Toploader 4 speed


Founding Member
Mar 2, 2001
Hagerstown, MD
I have a 1967 Toploader that came out of a Fairlane. Amazingly it's going back into a 66 Fairlane, my newest project.

It pops out of second consistantly. I pulled the top cover this afternoon to take a look. I expected to see the 2nd gear blocking ring torn up but it looks ok. In fact, it looks less worn than the 3-4 blocking ring.

The input shaft has a good bit of deflection. About 1/16 to 1/8 of an inch. It might be enough to cause the problem but I am not convinced.

The gears and sliders look ok. Operate smoothly by hand.

I used to rebuild muncie m21 and m22 4 speeds before i crossed over from the dark have some experiance with 4 speeds, justnone with the Ford toploader.

Any toploader experts that could make some recomendations on this problem?

  • Sponsors (?)

There's more parts ( I don't recall their names) hidden inside the gears that I think hold the gear selections. One is a spring that holds three or four metal clips and these have something to do with it. Rebuilding the Toploader is pretty easy, no special tools needed. If you've done Muncies, you can do these. Go to for parts. A rebuild kit runs about $175 I think, it's been awhile. This is David kee's site, he includes instructions with the kits on tear down and reasssembly. I think all the Toploaders I've dealt with had about the same input deflection. The input bearing is a ball bearing roller bearing and the input shaft rides on the tip of the main shaft on 1/2" to 3/4" long needle bearings. Once the whole thing's together in the car, the pilot bearing/bushing supports the front of the input, getting rid if the slack.
This car is not a keeper so I don't want to rebuild the whole thing. I've driven this trans and it's fine except for popping 2nd. I assume a blocking ring and the clips and springs under the slider but wanted to see if I was missing something. The blocking ring "looks" ok on 2nd. I've seen much worse...wear that is obvious. BUt maybe it's worn just enough to cause the problem. Anyone else?
It does sound like you may have a lot of play on your input shaft. If it is bad and you run it too much like that, you could ruin your case, input shaft, output shaft, and front bearing support. When it gets excessive, you will have problems with 3rd/4th gear. Ask me how I know . . . . .

The best way I can I can help is to ask you several questions:

Is your shifter properly adjusted and does/did it hit anything when shifting? How stiff is your rubber shift boot? Are you running a Hurst shifter that needs the stops adjusted? Any shift rod interference?

You said your blocking ring looks good, but what about the engagement teeth on second gear? Are they still somewhat pointy or are they flattened?

As D.Hearne said, the sychronizer parts must be intact and in good shape (they are the parts that the shift forks control.) The inner and outer ring must not have too much play. Also the 3 shift dogs and their C springs must be in good condition. There are engagement teeth on the outer sychro rings that must be in good shape too.

The internal shift rod system consists of 3 rods, 3 springs, and 6 detents. The notches in the shift rods accept the detents when you are in gear. The rods must move freely, both fore and aft. Kind of a neat setup. If all the parts are present, are free, and the notches of the rods look undamaged, I doubt you have problems with that area.

Although David Kee has a wonderful web site with lots of info, I have never dealt with him. I am sure he is very knowledgeable.

I have dealt with and highly recommend Mark at . You can get his complete deluxe bearing kit for $175 which includes some simple, and yet functional tools for rebuilding. Also included is a CD with step by step instructions and lots of real pictures that show you how to use the tools and disassemble/reassemble your tranny. I printed it out and flip through it as I rebuild my trannies. Mark answers his own phone and is very helpful--7 days a week. You can also find him answering questions on the net in various forums. He is a stand up guy and I am a very happy customer.

If you would like to tear your tranny apart and would like some help, I am about an hour and 15 minutes away from you. I have the knowledged, the tools, plus I might have a few spare parts. . .
THe trans is no longer in a car. I got it from my boss for free. Came out of his Cobra repli-car. On the few ocassions that I drove the car I had no problems, but the severl months later he had problems and we changed it out. I suspect that the linkage adjustment may have been off on 2nd. I am not sure though.

The gear teeth are still pointy, none flatened. I was hoping to not replace 2nd gear...also, the input shaft is actually 4th gear? I think I had it backwards when I posted. So 1st and 2nd are towards the rear of the case. The blocking rings are a little more worn than the front ones, but still have points on the rings and gears. And the dogs are smooth-click nice. No binding.

I would be happy to bring it up to your place for some help since this would really be the first Ford trans I worked on. Seems pretty simular to the GM stuff functionaly.

I'm just used to seeing some obvious damage when a trans pops out of gear. I'm not seeing it here or maybe I need to see a good one for a basis of comparison. Just doesn't look that bad. But I also don't want to install it and have to pull it back out again either...

Thats a great site. THe gear teeth look ok but I think I will take another look Monday. From the website mentioned above:
You need to find is a transmission with good mesh teeth. A transmission with hammered mesh teeth will likely have very sluggish shifts and may also jump out of gear. One thing is for certain. Its life expectancy is not long.
If that Toploader's never been rebuilt, it may be a good idea to completely tear it down just to change the shift rod seals. I wished I had done this in the one in my Ranger now. Nothing worse than a greasy transmission. Mine doesn't leak enough from the seals to add any oil, or to justify the effort to take it out, tear it completely down just to access the shaft seals, but it does keep the whole thing wet.:notnice: