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56clipper
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Well, I've decided that it's time to get the Ultramatic on my '56 Clipper fixed so I can drive the beast more regularly without the grinding and slipping top gear. My question is this: does anyone out there have any recommendations of who to go to? I'm outside of Philadelphia. Any help is appreciated! smile.gif" border="0

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u mite also want to look into the GM 700R4 conversion available from somewhere out west.I thinks its called Mikes transmission. Check prices and weigh the consequenses for yourself. Let us know which way u go.

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Let me again qualify this by again admitting I know NOTHING about the last of the Packards. But...if you are going to the trouble of installing a modern transmission..(which is what I'd do if I owned a car like yours)...I would recommend the L480 GMC transmission, which first appeared for the 1991 model year. It is a VERY heavy duty transmission, so it should handle the power of a big V-8....easy to get parts for...lots of after-market products that by-pass its computer controls, so it would work as a conventional four speed Hydra matic with OVERDRIVE!<P>Good place to get information from someone who actually knows what they are talking about (I sure dont)...would be to call the Packard Club guys in Santa Ana, California. If you are not already a member..I strongly recommend joining BOTH of the Packard clubs. Both magazines focus on the later cars, with technical info. that could be useful to you.<P>Pete Hartmann

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Well, I actually am a member of both Packard clubs, but I'm more active on this DF than the Packard Club forum, so I'd thought I'd start here. The one conversion I hear a lot about the conversion to a Chrysler Torqueflight 700 that Sierra Packards regional has a kit for. I think, even though it might make more sense to go to a more proven transmission, I'd rather keep the original Twin Ultramatic. <P>I've pretty much decided to go with Ultramatic Dynamics. Has anyone out there purchased any of his transmissions? Seems he's about the only person on the east coast that speciallizes in this transmission. Not surprising. I sometimes lament owning an "orphan" car frown.gif" border="0 , but then I go outside and look at it, and say, nahhh, its all worth it! grin.gif" border="0

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We were at the Fredrick,Md. Packard meet and Peter Fitch drove my "56" Clipper HT to check a vibration, he said is the Front trunion joint. After parking it several members were around us telling him how well his overhaul was working for them. I wanted him to do mine but removing, shipping, etc. was a problem so had done localy. Was of course up to me to adjust linkage to shift properly. I worked at a Packard dealer body shop and know there were some Trans. problems, but would never think of converting to a foreign one. I raced Packards on 1/2 mile dirt tracks, plus two 26 hr. marathons,(2 drivers) and no trans. trouble. We wound them out in lo till they wouldn't run faster petal floored, and shift.<BR>I realize they were not 40 years old at the time. Was still working when we installed gears. Jack

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Jack, can u enlighten us about the V8 oiling problems. I know there r many idea about this. Also, i've noticed a hi-speed lifter noise that goes and comes at 2700 rpm and higher.

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BH: the STP DID cure the lifter noise for a while. NOW, (with much hotter weather) its back at high speeds agin. 2700 rpm (70mph) seems to be the magic point. The noise is NOT objectionable but enuf that i would like to reduce it at least by 50%.<BR> NOTE, that i replaced the lifters with MoPar lifters about 400 miles ago. The original Packard lifters did NOT have any hi-speed tick other than the oil pump problem which has been corrected.

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Not much to ans. for unregistered Packard V/8<BR> We ran an engine close to what Craig, (PANTHER PROJECT)is doing. Isky cam, solid lifters, tube adj. push rods, "400" heads.<BR> Not needing wipers, the oil pump was modified, more pressure, but I don't remember just how. Higher rpm's no problem, but noisy. I don't think too many would like that in their PACKARDS, but it sure did run.<BR>Tracks a bit smaller than 1/2 mile would use lo-range, and 80, 90 mph no problem. When we installed std. trans. we used a Ford 3/4 ton floater rear end, with more gear selections.<BR>Sorry couldn't be more help. Jack

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  • 4 months later...

I know the original Packard tranny had troubles when it was new; with park and soforth. But are these things that have been figured out by now with the rebuild from Ultradynamics? It seems that he has a handle on the park problem....as far as sliping...I don't know. Now, could you easily hook up one of these L480 GMC trannys? Would this cost more to do than to get the Ultra rebuilt? See I am a rodder of sorts and have mated several different parts from fords and others to build my 26 t roadster.(26 t body, 31 model a frame, 46 ford flattie v8, 40 ford front axle and brakes, 42 rear axle and brakes ect..) So I have no problem with the idea of adapting. I don't plan to be racing my Pack and wouldn't want to put in a different tranny unless the Ultra would be a waste of time. Is this tranny that bad functionally if all of the bugs are worked out? And what about swithing to manual? Was that an option for all of the Packs? in 1955 that is?

Tim

MBL

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I think I will try keeping my Ultra and see how it goes. I would like to have more info on the other possibilities and how involved they are. I would like to be the one doing the conversion rather than having someone else do it. If there are instructions or templates that need to be used that would be cool!

Tim

MBL

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I rebuilt one of the original (54 clipper special) Ultramatics with good results no problems so far with it, but a friend of mine has a 55 clipper deluxe and lost all but low, one tranni shop wanted to replace the complete control body. He brought it to another shop with a $200 dollar limit to find out what was wrong. When he went to pick up the car he was told it was $500 and they had found reverse, but since he had on the bill $200 max he got away with that. That only lasted a week then it really let go, no gears. So since I had taken the original apart I thought I would at least take the pan off, found out someone had put a heli coil in the lever from the cross staft to the control body, new lever no problem since, except getting stuck in park.. now keep a floor jack in the trunk an a brick for under the tire...

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I have a 51' convertable and would like to rebuild my own ultramatic. How difficult is the rebuild and would you do it again? My ultramatic does not [censored] into the lock up mode and it slips occasionaly over 50 mph.

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I am having difficulty understanding your post. If the direct-drive clutch does not lock up, how are you going 50 mph? Are you keeping it in L to accomplish this??, and what kind of RPMs do you think you're turning when doing this? Generally if you do not have enough hydraulic pressure to go into direct drive (lockup), then you have a bad rear pump OR the bushings (critical in an Ultramatic) are worn to the point they are not holding pressure.

One test to see if the direct-drive clutch locks up is to drift the car down hill in neutral and when reaching 25 MPH, turn key on and pull into H. If the engine turns over and starts, you have accomplished lockup.

There are some specialized tools needed to work on an Ultramatic or TU for that matter. A lot of tranny shops don't understand about the bushings and "look" at them to see if they are OK. An inside mic and knowledge of the dimensions is the only sure way to verify if a bushing needs replaced even if it "looks" OK.

YFAM, Randy Berger

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The 1955 problem with PARK was alleviated by repositioning the lever on the shaft (described in a TSB), and (more extreme) replacing the PARK gear with a 1956 version which was ground differently. The repositioning had to do with leverage. With a 2 1/2 ton automobile I never trust PARK anyway and always pull the 'merg' all the way on before putting it into park. Even late model Fords had a Park problem - as witness Fords going thru garages, into swimming pools, down driveways and even one reported accident running over the driver and killing him. I always carry a good jack - I'll have to think about the brick. <img src="/ubbthreads/images/icons/wink.gif" alt="" />

YFAM, Randy Berger <img src="/ubbthreads/images/icons/grin.gif" alt="" />

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The tranni was not really hard to work on a far as that goes, just have to make sure you clean every thing real good and check the bearings for and wear and the shafts for scoring. As far as tools go a set of mikes, and you can make up a couple of plates to hold the band levers in place when the control body is removed. As far as checking the thickness of the front washer i used plasti guage strip to check the final play. The reason my car was parked since 1959 was that the high speed clutch had smashed up completly, but i was lucky to get another complete motor and ultramatic for parts for $200 which had everything except the new rubber seals. I would not mind finding out more about the Service notice for the 55 though.

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I have a 51' patrician and a 51' convertable. The difference between the way both tranny's shift is night and day. In the convertable there is no noticable shift point (only once or twice when the car is cold). In the patrican the shift is smooth and consistant as any modern car (once and then lockup). Since I live is California I would like to get the rebuild kit from Ultra Dynamics and attempt to rebuild/replace parts in the ultra myself. Could it be that the ultramatic in my patrician is not original?

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Ultramatic Dynamics does sell a kit. It's a guy named Peter Fitch in Fredericksburg, VA who specializes in rebuilding ultramatics. Primarily what he does is rebuilds the transmissions. He has several rebuilt of each type (Ultra, gear-start, twin-ultra) on hand and will swap out your broken one for his rebuilt one for about $1800. He does ship them, but doesn't like to. I think that also costs more, needing a deposit until you send him your rebuildable core.

When I originally started this thread a while back, I was trying to get some info on other people's experience with UltraDynamics for one good reason. See, my tranny is slipping and sliding something fierce going into direct drive, and is beyond sluggish when cold. The reason I wanted to know if anyone here had any experience with his rebuilds is that I actually purchased my Clipper from him a few years ago. Not surprisingly, if his rebuilds are good, then why is my Clipper having such bad transmission problems?

For the most part I've heard positive things about his rebuilds, but now I'm seriously considering the GM 700R4 conversion that's been discussed in another recent thread. My problem is the opposite of yours. I'm in PA, and the GM700R4 guy is in California. However, I've been corresponding with him, and if I can find a reliable tranny place here to tackle the instalation of the conversion, I may just go that route. But that's for the other discussion thread.

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Bob,

I purchased a rebuilt from Peter Fitch over 5 years ago and have had very little problems with it. He told me he could change out an Ultramatic in 20 minutes flat, seems a bit unbelievable, but who knows. He has done it so many times.

I can't answer for the Tranny in your car. It could be he never rebuilt it either. I would call him. Your only in PA., the Motor Freight wouldn't be that bad. You could take a pick-up to his place and get it yourself and have a local guy install it. Then ship the core to him. The last I knew, the core was worth $600.00 and the core charge was refunded upon reciept of the old core.

Bob Bosworth

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I figured that most likely the one in my car has not ever been rebuilt, and that may be why he decided to sell it. After all, he does have 3 other cars to play with! Plus, pretty much everyone I've talked to has been positive about his work. My concern isn't so much about the quality of the rebuild, but actually if the original transmission will give the performance I want. This question is in my head mostly because the performance I've had from the current ultra on my car has been spotty at best, so I don't really harbor good feelings towards it. I keep going back and forth as to whether I should take the car to Virginia and get a rebuilt or look at this 700R4 conversion. Maybe you folks here can persuade me. Is a rebuilt twin-ultra worth the investment of $2000?

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56Clipper: Here's my 2-cents on rebuilt T-U vs converted 700R4:

T-U is a one or two speed automatic. 700R4 is 3speed+OD. Your Clipper will accelerate much more quickly with the 700R4 (e.g., computer sims indicate 1 sec reduction in 1/4-MI e.t.)

Virtually no one can service a T-U. Virtually any tranny shop can service a 700R4.

T-U parts are expensive and available only from a few suppliers. 700R4 parts are reasonably price and available virtually anywhere.

T-U is an upgrade from Ultramatic which MAY be under-engineered for the V-8 torque. 700R4 for truck or heavy car is engineered for that level of stress.

Having stated the above, the T-U in my 1955 Pat was rebuilt by Trowbridge Automotive in Portland, OR in 1993 by the previous owner and it has given me no problems in the intervening years. It performs as designed. It also has all the ideosycratic behavior of a T-U (jerky direct lock up when cold, balky shift from park if on an incline, low speed "groan" if given higher load at low speed after direct lockup. etc). Since it's not broken, I'm not fixing it.

Also, I have what I believe to be a working T-U out of my 1956 Panther (nee Clipper). IF I had the $$$, I would pop for the 700R4 for my Panther, but when it comes time for that phase, if I don't, then I'll put the original T-U back in.

If there is little difference to you between $2,000 for a rebuild and $2,500 for a converted 700R4, then I believe that there's little to keep you from going for the 700R4.

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On the subject of rebuilding because of no lockup -- My 55 400 would not lockup when I bought it 30+ years ago. There were 20,000 miles on the odometer. The car had set for several years before the two teenagers I bought it from acquired it. They didn't know it was supposed to lock up and had been driving it like a Dynaflow. There were still Studebaker Packard dealers then, so I took it to one. He adjusted it, no parts, replaced maybe a $20 bill. I drove it another 50,000 miles with no transmission problems.

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The problem of not locking up must be a common problem with all ultramatics. Im not sure if I want to spend $2000 plus every time this problem happens. I do want to keep my packard as original as possible. I think I will try to rebuild the ultra myself (why not?). <img src="/ubbthreads/images/icons/confused.gif" alt="" />

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I haven't yet read through all the postings, but can say that when I acquired my 1955 Packard Clipper about 3-4 years ago, it has the Torqueflight conversion that is offered out on the west coast via affiliates with the Packards International Club I believe. Mine works just fine. I am not sure about the GM conversion...thought I saw some controversial discussions about it somewhere........

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Good idea 100%Packard. BUT, what are the COSTS involved??? Unless u have a good supply of parts already in stock it might be cheaper to go the conversion. Maybe your T-Ultra wont need much???? I dont know. In any event, keep us posted on your findings.

I have most of my pressing projects completed now and started to remove the engine and trans from my parts car. Hopefully by early January i'll have the trans and engine out on a stand for inspection and mock-up.

RHO: can u remember what the controversy was about on the GM conversion???

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I don't think the controversy was with the GM transmission, but with the Chrysler. I seem to recall that the bolt-on adaptor for the Torqueflight conversion causes vibration due to improper centering if not done right. The GM conversion welds a new bell housing on that creates perfect centeredness. I got some information about the GM conversion from Mike at Mike's transmissions, and will post what he said on the conversions thread later today.

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