Been a while since I’ve posted an update and there’s certainly some things worth sharing. Presently, the truck is out of commission, with transmission issues. More on that later. But first, I’m happy to report that dropping the truck an additional 2 inches in the back was a pretty simple task, and definitely had the noticeable effect I was looking for. However, it’s somewhat like getting a tattoo, because now I already want more. Need more low! I really want to get an airbag setup, but unfortunately it is not in the foreseeable future as I just can’t justify spending the funds on that right now. Especially when I need to spend money just to get back to driving.
Had to use a ratchet strap to pull the trailing arm into alignment when installing the new u-bolts.
Before & after. Really need to tuck those wheels now – need more low!
So then it was time for my first 500 mile oil change on the new engine after break in. Got the oil all changed, installed some new plugs, and even some new wires. Lookin’ good and cruising solid…
So, everything’s good, out for a cruise with my wife on a Saturday morning a couple weeks ago, and out of the blue the transmission gets stuck in 4th gear. What the heck? I figure it must just be the shifter linkage or something. Luckily, I have AAA and I was only about a mile and a half from home. On the flat bed it goes and the guy was able to roll it off right into my garage.
Finally, back home, I put the truck up on jack stands and start messing with the shifter linkage, and quickly realize it’s not the linkage. After pulling the side cover off of the transmission, I see right away what the problem is: a synchro key had popped out of place, although at the time I didn’t really understand what I was looking at, having never opened up a manual transmission. Regardless, I realized that the transmission had to come out to tackle this issue.
This is the first thing I saw after pulling off the side cover. This misaligned key would not let the slider come out of 4th.
Prior to this, all I knew was that this truck had a Muncie 4 speed, and I was told it had been rebuilt a couple years ago because it was popping out of second. I have since learned that it is an early ’64-’65 M20, with a later style tail housing (which is why the speedometer never worked; more on that later). In the last couple weeks I have learned a tremendous amount about Muncie transmissions, much thanks to Paul Cangialosi, his book “Muncie 4-Speed Transmissions”, and a couple phone conversations. This guy is the Muncie master, and it’s awesome that you can get him on the phone and personally ask him questions.
So, in addition to the popped-out synchro key, after I took it apart, I realized another key had broken and fallen out. Probably the cause of this one coming partially out. It would be cheap enough to just replace the keys, but I have a feeling that the wear on the engagement teeth of the gears and slider contributed to the problem in the first place. There is enough wear on the engagement teeth of all the gears that I’d like to replace them all, but just can’t afford that right now. I never had any shifting issues before this anyway. I do see evidence that the transmission was rebuilt a couple years ago, as the synchro rings don’t appear as worn as everything else. Also, second gear looks a little different than the others and doesn’t have quite as much wear as the others, indicating it might have been replaced. For these reasons, I decided to just replace the 3-4 synchro assembly, which I purchased from Paul, along with a gasket set.
Now, I could stop here, and be back on the road for just about $75, but it would be really stupid not to address the speedometer issue while I have the transmission open. The speedometer has never worked, and I remember it baffling my Dad. What I found out in learning about these transmissions is that, because mine is an early M20, it originally had a driver-side speedometer gear, but the tail housing currently installed has a passenger side gear. GM switched sides because of interference with shifter linkages, which would also be a problem with mine, and the reason why somebody switched it in the past. Seems like no big deal, but it also turns out that, in addition to switching sides, the gear also sits about an inch further back in the newer tail housing. Unfortunately, my early style main shaft does not have enough room for the pressed-fit speedometer drive gear to slide back into the position it needs to be in to drive the speedometer driven gear. Basically, what this means is that I’ll have to replace my main shaft with a newer style, in order to get my speedometer working. And that’s where I’m at now; trying to find a used one in decent shape, for a decent price. On top of that, I really want to get it back on the road by April 12th, so I can make it to the Goodguys car show in Del Mar. The clock is ticking!
It’s nice having a truck! The bed doubles as a makeshift work bench, since I don’t have a proper workbench in my garage.