Ford Transmission Removal - 1932 to 1948

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A common question is how does one go about removing their early Ford three speed transmission in their passenger car or light truck. Since the cars and trucks used the enclosed driveshaft (torque tube) through 1948 and up through 1942 respectively, this presents some unique challenges to consider. We will attempt to provide an simplified explanation here.

As with any mechanical repair job, common sense and safety are the first things to pull out of your toolbox. A shortcut can result in damage to your vehicle or, worse yet, serious injury to you or your helpers. Work smart!

Your transmission can be removed along with the engine if you so desire. However, this webpage will be devoted to the removal by itself, leaving the engine in the vehicle. The exception to this is the 1932 model, which requires the removal of the engine and trans together from the front.

Some of the work will have to be done from underneath the car. In order to gain sufficient working space for you and perhaps a creeper cart, you may wish to raise the vehicle up by placing it on jack stands. If you decide to do this, please use only high quality steel stands with adequate weight capacity, placed on a concrete surface and in solid contact with the vehicle frame in four locations, towards the ends of the vehicle. Use a floor jack to raise the vehicle in order to place the jack stands under the frame rails. Make sure that the vehicle is in solid contact with each of the four stands, and does not rock or move with any modest effort on your part. A safety tip is to leave a 2 ton floor jack in partial contact with the frame to provide a back-up in case a jack stand fails.

You will be moving the rear axle and differential toward the back of the car. It helps if you can substitute a pair of steel 15" or 16" wheels (without tires) for your rear wheels. This will allow you to roll the axle towards the back of the car, with the tire-less wheels rolling backward into the rear fender wells. Some people have substituted homemade "wheels" constructed of thick plywood, drilled for the lug nut bolt pattern, that are large enough in diameter to let the brake drums and rear end banjo assembly clear the floor.

It's also a good idea to drain the transmission lubricant to save the weight of the fluid, and to prevent the lubricant from dripping out the front or back if tipped during removal.

The general procedure is to disconnect the rear axle/differential and torque tube assembly from its connections to the chassis. This allows you to roll it back as one assembly, which frees it from the transmission. Then, the transmission and its connections can be separated from the engine and chassis. Once freed of the chassis, the transmission can be pulled straight backward, separating its input shaft from the clutch, and then lifted out from above. 

Here are the step-by-step procedures for the transmission removal:

A) Disconnect the vehicle battery. 
B) Disconnect the two rear shock absorbers from their mounting to the frame. 
C) Support the rear axle/banjo housing with a rolling hydraulic floor jack. 
D) Loosen and remove the 5705 spring clip (u-bolt) nuts, releasing the spring and rear end from the frame. 
E) Disconnect the flexible hydraulic brake line for the rear brakes. If the vehicle has mechanical brakes, disconnect 
     the brake rods/cables at the rear wheels. Disconnect the parking brake cable.
F) Disconnect the speedometer cable from the connection on the torque tube (near the front). 
G) Place another hydraulic jack under the rear end of the oil pan, with a piece of wood big enough to
     support the engine under the oil pan. Pump the jack up just enough to take some of the weight of the engine. 
H) Disconnect the clutch linkage from the transmission's clutch release shaft. 
 I)  Loosen and remove the nuts on the torque tube retaining cap (split halves) and remove the cap assy. 
J) Using a rolling floor jack, slowly lower the rear end from its spring u-bolts, then roll the assy backwards. 
    This will pull the torque tube away from the u-joint connection at the rear of the transmission. A helper can 
    support the front end of the torque tube/driveshaft as it is pulled backward. You need to pull it all to the rear, 
    enough to allow room for the transmission to  be pulled backward to clear the clutch input shaft. Place a box 
    or other means of support for the torque tube forward end to keep it more or less level. 
K) From inside the passenger compartment of the vehicle, either move the front seat all the way back, or 
     remove it altogether. Then remove any carpeting or mats. Place old towels around the interior of the car.
L) Unscrew the fasteners holding the transmission cover panel from the center of the floor. Remove the panel. 
M) From below the car, loosen all the transmission mounting bolts that hold it to the engine block. Remove all 
    the bolts but the top two. 
N) If the vehicle has a side loader (remote shift) transmission, disconnect the two shifting rods from the shift 
     levers on the side of the transmission.
O) From inside the passenger compartment, remove the last two upper transmission mounting bolts. 
P) Grasp the transmission and pull backwards. You may need to insert a screwdriver between the engine and 
     the transmission case to get it started. Continue to wiggle and pull it backwards until the splined input shaft 
    has cleared the engine's bell housing. Lift the transmission up through the opening in the floorboards of the 
    vehicle, and remove it from the interior. Keep the transmission inline with the drivetrain in order to prevent damage to the input input shaft and the clutch.

Leaving the shifter lever on a top loader transmission will provide some additional means of lifting it out. Removing the transmission with two people helps greatly. Try to keep the trans lever during the removal in order to prevent gear oil from leaking out the back of the unit.

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