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Side Shift Transmission question.

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rusty1c Avatar
rusty1c Peter D
Antioch, CA, USA   USA
1961 Austin-Healey 3000 BT7 "RUBY"
1963 Chevrolet C10 "Rusty"
Hello fellow Healeyans,
The car has been on the road now for a few months and I've racked up about 1200 miles. When the car was restored I had the side cover removed and the gearbox inspected by a very reputable Healey shop. The owner of the business said every thing looked really good and there were no chipped teeth or any metal shavings in the bottom. He said it didn't need a rebuild. Small issues appear every now and then with the gearbox.

I noticed that when I wind the engine up under hard acceleration and quickly shift to a higher gear I get a small "grind" noise as the gears mesh. This happens when shifting UP to 3rd and 4th. Under normal shifting this doesn't occur. Is this normal? If not I'm suspecting the synchros are worn.

Also have a problem down shifting into second while moving and sometimes finding 1st after coming to a stop. It feels like there is a wall present that is preventing me from going into either of these gears. The only way I can get it into gear when this happens is to double clutch a number of times which doesn't always work or put some pressure on the gear stick and slowly engage the clutch. This seems to allow things to move or align then it goes into gear. Again is this synchro related?
Other than those two issues the gearbox operates smoothly and there are no noises what so ever. If it's not the synchros what else should I look for? I'm going to pull it apart this winter and do a thorough inspection.

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bluecatmodels Avatar
bluecatmodels Silver Member Dave W
Three Rivers, CA, USA   USA
Hi Peter,
I had some of the same problems. What oil are you using in the transmission? I switched to Red Line MTL; it's a little pricey but it seems to make a difference.

sliproc Avatar
sliproc Kevin Quistberg E
Long Beach, CA, USA   USA

The operation of your tranny sounds pretty normal. In trannies of that era synchros were still relatively new and very beatable, that is to say when you quick shift it you can still nick the gears. As far as 1st gear is concerned it has no synchro, you'll just have to feel for it. In a road test from that era the tranny was described as a broomstick in a bucket of oatmeal. I'd say your mechanic was right, everything seems OK.

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HBJ83341 Avatar
HBJ83341 Warren Voth
El Cajon, CA, USA   USA
Hey Peter,

Keep in mind that your tranny is over fifty years old. The "chirping" sound is most likely producing minute metal shavings which your transmission really hates when you do that. Minute shavings have a habit of creating bigger shavings. And then "ka-pow"... you'll be spending intimate, unromantic evenings with your transmission. Keep in mind that your transmission and overdrive share the same oil. Now your overdrive hates metal shavings to the point it makes your transmission look like it loves them. Transmission gears are not getting easier, or cheaper, to find. And finding good overdrive parts is even tougher. Think "whats in your wallet?"

I'm the last person to tell you not to have fun in your Healey. You might want to think about a conversion with a Toyota five speed which will allow you the fun you want with modern gears. Think about it. I have a '66 BJ8 with a spare transmission and overdrive stashed in a corner in the garage. It's my ace in the hole.

Good luck with your Healey and have fun,


603000 Daniel S
Addison, IL, USA   USA
All Healey gearboxes are non synchronized in 1st gear and reverse. seasoned Healeyers developed the habit of putting the car into a synchro gear ,at a stop, first then sliding into first or reverse. This method gets the 1st motion shaft moving enough to allow alignment of first and reverse. There are times when at a complete stop that first gear can drop in easy ... this is due to the chance alignment of the gear set ... it is usually not the norm and a sychro gear should be used to allow 1st gear at a stop. As a side note with the standard rear axle gear (3.9 for overdrive cars) most Healey drivers will choose to start off in 2nd gear from a stop on level ground every time. Try it and you will see that it works quite well due to the 6 cylinder engines high torque value.
Dan Samyn

paullw paul w
lutterworth, leicestershire, UK   GBR
I would just make sure you don't have a slight clutch drag , this could be caused by faulty clutch....oil on clutch....hydraulic clutch system has air in it. Etc

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