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1951 Commander DG200 transmission problem

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  • Transmission / Overdrive: 1951 Commander DG200 transmission problem

    This past summer I purchased a 1951 Commander Land Cruiser, V8 with automatic transmission. All around a pretty nice running and driving car. I hesitated at first to change the transmission fluid because of all the stories I have read about changing the fluid and causing all sorts of havoc. I initially just drained and refilled the sump since it had a drain plug on it anyway but that only replaced about three quarts of ATF. The transmission continued to shift and operate just fine but being who I am I wasn't satisfied and decided to drain the converter as well and the sump again just to know it was clean. All the fluid I replaced by the way did not look very bad at all, perhaps a little darker than new fluid but no burnt odor either. About 50 miles later I noticed the car did not seem to have much power on acceleration from a dead stop. I even had to start in low to keep up with traffic. The next day I tried to drive the car up on some ramps to inspect something and it did not have the power to climb them. The transmission was not slipping, but acted as if I was holding on the brakes. The stall speed of the converter acted as if it were at a much lower rpm and it was accompanied by what I can only describe as a sucking sound or the same sound one would hear when you have the breather off and accelerate the engine. And no, this isn't a vacuum leak I am hearing. The engine has had a full tune up and runs like new. The "anti-creep" is disconnected so I have eliminated the likelihood of that holding the car back.
    I reasoned that perhaps I dislodged a bunch of crud internally and it gummed up the valve body. Upon taking it out I damaged some gaskets. By the time I bought the kit to get the gaskets needed it was the price of a NOS valve body so I went ahead and replaced that. I might mention that the old valve body upon disassembly was extremely clean as was the sump of the transmission. I did double check to make certain things were not stuck and were in the released position as outlined in the Studebaker Automatic Drive manual "valve body inspection" that I purchased. Initially when I reinstalled the valve body the transmission continued to make the odd noise and had no power. Since the transmission shifted normally and was not slipping I figured I wasn't damaging anything further by driving it and I did monitor the fluid temp and it was under 160F after a run. I might add here that the once the car got above say 10 mph it seemed to have the normal amount of power. Then after about 75 miles of driving it made a clunk and everything started behaving normal again. I was relieved as I thought something became "unstuck" or whatever but my relief was short lived. It functioned normally for about a week but now it is back to the same low power accompanied by the odd noise. Although I describe this noise (and it indeed is coming from the transmission) as a sucking sound it could be the sound is caused by fluid bypassing something internally and causing this noise? Just speculating on my part.
    I know this is a long question but I wanted to get all the symptoms included to I can hopefully get some educated guesses out there as to what to look into next. I don't think it will be easy finding someone to overhaul my transmission locally. Thanks ahead of time for any help you can give me.

  • #2
    You left out one important thing. What fluid are you using?
    Also, it sounds like the fluid level is low. Are you properly (for a DG) checking the fluid level (per DG AT manual)?
    Gary L.
    Wappinger, NY

    SDC member since 1968
    Studebaker enthusiast much longer

    Comment


    • #3
      I am using Mercon/Dextron per all the information I have read on this forum and that is what I understand is suitable for this transmission. I am checking the fluid level after it is warmed up and the transmission in "low" as stated in the transmission manual. It indicates that it is full. Thanks.

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by Bill Snyder View Post
        I am using Mercon/Dextron per all the information I have read on this forum and that is what I understand is suitable for this transmission. I am checking the fluid level after it is warmed up and the transmission in "low" as stated in the transmission manual. It indicates that it is full. Thanks.
        Thanks for the feedback. IMO, you are correct on both counts.

        My best guess, without driving the car, is that the lock-up convertor is hanging up (perhaps partially engaging/releasing). I would hope that it will clear up with some driving. Keep a close check on the fluid level (it takes awhile to get all of the air out, that is why refill is done with measured quantities) and any strange symptoms.

        Hopefully, someone that is more knowledgeable on these DG transmissions, than I am, will chime in on this.
        Gary L.
        Wappinger, NY

        SDC member since 1968
        Studebaker enthusiast much longer

        Comment


        • #5
          Thanks again for the response. The transmission seems so "normal" in all other respects, I am hoping you are correct.

          Bill

          Comment


          • #6
            You may have "dislodged some crud",as you state and clogged up the screen at the ATF pickup
            64 GT Hawk (K7)
            1970 Avanti (R3)

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            • #7
              I would #1 check to be sure it did not spit out the new gasket (or suck it in) If it did, it will suck fluid from that spot instead of lower in the pan and you will hear it for sure..
              #2 triple check that fluid level.

              #3 If you have the shop manual, follow the steps for transmission installation. Set idle speed, throttle pressure etc. since you had to disturb the adjustments.....

              Comment


              • #8
                I think Gary is correct, this is really sounding more like an issue with the Lockup Torque Converter having an intermittent internal problem of some sort.
                StudeRich
                Second Generation Stude Driver,
                Proud '54 Starliner Owner

                Comment


                • #9
                  The air sound and low power is almost definitely low fluid level. You have to check it in low gear engine running. It is very difficult to get a true reading on the dipstick. You can have a fluid film that will give a “false full” keep adding fluid until you see actual fluid on the stick. I fought this exact problem when my car was down for painting. The tranny in my car has many leaks...... once I finally got enough fluid in it it acted fine.
                  1962 Champ

                  51 Commander 4 door

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                  • #10
                    Bill perform the stator test in the manual, sounds like the one way clutch may be the problem. luck Doofus

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Thanks everyone for your input. I am inclined to agree with the last post and that is the one way clutch on the stator. I did not find a test labeled as "stator test" in the manual but just some information on minimum and maximum rpm stall tests. Mine doesn't go much above idle with the foot on the brake and the accelerator all the way to the floor. I suspect it is in the torque converter. Since it occasionally will behave normally, I wonder if this is actually a mechanical failure or something controlled hydraulically and is interment because of dirt or debris that is getting somewhere it isn't supposed to be. The transmission upshifts and downshifts at all the road speeds outlined in the shop manual, doesn't leak a drop, and the engine runs great. I really hate the thought of removing that beast and can only hope the problem goes away but I doubt it.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Here's a crazy thought for ya, since an Oil Change seems to have "caused it", I wonder if another one would fix it?

                        Maybe just drain the Main Case and the Converter and check it/strain it, and put it back if good.
                        StudeRich
                        Second Generation Stude Driver,
                        Proud '54 Starliner Owner

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by StudeRich View Post
                          Here's a crazy thought for ya, since an Oil Change seems to have "caused it", I wonder if another one would fix it?

                          Maybe just drain the Main Case and the Converter and check it/strain it, and put it back if good.
                          Do you know how much AT fluid you put into it? It should be an initial five quarts, then have the engine idling in L, add three quarts of AT fluid. Then add enough to get to the "full" mark. Too low on fluid and too much fluid are both bad. If you did not follow this procedure (or even if you did) recheck the fluid level again.
                          Gary L.
                          Wappinger, NY

                          SDC member since 1968
                          Studebaker enthusiast much longer

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            I have double checked the transmission fluid, hot and in low gear. Always right at the full mark so I am confidant that it is at the proper level.
                            I had the opportunity to go by a transmission shop I have dealt with in the past with an old Thunderbird I have. It is about 50 miles away so not that convenient. I ran my symptoms by the mechanic and immediately he said the one way clutch on the stator assembly is bad. He said that would account for the odd noise and the lack of power in any gear until I get up to speed. That is exactly what the one way clutch on the statoris for. As the stator catches up to the impeller (driven member) it is designed then to freewheel when it can no longer multiply torque as it does at lower speed. I asked him if he could work on it and he said of course, it did not intimidate him. He is an older guy and been around most of these old units in his younger days.
                            My next dilemma is finding a torque converter. As it appears to be a sealed unit and one can't disassemble it to gain access to the stator, I guess need the whole converter assembly. I checked with Studebaker International as well as the place in Newberry, Fl and Northwest Transmissions. The only torque convertors available appears to be for Champions only and not the V8 powered commanders. I guess I will have to do a bit more digging.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Torque converters are routinely cut open on the factory weld, serviced/repaired, then welded back together. the only problem might be parts but our units use a Morse type stator clutch or sprag and those can be repaired.(Thanks Target Converters!) Luck Doofus

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