How Many Speeds?

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ClutchFork
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How Many Speeds?

Post by ClutchFork »

I had a 1977 F100 for about seven years that had a 3-speed column shift and a 4.9L I6 engine. Before that I had a '63 Chevy Biscayne 230 cid inline six with a 3-speed column shift. IN both cases I never felt that I needed more gears, other than when I took the F100 over Tin Cup Pass in Colorado a creeper gear would have been very handy. So apart from a hot rod where you want a deep rear axle and a highway gear, what is all the fuss about 5- and 6-speeds? All about fuel economy, right? Well if you don't drive that much because you have retired or are working from home, what good is more gears?

One thing for sure, with a 3-speed you get to wind the engine out more for each gear, which gives you a nice feeling. So often in the 2001 S10 I have to skip 3RD gear because I have wound out 1st and 2nd to a healthy degree (like near rev limiter in first). Yeah carrying a big load the extra gears would help in the S10 but I rarely carry much and the lst time i got a half yard of dirt i simply paid for delivery.

Yep, well I guess my target retirement vehicle is anything from the 60s with a three speed. My high school buddy bought a used V8 AMC Javelin in the mid-70s, It had a V8 and a three speed on the floor. Car was a blast! Our 1992 Mustang 5.0 5-speed is great but there is way too much gear overlap. That car would be much better off with a 4 speed, and wider spaced gear ratios.
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theholycow wrote:Why in the world would you even want to be as smooth as an automatic? Might as well just drive an automatic...
IMBoring25
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Re: How Many Speeds?

Post by IMBoring25 »

You can get more performance with more gears, too, especially if performance isn't just quarter mile to you. There's no saying you have to use them all in every situation, either, but they can be nice to have:

If approaching a target speed that is at the low end for a given gear, I commonly run out the gear two below that gear a little extra and skip the gear immediately preceding. This happens a lot on surface streets with 4-6 shifts in both my Corvette and my 2500. However, if I'm accelerating hard or to a target speed well above idle in sixth, they all get used (except first in the truck usually gets skipped if unloaded).

There are also situations that present themselves where you don't necessarily use all the gears but having exactly the right gear for the situation is very helpful. Maybe you're towing a heavy load in mountainous terrain and the extra gears let you optimize power delivery or engine braking for a desired speed. Maybe you're on an entrance ramp or autocross straightaway and picking the gear that is a little higher than you'd normally use allows you to make a particular pull without a shift and eke out just that little extra bit of performance.
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ClutchFork
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Re: How Many Speeds?

Post by ClutchFork »

IMBoring25 wrote: Wed Apr 07, 2021 12:44 am You can get more performance with more gears, too, especially if performance isn't just quarter mile to you. There's no saying you have to use them all in every situation, either, but they can be nice to have:

If approaching a target speed that is at the low end for a given gear, I commonly run out the gear two below that gear a little extra and skip the gear immediately preceding. This happens a lot on surface streets with 4-6 shifts in both my Corvette and my 2500. However, if I'm accelerating hard or to a target speed well above idle in sixth, they all get used (except first in the truck usually gets skipped if unloaded).

There are also situations that present themselves where you don't necessarily use all the gears but having exactly the right gear for the situation is very helpful. Maybe you're towing a heavy load in mountainous terrain and the extra gears let you optimize power delivery or engine braking for a desired speed. Maybe you're on an entrance ramp or autocross straightaway and picking the gear that is a little higher than you'd normally use allows you to make a particular pull without a shift and eke out just that little extra bit of performance.
There certainly are advantages to many gears and perhaps if I lived in hilly country I would better appreciate a 5-speed. But I live in flatland here in southeast Michigan. It also helps with a 3-speed to have a higher torque engine so one can gut it out when an intermediate gear range that is not present would be helpful.
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theholycow wrote:Why in the world would you even want to be as smooth as an automatic? Might as well just drive an automatic...
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Re: How Many Speeds?

Post by Rope-Pusher »

The times I've wanted more gear ratios, or appreciated having them have mostly been when pulling a trailer or hauling a heavy load. If you have enough ratio to launch on a grade when at a high GCW, and you want a top gear ratio that is relatively economical and quiet for cruising on the freeway, that sets the span of the ratios. If you want to avoid large ratio changes as you progress up through the gears, then you need a plethora or two of gear ranges so the ratio steps will be acceptable.

Image

I drove a Ram 4000 in Mexico City, loaded to GVW, and I needed the granny gear to launch it on a slope, but with ONLY 5 forward gear ranges the step up to 2nd gear really dropped the engine revs a lot and at that altitude, and with that load, even the almighty 5.7 L Hemi had to be revved quite high in 1st before shifting to 2nd. That truck would be really improved with another gear range or two, but they really don't sell enough to justify design, tooling and development of a 6 speed. The 5-speed they use is shared with 3 other truck manufacturers, and getting all of them to move to a shared 6-speed would be virtually impossible.

https://moparinsiders.com/ram-4000-the- ... -dont-get/
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Re: How Many Speeds?

Post by watkins »

My driving is a bit of everything. I commute in semi-regular stop and go traffic, I drive from MA to PA often enough. Sometimes I just drive half an hour or more of pure empty highway to see friends. I tow excessively heavy loads for a little wagon. I want six gears. My current five doesn't cut it.

I mostly just want something a bit taller for my hours of sustained 80+mph that might net me better economy. Currently I turn 3k rpm at 83mph and I think a slightly adjusted 4th and 5th with 6th allowing for around 2500rpm at 80mph would be perfect.
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ClutchFork
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Re: How Many Speeds?

Post by ClutchFork »

Yep, my son has the 2008 Fusion and would love a 6th gear for better highway mileage.

Me, I only need 3-4 gears for knocking about town and occasional freeway jaunts in this flatland.

Something for everybody.
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theholycow wrote:Why in the world would you even want to be as smooth as an automatic? Might as well just drive an automatic...
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potownrob
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Re: How Many Speeds?

Post by potownrob »

3 gears definitely not gonna cut it in hill country, at least not if you don't want to move like a snail. reminds me of my online friend who doesn't believe in AWD/4x4 or even snow tires at all. didn't make sense til i realized it's rather flat out where he lives.
Last edited by potownrob on Fri Apr 09, 2021 7:35 am, edited 1 time in total.
ClutchFork wrote:...So I started carrying a stick of firewood with me and that became my parking brake.
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Re: How Many Speeds?

Post by potownrob »

watkins wrote: Thu Apr 08, 2021 8:39 pm My driving is a bit of everything. I commute in semi-regular stop and go traffic, I drive from MA to PA often enough. Sometimes I just drive half an hour or more of pure empty highway to see friends. I tow excessively heavy loads for a little wagon. I want six gears. My current five doesn't cut it.

I mostly just want something a bit taller for my hours of sustained 80+mph that might net me better economy. Currently I turn 3k rpm at 83mph and I think a slightly adjusted 4th and 5th with 6th allowing for around 2500rpm at 80mph would be perfect.
what are you doing going 80+ :shock: :o :twisted:
ClutchFork wrote:...So I started carrying a stick of firewood with me and that became my parking brake.
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Re: How Many Speeds?

Post by Rope-Pusher »

potownrob wrote: Fri Apr 09, 2021 7:34 am
watkins wrote: Thu Apr 08, 2021 8:39 pm My driving is a bit of everything. I commute in semi-regular stop and go traffic, I drive from MA to PA often enough. Sometimes I just drive half an hour or more of pure empty highway to see friends. I tow excessively heavy loads for a little wagon. I want six gears. My current five doesn't cut it.

I mostly just want something a bit taller for my hours of sustained 80+mph that might net me better economy. Currently I turn 3k rpm at 83mph and I think a slightly adjusted 4th and 5th with 6th allowing for around 2500rpm at 80mph would be perfect.
what are you doing going 80+ :shock: :o :twisted:
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Re: How Many Speeds?

Post by watkins »

potownrob wrote: Fri Apr 09, 2021 7:34 am
watkins wrote: Thu Apr 08, 2021 8:39 pm My driving is a bit of everything. I commute in semi-regular stop and go traffic, I drive from MA to PA often enough. Sometimes I just drive half an hour or more of pure empty highway to see friends. I tow excessively heavy loads for a little wagon. I want six gears. My current five doesn't cut it.

I mostly just want something a bit taller for my hours of sustained 80+mph that might net me better economy. Currently I turn 3k rpm at 83mph and I think a slightly adjusted 4th and 5th with 6th allowing for around 2500rpm at 80mph would be perfect.
what are you doing going 80+ :shock: :o :twisted:
Getting places.

In Mexico, obviously.
IMBoring25
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Re: How Many Speeds?

Post by IMBoring25 »

A number of the turnpikes around here are 80 limit. It's glorious.
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