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'40 Columbia Overdrive


Ron K.
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I am new to the Lincoln, have never driven a vehicle with a Columbia and have recently succeeded in starting and driving my Cabriolet that had been in storage since 1958. I replaced the vacuum lines to and from the electrical actuated switch on the firewall and when activated, the speedometer needle momentarily drops to zero and I hear a "thunk" sound in the rear end. Sometimes lately, I hear a grinding sound and the car is momentarily in neutral but goes back into low (I did get it into high one time). The vacuum lines under the car look okay but I am sure that they are in need of replacement and wonder if this could be the problem. The other possibility is faulty seals (if there are any) on the actuating piston on the rear end. I am using 5/16" Fuel Line for vacuum lines, will that work? I would appreciate any advice as to the solution and recommendations of a repair manual for the Columbia.

Ron

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Suspect the leather seals in the vacuum shifting cylinder need to be replaced or "softened up". Many years ago when I had a '40 with a Columbia I would re-grease the vacuun cylinder occausionally and this would seal it enough to make the shifts. You might try this.

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I am sorry sir, that is what I was referring to, the rubber lines. One of my shifting problems was not knowing the procedure of how to operate the electrical toggle switch, found the instructions yesterday and will try doing it by the book (sure was nice of Lincoln Motor Company to offer them from the factory but not to put how to operate them in the Owners Manual). I also talked to John Connelly at Columbia Two Speed Parts and got a wealth of information and warnings about the cleaning up the can and other things.

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Good question, this system which includes a toggle switch and a switch connected to the clutch pedal is shown in the '46 - '48 Ford & Mercury. Keith Lee at knobsoup shows a overdrive knob under the dash to the left of the steering wheel. I wonder if the previous owner upgraded this system to my '40 Continental. If it is indeed a retrofit, should I reinstall the original system of Columbia engagement?

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Thanks Peecher, that is what I am going to do for now. John Connelly at Columbia believes that the electrical system did not make it's debut until 1942 but even he is not sure because a lot of the records have been lost or destroyed. The build sheet shows that my car came from the factory with a two speed rear axle so it is correct for my car and was probably later modified. I have a box of parts that came with the car and there are vacuum parts in there so I may have all of the original stuff which, if I become ambitious like John Murphy, I can restore it to correct original. Do you know if the Columbia Rear Axle was a popular and oft ordered option on the 1940 Lincoln, and Continental in particular?

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Yes, Columbia 2 speed axle was a factory or dealer installed option. The controls are vacuum mechanical no electrical, that is from a post war ford. The originals

are available and come up on ebay frequently ..It is a must have for these cars on modern 75 mph interstate driving. Be very gentle when engaging unit, low speed, light or no throttle or it will grind / ratchet and blow up the unit..ease it in with a gentle engagement at low speed...41 it was available on lincolns as well as the warner transmission mounted overdrive.. 36-40 this was the only option ... A very neat option!!

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