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Hello all,

Several months back I picked up a 54' Lincoln Capri from my uncle. I was somewhat distressed when we got it running that the car will not go in reverse or shift between gears in drive. After trying several adjusments, all to no avail, I am trying to find a shop somewhere in the Pacific Nothwest (Seattle/Portland area) that can rebuild a 54' hydramatic.

I found a few shops that said they can do it in California, Texas, and the east coast, but I really would like to avoid shipping that monster across the country.

Thanks

Adam

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My take is that any transmission guy who can rebuild an modern electronically controlled transmission should, armed with a factory shop book and a rebuild kit, be able to disassemble and rebuild one of these. The trouble is they are generally low-profit jobs and they know if it comes back for any reason they've made no money on that job. I believe that's why nobody wants to fool with an older transmission.

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I guess I should have been a little more specific about the issue. The car has never run in my uncles possession. The last time we can find any evidence of it being driven was from a community college sticker on the window from 1965. The car was purchased by my uncle with the intent of restoration. He rebuilt the engine and while it was out of the car pulled the pans off of the transmission. The insides were clean, the fluid was still nice and red with no signs of water. There was sludge in the bottom of the pan but nothing that one would not expect from sitting for a long period of time. He inspected the bands, rinsed out the sludge, and consulted with a few folks who knew more about the transmission than he did. They all said that if it looked that clean, reinstall and see what happens, so he did.

We put it all back together, had the radiator rebuilt, filled all the fluids and fired up the engine. It purrs very nicely. The issue now is that the transmission seems either to be stuck in drive or the pumps are dead. When you put it in gear the wheels will turn forward in drive, they will pick up speed when you accelerate but there is no indication that the transmission is shifting gears. When you put it in neutral the wheels still try and turn, I found that I can stop them with putting my foot on the sidewall and it will hold the wheels. While it is in neutral I can feel the driveline surging as if something in the trans is trying to roll the car but isn’t fully engaged. When I put it in reverse the wheels will turn but they still turn forward.

Putting all of that together I know that I need someone far smarter than myself to figure out what is going on. With the car sitting for so many years I don’t know if the internal components are frozen in place, if the car was parked back in the 60's due to reverse going out, or if there is something else going on. I have talked with several shops in the area and they have all universally declined the rebuild citing that they do not have the special tools necessary to work on the old hydra-matics. I have even talked to a local classic car salvage yard and they have no idea of anyone who can service/troubleshoot/rebuild them.

Any help is appreciated.

Adam

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If I ask a HydraMatic repair man if he has ever worked on a Cast iron Hydro.. and he says" All Hydros are aluminum. You have a power glide".. I leave quickly. Hennie at Greenville Transmissions in Greeneville S.C. is a walking Guru on old transmissions and is a member of AACA . No one touches my HydraMatic except Hennie.

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I had a '54 Capri that I sold a couple of months ago. The Hydramatic shifted well except for a loud clunk when going into third gear. I just drove it like that and it never got any worse so I never worried too much about it. Good luck on your search for someone who can rebuild it in your part of the country. Feel free to post some pics of it when you get a chance. Here's what mine looked like.... :)post-87438-143142117284_thumb.jpg

post-87438-14314211728_thumb.jpg

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Thanks for the notes, to answer the questions. I have joined several other Lincoln-specific websites and I also posted this same question in the Lincoln and Cadillac boards here to see if I can find someone who plays with these transmissions. So far, it hasn't panned out.

Yes the car was up on stands for our test since the brakes are not functional right now. The treadle-vac is cashed in and I will have to get it fixed as well. Luckily I have heard very good things about a guy here in Portland who goes by the title of “Booster Denny”. I plan on looking him up when I get

around to the brakes.

I will see about posting some photos sooner or later. The car is an original yellow car with green & white interior. The car sadly is not at my house as my garage is not even close to big enough to hold a car that size. But I get to see it this weekend!

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Yes the car was up on stands for our test since the brakes are not functional right now. The treadle-vac is cashed in and I will have to get it fixed as well.

In my opinion then, I would say jump to fixing the brakes now, and revisit the trans if it does not work right once you can take it down the street. In the air, without friction on the tires from the asphalt, I doubt you can make a completly valid assessment of the condition of the trans

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  • 3 months later...

Quick update in case anyone actually wanted to know. After this weekend I’m pretty sure I need to go make an offering of a quart of oil to the motor gods.

After flushing the transmission and filling it back up I was going to try and adjust the bands to save having to do a rebuild.

My uncle happened to be there when I was doing this and hopped in the running car. He worked the gear selector a bit before saying “Hey this thing is working”. Sure enough the flush of 1 part lacquer thinner to 2 parts ATF must have freed up a stuck valve. The transmission now locks into gear (drive and reverse) and shifts when it speeds up.

I still need to fix the brakes but I am cautiously optimistic now that the transmission is functioning. We will see if it holds up.

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