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The Packard is Coming Home


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<img src="/ubbthreads/images/icons/laugh.gif" alt="" /> I got a call today from the body shop. They wanted to know when I wanted to take delivery on a 53 Packard. If every thing goes well, she will be sitting in my garage on tuesday night. It will seem funny having two car sitting in my garage again. Got the Chevelle out of the work bay today and put it up for winter storage. When the Packard comes back she goes right into the work bay. Then the real fun begins. Right now I feel like a little kid thats getting a new play toy.

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Dont forget to "drop" the oil pans of BOTH the engine and transmission, clean em, and re-fill before putting the car into service ( abrasives and other "junk" settle out over the years..and then under hot use conditions cand be "sucked into" the oil pumps...not good).

ANY modern transmission fluid that says it is "DELCO TYPE" for use in GM automatic transmissions, will work out well. You can NOT go wrong on engine oils - ANY 10W-30 multi-grade oil stating it meedts "mfg's specs" will give VASTLY superior protection than ANYTHING on the market thirty years ago.

Remember, the ULTRAMATIC is only a SINGLE SPEED transmission ( with the exception that by moving the column-lever, you can alternate between "direct" drive, and a reduction, which, when the convertor 'locks up' give you roughly the equivlent of a "stick" transmission in 2nd gear.

It is VITALLY important that the "lock up" be positive - almost a CLUNK as it locks up. If you do NOT get a solid, IMMEDIATE "lock up thunk", which will take place depending on how far down you have the gas pedal, you have bad clutches, and you MUST take the car out of service and fix it, or you WILL destroy it.

Pete Hartmann

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<img src="/ubbthreads/images/icons/laugh.gif" alt="" /> Peter: Thanks for the advice. The trans in leaking badly, so after the first thing that will happen is the trans gets pulled. A retired fellow is going to redo the trans, this fellow has rebuilt alot of ultra's. While the trans is out I am going to put a new remain seal in eve though the seal doesn't leak. Over the next couple of years I will slowly convert her over to detergent oil. I will do this one quart at a time as Brad Berry taught me how to do this. Brad converted all of his Packards over to detergent oil using this method. I feel safer doing it this as compared to just trying to change it over to detergent oil all at one time

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John:

Before you go throwing money at that Ultramatic, have you considered the "conversion kit" that one of the Packard clubs sell - that enables you to use a three speed Chrysler Corp. tranny. I have never driven one myself, but from what I hear, and it is certainly logical that it should...make a SPECTACULAR improvement in all around _"driveability". You could probably pick up in a wrecking yard a used tranny and have it over-hauled, and install the conversin kit, for not too much more than the cost of having that nightmarish Ultramatic repaired.

As for "detergent" oil, again...THERE IS NO SUCH THING...! That is just an advertising term, to describe the vastly improved oils that have THREE important additives that so called "non detergents" do not have..ALL of which will help you get MUCH longer life and better service out of ANY motor..

FIRST - they have anti friction additives that dramatically increase motor life.

SECOND they have "vicosity stabilizers, that enable the oils to flow up to your rings and other lubricated parts much faster following "cold starts". This is especially important in your "long stroke" motor.

THIRD - they have "anti linkin" additives, that prevent carbon link-up, so you dont get sludge. They will NOT disolve old sludge. If you start out with a clean oil pan, there is NO reason not to use these oils, and EVERY reason not to use the old style oils.

Good luck with your car - again, I have many fun memories of my post-war Packards....you may have seen my earlier posts about one trip...crossed the country in a '53 powered convertible ( it was a '51 that I put a '53 four barrel in....New York to Los Angeles in 2 1/2 days....! ). If you have HALF as much fun with your '53...as I had with my post-war Packards...YOU OUGHT TO BE ARRESTED...!

Pete Hartmann

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While you're at it you should jettison that piece of crap engine. It's old. Probaly the easiest thing to do would be to remove the front fenders and hood and torch off the frame just in front of the firewall. Get a similar piece of frame from a late model S-10 Chevy pickup. This will give you modern springs and steering. Then put in a 350 crate motor.

WAIT A MINUTE!

Have that old guy rebuild your original transmission. These old cars are not supposed to be better or smoother or nicer. When left original but refurbished to good working original condition, they represent an example of engineering and manufacturing as it was at that time. That's a good thing to experience.

This is not an extension of the hot rod debate. I like hot rods just fine. I also like to keep good original cars unmolested. And I know you're not contemplating changing to a Torqueflite; I'm responding to the 'advice' listed above.

Glad your Packard's home! Have a great time getting it underway!

BillP

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Look.. Buddy....I owned a LOT of '53 Packards...and for all I care...he can jack up the hood ornament and drive a whole damn new CAR under it... I was trying to help the guy out.

Well...fact is...I AM a purist...up to a point....I most certainly DO agree with you as to historical accuracy. Trouble is...our friend John, if I understood his "posts" correctly, wants to make his '53 Patrician into a more or less daily driver.

Fact is, you HAVE to make SOME comrpomises if you are going to be able to enjoy these old cars in regular service. In my own case, my personal interest is in the PRE war big cars..and with few exceptions, these things are WAY too low-geared to be able to be useable on modern highways without being a hazard in the way. So, I did cut the center section of my differential out, and re-geared it for modern driving speeds.

In John's case, he has an unusal problem with the Ultramatic transmission...it really was "THAT" bad. It gave its owners "fits" when they were brand new ! If you go thru auto test reports of that era, you will see confirmation of my own personal experience....that Ultramatic literally CRIPPLED the early 1950's Packards. And that is a shame, for although they really werent all that good a car, there was NO excuse to make them THAT sluggish. Fact is, the "power to weight" relationship of the early 1950's Packard "straight eights" wasnt that bad, compared to other cars of that era. When eqipped with a decent transmission ( read MANUAL transmission) early 1950's Packards gave a good accounting of themselves in a number of stock car races.

One side of me agrees with you completely...to be historically correct, John should throw money at that Ultramatic until he gets it back to "origina"...which means he will have a TERRIBLY slow car. Which is SO unnecessar.

He is NOT likely to find the stuff to make a MANUAL transmission car out of it...althought a few Patricians DID come "special order"...I saw a beautiful "mint" one in a wrecking yard in Long Island in the mid 1950's...damn...could have bought it for a couple of hundred dollars.

So - with a "convert" kit he can buy from one of the Packard clubs, he would have a modern "three speed" automatic, instead of that awful "single speed" Ultramatic, which would give him performance at least equal to most cars of that era. I bet he could do the whole thing for about the same price as a full over-haul on the damn Ultramatic.

Either way...GOOD LUCK....John.....let us know how you are doing with that thing....!

Pete Hartmann

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<img src="/ubbthreads/images/icons/frown.gif" alt="" /> Peter: Sometimes I think a box of rocks is smarter than you are. Here we go again miss quoting me and miss leading people. A reply will be coming on thursday when I have time.

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Oh...yummy...John is gonig to "reply when he has more time"...maybe THIS time he will tell us about those '38 Packards with "factory air" .....and maybe it was that famous "straight twelve" (with a SUV body...?) STILL waiting to see if there really was a "staight twelve" Packard...if there was...I would be fascinated to more about it.

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Peter: THE FACTS ARE AS FOLLOWS. i HAVE MADE IT VERY PLAIN FROM THE BEGINING THAT I DIDN'T INTENDED TO REPLACE THE ULTRAMATIC. I NEVER EVEN CAME CLOS TO SAYING THAT MY 53 WAS GOING TO BE DAILY DRIVER. This year I drove my Chevelle about 200 miles. When the Packard gets back on the reoad I expect the car will be driven about the same. IN THE FURTURE QUIT MIS QUOTING ME. Why would you think that I would do anything my might suggest.

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Peter,

I was going to stay out of it, but here you go again. Here is a fellow who just gets his '53 Packard back from the body shop and all you do is tear it apart. I know how he feels because I know how it felt when I got mine back from my body man.

If you want a near daily driver my 55 Clipper is probably it. I take almost every where because I love Packards #1 and #2 its a great driving car. The only time it doesn't go out is in bad weather or when there is salt on the roads.

Now as for you. If you are that down on "Post War Packards", Why even bother to put your 2 cents into it. The original Ultramatic is not that bad. For your information, its a single speed automatic with a manual Low through a Planetary and for a final dive a direct drive clutch that is 1:1. Far better than one of your beloved G.M. inspired Dynaflows. With modern Clutch Facings it will last a good long time.

Further, for a guy who has a penchant for eating sandwiches on the sidewalk, playing Sky King with his airplane and racing his Packard 12 with Marmon 16's I'm totally surprised that you would have the time to even grace this Board with your Posts. My suggestion would be for you to fly to L.A. and find a sandwich like you ate 48 years ago. There must have been something in that sandwich that day that you ate. You still haven't said what it was.

Bob

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Hey...Constellation...you have all the sense of humor as that old sandwich I left on the curb outside the Beverly Hills Packard Agency some fifty years ago.....LIGHTEN UP...gawd...what a grouch....

First of all, while your '55, with its modern short-stroke high compression V-8 and ALMOST serviceable automatic transmission would made a much FASTER "daily driver" than John's '53 Patrician, where did you get the idea that his would not. I put MANY tens of thousands of miles on '51-'53 Patricians (and an equal amount on my '51 Convert. that I put a '53 = '53 four barrel 327 in) and enjoyed them very much. True, with Ultamatic, the '50 -mid '54 Packards cars were "dogs" compared to MOST of the competition - but yes...you do have a point about the early "non Twin Turbine" Dynaflow ALS0 being a "dog". Where did you get the idea I liked Dynaflow-equipped Buicks. Perhaps I didn't make myself clear.... I LOVE Buicks...but my remarks about the Ultramatic, also would apply to the 1952 and earlier Dynaflow equipped ones.....(refresh my memory, folks...didn't the Twin Turbine Dynaflow come out with the first Buick V-8 in '53....leaving the straight eight "Special" '53 Buick as the last of the "Dyna Slush"...?)

I am truly sorry John is now telling us he wants to make his '53 into a "hangar queen" of only 200 mi. a year. Sure, a Olds or Caddy of that year, will do to him, what my Packard V-12 will do to an Olds or Caddy of ITS year, but otherwise, the earlier post-war Packards are, when properly de-bugged and PROPERLY maintained, perfectly serviceable cars.

Now go down to your local "HUMOR STORE", and place an order for early delivery of a whole GALLON of industrial strength humor...and DRINK IT ALL...UN DILLUTED....FAST...buddy...you need it bad.

Pete Hartmann

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Peter: I am not retired like you are. I have a plumbing business, a house I am remodeling, plus takin care of my mothers place. This realy doesn't leave me alot of time to enjoy or work on my two as I would like. My two cars happen to mean alot to me. I am no jerk like you are who runs the heck out of them. When I own something that means alot to me like my two cars they get alot of TLC. You keep on raggin my car and I just might come down to that meet in Florida and put a can of beer in your back pocket.

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Packard53, when you rebuild the tranny, see if you can locate an NOS direct-drive clutch. They have softer lining than the rebuilt ones you can obtain. The harder clutch lining sometimes groans when engaging. Packard's idea was to have a smooth engagement of that clutch so that shifting was not noticeable unlike the herky-jerky feel of those early hydramatics. <img src="/ubbthreads/images/icons/tongue.gif" alt="" /> After reading about the two different trans fluids I think I would have gone with type F had I known of the two differing characteristics. Our original 52 Mayfair was running fine till I started hotrodding it in 58. It made the trip to LA in 53 and back to Pgh in 58 with no maintenance since new except checking fluid levels. Good luck in your restoration. <img src="/ubbthreads/images/icons/smile.gif" alt="" />

YFAM, Randy Berger

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Dear Packard 53,

I didn't know you were a Plumber. My father is a retired Master Plumber and my brother is a Master Plumber. I myself, am a Steam Engineer. However, being around the Trade all my life, I know what its like. Before my Dad worked Plumbing he worked for Plumbers' Supply Co. in New Bedford, Mass. When I was just a kid I knew a multitude of Plumbers' from R.I. to Cape Cod. Believe me I have an extreme appreciation for the work you do.

What Randy is telling you is true about the Ultramatic. It was designed so that the shift into direct drive was to be hardly noticeable. As for Type F, It is now my belief that Randy is right about that too. If you take Type-A or Dexron III and put it between your fingers neither has the lubrication qualities or the filming characturistics of Type F. Also you will find that the Viscosity when hot is higher with Type F as well. If I only Knew sooner it probably would have saved me a transmission.

I just may go to Florida yet, just to meet Peter and we can both give him a can of beer. At the same time I'll give him a good sandwich that he wont have to eat on a sidewalk.

Bob

Bob

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Dear Packard 53,

I didn't know you were a Plumber. My father is a retired Master Plumber and my brother is a Master Plumber. I myself, am a Steam Engineer. However, being around the Trade all my life, I know what its like. Before my Dad worked Plumbing he worked for Plumbers' Supply Co. in New Bedford, Mass. When I was just a kid I knew a multitude of Plumbers' from R.I. to Cape Cod. Believe me I have an extreme appreciation for the work you do.

What Randy is telling you is true about the Ultramatic. It was designed so that the shift into direct drive was to be hardly noticeable. As for Type F, It is now my belief that Randy is right about that too. If you take Type-A or Dexron III and put it between your fingers neither has the lubrication qualities or the filming characturistics of Type F. Also you will find that the Viscosity when hot is higher with Type F as well. If I only Knew sooner it probably would have saved me a transmission.

I just may go to Florida yet, just to meet Peter and we can both give him a can of beer. At the same time I'll give him a good sandwich that he wont have to eat on a sidewalk.

Bob

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HORSE-FEATHERS !

You guys are WRONG ! Unless you are getting a POSITIVE and SOLID "lock up" when that damn fool single speed ( can you believe that...only ONE foward speed...no wonder those Ultramatics were such turkeys) there is something WRONG, and if you run it that way, you will eventually ruin the clutch. Do not..I say again...do NOT use a auto tranny fluid that is spec'd for old Type "F" ...you WILL get a softer shift...and that WILL ruin it eventually.

Pete Hartmann

P.S....I beat the crap out of my '50 thru '53 Ultramatics, and never broke one! (shows you how irrelevant one person's "experience" is, to the over-all sorry record of those transmissions when they were in service ) ( and that included several extreme speed trips from Los Angeles to New York and back, as well as the transmission-killign stop-and-go Los Angeles and New York traffic).

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<img src="/ubbthreads/images/icons/laugh.gif" alt="" /> Randy & Bob: I this case I must say that I agree with Peter about not useing type F in the ultramtic. I never had any intention of using type F at anytime. I have been told by many good mechanics over the years that type F is Ford transmisions only. Dexron III is what should be used in the ultras. I might state again my trans works fine, but that its needs new seals as it leaks real bad.

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Randy & Bob. My next door neighbor whom I respect very much give someinteresting information on types of automatic trans fluids. It seems that the first type of trans fluid was type Awhich was later changed to AQATF, which became type F. Which was used in al the early automatics including Studebaker, Ford,GM, and Packard. It seems that around 1956 GM introduced Dexron because they where have some lubracating problems with the type F fluid in the automatics. Ted stated that Dexron is more slippery than type F. Since type A trans fluid was recomended by Packard in the 50's. I am going to follow your's guys advice and use type F fluid in the ultrumatic. Your statements about using type F realy got me to haveing some doubt about using Dexron. I might add that Ted worked as a mechanic for Studebaker ,Ford, and GM dealerships from the early 50's through the 60's. Ted still has a great love for Studebakers to this day.

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I think you may have mis-read something. In the 1950's, there were TWO types..."Ford" type, known as "Type F" and GM and EVERYONE ELSE...known as type "A".

You need to use a "type A" or DEXRON based NOT "Type "F".

BUT

Since all modern automatic transmission fluids are superior in terms of "lubrication/shear" characteristics, you will get excellent protection. I do NOT know whethere the superior lubrication characteristics are going to make your main "lock up" clutch "slip" - you will have to keep an "ear" open on this.

Again, if you dont feel a POSITIVE "lock-up".......SHUT IT DOWN AND FIX IT. ANY slippage in an Ultramatic is FATAL to the transmission.

Pete Hartmann

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Dear Packard 53,

I've just spoken to a man, Mr Allen Vaughn who has worked on Automatic Transmissions for years and is a former Vocational High School A-T instructor as well. He says this about Transmission Fluid. Type-F has anti friction additives that the old Type A didn't have. Ford went to Type-F in the mid 1950's. Further Type-A is not the same since they took the Whale Oil out. (blame the save the whale people) The modern Type A is not what it was either. DexronIII is ok in a tight Ultramatic, but is thin and has anti gumming additives.

Mr. Vaughn stated to me that the Packard Ultramatic is dependent on pressure and the amount of bleed through the bushings to control it. Also due to wear in the bushings and with its higher viscosity Type-F should work ok and would be just as good as the old fashioned Type-A in an Ultramatic. There will be less pressure loss across the bushings and give better coverage on the parts than Dexron or current Type A.

Just for the record, Mr Vaughn installed the rebuilt Ultramatic in my Clipper and is a bonefide 1950's Mechanic who understands 50's cars. In case any one asks.

Bob Bosworth

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OK, so the conclusion I should come to after (re)reading this post is:

Type-F is the answer for T-U or plain U, right?

No it seems that DexIII is the answer, but maybe not.

Maybe current type-A???

For my part with my 1955 Pat: it's T-U was O'hauled in 1993 and had ??? put in it. I have added all of the above at various times with seemingly no ill effect. It still shifts good and locks up good. It locks up earlier when it is cold and later when it is warm.

Maybe I should drain everything including the torque converter and replace with ??? <img src="/ubbthreads/images/icons/confused.gif" alt="" />

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I do agree with one thing: heat kills automatic transmissions of any kind or era (try a 550 ft-lb Pontiac 455SD with drag chassis on a TH-400, for instance)

With regards to the my above post, early on I did install an air-type cooler in front of the radiator of my 55 Pat. I also REMOVED the radiator-fed cooler.

My rationale was as follows: the coolent in-line T-U cooler actually HEATED the trans fluid earlier than would have happened if left ENTIRELY ALONE. Later, when driving in 110F+ heat (like here in LV), that cooler actually INCREASED the temp of the trans fluid, instead of cooling it.

So..., I REMOVED the coolent in-line T-U cooler entirely and replaced it with simply a lower return radiator hose. (see Gary Russell's "Packard Tips" for details, although I made up my own at the time) I plumbed in a truck-type tranny cooler from the local CSK and DESPITE of my apparent misapplication of tranny fluid (described in the previous post), my T-U lives.

BTW: KevinAZ has seen this installed and photo'd it for his future use on his 400.

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Oh yeah, one addition to the above post. Despite Packard testing very vigorously at the 2-1/2 test track in Michigan, they NEVER tested in the desert conditions, did they?

It seems that Ford (of which, I am no fan, believe me, despire my ownership of a 1998 Jag), and others have test tracks in the southwest deserts. So let's drive a few thousand miles in 110F heat and see how our car performs.

So Let's drive a 1955 Patrician, let's say 5K miles, totally stop and go in 100F heat in maybe Phoenix or Las Vegas. Never happened, did it?

I have heard stories about era-current owners hooking a heavy boat to the "new" 1955-56 Packard and hauling it from SoCal to Lake Meade. It (the Packard) didn't make it. Because of the T-U blowing up.

Hmmm... Life is different in the SW, even in 1955-56, it seems.

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Craig: I was of the opinion that the ultras should have DexIII in them but no more. Now that I have talked to my nieghbor and now with what Bob has posted I am going to use TPYE F. When I looked what Packard said shouldbe used it stated type A. What did Packard recommend in 1956? If it was type A then I would be using type F. My next remark I know I am going to catch for. If I owned a 1955 model I would be going to the 727 conversion. My hats off to you people out there that own and restore the 55's and 56's. From a distant observer these model Packards seem to have alot of problems. Something I have no desire to deal with. That why I chose my 53 near the end of the line problems all worked out by then and pretty well bullit proof. <img src="/ubbthreads/images/icons/laugh.gif" alt="" />

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John......Dex III is what is in my TV Ultra. Pete Fitch from UltraMatic Dynamics convinced me long time ago. Concerning Craig's tranny cooler, it's the bomb!!!! as the kids say. He did it in a real neat way & I intend on doing same when I get the car back together. (getting closer as a little birdie on the line told me Santa ordered a front end kit from Kanter)

Re: the 727 conversion. A fellow in the Phoenix chapter has dumped 5-6k into that conversion & he's still wishing he hadn't. A 'new' rebuilt Ultra from Fitch would be 1/2 that cost. On the other hand RO has a 727 converion in his Clipper (when he bought it) and it has delivered good service to my knowledge.

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I believe that a better alternative to the 727 conversion is a modified 700-R4 from Mike's Transmission. It's $2500 outright and is machined on a special fixture to properly align with the crank centerline. Mis-alignment is the biggest problem with the 727 conversion since it is a bolt on adapter.

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<img src="/ubbthreads/images/icons/laugh.gif" alt="" /> Craig & Kevin: What did Packard recommend for transmission fluid in the TU for 55 & 56. Maybee it couldbe that when Packard came out with the TU, they could have set it up to use Dexron fluid. From what I have been able to find out Dexron came out around 1955.This was brought out because GM was having some lubrication problems on the hydramatics with the old type A trans fluid.

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Dear Packard 53

The Twin Ultramatic was specified by Packard for Type-A, Suffix-A Fluid. By the mid 1950's the Whale Oil was taken out of Type-A Transmission fluid. Thousands of Whales were slaughtered each year to provide Whale Oil for Automatic Transmission Fluid. Public outcry and increasing depeation of the Whale herds forced the issue. By 1972 Whaling was as much as outlawed by the U.S. Government.

Whale Oil is a fantastic lubricant. Infact the last company to sell refined Whale Oil in great quantities was The William F. Nye Oil Works in Fairhaven, MA., my home town. Just for the record, Fairhaven is the next town to the east of New Bedford, MA., the former Whaling capitol of the world.

Whale Oil has great frictional qualities for Transmission Clutches and great overall lubricating and viscosity qualities over a wide range of temperature. Ford did use Type-A in their Ford-O-Matic and Merc-O-Matic Transmissions. However, Ford about the same time the Whale Oil was taken out of Type-A, changed the material of their Clutches used in their automatics and came out with the Type-F specification. Ford's Cluth facings were not as large as either as G.M. or Chrysler's. Ford switched to Type-F to insure better frictional quality for the Clutches. If you put Type-A in a later Ford-O-Matic or Cruise-O-Matic transmission you will destroy the clutches. The frictional co-efficient of Type-F is very simular to the original Type-A with Whale Oil. It works very well with Modern and Cork faced Automatic Transmission clutches as well, because it was also formulated to replace Type-A in the older Ford and Mercury Transmissions with no Whale Oil. It also has a good coverage of the moving parts of the transmission for the very same reasons stated in my prior Post.

Another interesting fact is that even in the late 1960's G.M. was using a Whale Oil additive in Limited Slip Differentials to prevent Chattering.

Someone mentioned on this Board that, after switching to Type-F fluid that their groan (slipping) in the direct drive clutch in their T-U went away. This only proves the Frictional Qualities of the Type-F. Another thing to bear in mind is that the High Range Clutches in the Twin Ultramatic were not substantial enough for the weight and raw power of the Car and needs a higher frictional co-efficient fluid to help them work better, something the Whale Oil Type-A would have provided. Also if my memory serves me right, Packard in 1952 switched from a 12" to a 9" Direct Drive Clutch to promote a smoother shift to and from direct drive. This same 9" Direct Drive Clutch was used virtually unchanged in the T-U.

Dexron came out in the 1950's to replace Type-A only it didn't, except in G.M. Hydramatics and Dynaflows. DexronII is a later fluid used in some G.M and Mopar units. DexronIII and even MerconIII are almost formulated the same. However, they are not meant for Packard Twin Ultramatics or any Ultramatic as they were built long before DexronII, DexronIII or Mercon fluids. Mercon is not specified even for the older Ford-O-Matics, Cruise-O-Matic, C-4, C-5 or C-6. Modern Chrysler products use a completely different fluid today. I hope this helps.

If you have any questions Search, Automatic Transmission Fluids on the Internet. There is a veritable wealth of information and a barge full of products on the Market. Some of which I can't help but wonder would be better than anything we have been discussing.

Bob Bosworth

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<img src="/ubbthreads/images/icons/laugh.gif" alt="" /> Bob: You have realy done your home work on automatic trans fluids. Your posts have been quite informative. Along with you and my neighbor you have both convinced me to use type F trans fluid in my ultramatic. I WAS WRONG IN THINKING I SHOULD USE DEXRON.

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