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1941 Dodge Luxury Liner Fluid Drive / Transmission Issue


JJCarter
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Hey guys. I recently picked up a 1941 4 door sedan that was in great shape and the seller claimed the motor and transmission were rebuilt. Still not sure on that, but it does run really well. When it's parked and idling. When I try and go for a ride around the neighborhood, it's a different story. Seems to have power but when I shift or accelerate it just seem to struggle to get up and go. I can lay on the gas and it sounds like it's ramping up but takes for ever to get some speed.

 

The other problem is it's very hard to shift. Like most of the time I can't get it into 2nd and 3rd gear without a lot of finagling. Sometimes I can't get it out of gear. I have to rev up the engine, or come to a near stop or wiggle the shifter around just right to get it to engage into another gear. Most times it grinds and sounds like I'm a noob to a clutch.

 

If I do get it into 3rd gear, it will stay and I can come to a stop and the car keep idling just fine when I apply the break and push in the clutch, but again, takes for ever to get back up to speed. 

 

The car did sit for a couple years in a garage before I bought it and didn't get any love. The only things I've done to it was replaced the gas tank and fuel lines. I did read something about the carb having some clutch control but I have never dealt with that before if true.

 

Anyone ever experience this before? Bad Fluid Drive? Clutch plate? Is there an adjustment for this clutch? Is there a way to check the fluid? Carb need rebuilt or something sticking in there causing issues?

 

The car starts right up every time. Idles smooth. No smoke. No leaks that I can see.

 

They did start a 12v conversion on it replacing the generator and wiring up the headlights, brake lights and turn signals but nothing else. No dash controls (gas gauge, temp etc) or dash lights. No radio. No wipers. No dash fan. No heater. No interior dome light. Someday I'll try and figure out how to compete the wiring conversion. Need to at least get the gas gauge working. I don't think you need to do anything to the transmission for a 12v conversion is there?

 

Any ideas would be greatly appreciated.

 

Thanks.

IMG_4167.JPG

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It kinda sounds like you may whale to adjust the clutch or the trans. What your experiencing sounds a lot like what my buddy went through with his gto. We adjusted the linkages for the shifter and also had to adjust the push rod for the clutch. Hope this helps. 

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Carburetors for fluid drive cars have a dashpot that must be correctly adjusted.

 

I do not know how things would work, if at all, with an incorrect carburetor.

 

EDIT:

 

DASH POT ADJUSTMENT-With slow idle properly adjusted Dash Pot Piston should be set for 5/16"11/32" travel as throttle is moved from closed to wide open position. Adjust for proper travel by turning screw on control lever "OUT" to lengthen, "IN" to shorten stroke.

 

Jon.

Edited by carbking (see edit history)
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I agree with the comments above.  I would:

 

1) Check the fluid level in the fluid drive. There are a number of older threads that discuss procedure and proper fluid.  Is the level correct? Does the fluid look or smell burnt?  Of course you never know if the prior owner put in the correct fluid.  This sounds like the source of your first issue.

 

2) Check shifter linkage for worn out bushings and such.  Does your car have the “Power Shift” vacuum assist?  I don’t know much about the Power Shift, but the shop manual says it requires periodic lubrication, and also has an air cleaner that needs periodic service.  The shifting trouble could be from there.

 

3) Adjust the clutch.


All of these are covered in the shop manual for the car.  (Heed the cautions about not dropping the fluid drive plug down into the housing.  I stuffed the opening with rags and used a magnet when checking mine.)

 

BTW, the 1949 Motor Manual says:

 

“Fluid Drive Service.  1939-1949. Loss of fluid is evidenced by excessive engine speeds in relation to car speed, and the possibility of a slipping clutch.  The latter would indicate that fluid has been thrown into the clutch assembly.”

 

Good luck!

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Hey this is great guys. Thanks for all the troubleshooting tips. I hope the weather holds out long enough this weekend to actually get to work on this again. Chicago weather is all over the place this time of year and I'm in between garages working in the drive way. 

 

I'll start with checking the fluid level and go from there. I do have the service manual for this car so I hope that helps.

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Still having weather issues limiting my time outside to work on this, but I did come across another forum talking about something that might be an issue here with my car.

 

When I bought this, the guy had it converted to a 12v system (Not something I would have done). Well, most of it was converted. The lights, signals, brakes, generator/ alternator, ignition at least. I can't tell but I think something had to have been done to the transmission and carburetor. I found this info:

 

"The electric control system works off 2 wires connected to the coil. There are 2 switches built into the carburetor to control full throttle and closed throttle shifts. The wiring goes to the transmission which has a governor, a solenoid and a switch."

 

Does this mean my car should have some sort of limiter between the transmission and coil? Or does converting to a 12v from 6v affect the transmission?

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Oh that would be nice. How do I prove that? Visually I mean since I can't drive it more than around the block. Is there a marking on the transmission or something on the shifter/steering column? When I am able to drive it around the block and it does shift, it seems like just 3 gears to shift through.

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Not a mopar expert on what was available when, but an overdrive unit goes on the back of the actual transmission.  They also had a fancy power clutch available but I think it was just vacuum. This is a typical overdrive trans. 

 

7603158-T-85OD.jpg

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The fluid drive cars only have the reverse position and the typical 2nd gear and 3rd gear shifter positions. When you drive these in Low Range (normally second gear shift position) the transmission starts out in 1st gear and once you get above maybe 5-10 MPH you lift your foot off the throttle pedal and you will feel/hear the transmission shift into third gear then you can push the pedal down to resume accelerating. If you have the shifter in High Range (normally the third gear position) the transmission starts in 2nd gear and shifts to 4th gear when you lift your foot off the accelerator. The fluid drive tranny has an ignition interrupter switch, a low speed solenoid, an electric governor switch and a reverse light switch mounted on the transmission (if equipped with reverse lights). The low speed solenoid and the switch on the carburetor will need reduced voltage to avoid damage. Only this M5 transmission type will be wired with the ignition coil. Also this car will have an Autolite HRM-4102 transmission control unit mounted near the voltage regulator.  

If you have a manual 3 speed tranny, with or without the overdrive, behind a fluid coupling. The shift lever will go into 1st gear when you pull back and down on the shift lever. also the transmission will not shift when you let up the throttle pedal in the low or high range positions. There will also only be one electrical component attached to the transmission case if it has overdrive plus a reverse light switch if it has the lights.

 

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LTC

4 hours ago, Ltc4748 said:

The fluid drive cars only have the reverse position and the typical 2nd gear and 3rd gear shifter positions. When you drive these in Low Range (normally second gear shift position) the transmission starts out in 1st gear and once you get above maybe 5-10 MPH you lift your foot off the throttle pedal and you will feel/hear the transmission shift into third gear then you can push the pedal down to resume accelerating. If you have the shifter in High Range (normally the third gear position) the transmission starts in 2nd gear and shifts to 4th gear when you lift your foot off the accelerator. The fluid drive tranny has an ignition interrupter switch, a low speed solenoid, an electric governor switch and a reverse light switch mounted on the transmission (if equipped with reverse lights). The low speed solenoid and the switch on the carburetor will need reduced voltage to avoid damage. Only this M5 transmission type will be wired with the ignition coil. Also this car will have an Autolite HRM-4102 transmission control unit mounted near the voltage regulator.  

If you have a manual 3 speed tranny, with or without the overdrive, behind a fluid coupling. The shift lever will go into 1st gear when you pull back and down on the shift lever. also the transmission will not shift when you let up the throttle pedal in the low or high range positions. There will also only be one electrical component attached to the transmission case if it has overdrive plus a reverse light switch if it has the lights.

 

I think in 1941 it was just the 3 speed with or without the overdrive and a fluid clutch. 

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On 3/9/2022 at 6:42 PM, Ltc4748 said:

...When you drive these in Low Range (normally second gear shift position) the transmission starts out in 1st gear and once you get above maybe 5-10 MPH you lift your foot off the throttle pedal and you will feel/hear the transmission shift into third gear then you can push the pedal down to resume accelerating. If you have the shifter in High Range (normally the third gear position) the transmission starts in 2nd gear and shifts to 4th gear when you lift your foot off the accelerator. ...

 

Ltc4748, Thanks for that information. I have been driving my 48 New Yorker for a while now and I thought the trans was in 1st and 2nd in the 2nd position. And 3rd and 4th in the 3rd position on the column.

 I guess you learn something new every day!   :party:

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On 3/9/2022 at 6:42 PM, Ltc4748 said:

When you drive these in Low Range (normally second gear shift position) the transmission starts out in 1st gear and once you get above maybe 5-10 MPH you lift your foot off the throttle pedal and you will feel/hear the transmission shift into third gear then you can push the pedal down to resume accelerating. If you have the shifter in High Range (normally the third gear position) the transmission starts in 2nd gear and shifts to 4th gear when you lift your foot off the accelerator.

The driving description is correct, but not the gears.  The low position shifts from first gear to second gear.  The high position shifts from third to fourth gear.  Low gear in the High Range is a higher gear than High Gear in the Low Range.

Edited by 61polara (see edit history)
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Ok. I was finally able to get to work on this. I got the fluid. Got a magnetic socket. Put a rag around the hole so not to loose the bolt. 

 

I took out the filler plug bolt. No fluid came out. It wasn't completely dry still looked wet in there. Filled the fluid drive up until the fluid leaked out of the hole. It look a lot more than I was expecting. Not sure on the exact amount because I could only buy the fluid in a 3 gallon jug. But I'd say it was around a 1/4 of the jug.

 

Bolted it back up and took it for a drive. At first, no change. At first start while warmed up and idoling, I couldn't put it in gear. Any gear. Just grinded the gears. Turned it off and put it in first gear. The car started and lunged forward a tick. With the clutch pushed in all the way and break down, I let off the clutch and it stayed put and didn't die.

 

I drove off in first gear and got the corner. Stopped at the stop sign. Pushed in the clutch and break and took off. While moving forward I tried to shift to 2nd gear but it wouldn't Seemed locked into place even with the clutch pushed in all the way. 

 

Pulled over. Tried taking it out of gear and it wouldn't budge. Turned off the car and was able to take it out of gear. Did the same test. Started in gear, this time in 3rd gear, at drove off. Slooooooowly. I could hear and feel the gear shifting on their own as I was able to get up to about 50 miles an hour. Still, couldn't get it to down shift without grinding the gears.

 

Ended up driving it around the neighborhood for about 15 minutes. The gears finally let up and I was able to shift up and down without too much trouble.

 

Drove it to the gas station. Filled up. Opened the hood and just looked around. All the sudden I saw fluid pour out from somewhere underneath around the bell housing of the transmission.

 

Got back in, started it up and headed home. Seemed to be shifting fine still and running good.

 

Parked the car and got out and looked underneath and saw minor dripping of dark oily fluid coming from the front of the transmission.

 

Haven't done anything more, but guessing a seal must be bad causing the fluid to leak out. And it must have taken a while to lube up again and get working?

 

Thoughts on this now?

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  • 2 months later...

Most likely your seal to your fluid drive  has gone bad.  There is normally no reason for a fluid drive to loose oil unless the seal is bad.  The seal is located in the center of the fluid drive so when it leaks you loose about half the fluid inside of it. Usually the grafite ring has crumbled and sometimes you hear a grindy sand like sound coming from it.  I had my replaced by Northwest Transmissions.  I believe they were in Ohio.  It was 20 years ago.  Unfortunately you have to drop your drive shaft, pull the transmission out, remove the clutch to then remove the fluid drive unit as it is attached to the back of the engine. The nuts that hold the fluid drive on won't quite come off in one shot so you loosen them, then slide the fluid drive unit about 1/4" back and then remove them the rest of the way.  The unit weighs about 50 lbs and the cooling fins feel real good as they dig into your chest if you take this out while laying underneath it.  Low fluid would account for slipage.  I wonder if the clutch plate was getting soaked with leaking fluid making it tough to shift..  I would think you could still shift through the gears though.  A breif description of how the fluid drive works  is the front half bolts to the engine and inside the fluid drive unit there is a turbine like plate that rotates with the engine.   The back half of the fluid drive is connected to the clutch and it also has a turbine like plate that will pick up the rotation of the fluid from the front turbine and that causes the drive train to turn..  There is no mechanical connection between the engine and transmission.  If the fluid is low you will get some turning of the fluid but it is very inefficient.  The fluid drive should never be 100% full and that is why the service panel is not centered on top of the hump.  But the fluid drive has nothing to do with shifting so there might still be an issue with linkage, or rubber grommets.  It is possible who ever did the tranny rebuild didn't put it back together quite right  or adjust it properly if they did not have a shop manual.  They may have also mishandled things which caused the seal to go bad.

Edited by Ron42Dodge (see edit history)
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Long distance diagnosis is tough but here are my guesses. It seems the Fluid Drive unit has a leaky seal and the clutch is sticking and not releasing, possibly from old age possibly gummed up by leaking fluid. These issues will require removing and repairing the Fluid Drive and clutch.

Could also be that the shift linkage is worn and out of adjustment.

Engine may be worn and due for a rebuild or at least a tuneup. Check oil pressure and do a compression test to find out. Those engines are very well behaved and continue running in an advanced state of wear with no bad bangs or knocks they just get down on power, hard to start and burn more gas and oil.

If compression is good and oil pressure is good a careful tuneup may be all you need.

 

As for the 12 V you are on your own. If you don't know what you are doing, do yourself a favor and change it back to stock 6V. Look what happened to the last guy. Don't bother asking how to fix your "12V" car because it is a hodge podge and could have anything under the hood. Who knows what parts were used.

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