Walt G

Remarks on Gear Shifting

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In looking for some research material in my library I came across an instruction book I probably have had no reason to look at in 30 years. It is only 12 pages long and basically tells the new owner of the car how to drive it. I thought it may be of interest for the readers of the forum to see the details as well.

The car they are for is a BOUR - DAVIS  built in Shreveport, Louisiana. The car shifts like most other cars of that era but many people looking at this may not be used to that - this was in an era prior to Synchromesh standard transmissions.

BOURDAVISremarksshifting002.jpg

BourDavis001.jpg

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Benefits of AACA Membership.

That does not address an essential part of American manual trasmission shifting. For example 1st to second on a four speed muncie.

As redline approaches

- pull back as hard as possible on the shifter (post '65 or Hurst, earlier were too weak to support)

- when shift point is reach bat one of clutch or gas pedal.

- shift will be near instant and may momentarily overload the tires (posi is good, a locker is better)

- is about a 10% chance you will litter the track with aluminum and gears  (large shaft Muncies are best, Saginaws are iffy, do not try with a Pont-a-Mousson. OTOH if yo do not, you lose.

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I agree . Padgett this is in reference to cars in the late teens or early twenties at the newest which is why I posted it because as I stated

6 hours ago, Walt G said:

The car shifts like most other cars of that era but many people looking at this may not be used to that - this was in an era prior to Synchromesh standard transmissions.

Note the last part of the sentence!  In an era before red lines, no posi rear ends etc.

Just trying to keep what I posted in perspective of the era I was referring to and many readers here have not driven nor ridden in a car of that era.

Walt🙃.

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60s and early '70s. Then automagics took over. for most but I could still shift faster than a stock 727. Back when I was running a Mazda 808 in SCCA SSS could jump the  Pintos and Opels a few feet on every shift.

 

If talking about NS gearboxes I couls also get a Jag XK-150s Moss gearbox down into 1st at 25 mph. Could doubleclutch very fast when needs.

 

Now looking for a C5 with a 6 speed manual. Have cash for a Florida Targa car.

 

ps you are really saying people even in the Brass age were not trying to find a car/driver that could beat a horse (where 1/4 mile drag came from: see "quarter horse"). Suspect someone light who could shift a "crash box" very quickly was popular 100 years ago. ?

 

pps I larned to drive on a 40 Ford Flathead with an All American three speed on the tree. Quicky found I did not need the clutch to shift when acesllerating quickly. If the throttle is released and blipped quickly even downshifts were silent, If it made a sound I knew a mistake had been made.

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I will comment no further, Mr. Padgett, you are focused on one era and I am focused on another 45 to 50 years earlier. I am not concerned with how fast to shift but how difficult it was to do with straight cut gears which is what I thought I made clear with this thread...............................

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Sorry if I offended just meant that even in the '60s straight cut non-synchro gears (particularly first in many boxes) were not that unusual. I suspect Bour-Davis felt a need to use capitals telling people not to shift without using the clutch and wasn't because you couldn't.

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Apples and Oranges (and maybe Eggplants).

 

If you learned to double clutch in old trucks like I did, then sports cars are a whole new game. Even though the theory is exactly the same, I had to learn it all over again. The experience is completely different.

 

Shifting a brass era or other early car is yet another thing. It will most likely be sliding gears, but running in some thick glop like 600W steam oil or maybe SAE1500 semi-fluid grease. There will probably be either a leather cone clutch, or a multiple disc clutch, which are quite different from each other, and neither are particularly easy to handle for a beginner. There might also be a clutch brake. It isn't that tough, but it is completely different. You get to learn to shift all over yet again.

 

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52 minutes ago, Walt G said:

how difficult it was to do with straight cut gears

I have never had a problem shifting straight cut gears.  I can and do upshift and downshift with or without using the clutch or even double clutching.  I don't even consciously consider how I will shift, I just shift appropriately according to traffic.

 

The booklet is an ideal instruction book for people that had no experience with transmissions or even mechanical things.  I have two books from the teens and twenties teaching people how to drive.  With our lifetime with automobiles the books are very basic but were necessary for people changing up from animal power.  Thank you for sharing that book.

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Thank you Tinindian, I agree that the instruction book was completely aimed at people that had been used to horse power in the literal sense of the word!  Were not only driving a new car of that era but most likely

any car for the first time! That is the way it reads to me and that is what I was trying to convey to a lot of people reading this - this is the way it was explained then 80 years ago.

 

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We were excited to have the sole surviving Bour-Davis on display at the Houma (LA) Civic Auditorium back in November, 2015 when the Lagniappe Chapter of Louisiana Region AACA hosted the Central Division Fall Meet.
 
The attached photos are those I took during our show.  I wish I were able to find the additional pics of the Bour-Davis. 
Those of you who attended, showed, or judged will recall seeing this car in the lobby of the Civic Auditorium, at the show field and swap meet spaces.
 
Below are a link to more information and an additional picture found online:
This picture was taken during the 2015 Central Division Fall Meet in Houma, Louisiana
mail?url=https%3A%2F%2Fupload.wikimedia.org%2Fwikipedia%2Fcommons%2Fthumb%2F9%2F9a%2FBour_Davis_HDR_Image.jpeg%2F220px-Bour_Davis_HDR_Image.jpeg&t=1587438998&ymreqid=80305431-af31-ba33-2f86-7c004a018d00&sig=drpD3GINUos1Yy0r_ji3sg--~C

BOUR-DAVIS at HOUMA.jpg

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The first year new cars outsold used cars was 1927.  Even so, there were still a lot of people who had never driven a car.  The owners manual for my 1927 Studebaker Dictator has instructions on how to change gears without double clutching.  The 1-2 shift should be done preferably at 4 mph, not more than 8 mph.  The 2-3 shift at 8 mph, no more than 15 mph.  The 3-2 downshift at 8 mph or less.  This reduces the need to double clutch.

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Posted (edited)

Here's a Bour-Davis advertisement from 1920.

I included it as a one-page feature item in our

AACA regional newsletter a few years ago.

 

1920 Bour-Davis car ad.jpg

Edited by John_S_in_Penna (see edit history)
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First thing,I Ihave yet to drive a car that has a non synchronized manual transmission, but one time I was discussing the topic with an old timer who referred to them as "synchro-smash" transmissions. I thought it was funny.

 

The other thing, last week I watched an episode of Jay Lenos Garage and he mentioned that from a stop you can shift into reverse without grinding if you go from neutral to second to reverse. According to Jay, on most manuals the reverse gear is on the same shaft as second gear. I assume this only works on synchronized transmissions since second would be synchronized and reverse not. I look forward to trying it the next time I drive a manual.

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Hi Ryan ! That technique is also used to go into first in a synchro trans with a non-synchro first. Speaking of technique : If you practice double clutch shifts every time you drive a full synchro trans, you will have developed most of the rhythm needed for the crashbox. Come off the gas when you shift in neutral on an upshift, and give a fairly generous "blip" of gas in neutral for a downshift.   -   Carl 

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12 hours ago, dictator27 said:

The first year new cars outsold used cars was 1927

 

Something not quite right with that statement.  So, the first car ever sold was a used one? Or, for the first year of production, there were more used cars sold than new cars made?

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Posted (edited)

Remember. It is no disgrace to shift to a lower gear.    3rd line of suggestions

 

The more experienced driver could use the foot accelerator.

 

 I could never get into third if I had to figure out these instructions

 

From the 1921 Paige handbook

Paige instructions.jpg

 

Better crop.jpg

Edited by 31plymouth
better picture (see edit history)
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Another thing about shifting with an antique car that I have pondered, for prewar cars that use a vacuum tank style fuel pump, I imagine it would be advantageous to downshift on hills to maintain engine vacuum so that the car doesn't run out of fuel before getting to the top. I have no experience to back this up, but it's logical. Who has experience with vacuum tanks and isn't going to comment by saying that they are junk?

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Vacuum wipers stop if you stand on it.

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I love a good working vacuum tank!  And yes, down shifting going uphill to raise engine speed does improve the vacuum, however, it also lowers the gasoline mileage! So just how much that practice helps or hurts the fuel delivery does vary from car to car and differing circumstances.  I have only a few times run out of fuel from the vacuum tank on long climbs. I usually take the hills easy, and if they are very long, I sometimes pull into a turnout if one is available to allow the tank to refill. The engine idle varies slightly whether the tank is sucking gasoline or not (alters the fuel/air mixture slightly, not enough to hurt anything, but enough to feel it in the engine). Sit until you feel the idle change (one should get used to a car enough to know by feel if the tank is sucking or not), then continue to proceed.

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1 hour ago, wayne sheldon said:

I love a good working vacuum tank!  And yes, down shifting going uphill to raise engine speed does improve the vacuum, however, it also lowers the gasoline mileage! So just how much that practice helps or hurts the fuel delivery does vary from car to car and differing circumstances.  I have only a few times run out of fuel from the vacuum tank on long climbs. I usually take the hills easy, and if they are very long, I sometimes pull into a turnout if one is available to allow the tank to refill. The engine idle varies slightly whether the tank is sucking gasoline or not (alters the fuel/air mixture slightly, not enough to hurt anything, but enough to feel it in the engine). Sit until you feel the idle change (one should get used to a car enough to know by feel if the tank is sucking or not), then continue to proceed.

I have plenty of experience climbing Cedar Pass in Modoc County, CA (NE corner, high desert and going up from there) in two different Pierce 80s and a 1922 Paige, all equipped with vacuum tanks.  To keep the fuel pumping, you must be below half throttle.  Know how much is in the reservoir of the vacuum tank (each of these has at least 1.25 quarts effective reserve), and when the grade diminishes even a bit, back off the throttle to get vacuum to replenish the vac tank reservoir.  And if you have to drop to 2nd gear, keep the engine speed up but still short of half throttle except for short periods.

 

The same techniques and principles are used in hot weather mountain driving, where your speed and gear selection are used to minimize heat load transfer from engine to coolant.  I call it Driving by the Motometer.

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