Sunday, April 7, 2013

Gear Shift Cables

Heinkel scooters are notorious for being poor shifters; I can't tell you how many times I've missed second gear upshifting and downshifting. Are Heinkel cars any better?

Well.... the answer is complicated. Generally I'd say yes, but only after you invest a lot of time adjusting.

The Heinkel Car gearshift mechanism has a checkered history. The original cars had a rod change mechanism that was borrowed from early Heinkel scooters of the same period.
Heinkel Cars and Cabin Scooters
The rod ran through a bushing ,to another shaft, and then the shifter
Apparently these would sometimes jump out of gear when you hit a bump, and eventually the design was changed to be a cable.
Heinkel Cars and Cabin Scooters
3 wheeler (top) and 4 wheeler (bottom) shifter cables
These cables seemed to solve the earlier problems and were retained for the rest of the production line.

Both the German and the English clubs make reproduction cables. These cables have some issues, which I found out about the hard way. 

My original cable (the top one in the picture above) is a older reproduction English cable. Once I got my car back on the road I noticed I had a dilemma; I could adjust the cable to have four forward gears or almost three forward gears and reverse. This made no sense. I spent a lot of time adjusting, rereading the directions in the various club publicatons, and readjusting. I eventually contacted Garry at the UK club who told me there were a batch of reproduction cables made some time ago in England that had an inner cable that was too short. It turns out I wasn't crazy!

Trojans and Heinkel Cars
Differences in inner cable length
I had a pending order with the German club so I ordered a cable. The cables aren't cheap; they were about $90 each. I got my cable and tried to install it, and learned that I had ordered a Heinkel 154 cable vs. a Heinkel 153 cable. The Heinkel 154 (4 wheeler) cable is 4 inches (100mm) shorter than the Heinkel 153 and 150 (3 wheeler cables). My lack of German language skills led me to order the wrong item (not the first time that's happened...).

Over the winter I decided to order one of the English cables from Garry. They have an extra long inner so you can be guaranteed of getting the full range of the gears. 

Installing a New Cable:

The first thing to do with these cables is to lubricate them. You can't use a cable luber, the inner cable is too large. Instead I decided to use a Nylon spacer screwed onto the top of the cable to create a small reservoir and let lubricant drip down into the cable. 


Heinkel and Trojan Cars
Spraying Lubricant into Drip Reservoir
After the lubrication it's time for installation and adjustment.


There are a couple of things to mention on installation:
1.The first one is that the English cable may need to have the holes elongated to fit properly: 

Heinkel Cars and Kabines
Heinkel Cable showing modification points
2. After that, screw the adjusters to the middle of the adjustment area, then attach the ends of the cable to exterior of the gearshift selector bracket inside the cabin, and onto the engine bracket on the side closest to the firewall.
3. Next, attach the ends of the cables to the respective shifter ends, and then secure the safety clips. 


You need a jack and a helper to adjust the cable. Here's how I do it: 

  1. Put the car into neutral at the engine, and the shift selector into neutral.
  2. Put a jack under the engine case and raise the rear wheel until it spins freely.
  3. Have your helper put the gearshift lever into reverse. Verify that the engine is in reverse by trying spin the wheel.
  4. Have your helper shift through each of the gears all the way up to 4th. In 4th make sure that the engine is engaged. 
  5. Go through the gears back and forth, paying special attention in reverse and 4th. 
  6. If it works, you're ready for a road test. Warm up the car. The shifting seems to be slightly different when the car is warmed up.
  7. Make fine adjustments with by turning the large 14mm nuts to move the adjustment piece back and forth. 
That's it. Enjoy driving!

1 comment:

  1. I have an Heinkel Ireland i am renovating, and converting to a four wheeler, do you know if you can still use the three wheel gear change cable, or do I have to buy the shorter one? many thanks keith