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As an owner of a B1 truck with an original 4 speed crash box (aka non syncro tranny with compound low) one story you hear is you can shift without using the clutch. Having learned to double clutch to avoid the "grind them till you find them" syndrome of shifting I have to say I was always intrigued by the myth of clutchless shifting. For our owners who always lived in the world of fully synchronized transmissions, double clutching is the technique used to shift a transmissions with "straight cut gears' or no synchronizers. Internally the transmission is pretty simple and very reliable in service.

To double clutch you use the clutch normally to get rolling and when you are ready to to shift your depress and release the clutch once to take it out one gear and a second time to go into another the next gear. The process basically slows down the shift so the gear speeds match and allow them to slide into the next gear. Downshifting is similar except you have to remember to bring up the engine revs as you go into the lower gear.

But what about clutchless shifts? Well, as professional OTR drivers know it is not a myth but a useful technique to drive your truck with less wear and tear on the clutch. Success is all about getting the engine speed right and feeling the gears as you slide them in the gearbox. Again use the clutch normally to get rolling. As you near the shift point lift off the gas slightly and slide the shifter into the gate for the next gear. As the speeds match the shift will smoothly drop into the next gear with no grinding and no clutch needed! Don't be frustrated if the first few times you miss and grind the gears. With a little practice you will be able to tell with engine speed and feeling it in the shift lever when it is time to shift. Downshifting is also possible but requires a little more finesse with engine speed and shift lever. Remember since your are going down in gears you need to raise engine rpm to match the the gear when you downshift. So instead of a slight lift off on the throttle you need to give it a little bump up. Again with the gear speed and engine speed match you can fell it in the gearshift lever as it will easily slide into gear without a grind.

And what about the compound low (AKA, granny gear)? It's function is to help you get moving when you have a big load on board. A while back I had half a yard of sand loaded in the bed. When I started to pull out of the loading area in first it was immediately evident I would have to slip the clutch quite a bit to get rolling. Dropping into compound low we just pulled out like a normal start, just slower. Once we got past the the initial start up resistance from a dead stop it was easy to drive.

Have any of you mastered the art of clutchless shifts?


We actually have it pretty easy when it comes to getting our projects back on the road. Even though we are working on 60 year old technology original factory documentation is readily available. Original and reproduction shop manuals, parts books, factory technical training material are available from many parts suppliers. Think about how difficult it would be if you didn't have any reference information and everything was passed by word of mouth (or the internet)!

So what should you have in your garage library? First two purchases should be a factory service manual and factory parts book for your vehicle. The factory service manual typically has wear limit specifications so you can determine when service is needed, general maintenance and tune-up specs and the the proper process for different repairs. A careful reading of the service manual before you start a repair is recommended as many times tips are provided to make the job easier or expose some less than obvious service procedure. The proper replacement of valve guides (they don't all go in the same way) or the correct process for lubing rear axle bearings comes to mind. It should be at your side when you are working on a repair.

The gold mine for me is the factory parts manual. It answers many, many questions about what is the right part, what will interchange (mopar factory part number), how does this go back together (exploded diagrams) and what options were available. When I took ownership of my first P15 their was a steel bracket in the trunk. It was about 5" long, couple holes drilled in it with some angle cuts. No idea where it came from or it's purpose. Years later when I finally discovered a factory parts manual I figured it out. It was the bracket that held the spring so the clutch rod would fully return. (bracket 6-27-6 in the illustration) It held the spring that kept the rod (6-24-1) from falling out of the lever to activate the clutch! Because the lever had fallen out many times I had ended up taking a throttle spring and wrapping it around the clutch shaft to hold the spring in place. Many of us are the victims of the actions of previous owners and the results ending up in the trunk. A parts book is like having a native guide to find the path back to way the factory originally put it together. The parts book also lists factory mopar part number. This is critical for finding parts with many vendors that stock their inventory by factory part number, not application. With a factory parts number you can use a site like PartVoice.com to search many suppliers at once for a part.

Picture of clutch linkage from Parts Book

Another really helpful book is a Hollanders Interchange manual. They cover different years (I use a '40 to '56 version) and are a wealth of information you won't find anywhere else. Originally targeted for garages and junkyards they basically list what parts will interchange with other cars. Will a club coupe rear window fit a sedan? What ignitions can I swap? What are the bearing numbers I need for the front wheels? I would also add an owners manual to the list of must haves. It provides basic operation instructions, maintenance and care information for a driver unfamiliar with '40s-'50s technology.

To finish out the library I would add sales literature for my vehicle, paint chips and some third party reference info. For example, Bunns B Series book is a fantastic resource for truck owners loaded with factory pictures. For more wrench turning support a Chiltons or Motors manual provides practical "how to" information. Stockel's Auto Service and Repair is also a great reference guide.

To help you get started building out your garage library three of our site sponsors, Andy Bernbaum Auto Parts, MoParMall.com and Vintage Power Wagons have extensive in-stock inventory of factory manuals, part books, owners manuals and associated literature. Check them out now!

Now it's your turn. What have you added to this list as a must have book for your shop?


One of the quickest ways to get a quick health check on your electrical system is watch your ammeter! It will tell you all kinds of valuable information if you know how to read it! Most modern cars now use a voltmeter to provide limited information about your electrical system. Or even worse just a warning light to let you know your alternator has failed. Because voltmeters are now the norm the skill of interpreting the information the ammeter provides is becoming a lost art. Let’s walk through a driving sequence to understand what the ammeter will reveal about your electrical system.

Entering the car your the ammeter should be reading "0", straight up. You may see a quick defection to the minus side if your have an interior light that comes on with opening the door. It's at "0" because you are not using any or generating any current (engine is not running). When you turn on the ignition you will see the needle move slightly to the minus (discharge) side indicating a discharge of a couple amps. This means your ignition system is getting power. When you hit the starter the ammeter will deflect sharply to the left (minus 20-30 amps) as the starter spins. The energy for the starter is being drawn straight from the battery. As the engine fires the ammeter will quickly move to the plus side (charging) of the gauge in the 20-30 amp range. The energy that was drawn down from the battery while starting is quickly being replaced by charging current from the generator. As you start driving the voltage regulator will manage the amount of charge needed to go back into the battery. After around five minutes of driving typically the battery will start to approaches full charge and you will see a reduction of charge rate down to 1-3 amps on the plus side. At this point the battery has fully recovered from the starter discharge and now the generator is putting out only enough current to maintain the charge. The voltage regulator manages the on-going charge rate.

While your driving night time is coming and it is getting cooler. You turn on your headlights and start up the heater fan. Immediately you see the needle momentarily jump to the minus side, then come back to 1-3 amps on the charge side as the regulator manages the generator output to meet the increased demand. As you come to a stop sign and the engine speed drops, the ammeter will move sharply to the minus side, often 15-20 amps down. You notice the lights dim and the heater motor may slow. Right now your generator is not creating enough power to offset the increased load of the headlight and heater motor and is drawing backup power from the battery. This lack of sufficient power generation can fully discharge a battery if allowed to go for a long period. The short stop at the stoplight however, is not harmful. In fact, you can always bump the manual throttle to bring the idle up enough to stop the discharge. As soon as you accelerate from the stop the generator will again start generating sufficient current to replenish the energy pulled from the battery (expect a jump to 5-10 amps charge for a short period) before settling back to a trickle charge of a couple amps while driving.

So how can you use if for some basic troubleshooting? When you first get in and step on the break pedal, the ammeter should deflect slightly to discharge as the brake lamp lights. This lets you know the battery has some charge. No deflection? Battery is probably dead or disconnected. Also when you turn on the key if you don't see a slight discharge indication your ignition is probably not connected or functional. If when turning on the key and immediate your have a full discharge (minus 35 amps) you have a dead short that needs to be repaired. Immediately turn off the key and begin trouble shooting to find the electrical short. Otherwise you risk the very real danger of a wiring fire. Might start your troubleshooting at the headlight switch as they have historically been trouble spots due to corrosion resistance in the connectors. If you are running and suddenly see a continuous discharge usually this indicates a voltage regulator issue. Try tapping the regulator case with a screwdriver handle to see if a relay is sticking and it starts charging again. On teh other hand if you see a continuous rate of high charge (> 20 amps) that never goes down you may have a battery starting to fail (it's not taking or holding a charge) or a voltage regulator failing. Either way it's time to troubleshoot the generator and regulator charging circuit.

By watching the action of your ammeter your can easily tell if your electrical system is functioning correctly. It will tell you if you have a short, your battery is full charged, how fast it is charging and how much current your are consuming while driving. Compared to a voltmeter which simply gives system voltage, ammeters allow you active monitor your electrical system.

Share what on the road lessons have you learned by paying attention to your ammeter!


Many site visitors appear to arrive with the pre-conceived opinion that some technologies because they are old, are outdated, obsolete and functionally replaced by newer technology. Case in point are two common forum topics, oil bath air cleaners and bypass oil filters. Both these technologies have been around for many decades and in fact perform better than the "newer" technologies of full flow spin-on oil filters and paper air filters. Let take a closer look at both. 

I ride and wrench on dirt bikes and quads for fun. I mostly ride in the California coastal mountains, noted for dry, hot and very dusty conditions. All my machines use oil soaked foam air filters because they are more effective than paper filters. When our cars and trucks were first sold dirt roads were the norm, not the exception. Chrysler used the most cost effective solution of the day, oil bath air cleaners. They provide very effective cleaning and unrestricted air flow. They are easy and cheap to maintain. So why would you want to change to a less effective and more expensive paper air filter? Most common reason is they are a lot of maintenance and the oil spills out of the pan and into the carb. Both reasons are not very good! Back in the 40's and 50's vehicle owners drove on a lot (including the occasional oil/pcp waste oil covered) on dirt roads and you needed to maintain oil bath air filters on a regular basis. Today we just drive on pavement. I personally have seen the air filter oil go two years in service and still have clear clean oil in the filter pan. The extra maintenance argument doesn’t hold for today’s use. I have driven mopar flatheads since 1968. I have never seen a properly serviced oil bath air cleaner leak oil into the carb or on the engine. If yours puked oil over the engine then you overfilled the air cleaner oil pan. Pretty simple solution to that problem! And don't forget oil bath air cleaners do a better job of feeding your engine clean filter air than a paper filter while being cheaper to maintain. One for old tech!

Now lets move to often maligned bypass filter. This is the source of so many incorrect internet myths the conversation becomes funny. "They only filter part of your engine oil..." or "Look at how small the piping is, how can it clean all the oil" and "It take forever for all your oil to go through a bypass filter". The best myth is full flow spin on filters do a better job of filtering than bypass filters. None of the above statement are true. First a brief explanation of how a bypass filter works. Your oil system is a closed system under pressure created by the oil pump. Oil circulates through the engine in the oil gallery. You can see the galley running along the driver’s side of the engine. This pressurized oil flow provides lubrication to main, rod and cam bearing so the journals actually "float" on a thin film of oil so they don't overheat and fail. This pressurized oil system also has a safety valve in case oil pressure gets too high, the oil pressure relief valve. The bypass oil filter taps into the oil gallery and dirty oil is piped to the bypass filter under pressure. (The same pressure your see on your oil pressure gauge). It is then filtered and readied for return to the oil pan. Bypass filters actually filter much smaller particles than full flow spin-on filters. Full flow filters are plumbed to directly feed oil to the mains and they have to pass high volumes of oil or the bearing will fail. As a result they can't filter to the same degree as a bypass filter. When the clean oil exits a bypass filter it goes back to the oil pan via the pressure relief valve. The pressure relief valve acts as an oil traffic cop, that is, if the engine oil pressure is high enough the pressure relief valve opens and clean oil flows back to the oil pan. If oil pressure is low, like at idle, the valve stays shut maintaining minimum safe engine oil pressure bypassing clean oil return from the bypass filter setup. Now lets address a couple of the myths. Think about how often your engine runs with minimum oil pressure. That is the only time clean oil is not returning to the oil pan from the filter. Basically anytime above idle and your bypass filter is working. What about those skinny oil lines, they can't move much oil, right? Wrong! The oil in moving under 20-60 pounds of pressure. On my B1 I once had a cracked (not broken) oil return line. I lost over 3 quarts in about 45 seconds. Based on that measure I thing it is safe to say all engine oil is being filtered every couple minutes the engine is above idle.

Modern full flow filters for modern engines must be able to pass large volumes of oil to provide full lubrication for mains and rods, plus have a bypass when the filters are dirty and clogged. They just don't filter dirty oil as well as a bypass filter. Bypass filters are still used extensively on long haul trucks, plus their are many aftermarket kits to add a functional bypass filter setup to modern engines. Why? They do a better job of filtering then a full flow filter!

Lastly, what about those remote mount kits for using a spin-on filter instead of the stock bypass system? They basically replace the bypass filter with an easier to change spin-on filter. My question is why would you want to replace a very efficient bypass filter with a spin on that typically allows particles 3 times larger to be returned to the oil pan? 

Like I said, old technology doesn't always mean obsolete technology! And if your engine doesn't have a bypass filter setup we have used units for sale in the P15-D24 Store. They also show up on eBay all the time.


I'm sure you have seen the build adventures on the Fast & Loud series at the Gas Monkey garage in Texas. Their "restorations" are actually a pretty good example of how some fast and shady car guys work and take the unsuspecting for quite a restoration ride. Make it look pretty but skip the details.

Pretty much every restoration or build is quick paint job, air bags, disk brakes up front, new seat covers and maybe a new front end. When you see the prices they are asking and wonder what happened to the detail stuff like brake lines, wiring, dash and chrome restoration or engine rebuild, it's no wonder they often lose their shirts at auction. A detailed pre-auction inspection should leave any potential buyer wondering why the job is half done at a full boat asking price. I pity the poor fool who buys one of these one week wonders and I'm amazed they doesn't go up in flames on the drive home.

And don't start with "You just don't like modded rides". Yeah, I'm old school, that is, if your going to do a job then do it right. If you do the job right the quality of the build is clearly evident. These cable show "builds" are just how fast can they turn them. WIthout the attention to detail for safety (or aesthetics) the objective is just find a buyer who doesn't know better. The problem is the growing proliferation of these programs (Desert Kings, Texas Cars Wars, et al.) is people actually accept this as the way the job should be done! Just reminds me of all the classic tricks used car salesmen use to use to move a lemon off the lot!

Your thoughts and comments?


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