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Few Questions About A '51
Quite a regular
Joined:
2016/9/20 0:29
From calhoun, ga
Posts: 26
Just brought home an all original '51 300 model with the 327 5 main engine and Ultramatic trans. This car was owned by the same gentleman since the late 80's. He claimed that it had always been garage kept and driven quite frequently. The car is in nice shape. A true survivor. When I purchased it the engine ran so smooth you could barely hear it run and the trans. shifted just fine.

After getting it home I have now driven it 3 times. The first trip was a short one after which I immediately crawled under to check the trans. fluid. The stick was bone dry. So we added about a gallon until it finally began to read on the stick. This was done slowly and after each addition we ran the engine and shifted into all gears and back to park before checking. The reading was the same whether running or not. This brought the level up to the very bottom of the FULL mark.

Since doing this I have driven the car an additional 2 times and now the trans. is doing something strange. It should be noted that it doesn't do this EVERY time. Maybe 1 out of 3 take offs. When I take off the car feels sluggish. Like the trans. is holding it back. As I accelerate the cars begins to shudder. Not like a fuel problem. The motor is NOT trying to die. Then after a few moments the shuddering ceases, car accelerates a bit, then shifts into high laboriously.

So what would cause this? Why was it working fine when the fluid was not even showing on the stick? I'll be honest, what little I could find about checking the fluid in the manual was VERY vague. Did I do it wrong and overfill the thing?

Next issue. As I mentioned, the engine was whisper quiet on the first 2 trips. The 3rd trip was a much longer outing and when I returned several of the lifters were ticking loudly. I have changed the oil and put in straight 30W. I have also put 87 octane fuel in there. Any ideas what may have caused them to start ticking all of a sudden? Do I need any additives? Lead substitute etc.?

Posted on: 2017/9/9 19:35
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Re: Few Questions About A '51
Home away from home
Joined:
2013/8/2 15:19
From MKE, WI
Posts: 715
There is a great deal of Ultramatic experience around here and I possess none but perhaps the dipstick was substituted at some point with one that "fit"?
I expect that I would also start adding fluid as well but after 4 quarts...Something just does not make sense there.

Posted on: 2017/9/9 20:26
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Re: Few Questions About A '51
Forum Ambassador
Joined:
2007/4/20 17:54
From Fresno CA
Posts: 16043
The converter starts draining back into the pan as soon the engine stops so the level needs to be checked with the engine idling or within one minute after stopping. If it was previously checked after the drain back started or was nearly done it could have read full even though it wasn't. Adding 4 quarts is quite a bit though so I am surprised the car was able to move with it being that low.

What kind of fluid did you add? If the car still has the original cork facings and one of the modern fluids with smooth shift formulations was added it could be there is not enough grab to the clutches or bands and they break free and slip until finally they engage. The closest modern fluid to the original type A is the old Ford spec'd type F. B & M Trick Shift is another that seems to work well with the cork. If the trans has been rebuilt with modern clutch and band friction materials then the Dexron formulations work well.

I don't know if you are familiar with Ultramatic operation but if not, remember that it does not shift between gears and for all practical purposes is a one speed transmission. If you select high it starts and stays in high and depending on throttle position, direct drive comes in to lock out the converter between 20 and 40 mph or so. The same if Low is selected. It starts and stays in low with the direct drive coming in at various speeds depending on throttle. Acceleration in high is best described as leisurely. For faster acceleration some start in low and manually shift to high. The transmission is not designed for that operation and there is no synchronization between shifts. Damage can be done if the shift is done under power. If you do drive this way it is a good idea to let off the gas when you make the shift and then accelerate again after high is fully engaged.

Posted on: 2017/9/9 21:24
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Howard
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Re: Few Questions About A '51
Quite a regular
Joined:
2016/9/20 0:29
From calhoun, ga
Posts: 26
We did check the fluid with engine running as well as within seconds of it being shut off. Readings were the same. When we started the stick was dry. After 4 quarts it reached the full mark. Not only did it move before we put all of that in, it performed flawlessly. It was only AFTER adding fluid that it began to act strangely.

I believe you may have solved the mystery. I thought I had read somewhere that Type A (Dexron/Mercon) was suggested so that is what I used. You are saying that Type F should be used instead. I have no idea if the trans. has ever been rebuilt. I will drain the pan and converter and refill with Type F and report back.

As far as the operation, I am not familiar with it at all. This is my first time driving an Ultramatic. I have a Buick equipped with Dynaflow and it never shifts. It just goes smoothly. So you're saying that at certain times a "direct drive" kicks in? When this happens, does it feel like the car is shifting? Because I am definitely feeling a shift-like motion as the car comes up to speed. I am not manually shifting from low to high as I have read that the Ultramatic doesn't take kindly to that procedure. Thank you very much for your detailed response.

Posted on: 2017/9/9 22:03
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Re: Few Questions About A '51
Home away from home
Joined:
2008/11/28 17:50
From Calgary, AB Canada
Posts: 910
The Ultramafic is similar to the Dynaflow in that it stays in high range all the time and uses a torque convertor. Where the Packard is different is that there is a direct drive clutch that locks the torque converter up after a certain speed is reached, depending on throttle position. The "shift" that you are noticing is the direct drive kicking in.

Posted on: 2017/9/9 23:02
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1949 Custom 8
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Re: Few Questions About A '51
Home away from home
Joined:
2011/5/31 22:14
From Hilo, hawaii , usa
Posts: 176
i have a '52 with umatic and i feel no shifting.

Posted on: 2017/9/10 17:39
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Re: Few Questions About A '51
Forum Ambassador
Joined:
2007/4/20 17:54
From Fresno CA
Posts: 16043
Sounds like your Ultra is in good shape. Many have reported that going into DD is more a change in perception or sound as the engine slows rather than something that is felt. When the DD clutch has dried or become glazed and hard is when the sense of an actual shift is more pronounced. Frequently the "shift" is also accompanied by a groan or "mooing" sound as the DD clutch engages.

Posted on: 2017/9/10 19:02
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Howard
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Re: Few Questions About A '51
Quite a regular
Joined:
2016/9/20 0:29
From calhoun, ga
Posts: 26
Drained the pan and converter today and refilled per the service manual procedure with Type F. Drove the car twice and it's no longer shuddering. But I am still feeling a pronounced shift sensation when direct drive kicks in. Maybe this trans is worn from being driven all those years with extremely low fluid? Guess it's one of those things where there's not a lot that can be done so you just drive it til something breaks then fix it. At any rate, thanks for all of the responses guys. Much appreciated.

Posted on: 2017/9/10 19:45
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Re: Few Questions About A '51
Forum Ambassador
Joined:
2007/4/20 17:54
From Fresno CA
Posts: 16043
The "shift" feel is nothing to be concerned with. Some can feel it on their cars and some not. Packard strived for not but old hard clutch discs can cause it as can some adjustments. As long as it is going into DD in is the important part. If it groans along with the shift just let up on the gas as it makes the connection.

Posted on: 2017/9/10 21:24
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Howard
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Re: Few Questions About A '51
Home away from home
Joined:
2008/5/22 13:43
From Vancouver, WA
Posts: 638
Hello Shadetree77
I have both a 1951 and a 1953 with the ultramatic. the 1951 has no discernible shift action and the 1953 has a light shift felt around 22 to 25 mph. I've had them both for about 20 years and have had no problem with the transmission of either car. What you're feeling appears not to be a bad thing with your trans. Hope this helps.

Posted on: 2017/9/11 17:19
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Steve
Old cars are my passion

1951 Packard 200
1953 Packard Clipper Custom Touring Sedan
1955 Dodge Custom Royal Lancer Tri-tone
1966 Rambler Classic 770 Convertible
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