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Location: Lower Mainland BC
Hints for installing a cast-iron A-466 Torqueflite in a 1956 Dodge with existing Powerflite transmission
Earlier this year, I had a cast-iron A-466 Torqueflite(TF) installed in my 1956 Dodge that came with a two-speed Powerflite behind a V8 (in my case a 315 D500 hemi). I wanted a third gear (actually a middle gear) to help around town and on long grades. I didn’t like the RPM differences between Low and Drive on the Powerflite (PF) (the gap was too wide for my liking). The TF fills that gap quite nicely.
In my case, most of what had to be done was done by others. As a result, my cost was too high. These hints are being compiled to help the next person to do this try to avoid some of the costly things that I encountered.
There are five main components to this swap:
1. The Transmission
2. The Cross-Member
3. The Shifter
4. The Driveshaft
5. The associated cables and levers
I will attempt to deal with these one at a time, referencing as need previous threads that I have posted about this swap.
The transmission that I used was from a 1957 Chrysler Windsor. I chose this because it was an air-cooled A-466 which would allow the reuse of my air-cooled (finned) PF torque converter. A liquid cooled A-466 from a 57 to 59 Mopar would also work but I am pretty sure that you would then also need a liquid cooled (smooth, finless) torque converter from the same donor vehicle and then an oil cooler and the associated plumbing lines.
This one (came with the TF speedometer and eBrake cables (neither needed) and the filler tube and dipstick (both definitely needed)):
The first hint is don’t buy the cheapest A-466 that you can find unless you know it works, preferably in a running donor vehicle. The one I chose was only $50 (plus shipping) but there was no guarantee that it worked (at the time, I didn’t have many (any?) options). It may or may not have been working in the 57 Windsor when it was removed but judging by the black tar-like goop inside, it would not have been working very well. The transmission shop spent hours and hours cleaning it before they even started to do the rebuilt. They were not impressed. I paid the price for their work.
As for rebuilds, I lucked out and got a rebuild kit off eBay for something like $20 (2 x10). That was a steal. It included lots of mechanical bits (including all the clutch packs) and most/all of the gaskets and seals. It did NOT include the front or rear bands. I had to get them from Fatsco on a core-exchange basis. Fatsco had one in stock but I had to wait something like two weeks to get the other one. https://www.fatsco.net/
Another thing that came up with this “cheap” A-466 was it turns out that the front pump was very worn. This became a bit of a nightmare as I had to source a three-part set of pump body, inner pump gear and outer pump gear. There was the possibility of a running change between 57 and 58 front pumps where the older ones used 0.69 inch thick gears (and housing) and the later ones used 0.81 inch thick gears (and housing).
Eventually I got a complete, good used pump set and the project moved on. The search for the front pump parts was documented in this thread:
Another but relatively minor issue (by comparison) was the strainer. The one in the “cheap” Windsor A-466 was very dirty and the transmission shop was reluctant to use it. Fortunately, I had purchased a much cleaner strainer and the shop used that one.
This was documented here:
The transmission shop did not like the shifter control assembly in the TF because it was way too dirty for them to be happy and confident. They used one that I had previously purchased on eBay from a 1958 TF.
Eventually the transmission was rebuilt (but untested as yet) and they were ready to move on to installation.
Bottomline: If you can, definitely find a good, known to work, previously-well serviced, clean A-466 before you start any thoughts of this swap. Paying more up front for a good working A-466 will be money well spent. (DUH) :P
NOTE: The Powerflite bell housing and spacer plate are reused with no modifications.
Because the A-466 TF is longer than the Powerflite that was coming out, especially at the pan area, I knew that the existing cross member was going to have to come out and moved back about 3.5”. (As it happens, the OE cross-member is about 4.5” wide at the outer ends.)
My game plan was to buy a good used cross-member and figure out a way to establish new mounting ears welded or bolted to the frame. Let’s call that Plan A. I worked hard on that one.
Along the way, I invested another option that would attach the cross-member to the frame using two (one at each) Z-brackets out of ¼” thick plate that would have about 1” of lip at the top to transfer weight to the top of the frame and then a drop leg of about 2.5” and then an extension out towards the center of the car that the cross-member would sit on and be bolted to. Let’s call that Plan B.
When I took the car to the transmission shop (after the transmission rebuild was finished) and explained my ideas for moving the cross-member back and mounting it. I talked about both Plan A and Plan B. They didn’t like either one. I can see them not wanting Plan A but Plan B is effectively the same as several aftermarket options for engine and/or transmission swaps.
I did post here for some suggestions and two people suggested the same thing: cutting a section of the cross-member out and moving it back the required distance and tying (welding) the three seconds (two ends and a middle) together with plates on the inner ends of the three pieces (trimming cross-member pieces as necessary to maintain the required length. The resulting off-set cross-member would simply mount to the existing “ears” on the frame. Let’s call that Plan C.
The transmission shop liked that one but wanted to control its production (because they would be the ones that could/would measure the required offset). They told me that this work would be done by someone that they use for this kind of work and that the work would be done in-house (perhaps while the car was still on the hoist).
Turns out that that was BS. The trans shop out-sourced the fabrication to a “local” machine shop (a few blocks away). The car had to be flat-decked to the fab shop and then back after it was done. The car was gone for just one night but the towing bill was added to my transmission shop bill (with 15% mark-up). Then there was the actual fab shop bill which was like $800 (plus the mark-up) which together, I thought was total BS.
Bottomline: I would not let the transmission shop control the creation of the new cross member. I would go with Plan B and provide them with the two needed “Z” brackets and the self-tappers needed to attach the brackets to the frame (to be tacked/welded later) and the bolts to bolt the cross-member to the “Z” brackets. Done. Do it. (Probable cost: about $100)
What I got for my money:
Some of the cross-member saga was documented in this thread:
Additional Issue: When I first got my car in Sept 2016 it needed a new dual exhaust system. I took it to a local (6 block away) muffler shop with a decent reputation. I wasn’t thinking far enough ahead and I let them weld the new pipe to the old down pipes instead of having some kind of flanged or swaged joint that could be taken apart. This became a problem when the transmission shop tried to remove the OE cross-member . They couldn’t do it without either cutting the exhaust pipe or disconnecting the exhaust down pipe from the manifold. They chose the latter but broke a stud doing it. They replaced the stud with a bolt but I don’t think the gasket they used is correct. Seems to be leaking.
2nd Bottomline: Make sure that you can take the exhaust apart before starting the install.
If you are going to a have a Torqueflite, you need a five button shifter. The easiest solution is a “Load-flite” shifter mechanism from a 1957 or 58 Dodge D100 truck. The shifter box will work and the button plate is correct for the 1956 Dodge look. Naturally you need the five buttons as well. In a pinch, you can re-use the RNDL buttons from the Powerflite but then you still need a “2” button.
I was lucky enough to find and buy a NOS 1673 906 Torqueflite shifter box from my NOS parts guy, Ron W. (local to me). The 1673 906 is listed as HOUSING, w/SLIDES and Back Up Light SWITCH, C70, C73, i.e. the 56 New Yorkers and Imperials with Torqueflites. Perfect period piece. But I’m pretty sure there are others that will work too.
The next issue was the face plate and the buttons. I was able to pick up a 1705 370 shifter plate with its five shift buttons off ebay for a decent price. Score! I did not find 1705 370 in the 55-58 Mopar Parts catalogue, I suspect that it was the 57 Dodge truck Loadflite shifter face plate. Curiously, the 1705 370 shows up in the Canadian 1956 Chryco Parts manual as being for a 56 Dodge. Hmmm.....meant to be
Some shifter threads to review:
The Drive Shaft
The drive shaft needs to be shortened by about 3.5” or so. Best to measure the distance you need once the transmission is in the car and then have the work done by a professional drive line shop that can accurately cut and weld and balance the drive shaft. That happened for me but I could saved some money by taking the driveshaft to the drive line shop and having the work done (and not pay the 15% mark-up the transmission shop added).
The associated cables and levers
The cables and levers in question are:
a) The eBrake cable
b) The Speedometer cable
c) The Neutral safety switch and wiring
d) The reverse light switch
e) The throttle position lever
f) The shifter cable
The first four items above can be reused from the Powerflite with little or no modification.
After I got the car back I didn’t like the way that they had adjusted the eBrake cable so I learned how to do it, as per this post:
Ebrake cable adjustment:
The speedometer cable is fine. However, I am not sure whether I will have to change the speedometer drive gear in the TF to get 100% speedo calibration. Jury is still out on that one.
The TF neutral safety switch is the same type as the PF and reuses the single neutral safety switch wire.
For the reverse light you can either use the switch on the shifter box *OR* use the PF reverse switch and move it to the reverse servo pressure port on the TF and re-use the PF wiring. That is what I did (for now):
When you source your transmission make sure that you get the throttle position lever , the shifter cable and the shifter cable bracket (that holds the cable to the TF), as well. I didn’t and had to go back to Dave S. for the throttle position lever and a shifter cable for a few addition dollars and time. I thought that I could use the PF cable but it is 3/8” diameter and the TF shifter cable is ½” diameter so either you figure out a way to seal the annular space or you need the TF cable. For my case, it was the stab in/arrow head type cable that was used from 57 to mid-1959 when they changed the cable design.
Regardless, you or the transmission shop has to adjust the shifter cable so Neutral is really neutral (fully in the detent) so that a) the car will start in Neutral and b) the shifter selects the correct gear when a button is pushed.
One final issue that didn’t mention was while my PF was looking good when they removed it from my car, when they went to try the PF torque converter on the TF there was a clearance issue and there was a worn bit that “would rip the seal” on the nose of the TF it they tried to use mine. The splines and all that were fine, it was just this clearance/seal ripping issue. As a result, I had to scramble and find another air-cooled torque converter.
I found one and it fit better and all that but they wouldn’t use it unless it was rebuilt. So that happened. Another sad surprise ($900).
Bottomline: You need to have a torque converter that was known to work and work with your TF. A donor car like a rusty body 57 Chrysler Windsor that was driven and just serviced yesterday might be useful to have. LOL
Was it all worth it?
Maybe. The project was good, the results are good but the price that I paid was too much.
*IF* there are any questions, I will be pleased to try to answer them.
Edited by 56D500boy 2020-04-10 12:55 PM
|OMG! Your final cost must have been out of this world! Thanks for documenting this. I'm sure it'll save someone money and headache if someone decides to make a similar switch in the future. |
I've also got a 56 with a powerflite but I have the 315 poly. I swapped rearend for 3.08 gears and still am happy with the powerflite but it's just a cruiser. Not looking for speed off the line. I'm sure you're glad it's all behind you now!
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