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Old 02-23-2020, 01:15 AM   #1
Cool Kat with Hot Car
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Default Columbias can break your Heart

Having a V8 equipped with a Columbia two-speed axle greatly enhances the driving experience. There is nothing quite like hitting the open road and shifting from standard to overdrive. The V8 drops in rpm, the engine smooths out, and all is right with the world. This is especially gratifying if you have rebuilt the unit yourself. But, like many of the finer things in life, a dark almost evil side exists in many a Columbia's mechanical heart. So, you have decided that a two-speed should be a part of your machine. First you have to find one. You might purchase one from a friend or fellow V8er. You might buy one at a swap meet or from a classified ad. You might pluck one from a parts car. You might have one that came with your car. But beware! Under the shiny black paint of a "rebuilt" Columbia, or hidden behind the grease and rust of a field find, lies many a trap ready to ruin your overdrive dream. For no matter how smoothly a Columbia in the wild spins, or how nicely it seems to shift by hand, you have no idea of the true condition of the many internal component parts. Unless you possess X-Ray vision beware of the lure of an unexamined Columbia. Enjoy the pictures, they represent fatal flaws that only become known after a complete dissection.
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Old 02-23-2020, 01:27 AM   #2
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Default Re: Columbias can break your Heart

Under the shiny black paint of a PROPERLY rebuilt Columbia is what is commonly known as and referred to as "bulletproofing".
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Old 02-23-2020, 07:53 AM   #3
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Default Re: Columbias can break your Heart

Rumbleseat, bless his sole had a great story about his issues with the "Bulletproofed" Columbia in his '34 that he drove all over the country. The last one about his trip to NH was a classic of survival on the interstate. After reading that story, and understanding Rumbleseat's knowhow, I sold the Bulletproofed Columbia I was prepping for the '40 coupe. Instead I got a set of 3:54s, rebuilt the engine w/a 4" crank and had it balanced. So now I can wind down the road with flatmotor singing, and not have to be concerned about gremlins out back.
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Old 02-23-2020, 08:36 AM   #4
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Default Re: Columbias can break your Heart

Attached are the two of Rumbleseat's articles involving Columbias. Enjoy!


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File Type: pdf gears.pdf (101.4 KB, 52 views)
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Old 02-23-2020, 09:04 AM   #5
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Default Re: Columbias can break your Heart

I remember hearing what happened to Rumbleseat in NH....I believe on his way to ol' Ron's in Vermont. I was hoping to finally meet Rumbleseat in person at ol' Ron's on our tour of NE, but he didn't show before we had to depart for the next leg of out tour.

HOWEVER, I did manage to get two bowls of Ol' Ron's famous, award winning Chili, which I also got a copy of the recipe for....when I bought a copy of his book about 20 yrs ago
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Old 02-23-2020, 09:55 AM   #6
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Default Re: Columbias can break your Heart

I have found inside, just one, rebuilt and bullet proofed Columbia:
duct tape loosely wrapped around one axle inside the clutch

The oil passage, to the planet gears, ground open
Missing oil baffle ring
Defective rivets.
Improper assembly bolts ( too long causing binding )

A banded housing with LOTS of metal chips installed without cleaning.

If your going to buy a Columbia I would suggest buying from one of the 5 major rebuilders, you cant go wrong! Or buy one of their documented rebuilds.

2 in California
1 in Arizona
1 in Minnesota
1 in Tennessee.
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Old 02-23-2020, 10:40 AM   #7
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Two words that get you over the pitfalls in the Columbia world...DAN KREHBIEL....
Temecula Calif. Dan is in the V8 Club roster. I re-bullet proofed my Columbia and
did a one phone call gathering of critical parts thanks to Dan. When I pulled my Colum down after granading it behind my stroker motor I was sick. I called Dan and felt my
blood pressure level off. If you have a Columbia issue call him you will see.
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Old 02-23-2020, 11:09 AM   #8
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Default Re: Columbias can break your Heart

Some day I will own a Columbia rear. Just makes so much sense on so many levels.

My 50th birthday is coming up and my wife has been asking me what I want. Hmmmm.

Last edited by Tim Ayers; 02-23-2020 at 09:33 PM.
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Old 02-23-2020, 11:36 AM   #9
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Default Re: Columbias can break your Heart

In 2006 I spent a month with Paul Garagan (Rumbleseat). In 2003 my wife and i spent a week in Colorado, I got a 70 birthday present, a ride on the Durango Silverton NGRR. We flew into Denver and drove there. I was so impressed with the state, I just had to go back and spend some time there, so we started saving for a trip. Unfortunately, my wife passed away in 2005. uring 2006 I made arrangements to go to Bville with Paul, we would tour the state for several weeks before the races in his 34 roadster.
Everything went off very well, we went places with the roadster that would make a mountain goat think twice, and the columbia worked just fine. I asked Paul if he ever thought the columbis was worth the effort. his answer was, he really liked the way it operated but the reliability factor and the expense, as well as the down time was wearing thin and if it went again he'd replace it. I asked with what? He said not sure, not many options. I miss him, great guy.

gramps

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Old 02-23-2020, 12:47 PM   #10
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Default Re: Columbias can break your Heart

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Originally Posted by Ol' Ron View Post
In 2006 I spent a month with Paul Garagan (Rumbleseat). In 2003 my wife and i spent a week in Colorado, I got a 70 birthday present, a ride on the Durango Silverton NGRR. We flew into Denver and drove there. I was so impressed with the state, I just had to go back and spend some time there, so we started saving for a trip. Unfortunately, my wife passed away in 2005. uring 2006 I made arrangements to go to Bville with Paul, we would tour the state for several weeks before the races in his 34 roadster.
Everything went off very well, we went places with the roadster that would make a mountain goat think twice, and the columbia worked just fine. I asked Paul if he ever thought the columbis was worth the effort. his answer was, he really liked the way it operated but the reliability factor and the expense, as well as the down time was wearing thin and if it went again he'd replace it. I asked with what? He said not sure, not many options. I miss him, great guy.

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I remember you's two stirrin'-up the old car world with your shenanigans. Hard to believe that was all the way back in 2006. DD
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Old 02-23-2020, 12:56 PM   #11
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Default Re: Columbias can break your Heart

I've installed 5 columbia's in other peoples cars (none of my own) Each time I have John Conelly has supllied me with everything need. Not cheap but well worth the expense. Saving my pennies for one for my 1940 Coupe.. Both he and Dan Krehbiel are long time Early V-8 Club supporters and both are pleasant to deal with. I think behind closed doors, they both work with each other in supplying parts for these.

Here is his site. http://www.columbiatwospeedparts.com...peed-parts.cfm
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Old 02-23-2020, 02:08 PM   #12
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Default Re: Columbias can break your Heart

I think the columbia is a great rear, I'll admit that it worked flawlessly and I'm sure he had it rebuilt several times by someone else. Pauls problem was, the engine was not stock and you had to be careful how you used it. Driving it through the mountains, he didn't shift it, only when we got onto a good road did we use the overdrive. This was one reason I went for the RTS and Spicer 44. Less cost better axles, posi and it got rid of the 5 on 5 1/2 bolt pattern. And my flatty can't hurt it.
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Old 02-23-2020, 04:25 PM   #13
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Default Re: Columbias can break your Heart

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I've installed 5 columbia's in other peoples cars (none of my own) Each time I have John Conelly has supllied me with everything need. Not cheap but well worth the expense. Saving my pennies for one for my 1940 Coupe.. Both he and Dan Krehbiel are long time Early V-8 Club supporters and both are pleasant to deal with. I think behind closed doors, they both work with each other in supplying parts for these.

Here is his site. http://www.columbiatwospeedparts.com...peed-parts.cfm
I'm with you Michael. In fact, Mr. Connelly is currently going over one for me. It'll end up in my '36 roadster.
I've worked with John for perhaps over twenty years. Each time a pleasure...
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Old 02-23-2020, 04:55 PM   #14
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Default Re: Columbias can break your Heart

I ran a C in a 40 cpe for several years with both flathead and Olds engines, actually used the cpe to pull our dirt track race car and never had a problem and that was before there were rebuilders around. I now have two that have been improved and three that were good originals to begin with. These things were designed for the Fords they are in with up to 100 hp engines. When you go above that and make hard shifts, things can happen or when you let the lub get too low.
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Old 02-24-2020, 09:53 AM   #15
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Default Re: Columbias can break your Heart

I rebuilt 2 columbia axles for my Auburns, both had cracked parts that needed welding and machining. These axles work well, but the instruction books say "CHANGE GEAR AT SLOW SPEEDS BELOW 40 MPH".
I'm sure the damage is caused where owners have disregarded these instructions.
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Old 02-24-2020, 09:59 AM   #16
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Default Re: Columbias can break your Heart

Quote:
Originally Posted by 35fordtn View Post
Each time I have John Conelly has supllied me with everything need. Both he and Dan Krehbiel are long time Early V-8 Club supporters and both are pleasant to deal with. I think behind closed doors, they both work with each other in supplying parts for these.

Here is his site. http://www.columbiatwospeedparts.com...peed-parts.cfm


I have only dealt with John and he is great to work with. I also believe he and Dan work together designing and making new parts for the Columbia
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Old 02-24-2020, 10:04 AM   #17
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Default Re: Columbias can break your Heart

I have three Columbia’s in service and all are just a great addition to my driving pleasure!
Gear ratios: 4.44:1,4.11:1 and 3.78:1
As was mentioned, proper oil level is critical.
I have met Dan Krehbiel and John Connelly at their homes and they are both knowledgeable and friendly gentlemen. Ted
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Old 02-24-2020, 01:57 PM   #18
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Default Re: Columbias can break your Heart

Off topic a bit....but I did the "poor man's" version of overdrive in my Avatar '35 fordor last Summer. Put the later '39-'48 synco gears, 29 tooth cluster, & 15 tooth input gear/shaft in original '35 case, plus 3.54:1 rear gears. This combination works great for starting off in first and then winds out for a good long time in second and can cruise all day in third at @ 65, or more if I care to, averaging ~ 18 mpg. I'm now sorta thinking 3.25:1 rear gears may have been even better.
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Old 02-24-2020, 06:27 PM   #19
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Default Re: Columbias can break your Heart

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Originally Posted by JM 35 Sedan View Post
Off topic a bit....but I did the "poor man's" version of overdrive in my Avatar '35 fordor last Summer. Put the later '39-'48 synco gears, 29 tooth cluster, & 15 tooth input gear/shaft in original '35 case, plus 3.54:1 rear gears. This combination works great for starting off in first and then winds out for a good long time in second and can cruise all day in third at @ 65, or more if I care to, averaging ~ 18 mpg. I'm now sorta thinking 3.25:1 rear gears may have been even better.
I endorse the tall gear concept. Because of Interstate cruising at 60+, I considered going to a Columbia or Mitchell, but took the less complicated and cheaper route. Went to 3.25 gears and am very pleased with both performance and mileage. I thought I might have to go to a 29 tooth cluster but that is totally not necessary. Caveat: I have a big inch engine with lots of low end torque. Would not recommend such tall gears with a stock or weak engine.
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Old 02-24-2020, 07:06 PM   #20
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Default Re: Columbias can break your Heart

Drolston, I'm running an "almost" basically stock '35 babbitt mains engine, that's bored .030" over, with shaved decks, and heads, and enough
valve and piston clearance to do the rpm's this engine was designed to do originally. It still pulls very strong like some of it's bigger brothers with the gears I installed last summer, and I believe it would have no problems with 3.25 rear gears, except the engine speed may get a bit too low at some highway speeds on high temperature days, for proper cooling. Right now it wants to settle in at 175-180° at the highway speeds I normally like to travel.
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