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"Hill Holder"

Jack Worstell

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The ealy teens Buicks have a brake on the transmission input shaft. When shifting if the car is shifted into neutral with further depressing of the clutch, the brake will slow or stop the transmission gears and clutch disk to allow for better shifting with the non syncro gears.  When stopped with the clutch depressed and the car is left in gear, fully depressing the clutch brake will act as a hill holder.


Bob Engle


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I had the No-Roll on my 48 Special Sedanet.   The explanation above from the Studebaker Manual is probably the best you will find.   I have some data on this that I will check on and report back.  I doubt if you will find any for sale anywhere but maybe one might show up on eBay.   I know Buick offered it on some models and mine looked to be factory installed and not aftermarket.

They can be difficult to adjust if they are not set correctly.   My understanding of the way they operated is as follows:  When the car is facing uphill at a red traffic light, the operator would depress the brake and clutch.   Then the brake could be released and the car would not roll backwards.   When the light changed to green, the clutch could be let out and the brakes would unlock and allow the car to move forward.   The No-roll had a linkage arm that connected to the clutch linkage with an adjustment to vary the the length of the arm.   If not adjusted properly, the car would roll back and then go forward or the brakes would stay locked longer and interfere with the forward movement of the car.  The Manual above provides a complete description of the mechanical operation of the No-Roll valve.  

I disconnected mine by securing the linkage rod to the firewall and the car functioned as any other standard transmission car as mine was not adjusted properly.   I also was concerned that the rubber seal inside was likely deteriorated after so many years and I did not know where to get a replacement.

If I still had that car I would probably spend some time trying to correct the adjustment of the linkage rod.

Joe, BCA 33493

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I know that the "hill holder" was an option on Studebakers, as others have said.  But I took a test drive in a '41 Cadillac years ago that was equipped with the same device, so apparently it was something that either GM offered or that was available as an after-market accessory.  Very practical in a town like San Francisco!  I wish I had one on my Super.



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Do you really NEED an anti roll back device or just want something different? If you need one then forget about the ancient technology and install a "Line Lock" used by drag racers. Stop and hold brake pedal down, flip switch to lock brakes, then as you release clutch flip switch to release brakes and your on your way with no roll back. Requires 12v system.

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1 hour ago, BuicksBuicks said:

Isn't the primary purpose of the dash throttle for hill stops? I personally prefer using the hand brake on hills but the throttle works nicely too with a little practice.


About the hand throttle on the dash, my copy of Man and the Motor Car, a 1940 vintage high school driver training book says on page 79:

. . .Its chief purpose is to provide a means of regulating the gasoline flow to the engine at times when the right foot, which normally operates the foot accelerator, is otherwise engaged. The sometimes happens when starting on hills, the right foot being employed with the brake.


That said, it is my impression that the hand throttle disappeared about the same time as the crank hole cover disappeared and suspect it might have had an official use when using the hand crank to start the engine. I guess your right foot would be “otherwise engaged” doing that too, supporting you as you stood in front of the car trying to start the beast.

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Thanks for the comments.


Now I know how a Hill Holder works ( kind of slick ).... the Studebaker article is excellent.  


I didn't realize the aspect about the Hill Holder clutch linkage adjustment being touchy......but after thinking about this

I can see how this might be a negative for this device.


Yes I know that the parking brake or the hand throttle might be used in lieu of a Hill Holder

  and   in the past I have used the parking brake many times for this this purpose ( but I've never

used a hand throttle for this purpose )

However....the Hill Holder is the better option in that the Hill Holder requires much less coordination

and doesn't require the driver to take any extra steps.........the driver uses the foot brake and the clutch

in virtually the same manner as if a Hill Holder wasn't  present


The "Line Lock"   device seems like a good alternative.    Requires an extra step on the part of the driver

and maybe a tad more coordination........But my guess is that the Line-Lock beats out the park brake and the hand

throttle on these two points.

The Line-Lock would have one advantage over the Hill Holder......no touchy adjustment  to fight.


If anyone wonders about my considerable interest in the Hill Holder....try driving a 1937 Special

with no PS or PB...........in the hills  of   WVA...........A fellow needs all the help he can get....




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The hand throttle on Buicks comes in handy when your car is facing up hill and you need to start it.  In those instances, keep your right foot on the brake and your left foot on the clutch, or have the car out of gear, and then pull out the hand throttle until it engages the starter, like when you step on the accelerator pedal to start the car.  Then drive the car in the normal manner.


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Terry, I don't have a hill holder on my 39 Roadmaster, but one can utilize the hand throttle with the method that I indicated above.  In fact I was driving the car this afternoon and stopped by some friends who live on a hill street. When I left, I flipped on the column switch and followed the sequence noted above and I was on my way.  


Of course, with this car and my 49 Super, which doesn't have a hand throttle, you can always start the car from the engine compartment by pulling back on the throttle linkage.  That comes in handy when you are by yourself and are having choke problems and need to fiddle with the carb when you're attempting to start the car. Bob

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  • 2 weeks later...
On 2018-03-18 at 7:42 PM, LAS VEGAS DAVE said:

Another option is to slowly roll into the car behind you completely ignoring his horn while coming to a stop against his bumper. When th light changes just pull away while waving THANKS to the driver behind you.



I nearly had that issue in the photo lane at the 2007 National Meet in Bellevue, WA. It was set up at the top of a ramp and I had the 1941 Special. The car in line got too close for comfort and I stalled a few times tying to get going without rolling into him. The parking brake never occurred to me. Of course, while learning how to drive manual transmissions as a youngster in fairly flat Saskatchewan, I primarily grew up with automatics. 


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  • 3 weeks later...
3 hours ago, MochetVelo said:

Was there not also an accessory "Hill Holder" or "Drop Sprag" that mounted under the floorboards in the Brass Era? This dropped down when you were stopped on a hill to prevent drifting backward. I read about one on a 1909 Overland. 


Might have been, but not to my knowledge on Buicks.  I think Buick had hill holder in the 30's.  People of that era would know more.

Edited by Larry Schramm (see edit history)
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14 hours ago, Spinneyhill said:

MoToR's Manual 1947 shows a Hill Holder (called "NoRoL" by its manufacturer) in Buicks for 1939-46. It doesn't say which models.


MoToR's Manual 1952 doesn't mention the NoRol in Buicks at all. It has a short section in the Brakes chapter but no applications are given.


That makes sense. I'm pretty sure it was an option in 1941. 


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John Kilbane is always very fair on his pricing. I don't recall exactly what I paid as it was a few years ago but I'd guess around $50 bucks +/- and I bought it either at Hershey or the BCA National so no shipping, but it's kinda heavy.


If you are a BCA member you can look him up in the roster he is in OH. I don't like putting other people info folks info out here myself.

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