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1953 Commander T5 swap

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  • Transmission / Overdrive: 1953 Commander T5 swap

    I just finished a T5 trans swap in my '53 Commander with a '56 289 in it. Thought you all would like a detailed description of what was involved. First, I had to get a '58-'64 bell housing, from Jack Vines for $100. Then a adapter kit from Phil Harris. I found a good T5 for $100 near me. The car had a 3spOD and a 4:54 rear gear, hence the swap. Then the fun began. The Z-bar had to be re-fabed to fit the new bell housing. Fortunately, the adapter plate stuck out in the right place to put the Z-bar mount 'on the bellhousing'. That caused the rod from the Z-bar to the clutch to hit the bell housing mount crossmember. I cut away the crossmember enough for clearance and re-enforced it to make up for what I cut out. Then I had to find a clutch disc to fit the trans and the original pressure plate, because the pressure plate was almost new and the flywheel had been surfaced. After shopping around, I found the right size on ebay for $30. Stude vendors wanted $100. It is a 9-1/4 disc, with a 15/16"-10 spline input shaft on the trans. The trans adapter kit bolts were short, except for the tapered head bolts for the adapter plate, and of the 4 tapered bolts, I used 2. With a bit longer bolts (3/8" to 1/2" longer, depending on where they went), I got the trans in. In my research for these swaps, I found no mention of a trans mount, and I was concerned that with the aluminum case, about the trans breaking, having broken several aluminum cases in years past. So, I fabed up a cross member. Next was to cut the floor for the shifter. It is said, that the shifter is too far back and hits the seat. Well, with the seat where I felt comfortable, it just barely touches the seat, and with the after market "short shifter", it works fine. I am going to have to fab the seat for a couple 3 inches more clearance so my woman can drive it. (because it is actually her car!) No big deal. I considered putting the S10 tail housing on it (seems everyone thinks it has to be done), and that puts the shifter "about 8" forward". Well that's about 4-5" too far for me. So, now the trans is in. I managed to find a drive shaft in a friends pile of shafts that was the perfect length, and took the 369 U-joints, which are same as original. Yes, I cut the original crossmember for the carrier bearing for the new driveshaft, but, I did add the 'new' crossmember, so I feel confident it is sufficient. I also found a 3:31 limited slip dana 44 out of a '62 Lark and installed it, with new brakes, shocks, leaf spring bushings, and rebuilt the wheels cylinders, put new seals in also. I had to change the emergency cable anchor location on the passenger side to use the Lark cable. The other one on the 'old' rear end was no good. Ready for the test drive! It went wonderfully! With that low 1st gear, and the 3:31 rear gears, it plenty peppy 'out of the hole', and (without a tach hooked up, but 50 years experience), my guess is it's turning about 2000-2200 @ 65mph. I should say that it has 205/75/15 radials on it, which are on Ford Ranger rims. No rubbing. I will put some wider tires in the back, simply because there is room. I'm not going to be racing it, yet(!). I will be running the Stude motor, and I will do some performance enhancements to to it, when I take the car apart for the body work and chassis spiff up. I am no fan of people putting in chuv motors, and I don't care what the excuse is! I I was to put a different brand of motor in it, it would be a 472-500cid Cadillac motor in it. Weighs 60lbs more than a SBC, and makes gobs more torque and HP, and gets better gas millage. I don't want to hear anyone's comments about engine swaps, so don't bother. I have the T86 overdrive trans, the Dana 44 (NOT the 27) 4:54 open rear end and driveshaft for sale, if anyone is interested. I'm not greedy. I hope this is helpful for anyone thinking of doing this swap.

  • #2
    Nice write up with solid details.

    Comment


    • yeroldad
      yeroldad commented
      Editing a comment
      Thanks, hope it helps someone.

  • #3
    I bought na 88 Camaro IROC for 800.00, took the T5 out and a few other bits (speedo, pedals, bell housing, drive shaft) then sold the rest for 500.00. Now the T5 is waiting its turn to go into my PowerHawk. Thanks for the write up, its the details that get you sometimes. You got a T5 for a hundred? Killer deal.
    Rafe Hollister

    Comment


    • yeroldad
      yeroldad commented
      Editing a comment
      Rafe, I got the trans from a guy that was going automatic. 80s-90s Mustang. It's for his son, and he didn't want his kid hot rodding around with a stick shift, not that that is going to stop him! It was on farcebook, for all of about a hour. I have a friend that wants one, and he's seeing a grand and up for them! I feel very lucky.

  • #4
    There are "Ford" bolt pattern T5s.
    There are "Ford" bolt pattern Stude bellhousings.

    There are "GM" pattern T5s.
    There are "GM" pattern Stude bellhousings.

    The correct input shafts are available for $100.00

    Why are guys using the Adaptors?

    GM T5 to Stude bellhousing.
    No Adaptor.
    Mustang Imput shaft.
    Bolt in.

    Comment


    • yeroldad
      yeroldad commented
      Editing a comment
      Those are not easy to find, that's why. At least from my searching. It's done now.
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