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Townsend Reverse Gear Fix


Is your shifter popping out of reverse?
Do you want to fix it without pulling the tranny or buying gears?

Because the Saab transmission does not synchronize reverse gear, they decided to limit the amount of surface area available for the gear to work with.
This helps prevent people from breaking the gear when they slam the car into reverse before they are fully stopped. Unfortunately, when the gear wears down from grinding, it starts to pop out of gear.

Luckily you are able to change the reverse mechanism in the tranny so it will fully engage reverse gear!
Flipping around the reverse gear arm allows full travel and engagement of reverse.


Remove the side cover where the dipstick goes in the tranny. Watch out and don't lose the spring and détente ball behind this cover, they shouldn't fly out but know they are there. You should see reverse idler gear right in front of you. It is attached to an arm with a swiveling flat screwdriver type ear to engage the gear. Note the end of this arm at its end away from the idler. The notch cut in it to engage reverse shift fork is offset, not centered. Note which way it is offset. We're going to flip it so the offset is to the other side.



Remove the 10 mm bolt securing the arm to the shaft, remove the e clip holding the swivel to the arm. There is a washer spot-welded to the arm where the swivel came off. Carefully remove this washer in order to place it on the other side of the arm. I use a hammer and chisel with the arm in the vise. You could use a hacksaw if you want. Switch everything to the opposite side of the arm than it was originally so that the offset notch in the top is offset the opposite way than it was.

There is a spacer/pivot point that rides in the center of the arm. With the other pieces off the arm, temporarily tighten it in place on the tranny and check for play by pulling in and out on the arm. If you need to adjust for this play, you need to slowly file away the surface of the spacer where it extends from the arm until you can bolt it up and still have free pivot action, but little play (better too loose than too tight so don't go too far with the filing).

When this feels right, make sure the end for the gear turns smoothly in the washer you removed, don't worry about fastening the washer down, it won't go anywhere, its there to strengthen and space the assembly, just file it smooth from the old weld marks(do the same for the arm marks) and secure it with the clip.

Reinstall with LocTite on the bolt torqued to 50 INCH/lbs.(snug with a regular wrench will do with the LocTite). If you notice how far reverse is engaged before the mod you see that 50% gear mesh between 1st and the idler is about all you get from the factory.

 

 



A great all purpose sealer for the car line is LocTite's 518 Anaerobic Gasket Eliminator. Its space age stuff that really seals and is factory recommended for a lot of engine and transmission repairs. Parts stores here carry it. No danger of it clogging an oil pickup or passage like excessive silicone sealers that break off and drop down, it only sets in the absence of oxygen (between parts).


After the repair, you might want to check the motor mounts, especially the front one. To get the best shifting, check the shifter's white plastic ball and bushing on the shaft in the housing. Lubing here with wheel bearing grease smoothes things up. Look at the shifter adjustment and on early gearboxes (-86.5) the external centering mechanism and its spring.



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