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‘38 Special Column Shift


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Oh lord. They are complicated as H. and everything has to be precisely lined up and adjusted even though it may look like a jumbled mess (which it is).

 

My only experience with a column shift was on a post-war Studebaker (after they had worked the worst bugs out of it) and early into my ownership something in it went slightly out of adjustment and it got stuck in whatever gear it was in. I thought a cotter pin had worn out and I bent a couple of finishing nails and jerry rigged a repair to get home.

30 years later I gave the car to a coworker and he finally discovered exactly what had gone wrong after it got stuck in a gear with him — a pin on the shift tube had sheered.

 

If it were something you could remove all the components on from a later Buick and simply apply to your ‘38 I would be very very surprised. First off, all the transmission linkages would be different. I can say this because at many points in my 30+ year ownership I considered converting it to floor-shift. It was too complicated for me to do — essentially it would have to be engineered and no one I ever approached with the idea would touch it with a 10 foot pole.

 

I assume you have driven a column-shift standard transmission before? The only reason they made them was to free up an extra spot for a person to sit on the front bench. Doesn’t add a thing to the driving experience.

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Personally, I think it would be more work than I would tackle. The best way to do it would probably be to buy a later (probably about 1940) Buick complete steering column, transmission, and other parts to transfer to your car.  The 1939 shifter and transmission was a one year only design and is more likely to cause future problems so I would avoid that year.  If you really want to do it, I would call Dave Tacheny to locate all of the necessary parts. You can best reach him by calling 763-427-3460 between 4 and 7 pm Central. If I really wanted a column shift I would probably just sell the 1938 Buick and buy a 1940 Buick or later Buick.

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15 minutes ago, MCHinson said:

buy a...complete steering column, transmission, and other parts to transfer to your car.

That is precisely what I was told with the Stu. There’s no adapting column-shift specific parts to the floor-shifted transmission — not without getting an engineer involved.

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35 minutes ago, tyler searle said:

Thanks everyone, yes, I would just get another tranny and steering column from a later car. I’ve got a ‘41 Special but it’s too nice to part out. Where  is  Dave Tacheny  from?

The best source of pre war Buick parts is Dave Tacheny in Champlin, MN. He specializes in 1936-1941 Buick parts. He is old school:- no email. The best way to contact him is to call him between 4 and 7 pm Central at 763-427 3460. You can also write him a letter. His address is 11949 Oregon Ave N., Champlin, MN 55316. 

http://forums.aaca.org/topic/206688-dave-tachney/

 

You may also need to work on the torque tube-drive shaft is the length of a 1938 transmission is different to 1940 or later. 1940 and later were the same for several years.

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Some projects may be desirable but in my opinion and hard learned experience the effort, expense, and result may not be justified-

good luck either way, but personally I would enjoy the ‘38 the way it was designed 

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Not to mention the input and output spline variations. 

 

Some time ago I was reading different posts about the bracketry needed to convert transmissions from floor to column (or column to floor....I can't remember)

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