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Old 02-11-2020, 12:36 AM   #1
dmsfrr
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Default '54 / '55 Fordomatic ID ?

I have an air-cooled Fordomatic in a '55 Bird that the transmission rebuild shop said is a two speed. When driving or being manually shifted it only shifts one time.
It was my understanding the original air-cooled auto trans for a '55 Bird 'should' be a 3 speed that normally just skips first gear unless manually shifted, or kicked down. Same with the '56 & '57 Ford-o transmissions.

But, the transmission info at this link says the automatic is two speed, and the same for '56 & '57 Birds. http://automotivemileposts.com/tbird/prod1955tbird.html
I'm confused.

Was the '54 Fordomatic a two speed? How would I easily tell them apart if they're different from the air-cooled '55 version?
I remember the ID tag on the trans being blank when I was looking at it a few years back.
Are there other numbers or letters cast into the trans that would be different?
The car had a '54 engine when I got it and the transmission may(?) have come with the engine.

OR, am I lost and barking up the wrong tree?
.

Last edited by dmsfrr; 02-11-2020 at 01:21 AM.
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Old 02-11-2020, 05:56 AM   #2
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Post Re: '54 / '55 Fordomatic ID ?

Quote:
Originally Posted by dmsfrr View Post

I have an air-cooled Fordomatic in a '55 Bird that the transmission rebuild shop said is a two speed. When driving or being manually shifted it only shifts one time.

It was my understanding the original air-cooled auto trans for a '55 Bird 'should' be a 3 speed that normally just skips first gear unless manually shifted, or kicked down. Same with the '56 & '57 Ford-o transmissions.

But, the transmission info at this link says the automatic is two speed, and the same for '56 & '57 Birds. http://automotivemileposts.com/tbird/prod1955tbird.html
The only 2S was introduced in 1959. All F/M are three speed with 2nd gear start unless gagged. Where did you see 2S on the webpage?
Attached Images
File Type: jpg 1955 BIRD Option List.jpg (17.6 KB, 8 views)
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Old 02-11-2020, 10:34 AM   #3
54vicky
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Default Re: '54 / '55 Fordomatic ID ?

the 54 was-is a 3 speed sorry not about to crawl under to check for I.D.tags etc.if you like the idea of shifting pull it into low run it to about 25 pop into drive and carry on.if done right you can chirp the tires

Last edited by 54vicky; 02-11-2020 at 03:43 PM.
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Old 02-11-2020, 11:03 AM   #4
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Default Re: '54 / '55 Fordomatic ID ?

Quote:
Originally Posted by dmsfrr View Post
I have an air-cooled Fordomatic in a '55 Bird that the transmission rebuild shop said is a two speed. When driving or being manually shifted it only shifts one time.
It was my understanding the original air-cooled auto trans for a '55 Bird 'should' be a 3 speed that normally just skips first gear unless manually shifted, or kicked down. Same with the '56 & '57 Ford-o transmissions.

But, the transmission info at this link says the automatic is two speed, and the same for '56 & '57 Birds. http://automotivemileposts.com/tbird/prod1955tbird.html
I'm confused.

Was the '54 Fordomatic a two speed? How would I easily tell them apart if they're different from the air-cooled '55 version?
I remember the ID tag on the trans being blank when I was looking at it a few years back.
Are there other numbers or letters cast into the trans that would be different?
The car had a '54 engine when I got it and the transmission may(?) have come with the engine.

OR, am I lost and barking up the wrong tree?
.
That reference you cited shows the transmission ratios as 2.44 to 1 and 1.48 to 1. High gear, which was 1 to 1 in all automatics back then, is not listed for some reason. Therefore, it actually shows the T-Bird Fordomatic to be a three speed trans.
Incidentally, is your T-Bird a very early production car? If so, it may have had that 256 engine from the factory. There is an article in a 1954 Popular Mechanics magazine (about April or May, I think) that talks about the upcoming Thunderbird and lists the engine as the 256.
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Old 02-11-2020, 11:32 AM   #5
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Default Re: '54 / '55 Fordomatic ID ?

I think the 256 Merc Y-Block in early '55 T-Birds might just be an old wives tale. Why would the use an inferior less powerful engine in a Bird if the 272 was available from the start of '55 production ?


Sal
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Old 02-11-2020, 12:32 PM   #6
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Default Re: '54 / '55 Fordomatic ID ?

I have seen some early '54 pre-production TBird brochures that show the 256 engine but the brochuress dated later in '54 show the 'new' 198 hp (292) engine in the images.
http://www.oldcarbrochures.com/stati...Folder-06.html

Even the earliest production '55 TBirds had the 292...
"For 1955, the first 1000 Dearborn-built Ford VINs - 100001 through 101000 - were reserved for the new Thunderbird. All of these cars had the same 292 cubic-inch V-8 engine (P) . . . "
http://www.tbird.info/first-1955-thunderbirds.htm

The one I have is slightly later than this earliest group, scheduled build date Nov. 9th of '54. I suspect one of the previous owners may have worn out / used up the original 292 engine.
Or...
Back-in-the-day the car was in a bad enough wreck to have the frame replaced. Maybe the original engine & transmission were 'borrowed' for another project at the time.
The '54 Merc 256 EBY engine in the car had a '57 tach drive distributor, '57 ECZ-B intake and an Autolite carb from an FE 390 when I got it. It didn't run well at all. Maybe a vacuum leak from the mis-matched intake manifold?

List of Y-block engine block casting number prefixes by year...
http://www.ford-y-block.com/Block%20identification.htm

40 Deluxe yes it's odd they didn't list the 1:1 high gear. I missed that, thanks.
I've seen the same transmission specs on at least one other website.
Maybe they're just copying the info from each other???

Quote:
Originally Posted by KULTULZ View Post
. . . Where did you see 2S on the webpage?
On the left side of this linked '55 Thunderbird info page... (photo attached)
http://automotivemileposts.com/tbird/prod1955tbird.html
.
Attached Images
File Type: jpg 55 transmission ratios, copy.jpg (70.2 KB, 25 views)
File Type: jpg '54 239 vs '55+ intake gasket.jpg (27.7 KB, 3 views)

Last edited by dmsfrr; 02-17-2020 at 11:09 PM.
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Old 02-11-2020, 12:46 PM   #7
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Default Re: '54 / '55 Fordomatic ID ?

Quote:
Originally Posted by dmsfrr View Post
I have seen some early '54 pre-production TBird brochures that show the 256 engine but the brochuress dated later in '54 show the 'new' 198 hp (292) engine in the images.
http://www.oldcarbrochures.com/stati...Folder-06.html

Even the earliest production '55 TBirds had the 292...
"For 1955, the first 1000 Dearborn-built Ford VINs - 100001 through 101000 - were reserved for the new Thunderbird. All of these cars had the same 292 cubic-inch V-8 engine (P) . . . "
http://www.tbird.info/first-1955-thunderbirds.htm

The one I have is slightly later than this earliest group, scheduled build date Nov. 9th of '54. I suspect one of the previous owners may have worn out / used up the original 292 engine.
Or... back-in-the-day the car was in a bad enough wreck to have the frame replaced. Maybe the original engine & transmission were 'borrowed' for another project at the time.
The '54 Merc 256 EBY engine in the car had a '57 tach drive distributor, '57 ECZ-B intake and an Autolite carb from an FE 390 when I got it. It barely ran at all, probably a vacuum leak from the mis-matched intake manifold.

List of Y-block engine block casting number prefixes by year...
http://www.ford-y-block.com/Block%20identification.htm

40 Deluxe yes it's odd they didn't list a 1:1 high gear.
I've seen the same transmission specs on at least one other website. Maybe they're just copying non-original info from each other???


On the left side of this linked '55 Thunderbird info page... (photo attached)
http://automotivemileposts.com/tbird/prod1955tbird.html
.
DMSFRR, I guess my info was way too early. I just thought maybe a few early Birds escaped with the 256 engine, before 292's were up and running. Seems not!
On the photo you show, again it lists the low gear and 2nd gear ratios, but not the 3rd gear ratio of 1 to 1.
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Old 02-11-2020, 12:46 PM   #8
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Post Re: '54 / '55 Fordomatic ID ?

Quote:
Originally Posted by scicala View Post

I think the 256 Merc Y-Block in early '55 T-Birds might just be an old wives tale. Why would the use an inferior less powerful engine in a Bird if the 272 was available from the start of '55 production ?

Sal
The BIRD was initially designed with a 54 drive-line. The 256 (EBY) was to be used instead of the 239 EBU for 1955. CHEV was to intro their 265 for the 55 production run and FORD panicked and introduced the 272 and 292 for 1955 production. The 292 went to MERC, BIRD and FORD emergency vehicles.. The 272 was not available until the 55 production run. Being a performance car the BIRD would have gotten the 292.


Attached are excerpts from an introductory BIRD BROCHURE. No publication date-
Attached Images
File Type: jpg 1955 BIRD Brochure _1.JPG (63.5 KB, 11 views)
File Type: jpg 1955 BIRD Brochure.jpg (48.4 KB, 9 views)
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Old 02-11-2020, 01:00 PM   #9
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Question Re: '54 / '55 Fordomatic ID ?

The FORD-O-MATIC was a three speed transmission. It is what is known as a SINGLE RANGE whereas the CRUISE-O-MATIC (1958/ ) was deemed DUAL RANGE.

The FM started in 2nd for fuel economy purposes. If you wanted performance, you either pull it into low or gagged it.

Brief and Concise Description - http://www.charlietranny.com/Fordomatic.htm
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Old 02-11-2020, 01:05 PM   #10
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Post Re: '54 / '55 Fordomatic ID ?

It is assumed FINAL is 1:1 unless an OD.
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Old 02-11-2020, 01:29 PM   #11
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Question Re: '54 / '55 Fordomatic ID ?

Quote:
The '54 Merc 256 EBY engine in the car had a '57 tach drive distributor, '57 ECZ-B intake and an Autolite carb from an FE 390 when I got it. It didn't run well at all. Maybe a vacuum leak from the mis-matched intake manifold?
I forgot about the car history, as I forget almost everything now ...

So the engine was documented (CASTING ID - DATE CODES) as a 256 EBY?

Regarding the ECZ-B intake, were there any vacuum leaks as while the EBY was a CF design, it also had the smaller heads.
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Old 02-11-2020, 04:02 PM   #12
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Default Re: '54 / '55 Fordomatic ID ?

Quote:
Originally Posted by KULTULZ View Post
. . . So the engine was documented (CASTING ID - DATE CODES) as a 256 EBY?

Regarding the ECZ-B intake, were there any vacuum leaks as while the EBY was a CF design, it also had the smaller heads.
Yes, the block and head casting number prefixes were EBY. photos attached
I didn't note or take photos of the date code because I wasn't that concerned. Just sold it to the first person who wanted it.

Vacuum leaks? The idle was real erratic and if I didn't slip it into neutral and keep it reved up it would die at every stop. I didn't do any diagnostics on the engine since I wasn't keeping it, was more concerned with getting it out and finding a good replacement.

Initial topic... I'm not happy with the apparent 2 speed transmission. The car seems a bit sluggish and doesn't take off well in its Lo gear (shakes & makes squealing noises occasionally unless I shift it manually) and RPM on the road is higher than I'd like.
With all the trouble to take it out I'd almost prefer to swap it for something better, maybe AOD?

I still need to double check the ignition timing & distributor operation after its initial setup, also the head bolt torque(?) valve adjustment and oil change.
The replacement 292 has just turned its first 1000 miles.
.
Attached Images
File Type: jpg EBY 256 block.jpg (45.3 KB, 6 views)
File Type: jpg EBY head number.jpg (81.3 KB, 6 views)

Last edited by dmsfrr; 02-20-2020 at 07:21 PM.
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Old 02-11-2020, 04:46 PM   #13
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Post Re: '54 / '55 Fordomatic ID ?

Quote:
Originally Posted by dmsfrr View Post

Initial topic... I'm not happy with the apparent 2 speed transmission. The car seems a bit sluggish and doesn't take off well in its Lo gear and RPM on the road is higher than I'd like.

With all the trouble to take it out I'd almost prefer to swap it for something better, maybe AOD?
Have you checked your TV adjustment and have you tightened the bands? Was it a take-out or rebuild?



AOD = $$$ but makes sense.
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Old 02-11-2020, 05:16 PM   #14
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Default Re: '54 / '55 Fordomatic ID ?

Quote:
Originally Posted by KULTULZ View Post
Have you checked your TV adjustment and have you tightened the bands? Was it a take-out or rebuild?

AOD = $$$ but makes sense.
Yes, I set it using a 1/4 inch rod thru the throttle bell-crank bracket, drove it a bit and also tried a couple turns extra either way to see if would make a difference. No luck yet.
It was a rebuild of the trans that came with the car. It's been back to the shop since then. They said they dropped the pan to check it out and made some adjustments. Still seems the same to me.
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Old 02-11-2020, 05:23 PM   #15
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Post Re: '54 / '55 Fordomatic ID ?

Were you able to ID the TRANS? It may be calibrated incorrectly.


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Old 02-11-2020, 06:06 PM   #16
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Default Re: '54 / '55 Fordomatic ID ?

Quote:
Originally Posted by KULTULZ View Post
Were you able to ID the TRANS? . . .
Not yet. I haven't raised the car up to get underneath, until I had an idea what to look for.
(and my good jack-stands are holding up another car)
Thanks for the nice illustration, and with measurements too!
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Old 02-12-2020, 10:11 AM   #17
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Post Re: '54 / '55 Fordomatic ID ?

1955 FORD THUNDERBIRD SALES BROCHURE EXCERPT

(No Pub Date) -
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File Type: jpg TRANS - FM 3S.JPG (14.6 KB, 17 views)
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Old 02-17-2020, 09:49 PM   #18
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Default Re: '54 / '55 Fordomatic ID ?

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Originally Posted by KULTULZ View Post
Were you able to ID the TRANS? . . .
I don't know as much as I'd like to. At the moment I can't get the car high enough off the floor to really be able to get under it.
Tried to measure "A", the length of the main case and got 10 & 1/2 inches. So not accurate enough with one hand and a tape measure???

However, at this website http://www.charlietranny.com/Fordomatic.htm I did find an image that looks like the same pan/pan gasket, with 14 bolt holes. (photo 1 below)
The inset corner is at the front of the driver's side of the trans. The main case is cast iron.
I didn't find a picture of an air cooled Ford-O like this one on that website, but found one I took a while back.

I'll make another attempt to get underneath after I get more jackstands.
Attached Images
File Type: jpg Fordomatic2smallcase.jpg (41.0 KB, 3 views)
File Type: jpg 20160426_102743c.jpg (72.1 KB, 9 views)
File Type: jpg air cooled bellhousing.jpg (54.9 KB, 7 views)

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Old 02-17-2020, 11:32 PM   #19
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Default Re: '54 / '55 Fordomatic ID ?

You have a typical small-case two speed Ford-O-Matic. They were commonly used for Ford full-sized cars V8 and 6-cyl applications beginning in 1951.
The 1951 thru 1954 Ford-O-Matic's had a cast-iron rear extension housing. From '55 on up, they had an aluminum rear extension housing.
'51 thru '56 had air-cooled converters. '57 and later (with V8) had water-cooled converters, but they kept the air-cooled converters for the 223 I-6 all the way thru to '64 I think (when the 223 was discontinued).
If I remember right, the Cruise-O-Matic had a slightly longer case (known as the medium case). The transmission fluid pan was shaped a little differently and had a little bumpout on the passenger side. That has always been the easiest way for me to determine the difference.
The Cruise-O was normally not used on full-sized cars, but they were installed in Mercury cars and wagons and they were installed in Ford Thunderbird's. I just don't know what year they started. The '55 T-bird came from the factory with a 292 as the 312 was still a year out yet.
Lincoln had a whole nuther animal, known as the large case Ford-O, and if you saw one of those, you could easily tell the difference without measuring.
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Old 02-18-2020, 12:09 AM   #20
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Default Re: '54 / '55 Fordomatic ID ?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Daves55Sedan View Post
You have a typical small-case two speed Ford-O-Matic. They were commonly used for Ford full-sized cars V8 and 6-cyl applications beginning in 1951.
The 1951 thru 1954 Ford-O-Matic's had a cast-iron rear extension housing. From '55 on up, they had an aluminum rear extension housing.
'51 thru '56 had air-cooled converters. ...
99% sure this one has an aluminum tail housing, I'll double check tomorrow.

My biggest concern is why it seems to only have two functioning forward gears instead of three with a 2nd gear start as I've been told it 'should' be. I asked the transmission shop that did the rebuild the same question and they told me it's really just a 2 speed. So where did the other gear go???

Shifting manually or driving it has two forward speeds and shifts only once. I initially thought the shifter might be out of position relative to the transmission and it may not reach the actual Lo gear position (since starting up from a stop seems a bit sluggish and at times squeals and shakes the car)
but it lines up with the P R N D L letters just fine. I'll double check that adjustment too.
.

Last edited by dmsfrr; 02-18-2020 at 12:49 AM.
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