From Auto-stick to 4 speed

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CopperNick

Not-quite-so-new-guy
Feb 20, 2018
17
8
3
Canada
#1
While my 85 SS did come with a 200-4R attached to its non-original 305 my first love and what came in my first new car was a 4-speed. The Saginaw was not known for its strength or durability but it did hold up to my learning curve..I still have it and another orphan sitting down stairs. For the Monte however, I decided that only a Muncie would do. So I built one; Didn't plan it that way but when I got to poking around at the one I scored, I found that the countershaft had walked forward and it could not be reset without pulling the tailshaft housing off and retiming it to the mid-plate. At that point you pretty much have the transmission torn down and other things start popping up; like synchros and forks and...the list goes on. plus which it was a 7/8ths pin and I wanted the 1" version. E-Bay can be your friend if.... you do your homework first and know what you're looking for.

All that aside, I still have two items to deal with. They are the neutral/start switch and the reverse/backup lights switch. In an automatic car, they are both found wired in to a connection block attached to the steering column mast. On a 4 speed, the reverse/backup light switch is mounted down on the lever cover and linked directly the reverse lever. This means moving some wires unless there is a kit or wiring adapter harness available to do the trick. Anyone know of one?? The neutral/start switch will end up being activated by the clutch pedal and I have that switch in hand as part of the pedal assembly. Again, what wire goes where is the sticking point as this switch is a plunger and I am not really sure if polarity is an issue at all. I would like to visit this whole problem while the steering column is out and I have room to wriggle around under the dash without dinging myself on low hanging bits and pieces. Anyone out there in Forum land done this conversion before? Mine is mostly factory parts, excepting wear items that had to be obtained aftermarket due to being factory unobtanium.
 
pagrunt

pagrunt

Comic Book Super Hero
Sep 14, 2014
3,645
4,089
113
Shelocta, Pa
#2
On a 4 speed, the reverse/backup light switch is mounted down on the lever cover and linked directly the reverse lever. This means moving some wires unless there is a kit or wiring adapter harness available to do the trick.
Just order a reproduction back up switch harness. Plugs right in to the plug end that attaches to the on column auto back up switch. If you're going with a Muncie get a trans mounted switch for a '64-'68 Chevelle (Camaro, Nova can work too.) Most likely you'll need to change plug ends at the trans end of the harness. If sticking with a Saginaw try to get a side cover with the switch built in & get the switch to match the year harness you order. One thing you'll need to do is find the right firewall dimple & drill it out to fit the gromet on the harness. If I remember right about the clutch switch is also plug & play with the current plug end. It'll be easier than it seems.
 
C

CopperNick

Not-quite-so-new-guy
Feb 20, 2018
17
8
3
Canada
#3
May not have to drill the firewall as there is already a couple of holes in the transmission tunnel that I think I can repurpose for that job; thinking of the hole for the cable from the auto-shifter. Didn't think of the mid 60's chevelles for the switch; did find one and the attachment bracket from somewhere on E-Bay. Only glitch was that the arm or rod that runs from the switch to the reverse lever did not line up correctly and I had to reshape it to get reverse and the switch to both be in neutral at the same time. Did wonder at the time whether or not the rods for that switch varied from year to year or with the model of transmission. No plans to use either of the Saginaws. They did not earn the nickname "GlassBox" for nothing and the Monte is about a 1000 lbs heavier than what they came from (75 Chev Monza). Acceleration and shifts would have to be done very gingerly or risk tearing teeth and hurting other moving parts.
 
pagrunt

pagrunt

Comic Book Super Hero
Sep 14, 2014
3,645
4,089
113
Shelocta, Pa
#4
I'ved used Saginaws in my '72 Monte that tipped the scales over 4000 lbs behind a high torque small block using a 3.73. Never any issues other than wheel hop down shifting into first too fast/soon. I've been using one in my '81. They also was the 4 speed used on low performance small blocks in A, B, F & X bodies. As long as you keep up on them they hold up pretty good. As with the grommet location the factory stick cars had the wire pass thru the firewall to the trans switch. The reproduction harness will be set up for that application. Not sure if they still make them Hurst did have a universal back up switch ages ago.
 
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clean8485

Royal Smart Person
Dec 18, 2005
2,327
955
83
Ontario, Canada
#5
Hey CopperNick, I tried finding your introduction, but struck out. Just being curious, but what part of Canada are you in?
 
olds307 and 403

olds307 and 403

Comic Book Super Hero
Oct 14, 2008
4,255
2,045
113
Melville,Saskatchewan
#6
Personally a T-5 would be much better especially if the 305 is staying with 3.73 gears, the 1 to 1 4th gear will suck, 2900 rpm at 60 mph with stock tires. Keep the 2004R, especially if it is original. Good luck.
 
airboatgreg

airboatgreg

Royal Smart Person
Oct 2, 2016
1,514
1,395
113
#7
I went with a Muncie also on me El C. Still need to run the back up light wires but no big deal.
 
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