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Convert 3 on the tree to 3 on the floor

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  • Transmission / Overdrive: Convert 3 on the tree to 3 on the floor

    Hi, was just wondering how difficult it is to convert 3 on tree to 3 on the floor on the 64 - 66 sedans...Thank YOU

  • #2
    Not too bad if you don't mind cutting a hole in the floor. Shifters specifically made for Studebakers still turn up, but you can make lots of 3 speed shifters work. If you have overdrive it complicates things a bit more because you have to mount the shifter to clear the solenoid. Search for floor shifter on this site. Lots of discussion. I added a couple of pictures of a shifter I have so you can see how it mounts.
    Attached Files
    "In the heart of Arkansas."
    Searcy, Arkansas
    1952 Commander 2 door. Really fine 259.
    1952 2R pickup


    • #3
      Shown in Post #2 is a T-86 Overdrive for a '58 to '64 V8, if your Car is a Six it will not have this Larger Trans. with a 6 Bolt Top Cover, it will be a T-96 4 Bolt Top Cover, so the shifter mounting will vary.
      Not hard to do, once you determine a good place for a Minimum sized Hole in the floor.

      Is some of your Factory Shifting Linkage, Bell, Levers, Tube etc. worn out? Most all of it can be purchased at:
      Second Generation Stude Driver,
      Proud '54 Starliner Owner
      SDC Member Since 1967


      • #4
        If it's a T-86, I like the Jeep T-90 top shifter conversion. No linkages to mess with.
        Proud NON-CASO

        I do not prize the word "cheap." It is not a badge of is a symbol of despair. ~ William McKinley

        If it is decreed that I should go down, then let me go down linked with the truth - let me die in the advocacy of what is just and right.- Lincoln


        Ephesians 6:10-17
        Romans 15:13
        Deuteronomy 31:6
        Proverbs 28:1

        Illegitimi non carborundum


        • #5
          Clayton, this was a popular thing for hot rodders to do back in the day. And how you do it can depend upon which engine/transmission combo is in your car. First question: are you sure you want to do it? Three on the tree is now such a rare thing, that it has a cool factor in its own right. Plenty of young folks have never even seen a three on the tree, let alone driven one. The rodders back in the day, and I mean '50s to '70s, did the floor shift conversion as much to have something "different" and "sporty" as to get the more positive shifting that only the better floor shifters provided.

          OK, assuming you still wish to do the conversion, and there's nothing wrong with that, the exact route you take will depend upon which year car, which engine, and which transmission. 1964 sedans (all cars in fact) used Studebaker's own six, or their own V8. Both engines had 3-speed transmissions made by Borg-Warner; a model T96 being used behind the six, and a model T86 being used behind the V8. V8 cars could also be had with a Borg-Warner model T10 four-speed, in which case it would be a factory floor shift, and the T85 heavy-duty three speed was also available. I'm not certain if the T85 was available in '64 or not, but it was available in some years, and one could have been transplanted into your car in its past. But they are pretty rare. If your car is a '65 or '66, it was built in Canada, and powered by an engine sourced from the McKinnon division of General Motors, a 283 V8, or a 194 or 230 cubic inch inline six. To all intents and purposes these are similar to the Chevy engines of the day. But they still used Borg-Warner transmissions, a T86 behind the V8, and a T96 behind the six. The V8 transmission had a Chevy bolt pattern, and bolted right up to the Chevy aluminum bellhousing that was used. The T96 had a thick cast-iron adapter plate to mount it to the bellhousing. Now Studebaker did offer a floor-shift T86 for '65-'66 taxicabs, and it's a direct bolt-in replacement for the existing transmission. Newman and Altman in South Bend used to sell these, and I bought one. I don't remember if it has overdrive or not, but it could be added by cannibalizing any long-tail T86 overdrive. If your car is a '65-'66 V8, this is by far the easiest a floor shift will ever get. Simply cut the hole in the floor, and swap in the tranny. I might be persuaded to sell this one, as I have no immediate plans for it. Brand new, never been run in a car. I might add that this floor shift come out of the top of the transmission case, like a truck 4-speed, and there are no levers on the side at all. It is a rather long shift stick, like you would see in a pickup with 4-speed. Note that this transmission could also be used behind the GM six cylinder equally easily, but you need a new drive shaft made, owing to length issues. But it ought to bolt right in.

          Now, you could also do a Jeep T90 top shifter conversion to your existing transmission, if it's a T86, and wind up with essentially the same thing. But you have to find the Jeep top cover and lever, and you have to tear down your transmission completely to do it right, and you might as well replace bearings and seals while you are in there. It is a lot of work. I have done it several times myself.

          If you have T96, in any year sedan, really the only practical floor shift conversion is to use an after-market shifter, and to fabricate your own brackets to mount the thing. You will probably also have to make the linkage rods, as they are unique to every installation. The conversion kits used to provide "universal" linkage rods with one of the "ends" clamped to the rod, and able to be moved. Good luck finding those anymore. If you have overdrive, the solenoid and manual lockout lever sit right where the floor shifter unit would normally be placed, so you have to either raise the shifter, or move it some distance to the left, intruding into the driver's foot space. I elected to raise it on the ones I did, back in the day. The easiest way to do this is to cut out quite a large hunk of the center floor, to expose the left side of the transmission, and most of its top, so that you can reach the mounting bolts that the shifter support bracket will be attached to. Then build the bracket, install the shifter, get it working, and then weld back in as much of the floor as you can, build a box around the shifter base, and attach the shifter boot to the box. This is not a one-day job!

          One other thing: That nifty floor shifter, once you get it built and installed, is almost guaranteed to rattle. Because it's attached to a piece of machinery that vibrates. Even the factory floor shifters on four-speed cars rattle. Mostly.

          Anyway, if you are still hot to do it, and understand that it can be a major chore to do it, post back, or send me a private message. I have a Studebaker crony in Edmonton who ought to be able to tell you a lot more about the idea, too. Like I said, I have a taxi transmission I might sell, and I also have one old-school floor shifter out in the barn, which again I might sell. I say "might" because it would depend upon, after to talking to you, whether I'm confident that you are the right person to have that part.
          Gord Richmond, within Weasel range of the Alberta Badlands


          • #6

            This should be fairly self explanatory. The "tab" is not too important if you're not going to be slamming gears too hard.
            This bracket can be used with most of the aftermarket 3 speed shifter that can be purchased at most auto parts stores, or used at any swap meet for cheap. As Gord said above, you may have to make your own shift rods. I made my own out of all thread rod, which can be bought at any hardware store. I think I used 3/8 inch on mine, but I may have used 7/16. Can't remember... long time ago. Mine was an OD trans, so I had to fab accordingly to miss the solenoid, and still make the rods work. Had it in the car for quite a few years without any trouble. Mine was a T85 OD.
            Last edited by sals54; 06-10-2015, 11:23 AM.


            • #7
              I agree to keeping it stock column shift, and use the money to buy gas for a nice Studebaker tour.


              • #8
                I would rebuild the stock three on the tree linkage and as a side note it's also a theft deterrent as a lot don't know how to operate one.


                • #9
                  Good advice and everyone has an opinion, but I just flat don't like using the Stude column shift, car or truck. Every Stude I've owned for the past fifty-five years has gotten a floor shift. IMHO, it adds immeasurably to the driving experience.

                  There are plenty of the old conversion kits floating through swap meets and eBay. Sometimes the rods and brackets have to be fabricated, but that's easy when the tranny is clean and on the bench. These days there's not enough money to get me to install a floor shift conversion with the tranny still in the car.

                  jack vines


                  • #10
                    Look around on ebay for a Hurst Syncro-Loc 3spd. floor shift conversion kit......these are by far the best.....positive shifts and no rattles!

                    A friend of mine purchased a NOS Hurst Syncro-Loc off ebay last year for very reasonable money. I installed a used Hurst unit into my Speedster last year that feels like NOS!...Good luck
                    Attached Files


                    • #11
                      gordr's post, (minus the last paragraph) and maybe the entire thread should be archived in the Tech Tips, etc. Great, concise info.
                      (read it backwards)

                      Nothing is politically right which is morally wrong. -A. Lincoln