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  • 51 Commander Automatic drive question.

    I have received input on this before but am trying to get as much information I can. I have a 51 Commander with the 232 and the Automatic Drive. The engine runs well. The problem is in the transmission. Right now if you put it in drive the car dies. When it is in drive it is starting in third and cannot handle that. I can manually start in first then manually shift up to 2nd then third. I can also manually shift down. When you come to a stop or slow down it does not downshift automatically so it dies again in third. Reverse works. I have a chance to pick up an another Transmission but it does not include the torque converter. I am not that skilled in transmissions. If I can get a replacement and switch it out that is best for me. The transmission will only be available once for me to pick as they drive through my area. Question then:
    1. Is this a torque converter problem, which then a different transmission will not help.
    2. Is it the band adjustments?
    3. Is there a modulator switch and could this cause it?
    4. Anything else it could be? It has fluid. It does leak.
    The transmission is fairly reasonable in price. How difficult is it to rebuild the torque converter? I have to decide by Wednesday. Any help would be great. Hopefully there are some skilled transmission guys out there. I do have the Auto Drive shop manual.


    51 Studebaker Starlight State Commander Coupe
    53 Studebaker Starlight Regal Commander Coupe
    62 Volvo PV544 Sport
    59 Renault 4CV




  • #2
    Contact Jerry Kurtz. He is a DG200 transmission rebuilder. It takes some special tools for the job. He is on the form as "jerezstude".

    Comment


    • #3
      It does not have a modulator. There is no vacuum line to this transmission.

      This car has a locking torque converter and there is a failure mode where the torque converter may not unlock at the proper speed. That will cause some of the symptoms you describe.

      The shop manual should have some troubleshooting techniques, or at least a failure tree to help steer you in the right direction.

      You may be misdiagnosing the problem. Starting in third will not kill the engine. Plymouth Hy-Drive stayed in third the whole time and that engine had less horsepower then yours.
      Last edited by RadioRoy; 01-13-2017, 09:58 PM.
      RadioRoy, specializing in AM/FM conversions with auxiliary inputs for iPod/satellite/CD player. In the old car radio business since 1985.

      17A-S2 - 50 Commander convertible
      10G-C1 - 51 Champion starlight coupe
      10G-Q4 - 51 Champion business coupe
      4H-K5 - 53 Commander starliner hardtop
      5H-D5 - 54 Commander Conestoga wagon
      56B-D4 - 56 Commander station wagon
      60V-L6 - 60 Lark convertible

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by lelshaddai View Post
        I have received input on this before but am trying to get as much information I can. I have a 51 Commander with the 232 and the Automatic Drive. The engine runs well. The problem is in the transmission. Right now if you put it in drive the car dies. When it is in drive it is starting in third and cannot handle that. I can manually start in first then manually shift up to 2nd then third. I can also manually shift down. When you come to a stop or slow down it does not downshift automatically so it dies again in third. Reverse works. I have a chance to pick up an another Transmission but it does not include the torque converter. I am not that skilled in transmissions. If I can get a replacement and switch it out that is best for me. The transmission will only be available once for me to pick as they drive through my area. Question then:
        1. Is this a torque converter problem, which then a different transmission will not help.
        2. Is it the band adjustments?
        3. Is there a modulator switch and could this cause it?
        4. Anything else it could be? It has fluid. It does leak.
        The transmission is fairly reasonable in price. How difficult is it to rebuild the torque converter? I have to decide by Wednesday. Any help would be great. Hopefully there are some skilled transmission guys out there. I do have the Auto Drive shop manual.
        If it were me, I would attempt a system flush by using LubeGuard flush or BG flush, warm it up, run it through all of the gears and perhaps drive it easily for a few miles. Both of these products are good. If you see any improvement, drain the fluid and replace with, (many here recommend Type F), fluid.

        If the problem persists, then I'd agree with the torque converter possibility...

        Comment


        • #5
          This is solid information. I left message with Jerry.
          51 Studebaker Starlight State Commander Coupe
          53 Studebaker Starlight Regal Commander Coupe
          62 Volvo PV544 Sport
          59 Renault 4CV



          Comment


          • #6
            It is most likely in the control valve body. If it is truly sticking in direct drive lock-up it will kill the engine. The control valve is very temperamental to dirt. There are some pistons in the valve body that will stick if there is dirt in them or if someone used gasket sealer such as silicone during a repair. You might fix it with a complete flush of the transmission and the torque converter along with a cleaning of the valve body. There is a drain on the torque converter to allow it to be drained. All this can be done with the transmission in the car.
            Click image for larger version

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            Rob

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            • #7
              Would it still be worthwhile to get the other transmission to have on hand? I will not have to pay for any shipping. I am picking up a few other parts anyhow. I have not been able to find any transmissions local.
              51 Studebaker Starlight State Commander Coupe
              53 Studebaker Starlight Regal Commander Coupe
              62 Volvo PV544 Sport
              59 Renault 4CV



              Comment


              • #8
                The last time I drove it it slipped a little also.
                51 Studebaker Starlight State Commander Coupe
                53 Studebaker Starlight Regal Commander Coupe
                62 Volvo PV544 Sport
                59 Renault 4CV



                Comment


                • #9
                  I got a spare and when I needed a rear pump it had a good one, so that was worth the price right there.
                  Rob

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    I like your car, but I sure don't like its transmission....'DG' transmissions have been trouble since day one!....They are very expensive to fix, and parts for them are nearly non-existent.....I can line you up with a HD '57 Golden Hawk Flightomatic transmission & converter, basically a bolt-in, that will make your '51 starlight much more pleasant to own!...PM me if interested.

                    (shipping would be involved.... $$$....but shipping that 'dog' DG unit around the country wouldn't be cheap either!)

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by SN-60 View Post
                      I like your car, but I sure don't like its transmission....'DG' transmissions have been trouble since day one!....They are very expensive to fix, and parts for them are nearly non-existent.....I can line you up with a HD '57 Golden Hawk Flightomatic transmission & converter, basically a bolt-in, that will make your '51 starlight much more pleasant to own!...PM me if interested.

                      (shipping would be involved.... $$$....but shipping that 'dog' DG unit around the country wouldn't be cheap either!)
                      Why stop there? He can have an adapter machined up, and install a modern electronic 8 speed automatic! Perhaps he want's to keep it original Ed. Nothing wrong with that. The biggest problem with Detroit Gear transmissions is dirt. That and the fact they are so old that most seals have dried out . Nothing a good refresh can't fix. They were made for the vehicle of the times.......before the horsepower race, and they type of driving that people take for granted nowdays. Nice easy takeoffs, and NO revving out of gear EVER. My old man Had a 51 Commander that he would do neutral drops, and burn rubber. One time he did that and the pressure buildup shot a check ball clear through the valve body. He managed to drive this way for 2 years before it broke.
                      I second the Jerry Kurtz recommendation.
                      Last edited by bezhawk; 01-14-2017, 07:40 AM.
                      Bez Auto Alchemy
                      573-318-8948
                      http://bezautoalchemy.com


                      "Don't believe every internet quote" Abe Lincoln

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        I get 'keeping it original' Brad, however, I've seen many people drop LARGE amounts of cash into those troublesome transmissions,..and then been real disappointed with the results. (I can name-names!!)

                        No, those trannys were 'dogs' from the get-go, and unfortunately nothing will ever change that! (IMHO)

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by SN-60 View Post
                          I get 'keeping it original' Brad, however, I've seen many people drop LARGE amounts of cash into those troublesome transmissions,..and then been real disappointed with the results. (I can name-names!!)

                          No, those trannys were 'dogs' from the get-go, and unfortunately nothing will ever change that! (IMHO)
                          What is your definition of "DOG" state what is EXACTLY wrong with them. not opinion please. When driven for it's intended purpose they were very GOOD transmissions. Look at the service manuals, and follow that....not treat it like todays transmissions where you cant even check the fluid level. Service was much more frequent than a lazy person would be bothered with today.
                          Bez Auto Alchemy
                          573-318-8948
                          http://bezautoalchemy.com


                          "Don't believe every internet quote" Abe Lincoln

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            I am trying to stay original if I can. I have done the modification thing on other cars and it does not go well for me. I am a good shade tree type mechanic. My 53 has a 289 with Flight tranny in it. They hacked the center support and put in a one piece driveshaft. I can get the other dg tranny for $200. Delivered nearby for me to pick up. I can work on things and may get them fixed but usually I mess a few things along the way. I have a great running transmission in my 62 Volvo I rebuilt. It was pretty simple and I had to tear it apart three times because of mistakes.
                            51 Studebaker Starlight State Commander Coupe
                            53 Studebaker Starlight Regal Commander Coupe
                            62 Volvo PV544 Sport
                            59 Renault 4CV



                            Comment


                            • #15
                              I can do that Brad, however, it's ALL been said before!....Sure I can recount several 'horror stories' concerning the 'DG' tranny.....Maybe I'll write a book about it someday!

                              You are a great mechanic Brad, but unfortunately you're mentality that...... 'If Studebaker used it it MUST be good'...... I frankly find a bit troubling!

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