1939bcoupe

39 Buick linkage problem

Recommended Posts

I have a 39 Buick  that shifts into 1st and reverse only.  If  I shift into 2nd it goes to reverse, if I shift into 3rd it goes to 1st.

Any solutions, help please 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I would get the shop light out and have someone sit in the car to go thru the motions while you watch the linkage.

Then you should be able to see whats not happening correctly.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Early column-shift GMs need periodic lube at the shifter mechanism on the outside of the steering column, under the hood, left side of course.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

1939bcoupe,  probably help if  you post farther down in the Buick Prewar forum. Just scroll down.   

 

  1939 Buick, I believe is a cable operated shift instead of linkage. A lot of '39 folks down there.

 

  Ben

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

1939bcoupe,

 

Welcome to the AACA Discussion Forums. I have moved your post to the Pre-War Buick Forum. I am sure you will find a 1939 Buick expert here who can help you with your problem. I know a lot about 1937 and 1938 Buicks that would help with other 1939 Buick questions but unfortunately, I can't personally really be much help on your 1939 shifter question. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

G'Day,

There is a cable that mounts on the steering column and goes down to the selectors.

It moves the selector shaft in and out to move from 1st and reverse to 2nd and 3rd.

My guess is the problem is that cable. They tend to break at the entry to the shaft going into the gearbox.

 

Danny

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I might be able to help with this one.

 

Did you ever have 2nd and 3rd?  I'm thinking that your linkage might be OK, but shift lever might not be moving forward enough to access the 2nd/3rd plane.

 

When I bought my car I only had 1st and reverse.  Turns out that inside of the transmission the central shaft and the splined tube that surrounds it (wish I could give you the real name) had become stuck.  Not rusted, just gooped together over 40 years of dormancy.

 

No manner of prying or leverage could get them sliding.  I pulled and disassembled the transmission and with a generous application of torch heat I was finally able to get the pieces sliding freely.

 

So -  consider opening the transmission cover and see if your problem is actually linkage or if you have the same problem I did.

 

Best of luck to you -

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

You should also look at the connection between the shifter arm and the rod assembly going down to the transmission.  My 39 Roadmaster had a homemade setup with a nut on top with a shoulder on it to keep it from coming off.  The shifter seemed sloppy so I tightened the nut.  Then I couldn't shift into second and third. I backed it off.

 

One day, the nut flew off and the shifter assembly landed in my lap. What a surprise!  I called our friend and savior Dave T in Minnesota and he sent me the correct domed washer assembly for the connection and it fixed the problem.  Still a bit sloppy, but no more surprises in the lap. 

 

Buick made some real improvements to the shifter in the 1940s. My 49 Super has a very tight H pattern with none of the sloppiness found in the 39 Roadmaster.  Good luck!

Edited by BuickBob49 (see edit history)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The cable set up was used for 1 year only for good reason.

Just one of the joys of owning a '39 ☺️

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

There is a little hole in the steering column.  The collar (bracket) that the gearshift connect to has a little bump on the inside.  Honestly it's almost hard to feel.  That bump has to align perfectly with the hole, or the car will do exactly what you say.  Been there and done that.  I couldn't find it anywhere the the shop manual.  Another 39 Buick collector in Washington or Oregon that I found through BCA told me about that or I'd never have figured it out.  I'm trying to think of his name......it was a Norwegian name.  Look in the BCA roster.  That bracket has to be really, really tight to.  When I put the car into an auction (will never do that again), they driver they had didn't know how to shift it correctly and yanked on the lever until he moved that bracket.  They couldn't hardly get it onto the stage. (Bums)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I made all the adjustments in the Shop manual,  took the top off the trans and worked the selector shaft back and forth.  It was had to move but I sort of worked it loose (2 days).  When I pull the control lever it moves in one direction but does not return the other way.  the shaft will move to the 1st. and reverse side but does not return to the 2nd ,3rd side of the shaft with out prying.  The shop manual talks about a 11 lb spring to help return the selector shaft.  Has anyone tackled this spring.  Maybe it is broke or missing?  The shop manual doesn't talk about how to take apart the control lever.  Any suggestions?  I also want to thank everyone who made comments.  I was beginning to feel alone☹️.😃

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The shifter on my 1939 Roadmaster has always been pretty sloppy.  It has long throws between first and second and not much spring, if any.  You feel like you need to walk the shifter through neutral-- over and up. It won't move through on its own or only with little effort.   Is this normal?

 

My 1949 Super is much different, as I stated above.  Short throws and tight shifts, with some spring pressure.

 

Can anyone else comment on their impressions about shifting 1939 Buicks?  I'd like to get a sense of whether I am seeing a normal operation, or whether I can add a spring or make some adjustments.

Edited by BuickBob49 (see edit history)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

My 39- 40, springs into all the gears but does not move the selector shaft properly.  So I am in either low and reverse or second and third unless i move the selector shaft by prying  it back and forth.  I have been working with it for a few days and it is a little easier to move. But still not right. Using wd 40 and oil.  There is a little washer called a spring washer that  will help with the sloppy control (gearshift lever) lever.  I need help in finding one, looks concave.  See page 7-4 in the 39 shop manual.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Glad to see you are using oil with WD 40.  Many people use it as a lubricant when all it really is as it name says is a "Water Dispersant".  The best ever for loosening bolts, cap screws or anything that is rusted is 50/50 mixture of Acetone and automatic transmission fluid.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now