5-Speed ergonomics question

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5-Speed ergonomics question

Postby hpmowog » Sat Apr 08, 2006 9:53 am

I have a question for those of you who have a 5-speed Datsun gearbox conversion in your car (Rivergate or other).

A few years ago I owned a Bugeye that had a 5-speed conversion in it that the previous owner had done himself. It was a homemade conversion. In driving that car, there were several things I didn't like about it. First, the shift action was vague and sloppy (compared to a BMC gearbox). Second, the range of travel of the clutch pedal was such that the clutch would engage with the pedal only 1/2 to 1 inch off the floor. I initially thought that perhaps the clutch just needed bleeding, so I did so with no noticeable difference. Then I talked to the PO who said that's the way the clutch had always been. I attributed the vague shifter to it just being an old gearbox, and I assumed the clutch action was due to a master/slave cylinder mismatch or a problem with pedal ratio or clutch release lever ratio. I disliked the driving dynamics enough that I ended up putting a ribcase gearbox in the car which made it much more pleasureable to drive (at least to me). I assumed that these characteristics were due to it being a home grown conversion, and that the pro conversion kits would be different.

Fast forward a few years, and I now have a '65 Sprite that's got a Rivergate conversion in it. Surprise, surprise, the sloppy shifter and poor clutch action are back. PO of this car says the clutch has always been like this since they installed it. I haven't done any troubleshooting on it yet.

Has anyone else experienced this? If so, did you just learn to deal with it, or did you make any changes to improve the feel?

I'm inclined to put a ribcase in this one too, and put the 5-speed on eBay.
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Postby trevor » Sat Apr 08, 2006 12:31 pm

Yes the rivergate kit and datsun transmission are crap send them to me and I'll send you a ribcase and backplate. ;)

Seriously, my datsun box has a very tight shifter that snaps right into gear. I never miss a shift. MY clutch does engage at the bottom like your described, but I like it this way (I drove a celica like this all through college so it feels natural). However, you can correct the problem by changing to a smaller diameter slave cylinder. Or you may just need a new clutch master.

I'd never go back to the ribcase unless I build a concourse show car.

Have you put a new nylon cup on the shifter ball?
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Postby Bill Masquelier » Sat Apr 08, 2006 1:11 pm

I have a Datsun 5-speed now and it shifts great. One possible reason for the clutch engagement problem is that the pushrod between the slave cylinder to clutch lever is not correct, if you adjust the pushrod out ( less slop) a little bit it should help the position of the peddle problem- just don't tighten it too much, about 1/16th inch motion of the clutch lever (at the trans) is about right. The shifter lever sounds like it needs new bushings which are cheap and easy to replace. Good luck.
I will ALSO send you a ribcase in exchange for your 5-speed!!!!!
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Postby UncleDoug » Sat Apr 08, 2006 1:21 pm

Trevor is right. I can't say I never miss a shift with my 5spd, but unfotunately, when I do, it's MY fault.@#$#$#@.
I took a long time considering that conversion (originality ya know), and although I made no changes in my car that can't be reversed, I don't think I'll be going back to the ribcase.

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Postby bugeye58 » Sat Apr 08, 2006 1:23 pm

Karl, I'll up the ante. I'll send you the ribcase and backing plate, plus a dollar for shipping.
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Postby TorontoSprite » Sat Apr 08, 2006 3:29 pm

I agree with the 5-speeders. My tranny comes from a datsun that was set up for autocross. For a daily driver, it really is the better option. The gearings let me easily keep up with traffic on the freeway and keeps the motor revving comfortably. My clutch is modified so it's a little heavy, but gives me me an added (false?) feeling of a solid car.
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Postby spritenut » Sun Apr 09, 2006 10:08 pm

New bushings in the shifter will fix it. A couple bucks at Nissan.
Althought I like the clutch as it is, some people have said it's a bit on/off compared to the stock set up. I have overcome that by installing an aluminum flywheel. The alum flywheel with a stock tranny makes for riding out the clutch, now with the toggle switch 5 speed clutch and the light flywheel, it's as it should be.
I also cut and bent the Datsun shifter to just about match the original shifter. I even use the original metal shifter can but with an MGB accordian type shift boot because 1st gear tended to pop off the stock shift boot.
The ribcase is for my wife's stock Sprite ;)
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Postby Bill Masquelier » Sun Apr 09, 2006 11:15 pm

By the way--
When I said to adjust the clutch lever to have about 1/16" of free-play I ment to say that this free-play is correct ONLY after the clutch slave has been pushed all the way in, otherwise you will have an irregular (varying) let-up position during use.
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Postby 60Bugger » Mon Apr 10, 2006 1:08 am

I will echo the responses
New nylon bits in the shifter = very positve feel.
I had to play with the freeplay adjustment quite a bit but when it was all said and done it works awesome. I ended up abandoning the 7/8 billlet slave for a nissan truck slave 3/4 bore.
As for the feel of a bmc gearbox, don't have an opinion there.
oh yeah, it's a rivergate kit.
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Postby liamof » Mon Apr 10, 2006 9:59 am

Can you let me know the part number or the year for the 3/4" bore nissan truck slave cyllinder? I seem to suffer from the same problem with the clutch pedal.
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Postby 60Bugger » Mon Apr 10, 2006 8:00 pm

I don't have a pn but it was from a nissan pick-up. early 80's.
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Re: 5-Speed ergonomics question

Postby David Reed » Wed Sep 03, 2008 10:55 am

Hey guys I read this thread and this sounds like my problem. First off I just bought this car (a 1970mg midget producing around 80hp on a 1275 with a rivergate 5 speed) and it was shifting fine and now 2 days ago it started not wanting to go into first or second. So I adjusted the slave cylinder thinking that was my problem. Turns out from what I can see I took my shifter boot off and tried to put it in first and it looks like my transmission shifted all the way to the left so that when you go to throw it in first it wants hit the transmission tunnel not letting you shift so I just thought I'd post my problem and solution here oh and I will also while at it replace the shifter bushings so thanks for the info and good motoring (when you can get your car to stay on the road more than a week without a repair.) It's just so fun always fixing something good luck and happy fixing as well!
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