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El Camino Through the Glass

Fixing the Powerglide

Bench Racing

by Ryan King

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The El Camino's return is taking shape — well, the plan, at any rate.

One of the critical elements of this plan is rebuilding the Powerglide that's in it.

I don't know what's wrong exactly, it could be anything from the filter being clogged to the front pump being toast, but the pump lost its prime a long time ago and when it was moved into its current storage space, it wasn't under its own power — the torque converter wouldn't transfer any.

Even if the problem were simple like the front seal being worn or stiff and I was able to replace it and get the front pump and torque converter primed and functioning again, at this point, with its age, several factors could also be contributing, making drain back a serious issue going forward.

As one of my planned uses for the El Camino is hitting the open road, the last thing I need to have happen is to get up one morning out in the middle of nowhere and not be able to get the Old Cruck going again.

That means I need to rebuild the 2-speed slush box.

I've never rebuilt an automatic transmission, but I am extremely familiar with their design, function, and construction — at least the Ford C4.

I'm less familiar with the GM Powerglide.

That's okay, though, because I'm braver than I should be and totally willing to take on this job — actually, it's more that I'm not willing to let anyone else touch it because I want to make sure everything is done just right and that every component that can be saved, will be saved.

Plus, even if I got it working as is, I don't really know how many miles are on this thing and it may be time for a rebuild anyway.

To that end, I've picked up a copy of the only enthusiast-oriented book on the Powerglide I could find, the Powerglide Transmission Handbook by Carl H. Munroe, from HP Books. It's been a long time since I've read an HP Books' title and I've never reviewed one, but all that's changed as you can now find my review of this publication in the Book Reviews section. If you've got a Powerglide rebuild in your future, you can check it out to see if this book will help.

Until next week, keep your eyes peeled and your foot on the gas — only up to the speed limit of course, unless the speed limit is too fast for the situation, then do whatever is safest, but keep your eyes peeled, definitely.

Oh, and regardless of how fast you're driving, the car shouldn't be going sideways — apparently that's not considered safe enough for some folks.


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