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Old 08-11-2013, 11:57 PM   #1
ronzmtrwrx
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Default Zephyr gears or not?

I'm slowly trying to gather parts for my 39 DeLuxe conv. I am going to be running a 59A with 4" Merc crank, .030 over with mild cam. Not a hot rod by any stretch, just a warmed up reliable mill. Within the pile of parts that I got with the car, there was a very nice 25tooth Zephyr cluster gear, as well as the matching second gear. To make the set complete, I need a 19t main drive gear, which I have located but not bought. My question is this: Is the 39 conv just too heavy a car for this gear set? Tomorrow I will check the rear gear ratio. Keep in mind, I would not spend the bucks to have Zephyr gears just to say I had Zephyr gears. I'm only considering it because I already have two of the three pieces needed. I had thought about a T5 but really don't want to split the bones and cut up the x member. I would rather keep it more trad. Apologies for the long post.
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Old 08-12-2013, 12:08 AM   #2
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Default Re: Zephyr gears or not?

Anyone using zephyr gears today is stuck in the past. They are not for street use and nobody races with them anymore.
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Old 08-12-2013, 01:11 AM   #3
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Default Re: Zephyr gears or not?

First might be a bit high for a heavy car.We still run a 19/25 gearset in a vintage flathead race car which gives a high first and second .Maybe because that what it was originally fitted with and also it only weighs 700 kg.Cheers Geoff
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Old 08-12-2013, 01:19 AM   #4
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Default Re: Zephyr gears or not?

You are brave to ask the question I have done the same and got lost in the fors and against some FBs become almost vitriolic on this subject I am still none the wiser on these gear sets I look forward to reading your replies.
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Old 08-12-2013, 01:36 AM   #5
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Default Re: Zephyr gears or not?

I personally had Zephyr gears in my 32 . They were in the gear box my Dad built for the car years ago. I went ahead and used the trans as it was since I had it with a 3.54 rear gear . I had heard all the hype about Zephyr gears like many of us had . I can tell you it was no fun to drive. Your 39 is a heavier car than my 32 so it would be worse in my opinion . 1st gear was very long and you had to slip the clutch to get rolling. Once you were rolling in 2nd and you had to slow a bit it would want to be back in 1st gear which as we all know, no bueno. With around town driving I either had to stay in 1st longer than I wanted or slow down more than I wanted to get into 1st again.Again , no fun .I have since changed the trans to the normal 28/16 and it is fun to drive as it should be . I know there are people that love them still but I have personally driven both in the same car , back to back , and I would never run them again .
Just my 2c
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Old 08-12-2013, 04:38 AM   #6
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Default Re: Zephyr gears or not?

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I think the post from 1932 V8 is good. I "put-up-with" a 25 tooth set on the street for several months. When a clutch change was necessary I also changed the gears. What I found was a new, different, more pleasant, car with stock Ford gear set.
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Old 08-12-2013, 06:30 AM   #7
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Default Re: Zephyr gears or not?

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Originally Posted by 1932 V8 View Post
I personally had Zephyr gears in my 32 . They were in the gear box my Dad built for the car years ago. I went ahead and used the trans as it was since I had it with a 3.54 rear gear . I had heard all the hype about Zephyr gears like many of us had . I can tell you it was no fun to drive. Your 39 is a heavier car than my 32 so it would be worse in my opinion . 1st gear was very long and you had to slip the clutch to get rolling. Once you were rolling in 2nd and you had to slow a bit it would want to be back in 1st gear which as we all know, no bueno. With around town driving I either had to stay in 1st longer than I wanted or slow down more than I wanted to get into 1st again.Again , no fun .I have since changed the trans to the normal 28/16 and it is fun to drive as it should be . I know there are people that love them still but I have personally driven both in the same car , back to back , and I would never run them again .
Just my 2c
Thanks for the reply. Exactly the type info I was needing. Not what I wanted to hear, but what I suspected to be the case. I have a 47 side shift trans with standard gears in it although the cluster gear has very rounded teeth on the low gear. I may piece together internals based around that setup. It may be that I break down and go the T5 route. This is not a restoration, but rather a car that was hot rodded back in the fifties and sat in a garage from 1961 until last year when I bought it. My plan is to leave it alone for the most part and drive it. Attached is a pic of where it sat when I purchased it. Thanks again. Ron
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Old 08-12-2013, 07:17 AM   #8
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Default Re: Zephyr gears or not?

You might consider buying or looking for another 19t main and sell the set to finance some other project on your car.
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Old 08-12-2013, 08:14 AM   #9
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Default Re: Zephyr gears or not?

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Originally Posted by woodypecker View Post
You might consider buying or looking for another 19t main and sell the set to finance some other project on your car.
I had considered bidding on one that is on eBay right now just for that very reason, but the opening bid is 139.00. I know they are hard to come by. If he doesn't sell his, I may see if he wants to buy my cluster gear as his was busted.
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Old 08-12-2013, 10:59 AM   #10
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Default Re: Zephyr gears or not?

I would just advertise what you have as is, sell it and move on . I had my whole transmission at a swap meet , 39 box , double detent top , etc etc , and know one wanted it for $500.00 . I kept it and sold just the Zephyr gears for $400 .
Great looking 39 . Put it together as is and have lots of fun . That is what I did with my Dads Roadster . I couldn't afford to make it perfect so I just put it together with the parts he had been collecting for over 50 years . We got back a couple of weeks ago from a 2000 mile road trip to Canada and it was the time of our lives . Put a time frame on getting your 39 running and then go for it !!! Once it is a driver enjoy the heck out of it !!!!!!
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Old 08-12-2013, 11:10 AM   #11
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Default Re: Zephyr gears or not?

I read somewhere that the Zephyr gears were to allow the car to finish the quarter mile in 2nd gear. Only one gear change.
True/false?
Also, my car supposedly had the zephyr gears in its tranny. I still have it.
How would I identify them? Count teeth?
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Old 08-12-2013, 11:26 AM   #12
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Default Re: Zephyr gears or not?

I have LZ gears in my 32. It also has 3.54 rear end. The combo is close to the stock gearing used in 60 Chevy full size cars with a 283. I love the combo. The engine will pull smoothly from almost a dead stop in second gear. I have plenty of pick up and also speed on the highway. The lower torque multiple has saved the stock 32 rear. The 3.54 gear has saved the axles. It had a 276 engine built in the 50's. The drivetrain survived the engine. It now has a 274.
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Old 08-12-2013, 01:00 PM   #13
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Default Re: Zephyr gears or not?

My A-V8 has 3.54 rear, have run 16/28 but after putting in 18/26 I like the Lincoln gears much better...
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Old 08-12-2013, 01:00 PM   #14
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Default Re: Zephyr gears or not?

As with anything, it is the overall combination that makes or breaks success.
With zephyr gears the engine has a lot to do with success. You need an engine that has a lot of torque just off idle and yet will turn to a reasonably high rpm.
Most people try to run too high rear end gears which hurts around town driving.
For a good all around combination with zephyr gears you need an overdrive or a 4 or 5 speed transmission.
Back when these gears were popular, a very good combination was the 4.44 rear gears in a Columbia axle. This was a stock setup in the Lincoln's, however, most people got a set of Getz gears for the Ford rear ends because the Lincoln was a hypoid type and were quite a bit heavier and bulkier than the Ford.
The zephyr's can be made to work very well and they are harder to break because of the lower torque multiplication. You still don't have the convenience of all gear synchro as with modern transmissions though.
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Old 08-12-2013, 05:52 PM   #15
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Default Re: Zephyr gears or not?

I think the T-5 is the answer to a flatheaders Dream. Covers all bases, even those with the very low gears are better than the LZ setup. The later T-5 ratios will serve you well both in town driving and out on the interstate,
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Old 08-12-2013, 08:33 PM   #16
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Default Re: Zephyr gears or not?

I have a set of LZ gears in my 47 Ford with 276 motor, 3.78 rear and columbia OD. It,s a 26/18 gear set. I have no problems with it but might like it a little better if the car had a 4.11 rear. The only reason the LZ's are in the car is because some one drove it while I was in the Army ( 1966-1969 ) and took the transmission out. The transmission was on the shop floor when I returned. I bought a set of LZ gears form JC Whitney for the sum of $24.95. The engine was on the shop floor also but that,s another story.
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Old 08-12-2013, 09:57 PM   #17
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Default Re: Zephyr gears or not?

Did a rough check of the rear gear tonight by marking the tire and rotating the driveshaft twice method. Looks like I have 3.78s in it, so looking at the cars weight and this rear gear, I think I should forget using the Zephyr gears. Thank all you guys for responding. I appreciate it. Ron
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Old 08-13-2013, 01:07 PM   #18
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Default Re: Zephyr gears or not?

In the mid '50's I followed the trend to put Zephyr gears (26 tooth) in the trans in my '36 coupe.. The engine is a 59AB, bored .60 over, 1/4" stroke, Weber F-1 cam, Offy Super intake, modified heads, HC ignition. The rear axle is a Columbia w/3.78 gearing, 600x16 tires...
The Zephyr gears were the pits, had to slip the clutch to get the thing going.. I removed the trans, which was a '41 column shift, replaced same with a '48 Merc, 28 tooth trans... It worked great.. Did a lot of street racing with the car, and on more than one occasion I ran it on a drag strip.. I finally blew that trans up in Aug. 1960.. I had it rebuilt, never had another problem with it... Of course I quit street/strip racing the car..
I knew several other guys that had the same experience with Zephyr gears.. A cousin put Zephyr gears in his '40 coupe which had "bigs/littles" ie. 820's on the back, 550's front.. The "Dago'd" look was just coming into vogue.. The car would hardly pull it's self..
Possibly the only people that had much luck with Zephyr gears were people with light roadsters and/or guys that did nothing but drag strip racing.. Of course when overhead valve engines started to become the rage in the early '60's, the LaSalle transmissions replaced the Ford trans..
Zephyr gears are another one of the old myths, like washers in the upper hoses, cutting every other blade off of the water pump impeller and blocking the heat risers...
We did it because "THEY SAID TO DO IT" Never have figured out who "They" were...
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Old 08-14-2013, 09:54 AM   #19
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Default Re: Zephyr gears or not?

After reading through the varying opinions, I think the best route for me to go is to build a top shift trans with the internals from the side shift trans I have. Now this brings me to another question. I checked the rear end and it has 3.78s in it. I plan to run a 6.50x16 rear tire. The side shift trans has the 29/15 gearset in it. Shouldn't this be a decent combination or should I track down a 28/16 gearset?
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Old 08-14-2013, 11:12 AM   #20
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Default Re: Zephyr gears or not?

It is the stock combination so it will be fine. The only difference is he slightly larger tires.
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Old 08-14-2013, 01:20 PM   #21
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Default Re: Zephyr gears or not?

From your original posting to start this topic you stated that the car was altered in the '50's and sat in a garage from 1961 until you purchased it..
If this is the case why are you trying to reinvent the wheel.. Why not bring it back to normal '50's configuration.. A column shift using a '40 column is generally a bolt in application... You could keep the stock wheels/hub caps. Since the '39's had hydraulic brakes you don't need to spend money on a brake conversion.. You could upgrade the backing plates, etc. to '42-48 for improved braking.. The 650x16 tires might possibly be to large for the '39 wheels.. Radial of the same/close size to the 600x16's would work well.
I put a column shift assembly in my car in 1953.. Works great, added seat room... I'll never take it out..
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Old 08-14-2013, 04:11 PM   #22
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Default Re: Zephyr gears or not?

Where were you when I needed you back in 1979?
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Old 08-14-2013, 04:41 PM   #23
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Default Re: Zephyr gears or not?

Quote:
Originally Posted by ronzmtrwrx View Post
After reading through the varying opinions, I think the best route for me to go is to build a top shift trans with the internals from the side shift trans I have. Now this brings me to another question. I checked the rear end and it has 3.78s in it. I plan to run a 6.50x16 rear tire. The side shift trans has the 29/15 gearset in it. Shouldn't this be a decent combination or should I track down a 28/16 gearset?
Hey Ron; Go with the 29/15, is what I plan to run in my 39 fordor, with a bit larger engine, and a taller tire, I have several sets on 28/16. but I went shopping for the 29/15 for better off the line. ( not a street racer ) now.
As vet of the 50's street rod and 25 zephyrs in a 34 three window, dam I wish I still had that car today... Like others have said, not easy to drive in the city, today. and like blucar said the side shifter in your 39 would be a neat stand out, and easy to do, all stock parts ?? sell the zephyrs, and be winner ....OLD....BILL
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