission allows shifting into second and third gear with no clutch. I still prefer using it in standard mode, engine braking is useful; as my father in law says, one controls the speed of a car with the accelerator, not the brake. As a side note, I have restored a few later Pierce cars, with the Stewart Warner power assist; great system, and in tip top shape it is wonderful, uses the momentum of the car (working off the rear of the transmission) to stop the car. With a little wear on the system, and moving at walking speeds, it will scare you and make you "stomp" the brake pedal. Look at a lot of the foot-shaped, aluminum cast, brake pedals on early to mid-30's Pierce Arrows, and then think about why they have a pronounced curve to them! As another side note, I recently pulled a 1936 Club Sedan out of a Rip Van Winkle sleep, over 50 years; this Pierce had a vacuum assist system for brakes ( Pierce never believed in hydraulics, just assisted brakes and lots of square inches of shoe and drum!); we got the car running, and the engine, transmission (with overdrive) and brakes were extraordinary; anyone out there see the rusty looking sedan drive onto the flea market at Hershey? Best comment: "doesn't look like it should run". Great cars, anyone looking for a '30's driver should look at Pierce Arrow. Happy motoring David Coco
    David Coco
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    Senior Member Paul Dobbin's Avatar
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    Re: Free Wheeling?

    The Chrysler Airflow used "Freewheeling" with Over Drive in all 3 gears.
    For those who thought it was useless, go try it again on a long trip,
    It's great!! Just don't froget to go back to direct drive whem going down
    mountains!
    We used it in 13 Great American Races for the long straight steady speed
    runs making the Airflow a truely comfortable ride, even today. Our is a
    1935 Chrysler but I think all Airflow's used it in all years, 1934-1937.
    It's an option that has to be used wisely and is not for people who can't
    notice chages in driving conditions and differing needs for performance.
    Paul Dobbin
    If you don't drive them, might as well collect clocks.

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    Re: Free Wheeling?

    Trimacar, do you have any idea of who designed the Stewart Warner brakes used by Pierce-Arrow?

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    Super Moderator West Peterson's Avatar
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    Re: Free Wheeling?

    Interesting to be responding to a six-year-old post, but here's some information that seems to have been missed:
    Freewheeling is part of the Borg Warner overdrive units installed in Packards in the late 1930s through the 1940s (R-7, R-9 and R-11), and is essential in its operation. You couldn't have overdrive without the freewheeling. It was also part of the Borg Warner units used by Chrysler in the late 1930s and '40s as well. It does allow you to shift between gears without using the clutch. As mentioned, it's supposed to be more fuel efficient. Also, as mentioned, not recommended in hilly areas.
    Last edited by West Peterson; April 11th, 2013 at 08:35.
    West Peterson, Editor
    Antique Automobile (AACA)
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    Super Moderator West Peterson's Avatar
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    Re: Free Wheeling?

    In a nutshell:

    In the beginning, the cog-box.
    Later enter improved clutches, then synchronized gears for easier shifting.
    Tweak the clutches with centrifugal counterweights to make shifting easier. Change gear ratios as driving speeds increase.
    Add a freewheeling function to reduce engine braking.
    Add overdrive to freewheeling, also eliminating the need to use the clutch between gears
    Engineer a fluid bathed clutch (benefit?).
    Make a hill-holder function to allow for easier launch on steep grade.
    Consider electromatic clutch contraption so that people don't even need to press the clutch to shift from 1-2-3, nor to stop.
    Enter fluid drive so that driver doesn't even need to shift.
    Finally, enter a clunky automatic transmission that drives like a tank, is so inefficient the gas mileage is terrible.
    Fast forward to 2001: Saturn L offered with either manual or automatic; however, mileage rating for automatic is higher than for manual. I'd still prefer the manual.

    I think we have an outline for a story here.
    West Peterson, Editor
    Antique Automobile (AACA)
    No man treats a motorcar as foolishly as he treats another human being. When the car will not go, he does not attribute its annoying behavior to sin, he does not say, "You are a wicked motorcar and I shall not give you any more petrol until you go." He attempts to find out what is wrong and set it right. Bertrand Russel

    "Things are more like they are now than they've ever been!" Uncle Arni

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    Senior Member ply33's Avatar
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    Re: Free Wheeling?

    Quote Originally Posted by West Peterson View Post
    Interesting to be responding to a six-year-old post, but here's some information that seems to have been missed:
    Freewheeling is part of the Borg Warner overdrive units installed in Packards in the late 1930s through the 1940s (R-7, R-9 and R-11), and is essential in its operation. You couldn't have overdrive without the freewheeling. It was also part of the Borg Warner units used by Chrysler in the late 1930s and '40s as well. It does allow you to shift between gears without using the clutch. As mentioned, it's supposed to be more fuel efficient. Also, as mentioned, not recommended in hilly areas.
    In addition to being in the overdrive units, it was also built into a number of non-overdrive freewheeling transmissions. My '33 Plymouth has a freewheeling transmission and does not have overdrive. In the case of my Plymouth it was intended to be used in conjunction with the vacuum actuated automatic clutch to make shifting easier (pre-automatic transmission days).

    I believe that Studebaker was the first manufacturer to sell a freewheeling transmission.

  21. #21

    Re: Free Wheeling?

    My 32 Dodge also has Freewheeling engaged by a large knob in the center of the dash. It doesn't have the vacuum clutch (or it was removed at some point), but Phil Kennedy's original 32 DL still has all the mechanism intact.
    1932 Dodge DL Sedan

  22. #22

    Re: Free Wheeling?

    My 1933 Graham also has FW without the overdrive. The owner’s manual states "no need for clutch after first gear" so I think the idea was easier driving with less skill needed. Only a few years earlier there were not synchronized gears avalable, so I could see the selling point. I have never used mine, knob next to the steering column (pull out to engage) too many hills by my house. I was told my Graham was originally purchased for his wife because of how easy it is to drive. My 1933 Graham is night and day easier to drive than my full classic 1929 Graham-Paige.


    Graham offered FW 1931-33
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    1933 Graham 64 Sedan

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    Re: Free Wheeling?

    When discussing freewheeling, it is important to specify the year and make of automobile involved since the term 'freewheeling' was used and misused to described a number of systems. I have a 1931 Plymouth with freewheeling which consists of mechanism between the transmission and the drive-shaft. When freewheeling is enabled, the drive-shaft is engaged when the engine is turning faster than the the drive-shaft. Otherwise, the car is coasting. This is the type of freewheeling used in some early Chrysler cars and also, I believe, in the Studebaker. I have read and I am reasonably sure that freewheeling was illegal in Pennsylvania and some other states due to its inherent danger in traffic and unexpected hazards.
    My car also has a vacuum controlled spark retard (not spark advance). I believe the spark retard was used to enhance performance when accelerating after coasting in freewheeling, but I have not been able to find any confirmation on the subject. If anyone has information on the matter, I would appreciate it. Also, did other cars with freewheeling in the early thirties have a spark retard.

  24. #24

    Re: Free Wheeling?

    Quote Originally Posted by RDW1931Plymouth View Post
    When discussing freewheeling, it is important to specify the year and make of automobile involved since the term 'freewheeling' was used and misused to described a number of systems. I have a 1931 Plymouth with freewheeling which consists of mechanism between the transmission and the drive-shaft. When freewheeling is enabled, the drive-shaft is engaged when the engine is turning faster than the the drive-shaft. Otherwise, the car is coasting. This is the type of freewheeling used in some early Chrysler cars and also, I believe, in the Studebaker. I have read and I am reasonably sure that freewheeling was illegal in Pennsylvania and some other states due to its inherent danger in traffic and unexpected hazards.
    My car also has a vacuum controlled spark retard (not spark advance). I believe the spark retard was used to enhance performance when accelerating after coasting in freewheeling, but I have not been able to find any confirmation on the subject. If anyone has information on the matter, I would appreciate it. Also, did other cars with freewheeling in the early thirties have a spark retard.
    So, would the physical appearance between the "overdrive" and "freewheeling" transmission be that the overdrive had an additional "gearbox" attached to the transmission, where the freewheeling transmission didn't have the extra gearbox?

  25. #25

    Re: Free Wheeling?

    My 1949 Studebaker Champion had freewheeling.
    I did not find useless - I found it helped my gas mileage.

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