2nd Gear in Ferraris

Discussion in 'Vintage (thru 365 GTC4)' started by Texas Forever, Mar 29, 2004.

  1. Texas Forever

    Texas Forever Five Time F1 World Champ
    Rossa Subscribed

    Apr 28, 2003
    I recently got asked this question via a PM and thought it might be time to revisit this issue again. I know that it has been covered before, but my guess is that this post will not be the last time it will come up.

    Sad to say, but grinding 2nd gear is just a Ferrari thing. Even my Maranello balks at going into 2nd until warmed up.

    In fact, here's the standard Ferrari drill. Before starting, you airshift paying particular attention to the shift gate for 2nd gear. After starting, you get going on a rolling start in 1st and rev it up to a decent RPM, then shift directly into 3rd, give it some gas and then shift to 4th (or even 5th in the Maranello). The V12s have so much torque that skipping a gear is no big deal. (In fact, I routinely go from 1st to 3rd in the Maranello even when hot.)

    As you approach the first decent stopping point, you start down shifting, double clutching as you go, 4th to 3rd, then really feel your way into 2nd, and then into 1st after you come to a stop. Typically that initial downshift into 2nd will wake it up to the point that it is not troublesome anymore for the rest of the drive.

    Don't know why 2nd is so balky on Ferraris, just the way it is I guess.

    Double clutching is a very fast double pump of the clutch. You push the clutch in and shift to the neutral position and let the clutch almost all the way out. While giving the car a little gas, you then push the clutch back in and then feel your way into the next gear with a firm push, but not a jam. It is a lot harder to write than to do. With some practice, it becomes second nature.

    My 2nd gear grinding was due strictly to driver error and not Gray's car. (Indeed, it is a great driver.) I was wearing shoes that had very thick rubber soles that cut off almost all feedback from my feet. In fact, I was having a hard time telling the clutch from the brake. Sounds strange, but you get to the point where you can feel whether the clutch has released as you start moving the stick. When this happens you will naturally double clutch without thinking about it.

    Here's a web site that explains it better than I can.

    IMHO, driving a vintage car well requires you to bond with that specific car. After a while, you can sense when a gear is going to pop or when it will require more massaging before working. Indeed, it is this level of involvement that makes driving vintage cars more fun at slower speeds. The modern cars are just too good.

    What do you folks think? Did I explain this correctly? Is this how you shift your vintage cars?

    Dr "Creaky" Tax
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  3. Simon

    Simon Moderator
    Moderator Owner

    Aug 29, 2003
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    Dr Tax, that sounds exactly the way I have to drive my Healey aswell, although its a little bit more agricultural than a 50's Ferrari admittedly. It also has a baulky 2nd gear.

    I tend to have less problems on the way down thru' the box but on the way up it can be tricky...accelerating past a group of admiring onlookers is mostly when I get it wrong.

    Nice post

    P.S. Its a '53 Austin Healey 100M
  4. wax

    wax Four Time F1 World Champ
    Advising Moderator

    Jul 20, 2003
    Full Name:
    Dirty Harry
    Saabs play hard-to-get in 2nd, too, though 3rd is usually the first one to give ring/sync/pinion headaches, let alone non-sync'ed reverse... in other words, as Simon also attests re his Austin, it's not restricted to Ferrari. Ideally, I suppose I'd gently slide into each gear before hitting the road, just to get the lube rolling around a bit - a bit of foreplay, if you will, to get her wet. Though us being men in a hurry and all, running straight from 1st base to 3rd (skipping 2nd altogether) to get to home plate seems to be the consensus.

    Method to the madness notwithstanding... as for Ferrari gear lubrication - if memory serves - there's different mixes for different F-Cars that serve their purpose admirably. I think it was Byron who had a recipe for success involving a Redline synthetic mix of 2 types of MTL and weight... Though it seems Royal purple and Mobil 1, even StaLube work best in other F-trannies. Then again, there's also the question of the selector rod itself getting the past the physics of hydraulic pressure which prevent gear oil from getting where it needs to go - 2nd base! A properly placed vent hole alleviates the symptoms, but you don't want to fudge that up... (Oh, the joys of reading F-Chat for it's intended purpose.)
  5. Bertocchi

    Bertocchi Formula 3

    Jan 28, 2004
    New Orleans, LA
    Full Name:
    David Castelhano
    Your explanation is very good. I have been working on these cars since the 1970s and you have described what I have been told and preached all along.

    The only other thought I might ad is tension and/or mechanical composition of the second gear syncro itself. I was tought to rebuild the 330 style transaxle with a fourth gear syncro. Second gear syncros wore out faster and forth gear syncro were a little stronger. This contributed to the cold shifting syndrone. I was also trained to never rev above 4000 rpm unless there was a reading on the oil temp gauge. By that time the gearbox is warm and happier.

    I believe this is a minor inconvenience and proper operation can prolong the life of your transaxle.
  6. Smiles

    Smiles Moderator
    Moderator Owner

    Nov 20, 2003
    Pittsburgh, PA
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    Matt F
    Well said!

    I'd like to point out that defiant second gears became much more of an issue with transaxle cars. (Those are the ones with the shiny shifter gates.) Although my behind-the-engine transmissioned 330 2+2 also takes a while before the 2nd gear synchros cooperate.

    Thanks, Bertocchi, for the idea of using a fourth gear synchro during a transmission rebuild. That's a great idea.

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  8. Bryan

    Bryan Formula 3

    Explanation and fix for balky second gear in 308s was in Prancing Horse some time ago.

    I'll try to dig it up.
  9. UroTrash

    UroTrash Three Time F1 World Champ
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    Jan 20, 2004
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    Internet Poseur

    DrTax was responding to my PM that prompted this thread. I'm proud to see that my ignorance has served a purpose by prompting this interesting thread. I'll see if I can come up with some other stupid questions!:)
  10. Bryan

    Bryan Formula 3

  11. Glassman

    Glassman F1 World Champ
    Silver Subscribed

    On my 250 GT you have to get the revs up before down shifting into second, or it wont go. Into first while the car is moving requires a stacatto style shift.
    (If that makes any sense)
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  13. Texas Forever

    Texas Forever Five Time F1 World Champ
    Rossa Subscribed

    Apr 28, 2003
    Why is 2nd so balky on these older Ferraris? Is the gap between 3rd and 2nd that big of a canyon, or was it just the Ferrari way?

    Also do you blip going down into second or is it more of a mini rev?

    I'm guess that your stacatto analogy is that you have to really feel you way into 1st so that you keep blipping until it feels right, yes?

    Thx, DrTax
  14. Glassman

    Glassman F1 World Champ
    Silver Subscribed

    Its a mini rev, a double clutch, and a short pause in neutral.
    I rev after taking it out of third gear and just before going into second.
    I have no idea if thats the way its supposed to work. It just works for me.

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