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1961 - 1966 F-100 & Larger F-Series Trucks Discuss the Slick Sixties Ford Truck

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  #1  
Old 03-27-2011, 01:29 AM
ocbp1981 ocbp1981 is offline
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3 on the tree?

Does anyone know the rational behind having 3 on the tree shifter instead of a on the floor shift? When did the on the column start?
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Old 03-27-2011, 07:01 AM
FourOneTons FourOneTons is offline
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Generally speaking, not just for Ford Slicks, most floor shifts of '50s-'60s vintage are four-speeds, or "four on the floor." Five-speeds, or four speeds with overdrive were the next step up, but weren't that common until the '70s.

Column shift, or "three on the tree" became popular beginning in the '30s, although there were a few holdouts with three on the floor into the '40s.

"Three on the tree" at that time was considered by many to be a modern improvement over floor shift, particularly in cars, as compared to trucks. There were four-speed column shifts too, but once manual transmissions started commonly having more than three speeds or three speed with overdrive, the shifter moved back to the floor.

"Three on the tree" hung around as a base option until the 1980s for most makes. I think Chevy was the last to offer it on pickups. Not sure when Ford stopped offering it.

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Old 03-27-2011, 10:03 AM
oldblu oldblu is offline
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I don't know if it is the official reason for column shifters, but it does make for more comfortable passenger seating for the person in the middle.
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Old 03-27-2011, 11:08 AM
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Ziegelsteinfaust Ziegelsteinfaust is offline
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Remember this is before extended cabs, and no one wants to ride around and get elbowed.

My truck has a 3 on the tree, but for the life of me I can't imagine why people would want it instead of floor shift.
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Old 03-27-2011, 11:25 AM
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I heard somewhere, that Ford last offered 3 on the tree in 1983. I love the 3 on the tree, for 2 reasons.

1) Most people cannot drive them. IE my truck is nearly unstealable, and unborrowable.

2) I drive around with a baby seat in the truck for my daughter, and I couldn't shift if I had a 4 speed. It would hit the baby seat before I hit 2nd or 4th.
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Old 03-27-2011, 01:33 PM
FourOneTons FourOneTons is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ziegelsteinfaust View Post
...My truck has a 3 on the tree, but for the life of me I can't imagine why people would want it instead of floor shift.
Column shifts were easier to reach and faster in older trucks. They were attached to sychromesh transmissions too. A lot of older truck transmissions with floor shifts were slow, with long throws between gears, and spur-gear, or non-sychro in some or all speeds.

My first car ('55 Chevy) had three on the tree, but it's been about 30 years since I've driven any column shift manual (and way longer since the Chevy). It would take me a while to get used to one again.

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Old 03-27-2011, 02:14 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ziegelsteinfaust View Post
My truck has a 3 on the tree, but for the life of me I can't imagine why people would want it instead of floor shift.
I find it more comfortable to shift with a column shift than with a floor shift.
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Old 03-27-2011, 08:50 PM
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If I were restoring the truck to original then I would probably keep the column shift but..... I do want to have fun. Not a great power shifter using a comumn shift and I've always wanted a Hot Rod (car or truck) with a 4spd. As far as shifter throw, yeah I remember driving a tow truck. Talk about throw......it seemed to take almost 20 inches of throw going from 2nd to 3rd and then 3rd to 4th. Stayed out of First unless I was really lugging a load cause I would end up pounding the dash with my knuckles trying to get it in 1st.

The one Hot Rod car I owned was an auto. It was a 66 'stang with an original 289. I found a '69 351w out of a Mach 1 and would have converted it if it wasn't such a pain in the **** for those cars.

The Mach 1 the motor came out of was owned by a person I knew and he did the conversion from auto to 4spd. Never could get the thing to work correctly and most of it was because of the steering post and dash mount for the pedals and the clutch linkage mounting system between the engine compartment and engine. That was also the most difficult change I've ever seen done.
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Old 03-28-2011, 01:10 AM
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I'm helping a guy do a concourse restoration on a '39 Lincoln Zephyr. '39 was the last year Ford had the three speed on the floor in its cars. The 1940 models changed to "three on the tree." GM had already made that change a year or two before. One of the big selling points was for the ability to "comfortably" seat three passengers on the front bench seat. The floor shifter took up valuable passenger leg room. In the case of the Zephyr, Lincoln made the most amazing convoluted floor shift linkage you ever saw, and hid it inside a center console, for model years '38 and '39 trying to get around the leg room problem, before giving up and changing the shifter to the steering column in '40. I'm not positive, but I think
pick-ups kept the 3 on the floor for a few more years.
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Old 03-28-2011, 05:05 AM
hollygreenman hollygreenman is offline
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From Wikipedia:


"The major advantage of a column shifter is that the driver can switch between the two most commonly used gears without letting go of the steering wheel, by reaching the lever using the index and middle fingers".

Could of fooled me!
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Old 03-28-2011, 05:16 AM
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1950: Last year Ford offered a 3 speed floor shift in a truck.

Last year for 3 on the tree: 1986 (F150), 1987 (Econoline), 1977 (Bronco).

3 speed manual transmission discontinued in F150's (1986) / 1987 Econolines / 1977 Bronco's.

When people swap 3 on the trees to the floor on trucks, the shifter will usually end up under the seat, so mods have to be made.

Something else to consider. With the shifter on the floor, there are no associated parts, With it on the column, there are dozens.

The more parts, the more problems, and... Since all the automakers are really in the partsbiz, where over 80% of their true profit comes from, the more parts they sell, the more money they make.

SuperSabre: 3 on the floor passenger cars after 1940: 1961/64 Galaxie / 1965/73 Mustang / 1966/69 Fairlane/Torino / 1971/75 Maverick/Comet / 1978 Fairmont/Zephyr.
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Old 03-28-2011, 07:28 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hollygreenman View Post
From Wikipedia:


"The major advantage of a column shifter is that the driver can switch between the two most commonly used gears without letting go of the steering wheel, by reaching the lever using the index and middle fingers".

Could of fooled me!
This is entirely possible in my 66 if you have hands large enough to palm a 16# bowling ball!!!
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Old 03-28-2011, 07:40 AM
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I was also going to say (and I see that it's already been stated here), that a column shifter allows for more passenger comfort in the front seat if you're trying to seat three people....or.....if your girl wants to sit right next to you.

Of course, in that case, there are some advantages to having a floor shift, if you know what I mean.
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Old 03-28-2011, 07:40 AM
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