1951 Chevy C3100 Transmission Linkage Failing


Hi all,

I have a '51 C3100 pickup (‘three on a tree’) that has a sporadic issue where the column shift linkage gets ‘disconnected’. After doing research, it appears the aluminum housing seems worn allowing the cams to move too far apart which allows the shifter to ‘drift’ outside of the normal range of motion and cannot get back into gear. When this happens, I have to pop the housing cap off and push the shifter back into place. I’ve seen some people talk about making an aluminum washer to compensate for the extra gap (caused by the housing wearing out) but it seems like a band-aid to the fix.

I’m looking for a more sturdy solution (which if appropriate would include replacing the housing) but I haven’t found anything promising. Any thoughts/ guidance would be much appreciated!

Note: It’s a vehicle I inherited so I’m new at this (eager to learn). Here’s a video video I found that describes the exact issue (but doesn’t work for me because there’s no way that I’ve managed to hand cut an aluminum washer that doesn’t get banged up after some use). https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_0noZsmW65w

Thanks in advance!


I have had a similar issue on my 52’ Chevrolet 3 speed passenger car sticking between 1st and 2nd gear occasionally. But it didn’t seem to be in the shifter box. I replaced the bushings on the ends of shifter rods to take up much of the ‘slop’ and figured out that if I depress the clutch pedal completely (removing all load from the linkage) before moving the shift lever, it was MUCH less likely to bind.
Compared to more modern cars the whole design is pretty primitive. Part of the old car charm I guess. There might be some wear in the forks or in the housing (it should be full of grease, his looked pretty dry) but that has all but eliminated the issue for me. Just figured I’d mention that if it helps.
Not certain exactly what he’s doing in the video. But IF I had to shim it with a thin washer, I might try using nylon. Might be a little tedious but shouldn’t be too hard to “thin” one down with some sandpaper. With a bit of grease it should wear pretty well. :crossed_fingers:

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