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I've rebuilt a few Muncie 4 speeds and every single one has had good needle bearings in the cluster gear shaft. That shaft is a pain to remove and loading 120+ new bearings in there is one of the easiest jobs to mess up. I've done it plenty of times, and have it down. I've read a bunch of opinions that the original needle bearings are good quality U.S.A. steel and the kits now come with cheap non-U.S. steel.
So, what is the opinion here on leaving the cluster? The current trans I'm rebuilding was sitting in a garage since the late 70s. Every edge is tight and I know it has never been apart. Every gear is perfect, even the reverse. This is the sharpest 4 speed I have come across. The cluster gear even spins nice and freely with out binding.
 

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Other than changing old seals, why are you rebuilding it if everything looks good? You could probably just change the seals and side plate gasket and be good to go if everything moves freely.

I rebuilt a couple 3spd Saginaws with my dad back in the 80's and he would always check the needle bearings, if they looked good, he would re-use. I don't remember him ever changing them.

Hope this helps.
 
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