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Author Topic: question Re: ownwers / drivers of Spicer 4sp buses (past & present)  (Read 3748 times)
coolbus
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« on: September 04, 2006, 05:48:41 PM »

 Smiley Wink Cheesy Grin Angry Sad Shocked Cool Huh Roll Eyes Tongue Embarrassed Lips Sealed Undecided Kiss Cry Smiley Wink Cheesy Grin Angry Sad Shocked Cool Huh Roll Eyes Tongue Embarrassed Lips Sealed Undecided Cry Undecided Lips Sealed Embarrassed Tongue Roll Eyes Cool Huh Sad Angry Cool Shocked Sad Angry Grin Cheesy Wink Smiley

 I am curious as to finding out about others' experiences with 4sp trannys. 

I know there is already a 'debate' as to which is better, I am interested in hearing first hand experience from 4 speed users (past and present)

I have not purchased a bus yet, but one ot the dilemas I am having is regarding the transmission. Most of the early GM busses that I have seen are 4sp. I used to consider a 4sp out of the question, but after alot of reading (here and elsewhere) I thought I would like to hear others 'first time' experiences with a std tranny!

I will say that as far as my physical ability, a clutch would be no problem (strong left leg)!

How are you guys  (the ones that, like me, have had NO experience with a Spicer, double-clutching, etc) out there doing? Have you been able to 'master' the technic to your satisfaction? Your wifes satisfaction? How long does it take to get the hang of it? Any regrets for going with a std tranny?

Pro's and Con's ...Please!

Thanks in advance for your thoughts!

Mark

bus's are COOL Grin[/size]



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TomC
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« Reply #1 on: September 04, 2006, 08:27:39 PM »

Shifting is relatively fast.   If you think of it as shifting from one gear into neutral, then quickly from neutral to the next gear, it isn't that bad.  Keep the linkage adjusted and lubed up, the helper spring on the clutch adjusted right, and you'll have many miles of fun driving.  If your wife has drivin a manual before and has a bit of mechanical capabilities, it should work for her also.
Personally, I drove 1.3 million miles of 13 speed transmission in my truck for 21 years and don't have any love loss for shifting anymore.  I love the Allison transmissions (driven them all and can say the only one that is a negative is the AT545 since it doesn't have a lockup converter clutch).  If you want the most relaxing, pleasureable experience, then the automatic is the only way to go-even with its' less fuel mileage.  But-by driving an automatic easily, you can get very close to the manuals fuel mileage, and the ease of driving takes up the rest of the slack.  You'll enjoy either, since it'll be your bus!!  Good Luck, TomC
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Tom & Donna Christman. '77 AMGeneral 10240B; 8V-71TATAIC V730.
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« Reply #2 on: September 04, 2006, 08:32:41 PM »

I have drove my 04 stick since 1999 and love it.  Easy to get in the grove with some practice.
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Buffalo SpaceShip
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« Reply #3 on: September 04, 2006, 08:35:02 PM »

I have owned both 4-speed and auto tranny conversions. Our last bus was a 4106 with the 4-speed. Our new bus is a 4108 with an auto (V-730). Learning to shift the Spicer takes a fair bit of practice, but understanding what's going on with the input and output side of the tranny helps visualize the shifts. It took me about 1000 miles of driving it to get adept at it... but under my direction, when I was selling the '06 I was able to teach a couple of potential busnuts much of what I learned in less than an hour behind the wheel. A lot of it is a matter of feel.

I did enjoy the challenge of learning to drive a stick coach, and driving one was more "fun" than driving a slushbox. You sorta feel more like part of the coach, I guess (corny as that sounds), instead of just hanging on and steering.

There were reasons why the 4-speed didn't fit into our lifestyle, though:

- Momma wouldn't drive it

- Certain campsites and destinations were difficult, if not impossible for the stick coach

- Backing up a grade from a standing start was neigh impossible

- Driving through traffic, through town, and around "steep stoplights" were a pain

Examples: Heading out of a beach in San Diego, we couldn't stop at the top of a grade at a stoplight (or we'd have to back down). Once when going skiing here in CO, we almost got stuck on a 10% grade. Backing into my driveway at my new house would be impossible for a stick coach to get up without damaging/ burning up the clutch.

Likewise, six-point turns, little negotiations in a campsite or parking space, bumper-to-bumper traffic... all like night and day in an auto coach. To me, it's worth the fewer MPH and MPGs the auto costs me, because it means we can use the bus more often and not be limited the way we were with the 4-speed.

In short, I wouldn't be nervous about learning to drive the stick. But I'd seriously consider your lifestyle and driving habits to see if a stick coach would be a good fit.

Hope this helps,
Brian
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Brian Brown
4108-216 w/ V730
Longmont, CO
Devin & Amy
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« Reply #4 on: September 04, 2006, 08:58:27 PM »

Mark,

I have enjoyed completely the style of driving that comes with a manual tranny.
I feel I have more control of the powerband when I'm driving in hilly terrain.
the day I bought the bus I had never been in the driver seat of a bus. I drove from Green Bay WI to Hope Ark.
the only scary part was Chicago/rush hour.
if you decide to get a standard you will be pleased with the closer feel of the way the bus is driving. You will know exactly when it is losing power.
I don't know if other bus owners will agree with me, but that's the best part about it.

Devin
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« Reply #5 on: September 04, 2006, 09:04:08 PM »

As posted earlier, first and reverse are not low enough for any serious hills.

Also, as said earlier, clutch adjustment is very important and something I spent a lot of time doing. I had to replace most of the rod forks, pins and bellcrank arms.

Other than the it is ok.If I had a larger engine I would prefer an AT but the 6-71 loses too much power with AT. An AT is wonderful for backing into tight spots.

I I don't use the clutch except on start up. I don't grind any more gears this way than when I use the clutch.

I find that timing is all important and most of my problems were caused by trying to shift too fast. Once I learned to leave it in neutral a short time before going to the next gear I seldom have any problems.
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PD4107-152
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scanzel
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« Reply #6 on: September 05, 2006, 07:58:55 AM »

  Smiley  Just my comment to add, I bought a 1989 Prevost with a six speed spicer, six forward one reverse and an 8V92 and I love it. I have more control of engine when on the roads around town and the highway. Up shift when I want and down shift when needed. I drove the bus to Connecticut from Reno Nevada and had plenty of time to learn along the way how to and not shift. At times can be a pain in traffic but I can get 8 to 9 mpg on the highway. Got 8.5 mpg driving back from Reno pushing 70 to 75 on I 80. In Penn on I 80 was passing rigs going up some real steep hills. Sure an automatic is easier, especially easier for my wife. If the four speed isn't to your liking replace it with a 5 or 6 spicer or maybe a 8 or 10 speed roadranger trans. Good luck on your purchase and enjoy.
« Last Edit: September 05, 2006, 08:04:48 AM by scanzel » Logged

Steve Canzellarini
Berlin, CT
1989 Prevost XL
Len Silva
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« Reply #7 on: September 05, 2006, 08:19:39 AM »

I have a 4104 and prefer the stick EXCEPT:

  • Very difficult to maneuver at very low speeds or on soft surfaces like in a campground.
  • Very hard to drive it up on blocks. Trying to get enough power to climb the block and then get it stopped without over running the block is almost impossible.  If I didn't still have the old ICC brake, I don't think I could do it.
[/list]

Another transmission with a very low 1st and reverse would make a world of difference.

Len
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Buffalo SpaceShip
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« Reply #8 on: September 05, 2006, 10:00:40 AM »

If the four speed isn't to your liking replace it with a 5 or 6 spicer or maybe a 8 or 10 speed roadranger trans.
I think his original question concerned GMCs, so this is just an FYI about GMCs.

Unfortunately, GMC's v-drive engines have a very limited number of transmissions (stick or slush) that will work with them. The 671 without serious modification will only take a 4-speed. An 8v71 can take a 4-speed Spicer, or an Allison VS2-8 or V-730 (or a couple of one or two-speed transit Allisons I won't mention). That's it. Anything else requires major ($$$) mods.

T-drives are a whole 'nuther story. But the only common GMC with a t-drive is the Scenic.

Personally, I'd prefer a RR 10-speed over most slushboxes, since it eliminates most of the issues I had with a stick-shift coach... but these are only available for t-drives.

HTH,
Brian
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Brian Brown
4108-216 w/ V730
Longmont, CO
Charles Seaton
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« Reply #9 on: September 05, 2006, 02:37:47 PM »

By no means an expert, but here goes.  I am told that there is a difference in a wet clutch and dry.  The dry being easier to shift.  Older GMs (4104s, 03s old look suburbans) are easier to shift than newer coaches (4903s 05s) and fishbowl suburbans.  Maybe someone can explain to me the difference between wet and dry clutches and if I had to guess i would have said wet clutches were easier.

Charles Seaton
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NCbob
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« Reply #10 on: September 05, 2006, 03:03:55 PM »

Coolbus, with all due respect to the GM guys, you haven't yet heard from an MCI owner with a Spicer...and I'm one of them.
Agreed, a lot to be desired with the Ist and Reverse being a bit too high at times...but we need to remember that these old girls were built for Highway work and we're taking them out of that realm.

MCI has an air booster cylinder on the clutch, and I understand that an auxiliary spring can be added to some of the GM's to be a helper.  I am going to "Hot Rod" my cylinder to the point where virtually an infant could depress the clutch.  I'm a little old guy with spindly legs and will take all the help I can get.

I love the 4 speed...it reminds me of my sports car days....and I get the best milage possible with the 8V71 and the 4 speed Spicer. By the way, when I changed the transmission oil I went to #50 Racing, without benefit of the Mfr. counsel and I find it shifts much easier with less knashing of gears..and no I don't have to double clutch.

Near you somewhere, I checked your profile and you don't tell us where home is, might be a BusNut with an automatic or a 4 speed.  Check the Frapper map and see....by meeting one of us you might get more insight into owning and driving a bus.  We're
a congenial lot and always welcome visitors to our projects.

Good Luck on your quest.

NCbob
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« Reply #11 on: September 05, 2006, 03:11:31 PM »

Wet clutches have more drag due to the discs running in oil. This definitely adds to difficulty getting them into gear at a standstill. Once you are rolling, it shouldn't matter as much.

With either clutch, the timing for double clutching changes with oil temperature. The gears slow down faster when the oil is cold.

For what it's worth.

Tom Caffrey
Suncatcher
Ketchikan, Alaska
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Tom Caffrey PD4106-2576
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Ketchikan, Alaska
Charles Seaton
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« Reply #12 on: September 06, 2006, 12:34:17 PM »

Thanks Tom.

Now I get why when the transmision is cold, I either have to stop the engine and put it into first or if on the road, shift it into first jsut before coming to a full stop.

Still love fishbowls, though.

Charles Seaton
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RJ
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« Reply #13 on: September 06, 2006, 04:26:27 PM »

/
Charles -  Try this trick with the wet clutch - From neutral at a stop, after you put in the clutch, slip the gearshift over into 3rd or 4th, then, after it drops into gear, move it over into first.  I used to do this often when driving 4905s - beats shutting off the engine, or amusing the passengers by trying to grind it into 1st.


Coolbus -  Brian Brown covered virtually ALL the pros & cons to the stick vs auto argument.  Others have chimed in with additional comments that are very valid.

NCBob's point should be re-emphasized: These beasts were NOT designed for wiggling in and out of campsites! 

Since you haven't bought a coach yet, you and the missus need to sit down and seriously discuss what you actually want to do with the bus.  Once you figure that out, then the choice of a shell becomes much easier.

(Translation of the last paragraph:  If Momma ain't happy, ain't NOBODY happy!)


Finally, to answer your original question:  It took me about five - ten minutes to figure out how to double-clutch a coach properly, but it took me about 1,000 miles of practice to learn how to do it WELL.  Make sense?

This might also be helpful:

http://www.busnut.com/artrjl2.html


HTH. . .



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RJ Long
PD4106-2784 No More
Fresno CA
gus
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« Reply #14 on: September 06, 2006, 06:53:11 PM »

I think it has already been posted but I'll repeat it; Do NOT ever slip the clutch on a diesel.

If you're in a tight spot quickly let it out and push it back in, just don't slip it.
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PD4107-152
PD4104-1274
Ash Flat, AR
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