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Triumph TR6 - Hard to find reverse

I've got a '74 TR6. It's very difficult to get the gear shift lever into reverse. I really have to fight with the lever to "find" reverse. Is this normal? I've only had the car a few months. I will be doing a clutch job on this car soon and thought I could look at this problem while the tranny is out. Any idea whats wrong? Appreciate any thoughts. Thanks
Steve H.
p Hazelfeldt

Well before you take your trani apart, try this. With the palm of your hand on the shifter facing the passenger door push the stick shift as hard to the right as possible in on quick motion, then down. This should work. I find if you just try to find it normaly, it is very hard to get in gear.

ps I have a 74 as well


My TR3A has no synchromesh in first nor in reverse. Try what I do when I'm in neutral and try to put it into first or reverse. For a TR6, you may only need to try this going into in reverse since all your other gears have synchomesh.

When you want to go into reverse, don't push it there. First put it into second gear, then a second later when that gear is sychronized, whip it over and into the reverse gate. It should go in as smooth as silk without a murrmurr or any "clashing or crashing of teeth" as Shakespeare (I believe it was him) said.

I've used this technique for 44 years and many's a time I told other TR3A owners to do this when I hear them sitting there trying to push the gear stick into a non-synchro gear and hear the horrible noise it's making .... and they are amazed !!!

Don Elliott, Original Owner, 1958 TR3A
Don Elliott

Don has got the technique dialed in. Even with the all forward gear syncro box on the TR6, the reverse is still a straight cut gear. Having everything all happy together makes finding reverse that much easier. Even for first, I still grab third, then pull it down and around into first, an old habit from my days of driving non-syncro first boxes in BMC cars. (Don would probably think that I have lived a deprived life. I've driven all manner of things, but never a TR3 of any sort)

I tried Teds technique, didn't work. It will only go into reverse when I jiggle the stick shift around against the far right side. It takes usually about ten wiggles before it can finally go far enough to the right and engage reverse. Once it goes past the "gate" to the right everything is normal. It never grinds gears going into reverse. Any other thoughts?
Steve H

If your idle is more than about 700 or 800 rpm it will be harder to get it into gear.

It sounds like you have some sloppiness in the linkage for the reverse gate. It might be in the top of the gearbox in which case you only need to take out the tunnel and maybe remove the top cover with the shifter assembly to check it.

Or it could be the yoke and/or the rod it slides on that puts the reverse gear into position.

Don Elliott
Don Elliott


My 74 does the same thing. I.e. I have to jiggle it into reverse, and sometimes it is absolute pain in the boot. I can also hear some rattling in tranny, which goes away when I step on the clutch.

My mechanic says that my clutch fork pin is sheared, but he did not seem to think I needed to worry about it YET. He thought fixing some other issues on my car took priority (e.g. inconsequential things like soft rear springs), and this problem could easily wait till winter. The only thing he thought I should stay out of is stop and go traffic where I would need to clutch a lot. He said that if the clutch got hot, it could freeze up until it cooled down. Since I have a 3 mile commute with zero traffic, I have ignored this issue, and it has not been a problem.

The short of this is that I do plan to replace the clutch fork pin, and while I/you are in there, there are a bunch of other things that we should probably also do since most of the work involved is getting to the tranny. There are a few good posts on this in the BBS' archives. Do a search for "clutch".

If your clutch is giving you problems, that may be the sources of your troubles right there. The clutch has to be fully engaged in order to find reverse. If your hydralics (clutch master and slave) or clutch spring is not 100%, its not going to work.


The clutch master and slave cyl. were just rebuilt. I'm getting enough clutch. It just chatters when engaging/releasing. I suspect the "finding reverse" problem lies somewhere in the top case/linkage for reverse like Don said.
Steve H

Ignatius, if your clutch fork pin is sheared then that is a priority to have it fixed because it will leave you basically dead on the road unable to select a gear or use your clutch. I am surprised that you still can drive the car, because with a sheared pin the only way to get going is to turn the car off, put it in gear and start it and while it leaps give gas to keep it going, then crash the gear between changes.

Hmmm, not exactly the way I would like to drive my TR around not to mention being stranded in a middle of nowhere .

Steven - You are correct about the way to start, but did you know that you don't need to crash your gears to change when you have no clutch ?

Go out on a nice day in your TR6 when there is little or no traffic on a safe road and try the following till you can get it down to a fine art where you can change gears with no clutch.

Drive off in first, then let up off the gas and pull on the gearstick. With no torque on the gears for a second or two, it will pull out - into neutral - with no clutch. Then put it into the second gate and give it a little push. Because the engine rpm is still dropping - if you do this fast enough - the gentle push will engage second at the synchronised speed - with no clutch. Repeat for third and top gear.

If you are too slow getting a handle on this technique, it's a simple matter to learn. Say you get it out of first and you're in neutral and it won't go into second. Don't force it. Rev the engine say to 3500 rpm again and while it's dropping, try the gentle pull on the gearstick into second. When the speeds are right it'll pop into second. Try again till you get it.

You can also short-shift to get you home or to a garage. Shortshifting is even easier. That's when you go from say 2nd to 4th to save a step going through 3rd.

Many's a time I had to do this on my TR3A in its former life (before 1972 with 80,000 miles on it) but I've only had to do it once since my restoration in 1990 and that was to teach a TR6 owner how it works. Then I went out in his TR6 and I showed him how easy it is. Right Ted ?

Don Elliott, Original Owner, 1958 TR3A
Don Elliott

I know about shifting without a clutch and done it many a times especially when my clutch master cylinder crapped out on my MX6 Turbo 200km from home. I can actually go up and go down, however some gear boxes are easier than others (Honda, Toyota) I found that the TR is a harder one to do this.

I used the phrase 'crash through the gears' to make a point that for most people driving without a clutch is difficult and not desirable to the box.

I always found shifting without a clutch brings 3 results
1. speeds well off = will not engage into gear
2. speeds that are close but not right = grind
3. speeds are perfect = easy shift

I have owned a 73 TR6 for just over a year and it also was a fight getting the shifter into reverse. I can't recall where I heard of this technique, but now, to put it into reverse, I pull up on the shifter while it is in the neutral position and while keeping the upward pull, move it to the right and then back into the reverse position. Slides right in each time without any problem.

Your technique seems to work. It takes both hands to get enough lift on the shifter but it goes right in. It shouldn't be this difficult. I still think something is worn inside the linkage. I'll have to look at it when I replace the clutch. At least for now it keeps my wife from driving the car.
Steve H
Steve H

Interesting...a couple of weeks ago at the gas station the guy behind the counter was intrigued with my TR6, said he used to sell them at a Calif. dealer in the 70's, and mentioned " I always hated that they set it up so you have to pull up on the gearshift to get reverse." Could it be intentional engineering? That certainly would explain why it's not consistent with every car ;)
Karl Prager

Steve H.,
At first it seemed difficult to do, but after time it got alot easier. Most likely, things loosened up and it also became an natural feeling manuver. It really was awkward and strange initially.

Interestingly, if you look in the repair manual the gate in the reverse shift rod is actually higher than the gates in the other 2 rods, so lifting the shifter makes sense. My 6 shifts just fine into reverse with out any lifting or jiggling of any kind.
C. Wiebe

Hi Steven (Toronto), and everybody else,

I looked through my notes from my mechanic, and he wrote "broken clutch fork bolt" when I had the car inspected. I trust the guy, but I am obviously open to 2nd opinions.

I will call him tomorrow to clarify this, but in looking at my manuals I see two things that fit this description. The first is the clutch fork pin on the clutch shaft, and now that I think about it, if this pin was broken, then stepping on the clutch pedal would not do anything, right? ...since the fork would not rotate?

Then the second is the pin on the ends of the forks that hold the bearing release carrier. Could the later be what he thinks is broken?

My symptoms are very much like Steve H's, i.e. difficult to find reverse, but I also have a slight rattle in the bell housing when the clutch is not depressed, that Steve did not mention. If one of these pins is broken, would this be less of a worry as my mechanic seems to think. Other than reverse being sticky, I can shift in all other gears just fine.




I have the same symptoms you have. My car does make a small noise in neutral that goes away when the clutch pedal is stepped on. Maybe it is the release bearing spinning around and making noise that goes away when the clutch pedal is stepped on. I never thought it was any big deal and never thought it had to do with finding reverse. I can find reverse now by lifting on the stick shift when moving it into reverse as Roy suggested. Have you tried that yet? It takes a lot of lift pressure now but I'm hoping it will be less as time goes on. I'm still interested to hear what your mechanic has to say.
Steve H
Steve H

I had the same noise in my transmission when idling in neutral...a sort of shhhhhhhhh sound, and went away when the clutch was pushed down.

Usual culprit is worn bearing(s) on the layshaft in the transmission. In my case it was the trust washer on the layshaft that got spun out of its tab and put pressure on the constant gear. The amount of wear on the surface of the constant gear was considerable and had to replace the gear as there was about 1/16 grove cut in to the machined surface that contacts the thrust washer.

My worn constant gear is a nice $100 paper weight

OK, here is the diagnosis from my mechanic.

He does think that it is the clutch fork pin on the SHAFT, rather than at the ends of the fork that is sheared, but it is sheared only on the end of the pin so the nut end is still holding the fork. I guess there is a little nub on the end of the pin that goes into a slot in the fork that can break. Does anyone have one of these pins sitting around? ...or remember seeing this nub?

He said that the broken nub allows the fork to wiggle on the shaft a little bit, but the nut ends keeps the fork from freely rotating. This wiggle/play in the fork makes it harder to shift, especially in reverse. These are similar symptoms to when some other things in your clutch system are off. I.e. if you do not have enough travel in the clutch, then shifting gets tough/crunchy. First should also be a little tough also, and you probably will not notice it that much in the higher gears since things are moving.

He recommended rebuilding the other systems around my clutch first, then save money for the big job. So I rebuilt my clutch cylinders, put a stainless hose between the two (mostly because plastic hydraulics scare me), and put a new pin in where the rod from the master connects to my pedal (the ovaling on the holes were minor, but the pin showed some gouges from the rod). He said that some people have lengthened the rod that goes from the slave to the shaft lever, but he advised against this.

I do have a shhhhhhh sound also, but it is definitely accompanied by a slight intermittent rattle when I am in neutral and not stepping on the clutch. My guess is that the rattle comes from the fork or clutch plate when it wiggles. All these noises go away when I am in gear.

I tried lifting the shifter to get into reverse, but could not. Call me a wheenie, but if I pull any harder, I am scared that I would pull my shift knob off.

Ig. - Check the archives to learn all about this clutch pin. I drilled a 1/4" diameter hole right through the yoke and shaft and inserted a 1/4"- 28 UNF bolt and nut with red loctite (in addition to installing a new tapered pin as the original).

Others have done an even easier (and equally effective) job by drilling a 1/8" diameter hole right through and inserting a 1/8" diameter spring pin (like a dowel pin - but with a "C" cross-section) in addition to a new tapered pin to replace your broken pin with the square head.

Don Elliott, 1958 TR3A
Don Elliott

Ignatius-Did the whole deal this past winter , not tough to do. My suggestion buy all ney parts and not to mess with trying to get the broken part of the pin out. Any questions give me a call no problem really
Don K.

I am not sure how your mechanic determined this w/o looking at it..unless he disconnected the slave and operated the lever by hand and felt the play. The pin is tapered with a threaded end and square head with hole in it to slip a wire through to prevent it from comming out. It sounds like the square head is broken off and the pin is just sitting in the taper hole. If there is play the tapered hole is probably not a true taper anymore but elongated...mine was and had to replace the entire arm also.. Buy both as new items. Do like Don E suggests and add the second bolt for security. There is an article on this on the WEB...I think VTR. Also add an extra bearing at both ends of the clutch arm where it rides in the bell housing...longer bearing life.

Steve H I have been following this thread and the bottom line is that u have a problem in the mechanics of your tranny. You should not have to lift the gear shift at all. A simple push to the right and down should do it.
Rick C
Rick Crawford

Rick C, Ya, he was under the car for a few minutes trying to figure this out. I am not sure if he actually disconnected the slave rod, but he was jiggling the lever.

Don E. and Don Kelly, I read the article on replacing and beefing up the clutch pin. Getting to the tranny sounds like a royal pain in the boot, but I am glad to hear that others have done this themselves.


This thread was discussed between 03/07/2002 and 10/07/2002

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