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  • Transmission / Overdrive: Flight-O Matic Auto Transmissions

    What years was the Flight-O-Matic auto transmissions used on Studebakers with V8 Engines?

  • #2
    That would be 1956 to 1966 on Cars.

    The short tail for a 2 Piece Driveshaft version on '56 & '57, 1957 to 1964 on Trucks, and the Long Tail version on '58-'66 Cars.

    Very Strong, dependable Borg Warner Transmissions, also used on Aircraft Mover (Tugs).
    Last edited by StudeRich; 03-04-2020, 10:33 AM.
    StudeRich
    Second Generation Stude Driver,
    Proud '54 Starliner Owner

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    • #3
      Rich,
      And I had a trans pal assist me with mine as he installed all TransGo severe duty parts for an FMX Ford style Borg Warner and it works terrifically. The only hiccup (haha) is every time you move the gear shift lever (powershift) forward there is howl out the back and two strips in the rear view! I agree I don't know why so many are quick to dismiss this very good transmission. I should add that I am not a lover of 700R4's as I do not like the gear spacing.
      Bill

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      • #4
        The #1 (and #2) deterrent to me keeping the Flight O Matic transmission was the second gear start in "D" and the location of Reverse did not make for a quick, safe drop into "L". I was replacing McKinnon 283 for a SBC 350 and I had performance as a criteria.

        With the 700R4 I dropped 50 pounds of weight, got an overdrive for the highway (about 1,700 RPM @65 MPH) and with 3.07 rear gears the rather low 1st gear of the 700R4 was an asset. The overdrive doesn't like too much of an incline, but going to 3rd gear gives the same 1:1 ratio as the Flight O Matic. So, in that regard nothing is lost.

        The 700R4 adaptation requires factoring the intended use, the rear ratio and tires size the weight of the vehicle and the torque (and its curve) of the engine. Lastly, will one drive the car enough to justify the cost? In a situation such as mine I didn't need the adapter because my engine was already SBC. I did all the work myself and paid zero for installation. The 700R4 (appeared to have a recent rebuild) was a Pick Your Part 50% sale item ($70 out the door with convertor) and everything involved with the installation was about $150. On the other hand most seem to report $3,000-$5,000 for a Studebaker to 700R4 with all new components and an outside install.

        I'm sure the Flight O Matic is sufficient for many applications. And in many case perhaps the 700R4 does not bring the return for the dollar. But somewhere in between there is justification for the option.

        BTW, I had a friend who worked for Trans-Go years ago. While he didn't appreciate the work environment he still recommended their products long after he left.
        '64 Lark Type, powered by '85 Corvette L-98 (carburetor), 700R4, - CASO to the Max.

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        • #5
          I never cared much for the FOM or Ultramatics, because of their 2nd gear starts. If you run high rear end gears for better highway cruising, it is at the cost of being a slug around town. If I were ever to install another non-OD automatic, it would be a TH350 with 1st gear start, so I could run a 3.07 or 2.79 rear end without having to sacrifice low speed performance. I know you can modify a FOM for 1st gear start, but they were not designed to do it, and I have heard it's near impossible to get the up/down shift smoothed out.

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          • #6
            I have had several of the FMX transmissions in my Ford vehicles, mostly behind 351 2bbl Cleveland v8's and they never once had any issue with up/down shifting. Funny they also would lay rubber going into second and third gear at full throttle at high rpm. I always felt like these FMX's were so highly underrated. Never did one let me down even after years of running the crap out of them. I think Bill had the right idea, especially if he didn't want to make the change over to the common GM transmissions. Besides you can at least make it look like its still running a stock transmission and keep the changes hidden since they are all internal.

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            • #7
              You DO have to wonder what ronta's original "thought" was; Buy one, Find one, Replace one, Repair one?
              StudeRich
              Second Generation Stude Driver,
              Proud '54 Starliner Owner

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              • #8
                Sorry but I am still confused. I have a 1951 Commander Starlight coupe that has a DG 200 auto transmission. The shift column has P, N, D, L, R and it starts in P. I need the transmission rebuilt on my other 1951 Commander Starlight coupe but cannot determine the type of transmission The shift column is the same and starts in P. The tag with the model number is missing. Would these both be the same model transmission?
                Thanks for your help.
                Ron Acton

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by ronta View Post
                  Sorry but I am still confused. I have a 1951 Commander Starlight coupe that has a DG 200 auto transmission. The shift column has P, N, D, L, R and it starts in P. I need the transmission rebuilt on my other 1951 Commander Starlight coupe but cannot determine the type of transmission The shift column is the same and starts in P. The tag with the model number is missing. Would these both be the same model transmission?
                  Thanks for your help. Ron Acton
                  Yes, No, Maybe. Nothing is certain on a sixty-nine year old car. Engines and/or transmissions could have been changed; seen it happen, but if the transmissions are original, they would both be the same DG200.'

                  jack vines

                  PackardV8

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                  • #10
                    The DG Series of 1950 to 1955 Car & '55/early '56 Truck Transmissions are Studebaker and Detroit Gear Div. of Borg Warner Corp. designed, 3 Band, "Studebaker Automatic Drive" Transmissions.

                    The Major difference in them is the 1955 Model DG250M started in LOW Gear and used all 3 Gears Automatically, the DG200 Starts in SECOND Gear and must be Manually shifted to Low (L) to use Low Gear.

                    Obviously, the 250M Model makes for a much better performing Transmission.
                    What Gear the Engine Starts in, has nothing to do with ANYTHING.

                    All Studebaker Column Shift Models of BOTH Types of Auto. Trans. use the P N D L R shift pattern to be able to Rock forward and back out of Snow or Mud between L & R.
                    This was very common on GM Power Glide and Hydramatic Transmissions.

                    If they both LOOK the same, they ARE the same Detroit Gear (DG) Transmissions, NOT the later Flight-O-Matic Borg Warner Trans. used on '56 to '66 Cars.

                    If both '51 Commanders have the Original 232 V8 Engine, the chances are the Trans. are Original DG Models.
                    IF however an Engine has been "Upgraded" to a Newer Stude. Engine, that is when there is a GOOD chance the Trans. is also a Newer 2 Band Flight-O-Matic that LOOKS completely Different.

                    CLEAR enough?
                    Last edited by StudeRich; 03-31-2020, 02:49 PM.
                    StudeRich
                    Second Generation Stude Driver,
                    Proud '54 Starliner Owner

                    Comment

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