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Technical 1938 Buick transmission + 1956 Pontiac gears, tail housing

Discussion in 'The Hokey Ass Message Board' started by Skankin' Rat Fink, Feb 6, 2018.

  1. F&J
    Joined: Apr 5, 2007
    Posts: 13,222

    F&J
    Member

    Finally somebody to back me up. :) I'm talking the Buick case & top shift, but with Olds V8 gears & shafts ...Open drive conversion.

    A week ago I took a 48 year old guy from Mass out for a ride in the 32 with 324, 37 Buick case w/Olds guts.. He is the only one who ever said "love the slight gear noise" :cool:. He was here buying a stock Model A, but mentioned he just bought a 1956 Olds motor and needed a stick setup...so needless to say, he's getting one from me. I only had two left, and one is already planned to go in my former 50s built 1930 Chevy chop/channel RPU with a 303.

    Me too.. I love the long stick and the sweet feel of it heading towards the dash in 2nd. I never had to bend the stick. This is the only pic I have of it in 2nd gear parked. ( if you can see the black shift ball) Taken Sunday at a town X-mas festival. The tiny hotrod girl sure liked the car. No, I don't know her :confused:
    DSCN2181.JPG


    I told her that when she can reach the pedals, she can drive it...;)
    DSCN2180.JPG


    BTW, I bought the entire motor, stick trans and rear from a base model 1955 Olds 2dr sedan, and it was 3.42. I swapped in a 3.23 which is perfect for the driving I do. I also have a spare 54 Olds 3.08 rear which is kinda rare.

    I'm not having luck so far, looking for that small box of 37 closed drive parts for @jebbesen... I'll keep looking though.
    .

    Get out and DRIVE...I just can't bear to park it (for the 2nd winter now)...
    DSCN2205.JPG
     
    Sixhundred sixteen likes this.
  2. jebbesen
    Joined: Aug 18, 2015
    Posts: 494

    jebbesen
    Member
    from Winona, MN

    I'm going by the case number which ends in 500. That is supposed to make it a 36. I'm not an expert either so take that with a grain of salt. Dave says that only 36 and 37 have the bolt on bearing retainer with 38 transitioning to the slip on one. He claims that 36 cases were weaker somehow but didn't say exactly how. The old Hot Rod spotlite book says you can use 36-38 cases with the later gears but you must change the one shift fork to run the 37 and up gears. Everything I've read says that you need 40's and up main shaft to run the selector gears. I'm not sure when the ujoints changed from the Ford style joint to the later GM style but this one has the joint just like a flathead trans that has the caps retained by wire clips. I haven't pulled it off the shaft yet but my 38 small top shifter has a 6 spline output. Curious to see what this big trans has. I just bought an old Buick joint puller so I'll give that a shot. Most of this stuff is pretty murky 80 yrs out without having all the parts sitting on the bench next to each other to compare. I got the trans for $150 so I thought it was good to grab it up if only for the lid. The guts look really nice though so I think I'll save it for some future project. From a couple pictures I've seen the 37 slider gear looks like it has slightly more chisel shaped teeth. Almost like the difference between pre 49 ford slider gears and the 50-52 gearsets.
     
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  3. jebbesen
    Joined: Aug 18, 2015
    Posts: 494

    jebbesen
    Member
    from Winona, MN

    I need to make a couple parts for it but this is the main part of the joint puller. There's supposed to be a clip that slides into the groove. This pulls against the rear half of the joint and presses it backwards off the shaft.
    20181019_115739.jpg
     
    Last edited: Dec 4, 2018
  4. Paul
    Joined: Aug 29, 2002
    Posts: 15,235

    Paul
    Editor

    I have a bucket of parts left over from a conversion I did a while ago,
    I used all '58 Olds gears in what I was told was a '37 Buick case.
    If I can find the parts I'll post some pictures, maybe we (you) can identify them for sure.
     
    jebbesen likes this.
  5. Paul
    Joined: Aug 29, 2002
    Posts: 15,235

    Paul
    Editor

    parts for what was assumed to be from a '37 Roadmaster

    maybe someone here can confirm or identify?

    20181204_100859.jpg

    and the case they came from:

    20181204_101100.jpg 20181204_101113.jpg 20181204_101120.jpg
     
  6. jebbesen
    Joined: Aug 18, 2015
    Posts: 494

    jebbesen
    Member
    from Winona, MN

    casting number 438 should be a 1937 because it still has the bolt on front retainer but I can't remember what the number is for 38
     
    Paul likes this.
  7. Paul
    Joined: Aug 29, 2002
    Posts: 15,235

    Paul
    Editor

  8. jebbesen
    Joined: Aug 18, 2015
    Posts: 494

    jebbesen
    Member
    from Winona, MN

    Paul, @vtwhead Walt sent me some pictures a while back that were of a 36 Buick trans that a guy in Norway was working on. That one had 500 for a case number. So I think we can say that 1936 has case number 500, 1937 has case number 438, and if anyone has a top shifter that has the slip on bearing retainer they can share the case number for 1938. I had it somewhere but can't find it now.
     
  9. jebbesen
    Joined: Aug 18, 2015
    Posts: 494

    jebbesen
    Member
    from Winona, MN

    In one of my old Motor Manuals it states that 36 big trans have needle bearings under sec gear where 37 and up just use a bushing. In the 1962 Hot Rod Transmission book they say that you can use the 36-38 case with the selector internals if you use the 37/38 fork so I'm betting the diameter of the steel ring on the synchro changed diameter.
     
  10. F&J
    Joined: Apr 5, 2007
    Posts: 13,222

    F&J
    Member

    When I bought the 37 for my build, the seller got it out of a doodlebug, and it was the 2nd trans that was added as an auxiliary, so he did not know what it was from . He said he ran the numbers in an old Hollanders to positively ID it as a 37-only big series Buick. I don't have that book, but maybe somebody reading along here might?

    I'm learning too, on this thread.. I had no idea on the 36 fork size issue. , and never knew the 38 was a slip on candlestick. I've had a fair amount of Buick w/Olds guts transmissions, and they all were drilled for the bolt-on retainer. They must have all been 37's.

    I also like these transmissions for other reasons, like adapting to unique builds. One of mine ended up in Germany behind a flathead Ford V8, but he wanted open drive. I luckily had a vintage Offy 3648 adapter bell, which was made for Flatheads but using a stock 37 Buick trans that has a shorter input shaft than the Olds that I had in it.

    I got lucky again, as I had an unknown year late Buick selector input shaft on the shelf, which was the shorter shaft like a 37, but stronger, and I think bigger spline than the 37. I just can't recall if the input was the only thing that was needed to fit it to the Olds mainshaft , syncro, and 2nd gear. Fun stuff to me.

    One more benefit over the 37 LaSalle trans, is that I could never find any spare good syncros and 1st/rev sliders. If you need to swap a later syncro into a 37 LaS, you need 3 pieces to do it...the syncro, 2nd gear, and the input. I used 50 Olds parts on the only one I did, then I got into Buicks instead.

    .
     
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  11. F&J
    Joined: Apr 5, 2007
    Posts: 13,222

    F&J
    Member

    Miracles... I finally found "Where's Waldo"... This is all I have of the 37. I sold two group lots of the gears on ebay long ago...so this is it. I know I got brutal when I took the U-joint apart, as I was ramped up to do the swap. I recall prying out & ruining two round wire type clips at the two bushings?

    Hey, any of you Olds Stick guys know of a spare OEM clutch pedal for a "54-56-only" Olds? Geo Delorean (John's brother) is still wanting to swap his 55 2dr HT over to stick. He had one as a kid and is trying to clone it, right down to the stick trans. PM me if you can help. He's still in Detroit...and still cruising Woodward in it :cool:
    DSCN2217.JPG DSCN2216.JPG DSCN2214.JPG
     
  12. HotRodMicky
    Joined: Oct 14, 2001
    Posts: 1,768

    HotRodMicky
    Member

    Hi Frank, the transmission is still waiting to be used.... but it was a,Hildebrandt adapter.
    I have an open drive QC for it and a 35-36 rear end
    I am using a 37 buick that has been converted to ford torque tube at the moment.
    A great transmission. I thought i got it from you too....?
     
    jebbesen likes this.
  13. jebbesen
    Joined: Aug 18, 2015
    Posts: 494

    jebbesen
    Member
    from Winona, MN

    I'd be interested in the
    @HotRodMicky We need some pictures!
     
  14. F&J
    Joined: Apr 5, 2007
    Posts: 13,222

    F&J
    Member

    No, mine was the one that went to Germany along with the new Spadaro QC from Eric in Stafford CT. Mine definitely had a Offy 3648 as I wrote the number on my shop wall. I sure would bet it was Offy? Go looko_O and tell us. I had no way to ship, so I set you up with Eric for the QC sale as he ships stuff overseas.

    Dang... Mickey, I read on here a long time ago that you were running a 37 Buick trans, so I assumed it was mine. I've never run across another 3648 adapter since. Scarce part. I think mine was NOS? I just don't remember. I'm sure it came from Billy Belmont (Speed & Sport) in Mass. He had a 37 Buick "done up back in the day", at the same Massachusetts swap, but I told him I already had too many.

    I take that back, I missed out on a 3648 at the same swap, but a different year swapmeet. Danny from Upstate NY already bought it, and was also grabbing every early Olds related thing there that day. He sure had a pile of cool stuff he showed me. He got a set of 1956 #10 heads from me that day.

    also, speaking of the Pontiac open drive 37 Buick conversions, I have only seen one in person. Flatpower's Dad, Randy from New Jersey, had one for sale at another meet in Connecticut. I had no idea where the longer tail came off of, until I asked Randy. Man, he has had a ton of cool stuff over the decades. (drool)

    Since some of you like this stuff...the strangest top shifted "buick" trans I had, was one not quite finished that I found at the "Olds Farm" estate of the late Warren Dee. Not sure if he was the builder, but they used a selector case, machined and welded up some stuff inside to hold the Buick shift rails. But I got it with the 37 cover off. I found the 37 cover in a different building there. I then found out why they never finished it....(The only thing I can think of as why they tried this, is perhaps they did not know how to mod the 37 case to take the Olds tail?)

    ....they made all machining measurements from a 37 main case, but apparently did not realize that the case height ''from rail centerlines to top of the gasket surface" was off by 1/8" difference (between the two types of cases). So when the 37 cover was installed on the modded Selector case, it bound up the forks. Took me a long while to figure that one out, and then I made a spacer plate the same shape as the top cover gasket. Works perfect, according to Harley Contractor on his highboy 32 5w with 331 Cad motor. Warren had bought all new parts inside from Olds dealer back in the day, like 1st/rev slider, syncro, bearings etc. Harley then swapped shift levers with a old-school modded 37 Buick that I had (from a New Jersey deal on two 37s), that is classic "heat & bent in several directions" which does look so freaking perfect on that build.

    I really miss this stuff...but I prefer driving them instead now. I only have one 37 open drive/Olds left to assemble here, for that local 30 Chevy w/303.

    It sucks that ADNapco must have lost his 37 Buick/ & Olds Rocket stuff in the recent Paradise fire, according to Walt, VTwhead :(

    Walt and I sure had good fun at the Olds Farm, Eh Walt? He was right there when I dug down to some more transmissions, one was a 37 LaS with 50 Olds conversion that he then bought. I know I got another 50 trans in pieces that day. (I sound like some old fart reminiscing the good old days here):( actually, I am:(
    .
     
  15. dan griffin
    Joined: Dec 25, 2009
    Posts: 481

    dan griffin
    Member

    Its time to talk about the rear axle. 39=52 Olds and 39=56 Pont. These are 120 HP units.The ring and pinion are plenty strong but axle shafts and housing are the weak but fixable. If your going to run some real HP their are 3 up grades you need to make. A 56 Pont. rear U joint,57-58 Olds axles 29 spline, reinforce the housing. The stock axle is 10 spline so the core of the axle is to small 57-58 are29 spline. Olds-Pont. side gears are the same size 39-64,so 57-58 29 tooth will fit in the carrier.In larage the hole in the carrier about .100 and the 57 Olds axle will slide in. Olds axle is shorter than Pont. Pont. was wide track. The housing will bend toeing in the rear wheels. Take a 2x6 square tube and make a brace across the back of the housing. Stick shift 8 cyl. Pont. have lower gears then 6 bangers.

    k
     
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  16. amazing wealth of knowledge here on the HAMB as always. Good info Dan!
     
  17. jebbesen
    Joined: Aug 18, 2015
    Posts: 494

    jebbesen
    Member
    from Winona, MN

    Dan, you are the man! I love reading your posts or talking to you on the phone. This kind of info is the stuff that can only be learned from guys who were there at the time and had lots of parts available to experiment with. Thanks for sharing!
     
  18. HotRodMicky
    Joined: Oct 14, 2001
    Posts: 1,768

    HotRodMicky
    Member


    Hi Frank,

    I am from Germany and we made the deal, for sure.

    Maybe i mixed it up with my closed drive 37 buick that i am useing at the moment

    I have to look in the Garage, but
    If you are sure its an offy , then its an offy
     
  19. jebbesen
    Joined: Aug 18, 2015
    Posts: 494

    jebbesen
    Member
    from Winona, MN

    My newly arrived Offy adapter bell. Need to remove the bearing retainer yet before I can trial fit it. @thunderbirdesq
    20181216_205706.jpg 20181216_205752.jpg
     
    Last edited: Dec 17, 2018
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  20. Sixhundred sixteen
    Joined: Nov 2, 2012
    Posts: 37

    Sixhundred sixteen
    Member
    from Utah

    For the record: I now of at least one other guy besides myself who loves the gear whine of these transmissions; I've ran these units since the early 1960's.
     
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  21. jebbesen
    Joined: Aug 18, 2015
    Posts: 494

    jebbesen
    Member
    from Winona, MN

    I'm looking forward to messing with this one. Mine will stay closed drive but I want to machine up a slip jointed torque ball setup almost like vintage sprint cars ran. I'm gonna start out with the 36 gears; if they give me any trouble I'll look into fitting later ones. It's interesting to look at how the tooth profiles changed between the early ones and the later selector gears. 1st gear especially went from a blocky tooth profile to a much more chisel shaped tooth. I would imagine that they mesh easier and are stronger under torque.
     
  22. Sixhundred sixteen
    Joined: Nov 2, 2012
    Posts: 37

    Sixhundred sixteen
    Member
    from Utah

    >Just a note regarding my experiences with these transmissions. Out of all the '37 - '38 units I've had there was no problem with installing later gears in them or the need to modify forks. HOWEVER, you cannot use the later gears from the 40's &^ 50's in a '36 case because there is not enough room for the reverse idler. ( Years ago, in a pinch, I ran a '36 case; for nearly 4 months I had to get by without reverse gear.
     
  23. jebbesen
    Joined: Aug 18, 2015
    Posts: 494

    jebbesen
    Member
    from Winona, MN

    @Sixhundred sixteen Another guy told me that too. Do 37 and 38 gearsets fit? Is the idler gear too long or larger diameter? So you're saying the main gears and cluster fit though?
    I've also been told that if you want to run later gears that the 2/3 fork needs to be 37 or 38? Did the center ring on the synchro change diameter, is that why?
     
  24. jebbesen
    Joined: Aug 18, 2015
    Posts: 494

    jebbesen
    Member
    from Winona, MN

    Looking at a 36 vs a 37 case it looks like the 37 case has a slight bulge near the reverse idler gear. So it must be a diameter difference?

    1936 case that Walt sent me a pic of-
    case2.jpg

    1937 that Paul posted-
    rps20170417_044034_641.jpg.c95432a35b150a60d00301f99d9350c6.jpg
     

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