Downshifting, how can I learn how to do it?

Discussion in 'Questions From New Drivers' started by TravR1, Dec 21, 2021.

  1. seagreg

    seagreg Light Load Member

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    One good thing to do is to figure out what are safe speeds to shift into various gears to recover but as you found out, staying calm is the most important part.

    On many 10 speed road tractors there is a trick that often works. If your speedometer has the numbers that end in 5 like 25. 35. 45, 55 you can add those numbers and figure out what a safe gear is to shift into.

    So if you lose a gear and you look down and you are going slower than 45, add 4+5 = 9th gear.

    25 mph is 2+5 = 7th
    15 mph is 1+5 = 6th

    Etc.

    This doesn't exactly work in low range but many of us who live in the mountains do this the first time we get in a truck. I always learn at least on the high range what speed I am at in which gear at 1500 RPM and I commit it to memory.

    Not that I ever shift using the gauges but it is my fall back if I get lost and I need to recover. I do practice recoveries when in a new truck a lot and I also find that refusing to skip up and down for the first week or so really helps you build the intuition.
     
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  3. scott180

    scott180 Road Train Member

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    It really is just feel. I started driving rigs in the CA Bay Area so watching the tach instead of the road wold have lead to disaster. Dropping 2-4 gears at once do to traffic is normal. A slight tap on the throttle will let you slide right into gear with no grinding. I couldn't tell you what rpm and speed for a gear, I just do it by sound and feel. And it works for me.
     
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  4. TravR1

    TravR1 Road Train Member

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    Today was harder. Lots of hills. And for some reason when I come to a stop it's not going into gear. I like to reset into 3rd, but it doesn't always. I'll fan the clutch but it won't rest. It just grinds.

    My heavy load of reels is finally ready (I think). There's 6 of them, had to use every chain.
     
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  5. Brettj3876

    Brettj3876 Road Train Member

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    On the low side and say your starting on a steep grade up shifting will take a bit longer for the rpm to come down. Opposite for down hill, you'll need to be quick on the shift or skip a gear. Hope that helps you a bit
     
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  6. Brettj3876

    Brettj3876 Road Train Member

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    If it's not going in gear from a stop let up on the clutch a bit and it should slide in
     
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  7. seagreg

    seagreg Light Load Member

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    One thing that may make learning the timing a bit harder on an emissions truck is also realizing that your Jake will spool the turbo up and blipping the throttle will cause the rpms to increase a lot faster than you expected causing you to overshoot the sweet spot.

    Also if you are downshifting with the Jake on you may be dumping RPM a lot faster than you expect on most modern trucks.

    The same issue is easier to notice on upshifting on the high side vs the low side assuming you are not splitting.

    Maybe try lightly rolling on the throttle while holding the shifter against the face will help out there but I learned that myself 30 years ago when you could clearly hear the turbo speed.
     
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  8. TravR1

    TravR1 Road Train Member

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    Took an upgrade earlier and I didn't shift out of 10. Truck broke. Wouldn't go.

    Two other hills after that I did better. Dropped into 9 at just over 45 mph. It worked. Truck would go.

    I still don't know what I'm doing. Pulled into a Loves and a small hill getting in. I think I was in 6th gear. Well truck didn't like that.

    Those lower gears I don't downshift them very well.

    Broke truck 3 times today.

    I'm not so sure me self-teaching is the safest thing. Truck won't always go.

    Learning to drive all over again, plus learning flatbed. Lol I get worn out by end of day. Hanging in there, though.
     
    Last edited: Dec 25, 2021
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  9. seagreg

    seagreg Light Load Member

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    What RPM.are you trying to downshift at?

    Clutching to release and floating into gear seems to be easier for many people at the start as blipping to release can make it hard to catch on the low side. I personally still can't double clutch to downshift on the low side because the window is so short up hill.

    Going up hill it is often too late to downshift if you hit about 1200 RPM but if you pull out of gear at a few hundred RPM higher you will have a lot more time to get everything in place. Obviously downhill downshifting is a the opposite.

    You may not agree but the trucks with problems often teach you this better.

    For both uphill and traffic lights I tend to find a trucks gear that works well for a bail out too.

    I drove a truck without a clutch brake for a while and it taught me to catch a low gear better than years of driving did.

    If I missed catching my low gear rolling up to a stop sign I had to shut the truck off, shift onto a gear or sometimes catch that gear when the starter was cranking. It was frustrating but taught me a lot!
     
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  10. TravR1

    TravR1 Road Train Member

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    I try to catch the gears at around 1500 or so.

    This is definitely a frustrating experience. You make one whoopsie and then you are a hazard.

    Sometimes it helps if I just hit the clutch that will help it in. But not always.

    I'm trying to get it all figured out. But once I get caught out of gear, it's hard to think straight and then no gear seems to work.
     
  11. mile marker 27

    mile marker 27 Medium Load Member

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    The pro’s of 13 and 18 speeds.
     
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