Lebowski

When you shift gears on the manual transmission in your classic do you use the clutch?

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I've never see this discussed here before so I thought I'd ask. The only time I use the clutch on my '49 Studebaker pickup with a 3 speed manual with overdrive is when I take off from a start. After that I shift without using the clutch as long as I have the correct RPMs on the engine. I've done it on several other classics (and late model cars) that I've owned over the years too. Most big rig drivers do the same thing which is where I learned how to do it back in the '90s. There is no damage whatsoever done to the clutch or transmission in case you were wondering. Do any of you guys drive that way? 

Edited by Lebowski (see edit history)

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I have done it showing off but think there is too much potential for transmission gear damage if it isn't done just right every time.

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Four hundred thousand miles in 59 years on my daily driver.  Most shifts by floating the gears unless I was in a great hurry due to heavy fast traffic.

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Depends on the car.

On newer cars and my '64 I very often shift without using the clutch.

But I have never really attempted that on my 20's cars.

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Clutches are easier to replace than synchros. Do it right and it's fine, yes, but do it wrong and you're causing a lot of extra wear. And even a little wrong adds more wear than simply using the clutch. Big rigs are different as their gearboxes are typically not synchronized and drivers learn to get it right pretty quickly because the sychros aren't there to mask the mistakes. 

 

Can you do it? Sure. Is it a good idea? Meh.

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One can shift my '31 Pierce into second and third with no clutch, non-synchro gearbox BUT only in freewheeling mode ( internal to gearbox on my car).  You CAN do, but I don't, as I stay out of freewheeling mode, it's just not a friendly way to drive the car.

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I've mentioned this before: When I was 20 I had a '59 Apache with a granny low. Once the engine was warmed up, I could turn the engine off...put it in granny...take my foot off the clutch...turn the key and laugh as my truck would lurch to life, rolling along at 4 mph. No clutch needed. (I'm being intentionally silly: of course the clutch was needed, and it was bad for the vehicle.)

Edited by JamesR (see edit history)

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Some cars do not allow you to double clutch as you only have so much time to shift and that few extra seconds of double clutching does not help the cause.

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What’s a clutch? I routinely drive any year stick without using the clutch after take off. Understanding the power plant, transmission, and having a reasonable amount of skill is all it takes. Even on crash boxes, I usually can shift through the gears with little or no issues. 

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14 hours ago, Matt Harwood said:

Clutches are easier to replace than synchros. Do it right and it's fine, yes, but do it wrong and you're causing a lot of extra wear. And even a little wrong adds more wear than simply using the clutch. Big rigs are different as their gearboxes are typically not synchronized and drivers learn to get it right pretty quickly because the sychros aren't there to mask the mistakes. 

 

Can you do it? Sure. Is it a good idea? Meh.

 

Absolutely great points and one more important one. Keep your hand off the gear shift lever when your not shifting!

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2 hours ago, John_Mereness said:

Some cars do not allow you to double clutch as you only have so much time to shift and that few extra seconds of double clutching does not help the cause.

I have never heard of a car that has a time limit for shifting. Can you expand your thoughts or name the car you are thinking of?

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27 minutes ago, JFranklin said:

I have never heard of a car that has a time limit for shifting. Can you expand your thoughts or name the car you are thinking of?

You generally can hear when a car needs to shift - when you loose that sound ...  Not many, though on rare occasion you get a car a brass through 30's non syncromesh car that you have to shift straight through due to timing as transmission looses the speed you need matched to gear engineering.   I had a bear of a time with the November 1932 built RR PI and then someone (I think Ed) said the car being so late in production may have a transmission brake on it and I was doing it wrong - turned out it shifted straight through like butter.  The 30 Franklin 147 with the Detroit 4 speed (also used in Stutz M) also needed shifted straight through - if you double clutched you usually ended up pulled off the road and starting off from scratch again (this was supposed to be a revolutionary transmission, but ... - lets just say by 1931153 cars came along they were using Warner for good reason - not sure but early J Duesenbergs also used some sort of Detroit and they were basically recalled).  A few people have since spoke of Mercers and such that they had trouble double clutching though found they could go straight through. 

Edited by John_Mereness (see edit history)
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I agree on the synchro thing.

Yes I can shift without using the clutch but Matt is right, the synchros wont grind like going straight to the gear teeth.

As for the length of time thing, John is referring to double clutching. Most effective for down shifting.

One needs to come from a higher gear to neutral let out the clutch in neutral and bring the engine revs up to match the lower gear that you want. Then quickly push the shifter at the matched speeds.

Some cars you have to do this as there are no synchronizers. But most trannys these days and for quite some time in fact do have them and one is better to use the synchronizers than to tear them up showing off .

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Typing at the same time.

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I recall a drive with Ron Andrews in his unrestored 1931 Franklin 151 Pursuit Touring and he never touched the clutch - he said when you drive a car nearly every day for most of your life you can learn to do that - then he looked at me very intently and said something to the gist of "if I tried it I would probably blow the Detroit up, so I best not use him for my driving example." 

Edited by John_Mereness (see edit history)
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41 minutes ago, JFranklin said:

I have never heard of a car that has a time limit for shifting. Can you expand your thoughts or name the car you are thinking of?


Any Rolls Phantom one or two, if you delay the shift for even a split second and it will NOT go into gear. Cars that have clutch brakes can also be tricky if your not aware of their presence or function.

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In 1959 I took drivers training in a Ford V8 automatic.  We had a 1956 Chevrolet 6 cyl manual transmission.  Dad required me to learn to slide the clutch on a hill to keep the car still without using the breaks.  He also taught me to feel the clutch to shift without the clutch.  I did it on additional cars with manual transmissions; 53, 40, 49 Chevy, 62 Valiant, 50 Plymouth, & 76 MG Midget.  The Midget clutch master or slave unit failed every year  of 5 years & I drove home without the clutch each time.  The car could be started in 2nd gear if I got caught at a light.

 

however, I was unable to double clutch a 29 Hupmobile without synchromesh.  My 31 Hupmobile has freewheeling which was the new thing.  One feature is the ability to shift between 2nd & 3rd without the clutch.  The advertising claimed you avoided “Clutch Foot” from shifting.

 

 

 

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I have no problem shifting either up or down in our 1930 Packard,

or my 1915 Hudson-

simply a matter of being “in-tune” , listening, hearing, and feeling engine revs with road speed related to the gears-

no clashing or grinding once you get good at it, and handy to have the ability if the clutch, the related mechanisms, or other factors put you in that situation , 

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Is it really that much of a big deal? The cars are typically being used so infrequently that you’re probably not going to wear it out any time soon vs potential damage to your gears 

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I don't do it regularly but early on taught myself to shift without the clutch and it has come in handy a couple of times. The later Crosleys had a cross shaft that the clutch and brake pedal pivot on, the inboard end was held by a bracket attached to the transmission. If the transmission mount is bad it can shift enough for the shaft to drop out, no brakes or clutch. I once drove a friends Crosley several miles back to his house through town with the the shaft dangling. Lucky the Crosey was nicely warmed up when it fell out, so I shut off the ignition when we needed to stop and started in gear and shifted up and down as needed. The owner asked when it fell out and was surprised when I told him.

 

Years later my F250 diesel 6 speed had a spring in the dual clutch break and jam the clutch when I was on my way back from a show pulling my 12 foot enclosed Crosley trailer. Found out when I pulled into a rest stop and tried to stop at around 10pm, 70 miles from home. I was in a pull through so didn't hit anything and got it stopped. I figured at that time of night and with the trailer it would be many hours before I would get home if I called AAA. Decided with almost new batteries and the granny 1st I would try to start in low. It worked and I proceeded on home, shifting as needed. Picked a different route to minimize stops and only had to start in gear a couple of times and only ran one stop sign on a back road close to home. Parked on the side of the road and walked back my 500 foot drive to avoid being trapped. Called AAA in the morning and had the trailer off and back the drive with the tractor before they arrived.

 

Still practice from time to time just in case.

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The wear it causes on synchro's and apparently on the throw  out bearing makes me always use the clutch on my  6 speed 09 Challenger. Same with my 66 Studebaker 3 speed bolt action column shift with overdrive. My 95 Ford F 450 7.3 Diesel shifts much better double clutching. My old 70 Duster 340 would shift easy with no clutch after take off, but within a year the syncro's were toast.

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Depends on what you are doing. With a Muncie on the strip you had two choices both starting with pulling the shifter (Hurst competion plus- other would bend with the big rods) back as hard as you could then (your choice) either bat the clutch with the pedal to the metal. Or don't touch the clutch but bat the gas. Much faster shifts than even a 727. Of course occasionally would leave many pieces of aluminum and a few gears on the track but

a) Muncies were $15-$35. M22s were $100.

b) if you wanted to win, there was no choice.

 

ps I could get a Moss gearbox into first at 25 without noise.

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Because there is no load on the engine as you pass through neutral when downshifting without the clutch,  I can slip my Pontiac into first at 20 mph.  Sure helps with an emergency stop.

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Personally I wouldn't try. I drive my old cars but I also baby my old cars. My 32 Chevy runs like a sewing machine. It shifts like new. I want to keep it like that. I don't know what I would do if I broke something in the tranny. I will sometimes slip it into neutral without using the clutch as I approach a traffic light. I always use the clutch when shifting into any gear. I also have two Apache pickups l do the same way. I just don't see taking the risk of breaking something. 

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