Help. Saginaw problem. [Archive] - Team Camaro Tech

: Help. Saginaw problem.

Matt M.
Dec 5th, 07, 02:19 PM
I wanted to test my Saginaw 4-speed before I bolted it to my motor. (This is a new-to-me used Saginaw.) On the garage floor, I tried to shift through the gears. 3rd and 4th are perfect and easy to find. 1st and 2nd are okay, but itís hard to find neutral. I canít seem to get it into reverse.

This is a used Saginaw with a Hurst Competition shifter.
When I got the tranny, the cover was loosely bolted on (had been opened to inspect the gears).
I put a new gasket on the cover and bolted the cover on. When I did, it seemed strange that the ball bearing (detent ball) just sat there on top of the spring. There were two indentations where the ball sits (on the reverse shifter assembly), but the ball seems to move around in there.
To get it bolted together I had to hold the shaft in the cover to keep the detent ball in place. All this seemed fishy and now it wonít shift into reverse.

Any advice?


Matt M.
Dec 5th, 07, 02:29 PM
I forgot to mention that I think the tranny is stuck in reverse. When I shift to 1st, 2nd, 3rd, or 4th, I can’t turn the input or output shaft. When I shift to neutral, I can spin the input, but the output turns the opposite direction.

Matt M.
Dec 5th, 07, 02:49 PM
Maybe I mounted the reverse upside down. Right now, the open hole is pointed down. Should it point up? Sorry I don't have a picture.

Dec 5th, 07, 06:34 PM
Yes, reverse points up, 1-2 & 3-4 point down. In fact, by having the shift levers on the shift forks, this will hold the shift forks in place on the cover and aid in installing the forks onto the synchro sliders. Don't force the cover into place.

Turning input shaft in neutral, output shaft may turn because of friction from the bearings. Not a bad thing, a hand on the output shaft will stop rotation.

Do shift the trans by hand on the bench while turning the input shaft and view/feel the output shaft turn at a different rpm. Make sure the trans works before going into place. A Saginaw is heavy on the chest, cast iron case & tailhousing, underneath the car and going up into place. It does help to have the clutch plate centered about the flywheel and pressure plate. You want the trans to meet/touch the bellhousing before bolting the trans into place.

Using two long, 4"-6" cheap bolts with the heads cut off can be guide pins. Check the fit of the input bearing retainer into the bellhousing for proper fit.

Have you changed anything inside the trans?
Good time to change the rear seal to insure it doesn't leak along with a smooth yoke, emery paper on the yoke?

Matt M.
Dec 6th, 07, 01:20 AM

Thanks for the help. It sounds like I have all the shift lever in the wrong position. That would explain why reverse was down and not up. Here is a picture of the current setup.

I pulled the cover off tonight and repositioned the detent ball. That freed up reverse and I went through the gears again. Itís weird. In neutral, the input shaft turns the output shaft at a 1 to 1 ratio. (I assumed it would isolate the input and output. And this wasnít friction, I tried holding one and spinning the other and they turned together.)

Next I shifted to 1st, 2nd 3rd and 4th to see if the gear ratio was different. For each gear, it looked like a 1 to 1 again. (I marked the input and output so I could tell if they were turning at different rates.)

Next, I shifted to reverse and I couldnít turn either the input or outputóthey were stuck good.

Iíll will reposition the shift levers and try everything again.


Dec 6th, 07, 05:18 AM
3-4 rod is backwards. Adjustment is on the shifter, not the trans.

Remove the cover, place everything in neutral, and start there. Once you find neutral, then mount cover.

Matt M.
Dec 6th, 07, 09:28 AM
Only the 3-4 rod? All three rods are like that (the adjustment end is at the transmission). Here is a better picture.

I tried flipping the reverse lever (at the transmission) and it didnít seem to fit because the adjustment nut hits the cover. I didnít think to turn the rod around.

Okay, so let me talk my way through this.
1) 3-4 shift lever (at the tranny) is in the correct positionóup (or do I call that down).
2) 1-2 shift lever is in the correct position.
3) N-Reverse shift lever is upside down.
4) The adjustment bolt/nuts should be at the shifter. This would put the clips at the tranny.
5) Pull the cover and put everything in neutral.
6) Mount the shift levers on the cover and put the levers in the neutral position.
7) Install the cover and hook up the rods.

I wish I had a reference picture to go by.

Thanks for the help.

Farm Boy
Dec 6th, 07, 09:45 AM
Here is what is should look like. This is a Hurst Competition Plus shifter with the correct install kit for a 67-68 Camaro. I ran this transmission for over 20 years in my 67 before I replaced it with a Muncie.

Farm Boy
Dec 6th, 07, 10:11 AM
The shifter in your picture is incorrect for a 67-68 Camaro and most likely incorrect for a 69. Your shifter is mounted too far back and too high on the transmission.

Here are the installation instructions for the 67-68 Camaro shifter in my picture.

Matt M.
Dec 6th, 07, 10:34 AM
Thanks for the picture Steve. That really helps.

Wow, one step forward and 2 steps back.

My Saginaw looks different than yours—at least the tail shaft looks different. I’m not sure if mine came from a Camaro. My uncle-in-law bought it for me and he said it came off a first-gen, but the bellhousing wasn’t right and now it looks like the shifter isn’t right.

Maybe that’s 4 steps back.

The number on my Shifter body is 391-5401. I looked it up on the Hurst site and it says it is compatable with a 441 Saginaw for Chevy, GM and pickups. (But it wasn’t listed under the Camaro section. The Hurst site is hard to navigate and I couldn’t really tell if it is right for Camaros.)

Now I wondering what to do. Do I buy a new shifter? Should I look for a new shifter plate, shift levers and rods? Or do I bite the bullet and buy a TKO 600 and use the Saginaw as a boat anchor. . .

BTW, my car is a ’67.

Dec 6th, 07, 12:47 PM
I would doctor up the shifter, turn the lever around, (knee bend should be facing dash) and save money for TKO. You wil have to use a fine spline disc, All tko's come 26 spline.

Matt M.
Dec 6th, 07, 03:57 PM
Thanks Don.

Yeah, the knee bend was my mistake . . . 2am, no caffeine . . . etc.

I haven't seen a 4-speed installed in a '67 so I don't know if there is room for this different shifter. Do you think the shifter will fit?

I don't want to cut the tunnel (enlarge the original hole). Maybe I'll just go for it and see what happens.

Dec 6th, 07, 04:18 PM
also to make it easier on you
with the shifter in neutral look for a small hole on the side of the shifter.
(i think its a 3/8 hole)
a rod should fit through the hole to align the linkages properly