Model A & AA

Ford Garage

Transmission Shift Lever, Spring, & Retainer

Removal & Installation Tool

If you are not familiar with the shift lever spring, Be Careful!

There is little doubt that the two most dangerous jobs on a Model A are removing and installing the transmission gear shift lever spring, and also the rear axle suspension spring! Both of those springs contain a tremendous amount of stored energy which can quickly, easily, and seriously injure you!

The whole point of the tool is to lessen the danger presented by the compressed spring. Approach the task with safety and common sense foremost in your mind. Wear eye protection and a full face shield and supple leather gloves.

The following is a series of pics of a Model A Ford shift lever spring removal tool I made in 1991 based on the design and description given by a fellow I met in Indiana. He claimed that this is the type of tool that Ford originally used. I don't know about that, but it works great and it is the safest tool I've ever seen or used!

I've made the Bill Kenz spring compressor tool years ago, and I've done the wooden dowel and steel wire trick before, too, and I wouldn't ever consider doing those again on a bet. This is the safest, fastest, and easiest to use shift lever spring removal tool design I know of!

This tool is made from a piece of thin wall steel tube. This allows it to fit between the fork rails, and over the spring and retainer clip.

This allows the spring, retainer clip, and shift lever to be removed and re-installed in the shift tower without removing the shifter forks or rails.

Also, the rails and forks can be removed more easily later if desired, after the shift lever and spring are out of the way.

A 'C' clip made from a hardened washer is silver soldered (or TIG welded) into a steel tube at an angle to match the compressed spring helix. The tubing size is 1-1/4" OD x 0.065" wall 1026 DOM steel tube.

This tool captures the spring, and even if the spring could move, the only place it can go is inside the tube. By clamping the lever securely, you can operate the tool with one hand and your body weight. I've since added the foam grip handle on it for added grip/control.

As the spring is compressed, the tube covers the exposed end of the shift lever, preventing any possibility of the spring jumping out, even if the 'C' washer were to break free from the tube.

First, the shift tower lever is securely clamped to the bench in the preferred position for spring (and retainer clip) removal or installation. The plated lever is clamped with wood to protect the finish and grip the lever. Rubber-faced boards (like ping-pong paddles) would also work well for gripping and protecting the lever.

The purpose of clamping the lever is to control the position of the lever rigidly, while allowing the tower casting to wobble a bit as-required to manipulate the tool over the lever and to extract or insert the retainer while the forks and shafts are still in place.

Next, move the driver side fork (right one in pic above) with ball to the first detent as shown.

With the ball in the driver side fork, push the passenger side (left) fork to the rear (bottom) past the detent, and then release the ball from the driver side fork.

Now move the driver side fork to the rear past the detent as shown above.

I like to wire the forks 'up and out' to provide a little more space for inserting the tool over the spring as shown above. The 'C' washer of the tool must be swung 'in' to engage the coils just below the retainer. The loop at the bottom of the tube bears against the spring and gives you some leverage.

In the pic above the tool is shown engaged in the first spring coil under the retainer.

Push down on the tool, and use a magnet stick to remove the retainer. The tool can also be used to rotate the spring and retainer around so the retainer will be aligned to come out the window in the tube.

Voila! It is apart in less than 10 seconds after inserting the tool. (longer when taking pics!) Just reverse this procedure to re-assemble!


More related information on Ford Garage:

  1. Model A 1928 Gear Shift Lever and Tower Assembly
  2. Model A Transmission Shift Lever Differences
  3. Model A Shift Lever Butler Finish Details
  4. Model A Ruckstell Dual High Transmission
  5. Model A & B Gear Shift Lever Ball Variations
  6. Model A & B 1932 Los Angeles Olympics Shift Lever Ball
  7. Model A Mitchell Synchronized Transmission

February 2001
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