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1st gear start

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  • 1st gear start

    I keep hearing about converting the Flight-O-Matic to a first gear start in "D". Does anyone know how involved this is? Does the tranny have to come out and get torn into? Or can it be done with the tranny in place? Has the subject ever been detailed in a TW article or some other reference? Any insights would be appreciated.

  • #2
    SASCO has a few modified valve bodies that bolt right in by just dropping the pan. (Around $350 I think)

    64 Challenger (Green Wrapper)
    63 R2 4 speed GT Hawk
    55 Speedster
    50 2R 10 truck
    JDP Maryland

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    • #3
      The way I understand it, there's a couple of approaches to this. One is the valve body the JDP talks of. Another would be to luck upon one of the few 1st gear start V8 Flight-o-matics that Stude used in 1956 (damned few, at that). Another is a rather involved conversion of a Ford Cruis-o-matic. And another involves swapping some internal parts from a late Rambler Flash-o-matic. One more would be to get a late Stude 6 Cast Iron Flight-o-matic and install the extra clutch pack discs that were deleted since the trannys were destined to only see what horsepower a 170 cu.in. engine could muster. Yet one more, might be finding a set of springs peculiar to 1st gear start Flight-o-matics and installing them in the valve body. Such springs WERE available once but I've not had luck locating any lately.

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      No deceptive flags to prove I'm patriotic - no biblical BS to impress - just ME and Studebakers - as it should be.

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      • #4
        I've just noticed that on page 109 of the Auto. Drive section of the '55 Shop Manual, Diagnosis 21, it says: "Trans. starts in intermediate instead of low with shift lever in D position". So there must have been a significant number in '55 designed to start in first gear.

        Peter.

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        • #5
          '55 used a DG tranny and that I believe was a first gear start from the factory. So were some '56 Flightomatics. I think it was either mid-56 or mid-57 that they went to a second gear start. so if you have a 2-piece driveshaft (56-57,) you might be able to find a 1st gear start FOM but they are definitely in the minority.

          nate

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          62 Daytona hardtop
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          • #6
            Extreme minority, Nate. The parts books DO say that the FOMs changed from first gear to second gear start at such and such serial numbers. Sadly, it's TRANNY serial numbers that they used to define the two, and most of these old tranny plates have had the identification numbers worn away with time. Of course, it's safe to say that any of the 1st gear start editions had the fixed, short tailshaft setup since a single-piece driveshaft wasn't incorporated until 1958.
            I owned and drove a '56 President for some time. It was first gear start, I remember fondly! That thing would scat!
            As to the DGs, only the DG250 was 1st gear start. At least, that's what I've been told. There were FIVE variants of the DG employed in 1955[:0] There was the DG 150 and the DG 200 and during the year they were succeeded by the 150M and 200M respectively. The DG250 was used behind the 259 engines. Looking thru parts manuals and shop manuals, I can't really find any definitions as to what functional differences there might be between the different variants. Maybe an indepenent Tranny repair guide of that era would be more descriptive in pointing out what's what.

            Miscreant at large.
            No deceptive flags to prove I'm patriotic - no biblical BS to impress - just ME and Studebakers - as it should be.

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