Ruckstell shifhting

Sambuca, Hunter and me with my Ruckstell rearend take on Tenney Hill Road here in Dunbarton, New Hampshire. Tenney Hill Road is a very steep dirt road here in town, that I enjoy use whenever I am in the area. Yesterday was my 1st attempt at shifting the Ruckstell from high to low gear while going up hill. It worked great, but I need more practice with my shifting.

Happy motoring,


Love your videos! And your car with the bell!

My Ruckstell shifts to underdrive easily when going slowly. I just hold the clutch for two seconds, then pull the lever back. Very smooth and no problems. Getting out of underdrive is a different story. I run her up to about 30, hold the clutch for two seconds, and then cram the lever forward hard, I mean I have to really slam it. I doubt that is normal, but I have never driven another T with a Ruckstell.

Does my Ruckstell need repair, or is this normal, or am I doing something wrong?

Thank you for answering Tom, unfortunately I do not know the answer to your question myself. Maybe, hopefully someone who has more knowledge than us will read this and give us some better advice.

Happy motoring,


Here is a video I made earlier when I was having problem getting the Ruckstell working while installing it in Sambuca:

I have been working on installing a Ruckstell rear end in Sambuca for quite some time now and could not get it to shift, so I brought it with me when I went to visit my good friend Dick Welch. Dick immediately knew what the problem was and set to work on it right away. Placing it in his shop vise, with the help of Marvel Mystery Oil, he began to move the working parts. Soon Dick had it working as good as new. Thanks to Dick Welch and Marvel Mystery Oil I can now drive and shift Sambuca. (not recommended for anyone who might get upset about using MMO)

At Warrens request I will add my 2 cents worth,keep in mind this is my experience others may vary. I have rebuilt TT and T ruckstells and currently run one in my 27 Coupe and another in a 22 TT Dumptruck. I use them regularly when driving with no issues, this is how I shift them after reading reprinted pamphlets and researching years ago. When upshifting from Ruckstell low to high I accelerate normally and when speed seems to top out (you will get the feel for this the more you drive it) I depress clutch pedal just enough to disengage Ford high while returning throttle to idle once at idle speed I shift into Ruckstell high then let up on clutch pedal while accelerating with the throttle at the same time.To shift from Ruckstell high to low what I do is as T starts to slow down I let it slow to the point where I would normally shift to Ford low and what I do is again depress clutch pedal to disengage Ford high while returning throttle to idle once at idle I shift Ruckstell into low then release clutch pedal while accelerating at the same time . Once you master this then its time to start shifting Ruckstell and Ford at the same time

This has been my Ruckstell experience, through a varying backdrop
of rebuilding and equipment changes …

My truck came to me with what was probably a once-rebuilt engine,
Kingston carb, 7:1 gears, and a Ruckstell. It was all I knew about T’s
up to this point, so I had no other experience for reference. It was slow,
vibrated like hell, and did I mention it was slow ? Ruckstell only made
it go slower !

Prior to buying the truck, I went to the fine folks at the Antique Auto
Ranch and announced my interest in making a TT go fast. I was met with
a rolling of eyes and the unspoken thoughts of “here we go again”, “crackpot”,
“another fool who will fade away”. But over the course of more visits and
lots of questions, a few tidbits of T wisdom were imparted that have affected
my truck’s mechanical evolution, and by extension, Ruckstell use.

The first bit was “You will need to find ‘high speed’ gears”. Immediately
followed by, “You will need to build an engine powerful enough to push
those ‘high speed’ gears”. From there, it was a trickle down of what it
takes to build a more powerful T engine.

So, the old, slow truck arrives and I am thrilled to finally own and
drive a T. And I begin to understand what everyone meant by “really
slow” … hehehehe ! But I also learned that my poor old engine, with
those farm gears struggled to make it up hills without using Ford low.
I began to experiment with engaging Ruckstell low on Altamont hill
and found it tricky to time the vehicle speed to the downshift, but if
I hit it right, could make the top of the hill without using Ford low.
But the key was hitting that vehicle speed point just right and popping
the shift with a quick stab of the clutch pedal. I found this far easier
to get right than shifting back into direct drive.

That operation required a rather jerky slowing of the truck to a speed
that once upshifted, forced me back into Ford low to make the second
part of the hill. Naturally, a parade of impatient drivers would instantly
materialize from nowhere every time I got on the hill, exacerbating my
tension to get it right and at least make the hill at a speed over 3mph !

Then I blasted a couple rod bearings and used that as my excuse to do
the engine rebuild. A stand-in engine was offered by Tom Carnegie, and
a new twist to the game was introduced. This engine was more powerful
than my old engine, and completely changed the need to shift and where
and how. It still required a vehicle speed syncing, as the clutch pedal
was momentarily engaged, but with more power, I could make it so far
up the hill that the brief use of Ford low was smoother and easier than
the jerky disengagement at the level section, halfway up. I could use
Ford low to crest the first steep part, drop back to Ford high across the
level section and build some speed before hitting the second part and
repeat the process on the second steep part.

I then installed the rebuilt rear end with ‘express gears’ and found that
I could hit 35 at the base of the hill, rather than 15, and the momentum
nearly carried me to the top at a decent speed, with no shifting of anything.

With the installation of the rebuilt engine - Scat crank, C-race cam,
Z-head, straight-thru NH, and a meticulous balancing, … the truck
will now pull the entire hill at speed in Ford high. No Ford low, no Ruckstell,
no nothin’ ! Just power all the way to the top. Now, I am kind of regretting
the rebuild and installation of the Ruckstell. I never use it. It chokes the
cab leg area with a pointless shifter and adds the extra weight of the unit
in back. A Lincoln 3-speed aux. transmission is planned for this winter.
That will give me an overdrive, yet another lever in the cab, and a gear
array that exceeds my math abilities. 50+ should be attainable on level
ground in Lincoln high, and Lincoln low should duplicate Ruckstell low,
Lincoln high and Ruckstell low should produce a whole different gearing
range …

For now, I don’t care. The truck goes anywhere I point it with no issues.

Thanks to both of you for your helpful answers. I have found a link that you can print a copy of the Ruckstell Pamphlet use:

Happy motoring,


Wow, lots of good information here. Great video Warren!

I am currently rebuilding a Ruckstell rear axle with 40 / 12 tooth gears. It always amazes me just how few parts there are in a Ruckstell. What a fabulous piece of design work it is.

Yes, but … as a newbie, I have to really slam my shift lever to get out of underdrive. with a 3:1 rear, when I get to 30 mph, I hold the clutch in for two seconds, then have to slam the shift lever forward to get out of underdrive. Is that normal, or does it indicate I need a rebuild? Thanks…

Tom with that ratio you have a 13 tooth pinion gear and 39 tooth ring gear.

Pushing the clutch in does not give best results for Ruckstell shifting. What you want to do is have power applied when downshifting. To upshift it likes for the throttle to be retarded. You don’t, or I should say shouldn’t, need to push in the clutch.


As a relative noobie, m’seff … all I know about Ruckstell use has been from
reading and listening to the talk of others, and then just trying to use mine in
ways they described.

After the post yesterday, I decided to “throw down” on the Ruckstell on a heavy
hill leading to a client’s place today. My previous comment about speed sync’ing
and a quick stab of the clutch pedal to find neutral for just a moment seems to
get me into Ruckstell low smoothly.

What annoys the crap out of me about the Ruckstell is the winding out as pick
up speed, and the inability to shift out of low without the clusterschtuppe herky-
jerky that causes me to lose all momentum, and thereby force me back into low
Ruckstell, or using Ford low ! What’s the point ? Now, I am all ears to any suggestions
to remedy this out-shifting clumsiness. I just have not found a smooth way to get
out of Ruckstell low in practice. Maybe it just isn’t in the cards and my modern iron
paradigm of smooth shifts never was a reality for Ruckstell-equipped T’s ???

But as I perkily climbed the hill, I wound out the rpm’s to an uncomfortable
point and had to just cruise at that limited speed until I reached the top, or in
this case, the client’s driveway. I then swung wide, and rolled the truck back-
ward into the driveway, and cut the throttle back to an idle, and pushed the
Ruckstell lever forward until it dropped out of low. I then shut off the engine
and went away to take care of business.

Am I doing it “right” ? I really have no frame of reference to know what “right”
actually looks or feels like. I took the truck down to the dealership and they
just laughed at me. Can you believe this total lack of customer support ??? !

This is the last Ford I will ever buy …

[quote=“Auto Inn” post_id=955 time=1506644093 user_id=48]
Pushing the clutch in does not give best results for Ruckstell shifting. What you want to do is have power applied when downshifting. To upshift it likes for the throttle to be retarded. You don’t, or I should say shouldn’t, need to push in the clutch."

I did a lot of test driving this morning. For upshifting I found it best to just back off the throttle and push her into gear, works much better than when the clutch is depressed. Again, THANKS!

It’s funny! I’ve been driving with Ruckstells for so many years, I can’t tell you how I do it! It seems to me I usually just hit the clutch pedal when shifting. Sometimes, I just slam it in. Those Ruckstells are so forgiving.