Originally Posted by TaterColo
So explain to us non-truckers how low 6th gear is. How many gears did you have?
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Usually 10 forward and 2 reverse. There also 13 and 18 speed tranys, but IMHO they are mostly overkill. I've never driven a 13 or 18.
The 10 speed tranny has two ranges.. Gears 1-5 are in the low range, 6-10 in upper range. Each range has a reverse, but you never need high range reverse. The truck will probably backup at 30+ miles per hour in high-range reverse.
I rarely started in 1st unless VERY heavy and starting on a steep grade (uphill). I usually started in 2nd of if totally empty 3rd worked fine.
From flat out 10th on the level, you can see that I'd have to downshift 3 times to get down to 7th. That will get you up damn near any hill in the USA.
When you pass a truck on a long grade with 4-ways on and the motor really loud (working hard) the driver would almost never be lower than 7th gear.
The neat thing is that each gear is exactly 300 RPM (up or down) from the previous gear. Since the tranny has no synchronizing feature, you have to match the RPM's when you shift.
For example, starting out in 3rd, you wind the engine up to say 1400 RPM, then release the hammer just a bit (releasing the torque load on the gears) and you can push if right out of 3rd without clutching; then when the rpms drop to 1100 you can push it right back into 4th, again without clutching.
If your timing is good, it's basically one smooth motion..... After a fairly short time driving, you don't even have to watch the RPMS at all; you can tell by the sound (shift by ear, I guess). It is NOT difficult to learn; once you've been driving awhile if becomes second nature; you don't even think about it.
BTW, shifting like that without clutching is referred to as "floating gears".
Hope this give you a little more info.