5 Speed Manual
"I outrun ships, not just the bulk freighters mind you I'm talking about full Imperial warships.... She's fast enough for you old man."
- Han Solo, Star Wars
I love manual transmissions. It makes the car a lot more fun to drive: giving the driver great control over the speed and engine power of the vehicle. Something about slapping a car into drive isn't synonymous with "fun" in my book.
With my old workhorse C4 three speed automatic beginning to leak and slip, I figured I might as well bite the bullet and install the manual transmission I always wanted for this car. After all, why bother driving the "nice weather car" if it isn't fun to drive?
As I dove head-first into installing my new five speed, I found that there is a plethora of companies and internet groups that have information and specialize in this swap for older classic cars. To my surprise I also found that little information existed on a step-by-step installation process for this transmission. I hope to rectify that here.
But first, A WORD OF CAUTION: PLEASE, PLEASE consult a certified mechanic and have detailed directions on this installation before going ahead with it! Please do not use this guide as a SOLE installation guide! I do NOT guarantee that this installation write up is complete or accurate for your installation!
Why a Five Speed?
After deciding upon using a manual transmission, a good question to ask is "why a five speed"? Here are a few reasons:
1.) The fifth gear is an overdrive, allowing for better gas mileage at cruising speeds, use of steeper rear gear ratios, and a decrease on engine and driveline wear.
2.) The Borg Warner T5 is a tried and true transmission used by several automotive companies for various vehicles. Parts for these transmissions are plentiful and rebuild services are abundant.
3.) The T5 is a modern transmission, and can take advantage of modern materials, clutch, and gear technologies compared to the old three and four speeds offered in original 60s cars.
4.) The T5 was used with Ford 302 V8s and later on 5.0 engines for several years, providing junkyard resources as well as shop manuals and technicians familiar with using the T5 in Ford cars.
5.) The T5 (if used with the S10 tail shaft) will fit into the Falcon with very little transmission tunnel modification. Please remember the T5 is smaller than the 5 and 6 speed trannies, which normally need tunnel mods.
6.) These T5 transmissions can be built to handle up to 600 HP!
The First Step: Where Do I Get The Parts?
Just by looking through one's favorite Ford magazine or doing an internet search for 'T5 Transmission' will supply an interested party several aftermarket companies and even Ford itself. Use of the T5 in some circles is considered a given: a tried and true method of getting overdrive into classic cars, with the newer Tremec TKO and T56 transmissions being more on the bleeding edge of modern transmissions for classic cars.
However, just because the T5 isn't the latest and greatest doesn't mean it shouldn't be considered. Far from it, the T5 is now in the arena as a well known swap and companies have leapt up to the challenge of supplying everything from simple needed brackets to entire kits to 'bolt-in' the transmission to your car. All you need to do is ask around to find the suppliers that most fit with your budget, the required quality level, and who you deem professional and knowledgeable.
A word of advice: There is a lot to know about these transmissions. The T5 was used in many forms and in many vehicles, so make sure to do your homework before heading out and picking something up that might not be what you want, or worse yet what you can't use!
Where Did I get My Parts?
After searching and seeing examples of kits, along with customer testimonials, I decided to go with Modern Driveline. In hindsight I am not at all upset with the choice. First off the parts were top notch, with good quality and use by other satisfied customers, along with use in magazine articles. Secondly, the customer support was great - the owner, Bruce Couture, not only walked me through installation on a phone call, but gave me his personal pager number to contact him about questions as I installed! Very cool.
Modern Driveline's bread and butter are several parts for the T5 swap into classic Ford cars, with a T5 'kit' that can be purchased and allow a classic Ford owner to do a complete T5 installation from soup to nuts.
What Did I Do?
I ordered the T5 kit for a 1965 Ford Falcon and had three boxes at my door in about a week. The parts were well packed and all the parts were brand new, with the exception of a rebuilt 1990-1993 T5 transmission and bell housing. All fasteners were included and parts which required grease and lube are pre lubed by Modern Driveline. The kit contents (as I ordered them) are as follows:
Front shift T5 rebuilt 1990-93 T-5 with steel bearing retainer - In the early 90s the T5 in the Mustang was beefed up to handle the 5.0's 225 horsepower, and is rated at 300 ft/lbs of torque. As my 289 will be making numbers around there, I requested this transmission. The steel bearing retainer replaces the aluminum stock unit, and stops the galling problem the aluminum unit suffers from over time. I'll cover the front shift later on.
Used Late Model T-5 Bell housing - A cleaned bell housing that is checked for correct tolerances is supplied. I opted for a more modern bell housing and clutch assembly as my 289 has the same 6 bolt pattern as the later model 302 and 5.0 engines.
Clutch lever cover - Also known as a dust cover, this part covers the clutch lever and hole in the bell housing allowing the clutch lever a full length of travel.
Block plate - The thin metal plate that fits between the bell housing and engine block.
Bell housing bolts/Trans Bell housing bolts - All new hardware. Grade 8.
Flywheel lightened billet steel 28oz - The flywheel and ring gear for the motor. Notice the 28 oz balance. On older Ford small blocks the motors were externally balanced by means of a front damper and balance weights on the flywheel/flex plate. Later engines use 50 oz weights. Make sure you purchase the right part or you will have drive train vibration problems!
Clutch kit - The friction plate and clutch itself. I went with the later model 10 1/2" clutch.
Clutch lever - Correct lever for the later model clutch and bell housing used for cable clutch.
Flywheel bolts/Pressure plate bolts - All new hardware. Grade 8.
Hurst Chrome lever/Hurst shift ball 5 sp. Pattern
Clutch cable kit - A clutch cable kit supplied by Modern Driveline that modifies your original Falcon or Mustang clutch linkage into an adjustable cable system. All the parts, along with the installation instructions (with pictures) comes with the vacuum sealed kit.
Speedo cable & Speedo gear and insert - 19tooth gear - The gear comes installed in the transmission. Modern driveline will supply you with the correct gear for your application.
T-5 cross member - A Modern Driveline built piece. Sturdy construction and well designed to hang the transmission at the correct angle, allow maximum clearance for headers, and allow the emergency brake to be connected back up.
T-5 transmission mount - Standard GM rubber mount (since I have the S10 tail shaft the GM unit is used).
Let's Get Started
First a word about the clutch cable kit. My car was an automatic, so apart from this kit I also needed a set of Falcon brake and clutch pedals. I procured these through eBay.
I am going to skip past the installation of the cable kit for a few reasons. First off, my car sports other modifications like a tilt column and power brake unit, so pictures and instructions on installation of the kit in my car might confuse more than help. Secondly, this kit has very good directions.
A few words of advice (read 'Clutch Cable Kit Installation for Dummies'):
1.) Follow the directions to the letter - do NOT take shortcuts.
2.) Make sure the nuts on the clutch cable at the clutch fork are both on the back side of cable.
3.) The stock clutch pedal return spring should be removed - it is not needed with this kit.
4.) The pedal bracket that comes with the kit is adjustable. Make sure you adjust this bracket else your clutch will be too loose or tight.
Remove the Old Transmission
(Out with the old. A tired C4 [left] and mounting hardware [right])
Now its time for out with the old. For the old C4 its fairly straight-forward. After disconnecting the battery and draining the transmission, 6 bell housing bolts, a driveshaft, a vacuum line, 2 electrical plugs (Neutral safety switch), and a filler tube bolt free the old C4 from the car. With a jack under the transmission, a lift and tug of the transmission frees it from the engine.After the transmission is removed, the torque converter, flex plate, and block plate can be removed from the engine.
At this point I also took the liberty of removing the old vacuum fitting on the engine's intake manifold and installing a plug. Won't need that line anymore!
A quick inspection landed a startling realization: My front seal on my transmission was leaking. This is big news as once they start to leak your transmission is much like a time bomb - that seal could have gone and left me stranded at anytime!
A Look at the New Transmission
(The new T5 has been modified with a steel bearing retainer [left] and a tail shaft for a Chevy S10 [right])
Now in with the new. The new T5 is a lighter unit than most 60s transmissions because of its aluminum case. The folks at Modern Driveline rebuilt this 1990 unit that has the later T5's stronger gears and synchros allowing the transmission to withstand up to 300 ft/lbs of torque.
I also added two other options: A steel bearing retainer, a sleeve that covers the transmission's input shaft shown in the picture above and to the left. This part is the section the throw-out bearing slides upon, and in stock form is aluminum. Over time the aluminum piece begins to gall and makes clutch engagement harder and harder. I figured it was good insurance to step up to the better part now.
The second modification done to this transmission was the use of a Chevy S10 tail shaft. Yes, the Borg Warner T5 was used in the General's vehicles as well, and many parts destined for Bow Tie duty will work in other applications. With the S10 tail shaft the shifter is relocated to the front of the tail shaft, which allows the shifter to enter the cab compartment almost exactly as stock (shifter is centered on tunnel instead of to left nearer to driver). This mod also stops the need to do some creative engineering to the tunnel sub frame support on the earlier Falcons to fit the late model Mustang tail shaft and shifter.