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 4 speed manual transmission swap info

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starchief_59
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PostSubject: 4 speed manual transmission swap info   Thu May 22, 2008 7:55 pm

The bell housings and flywheels are hard to find for this swap but they are out there. You'll need a fywheel and bell housing from '58(maybe even 57 or earlier) - 1960 Pontiac or GMC heavy duty truck with a pontiac motor in it. The flywheels are 12" and have 176 teeth. These bellhousings will fit all GM 4 speed manual trannies: Saginaw, Borg Warner, Muncie...

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PostSubject: 4 speed swaps   Thu Aug 20, 2009 12:14 am

Hi my name is Leonard, I just now joined the web site, since i got time and Im bored as hell here in Iraq, I picked up CREEPJOHNNY's 59 Star chief. what i have so is an automatic with it which will go in the trash as soon as i get home and tinker with it, I have a 1963 T-10 borg-warner trans i want to put it, i have the bellhousing and the flywheel, i just have any of the clutch linkage and as for pedals, will the clutch pedals from a 59 Impala work? Do you know where i could find all the linkage (all of it, or what will be compatable also a clutch fork)? Thanks
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PostSubject: Re: 4 speed manual transmission swap info   Thu Aug 20, 2009 3:06 am

The clutch linkage is impossible to find. I've been looking since the day I got my 59 almost 4 years ago. I've only found one set up and I bought it. I've decided to go the hydraulic route because I'm still having issues with the linkage set up I do have. Keep in mind that only around 3% of ALL '59 Pontiacs were 3 speed sticks. And most of those would be bottom of the line catalinas which would be the first ones to get crushed.

1960 Pedals and linkage should be the same.

The clutch and brake pedal themselves will probably work but the clutch pedal bracket will not work. It's a different bracket.

You might be able to use '59 Chevy pedals with a pontiac bracket and maybe modify a chevy linkage to work in your pontiac. I'm pretty sure the Chevy linkage pivots off the back of the block and ours pivot off the bellhousing.

I'm going to run hydraulic just because it's so much easier and the whole set up should cost way less than I paid for all my linkage parts.

Out of curiousity, Where did you find your flywheel and bellhousing? Is it for a 59 pontiac?

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PostSubject: Re: 4 speed manual transmission swap info   Thu Aug 20, 2009 3:07 am

And of course, WELCOME to the site! I hope we can help you out with your restoration

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PostSubject: 4 speed   Fri Aug 21, 2009 5:30 pm

I actually got it off ebay, one guy had the bellhousing and no one bidded on it so i got it for like 150 and the flywheel was a buy it now or make offer so i made and offer of 75 and the sold it to me. What are you using for hydraulic? how does it work I'm old school so how or what would you need to do that? What clutch fork would i need also since i dont have one.
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PostSubject: Re: 4 speed manual transmission swap info   Sat Aug 22, 2009 2:38 am

I'm using a 59 GMC bellhousing because it's slightly deeper so my big ass 12" pressure plate fit in it. I'm using a stock GMC clutch fork which is way different than the Pontiac ones.

From pictures I have seen it appears that the 59-64 clutch forks are all pretty similar. I'm not sure which one would work but as long as it reaches the input shaft and fits your throw out bearing it should work ok

Sounds like you got pretty good deals on your bellhousing and flywheel. I got good deals on mine also. Right after I got mine I saw 3 or 4 sets go for about $250+

You can order a small master cylinder from Wilwood (5/8 or 3/4" bore) and then a Wilwood slave cylinder which mounts behind the clutch fork and pulls the clutch fork to disengage the clutch. For the MC and the SC it's like $150. Add some brake lines, maybe some hardware, maybe a little bit of bracket fabbing. I haven't done it yet but right now it sounds 500X easier than finding a complete clutch linkage set up and cheaper also.

It should also have a more solid feel to it.

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PostSubject: Re: 4 speed manual transmission swap info   Sat Aug 22, 2009 4:07 am

I just started resurching the slave cylinder and the company called McLeod sells alot stuff to do with clutches,ect and they have a kit to completely illiminate the clutch fork, its a hydraulic throw out bearing! Thats awesome I cant wait to get home and start to tinker with my car
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PostSubject: Re: 4 speed manual transmission swap info   Sat Aug 22, 2009 1:15 pm

The hydraulic throwout bearing is another way to go. I think they are a little bit more expensive and you'll still need a master cylinder.

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PostSubject: Re: 4 speed manual transmission swap info   Mon Aug 31, 2009 8:36 pm

LBGalaxyman wrote:
What i have so is an automatic with it which will go in the trash as soon as i get home and tinker with it.

Don't throw it in the trash!

There's a big misconception about these older 4 speed autos. They're better designed and handle more abuse than a 400. GM retired this trans because the 350 and 400 are MUCH cheaper to produce and build, NOT because they're inferior. When the hydro shifts into second gear, the rear torus locks the output shaft and there's virtually no slippage from that point on. It acts like a manual transmission, but with freewheeling. It's why these transmissions were the most efficient design out there until locking torque converters came into play in the early 80's.

I'm willing to bet 2nd gear on your current 4 speed auto is steeper than first gear on your T-10.

1st 3.96
2nd 2.55
3rd 1.55
4th 1.00
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PostSubject: Re: 4 speed manual transmission swap info   Mon Aug 31, 2009 8:44 pm

Yeah, those 4 speeds have a strange gear ratio pattern. a 3.96 first gear!? That's insane

I guess that's what made these beasts so quick off the line. Even a 3.08 gear should get you moving pretty quickly off the line

My muncie is a 2.52:1 first gear and my Super T10 is about the same (they had a 2.4 and a 2.6 I'm not sure which mine is)

But with the 4 speed having much closer gears it'll be quicker over all because you're RPMS won't drop so much with each shift

My truck has a 3:1 first gear and a 1.6:1 second gear and it has 3.55 gears and that's a pretty big jump if you're tryin to haul ass. It's great for cruising but it's about a 2000RPM jump from first to 2nd.

Think about an M21/M22 it goes from 2.2:1 to 1:1 all in 4 gears. That's a close ratio trans!

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PostSubject: Transmissions   Mon Aug 31, 2009 11:56 pm

59safaricat in right on the money with his remarks. Probably one of the best transmissions ever made. Economical and durable. Only two problems with them that I know of. The last ones were made 45 years ago, so its getting hard to find anyone that knows how to repair them if they need it. Also, without modification they are designed to upshift at a relatively low RPM. Even at full throtle and held in low range it will upshift on its own, usually about 4200 or 11-15 MPH. Of coarce thats about the peak torque range for most 389's anyway. Most of the pictures of the Gas/Supercharged Willis coupes that you see (Ohio George Montgomery, Stone Woods and Cook etc) were running slightly modified Hydramatics behind blown Hemis back in the sixties. Don't sell them short......John
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PostSubject: Re: 4 speed manual transmission swap info   Tue Sep 01, 2009 1:25 am

CATBIRD wrote:
The last ones were made 45 years ago, so its getting hard to find anyone that knows how to repair them if they need it.

I'm working on that one....

A guy in Reno, NV who used to service my 59 back in the day is still alive and kicking. His mind is as sharp as a tack and his body looks 20 years younger than he appears. In 1956, he got out of the army and went to school specifically to learn how to repair these 4 speed hydros. He worked for GM from that time until the 70's when he switched to Ford, and then opened up his own shop in the early 80's.

He recently rebuilt my hydro and I asked him if he would rebuild another one so I could video tape the entire process. He said he'd be more than happy to. Now I just have to find another 59 hydro to rebuild. Anyone care to donate one for a great cause? Videos will be posted of the entire process via the internet....somewhere. I would post it up on youtube, but with youtubes short 10min clips, I can see that process getting pretty involved and at the same time, very annoying.
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PostSubject: Re: 4 speed manual transmission swap info   Tue Sep 01, 2009 8:41 am

I beg to differ on these transmissions. I busted the damn fluid coupling 3 times and on the 4th I ripped the fins clean out of the torus. With a motor that's stock other than I added a tri power over the stock 2bbl. Had a talk with the owner of Bendtsen's transmissions (One of the 2 companies that makes an adapter for our block for newer trnasmissions) (Oh, and I think his name is Bob) and he said that these trnamissions had this trouble quite often. The parts couldn't handle the torque. The addition of just the tri power is just enough for consistant failure. The only way to get around this was to have the aftermarket upgrade kits. He said B&M made the best for these transmissions but the only way to get these kits now is NOS. Good luck there, I spent over a year looking and never found one.

I tried selling this transmission for a year then spent a year and a half trying to give it away and no one would take it. I just scrapped mine this last year when the prices were high. Hated getting rid of it but no one would even take it.

These things were like a predecessor to both the slim jim and the TH's. Too bad they were more like the slim jim in performance.

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PostSubject: Re: 4 speed manual transmission swap info   Tue Sep 01, 2009 11:19 am

Maybe you got a bad one. Like was said earlier, all the drag racers back in the day used them and some upgraded them to the famous "hydrostick" which you could manually shift it. If it wasn't a good transmission to begin with, no one would have thought to put it in their hot rod and no one would upgrade a transmission that wasn't worth a shit to begin with.

Either way, I wasn't going to use mine because automatics are no fun. I hear ya about tryin to give these things away. No one wants them...either because they want to swap theirs for a 4 speed stick or the one in the car is still working fine.

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PostSubject: Re: 4 speed manual transmission swap info   Tue Sep 01, 2009 11:36 am

I rebuilt it 3 times. Has nothing to do with "a bad one." The transmissions that were used for drag racing had the upgrades. Stock they're crap. And you can't get the upgrades for them anymore.

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PostSubject: Re: 4 speed manual transmission swap info   Tue Sep 01, 2009 12:04 pm

IDK, no one would find a "crap" transmission and upgrade it to race. They would have started with a good tranny and then upgraded it as needed.

On performance years, pontiaczone and on here I haven't seen anyone with a bad hydramatic.

Just because it's rebuilt doesn't mean there's not something still wrong with it. My friend bought a brand new 2004 Jeep Wrangler with a factory 2" lift and 33" tires. After 3 months he blew the rear end. Dealer fixed it, another month he blew it again. He took it back and they fixed it. A few weeks later it blew again, his dad took the jeep away from him because he thought it was being abused. After about 3 weeks his dad blew the rear end. After about 8 rear end rebuilds Chrysler refused to fix it anymore. So he took it to an offroad shop and spend $3500 on a brand new completely upgraded rear end. It took him 5 months to blow this one.

No one else seems to be having troubles with their hydramatics except for the 1960s have a shifter rod problem

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PostSubject: Re: 4 speed manual transmission swap info   Tue Sep 01, 2009 4:51 pm

You haven't talked to many people that have run the '59/'60 hydramatic transmission, have you. Suspect I know quite a few people with them that dumped that transmission due to it not handling torque. The old jetaways that olds and buick ran had similar troubles too.

And remember, back then they fixed what they had cause #1 "performance parts" was just beginning and #2 they didn't replace it with something else unless they were professionals.

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PostSubject: Re: 4 speed manual transmission swap info   Tue Sep 01, 2009 4:57 pm

People ran these behind hemis and put them in hopped up hot rods. They could have picked any transmission and they picked these. That has to tell you something.

I'm not saying they're perfect and I'd never use one, but look around on here and on the other pontiac forums, I'd bet that less than 1% has replaced their tranny.

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PostSubject: Re: 4 speed manual transmission swap info   Tue Sep 01, 2009 5:21 pm

I know 5 off the top of my head other than me that replaced them. Including 1 from the tour this year that had a '60 poncho, 2 local '60s and 2 '59s I have met at BTT50s. And the '59s including mine (3) makes 50% of them at BTT50's.

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PostSubject: Re: 4 speed manual transmission swap info   Tue Sep 01, 2009 8:52 pm

Well, my safari has over 200K miles and the 4 speed hydro was only rebuilt once (1972) with soft parts, no hard parts. I recently rebuilt it because it sat for almost 30 years unused. It performed flawlessly after awakening from its 28 year nap, with the exception of a very minor leak from an o-ring seal for the shift linkage. This car pulled multiple trailers, had wood hauled every year from 59-79, saw many skiing trips during the winter, was exclusively used to move 2 entire households in 1963, and even saw a round trip from Reno Nv to Mexico in 1978. It was never babied in any way during its lifetime.

As far as the the failing torus's, just like torque converters, they ALL eventually fail. That's what happens when you churn fluid at a very high RPM for many 10's of thousands of miles. I spent several years gathering parts for my rebuild and was able to find new front and rear torus's, among many other NOS parts, like planetary gear sets. My tranny guy nearly had a heart attack since some of those parts were hard to find when these transmission were new! BTW, I still kept my old 200K mile torus's that still look and perform flawlessly. I can take of pic of them if you wish Very Happy

A tip for those who use these transmissions. Use Type FA (A=Anti-foam) ONLY! No Dexron!!! Dexron has an additive that makes these trans slip too much. It'll eventually fry the clutches and the rear band. My trans guy recommends changing the fluid every 15-20K miles, more so if you have a heavy foot. If you have a REALLY heavy foot, check it every 3K miles and change when the fluid just starts changing color. He said a super hydro will last 80K miles without a fluid change; A slim-jim, 30K (said he made TONS of money off of slim-jims back then).
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PostSubject: Re: 4 speed manual transmission swap info   Wed Sep 02, 2009 9:18 am

Just out of curiosity, what did you spend on that thing to have it rebuilt? Parts and labor?

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PostSubject: Re: 4 speed manual transmission swap info   Sat Sep 05, 2009 1:04 am

Just out of curiosity I have a 63 bonneville, do they have the same or similar concept transmissions? i know its a hydramatic but that is about it, its an all aluminum case, and as for reliability its been in the car since it was new in 1962 when sold, and it leaks like a siv but i can say i have beat the shit out of it and it has over 155,000+ miles on it and it is now just starting to chatter in reverse i know a guy by where i am staioned at and he knows how to rebuild them so its about time that i get it done and he doesnt charge alot either i think he wants about 900 to rebiuld it.

And as for my 59 trans if anyone wants it all you need to do is pay for shipping or come pick it up from my house as soon as i get out Iraq!
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PostSubject: Re: 4 speed manual transmission swap info   Sun Sep 06, 2009 1:29 pm

I think they're similar I'm not not too sure if anything is interchangeable but I think they have a similar design. They still don't use a torque converter. Neither do the slim Jims

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PostSubject: Re: 4 speed manual transmission swap info   Mon Sep 07, 2009 9:35 pm

starchief1959 wrote:
Just out of curiosity, what did you spend on that thing to have it rebuilt? Parts and labor?

I'd have to spend a couple of hours figuring out an exact price for the parts. I spent several years gathering everything up, but i have receipts for every part I bought, whether ebay or direct from a company. I had all 12 bushings removed and replaced (which I had to use both Fatsco and Autotran to get a complete set) and he also took apart the entire valve body, cleaned, and polished all of the valves for smooth operation (he said it takes an entire day to perform this task alone). None of the hard parts needed to be replaced, I just had him replace them since I had most of them. All in all, he only charged me $400. My jaw dropped to the floor since I was expecting at least 1K. I tipped him $100.
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PostSubject: Re: 4 speed manual transmission swap info   Mon Sep 07, 2009 9:40 pm

LBGalaxyman wrote:
Just out of curiosity I have a 63 bonneville, do they have the same or similar concept transmissions?

Same trans, but a little less durable than your 59 (but still much more durable than a 400). 59/60 were the strongest dual range hydos, with 59 being the best out of the bunch since it didn't have the linkage issues that 60 had.
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