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This is a discussion on Transmission? within the Early Birds [1955-1957] forums, part of the Thunderbird Model Years category; I hope this isn't a dumb question but here we go. Anyone following my threads knows i woke the T-bird ...

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  #1 (permalink)   IP:
Old 06-21-2011, 05:28 PM
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derek is on a distinguished road

I hope this isn't a dumb question but here we go. Anyone following my threads knows i woke the T-bird up and all is well. Last thing i need/want to do is drop the tranny pan, replace the filter, new gasket, and possibly new pan.

So my question is, it's a 1956 but how doi really know what transmission is in it? 2 speed? 3 speed?

I could definetly figure it out but i am on the other side of town and quite tied up but really need to order the parts.

thank you.
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Old 06-21-2011, 05:57 PM
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Harley Eaton is on a distinguished road
Good question!! Isn't there a ID plate on the side of the transmission? Do you have any reason to believe that the transmission is not original? If not, why not refer to your shop manual?
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Old 06-21-2011, 05:59 PM
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GBird is on a distinguished road
If it's the original 'box it's a 3 speed. Don't forget these early Birds pull away in second gear so people often think they're only a 2 speed.

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Old 06-21-2011, 06:43 PM
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derek is on a distinguished road
Yes it's the original transmission. The car is all original all restored matching numbers through and through. even down to the original peacock blue paint job. Granted it's a new apint job.

I do have pictures on my iphone but cannot figure out how to upload them. Once i do i will post pictures.

Thank you for your replies.
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Old 06-21-2011, 08:45 PM
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derek is on a distinguished road
is it the fmx transmission? napa is telling me that the fmx only dates to like '62?

i could really use the help.
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Old 06-24-2011, 02:25 PM
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OK just one more

It is a 3 speed "Ford-O-Matic" just like GBird stated. There were two "versions" of it in 56. Early 56 Birds had an Air Cooled left over from the 55s. Later had lines running to the radiator and were cooled that way.

The Ford-O-Matic name was used twice to mean two different transmissions. Yea, confusing. Here is a quick and dirty article that gives you some history and about the name change to the 2-Speed.

Cruise-O-Matic - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

1956 Thunderbird Green / Brown Interior (ZE-XG)

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Old 12-05-2011, 08:43 PM
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WELL, like the guy said, the ford-o was a '3speed, but you had to 'floor it' from dead stop to get it in first gear. if you pulled away slowly, it started in 2nd and went to high...AND..the cruise-o 3 speed always start in first at a slow pull away (but you have to have the shift lever in d2, not d1, (if left in d1, it started in 2nd gear).....any way all 3 speeds have P-R-N-D1-D2-L AND ALL FORD-0'S HAVE P-R-N-D-L----AND the 3peeds have a different output spline on the tail housing--it's bigger..and all the floor shift birds don't have the 'extra' 'gear choice' on the quadrant......(as you guessed, i have a 1962 3speed cruise-omatic in my 55 t-bird)..boy! what a difference--this car REALLY needed this swap--it's the best thing i ever did to my bird....bye......ed mlynek.
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Old 12-14-2011, 11:00 PM
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Derek, it is a two speed Ford o Matic. Also known as a medium case transmission. It has three speeds available, but normal operation has it taking off from a stop in second gear, then shifting to third. It does not have a low sprag or the shift valve in the valve body to automatically have first gear. You have to select it manually. The filter will have two holes in it. One for the front pump and one for the rear. I advise purchasing your filter and gasket from a transmission shop rather then the parts house. The NAPA gasket will be folded up rubber and are prone to leak. A wholesale gasket will cost about $3 and the filter is about $8 if they give you the same price as the local shops. I don't know where you live, but Transtar or A-Red's or WIT are three great sources of parts at a good price. If you have any questions don't hesitate to contact me, 660 747 2272 or my cell is 660 909 6000. Many of the old guys that know these transmissions have quit working on them and I stay pretty current on rebuilding them. I have two on my main bench right now, both from 64's. Almost the same unit, but they both have sprags and a vacuum modulator, which yours does not. I also own a 56 that I restored myself. There are photos of it at Warrensburg Missouri Transmission Repair and service, Johnson County Good luck, and email me if you have any questions. Kit
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