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Old 10-17-2019, 01:17 PM   #1
pgerhardt
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Default Smooth Shifting The Model A

I am the newsletter editor for our model A club, the Fairfield County (CT) A's. I have written this short article to help members who may be having trouble smoothly shifting their model A. Since I certainly do not want to give members bad information I am first posting the article here for fact checking. Please let me know if I have gotten anything wrong. Thanks in advance!

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If you want to consistently shift your model A smoothly, forget about “double clutching”!

Now let me be perfectly clear. I am not talking about the act of double clutching, but just the term “double clutching”. It is misleading, in that it leads one to believe the there is some magic involved in pushing the clutch pedal twice. I have seen some who are having trouble shifting, try triple clutching! I guess they figure if two is good, then three must be even better!

Smoothly shifting the model A every time does involve pushing the clutch pedal twice. But that is a side effect of executing the proper procedure, not the goal. The process of smoothly shifting the model A is more accurately described as: “clutch, neutral, clutch”. It is a three step process, not two.

1. Clutch out of gear
2. “De-clutch” (foot off the pedal) in neutral
3. Clutch into the next gear

Don’t worry the model A will normally have plenty of momentum to accomplish the three steps without rushing. In fact trying to “speed shift” the model A will most likely lead to a noisy disappointment.

These three steps work every time when up-shifting. Actually, if up-shifted at a low enough speed (both vehicle speed and the speed of your shift) the model A can be smoothly up-shifted without any special techniques. However this can result in “lugging” the engine.

Down-shifting is a four step process.
1. Clutch out of (third) gear
2. “De-clutch” in neutral
3. Give the throttle a good “blip” twice
4. Clutch into (second) gear

You will be amazed and pleased to see how well this works. However since this will usually happen when you are going up a hill, you will run out of momentum much faster, and you need to practice these steps until they can be done quickly. In addition no amount of special shifting technique will allow you to smoothly downshift into second if you are going too fast. Just stay at step 3 (in neural blipping the throttle) until gravity slows you enough to smoothly slip into second. With practice and experience you will get a feel for when to down-shift into second.

Both the up-shift and down-shift steps should practiced until they become muscle memory, and second nature.

The above advice is for those who are still trying to master shifting the model A. Those of you who have been driving the model A (and “double clutching”) for years just keep on doing what you have been doing. You have most likely developed the technique, muscle memory, and timing to accomplish the steps listed above without thinking about it. The next time you “double clutch” take notice of what you are doing. I’ll bet you will find that your foot is in the air while the transmission in neutral, and then comes down to clutch for the next gear.

Happy shifting!
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Old 10-17-2019, 01:25 PM   #2
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Default Re: Smooth Shifting The Model A

Excellent write-up! Although, I had a Jeep once that needed to be triple clutched. The master cylinder was bad and you'd have to pump up the clutch before it would shift
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Old 10-17-2019, 01:31 PM   #3
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Default Re: Smooth Shifting The Model A

I like how you layed it out. Very clear.
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Old 10-17-2019, 01:33 PM   #4
Curtis in MA
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Default Re: Smooth Shifting The Model A

I find that it is more timing (letting the engine slow down) than double clutching. Going from first to second I put the clutch in, shift to neutral, pause, shift to second.
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Old 10-17-2019, 01:43 PM   #5
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Default Re: Smooth Shifting The Model A

I had a friend who bought a Jaguar with a bad hydraulic clutch It took about 6 pumps to make it work! It also leaked oil onto the exhaust manifold which resulted in blue smoke coming out of the hood louvers. It made for an exciting ride. But that was way back in the 1970's when we were young, and things like that did not phase us!
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Old 10-17-2019, 01:48 PM   #6
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Default Re: Smooth Shifting The Model A

Quote:
Originally Posted by Curtis in MA View Post
I find that it is more timing (letting the engine slow down) than double clutching. Going from first to second I put the clutch in, shift to neutral, pause, shift to second.
Step 3 throttle blipping (rev matching) lets you complete the down-shift a little sooner than just waiting in neutral for the engine to slow down.

But as I said, if it is working for you, keep doing what you are doing!
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Old 10-17-2019, 01:53 PM   #7
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Default Re: Smooth Shifting The Model A

Could someone go into a little more detail on "blip the throttle twice"? I've been struggling with the downshift, specifically when I need to slow down to make a turn or come to a 4-way stop, and I don't want to come to a full stop, but I'm under the threshold for 3rd gear. I try to get into 2nd, but I can't find the right rpm.
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Old 10-17-2019, 02:00 PM   #8
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Default Re: Smooth Shifting The Model A

Just keep practicing. I've found it usually takes more throttle than I think, don't be afraid to give it a good rev. If I turn onto a side road I'm usually doing 15-20 and that takes a good rev to get into 2nd. More than a quick blip. Remember, you need to just about double the engine speed and spin up that 63lb flywheel before it'll go down into 2nd.
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Old 10-17-2019, 02:15 PM   #9
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Default Re: Smooth Shifting The Model A

When downshifting to second one needs to remember the huge gap in ratios between second and 3rd or high gear. That is why, unless you are going quite slow, you will need to give it a healthy blip...probably more than you think. I often slow down for the corner, and while exiting it do the downshift to second. Once you get used to it, it goes very quickly. To me, it is easier while exiting....
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Old 10-17-2019, 02:25 PM   #10
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Default Re: Smooth Shifting The Model A

You can make this easier to understand if you say if you are up shifting or down shifting. For up shifting, no need to ever double clutch. It does nothing. Many people do let the clutch up in neutral, but there is no need to. You only have to take your time and hesitate while in neutral until the ending speed comes down a bit. If you are in a hurry, you are in the wrong car.
Now on down shifting, you should master the art of double clutching. You have to spin the engine in neutral to the higher rpm that it needs to match the lower gear it must mate with. You don’t have to do this twice unless you missed it the first time. No need for two blips.
I have a YouTube video on shifting, and another one on double clutching. It is very hard to explain how to double clutch. I have tried. It seems to be Greek to the student until they understand what the gears are doing. Good luck on your project.
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Old 10-17-2019, 03:07 PM   #11
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Default Re: Smooth Shifting The Model A

Quote:
Originally Posted by alexiskai View Post
Could someone go into a little more detail on "blip the throttle twice"? I've been struggling with the downshift, specifically when I need to slow down to make a turn or come to a 4-way stop, and I don't want to come to a full stop, but I'm under the threshold for 3rd gear. I try to get into 2nd, but I can't find the right rpm.
Note the RPM drop in the exhaust sound when up shifting from 2nd to 3rd. Now when downshifting from 3rd to 2nd you want to "rev match" the exhaust sound of second gear as you push into 2nd by blipping the throttle.
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Old 10-17-2019, 03:26 PM   #12
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Default Re: Smooth Shifting The Model A

I like that, matching the rev exhaust sound. That should people understand.
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Old 10-17-2019, 03:38 PM   #13
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Default Re: Smooth Shifting The Model A

Problem is I'm typically going into 3rd at a higher speed than I'm coming out of it. But I appreciate the idea.
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Old 10-17-2019, 04:48 PM   #14
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Default Re: Smooth Shifting The Model A

Hi Gents,
I believe the common mistake is to try to gear down before the turn as in modern cars. In old cars, without sincro, slow down before the corner, execute the turn and only then gear down to second. There should be no rush to gear down in a vintage car.
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Old 10-17-2019, 05:11 PM   #15
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Default Re: Smooth Shifting The Model A

Quote:
Originally Posted by Floats View Post
Hi Gents,
I believe the common mistake is to try to gear down before the turn as in modern cars. In old cars, without sincro, slow down before the corner, execute the turn and only then gear down to second. There should be no rush to gear down in a vintage car.
Floats,

I agree completely with your analysis. Some people down shift in order to use the engine to help slow down the car. The faster the car is going the higher you have to rev the engine to downshift a non-synchromesh transmission which makes it more difficult to downshift.

You correctly point out that you only need to downshift to accelerate out of the turn after you have slowed down and made the turn.

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Old 10-17-2019, 05:15 PM   #16
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Default Re: Smooth Shifting The Model A

Quote:
Originally Posted by Curtis in MA View Post
I find that it is more timing (letting the engine slow down) than double clutching. Going from first to second I put the clutch in, shift to neutral, pause, shift to second.
To me this is all it is. I do not believe the clutch pedal being mashed twice does anything but give time for engine rpms to drop and match transmission speed. Gearing down is done more with the throttle than clutch.

When I drove a tractor trailer I would sometimes change gears, up and down without using the clutch to show newer drivers how it was timing more than anything. I did not abuse the clutch or transmission. Do anything long enough and you should get good at it. Some people, NO!!!!!
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Old 10-17-2019, 05:31 PM   #17
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Default Re: Smooth Shifting The Model A

In England the term is "double de clutching" and also in the rest of the UK . I dont know what term is used in the Antipodies (is that spelt right ???) I automatically double de clutch or is that declutch when changing gear especially downshifting. I am way too old to change now but I can see it would work fine when you get the "knack".

John in no weather today it was cancelled Suffolk County England .
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Old 10-17-2019, 06:05 PM   #18
Ernie Vitucci
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Default Re: Smooth Shifting The Model A

John is just plain cool! Especially when he comes to Arizona....Ernie in Arizona
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Old 10-17-2019, 06:33 PM   #19
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Default Re: Smooth Shifting The Model A

Hi Ernie the weather never gets cancelled in sunny Arizona !!!

John still in Suffolk County England .
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Old 10-17-2019, 06:41 PM   #20
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Default Re: Smooth Shifting The Model A

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Hi Ernie the weather never gets cancelled in sunny Arizona !!!

John still in Suffolk County England .
John,

I suspect you've never been to Arizona in Summer! We never go to the Coachella Valley in Summer when the average temperature is over 100 degrees for three straight months.

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