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Mid-fifties Buick standard trans


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Just thought Id post an introduction to info about the heavy duty 3spd transmission used not only by Buick, but also other divisions of GM. When other HD trans were not available Buicks selector shift transmissions were used when the venerable Cadd-Lasalle's floor shifters where becoming scarce. Info about what vehicles this trans will fit is almost not available. I rely on The Hollander Interchange manuals, Buick factory parts manuals and a mid-fifties article in Hot Rod mag about modifying these to fit in other makes and models. The 3spd transmission that Buick used in 1954-55 Spec models is the same as used behind the small (248"&263") straight eights. Adequate for the application on the small straight eights when "conservatively" driven, they sometimes failed with the advent of the torque increase provided by the "new" 264" nailhead V8, even when driven carefully. The larger 3spd 6 bolt top cover trans is the same length as the smaller 5 bolt cover trans for 1954-55 applications in the Spec&Century applications. The 54&55 Supers of that era with standard trans had a mainshaft(rear) and extention housing(Buick-speak), cast iron tail housing in "shadetree" lingo, carefull, longer= SUPER ONLY! Ive only personally seen one rusty local one, a running driving Super 2 dr ht with pwr steering no less! It finally went to Scandinavia at the bargain price close to $2,000! The 3pd transmission in a 54-55 Spec. Is fairly simple if you are reasonably mechanically inclined as it were. If you need to pay someone to do a rebuild, you may want to consider switching instead. Non of these standard shift trans parts besides bearings and gaskets are readily available these days at consistently "reasonable" prices. Cost vs benefit is well studied carefully. Im po20200908_173108.jpg.7f9cdb158cb13649924c44d02d854e36.jpgIMG_20171014_105554.jpg.a9e64df700c0df4fb4187249956c049d.jpgsting the cover page of the article I referred to earlier, google search will locate it complete. I also discovered that the first gear ratio on the "smaller"3spd is "lower" geared than the larger 6bolt trans. I started this reseach after discover how "intractable" my 1940 Super with basically "drag race" 4.40/1 rear(standard ratio from factory), and low 1st gear ratio forced me to find second gear halfway thru an intersection after takeoff to avoid a sceaming, overwound, babbit bearing engine. It will get 3.9/1 and large trans! Opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of management! As always, remember, advise is worth what youve paid for it! Cavet Emptor!

 

Edited by 2carb40 (see edit history)
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Yes, the small series 1st gear is a stump pulling gear.  At 10 mph it's time to find second gear.  Often I start in 2nd gear in my 54 Special.   I recently replaced 1st and cluster gear in a 5 bolt 55 transmission. I keep a replacement on hand. 

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Thanks for the info 2carb40. I am guessing that this applies to the transmission in the ‘51-‘53 Special also. Perhaps I should try to corner the market on used ones out of the junkyard!

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3 hours ago, Rusty Heaps said:

Thanks for the info 2carb40. I am guessing that this applies to the transmission in the ‘51-‘53 Special also. Perhaps I should try to corner the market on used ones out of the junkyard!

Look for the small series in the yards as well.  Sleeve gear is an elusive bugger. All other gears in good knick will sell. I'm always looking for small series manual transmission gears.  Just like having them on hand.  

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On 4/12/2021 at 7:15 AM, Rusty Heaps said:

Thanks for the info 2carb40. I am guessing that this applies to the transmission in the ‘51-‘53 Special also. Perhaps I should try to corner the market on used ones out of the junkyard!

Similarity 1940-1955 5bolt top cover. Hollander will show gears from other GM trans that interchange. Oriellys had front and rear main bearings in stock $51 for pair when I redid mine.

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