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Your opinion on the ford cruise-o-matic?

Discussion in 'The Hokey Ass Message Board' started by malaguena, Dec 19, 2011.

  1. So im looking at picking up a 1962 truck with the six banger with the auto attached. Ive run several of these sixes over the years and liked them. Just never a cruise-o-matic.

    So were these decent? I cant seem to find much on them.
  2. Mr. Edsel
    Joined: Dec 11, 2011
    Posts: 12

    Mr. Edsel

    Around the traditional LA Ford cultures, automatics are known as "boat anchors" or "big oily doorstops". That means they demand a lot of attention and don't give much back... except limited service life and huge overhaul bills. A typical 60's aluminum-cased Cruise-O-Matic, with minimal care, might live to 70M miles before groaning for attention.

    IMHO, if ever there was a 100% perfect automatic transmission, it was the 1951-57 cast iron, air-cooled Fordomatics. With three forward speeds these indestructible workhorses would outlast the entire car. It was only when they cheapened them with water cooling lines, aluminum cases, and missing front pumps did they have a shorter (and more expensive) life expectancy.
  3. JEM
    Joined: Feb 6, 2007
    Posts: 1,041


    I don't know specifically what was used in the 6cyl trucks, but the Cruiseomatics used in the Galaxies of that vintage were a perfectly good transmission.

    In terms of design they outlasted their replacements - the iron Cruiseomatic begat the aluminum FMX, which begat the AOD, which begat the AOD-E/4R70W. The evolved C6, the E4OD/4R100, was never used in a car, and the C4 went away decades ago.

    The biggest problem with the iron Cruiseomatics now is parts availability. All the iron Cruiseomatics were similar in basic design, but the transmissions used with 390s and up in passenger-car applications had different clutch-pack arrangements. Do not know what the trucks got.
    Last edited: Dec 19, 2011
  4. JEM
    Joined: Feb 6, 2007
    Posts: 1,041


    Oh, you mean the ones that were guaranteed to overheat if you didn't regularly clean the leaves, needles, mud, etc. out of the cooling intake?

    Further, the actual heat-transfer area between the air and the oil (which is what needs to be cooled) was limited to the torque converter shell. There's a reason no subsequent passenger-car automatics have been air-cooled, even though it's cheaper to build them that way.

  5. amx180mph
    Joined: May 11, 2011
    Posts: 156


    I drove a 59 Thunderbird with a cruise-o-matic for 190,000 miles with out a lick of trouble. Like anything maintenance is critical on a automatic. I do not know what a" LA Ford culture" is but this redneck from Colorado has had a lot of Ford automatics in the past 40 years with few problems. If it leaks then fix the leak just like an engine it has seals and gaskets to hold in the fluid.

    I know only of one problem with it is that you cannot shift into forward drive while the car is rolling backwards over 5 MPH. Doing so can damage the case.

    Parts are available from these guys
  6. outlaw256
    Joined: Jun 26, 2008
    Posts: 2,023


    my 62 galaxie is my daily driver.its got 78400 on her now. i drive her everywhere. 352 with a cruise a matic. love it shifts good dont slip.leaks alittle but it sat up for almost 30yrs.i havent even gotten aroud to changing the trans filter yet. i will i just havent. oh yea ive been drivin it for 2 yrs EVERWHERE.
  7. slickhale
    Joined: Dec 19, 2010
    Posts: 759

    from Phoenix

    the common problem area on a cruise o matic is the cast iron center section cracking, as long as the case is solid they're a good trans. i had one in my galaxie that was 50yrs old and never been into, it worked perfect. dont forget to start out in the green dot:)
  8. I got one in my '62 Comet mated to a 200 c.i. six.

    The common problems with these are flexplates like to crack around where they bolt to the converter, parts are a little tough to get, metal screen for a filter, you gotta run type F fluid, like someone else here said, DO NOT let the vehicle roll in back at any speed and throw it in drive or vice versa! That's a good way to crack the flexplates on them or break other parts inside 'em, I say this from experience.
    It helps if you warm 'em up to...

    I had the front pump seal on mine go out back 2005 when I was driving it daily, it was weird, I was getting on the freeway onramp, slowly got in the throttle, tranny slipped, smelled the fluid, pulled over, shut the car off right away, by then it was still too late, had to rebuild the whole trans.. But since I had it rebuilt, I've had no problems with it, and I've put A LOT of miles on it since then...
  9. greg ducato
    Joined: Oct 19, 2011
    Posts: 29

    greg ducato

    If the trans is a two speed aluminum affair it is the old 2 speed cruisomatic, not really a bad trans, but not really robust or desireable either. These were discontinued once the C4 came out in 1964 so parts are pretty scarce. If it has a cast iron main body and aluminum bellhousing and tail then it is the small or medium cased cruisomatic, which are a three forward speed transmission and fairly robust in construction and pretty durable. These get kind of a bad rap from "rebuilders" of the era that did not understand them and were ham fisted in their attempts to repair and adjust them. Either way, you will be ok behind a mild 6 cylinder driver.
  10. Well it sounds as if these were decent, but not great either. But since its already in the truck, seems to shift fine, i think ill keep it and eventually rebuild it. Im certainly not planning on using this truck as a truck anymore, more as just something to run around the town in.
  11. BootleggerMatt
    Joined: Aug 17, 2011
    Posts: 258


    Pros cons... IMHO

    My '64 galaxie has a cruise-o-matic with a 352 and 70k miles and probably one filter change (the one I did) and shifts perfectly... and does badass burnouts... and the cool thing is you can actually push start the car if you get it rolling and throw it down into first... since it has two pumps.

    If my cruise-o-matic ever stops, I don't know what I'm gonna do. I don't know much about automatics so I'd have to take it to a shop and I've heard a lot of shops wont touch it or mess it up when they do because they try to put C4 parts into it.
  12. Mr. Edsel
    Joined: Dec 11, 2011
    Posts: 12

    Mr. Edsel

    [QUOTE: If the trans is a two speed aluminum affair it is the old 2 speed cruisomatic...]

    With all due respect, there is no "2-speed Cruisomatic". All Fordomatics were deemed 2-speeds, despite having the optional 3rd passing gear. Or put another way, two forward from a normal shart and three forward from a rapid start.

    The 3-speed Cruisomatic first appeared in 1958, optional with FE motors. The second generation Fordomatics first appeard in 1959, losing the 3rd gear. Good economical transmission but little else to recommend it.

    The worst thing with "boat anchors" is they're like fresh seafood: no matter what happens, they're eventually going to go bad.

    Manual transmissions - besides being more economical, versatile, safer and more reliable - will (given minimal care) last indefinitely.
    Last edited: Dec 21, 2011
  13. Mr. Edsel
    Joined: Dec 11, 2011
    Posts: 12

    Mr. Edsel

    [QUOTE: There's a reason no subsequent passenger-car automatics have been air-cooled, even though it's cheaper to build them that way. QUOTE]

    Wouldn't have anything to do with shorter life = more frequent trips to the dealer, would it?

  14. Mr. Edsel
    Joined: Dec 11, 2011
    Posts: 12

    Mr. Edsel

    [QUOTE: Oh, you mean the ones that were guaranteed to overheat if you didn't regularly clean the leaves, needles, mud, etc. out of the cooling intake?]

    Guess we lived where we didn't park under leaves, needles, mud, etc.
  15. JEM
    Joined: Feb 6, 2007
    Posts: 1,041


    Y'know, it's kinda funny.

    I've owned a bunch of water-cooled slushboxes, including couple Cruiseomatics, a C4, a couple TH350s, a Borg-Warner 35, a Borg-Warner 37, an Aisin-Warner AW-something, a ZF 4HP18 (a transmission with a HORRIBLE reputation), a ZF 4HP22, a couple ZF 5HP24s, a couple 4L80Es, and probably others I can't think of right now.

    The only one that ever broke was whatever Nissan used in the '92 Infiniti Q45 we had; it was a very strong transmission but grossly undercooled and we blew two of 'em (Nissan extended warranty more than paid for itself) in the time we had the car (by which time my wife had had enough.) Had I thought through the problem at the time an external cooler and readily-available first-gear-start software (Nissan had the things set up to start in second gear like a Benz of the day, bad idea) it'd have probably lasted a long time.

    I've never broken any of the others while I owned the vehicle, and none have ever broken before 110K (the reason I use that number is that I currently own a 4L80E and a 5HP24 at 110K. which I hope last a bunch longer, and a 5HP24 at 170K.)

    The only one to see any track time was the 4HP18 in a bit of road-course use.

    Now, mind you, some of 'em were not what I'd call well-behaved. The Borg-Warners in particular were clunky, sluggish old things and the 4-speed ZFs had utterly crappy kickdown behavior.

    But with regular fluid and filter changes they've all held up just fine (he says, crossing fingers.)
    Last edited: Dec 21, 2011
  16. dawford
    Joined: Apr 25, 2010
    Posts: 498


    My Father bought 3 1965 Ford 1/2 ton pu trucks with 352 V8's and Cruse-O-Matic transmissions for his contractor business.

    Those trucks were bullet proof.

    They were abused for 150,000 miles or more and never had any transmission problems.

    I ultimately bought the one that my uncle had and drove the wheels off it, literally.

    The rear end got bent early on when the son of a supply company owner dropped a ton of sand in it from about 6 feet above the bed.

    A set of wheel bearings and an axle bolster were soon installed.

    About 125,000 miles later I was driving it when an axle came loose. I jacked it up and drove the axle back in with a 2 lb hammer and replaced the rear end with one from junk yard.

    That was the only mechanical problem we experienced from all 3 of those trucks.

    The transmissions were seldom serviced and were still very dependable.

    Dick :) :) :)
    lothiandon1940 likes this.
  17. I've had a few in '63-64 Fords and they were very good and always shifted nicely. They are also easy to rebuild, although I don't know how available some of the hard parts (outside of the rebuild kit) are.

    Joined: Sep 7, 2008
    Posts: 242

    I bought my 64 galaxie in 1994, never had any issuess with cruise-o-matic, stil shifting nicely.
  19. Heo2
    Joined: Aug 9, 2011
    Posts: 661


    Have a mediumcase behind a 390 in my Galaxie
    rebuilt it 25 years ago still no problem
    The best auto i ever owned
  20. Y Block ECZ
    Joined: Apr 5, 2012
    Posts: 26

    Y Block ECZ

    Just with everything. You got to keep up with oil changes. I had mine for 12 plus years and the new owner still driving it worry free. Its built to be a good street driver and mild performer. Take care of it and it will take care of you
  21. mikhett
    Joined: Jan 22, 2005
    Posts: 1,409

    from jackson nj

    Ive got one in my 62 gal xl.Had it rebuilt cause it was leaking.that was 5 yrs ago.Still runnin strong.The rebuild was done on a bench(i pulled it out threw it in my truck) n brought it to a guy who worked for fisher transmission fairfield nj.Cost me 700.00.
  22. I have a cruise-o in my 59 Skyliner behind a 352FE. Rebuilt it ONLY because it was already out when I did the engine, a "while I'm in there" thing. Inside looked like new without extra pieces or anything beyond the normal 50+ years of stuff in it. Shifts well and as with anything, maintenance is they key.
  23. mickeyc
    Joined: Jul 8, 2008
    Posts: 1,077


    I drove a 56 f-100 for many years with a 272 and a cruise-o-maitic.
    It was a three speed and low gear was like a granny in an early stick shift truck. You had to pull it down into low manually. I used it as a power glide type tranny with low-2 and drive. I used this truck, well like a truck.
    It was very reliable and hauled many a load off shrimp and ice with it.
    The ultra low was great for pulling boats out of the water.
  24. d2_willys
    Joined: Sep 8, 2007
    Posts: 4,109

    from Kansas

    Early Chevy Nova Powerglides (with 153 and 194 engines) were air cooled. Since these were used in 1962, I would consider them subsequent to something used back in the early 50's.

    Oh, and one other tidbit, guess what, most single and dual range hydramatics used in passenger cars were AIR COOLED. Pretty damn reliable transmission.
  25. edswope
    Joined: Jan 26, 2014
    Posts: 3


    new subscriber
    please advise if any one knows why cruiseo-omatic in
    my 63 tbird will not shift into3rd gear till 35to 40 mph

    1 changed modulator three times
    2 had vacuum checked it was good
    3replaced valve in power brake booster
    4had tranny rebuilt by two different shops
    any other suggestions thanks
  26. daily_driver
    Joined: Jan 5, 2009
    Posts: 152


    It would be better to open a new thread on your topic.

    However, the problem you are having is probably just an issue with the kickdown linkage or cable. Try adjusting it a little tighter and test to see if it shifts sooner. If you stand on the throttle does it shift up sooner? 35-40 doesn't seem that bad, that's typically when mine shifts into third in my truck.-dd

    Posted using the Full Custom H.A.M.B. App!
  27. edswope
    Joined: Jan 26, 2014
    Posts: 3


    thanks will check linkage
  28. jamesgr81
    Joined: Feb 3, 2008
    Posts: 265


    Ford six and Cruise-O-Matic? Together those things will last for ever. The Cruise-O-Matic was a nice little transmission that worked just fine, no good if your engine had a lot of major HP, but for millions of Mustangs and Fairlanes it was what you had. Beats hell out of the old Ford-O-Matic.
    Wiley1905 likes this.
  29. jukeman
    Joined: May 1, 2013
    Posts: 14


    I have a 62 merc monterey and it has a cruise o matic mx transmission i had it rebuilt 4 years ago from a shop the guy was an old timer that was experance in the old transmission since rebuilt it has never right it spent more being worked on than driven sometimes it would hang in park and not come out other times it would slip i believe i have drove the car maybe 20 hours or less in all that time..did i get a lymon of a transmission is there any way to use some c4 parts in my transmission to make it last or what transmission can i use that will fit without changing a lot of parts my motor is a 390 4 bbl the transmission is a 3 speed dual range ..thanks
  30. I built my first Cruisomatic in 1970. They are well designed and, under normal circumstances, a very good transmission. It appears these trannys are a mystery to many these days. I know 'em pretty well. I saw a question about interchangeability of parts. C-6, C-4, and Cast Iron transmission's parts are not interchangeable. Yes they are a bit heavy for a three speed unit, but most transmissions from that era were heavy. I've skimmed through the above comments, seeing good info and some not so good. If anyone needs parts for one of these, I have quite a few parts on the shelf, as well as a couple of cores. Putting this trans into Low or Reverse with the engine idling too high can crack the case across the bolt hole where the reverse servo bolts on. That was their main weak point. I'm in the middle of doing an overhaul on a medium case unit from a '57 T-Bird. Fun stuff. It is in excellent condition except for the rubber. If I were going racing, I'd opt for a C-6.

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