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#337946 - Fri Nov 16 2007 09:42 AM Shifting a Brownie Transmission
jgetti Offline
Wrench Fetcher
Registered: Thu Jan 11 2007 12:00 PM
Posts: 119
Loc: St. Louis Area
Hi all,

I FINALLY found a Brown-Lipe transmission for my 1.5 ton 1950 chevy truck. One idea I was throwing around was to use a set of solenoids to electrically shift the brownie from drive to overdrive via a switch on the shift knob, much like an electric 2-speed setup.

Then I got to thinking,,, that brownie probably isn't synchronized. Does anyone know how difficult it is to use a brownie as a gear-splitter,, i.e. shift between hi and low between each gear? Does it require that you get the rpm's right before shifting to prevent scratching the gears, or will it shift fine as long as the clutch is disengaged?

I'd hate to install an electric shift setup only to find out the gears scratch each time I try to shift the brownie.

What are your experiences?

Thanks!

_________________________
Jon
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#337957 - Fri Nov 16 2007 10:13 AM Re: Shifting a Brownie Transmission [Re: jgetti]
atomarc Offline
Master Gabster
Registered: Tue Jul 27 2004 12:00 PM
Posts: 5930
Loc: Eureka, CA
Jon,

I drove a fuel truck for a number of years which was equipped with a brownie. I don't recall that the brownie was synchronized. The main box AND brownie required double-clutching.

Even if this were not the case, I think a electrical actuation of the box would be much to instantaneous and severe for it to work properly.

A Eaton two speed rear end does have a electric motor, but it's speed is reduced through a screw drive setup, and that in turn only winds up the spring that actually does the shifting.

Having that second stick poking up through the floor boards is the true mark of a double-clutching Mo-Fo...I would keep the stick and utilize ALL the gears the brownie had to offer.

Stuart
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#337969 - Fri Nov 16 2007 10:34 AM Re: Shifting a Brownie Transmission [Re: atomarc]
Hotrod Lincoln Offline
Extreme Gabster
Registered: Mon Feb 23 2004 12:00 PM
Posts: 11327
Loc: Dellrose, TN
I learned to drive big rigs on a B-73 Mack with a Tri-Plex transmission, which is a 5-speed main box and a 3-speed Brownie in a common case, with two shifters. Once the rig is rolling, NO clutch action is required, on either the main or the Brownie, just a good ear and/or an eye on the tachometer. Once the max engine speed is reached in any gear, just ease off the throttle a little, slip the box out of gear, and let the RPM drop until the shifter will fall into the next gear without grinding. On a downshift, reverse the process- - - -let up on the gas, slip into neutral, goose the gas, and slip into the next lower gear. Here's the shift sequence for a 5-X-3 main/Brownie shift pattern:

Main in 1st., Brownie in underdrive- - - -accelerate- - - -
Ease off throttle, slip Brownie into neutral- - -
Drop RPM, slide Brownie into direct drive- - - -accelerate- - -
Ease off throttle- - - -slip Brownie into neutral- - -
Drop RPM, Brownie into Overdrive- - - -accelerate- - -

Now comes the fun part!
(This works best as a 2-handed shift)
Ease off gas- - - -slip main trans into neutral- - - -
Shift Brownie into underdrive with main in neutral- - - -
Drop RPM, shift main into second- - - -repeat as necessary!

For the first few dozen shifts, you'll wish you had rubber-toothed gears, but you'll get the timing down pat eventually! Once you get the hang of a particular engine/trans/RPM split, no-clutch shifting will become second nature! Clutches are for starting and stopping; use while moving on a big rig is optional!
Jerry
_________________________
My best friends are Sam, Eli, Bill, and Gene:
Samuel Colt
Eliphalet Remington
Bill Ruger
Eugene Stoner

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#338059 - Fri Nov 16 2007 04:24 PM Re: Shifting a Brownie Transmission [Re: Hotrod Lincoln]
jgetti Offline
Wrench Fetcher
Registered: Thu Jan 11 2007 12:00 PM
Posts: 119
Loc: St. Louis Area
My thoughts were that with the gears in my truck, the workload I intend to use it for, and the torque band of my engine, the low range of the Brownie would be of seldom use.

That being said, any mechanism that can provide a simple forward-aft input to the drive/overdrive input on the Brownie would be sufficient.

In order to make life easier and eliminate the need to shift two sticks, what I had envisioned was a shift knob that had a mechanical lever toggle on it to push and pull a cable that connects to the drive/overdrive input to the Brownie. Essentially a lift of a fore-finger paddle to shift one way, and a push of a thumb paddle to shift the other way.

Obviously it would take a pretty stout tug of the fingers to overcome the input force required to shift the Brownie. This was my reasoning for wanting to use 'helper' solenoids. Since solenoids aren't a direct mechanical couple (just magnetic force pushing a rod) like a gear reduced linear actuator, as long as I didn't size them too large,, all they would be doing is providing a helping push to my finger inputs. Also, since there's no mechanical couple, if I was scratching the gears, all I'd have to do is let off the button and the push force from the solenoid would go away.

To get the electrical input to the helper solenoids at the right time, I'd simply place the buttons on the respective finger paddles such that when I push the thumb paddle with my thumb, I'm also pushing the button for the assisting helper solenoid. Likewise, when I'm pulling the other paddle with my fingers, I'd also be depressing the button for that helper solenoid.

I think it would still work without synchronization, but I like the idea of putting a spring in series such that the spring is what moves the input to the Brownie.

As an additional safety to ensure I didn't inadverdently push a button and activate a helper solenoid when you didn't want to, I could put a switch on the clutch pedal (like a brake light switch on a brake pedal) that would have to be depressed for power to go to the shift buttons.

It's almost too easy......


_________________________
Jon
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#338164 - Fri Nov 16 2007 08:52 PM Re: Shifting a Brownie Transmission [Re: jgetti]
Tom Lovejoy Offline
Shop Shark
Registered: Sun Feb 11 2007 12:00 PM
Posts: 280
Loc: so cal
I could not shift my brownie without terrible crashing!!! I just left it in high gear.This is the first big truck I have ever had. One day an Uncle of mine stopped by, little did I know in the 50's and 60's he drove big rigs. He liked my truck and spotted the second gear shifter, I told him about my brownie troubles - I could not shift it while moving at all. He got a big grin and said lets go for a drive.
Just as Hotrod said, not only could he shift it. He was shifting it with no clutch! and he was shifting it far better than I could with the clutch. For him it was all but effort less - I though could not get the nack of it, like I said - this is the biggest thing I have ever owned :-)
_________________________
1947 Chevy COE 2-Ton
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#338169 - Fri Nov 16 2007 09:00 PM Re: Shifting a Brownie Transmission [Re: Tom Lovejoy]
Hotrod Lincoln Offline
Extreme Gabster
Registered: Mon Feb 23 2004 12:00 PM
Posts: 11327
Loc: Dellrose, TN
jgetti, the Fuller Roadrangers like the 10-speed and 13-speed models use an air-shifted auxiliary section that's basically an over/under box, but they have synchronizers. The shifting effort on your Brownie will be far too stiff for just finger pressure, and a solenoid assist will just cause lots of clashing unless the gear speed is exactly matched. Just get used to the idea of shifting with both hands! It's easy once you get the hang of it!
Jerry
_________________________
My best friends are Sam, Eli, Bill, and Gene:
Samuel Colt
Eliphalet Remington
Bill Ruger
Eugene Stoner

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#338176 - Fri Nov 16 2007 09:08 PM Re: Shifting a Brownie Transmission [Re: Hotrod Lincoln]
C10 - C90 Bill Offline
Shop Shark
Registered: Thu Apr 10 2003 12:00 PM
Posts: 864
Loc: Moneta, VA
Jerry,

Some Fuller Road Ranger's have synchronizers?

Bill
_________________________
'60-'72 Chev/GMC Fan
GMC 9500 Fan
Detroit Diesel Fan
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#338180 - Fri Nov 16 2007 09:14 PM Re: Shifting a Brownie Transmission [Re: C10 - C90 Bill]
Hotrod Lincoln Offline
Extreme Gabster
Registered: Mon Feb 23 2004 12:00 PM
Posts: 11327
Loc: Dellrose, TN
No, all Roadrangers have synchronizers, at least the ones I worked on back in the 70's and 80's. The air-shifted auxiliary section has big brass synch rings that get clogged up with carbon deposits if the wrong lubricant is used in the transmission. If it's got hypoid gear lube in it instead of straight mineral oil, the synchronizers turn a deep black and the grooves in the synchro rings fill up with hard, black crud. Shortly after, it starts getting really slow to shift with the air system. I don't remember if the basic 5-speed main box is synchronized or not.
Jerry
_________________________
My best friends are Sam, Eli, Bill, and Gene:
Samuel Colt
Eliphalet Remington
Bill Ruger
Eugene Stoner

Top
#338187 - Fri Nov 16 2007 09:33 PM Re: Shifting a Brownie Transmission [Re: Hotrod Lincoln]
C10 - C90 Bill Offline
Shop Shark
Registered: Thu Apr 10 2003 12:00 PM
Posts: 864
Loc: Moneta, VA
Jerry,

I'm not familiar with the inside mechanics of them, but the 5-Speed GMC's I used to drive could be shifted without the revs just perfect, unless they were a little old and needed some help, but the Road Rangers I have driven needed to be shifted just about perfect, especially downshifting and very simialr to the two-stick Brownie shifting we are talking about above.

One driver who was used to the sychronized 5-Speeds, started driving the non-sychronized 10-Speed we had. He got the rythem of up shifting real good, but I didn't realize it till I rode with him one day, he couldn't downshift it. If luck was with him and he kept getting red lights where he would come to a full stop, he was alright, but one day we took a corner and he was in about 9th and he needed to get back to about 5th and he didn't. We lugged along in 9th as I was panicing. I used to think to myself, one day this crankshaft is going to end up on the front seat. I went to look at the truck, which was for sale a few years later, and there was the crank, on the front seat.

Bill
_________________________
'60-'72 Chev/GMC Fan
GMC 9500 Fan
Detroit Diesel Fan
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#338190 - Fri Nov 16 2007 09:38 PM Re: Shifting a Brownie Transmission [Re: Hotrod Lincoln]
Grigg Offline
Registered: Tue May 10 2005 12:00 PM
Posts: 7634
Loc: Lexington, VA
About Roadrangers,
They like straight engine oil, usually 50 weight, but may vary depending on temperature and use, many new ones like synthetic oil. They don't like mineral gear oil, at least it's not what the manuals call for.

The range (air shifted part) is always synchronized.
The front 5 speed box is never synchronized.

Synchronized transmissions should really be clutched to shift (saves the syncros, if not clutched they work really hard trying to match speeds, but are fighting the engine speed and wear out really quick), a non synchronized box can be shifted without the clutch (match speeds while in neutral with the accelerator pedal).
The Roadranger can be shifted without clutching because the range will only shift when the front box is in neutral, so the synchronizers work fine, for all they know the clutch is in, because being in neutral in the font box accomplishes the same thing.

About the shifter-less auxiliary transmission,
I don't know of any auxiliary transmissions that are synchronized.
I don't think the electric solenoid is a good idea, to harsh unless some sort of spring is used.
Spicer made air shifted auxiliary transmissions in several models.
I have a few of the manuals for the air shifted ones, but have never seen a real one in person. Basically they put air cylinders on the shift rails. Because air compresses it acts as a sort of spring and is not as harsh as a solenoid would be. I would imagine that you still need to be really good to shift it, because you have no feel, and once you tell it to shift it will try it's best, grinding and all.

Another thing to consider is not getting it in two gears at once. So if you shift one rail, the other must be in neutral, and if not, and you manage to get two shift rails in gear at once, you strip teeth off the ring gear, twist a driveshaft, wring the center out of the clutch, and or other nasty things.

All factory air shifted transmissions have this figured out somehow or another...

Grigg


Edited by Grigg (Fri Nov 16 2007 10:10 PM)
_________________________
1948 Chevrolet 6400 with:
- Detroit Diesel 4-53T - Roadranger 10 speed overdrive - 4 wheel disc brakes
1952 Chevrolet 3800 pickup

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