3 speed gears !
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Thread: 3 speed gears !

  1. #1
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    Default 3 speed gears !

    Hi
    While looking up some specs on a Hino 4CV from the 50s and later Contessa models based on Renault ideas, I was struck by the continued use of a 3 speed gearbox. A 4 speed box was offered in sport models in the 60s just the same as Renault.

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    My question is does anyone know why they persisted with 3 speed boxes for so long. Was the econony so tight that the extra cost of a pair of gears was too much. Or was it just considered excessive to have that many gears and a normal person could not possibly handle the complication. In a big six engine car I can understand the lazy driving style but with only small engines it was not easy to get along with a load or in hills etc.

    WHY ??
    Jaahn

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    EH Holdens had a 2 speed automatic gearbox from that era, why even bother with 3 speeds

    Powerglide - Holdenpaedia
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    1000+ Posts jo proffi's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by driven View Post
    EH Holdens had a 2 speed automatic gearbox from that era, why even bother with 3 speeds

    Powerglide - Holdenpaedia
    I learned to drive on an HR with a 186 and power glide.
    Jo

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    1000+ Posts REN TIN TIN's Avatar
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    I had a powerglide HR Premier and it seemed to go okay with just two gears.
    But you didn't worry about petrol consumption too much back then so having the motor revving it's tits off at 60-70 MPH wasn't a big deal. You didn't get a taco so the RPM measurement was acoustic.
    But yes, a 750cc motor needs more than 3 gears in my opinion (unless it's on a motorbike and even there they have more than 3 gears).
    "I cannot help but notice that there is no problem between us that cannot be solved by your departure. Mark Twain"

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    EH had the 3 speed Hydramatic, 2 speed Powerglide was introduced in the HD. The 2 speed was a much better box than the three speed.

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    A 2-speed auto transmission is not the same as a 2-speed manual box. The torque converter slips when engaging a speed, which means at some times the ratios are not fixed. Also, my memory of the powerglide is that each speed had 2 sub-ratios within it.

    As for 3-speed gearboxes, most of those Dodge, International, Ford and Bedford bonneted trucks that used to adorn our roads had 4-speed bearboxes and 1st was twice as low as 1st on your average car gearbox. The 3 higher gears were pretty much the same as a 3-speed car gearbox. Ratios roughly 6:1, 3:1, 1.6:1, 1:1. The larger trucks (5 or 6 ton capacity upwards) had 5-spped boxes with closer ratios on the top 4 gears. As long as the rev band is wide enough fewer gears is not a big problem, you just work with what you have.

    Roger

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    G'day,

    my '53 cussy only had a 3 speed box, 1st was there to get it rolling out of a deep gutter. It spent most of it's life in top gear, almost an auto, trundling around roundabouts in top and pulling away with the usual nice noises...

    Come to think of it, my BA v8 ute is not much different, except it has lots more superfluous gears.....

    But, much better economy than the 12mpg oldie....

    Into the 60's, I went to the Standard/Triumph stable, top of that range was the 2000 mk1 from '68 with it's triple strombergs. Four speed manual with electric OD on 3 & 4, almost a 6 speed close ratio box, if you concentrated and dreamed a little.... and, we've moved on to high 20's mpg, they get better all the time.

    Current Latitude v6 petrol is more responsive and cheaper to run than any of these oldies, onwards and upwards....

    cheers,
    Bob

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    1000+ Posts Kim Luck's Avatar
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    I'm of the opinion that Renault were somehow constrained by circumstance to use as much of the original rear engine/transmission system as possible, when the cost of developing new bodies for their products precluded development of the powertrain. Thus the rear engine trailing the gearbox in the 4CV went straight into the new Dauphine and subsequently the new front wheel drive R4. The three speed box in my early R4 had no synchro on first so essentially the power train was directly from the 4CV. It's interesting that the engine behind the gearbox tradition continued on so long in front wheel drive Renaults.
    jaahn likes this.
    Don't it always seem to go that you don't know what you've got 'til it's gone............

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    The valiant torqueflight 3 speed in the 60/s was far superior to the other 2 or 3 speed transmissions at the time. And they were the first to have an alternator instead of a generator.

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    The Toyota 700 of the sixties (700cc air-cooled twin) was available with a two-speed auto!
    Stephen
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    Top of the range in 1985:
    https://www.redbook.com.au/cars/deta...OT-ITM-266890/
    Still 3 speed Auto
    406 HDi

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    The Chevs my old man had when I was young had 3 speed manual boxes.

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    The 60's Mini Matic had a four speed auto.


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    Hi
    I do not think it is an even comparison to compare a torque converter auto to a manual. The torque converter works in two ways, first it gives about 2-2.5 x the torque at starting, equal to that extra gearing to start. Secondly it allows extensive 'slipping' to help starting.

    My point about the 3 speeds was it seems to be very french with the small cars. The Poms always had 4 speeds, the Germans and others too. But the french struggled on with 3. It is not as though they had a completely flat country. Their alps are as good as anyones ! I did read somewhere in a book about French cars that they did think the peasants should not be troubled by too many gears. The 2CV had to cheat a little with a fancy change into 4th to get it approved.
    Jaahn

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    3 Speed was the default on cheap British cars before the war too - Austin seven didn't go to 4 speed until into the thirties

    It all also depends on how it is all thought out - while the 4CV gets a little buzzy and slow on hills, the engineers seem to have got stroke, cam timing and gear ratios all matching nicely so that it plods/buzzes relatively happily up most hills at 60-70k. I dont have to make the grab for first terribly often, as the car just pulls away and does the job, however slowly.

    I do miss having an intermediate high gear ( 3rd on a 4 speed ) to stop it becoming quite so loud and slow at times, but the overall package works pretty well, even with a standard 750 cc motor

    We should give some credit to the engineer who nutted it all out - they produced a very workable package.

    Best Wishes

    Andrew

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