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Chrysler 1952 Fluid Matic Drive Fluid Torque Drive Engine Oil Fed Torque Converter Video


Blue saratoga 52
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Hello there. Thought I’d share this video I found that helped me figure out my V8 1952 Chrysler Saratoga transmission.(Edit. I ended up being wrong. Please read all posts to learn the mistakes I made and what it ended up being.) I have the shift lever labeled fluid matic drive. I also have a shop manual from the time. When I look under the car this manual does not show the transmission combination in my car. I do not have a reservoir under my bell housing. I have the engine oil fed torque converter. (Edit. Thought I had the engine fed version but I was wrong. It’s the sealed “fluid drive” with the shifter labeled “fluid-matic drive”. See posts below that work out the differences. Thanks go to Rusty on helping in figuring it out. Still trying to find a definitive way to identify the engine fed version vs. the sealed unit that mine ended up being.) Finding information on this was very hard. Frankly it was hard to believe that there was such a device that fed engine oil to the torque converter, but that’s what it is. From watching a series of these old videos I learned that Fluid Matic Drive refers only to the “gearbox” portion at the rear of the clutch and Fluid Torque Drive refers to the “torque converter” portion between the engine and clutch. (Edit. I was also mistaken here. Fluid Torque Drive was not the self contained unit I have. That refers to the models that have the external sump pan, or the oil fed versions.) Anyway looking through old posts here I saw some confusion on exactly how to service the model I (edit.. thought I) have. I hope this excellent video produced for Chrysler technicians in 1952 will help some folks out to understand exactly how it works. Oil change info is near the end of the video. 
 

Also, if anyone could point me to reference info on which models could have which transmission combinations, and what years they were available, that would be great. As it is many original sources from the time period don’t refer to specific years. I have the original green Chrysler shop manual from back then and it doesn’t mention years anywhere. Not even a publication date. And the video has c. 1952 in the title frame, but nothing about what years it was available is mentioned in the actual video. 

 

 

Edited by Blue saratoga 52
Errors in post concerning identifying the specific transmission type. (see edit history)
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There has been quite a bit of discussion on the Chrysler board about this type of transmission. Briefly, they came out with the Fluid Drive fluid coupling in 1939 and used it on various Chrysler, DeSoto and  Dodge models until 1953. It was a self contained unit that could be mated with a 3 speed manual transmission, a 4 speed vacuum self shifter transmission or most commonly a 4 speed hydraulic shifted transmission.

Then in 1951 they offered a torque converter which is a more sophisticated type of fluid coupling on Chryslers as an extra cost option. The torque converter must have a reserve of fluid outside the unit itself. On the first ones this was in an oil pan under the bellhousing. Then in 52 and 53 they simplified it by using the engine oil supply. The same setup of torque converter fed from the engine oil supply was used on Plymouth HyDrive one year only, 1953.

In 1954 they went to a more conventional 2 speed planetary gear automatic with torque converter called Powerflite which resembled the Chev Powerglide, Buick Dynaflow and Packard Ultramatic type automatic.

 

So, your torque converter drive was an extra cost option used in late 1952 and 1953. I had a 52 Chrysler New Yorker V8 with Fluid Torque Drive that had the oil pan. Not sure exactly when they changed over but some time in the 1952 model year. Some late 1953s had the new Powerflite starting with  Imperials. So , the setup you have was only available for a year or a year and a half.

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You probably already know this but your transmission is completely separate from the torque converter and needs a special driving technique, not quite a manual trans or automatic but a combination of both. This was covered in the Chrysler board in a couple of long threads in 2008.

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The V8's with a torque converter had the oil sump under the torque, and a torque oil cooler up on the LF of the engine area. The L6 engines had the option of a torque converter, engine oil fed. I owned one in my 1953 Chrysler Windsor Deluxe with a 265 ci L6 engine.  Here is more info on the workings of it, and the tranny. I put these videos together. - Keith

 

 

 

Edited by keithb7 (see edit history)
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Well I’m hoping this helps someone someday. So it wasn’t the engine fed version, and it’s not the one with the sump mounted under the trans haha. I got the drain plug lined up pointing down, pulled it out and relatively clean 10w poured out. Definitely did not match the engine oil like I hoped. 
I know from the Chrysler vid that the engine fed was on v8s like mine, as well as the sump version that it shows on v8s in the my old manual. Mine is actually the third kind. The one you drain through the bottom inspection panel, turn the converter 180, and refill through the top inspection panel. Luckily I have seen posts here where folks ran into this situation. Since it’s not engine oil fed, and I couldn’t refill it via the sump pan filler, I had to rotate the drain to the upper inspection panel and fill it there. VERY slowly. No way to get a funnel to it. Seems to be a “sealed” converter with one drain plug. Must not have a pump?
I saw a post where someone used IV bags, and others who got it done with pumps, so I used that idea but modified. 
Very hard to access. Would be nearly impossible to fill through the floor pan access panel. I had a few gallons of 10w, so I started digging in the garage and rigged up some clear fish tank type tube a few feet long to a quart oil bottle with a pointed nozzle so I could keep track of how much I put in. Fed it in from above behind the motor. Clamped the tubing in place so it wouldn’t fall out of the converters fill/drain hole when I refilled the qt bottle. And pumped it in by squeezing the bottle. Took a lil over three hours to get about 7 qts. That matched how much drained out. Started going extra slow watching closely around qt 6 so I wouldn’t over flow it. Had a rag stuffed in around the filler in case. Little bit of a pain but it worked. I automated it a bit by using spring clamps on the qt bottle for the first 5 or 6 to save my hands. I’ll put pics of the rig and the 10w I found at fleet farm. It says motor oil on the front, but the back says for torque converter and hydraulic applications. 
Probably didn’t need to be changed. Fluid that came out was almost clear and smelled good, but I wasn’t putting to old stuff back in after being in my drain pan. 
Thanks for the input Rusty. I do know how to operate it and it’s really cool. Learned before I had my license. 40 now. Guy I got it from he’s 80 now and when he said he’s selling I said I’ll take it. I always called it “semi-auto”.

And thanks Keith. I’ve seen those and enjoyed them. Probably watched every vid on yt that mentions these cars. I too thought all v8 only had the external sump pan version until I looked into servicing this one and it didn’t match the service manuals. I’ve been looking around for a later service manual that includes all three versions. Not getting my hopes up I’ll ever find one though. 
I know this is kind of long, but I hope sharing it helps someone eventually. Like all those 10-15 year old posts that have helped me. 

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You are correct. I pulled back the carpet and removed the access panel in the floor on the hump. Got the top inspection cover off and the fill/drain plug back out to fill through there. The plug actually points backward at a 45 angle so I couldn’t watch the hole through the floor panel while filling from inside car. Also didn’t want to chance an oily mess inside car if things went sideways while squeezing 7 qts through that hose. 

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It sounds like you have the standard Fluid Drive, not the optional Fluid Torque Drive. What does it say on the gearshift quadrant?

 

The Fluid Drive unit is self contained, it has no external oil supply. You are supposed to fill it from inside the car. Roll back the carpet on the passenger side, there is a metal plate in the driveshaft tunnel below the dashboard. Remove the plate, you will see the bellhousing underneath. Pry out the round knockout plug. Now you can turn the engine over until the fill plug comes in view. Stuff a rag around the hole before you take out the plug, you do not want to drop it down inside the bellhousing, ask me how I found this out lol. Now you can pour the oil in with a funnel. It is important to fill the fluid drive unit this way because it must have a certain air space. If you fill it too full it can build up pressure when it gets hot and blow the seal. The way you filled it, if you filled it right to the top you are asking for trouble.

10W motor oil is recommended, we also use TDH tractor fluid, ISO 22 or ISO 32 grade. Use the same in the transmission. Transmission oil is supposed to be changed every 10000 miles, fluid drive fluid topped up every 10000 miles but never needs to be changed.

If you should over fill from inside the car any excess will run off onto the garage floor not into the car.

Edited by Rusty_OToole (see edit history)
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The gear shift says neither. It says “Fluid-Matic” referring to the portion of the trans behind the clutch, actuated by the shifter. All three 51-52 varieties say “Fluid-Matic” on the shifter. From 53 on the shifter did not have the plate above the R N L D part. I believe that is the cause of may people’s confusion over which one they have. I am looking for a manual that covers all three so I can post a definite way to visually identify the transmission from under the car. Whether it’s a engine fed, or a sealed unit like mine ended up being. Without having to pull the plug and check the fluid. Obviously the other third option is the one with an external reservoir under the trans and an oil cooler in-line with the lower radiator hose, and is easily visually identified by those parts. 
I mentioned above there’s no good way to fill with a funnel through the floor access panel. I wish there was. It has an inspection plate the size of a playing card with four bolts, not a knockout plug. And the fill/drain hole points toward the rear of the car at a 45 degree angle, not straight out the bell housing. No way to put a funnel on it. Also, if you were to be able to bend and modify a tiny funnel to fit, you would not be able to see where the funnel meets the fill hole while pouring. I was trying to convey that even with a rag around it, if I were to spill enough, it could run down the backside of the converter right onto the clutch. The clutch is attached directly to the rear of converter, as seen looking backward through the inspection plate hole. Another funny thing about these cars is how the gear the starter engages is on the front half of the converter, rather than a newer car having it on a pressure plate or flywheel. 
When I got it full I let off the bottle I was squeezing so it could suck back a few ounces. By the time I got my stuff collected and got around to putting the plug in, the oil had gone down into the converter away from the fill hole. Since the amount of oil put in matched the drain oil pretty much exactly I think I’ll be ok. I would seriously recommend to anyone doing this to do as I did and collect the drain oil in an empty pan, and take the time to carefully measure how much came out. I was a little surprised when it came up to the top before reaching the amount I drained, but it does take the oil in VERY slowly. 
Rusty, I wonder how they “topped it off” every 10,000 miles? The inner parts of the converter prevent checking the level by dipping anything into it through the fill hole more that a 1/2”. I tried after filling but there’s no way. 
Maybe that’s why the fill hole isn’t on top, but facing backwards on the rear side of the converter. Maybe because where it’s located it could never be filled up all the way? Maybe that’s how they make sure air space it left open. Don’t know but it seems to make sense. 
One thing I take away from this is that every time I thought I found someone who had the same combination I have, mine ends up being different in some way. It’s amazing how many variations on parts they used in the early fifties. They were really pushing the technology of the time forward quickly in the race to eventually nail down a reliable, and efficient to manufacture fully automatic transmission design. 

Edited by Blue saratoga 52 (see edit history)
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They all used the same transmission, the M6 semi automatic. Only difference was fluid coupling or torque converter and which torque converter setup.

The fluid coupling, or fluid drive, is completely self contained and has no external reservoir or oil cooler. The torque converter is not self contained, it has an oil reservoir and/or an oil cooler.

The 1952 New Yorker V8 I had, had a gearshift quadrant clearly marked Fluid Torque Drive. If yours says Fluid Matic it does not have the optional torque converter.

If your car had a torque converter it would have an oil reservoir like an automatic trans, under the bellhousing or else the crankcase would hold 10 or 12 quarts of oil and there would be an adapter plate with passages running from the bellhousing into the crankcase. Lacking those, you have the self contained fluid drive or fluid coupling. I hope this is clear.

As to filling the fluid drive unit from inside the car I never had a problem. There is an access plate on the right side of the driveshaft tunnel directly under the dashboard giving access to the fill plug. Bump the engine over until the plug comes into view, take it out and pour in oil with a funnel.

I suppose it is possible to fill it the way you did but it seems like doing it the hard way. One other very important point, there has to be an air space in the fluid drive unit to allow for heat expansion. This is why the filler is at an angle, so you can't fill it completely full. If you did fill it completely full, expect to blow the seal out the back of the fluid drive unit the first time it gets hot, in other words, the first time you go on a long drive.

But, it's your car, and you can do as you please with it.

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I appreciate the input. That is interesting news about your shifter. I have looked at a lot of pictures of these and never saw that on one. Just one more thing to look for in identifying these in the future. Like I said, that dang manual I have only covers the system like yours. I guess I have been improperly referring to mine as a “converter” in previous posts when I should be saying “fluid drive”. 

 

Put a couple hundred highway miles on since the oil change last week so looks like it was enough air space…. Thank god! 

Maybe the fluid drive unit and bell housing are mismatched parts from other year cars, resulting in the filler not lining up well with the access panel? I wish I took a pic from inside with the carpet out and floor opened up to show what I mean about not being able to get a funnel on it. Thanks for your interest and suggestions! 

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The cheaper Chrysler standard equipment "Fluid-Matic" fluid coupling on a Hemi engine car is filled only throught the rectangular top bell housing access plate.

Not through the access hole on the floor tunnel as most FD cars are typically filled painfully slow.

 Blue saratoga 52 filled his simple, typical style FD coupling properly.

If he had the Fluid Torque Drive it would be filled from ONLY under the car.

You pour the fluid into the bell housing sump pan letting the torque converter pump fill the converter quickly as like any modern auto trans.

Keep filling the while the engine is running until the converter is filled and the proper oil level in the sump is achieved.

Engine Fed Torque Converter  cars have a special engine oil fill cap with instructions stating how to fill engine and torque converter.

 

 

 

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Here is the shifter quadrant from a Fluid Torque Drive Chrysler or Imperial, 1951 - 52

 

image.jpeg.c5e7b99542cb1a209cebd633efc1195b.jpeg

 

This is what it looks like in the car

Kit Foster's CarPort: Fluid-Matic

 

This is fluid matic drive, with the fluid coupling instead of torque converter

Kit Foster's CarPort: Fluid-Matic

 

Here is the fill plug access plate on the side of the transmission tunnel below the dashboard. Fluid Drive only, torque converter models are filled differently, either under the car or thru the engine.

49 Fluid Drive advice needed - P15-D24 Forum - P15-D24.com and  Pilot-house.com

Edited by Rusty_OToole (see edit history)
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12 hours ago, c49er said:

The cheaper Chrysler standard equipment "Fluid-Matic" fluid coupling on a Hemi engine car is filled only throught the rectangular top bell housing access plate.

Not through the access hole on the floor tunnel as most FD cars are typically filled painfully slow.

 Blue saratoga 52 filled his simple, typical style FD coupling properly.

If he had the Fluid Torque Drive it would be filled from ONLY under the car.

You pour the fluid into the bell housing sump pan letting the torque converter pump fill the converter quickly as like any modern auto trans.

Keep filling the while the engine is running until the converter is filled and the proper oil level in the sump is achieved.

Engine Fed Torque Converter  cars have a special engine oil fill cap with instructions stating how to fill engine and torque converter.

 

 

 


Yes. Thank you. I’m not good at this whole forum post thing, but you get it. Well summarized! You’ve restored my faith in these forums. I’m probably a bit long winded and bad at editing things down to the essentials. 
I would not have undertaken this service if I wasn’t 100% sure I could figure it out and work it through whatever happened. I hope sharing my experience helps someone someday. 

Anyways, learning about new things every day. That’s living! 

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Also while rusty makes some good points, his last photo is definitely mis labeled. I went out and pulled up the carpet to get this straight. 


9A936753-52C3-4634-8B84-963061BB5C2C.jpeg.282a7278d727d934d8261ba607e03330.jpeg

This photo above points to the clutch access panel on the side of the tunnel. Which his photo mis identified as the fluid drive access. 
 


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THIS is the fluid drive access panel, on the TOP of the tunnel. 
Like I said in previous posts, great for opening up the rectangular panel on the bell housing, but not great to fill through. 

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You know what Blue...

I had a 52 Saratoga too.

I forgot about that additional 51-52  access plate!

I also had a 1951 NewYorker, Fluid-Matic.

A 1952 NewYorker Fluid Torque Drive and a couple 1953 Chryslers.. a NewYorker and an Imperial. Both had the FTD.

Still have the complete engines and transmission assemblies out of those once running cars.

I have way too many old Chryslers and parts!

I am forgetting all I used to know!

Older age I guess...🥴

Thanks for posting that additional access plate picture!

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