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Liquamatic - how did it work?

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I never knew until tonight that Lincoln and Mercury offered an automatic [ or simi automatic ] transmission in 1941 & 1942, called Liquamatic. How did it work? Was it similar to Chrysler's tip-toe shift fluid drive? Why was it not continued in 1946?

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I can't tell you how it was suppose to have worked, but I can tell you the reason it was not offered in the following years was that "it didn't work." There have been articles written on the problems with the unit and I think our club magazine has covered in detail the problems the transmission had.

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The September-October 1992 issue of the TWOTZ magazine has a complete article along with pictures of all the components. While similar to the Chrysler it varied somewhat. It had a fluid coupling, manual clutch and 3 speed transmission with overdrive. The same unit was offered in the '42 Mercury but without the overdrive. These units broke on a regular basis and were discontinued. In fact most if not all units were replaced with a standard transmission and clutch set up. My understanding is that the major flaw in the drive was the one-way(free wheeling) clutch on the counter shaft. With the gear shift lever in the "high" gear position the unit would start off in 2nd gear and shift to high at around 12 mph. There was a very complicated set of electrical controls to accomplish shifts via the vacuum cylinder for 2nd and 3rd and electrical solenoid for the overdrive.

The Towe Ford Museum in Sacramento, Cal. has one of these Mercury units on display. These units were only offered for the '42 models of Lincolns and Mercurys.

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I appreciate the replys. For anyone interested, I also found the following excerpt from a history of the Ford Company... chapter 7:

In an attempt to meet the competition, Lincoln introduced the

Liquamatic automatic transmission. There are two common misconceptions

about this early automatic transmission. The first is that it was a

two-speed transmission, and the second is that it had no manual clutch.

Neither is true. In fact, the only outward clue to its installation was

the LIQUAMATIC LINCOLN emblem in place of the standard Lincoln emblem on

the glove box door. At the heart of the new automatic transmission was a

fluid coupler. The transmission gear box incorporated a rather unique

countershaft arrangement which allowed second and third gears to run at the

same speed. Low gear (first) and reverse could not be engaged except by

use of the manual clutch. Low gear was used for steep grades or pulling

loads. When placing the gearshift selector in the second gear position,

the transmission would not shift into high. This position was adequate for

most in-town driving, but a little hard on the V-12 engine. The overdrive

unit which was standard with the Liquamatic could be engaged in second or

third gears. Moving the selector from second gear to high (third) gear

could be accomplished without depressing the clutch. This brought into

operation a governor, a vacuum valve, and a holding coil circuit which

provided automatic shifting from second to third gears at approximately

thirty-five miles per hour. Which explains why the Liquamatic is often

referred to as a two-speed automatic transmission.

The Liquamatic Lincoln transmissions required very accurate adjustment

to operate properly. Whether it was a poor design or simply lacked user

acceptance was never determined. Most units were replaced with standard

transmissions by a dealer at under ten thousand miles in service. The

dealers were also instructed to change out the glove box emblem.

Therefore, only the factory data card gives any clue as to a car's having

been equipped with a Liquamatic automatic transmission.

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Guest imported_V12Bill

I have heard of V 12 engines that had cobbled adaptor plates to fit the regular 3 speed OD trans mission. Apparantly the fluid coupling required a larger diameter and special bell housings were cast for engines that were to have the Liquidmatic transmission. I remember reading in my youth of someone who had built up a 42 Mercury V 8 for racing only to find that the regular 3 speed trans would not mate up to the block. I guess dealers back then took short cuts to build up their bottom line on recalls. They wouldn't do that today, would they?


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