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rumblestrip

Let's Talk Transmissions!

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Ok, way back when, F1 cars had a shift lever. Then along came Ferrari with those paddle shifters.

Now, my understanding is that with the paddle shifters, the driver only needs the clutch to launch, then it's just click, click, click on the right to upshift, and click, click, click on the left to downshift. The brake pedal is operated with the left foot, and the gas with the right, and the clutch is actually a lever somewhere.

Even though the driver doesn't have to use the clutch anymore, he still picks the gears. Yet I'm constantly seeing this type of transmission referred to as an "automatic" by people. I guess my definition of an automatic transmission is different.

BUT...

Back in the shift lever days, my understanding was that the driver used the clutch to launch, and to downshift, and the shift lever wasn't your standard H-pattern, but just a straight stick that you pull back to upshift (with no clutch involved) and nudged forward to downshift. Am I wrong?

Now I'm curious as to the evolution of transmissions in F1. I wish I had a timeline, because I know that they must have used the H-pattern at some time.

Does anyone have any information on this? Either knowledge or a link?

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Ok, way back when, F1 cars had a shift lever. Then along came Ferrari with those paddle shifters.

Now, my understanding is that with the paddle shifters, the driver only needs the clutch to launch, then it's just click, click, click on the right to upshift, and click, click, click on the left to downshift. The brake pedal is operated with the left foot, and the gas with the right, and the clutch is actually a lever somewhere.

Even though the driver doesn't have to use the clutch anymore, he still picks the gears. Yet I'm constantly seeing this type of transmission referred to as an "automatic" by people. I guess my definition of an automatic transmission is different.

BUT...

Back in the shift lever days, my understanding was that the driver used the clutch to launch, and to downshift, and the shift lever wasn't your standard H-pattern, but just a straight stick that you pull back to upshift (with no clutch involved) and nudged forward to downshift. Am I wrong?

Now I'm curious as to the evolution of transmissions in F1. I wish I had a timeline, because I know that they must have used the H-pattern at some time.

Does anyone have any information on this? Either knowledge or a link?

On the bold part: you are correct. On the rest of it, I'll try to find a link with some info.

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All I know is they where fully automatic, then Semi-automatic (only have to shift up, down is automatic) and now they are just automatic clutch.

Lot of words with auto the past few year's, maybe you just got some wires crossed?

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On the bold part: you are correct. On the rest of it, I'll try to find a link with some info.

Thanks!

All I know is they where fully automatic, then Semi-automatic (only have to shift up, down is automatic) and now they are just automatic clutch.

Ewww, weird. I'd want to be able to decide when to downshift. Thanks for the info.

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All I know is they where fully automatic, then Semi-automatic (only have to shift up, down is automatic) and now they are just automatic clutch.

I may have the wrong end of the stick, but I'm not sure on your definitons of semi- and fully-automatic gearboxes. I thought Fully AT meant you had no control at all, and Semi auto transmission meant you decide when to shift (either direction) but are not actually a part of physically changing gear (the cogs bit).

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Old style stick shifting was always H pattern as far as I know. I don't think there was ever a sequential type stick shift (as in touring cars, for example).

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Now, my understanding is that with the paddle shifters, the driver only needs the clutch to launch, then it's just click, click, click on the right to upshift, and click, click, click on the left to downshift. The brake pedal is operated with the left foot, and the gas with the right, and the clutch is actually a lever somewhere.

The clutch at the race-start is usually a button on the wheel. Interestingly, certain drivers, like JV, would locate the clutch and brake as buttons on the wheel...theory being that releasing a brake pedal at the start is slower than releasing a button on the steering wheel.

Even though the driver doesn't have to use the clutch anymore, he still picks the gears. Yet I'm constantly seeing this type of transmission referred to as an "automatic" by people. I guess my definition of an automatic transmission is different.

My understanding is that using a stick or paddle to up and downshift is a 'manual' transmission. A semi-automatic would be what Player(1) described...a selecting of gears but the physical moving of the gears is done via computer instead of a physical lever (paddle-shifting). An 'automatic' would be the computer handling both up and downshifting.

Back in the shift lever days, my understanding was that the driver used the clutch to launch, and to downshift, and the shift lever wasn't your standard H-pattern, but just a straight stick that you pull back to upshift (with no clutch involved) and nudged forward to downshift. Am I wrong?

Now I'm curious as to the evolution of transmissions in F1. I wish I had a timeline, because I know that they must have used the H-pattern at some time.

F1 cars used the standard H-pattern transmissions up until the mid to late 1970's when they switched to the sequential shifting gearbox (push up to shift up and pull down to shift down). I know for a fact that the 1978 Lotus 79 had a sequential 'box, but it wasn't the first one (possible trivia question, A.J.?). My understanding of the sequential shifting gearbox is that there is a clutch involved, but the driver doesn't have to push a clutch pedal before a shift like you do on a road car.

EDIT: I found this tidbit on the Lotus 79:

Lotus 79

"To continue the notion of improving air flow, the exhausts had an up-and-over design. The engine, fully enclosed, was the Cosworth DFV unit matted to a new Lotus transmission. The new gearbox was an improved sequential unit that was very compact and strong. The driver was no longer required to operate a clutch to change gears; rather, just let up on the throttle when making upward changes. The new gearbox was used for only a short time before the team revered back to Hewland units."

Edited by Autumnpuma

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You're right Mike. Don't know how I missed sequential boxes! I stand corrected. Most use a foot operated clutch, but I think you can forego it's use on up changes, much the same way you can in a normal road car. Downchanges maybe as well , but you'd need to get the revs pretty much spot on.

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"To continue the notion of improving air flow, the exhausts had an up-and-over design. The engine, fully enclosed, was the Cosworth DFV unit matted to a new Lotus transmission. The new gearbox was an improved sequential unit that was very compact and strong. The driver was no longer required to operate a clutch to change gears; rather, just let up on the throttle when making upward changes. The new gearbox was used for only a short time before the team revered back to Hewland units."

Aha! So it's exactly how I used to shift my sport bike under hard acceleration. I'd just momentarily let up on the throttle and pop the shifter up to catch the gear. I could actually double clutch fairly proficiently on the bike too.

So my understanding was pretty much correct, except that I thought you pull back to upshift (since the acceleration is already pushing in that direction) and push forward to downshift (likewise).

Thanks for the info!

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Aha! So it's exactly how I used to shift my sport bike under hard acceleration. I'd just momentarily let up on the throttle and pop the shifter up to catch the gear. I could actually double clutch fairly proficiently on the bike too.

So my understanding was pretty much correct, except that I thought you pull back to upshift (since the acceleration is already pushing in that direction) and push forward to downshift (likewise).

Thanks for the info!

Yep, the sequential shifters work pretty much the same as in motorcycles. First gear usually requires the clutch to be used but you if you are proficient with revmatching, you dont need the clutch. Backwards shifts up, forward shifts down.

Now here's the part that's going to tickle your noodle: most roadgoing cars today with clutchless automatics (like Tiptronic in the VAG cars) let the driver decide when the trans will switch gears, but still have torque converters. That means the shifts aren't as fast and the car isn't as responsive as it could be. The newer clutchless manuals like VAG's Direct Shift Gearbox utilize a real clutch and flywheel, in the case of DSG, two concentric clutches. The shifts happen faster and there is less drivetrain loss compared with a clutchless manual with a torque converter and clutchpacks. I will never buy a car with automatic or semiautomatic transmission or drive-by-wire throttle, as well as the systems are designed there's too much slop and I like the utter control. Speaking of sportbikes, I won't buy and '06 and up Yamaha R1 for the very reason it has the YCC-T, a drive-by-wire throttle. I hate having my decisions having to be run by a computer. Race cars are another story.

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I will always have a true manual 'box in a car I drive. Nothing can beat the feel of moving gears and instant response under your palm (cue Steve and a ribald comment).

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most roadgoing cars today with clutchless automatics (like Tiptronic in the VAG cars) let the driver decide when the trans will switch gears, but still have torque converters. That means the shifts aren't as fast and the car isn't as responsive as it could be.

Yep, my friend's Mazda 6 has a "manual" mode, but the shifts are still slow as a regular auto - you just get to pick the gear, which is at least better than the usual auto.

I will never buy a car with automatic or semiautomatic transmission or drive-by-wire throttle, as well as the systems are designed there's too much slop and I like the utter control.

My current car (2006 Mini Cooper S) has throttle-by-wire, and I have to say, while I have adjusted to it some, it's still pretty much horrible and easily the worst part of the car. I think they do it because it's easier to make the traction control and cruise control work, but it's just the absolute worst for sporty driving.

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