After 15 years of owning my 72 Pre-L Pantera, I realize I do not understand “free-play”.

I am experiencing grinding going into reverse. I removed the engine, replaced motor mounts, master clutch cylinder, slave cylinder, safety wired the ZF, replaced the clutch disc....etc. When the car warms up, there is a grinding going into reverse. 
I have a stainless feed line to the master, lots of travel at the slave, shifts fine into reverse when cold. Maybe, just maybe, it is my misunderstanding of the “freeplay”? HELP!!



Original Post

I always put the trans into first gear before I put it in reverse which seems to help prevent the grinding. Don at a Full Throttle Pantera’s said this is the best thing to do when I asked him about the same issue.

 Ditto the above post, but also make sure that you are depressing the clutch pedal as far as it will go. With the minimal travel in a Pantera it is important to make sure all of it is being used. 


Dear Blake,

       Egad.  Your description of your problem with the reverse shift and your tale of blind alleys and deadends with trying to solve it sounds *exactly* like my problem with reverse that I endured and chased for a few years.

       In short, the shift into reverse would work fine when cold.  However, after about an eight mile drive, it would grind going into reverse and continue until it had cooled completely overnight.

        I adjusted it the shift linkage.  I fiddled with the slave cylinder free play.  I changed engines.  I changed clutches.  I asked Dennis Quella.   Finally, a local Pantera friend ( with extensive ZF experience) confidently told me it was a problem with the shift linkage adjustment.  I found this hard to believe because when cold, everything including reverse worked fine.  When warm, everything worked fine except for reverse. 

       At this point, I had nothing to lose by returning to adjusting the shift linkage.  As I looked at it critically, it did seem to be ever so slight off center. When I adjusted it to the center sweet spot, the cold shift into reverse seemed a bit easier and after a test drive for the warm shift---it worked fine and has continued to work fine.  

      I would advise checking all your shift linkage U-joints, particularly the one under the ash tray in the center console.  Once assured that they're all tight, then proceed to another ( yes, I know it is tedious and seems pointless) shift linkage adjustment.  You might even consider warming it up and then adjusting according to protocol.

            Warmest regards,  Chuck Engles

This may not be your issue, but I had some shifting problems when the car warmed up too. Maybe just make sure your trunion nut is tight under the car while you are at it. Mine took 15/16" wrench and after tightening slightly all was good.

Thanks forall the advice and recommendations! I have gone through all the linkage, removed the shifter box and reassembled, made sure that the set screws on the ZF were tight. I even moved the stainless feed line away from the header in case the fluid was boiling.

i am down to the freeplay, which is not adjusted properly. I am fooling with around with this adjustment this morning. Let youknow how it goes😊.

Thanks again for all the replies/help!image


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I just returned from a one hour drive. The car was good and hot. Seems like adjusting the “free play” did the trick. Shifted nicely into reverse without going into 1st or 2nd gear before reverse. I will sleep better tonight!

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