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 Tranny dripping

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Cat SS 59

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PostSubject: Tranny dripping   Thu Feb 23, 2012 10:46 pm

I hope everyone is looking forward to spring! No snow here in Michigan, so I'm ready to drive something made in 1959. I decided to go out and start up my Old Friend today. My engine rebuild guy says he starts his motors and lets them run for 30-45 minutes on warm winter days. Says it keeps things lubed up. A little slow to turn over but idled and sounded great once it was warm. On my last rides in the fall I noticed my tranny dripping fluid. It seemed to drip more during warm up and then slowed or stopped by the end of the rides. She dripped pretty good today, maybe a drip every 3 seconds and there was a good puddle after 15 minutes so I turned her off. Any suggestions on what this could be and how serious? Thanks, Jim


Last edited by Cat SS 59 on Sat Feb 25, 2012 8:54 am; edited 1 time in total
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PostSubject: Re: Tranny dripping   Sat Feb 25, 2012 4:18 am

Jim- Like you and many others here, I too, look forward to springtime when I can drive my cherished classic.
I tinker when I can on my own cars so they are ready for the cruising season. Nothing is more dsinheartening than finding a leak or hearing a mysterious rattle.

I would love to help you find the source of your leak, but could you be more specific as to where on the transmission the leaking is noticed? There are quite a few places that it can come from.

I did take the rear cone and reverse gears out of the transmission, but thats as far as I went. I never removed the trans from the car, simply because there was no need to. I replaced the broken reverse spring, which looks like a giant wavy washer. I did, however, break two of the four split washer rings on the governor, but was able to locate another complete assembly, as the rings are made of the same material as piston rings. This material is very brittle and removing/ replacing them is next to impossible. While I had the tail cone off, I replaced the rear seal, which stopped the perpetual drip on the floor.

If yours is dripping while it's running, my best guess is the main pump seal is bad. This makes the most sense, seeing it dripped until it was warm, then would stop. It was dripping because the seal was cold and contracted until it got to operating temperature and expanded. The repeated expansion and contraction has caused it to finally fail. These are difficult to replace, so it would not be uncommon or too far-fetched for it to be pretty old.

The only way (not fun one, I might add) to fix this is to pull the transmission completely out. There is a common mistaken theory that the Torus drive, which is in two pieces, has to be dissassembled before removing the transmission. There are only 4 bolts holding the Torus drive to the flywheel itself.

Let me know more info and I will do my best. If anyone else knows, I'm sure the more input and he can stop his leak before he ends up with a Valdez size oil slick on his driveway or worse..complete failure while driving!

Good luck,
Chad
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PostSubject: Re: Tranny dripping   Mon Feb 27, 2012 5:36 pm

Jim.....Chad has some good ideas about this. First determine for sure if the leak is transmission fluid or engine oil. If it's engine oil, it could be a valve cover gasket (easy fix,) oil pan gasket (moderate job,) or rear main seal (never saw one done in the car that didn't still leak.) If it is in fact Transmission fluid, you need to determine where it's from. If at the back it's usually the rear seal. The tail shaft can be removed, and the seal replaced without taking the transmission out. If it's at the front, you need to remove the transmission to get to those seals. Also check the fittings where the cooler lines attach to the transmission. If one of those is loose you can have a leak down the passenger side. Finally check the pan gasket and the fitting where the fill tube goes into the pan.

It's a good idea to run the engine as often as possible during periods of inactivity. I like to also chock the wheels and idle the car in drive for about 10-15 minutes. This helps to keep the seals healthy......John
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PostSubject: Re: Tranny dripping   Mon Feb 27, 2012 10:17 pm

Chad and John, thanks for the advice. I'll wait until the next start up and put it up on some ramps to try to determine where the leak is coming from. No doubt it is red Transmission fluid. Hopefully it's the rear seal, but still probably something I'll need help with. Are these seals and gaskets hard to find? I looked in Ames catalog and found no seals for 59's.
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PostSubject: Re: Tranny dripping   Mon Feb 27, 2012 10:24 pm

Looks like Rockauto has some seals, but it mentions 3 speed auto. Ours are 4 speeds?
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PostSubject: Re: Tranny dripping   Tue Feb 28, 2012 1:12 am

Good deal! I have ordered from RockAuto....be careful though. Most auto parts stores do carry the seals and gaskets for the '59's. They are not Pontiac or GM, for that matter, vehicle specific. They were used for hundreds of makes and models. I think I spent $4.00 for my rear seal. The pan gasket was around $8.00.

I recommend checking for leaks on a level surface. Doing this with the front on ramps will lead to a false positive, so to speak. If it is the front seal, while at an angle will cause it to drain back and drip from the pan. You get the idea. Four jack stands to get up and level is best.

Maybe you can find a shop, like say a muffler shop, that will let you use their lift for an hour or so on Saturday. I've done this in the past. I told them I was taking pictures before starting a restoration while actually checking the frame of a Corvette for cracks. I suggested a muffler shop, since they won't feel slighted for you checking your transmission. Besides, you'll be able to get in with a flashlihgt and a small mirror to check everything. I would also recommend drenching the trans and bellhousing with a large can of brake cleaner, just to get it clean and help see where the leak is coming from.

If you get lucky, the rear seal is not hard to do at all. It takes longer to remove the driveline than actually replace the seal itself! I use Permatex Gasket maker on EVERYTHING. The stuff looks like molasses and never dries, which is awesome for gaskets and seals. Put the stuff on the seal contact surface (not the rubber portion which touches the driveline) and no more leaks. For gaskets, after a thorough cleaning, put some on the pan and one side of the gasket. Bolt it on and torque it down. DONE! Boeing uses it on their aircraft to seal parts WITHOUT paper or composite gaskets. The stuff is that good!

WARNING: These cars have a TWO piece driveline with a carrier bearing. Mark both ends of the driveline in relation to where the joints connect to the yokes and DO NOT deviate from them during reassembly. You will end up with a vibration that will not only drive you nuts, but cause premature failure of the carrier bearing in short order. If you have the funds while the driveline is out, have the bearing and u-joints replaced anyway. The u-joints are a DIY project, but the center bearing is not.

It's cheap insurance and if installed the same way they are taken out (folowing the marks) you should never have any trouble again! Sorry to get off topic, but if you are in there anyway, why end up doing it twice??

Good luck and keep us posted.

Chad
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PostSubject: Re: Tranny dripping   Wed Feb 29, 2012 12:06 am

Jim.....FATSCO if I remember correctly they are located in New Jersey. Look them up on the net. They specialize in parts for all makes of automatic transmissions, including our Super HydraMatics. I purchased a rear seal and pan gasket from them about 3 years ago......John
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PostSubject: Re: Tranny dripping   Thu Mar 01, 2012 10:11 pm

Thanks John, never heard of Fatsco, but see they have many 59 transmission parts. I'm not going to figure this out until spring when I have a chance to get up under her and check things out. Chad's suggestion of a Muffler Shop is perfect because I have such a friend who manages a shop in town and he's done work for me in the past. I'll keep you guys posted.
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PostSubject: Re: Tranny dripping   Fri Apr 06, 2012 12:15 pm

Happy Good Friday everyone. Here are pics of the drips coming from the Flywheel bottom housing cover. Is there a gasket that fit this lower cover?



Last edited by Cat SS 59 on Sat Apr 07, 2012 3:18 am; edited 1 time in total
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PostSubject: Re: Tranny dripping   Fri Apr 06, 2012 12:58 pm

I just ordered a pan gasket from Fatsco, but the more I look at it, it probably is not the pan gasket. Fatsco did not have a listing for a 1959 Hydra-matic, but the guy said it was a Jet Away. I bought just the pan gasket and not the entire Seal-up Kit. Also should have ordered the "O" rings after reading John's post to Alex. The 1959 Pontiac Hydra-matic transmission Manual lists 30 possible places to look for oil leakage!
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PostSubject: Re: Tranny dripping   Wed Apr 25, 2012 3:07 pm

These transmissions are Hydra-Matic and are also called Jet-Away. The pans are the same. They are rectangle, but I forget how many bolts there are. There is no gasket on the flex plate/ torus drive inspection cover. They just bolt on to keep crap out and to let stuff drip. Putting a gasket on this cover is asking for trouble, it will just flood the flywheel and starter, opening up a new can of worms.

Good Luck!

Have you found the source of the leak yet? Kepp us posted!

Look forward to hearing you found it or at least know where the leak is coming from.

Chad
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PostSubject: Re: Tranny dripping   Thu Apr 26, 2012 10:27 pm

Found my transmission guy! He worked on Hydra's/jet aways in high school and knows his stuff. Apparently I had a pretty good spray coming out from the torus seal so he replaced all the front seals. I think there were 4 in all. Should be good to go with no leaks.
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PostSubject: Re: Tranny dripping   Thu Apr 26, 2012 10:41 pm

Good Deal! Did he say if they had been replaced before or were they original? It's not too far fetched for them to be original, since they are pain in the ass to change. Hopefully the leak has stopped for good and many miles of happy motoring!
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PostSubject: Re: Tranny dripping   Thu Apr 26, 2012 10:53 pm

I'm pretty sure they were original. Was told the main seal probably got tweaked when they remounted my new block. However, the leak did not start until 1-2 months after.
He said he can still find parts for these Hydra's in Detroit and if something major happens, it can be re- built. I'm just real happy to find this guy because he may very well help me out down the road.
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