Jump to content

1939 won’t go in reverse


Recommended Posts

Hello everyone on this fine Election Day!  I was shuffling cars around today so I could fit the camper in the garage for winter, and I lost reverse in my car.  It’s not letting me push the lever far enough away from the steering wheel to go up into reverse.
 

I checked around all the linkage under the car while my wife moved the shifter around, but I didn’t see anything that looked loose or moved, or changed, at all.

 

I see the shifter tube sliding up and down on the steering column when she moves the shifter towards the steering wheel and away.  It seems like the tube under the hood needs to slide down more, but it can’t because the cable and other linkage arms are bolted there.

 

The rest of the gears are good and work fine, just not reverse. 

Link to post
Share on other sites

Hopefully someone with a ‘39 Buick speaks up because this has certainly happened to others as these column mounted systems are prone to getting out of adjustment. But yes, I had exactly that happen with a column mounted manual trans Studebaker. I have no idea how Buick had their column mounted system jerryrigged (and believe me it IS jerryrigged) but what happened on the Stu I actually didn’t find out for 28 years when I gave it to a friend. I’ll spare you the story, but when it happened it seemed the shift tube was sliding down too far and I thought a washer had worn thin. What actually happened was a pin that went through the tube had sheered in half. 
I can’t even put this into English - but basically it may not be the linkages but some item that regulates the movement of the tube.

Look in the parts-book for a pin that goes through the tube. And btw, don’t take the tube out of the column - but if you feel possessed to do so it comes out of the engine end of the column.

Don’t ask why I point this out.....

Edited by Ben P.
Clarity (see edit history)
  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites

Look for a grease fitting on the column under the hood or on linkage near the column, and for any places that you can hit with an oil can--before taking anything apart.  The early column shifters of most makes were troublesome, and most trouble started with a lack of lubrication.

  • Like 2
Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, 1939_Buick said:

1928-52 Master Parts book pg 117-A_ss.jpg

First thoughts...It looks like there should be nothing between AE-shield and where it slides down to AD-lever.  I have a rubber stop between them.  When I press the shift lever away from me, AE hits the rubber stop, but looks like it needs to slide down farther so I can push the shift lever farther away and then up into reverse.  But—if the rubber stop should not be there, how would it have worked until now?

Link to post
Share on other sites
11 hours ago, jvelde said:

Am I missing something here, on my '39, reverse is up and toward the steering wheel, not away.  Up and away goes into 2nd for me!

Man I tell you what.  I pulled that thing up and back several times getting where I wanted it before this happened.  Nevertheless, my brain switched somehow and told me different.  Now that you say this, I feel like a true nincompoop.  I think you are right.  

Link to post
Share on other sites

That '39 Buick shifter mechanism and cable is one of Buicks worst ideas in my mind. Buick figured that out too since it is a one year only "idea".

 

Can you manually shift it into reverse (with the engine stopped) from under the car by diddling with the lever on the trans?  If so you have a linkage problem - most likely.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Do you have the domed nut and domed washer where the shift arm connects to the shaft? My 1939 Roadmaster does, now. When I got the car, it had a flat washer and a hex nut. The shifter seemed very sloppy, so I tighten the hex nut. Then I couldn't shift into 1st or reverse. I got the correct hardware on there from Dave Tacheny and everything worked fine, now. However, the shift pattern is very sloppy compared to the one in my 1949 Super.

IMG_20201104_165446346.jpg

Link to post
Share on other sites

I hate to say it, but the best way to fix it is to first remove the shift cable assy and CLEAN it!   They get gummy and then sticky and finally they break!   You don't want that to happen as they are made of unobtainium.  Then replace all the rubber bushings on the shift mechanism and reassemble and follow the shop manual for adjustment.    If it wont stay in adjustment then the motor mounts are shot.

 

Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
×
×
  • Create New...