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1934 dodge freewheeling transmission

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Does anyone know of a expert on the freewheeling Vacuum system? A diagram would also be helpful.

Thanks, Scott

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Sorry for the general request I am really looking for anyone who has any information, knowledge, experience with the 33,34,35 Dodge/Ply freewheeling Clutch. Any Body out there with information your reply is appreciated.

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Is this the same as the "vacuum clutch"? If not, I need info on both! Wish I could help, but I need the same info. Mine was disconnected at some point and I need to find out where all connections are/were so that I can double check to make sure everything is sealed up. I am assuming that it can be disconnected with no ill effects?

There is a unit (vacuum) on eBay, I was going to try and get in touch with seller to see if he has any information.

Will keep you posted- would appreciate the same.

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Yes we are talking about the same thing. The person selling the one on ebay lives about an hour from my home I too am trying to get in contact with him I will let you know what I find out.

will stay in touch

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Thanks-there must be something out there-it appears that a good number of the vehicles from( I'm guessing) '32-34 had this option.

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I agree, someone will be able to help I am sure. There is a man in Tacoma WA. that I have heard may have some information the only name that I know the Dodge folks call him is Roger Dodger. Any one know Roger? or have contact info.

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Roger "Dodger" Hartley...rah3601.wa@netzero.net

I also just went to GOOGLE and typed in "1932 Plymouth freewheeling" and got some idea of what it does and how it works. It was outlawed in many states because it was like "coasting" and on a down hill, the engine would turn at a different speed than the transmission, thus NOT slowing the car down and creating a hazardous amount of pressure on the brakes. That would be especially dangerous if the brakes were maladjusted and it could swerve one direction or the other causing it to possibly veer into another Dodge (and we wouldn't want to do THAT now, would we).

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If i am right you are talking about the freewheeling over drive . it was not fitted to all cars but was an option . I would suggest you go on ebay and try and find a Auto Repair Manual that covers your year , if you cant find one, the 35 on one would do as the over drive unit was virtually unchanged through to 37-38 from 39 they used a semi electric system

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We are talking about the vacuum assisted clutch here not the overdrive/freewheel unit ?

If so the vacuum unit fitted on the left side of the transmission was operated by a connection to the inlet manifold, similar in principle to a vacuum assist brake booster. In this case however Vacuum boost was coupled to the clutch linkage and moved the clutch in and out during a manual gear change rather than you depressing the clutch pedal by foot.

There was a dash mounted cable which was used to engage or disengage the unit, similar this time to those of you who have an overdrive unit installed.

So when engaged this unit would depress the clutch pedal for you as you lifted your foot off the gas pedal during gear changes and bring the pedal out as you applied the gas pedal to accelerate.

The problem was it could not differentiate between you lifting your foot off the gas pedal to change gear or simply lifting your foot to slow down, hence the clutch would disengage in either situation and suddenly just when you wanted engine compression to slow you down the clutch would pedal would depress.

A common expression for those using this device was to put the car into " angel gear "

Certainly not exclusive to Chrysler/Dodge etc. it was found on other makes but because of the inherent dangers was only seen around 1933 / 1934. Any good repair manual from that era will have detailed information on these items.

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Freewheel and vacuum clutch were two seperate items. Neither of them were a very good idea and the freewheel was a death trap for reasons explained in some of the above submissions. It is true that freewheel was outlawed in several mountain states because of the near impossible nature of shifting out of it at high speed. With no engine back pressure and and red hot brake drums it was a very frightening outcome on a long downhill mountain road. Any car with either or both options can be operated without these items and in my personal opinion should be for the good of this ancient iron and the safety of operation. The vacuum clutch was a notorious leaker and caused many a warped valve and or cracked valve seat. It is easy to disconnect and I believe should be put in a box and left there. Both items first appeared, at Chrysler, in 1932 and the vacuum clutch was last available in 1938. The freewheel was at Chrysler Corp on Plymouth, Dodge and DeSoto and last available on a 1934 Plymouth PE. It was a weak attempt at overdrive and should be disabled at the transmission housing controll lever on the drivers side of the unit. A few '33 Dodge and Plymouth transmissions were made without the freewheel unit to include the pick up. I would love to oun just one of them that is restoreable. The output shaft is particular to it and implssible to find.

Jim Cook

1933 DP technical advisor

Dodge Brothers Club

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Jim,

Thanks...How would I know, absent dealer/original owner paperwork, if I have the "free-wheeling " option. I know the vacuum clutch had an actuator unit mounted on the engine and intake manifold and a dash mounted button to engage, but what about the "free wheeling? Any visual clues...I'd rather know now than the first time I go down a steep hill. What amI looking for at the" transmission control lever on the drivers side"?

Thanks-

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The # of '33 Dodge and Plymouth cars that were made with these 2 options is probably very high, Chrysler documented #'s are not available to the best of my information. The controll lever is roughly in the middle of the casing top to bottom and front to rear. It is about 2" long and has 2 holes on it at the bottom, one for the controll knob at the dash and the other for the actuator cable to the vacuum clutch. There is a clear picture of this in all 1933 Dodge and Plymouth owners manuals between page page 35 and 36. This post is concerning a 34 transmission. Chrysler literature indicates that freewheeling was available on 34 Plymouth but not 34 Dodge. In 34 Dodge offered a true overdrive other sources say the freewheel was available to the 34 Dodge. Many will argue that Dodge did offer a 34 freewheel. It is imperative to remember that 33 and 34 transmissions will interchange, this info is confirmed in the 1946 Hollander. My point is that after 75 years of repairs one needs to understand that it is impossible to tell if you have the trans that came with the car or not much less whether it is a Dodge or Plymouth origin. Very early PC Plymouth units were slightly different and some 34 Deoto SE and some Chrysler CA and CB units will work. Case lengths varried and driveshaft lengths had to be watched.

Jim

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Guys,

I think there is a confusion here about 'freewheeling' and 'vaccuum automatic clutch'. These are two different things that happen to be controlled by the same knob in the center of the dash. The one with the little button in the middle of the knob. Pulling out first notch disables one of these features. Pulling all the way out disables both features. The '33 and '34 had these features. Both were discontinued in '35. Freewheeling is an overriding clutch inside the tranny. By the way, the commercial tranny does NOT have freewheeling and the boss for the lever was not drilled.

The vaccuum automatic clutch was a $9.50 accessory and not all cars were so fitted. As I understand it was relatively unreliable and depended on a properly operating engine with maximum vaccuum in the carb. and optimum idle RPMs. There was a enclosed pendulum that operated a valve controlling the vaccuum cylinder connected to the clutch lever. When coming up to an intersection that pendulum sensed the change in forward motion and caused the clutch to pull in. Revving up the engine to move forward decreased vaccuum and released the clutch. Suffice it to say I personally would not attempt to reinstall one that was removed. I have data sheet on both and could mail if desired. Leave a personal message with address.

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RAH, Thanks, I think I have all I need for right now. I was fairly sure they were two different items, not very reliable, and since mine was disconnected I have no intention of restoring and/or replacing.

Thanks to all who have contributed... it takes a village to raise a the "village idiot" properly! I am always amazed at the wealth of information out there that is so readily offered.

Thanks again!

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Thought I'd update this interesting thread with a few pics. First, the Freewheeling feature was proudly introduced in 1932 and came standard on the Dodge, anyway, and probably other Chrysler products as well. (In the middle of the depression, saving gas money trumped safety, I guess.) The Auto Clutch unit was an option, as noted above.

My 32DL6 has the option. It was still hooked up when I got it, but was non-functional. I decided to leave it on, but, rather than try to restore it, I found an easy, hard to spot method of disabling it without risking a vacuum leak.

The first photo shows the complete set up. (1) is the Clutch Control Cylinder. (2) Is the linkage to the clutch unit. (3) Are various vacuum lines and linkages. (4) Is the Clutch Control Operating Valve. (5) Is a flanged port on the intake manifold.

The other three photos show how I fashioned a simple plate to seal off the port on the intake manifold.

BTW...the 1943 issue of Dyke's has a very comprehensive section on this dubious feature beginning on page 2 of Addenda, Section 1.

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The operation of the vacuum servo clutch was controlled by a cable connected to the gas pedal which was connected to a valve on the clutch vacuum line. Dropping the gas pedal to idle opened the vacuum line to the intake manifold and the clutch disengaged. Pressing down on the gas pedal from idle closed the vacuum line and the clutch return spring reengaged the clutch to the flywheel.

The pendulum was hooked up 'backwards' to the above operation to stop the clutch from 'hunting' during jerky brake application or jerky gas pedal operation. It's operation smoothed out the servo clutch movement to keep the car from 'galloping' down the road.

The clutch operation was at the extreme end of the pull out knob's extension on the dash. As far as I know all knobs were embossed 'FREEWHEELING'. The clutch system did not work unless the freewheeling was first engaged. Both freewheeling and the vacuum servo clutch were,by necessity, engaged at the same time. (The freewheeling disengaged the driveline a split second before the vacuum servo clutch mechanism released the flywheel to keep the car from being 'dragged' down by the slowing down engine.)

Freewheeling,as mentioned, is engaged at the first notch. Then the vacuum servo clutch was engaged as the knob was pulled all the way out.

I would not remove anything from the car. I would leave it as found. Gloss black I believe in all years it was installed. You only need leave the 'freewheeling' knob all the way 'in' to the dash and neither devices will work. The transmission and clutch will work as 'normal'.

However with that said, the freewheeling makes for clutchless shifts after moving off in 1st. Shifting back and forth between 3rd and 2nd is also clutchless if the freewheeling is left engaged. I agree though, having driven in the hills of Pennsylvania and up Mulholland Drive above Hollywood, I would disengage the freewheeling unless I was assured I was on going to be on

reasonably flat ground.

But again I would not modify the car and it's provenance. It could turn out be expensive down the road.

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I totally agree with KLC on the Auto Clutch. Bad idea!

However, 43 years ago I spent many enjoyable miles using the Freewheeling feature on my original DL6. And in hilly Syracuse, NY, too!

Would I do so now? Nope? My newest DL6 is so smooooth when double clutching that Freewheeling is moot.

My dash button is permanently pulled all the way out!

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As far as I know all knobs were embossed 'FREEWHEELING'.Freewheeling,as mentioned, is engaged at the first notch. Then the vacuum servo clutch was engaged as the knob was pulled all the way out.

Since the Auto Clutch wasn't functioning when my "new baby" arrived, I can't say absolutely for sure WHAT button position activated this feature. I've never sensed (or read about) any "notches" when operating the dash control button.

According to the 1932 Owner's Manual (which BTW doesn't mention the Auto Clutch option at all), pulling the dash control button all the way OUT eliminated the Freewheeling function altogether and put the transmission into "positive gear control." In other words, regular standard transmission functioning.

My understanding is that Freewheeling was standard on all 1932 Dodge models and that the dash button turned this function "on" (in position) or "off" (out position), and that, if you opted for the optional Auto Clutch, then that was turned on or off along with Freewheeling...in other words they worked in sync.

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It's a possibility some cars operated the features by pushing the knob in all the way but any I've seen were activated by pulling out the knob. The 'notches' are indents in the side of the control stem and there is a ball bearing with a spring behind it in the 'neck' of the dash mounting. The ball snaps into the notches as they pass it and create a positive stop for the particular feature. Any I've seen freewheeling at the 1st notch and vacuum servo clutch/freewheeling at the 2nd notch. I believe some CPDD cars had paper stickers on their dash knobs to indicate their use and those stickers went bye-bye a long time ago.

I have an article in a mag about the attributes of using freewheeling and saving gas versus not using it. The testing says that no saving could be found mainly because of the action of the accelerator pump. Each time the gas pedal was released to 'engage' freewheeling and save gas by coasting, this saving was lost when the gas pedal was pushed down again and the accelerator pump on the carb squirted gas down the carb throat. The pump action cancelling out any savings in gasoline during coasting at idle.

The freewheeling is definitely engaged first before the vacuum servo clutch. It has to be otherwise the car would 'hump and thump' everytime the gas pedal was released and the clutch went to release and the engine revs dropped before the actual clutch release from the flywheel-'engine braking'. Also if the transmission is not disconnected from the rear axle, the car would have to come to a dead stop to shift gears because any road movement would keep the tranny turning over and these are non-syncro transmissions. Freewheeling not only smooths out the whole operation but allows shifting at any speed,even rolling stops.

By having freewheeling AND the vacuum servo clutch in operation at the same time literally isolates the transmission from the car and shifting gears is only a matter of moving the stick as the gears in the transmission are standing still no matter if the car is moving or not.

Freewheeling is not a clutch. It is a set of roller bearings in grooves in a casing attached to the rear of the tranny. Centrifugal force (really thrust) keeps the bearings engaged with the outside casing and keeps the wheels turning. The moment the gas pedal is released, thrust dissappears and the bearings fall away and drive to the rear wheels stops i. e. freewheeling. It's virtually the same device as 'coaster brakes' on a bicycle except you can turn it off and on.

As previously mentioned the pedulum works in a negative feedback mode to cancel any 'humping and jumping' caused by a lead foot/agressive driver.

The system works excellent and was installed as standard equipment on thousands of CPDD cars and then as an option later.

I've heard of freewheeling being banned in some States but I've never seen it in writing. Old wive's tale? Anybody out there have it in writing as a highway traffic law amendment?

Edited by DodgeKCL (see edit history)

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