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Stalling Automatic

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  • Engine: Stalling Automatic

    We just got a '51 Commander V8 in our shop from one of our customers. (We specialize in air-cooled Porsches) The car starts fine and idles a bit high but, when it's put in drive it coughs, stumbles and stalls. Before we start ripping it apart and guessing what might be the cause I was hoping to get some insight into this, to us, rare combination of V8 with early automatic. The stock fuel line feed has been bypassed with a modern filter piped directly into the carb. We're not sure if we should focus on the engine or trans at this point.

    Mark Seiler
    Bowman Vintage Restoration
    Hickory, NC

  • #2
    sounds like idle air mixture is not right or timing issue maybe vacuum leak
    Last edited by Videoranger; 07-06-2022, 06:22 AM.


    • #3
      This transmission has a lock-up converter among other unique features. Sometimes they do develop a condition where the converter doesn't release when comming toa stop. Is that how this one is acting? Like on a manualtransmission when the clutch isn't depressed causing the car to jerk to a stop?
      It is often a governor 'hangup' problem. Sometimes a fluid change (the converter has a drain plug also) and maybe a can of shudder stop will fix it.


      • #4
        Dwain's answer is probably the first step. The transmission is a Detroit Gear Automatic that was used exclusively by Studebaker until 1956, and also was used by Jaguar after that. As I have not had to deal with this transmission in sometime, I am not sure of the latest information on the fluid to use. A good fluid and torque converter change may take care of the problem. The last transmission I worked with a lock up torque converter was 1950 Packard with Ultramatic drive.

        The Detroit Gear Transmission is a good transmission that if adjusted properly works great. If production of Studebaker had not dropped, the cost per unit would have the transmission still being used. You might try to find an old Motor's Manual for the years covered to 1956.

        Bob Miles
        Hope this helps


        • #5
          Another thing: if when you engage the transmission , sometimes you can feather the throttle to try to keep it from stalling and if the car gets under way, it is probably a sticking torque converter. When my car was stalling, as I was coming to a stop, I would shift to neutral then when I started up, I would shift to drive at the same time as feathering/goosing the throttle. Again, complete fluid change may work wonders. If someone on the thread can recommend the fluid, your problem may be solved.

          Bob Miles
          Three speed and overdrive as all I do now on my Studebaker


          • #6
            I'm no expert, but have driven these DG's for decades. What I have discovered, and later read, is that the wear and condition of the trans determines which fluid will work best. If the trans is a high mileage unit, where upshift operation is sluggish, often requiring the driver to take his foot off the accelerator before it will shift, Ford F fluid seems to help tighten up the shifts. If however, a tans has low mileage or recently rebuilt, I have found that Dextran will allow for much smoother shifts. some people have even experimented with a 50/50 mix of the two fluid types, and have reported good results.