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  • Transmission / Overdrive: 54 Commander Automatic

    I am curious if the transmission in our car is working as it should. I know nothing about old automatics so I don't know how it should act. I just know it is very different from even the oldest automatic I have ever driven which is in my 73 Mustang. I am used to putting an automatic into drive or reverse and just hearing a change in engine sound and maybe dropping a few RPM.

    When I move the 54 from park into drive or reverse you better have you foot on the brake hard because the car really lurches, engine rpm really drops and you can sort of feel the car squat as it tries to go but the brakes are holding it back.

    Is this normal for these transmissions? If it is not normal, what do I need to look for as a problem. The PO had the transmission rebuilt when he restored the car about 10 years and a few thousand miles ago.

    All advice and suggestions appreciated.
    Wayne
    "Trying to shed my CASO ways"

    sigpic

  • #2
    1st check is idle speed.
    78 Avanti RQB 2792
    64 Avanti R1 R5408
    63 Avanti R1 R4551
    63 Avanti R1 R2281
    62 GT Hawk V15949
    56 GH 6032504
    56 GH 6032588
    55 Speedster 7160047
    55 Speedster 7165279

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    • #3
      No, this is not normal. Yes, this transmission is very different from the automatics that you are used to. As has been said, start by properly setting the idle speed.
      Gary L.
      Wappinger, NY

      SDC member since 1968
      Studebaker enthusiast much longer

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      • #4
        2nd check is anti creep. I do not have manual handy, but tge proceedure must be followed precisely.
        78 Avanti RQB 2792
        64 Avanti R1 R5408
        63 Avanti R1 R4551
        63 Avanti R1 R2281
        62 GT Hawk V15949
        56 GH 6032504
        56 GH 6032588
        55 Speedster 7160047
        55 Speedster 7165279

        Comment


        • #5
          I am glad you mentioned anti creep. I had forgotten, the PO told me the anti creep was removed on advice he got when he was building the car. Could this be causing this problem?
          Wayne
          "Trying to shed my CASO ways"

          sigpic

          Comment


          • #6
            No, the anti creep will not affect your problem at all. If your car is idling at a normal 400-500 rpm the car will not lurch any more than any modern car. If there is a huge drag and lurch then it is possible that the direct drive clutch inside the torque convertor is somehow dragging, but I would rather expect the engine to just stall. Please confirm your idle speed. If you put the car in drive and did not give any gas how fast will it go?

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            • #7
              I finally had a chance to get the car out this past weekend and hook up all the diagnostic goody's and this is what I found. Idle was indeed way too high. I adjusted it down to about 650. Then when I put the car in drive, speed would drop to about 480 and it still had a slight lurch but not enough to be concerned with. I tried lowering the idle down to 500, but then speed dropped to the point of the car not wanting to run when I put it in gear. So I ended up leaving it a 650 because that seemed to be the happy middle ground.

              With the idle set at 650 in park which left me at 480 in drive, the car didn't want to take the gas when tried to pull off from a stop. Actually choked off on me twice during a short test drive. I checked timing and advanced initial timing from 4.6 degrees to about 9 degrees. This helped but the car still wanted to die when I tried to accelerate from a stop. I would sometimes have to feather the throttle when pulling off from a stop, but it never choked off with the 9 degree setting. So, I hooked up the vacuum gauge and found 15" of vac in the manifold and on the line from the carb going to the vac advance. However the vac advance itself apparently has a bad diaphragm because it would not hold vacuum.

              My guess is the PO had the idle so high, so the car wouldn't choke off on him when he tried to accelerate from a stop. What are the chances that a working vac advance will resolve this problem of the car wanting to die when accelerating off from a stop?
              Wayne
              "Trying to shed my CASO ways"

              sigpic

              Comment


              • #8
                It should improve it, then re-set the idle. You are waaay ahead of most if it drives, has reverse and only drips a small puddle!

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                • #9
                  A carb servicing and thorough cleaning is probably needed. might be worn accel. pump linkage. check for that telltale squirt of fuel as soon as throttle is moved. Luck Doofus

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                  • #10
                    Man, who would have thought it would be so hard to find a vacuum advance for this thing. My first thought was that I was $20 and a trip to town away from a solution, but I try to support our vendors so I decided to order one and waited 2 days to get it. It came in with a busted diaphragm just like the one on the car. So I looked around and found the old distributor I pulled out of my Hawk when I installed the T-Bow Mallory unit. Wouldn't you know it, that vacuum advance was bad too. The vendor is sending me a replacement but I have a show this weekend that I wanted to take this car to. So I tried our local FLAPS that has the old guys with the old books. They can't find a replacement for it. So I started looking on the internet and found an old Delco Remy crossover book. I went through it page by page and found 17 different options from various manufactures. Searched the internet and can't find any of them available for purchase nor can I find replacement numbers for any of them.

                    It seems the only option is to buy an old NOS piece that has been sitting on the shelf for 60 years and potentially has a dry rotted diaphragm. Damn I love old cars! Please forgive the rant, but I never expected to be sidelined by such a simple common replacement item.
                    Wayne
                    "Trying to shed my CASO ways"

                    sigpic

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                    • #11
                      Wdills;
                      The vacuum advance is not needed to drive the car. Its purpose is to improve fuel economy at a cruising speed. Try disconnecting the vacuum advance and plugging the line. Reset your idle speed and idle adjustments and test drive the car.
                      Now for my two cents. Others may disagree with the following. The vacuum advance should not be connected to manifold vacuum. It should be connected to a vacuum source on the base of the carburetor. There should be very little or no vacuum at idle. Yes it can be made to work with manifold vacuum; but I don't believe that is the way the factory originally connected it. I dont't there being any cars with their vacuum advance connected to manifold when I worked as a helper in a Carburetor shop as a teenager in the late 50's.
                      Ron

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                      • #12
                        Installed a functional vacuum advance last night. The problem of the car wanting to die when accelerating from a stop seems to be solved.

                        Next question on these automatic transmissions; During normal acceleration this thing will shift into high gear at about 25-30mph. Is there a way this can be adjusted for a higher speed shift or is it just the nature of the beast?
                        Wayne
                        "Trying to shed my CASO ways"

                        sigpic

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                        • #13
                          So does it shift once or twice? With the higher numerical ratios used in older cars 25 to 30 into high is not out of the ordinary. Lou Cote

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                          • #14
                            I always just gave my '54 MORE Go Pedal, that delayed the shift. "In the Day" that was more affordable, but I understand that it is very costly today. The good part is, it's WAY more Fun!

                            And or, start in low, get to 32 MPH or so, shift to Drive and quickly pull it back to Low to hold Second and GO ! ZOOM, Zoom, zoom!
                            StudeRich
                            Second Generation Stude Driver,
                            Proud '54 Starliner Owner

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                            • #15
                              It is a second gear start. So I sounds like this is just the nature of the beast. I can certainly deal with it and manually manipulate the shift when so desired. I was just hoping there was something I could do to change it. Oh well.
                              Wayne
                              "Trying to shed my CASO ways"

                              sigpic

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