Ford  Top Loader Three Speed Transmission

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Early Ford Transmissions - Putting the Shift Shafts into Neutral Position

There are times when you have to remove or install the gearshift housing. We always recommend placing the transmission into "neutral" before taking off the shifter housing on a toploader 3 speed transmission. For a variety of reasons, the shifter forks may have been moved from neutral, and possible the gears inside the transmission were moved from their neutral position. To avoid problems trying to reinstall the shifter housing, set all components back into their neutral position. This webpage will show you the correct position for the shift forks and their shafts.

When you set the shifter housing back onto the gearbox case, the two shifter forks must be in their individual "neutral" positions. Each fork is pinned to its own shaft (7240 and 7241 in the drawings). The shafts have three detent notches which are designed to hold the fork and shaft into one of those set positions. On all shifter shafts, the middle of the three notches is the neutral position for that shaft. Since the shaft passes through a part of the casting that houses the detent spring interlock device, you can only see two of the three notches at any time. Place the shaft so that one notch is visible on either side of the housing. This will be the "neutral" position and you will need to position BOTH shafts to show this view. See in the pictures below.

You must also place the gears into their neutral position. When they are correctly placed for neutral, you will be able to drop the shifter housing down directly with each shifter fork sliding into place on the respective gears. The large fork is the 2nd/High fork and fits into the fork groove in the 2nd/High synchronizer sleeve (7106 in the drawings). The smaller fork is for 1st/Reverse fork. It will fit into the fork groove of the 1st/Reverse sliding gear (7100 in the parts drawings). CLICK HERE for our webpage illustration for getting the gears positioned for neutral.

To place the synchro sleeve in neutral, push it forward or toward the gear so that its front/rear edges are evenly spaced between the small synchro teeth on the main drive gear and second gear (see photo above). The early style synchro sleeve has a very tight set of internal neutral centering springs. Its fork groove is virtually in the middle of the sleeve. This early type synchro can move front-to-rear with about 3/16" of free movement, so you may have to nudge it slightly with the large fork as you drop it down into the groove. Refer to the above picture.

The late style synchronizer has two shiny bronze rings located on either side of the synchro sleeve. If you cannot see one of the rings, slide the sleeve forward or backward until you can see both bronze rings clearly. This is the neutral position for the late style synchro. The 7106 sleeve will have its fork groove offset toward the rear of the transmission. When you have the correct matching 2nd/High shifter fork in the shift housing, it will drop down right into the fork groove of the synchro sleeve, and the six mounting bolt holes will align perfectly. 


To place the first/Reverse sliding gear (7100 in the drawings) in neutral, you must slide it to the front or rear to get it positioned in the middle of the sliding range. If you look at this gear from above, it should not be engaged with the cluster gear's first gear teeth, or the reverse idler gear's teeth. When correctly spaced, the 7100 gear will be exactly in the middle between the above-mentioned gear teeth.  All Ford designed three speed transmissions will have the fork groove of the 7100 sliding gear facing to the front. When you drop the shifter housing down onto the gearbox, you will tilt it slightly down at the rear, so that you begin to engage the 1st/Reverse fork into the 7100 fork groove first. Then bring down the front of the shifter housing to engage the large fork into the synchro sleeve groove. With both forks correctly engaged, drop the housing all the way down. All six bolt holes should be aligned at the gearbox case, assuming you have the correct 2nd/High shifter fork for the gearset and synchro you are using. If you have a mis-match of parts, the six bolt holes will not be aligned. Forcing the housing to one end to align the bolt holes will result in improper shifting action in the transmission. Refer to the picture above.

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