The Tremec T-56 from a corvette drivetrain has been used in a wide variety of vehicles; including the Dodge Viper, Aston Martin DB7 Vantage, Ford Mustang Cobra and Chevrolet Corvette, just to name a fragment. The six-speed manual gear box has lent itself very well to a wide range of performance applications.
Manual Transmissions allow for a ton of control and generally provide more power to the wheels than the standard slush box automatic. Even with those hefty benefits, a significant disadvantage is present… the driver must take a hand off of the wheel to shift gears. MasterShift of Fallbrook, CA has virtually eliminated that problem with their Manual Transmission Paddle Shifter kits. “The Mastershift shifter enables you to shift your manual, sequential and automatic transmissions while leaving your hands on the steering wheel, ” shares Louis Zember of MasterShift.
Shifting Made Easy
MasterShift Kit Components
- MS-PDLOWBB OneWire Paddle Shifter Assembly
- P/N MS-0006 Manual Shifter Kit
- P/N MS-MS-GDA1PL Gear Position Indicator
- P/N MS-T56HDWR T-56 Shifter Bracket and Hardware
- P/N MS-SPGLOAD Spring Load Assembly for precise and quick shifts
- P/N MS-CLCHLOCK Clutch Solenoid Safety
- P/N MS-CLCHSENSE for sensing clutch movement.
- (2) Shifting Cables with ball joints from Control Cable, Inc. (sold separately)
Leaving clutch duties to the driver, this kit provides a quick, reliable, and precise movement of the transmission shifter shaft. Utilizing dual shift cables and a transmission adapter, the computer controlled set up can shift in approximately 250-400 milliseconds. Typical traditional manual shift times average 500 milliseconds and up. An improvement like that puts your vehicle into the realm of some of the most high-end pure performance cars on the face of the planet.
Basic shifting is very easy. Pull the paddle or push the shift button depending on the users preference. User programs how they want the set up to be configured. Depress the clutch and bingo, the MasterShift unit will push or pull the shift cable to the desired location faster than you could have with your hand on the original shifter. All while you still have both hands on the steering wheel. The system is also designed to allow for stacking shifts. Press the button or pull the paddle multiple times and when you push the clutch, the transmission will shift directly to the chosen gear. “Our systems require no internal modifications to the engine or transmission,” Zember continues.
Installation Made Even Easier
Now let’s shift into gear and follow a MasterShift install into a 1940 Ford with Lonnie Gilbertson of Lonnie’s Place. This hot rod is loaded with a 427 cubic inch Chevy small-block pumping out 711 horsepower and 607 lb-ft of torque that outputs through a C-5 Corvette drivetrain. A full custom suspension keeps the vehicle upright, including a custom made inboard rear suspension.The Owner’s Manual for this MasterShift manual trans kit offers plenty of in depth detail on operation, programming, installation and troubleshooting. A competent do-it-yourselfer can tackle the task with this level of detail available and assistance.
For the T-56 6-speed transmission, MasterShift part number MS-0006 was selected. Jumping right to the installation, the steering wheel was removed. Utilizing the OneWire circuitry simplifies the wire running process though there is a bit of prep to make things easier. Diagrams in the Owner’s manual show the prep and wiring hook-up pretty well.
The horn wire that comes out of the steering column connects to the OneWire board, as does the ground wire. The horn wire gets cut down at the base of the column. It is connected to the OneWire board and now carries a digital signal. Using a digital signal, the single wire is able to do multiple jobs at one time; the circuit board interprets the given signals and performs each task at lightning speeds.
Once the wiring is sorted out in the column, the paddle shifter assembly along with the aftermarket steering wheel gets re-installed. These kits are designed to only work with aftermarket steering wheels, such as MoMo, Grant, Colorado Customs and Billet Specialties. Mastershift also offers RF paddles for factory air bag equipped steering wheels. Each steering wheel can be a bit different but the MasterShift components are easily adaptable to most of them.
Considering the driver will no longer have their hand on the shifter to know which position they are in, a Gear Display is added for quick and easy reference while hot-rodding around. On this particular install, a Bump Shifter was included to replace the console shifter. The console shifter is eliminated when using the Mastershift kit. Giving the driver multiple options for shifting while driving.
The new shifting mechanism gets installed on to the transmission. This high-quality billet piece is machined from 6061-T6 aluminum and bolted on with 316 stainless steel hardware for years of rust free operation. Cables from Control Cables, Inc are attached in via ball joint, also from Control Cable (optional cables, not included with orders).
The cables are not provided in the kit due to varying installation requirements; MasterShift designed the kit around using Control Cable’s products and recommends specific part numbers to give the installer a base line to work from. The shifter case is mounted using M6 mounting holes. MasterShift includes a drilling template for easier installation. The cables get routed through and are hooked up to the shifting mechanism.
Wiring diagrams are included in the instructions for just about every conceivable option and/or type of installation. A complete breakdown of what every wire does is included as well as detailed instructions on how to set up options such as the Speed Pulse Input. This provides data for the speed safety feature, ensuring the transmission cannot shift into reverse when the vehicle is moving faster than 1 mile per hour. Another optional add-in is the Tachometer Input that provides data for various overdrive features that are controlled by engine speed. The features are the auto-off and prevent-on thresholds.
After the kit is fully installed into your vehicle, it’s time to dive into the MasterShift Configuration Software. The kit requires a PC running Windows 7, Vista or XP. A USB serial adapter is required if a serial port is not available. The software comes in the kit on a CD-ROM disc.
When the software is fully installed on the computer, connect the provided 9-pin female to female serial cable to the computer and to the MasterShift unit. Click on the vehicle’s ignition and start the software. The software allows for a multitude of fine tuning to your specific vehicle needs as well as driver needs. Adjust shift delay, neutral safety on/off, max engine rpm and even whether or not you want neutral to be in sequence. The software features several tabs to allow for easy navigation. There are many specific settings that are set up for each transmission and application.
The MasterShift kit is loaded full of safety features. Here are a few notables:
- Clutch Activated Shifting (Clutch Position Sensor – Recommended Option) – Pressing the clutch pedal is necessary for the shift to happen, so the Manual Shifter waits with the shift until the clutch pedal is pressed. This feature can be used for delayed shifting. For example, you can drive into a curve, anticipating that you will have to shift down into second gear. You press the paddles the required number of times, and no shifting will occur until you press the clutch pedal. If you don’t press the clutch pedal for a configurable amount of time, the Manual Shifter cancels the shift.
Neutral Safety – To unlock the neutral safety a push and hold of the downshift button is required. The purpose of this feature is to prevent accidental shifts into neutral gear during normal driving. Multiple presses of the downshift button or paddle (without pressing the neutral safety button) are now safeguarded to not shift into neutral.
The MasterShift Manual Shifter enables you to shift your manual H-pattern or sequential shift transmission while leaving your hands on the steering wheel and our systems require no internal modifications to the engine or transmission.” – Louis Zember, President of MasterShift.
- Reverse Safety – To engage reverse while in neutral a push and hold of the down shift button is required. The purpose of this feature is to prevent accidental shifts into reverse gear while the car is moving forward. It serves a similar purpose as the mechanical locks many H-pattern transmissions have on their shift sticks.
- Clutch Lock (Clutch Solenoid Safety – Optional) Holds the hydraulic line pressure until the MasterShift completes the shift.
- Speed Safety – The Speed Safety feature works similar to a typical park/reverse protection in automatic transmissions: it prevents the driver from shifting into reverse when the car is moving (which is detected by a speed above 1 mph). Required for this feature is a speed sensor pulse. This may be a raw speed sensor pulse, or a speedometer pulse that is usually sent from the engine or powertrain control module to the speedometer.
Though with the immense knowledge base given by the folks over at MasterShift, just about anyone with the right tools and skill set can tackle it confidently. Thorough and detailed instructions provide an excellent resource; they even provide a healthy list of Troubleshooting points. All in all, this kit is built from top quality materials by folks that really know what they are doing. Keep your hands on the wheel and step up the fun by adding a MasterShift Paddle Shifter to your hot rod. For more information, make sure to visit them online at Mastershift.com. Stay tuned for a full feature on this gorgeous ’40 Ford right here on Rod Authority!