Thread Number: 63374  /  Tag: Other Home Products or Autos
1950 Plymouth
[Down to Last]'s exclusive eBay Watch:
scroll >>> for more items
Post# 859556   1/2/2016 at 00:19 (2,530 days old) by Stan (Napa CA)        

stan's profile picture
This has been a daily driver for some years, (not to far, or passed 55mph) and I've been nursing a clutch for a long time
(slips in third gear when climing)
Without warning (no noise) she decided not to let me shift into second gear.. I coasted to the side of the road with clutch in with shift in neutral position. When I came to a stop, I let up on the clutch (shift still in neutral) felt as though she was moving but like from second? Weird!
While still stopped, I shifted to first, and let up on clutch, felt as though she want to go but that something was stoping the rear wheels from turning. Now gear shift is stuck in first gear position. The really weird thing is that while the clutch is in, she can't be pushed, rear wheels won't move. But also seems to start with clutch in with out learching forward??
Tried rocking it back and forth, tried crawling under to see if I could get shifter pins loose or something but it's cold greasy and I'm not up to a chalange right now. So called a tow truck (had to be towed from the front) to the mechanic. He'll take a look Tuesday.
Any ideas as to this very strange incident.
Could it be as simple as a shifter linkage? Or loosing a cotter pin? Or ..

  View Full Size

Post# 859558 , Reply# 1   1/2/2016 at 00:39 (2,530 days old) by ea56 (Cotati, Calif.)        

ea56's profile picture
Maybe the clutch linkage broke? I used to have a 71' Maverick with 3 on the tree. Back in 1983 I was in Santa Rosa and stopped at a red light with the clutch in. When the light turned green I let up on the clutch , but it stayed on the floor. I didn't know what to do so I just pressed down on the acelerator and the car moved forward in 1st gear. So when the engine sounded like it was time to shift to 2nd I made the shift, without the clutch! Surprisingly, I was able to drive all the way home to Petaluma this way, about 18 miles, shifting through all three gears as needed! And believe it or not the gears barely even had any grinding noise. The next day I drove to my mechanic and had the linkage repaired. He told me that since I knew how to shift at the right engine speed, thats why I was able to drive home without the clutch. I will say that it sure seemed strange to drive like this without using the clutch, but I guess necessity is the Mother of invention. And thankfully, my little Maverick was no worse for the wear.

This post was last edited 01/02/2016 at 01:14
Post# 859560 , Reply# 2   1/2/2016 at 01:01 (2,530 days old) by rp2813 (Sannazay)        

rp2813's profile picture

I can't say it's exactly the same, but it sounds a lot like what happened to Dave in the '50 GMC once.   The Jimmy has a column shift, and I presume the Plymouth does as well.


I don't know what Dave did, but the linkage was jammed up like typewriter keys and wouldn't even budge when I attempted to manipulate the column-to-transmission connecting rods by hand under the hood (something that has always quickly cleared similar but less severe trouble in the past).


The truck had to be towed, but it indeed turned out to be nothing more than the linkage that needed to be freed up.  The mechanic gave Dave a lesson in how the transmission wanted to be shifted.  I used to cringe whenever he was behind the wheel of the Jimmy because of the way he murdered the entire drive train.  I've been driving that truck since 1971 and when I'm behind the wheel it's like an extension of myself.


I'm not sure what to make of the Plymouth starting but also not budging with the clutch disengaged, but it makes me think the clutch is not the problem.  I think you're on the right track and should for sure check the linkage to see if it has gotten sloppy or a component has failed.  I hope it's an easy fix like you're thinking it might be.  Keep us posted.



Post# 859594 , Reply# 3   1/2/2016 at 09:06 (2,529 days old) by mayken4now (Winchester, VA)        

mayken4now's profile picture

Shift Linkage all the way.  Now, you can take a look under the hood and manually if you know how, put it in a gear such as first and drive it home very slowly and do not attempt to change gears via the shift.  Then have the linkage fixed.  Let us know how it works for you..................

Post# 859604 , Reply# 4   1/2/2016 at 09:40 (2,529 days old) by sudsmaster (California)        

sudsmaster's profile picture

It could also be seized up rear brakes, or seized up parking brake.


Post# 859633 , Reply# 5   1/2/2016 at 13:25 (2,529 days old) by wayupnorth (On a lake between Bangor and Bar Harbor, Maine)        

wayupnorth's profile picture
We had a 51 Plymouth as a second car for years. I remember the clutch and brake pedals went thru the floor, under the car and the transmission was not a synchromesh, as you had to be at a complete stop to shift into first without gears grinding. Most annoying thing about the car was single speed wipers (think extra slow). I dont believe that engine could power the car over 55 mph.

Post# 859648 , Reply# 6   1/2/2016 at 16:12 (2,529 days old) by Supersuds (Knoxville, Tenn.)        

supersuds's profile picture
Plymouths, like all cars of that era, had synchomesh on second and third but not first. The theory was that you wouldn't need to shift to first unless you were at a complete stop. After 1940, IIRC, Plymouth's second gear ratio was 1.83 to 1, and a lot of people just started in second all the time anyway.

Ford brought out an all-synchro 3 speed in 1963 or thereabouts, and even sold them to GM.

Post# 859650 , Reply# 7   1/2/2016 at 17:01 (2,529 days old) by LordKenmore (The Laundry Room)        

lordkenmore's profile picture
Nice Plymouth! I love the color.

A high school classmate had a Plymouth from IIRC the early 1950s. He loved that car, and claimed that someone once smashed into him at a stop sign. The Plymouth emerged pretty much unscathed. The other car, however, suffered significant damage. Other memory: Chrysler at that time had a special key with IIRC a crystal-like Chrysler emblem. My classmate swore the key would probably work on his car, and thought seriously of getting that modern key blank cut for his car.

Post# 859656 , Reply# 8   1/2/2016 at 17:40 (2,529 days old) by Artcurus (Odessa)        
Unless it's a 58

Nahh, but that Pontiac behind it would be a nice score also.

Post# 859661 , Reply# 9   1/2/2016 at 18:19 (2,529 days old) by Stan (Napa CA)        
Hi guys

stan's profile picture
No news yet as it sits at the mechanic til Tuesday.
Seized up parking brake is what it feels like, however, while driving a moment before this happened, it didn't want to shift into second, and I didn't want to force it, so coasted to the side of the road in neutral with clutch in. None of it makes sense to me. No noise, no grinding, no warning!
@John.. The color is what Plymouth called Channel Green.
Syncro on second, but I don't use it much.
@Tim.. Engine will power passed 55mph but I've never felt comfortable traveling at that speed in it. No updated brakes ect.
Wipers do have more than one speed, but if the vacuum motor is worn, or if there a small leak, then you just get slow. While in third gear, if there is sudden acceleration, the wipers will momentarily stop or slow. (Normal) I've changed wiper motor on it once, kind of a PITA I took the cowl vent out to access it to avoid laying in my back
It's a quirky old thing

Post# 859668 , Reply# 10   1/2/2016 at 18:49 (2,529 days old) by wayupnorth (On a lake between Bangor and Bar Harbor, Maine)        

wayupnorth's profile picture
Stan, My parents 51 Plymouth had electric wipers with the on-off switch right in the top middle center hard metal dashboard of the 2 piece windshield and they were super slow. I remember my father saying, look, we have a new car as it rolled over 100,000 miles to 0 but it was still the same old car and he eventually sold it for $75. My mother hated that car because it was a standard and no power steering. Mother drove the nice station wagon.

Post# 859675 , Reply# 11   1/2/2016 at 19:56 (2,529 days old) by sudsmaster (California)        

sudsmaster's profile picture

I actually have two 1950 Plymouth four door sedans. One runs and ready to go at any time. The other one was bought with a frozen motor and is basically a donor car, although the body is very straight with little rust.


I have on occasion driven off with the parking brake lightly engaged, only to find that as it heats up it will very suddenly bring the car to a screeching halt. It works by compressing an asbestos cloth lined steel band around a drum on the driveshaft. at the rear of the transmission.


I actually tore down and rebuilt a spare '50 Plymouth transmission in a manual transmission class about five years ago. These are very simple transmissions, and relatively easy to take apart and put back together. I suppose something internal could have busted preventing proper shifting, in addition to problems with the external linkage.


I assuming you keep it topped up with gear oil...


Never had any problems with it that I could trace to the external linkage, though. Shifting into reverse can be a little balky, probably the reverse gear has some chewed up teeth, which is common in an older manual. There is only one synchro ring in these trannies, aiding the downshift from third to second. No synchro is needed to shift from 1st to second, as I recall. And yes, the car can start on a level surface in second, no problem. 1st is very low but helpful for very steep hills. In which case it's usually advisable to shift into 1st before entering the grade. LOL.



As far as top speed goes, these engines redline at 3600 rpm, which translates to about 65 mph. However I do try to keep it under 60 on the freeway. The cars themselves handle relatively well considering their era, but the skinny rims and stock tires do limit cornering. The steering box is relatively low effort with lots of turns and a wide diameter steering wheel.


One can probably find a replacement used transmission at a vintage car wrecker, or on eBay. They are easy to pull and replace, if you have a transmission jack.


The runner 50 has a vacuum wiper system and a vacuum booster pump running off the same cam that powers the fuel pump. It is infinitely adjustable in speed, although usually a slow speed is preferred as it can go nuts when compression braking downhill. I find vacuum wipers to be highly entertaining.

Post# 859676 , Reply# 12   1/2/2016 at 20:23 (2,529 days old) by ovrphil (N.Atlanta / Georgia )        

ovrphil's profile picture
It's pretty, Stan. I remember counting cars that were of this era, on Coolidge Hwy, in my home town, when traffic in the early 60's was so light, you had to wait a long time to get a string of seven cars. Your car brings back a lot of different memories, of the men and times that drove these. Hope it isn't a big cost or you can find a reasonable solution to repair it.


Post# 859696 , Reply# 13   1/2/2016 at 22:24 (2,529 days old) by rp2813 (Sannazay)        

rp2813's profile picture

Stan, you already know this, but one thing is for certain.  The way to keep cars like this in proper working order is to drive them.  The reason my GMC still starts right up and drives reasonably well is because it has never sat idle for more than maybe a month since it was new.

Post# 859706 , Reply# 14   1/2/2016 at 23:31 (2,529 days old) by Stan (Napa CA)        
Gear oil!

stan's profile picture
It's been over a year since that's been checked! Thanks for the reminder Sudsmaster.
I'll be so embarrassed if this was a self inflicted wound!

Post# 859709 , Reply# 15   1/3/2016 at 00:10 (2,529 days old) by sudsmaster (California)        

sudsmaster's profile picture

Well, unless you've noticed a major gear oil stain under the car, I'm guessing it's probably OK, but it doesn't hurt to check.


Come to think of it, I haven't checked mine for probably about five years now. At least.


And no, while I used to drive it daily, back in the 90's, I decided around 2003 to give it a rest and drive it maybe 3-4 times a year, to car shows or just to limber her up. Doesn't seem to hurt, but I do keep it garaged. Most recent repair has been to starter solenoid, which on this vehicle is conveniently located bolted to the side of the engine compartment just above the driver side wheel well. Near the battery. The old one, probably the one that came with the car in 1950, was sticking in the ON position, so it wouldn't stop spinning the starter even after the ignition key was turned to on instead of start. Revving the motor usually would flick the starter off, but I don't like revving a cold motor. A whack with a hammer worked to, but that was a temporary measure. Found a serviceable new one online for about $25 and it works fine. Just doesn't look as ancient as the original (bakelite bottom case instead of all metal case).


These old cars are sort of hard to kill. The motors are simple, low compression, low HP (98) very torquey, etc. They will run with scored cylinders (don't ask), burnt valves, etc. Probably would run on diesel as well. It's a basic motor design that Chrysler debuted in 1924. Downsized for the Plymouth around 1930 and gradually updated. The motor stayed in production cars until the late 1950's when the slant-six came along, and was still produced and used in various industrial settings like fork lifts for decades more.


The one aspect that is annoying is getting a smooth clutch release. The "Floating Power" feature lets the motor rock too much and then the clutch grabs and shudders. If the FP motor mounts are tightened up the shuddering is reduced or goes away, but then there is too much motor vibration transmitted to the frame. I've tried all sorts of mount settings, nothing really resolves the problem. Talked to other owners with the same experience. I know it's not me because the '67 Chevy Van with MT has silkly smooth (well, sort of) clutch engagement. I even tried replacing the clutch and resurfaced flywheel (twice), no luck. It's got a 10 inch clutch in it now, so it never slips.


Sometimes starting in second is the answer. It's enough to make one want a fluid clutch, until one remembers how much power those things sapped.


Post# 859712 , Reply# 16   1/3/2016 at 00:39 (2,529 days old) by Stan (Napa CA)        
Hi Rich

stan's profile picture
I've never noticed a shutter..
Still have original solenoid, no problems (yet) I do get some vibration at highway speed's but thought it may be U Joint ware ect, but now you got me thinking.
The only oil leak I've got is a rear main seal (dribble) that's been leaking for years. Something I thought would best be changed when the clutch went out. Just didn't want that all to be now!
Temp gage went out last summer (worn or broken tube) Another "lay on ur back" under the dash job.

Post# 859715 , Reply# 17   1/3/2016 at 01:01 (2,529 days old) by rp2813 (Sannazay)        
Topping off gear oil

rp2813's profile picture

The transmission on the GMC had a drip from the filler plug for quite a while, but not to the point of leaving obvious evidence on the driveway.  I'd just notice it when I was under the truck for other reasons.


For years, after sitting at a red light in neutral with the clutch disengaged, when the light turned green and I'd depress the clutch I'd get grinding that would wind down over a period of five or ten seconds as I attempted to engage first gear.  I got used to it and knew to anticipate it.


Then a year or two ago the transmission was getting noisy and it sounded like an old milk truck.  I decided to check the gear oil level and add some if necessary.  It took well over a pint!


The milk truck noise was gone and the grinding issue cleared up too.  Now the light turns green and off we (relatively) quietly go.  I made sure the filler plug was good and tight when I replaced it.


It's worth topping off the gear oil before investigating the linkage.

Post# 859716 , Reply# 18   1/3/2016 at 01:01 (2,529 days old) by dartman (Portland Oregon)        

The flathead 6 was used till about 1960 in trucks and I think 59 in cars. However they were used in military trucks and forklifts and industrial stuff like that till 68.
I had a 50 Dodge Coronet with a Fluid Drive 4 speed semi automatic. It had 2 speeds low, 2 speeds high and a clutch plus a torque converter so you could roll to a stop and leave it in gear with the clutch out. I believe you could change gears but maybe had to use the clutch going low to high.
I never got it running even though the motor was free and also had a 41 Power Wagon then that did run and drive.
Mine was a 4 door sedan but sure was a cool old tank and the front suspension was fully independent similar to modern cars and pretty sure it even had a sway bar so might be why they drive better then you'd think such a old beast should.
Pretty sure they got lousy mpg but gas was dirt cheap back then so nobody cared. The 41 got 9 mpg loaded or empty.

Post# 859719 , Reply# 19   1/3/2016 at 01:26 (2,529 days old) by Stan (Napa CA)        
Thanks Ralph

stan's profile picture
I'll check!
Terry, I've never paid a lot of attention to gas milage with this old girl, but I know it dose better than 9 mpg! Interestingvaboutvthr fluid drive..I always thought that with fluid drive you still had to use the safety clutch to go in reverse, and into first? Never have drivin one!

Post# 859755 , Reply# 20   1/3/2016 at 09:55 (2,528 days old) by sudsmaster (California)        

sudsmaster's profile picture

As I recall on long trips I have averaged about 20 mpg in the four door '50 Plymouth. Like any standard (non-hybrid) car, mileage plummets in stop and go traffic, or around town.


I do recall getting better mileage before California started adulterating the gas with MTBE and, later, ethanol.


Post# 859796 , Reply# 21   1/3/2016 at 12:18 (2,528 days old) by cfz2882 (Belle Fourche,SD)        
plymouth flathead six...

...was copied by the Russians and used in some of their military trucks-a 4 cyl version of same basic design was also made by the Russians-Cubans discovered parts from the Russian engines work on the vintage American engines,though metric threads on the Russian parts :)Two of my vehicles with external linkage manual transmissions-'68 c10 and '82 z28- developed a habit of jamming in two gears at once if shifted "wrong"on the pickup,would have to get out and pull on the linkage rods(3 on the tree)until it popped free-on the z28,would have to slip partway under that low-slung machine and pull the shift rods...Worn/misadjusted linkage was the cause with both vehicles.

Post# 859824 , Reply# 22   1/3/2016 at 16:00 (2,528 days old) by LordKenmore (The Laundry Room)        

lordkenmore's profile picture
>As I recall on long trips I have averaged about 20 mpg in the four door '50 Plymouth.

Doesn't seem that bad all things considered. I've had newer 4 cylinder cars that barely got maybe mid 20s MPG range. Yesterday, I rode in someone's Subaru, which was getting about 21 MPG on a trip that was mostly highway.

Another thought--and correct me if I'm wrong--but it seems like gas quality would be less of an issue in an old Plymouth. I know I've heard lots of strong suggestions over the years to use Chevron or other high cost gas due to additives that help keep fuel injectors clean. But you don't have fuel injectors to worry about on that old Plymouth. As long as the gas isn't liquid sludge, it SEEMS like anything should be fine.

Post# 859826 , Reply# 23   1/3/2016 at 16:05 (2,528 days old) by norgeway (mocksville n c )        
Top speed 65..NAAAAA

I had a 53 I drove daily for several years, Took it on several trips, it cruised nicely at 65 or 70 with no strain at all, as for brakes, Plymouths of this era had dual wheel cylinders on the front wheels and as long as you can get asbestos brake lining they are the finest brakes you can have, My Grandparents had a 52 and Mom and Dad also had a 53 for many years, Plymouths of this era were fine cars, the only cars on the market with electric wipers, as for top speed, I got in a race once with a guy in a v8 40 Ford, I stayed ahead of him up to about 75, the Ford would do just under 100 in those days, the Plymouth about 90.

Post# 859835 , Reply# 24   1/3/2016 at 16:49 (2,528 days old) by LordKenmore (The Laundry Room)        

lordkenmore's profile picture
> it cruised nicely at 65 or 70 with no strain at all

Never drove a car of that vintage. But I did have a small 4 cylinder Japanese car made ca. 1980. Acceleration was horrible, but had absolutely no problem cruising at 70+. Not bad when one considers it dated to an era when 55 was the top speed in the US, gas economy was a huge concern, etc.

I have no idea what the top speed was. But I can say that when Montana had no speed limit, I hit a speed above what the speedometer could measure in one of the flat parts of that state.

Post# 859836 , Reply# 25   1/3/2016 at 16:52 (2,528 days old) by LordKenmore (The Laundry Room)        

lordkenmore's profile picture
>I got in a race once with a guy in a v8 40 Ford, I stayed ahead of him up to about 75, the Ford would do just under 100 in those days, the Plymouth about 90.

I can't remember for sure, and correct me if I'm wrong... But I have a sense that I might have read that 6 cylinder Fords of some vintage (I'm thinking ca. 1950) actually had better acceleration than the V8 at lower speeds.

Post# 859840 , Reply# 26   1/3/2016 at 16:58 (2,528 days old) by rp2813 (Sannazay)        

rp2813's profile picture

I've had the GMC up to 65, but I don't feel safe going that fast with it on crowded area freeways -- or even empty ones, plus it gets pretty loud in the cab.  It seems to have a sweet spot at around 57, so that's where I tend to top out, and I always keep to the far right lane.


So Stan, what happened to that (flowering cherry?) tree?  Did it get struck by lightning or something?

Post# 859842 , Reply# 27   1/3/2016 at 17:07 (2,528 days old) by ea56 (Cotati, Calif.)        

ea56's profile picture
I'm pretty sure that I've read this too about the 49 to 52 Ford 6's having better low end acceleration than the V-8's in Hemmings Classic Car. I believe that this was due to the 6's having higher low end torque. These older American cars were really a lot of fun to drive and still are, if you're lucky enough to have one. And the 3 spd. column shifts were so easy to drive, provided that the linkage was in good working order. Really very little shifting in most normal driving. I guess I'm just behind the times, but I really am not interested in having a car with a 6 spd. manual. Why would you want to have to shift so much?
Anyway, I sure do appreciate Stan's 50 Plymouth. We had a few of them in my family in the 50's and early 60's and I remember well riding in them. The floors in the backseat were so big that we kid's would play board games and color on the floor while on long drives.

Post# 859844 , Reply# 28   1/3/2016 at 17:13 (2,528 days old) by sudsmaster (California)        
218 Plymouth flathead six top speed

sudsmaster's profile picture

My second engine rebuilder was rather adamant that I not drive the car above 55. He said the motor was never designed for sustained top speeds, and the bearings and rings would wear out quickly if pushed to the limit. I had top components installed the second time around... forged pistons, tri-metal main bearings. And relatively tight tolerances. It doesn't burn any oil after 20 years, so there is that.


The larger Dodge/Desoto/Chrysler 230 and larger flathead sixes can be longer lived, mainly because there's more room in the block to space the cylinders with more meat around them. The 218 block was shortened and hence the cylinders are rather closely packed. This limits the amount of overbore that can be done, and also affects cooling.


Plymouth was the entry level car for Chrysler Corp. It is a good car but certain economies were taken in production. Oddly, it was their smallest car but even the smallest 50 Plymouth today would count as a full-size car.


The rear main seal will always seep a bit. The secret to a less leaky one is to avoid the rubber seals and only use a rope type seal. It won't seal as tightly to begin with but it also won't deteriorate quickly from heat and age like the rubber ones will. And besides, the engine breather tube exits under the chassis, keeping the road oiled anyway.


Post# 859849 , Reply# 29   1/3/2016 at 17:44 (2,528 days old) by LordKenmore (The Laundry Room)        

lordkenmore's profile picture
>I guess I'm just behind the times, but I really am not interested in having a car with a 6 spd. manual. Why would you want to have to shift so much?

I've only had 5 speeds, but I don't find the shifting too bad. Mainly, I guess, it all takes place about the same time when accelerating, so what's an extra shift or two?

Living with a modern 4 speed (used in economy cars) might be more annoying. I had one years back, and it seemed like there were moments when no gear seemed quite right... And I remember looking once at a Toyota truck that had a 4 speed, and wasn't selling. Apparently it was the lack of a 5 speed that was causing it to linger and linger.

Post# 859863 , Reply# 30   1/3/2016 at 18:39 (2,528 days old) by ovrphil (N.Atlanta / Georgia )        

ovrphil's profile picture
I had a 1969 Cougar five-speed. I never got tired of shifting, but then I didn't live in L.A., Atlanta, or any other big city where shifting manually becomes labor-intensive. The older cars are a completely different shifting experience, lol!

1950 - what was the cost of gas? $0.10-15/gallon? :-)

Post# 859905 , Reply# 31   1/4/2016 at 01:07 (2,528 days old) by Stan (Napa CA)        
Rich mentioning the E brake

stan's profile picture
got me thinking.. Aside from the shifter being stuck, the fact that while the car seamed to be in gear, when I let up on the clutch I felt something was holding the rear wheels. So I paid a visit today to where the Plymouth sits and waits for the mechanic.
I knew the e brake wasn't pulled, but when Rich mentioned the e brake, I had to explore.
First thing I did was to gently pull the brake to see if I felt or heard heard anything. Sure enough something feels off. (Thanks Rich)
I started her up and reached for the gear shift and was surprised to find it wasn't stuck anymore? (possible vibration from the tow ride)
So I backed her up a drove her around the block, I was afraid to use first gear for my test, so just started in second. When I got close to turning into where it was parked at the mechanic, I was brave enough to use flrst, second, and third. Shifting seems slightly off somehow?
Without crawling under the car..I'm convinced that somethings up with the e brake, and the shift linkage.
At any rate at least I know that the clutch and transmission is operating! And I will direct the mechanic to the e brake first, then on to the two shifter arms. One of them may have a pin loose or something.
I'm just to pretty too crawl under greasy old cars anymore!
Good to know about the rope type seal Rich, I have one in a box somewhere. boys may find this funny, but when I called for the tow, I had to spell PLYMOUTH to the person who took the call! LOL

Forgive me Ralph.. What Tree?

Post# 859910 , Reply# 32   1/4/2016 at 01:37 (2,528 days old) by Supersuds (Knoxville, Tenn.)        

supersuds's profile picture
Had to spell Plymouth, but he would have been unfazed by Hyundai, sigh.

Looks like your're onto something with that wacky driveshaft brake!

About top speeds, keep in mind that cars of this era were pulling wildly low rear axle ratios, like 4.27 to 1 or even 4.54 to 1, so the engines would really be revving even high gear. An overdrive is a useful addition, though I'm not sure if Plymouth offered them from the factory. Chryslers often had them.

Post# 859912 , Reply# 33   1/4/2016 at 01:44 (2,528 days old) by rp2813 (Sannazay)        
". . . I had to spell PLYMOUTH . . ."

rp2813's profile picture

Gee, it's not like the last Plymouth was produced in 1950.   Plymouth doesn't make smart phones.  If they did, that person would have known how to spell it.


I'm glad this is looking like it's not transmission related.  The linkage and E-brake are relatively simple and inexpensive repairs.


Stan, it's the tree in the photo of your car above, in the foreground parking strip.  It looks like half the trunk of it (the tree, not the Plymouth) is missing.

Post# 859915 , Reply# 34   1/4/2016 at 01:57 (2,528 days old) by Stan (Napa CA)        
LOL Ralph

stan's profile picture
It's CrÍpe myrtle tree that's is my nexdoor neighbors. A big truck came down the street one day and pulled a phone line down. Poor tree took the assault.

Post# 859942 , Reply# 35   1/4/2016 at 06:45 (2,527 days old) by norgeway (mocksville n c )        
RE Overdrive

Yes, Plymouth as well as Ford Chevrolet and most cars could be had with overdrive then, My 53 Plymouth had Hy Drive, which was a fluid drive setup .I  had a 53 Imperial with Fluid Torque Drive, which was a semi automatic, it was a whole different animal on the road, it had a 331 cubic inch hemi, I drove it on several trips, thirsty, but anything that weighs near 5000 pounds on a 131 inch wheelbase is not going to be economical, about 15 mpg on a trip, 10 or so around town, but it would really travel if you stepped on it, im kind of ashamed to admit I ran a old car that hard, but I had it 105 going down I 85 once...

Post# 859944 , Reply# 36   1/4/2016 at 06:51 (2,527 days old) by norgeway (mocksville n c )        
Guess what won...

The first Southern 500 race at Darlington speedway...A stock 1950 Plymouth..LOL Not on speed but tire wear, the Cadillacs, Oldsmobiles and Hudsons used up all their tires, Johnny Mantz who drove the Plymouth was a Indy driver, so he knew what it took to run asphalt, remember, The Southern 500 was on the first big paved track, and the first 500 mile race,. He brought Dodge truck tires and that made the difference, he ran all day at 75 to 80 and ended up winning over cars that were running over 100, remember, a 88 Olds or a Cadillac would run well over 100 in those days.

Post# 860081 , Reply# 37   1/4/2016 at 19:31 (2,527 days old) by dartman (Portland Oregon)        

I think 20 to 21 mpg highway is realistic with a old Plymouth like that. It's heavy but near as much as a old military Power Wagon pickup that also had extremely low gears to make up for no low range and about 80hp or so.
My early one had 4.88 gears and the later bigger 3/4 ton version had 5.86 gears and were even heavier.
The military tech manual for them even runs down all the specs and 9mpg is the official statement in the specs sheet.
They had maybe 8 to 1 or less compression so could run on crappy low octane gas, so anything above 60 octane was fine.
That Plymouth should be pretty much the same so run the cheapest regular you can find and don't let it sit too long as the methanol pulls moisture out of the air and turns to paint thinner in about 30 days.
My Dart has sat mostly un started since 06 and the gas smells like bad paint thinner now and the inside of the Thermoquad was all gummed up. It was amazing it still started and ran to drive 5 miles here in 2012.
Wish I could have driven that 50 Dodge just once. You did have to use the clutch to shift into first or reverse, and pretty sure low to high, but never driven one to see, that is what I was told and have read.
They were supposed to be very durable but really ate up the little power the engine had.

Post# 860090 , Reply# 38   1/4/2016 at 19:51 (2,527 days old) by norgeway (mocksville n c )        
Re Fluid Torque

On my 53 Imperial, you had 2 gearshift positions, low range and high range, low was where second would be on a regular column shift, high was where high would be, reverse and neutral were in their normal positions. each range had 2 speeds, for a total of 4 gear ratios, you pushed in the clutch and selected either low or high range, and let out the clutch, then shifting between the 2 speeds , 1 and 2 or 3 and 4 was controlled by letting off the accelerator, with the hemi, you hardly ever needed to use the low unless you were going to race or something, 1st was almost a granny gear, the funny thing was, if you took off in low range and opened it up, it was wound out at about 35....if you held it wide open and barely bumped the clutch, it would power shift into second and bark the tires, I learned this from a guy I worked with with who said his dads Desoto did the same thing, dumb me had to find out, and it really would!!To shift between low range and high range ,you used the clutch in the conventional way, great system and darn near indestructible.

Post# 860535 , Reply# 39   1/7/2016 at 08:11 (2,524 days old) by mayken4now (Winchester, VA)        

mayken4now's profile picture

Ping, Stan, what's the verdict?

Post# 860592 , Reply# 40   1/7/2016 at 15:44 (2,524 days old) by cuffs054 (MONTICELLO, GA)        

The suspense is killing me!

Post# 860604 , Reply# 41   1/7/2016 at 17:05 (2,524 days old) by rp2813 (Sannazay)        
My money is on . . .

rp2813's profile picture

"The mechanic hasn't gotten to it yet."

Post# 860660 , Reply# 42   1/8/2016 at 00:59 (2,524 days old) by Stan (Napa CA)        
Your right

stan's profile picture
Haven't heard anything.
The shop is around the corner from work, and my brother hangs out there sometimes (we've known these mechanics for years) I asked my brother to let me know if he sees it up on the rack...if that happens, I'll to take a look for myself. This is if I've got time and I've got time to walk over.. If it works out that way, I'll take pics to share
More to come with the old Plymouth (hope it just old worn linkage)

Post# 860676 , Reply# 43   1/8/2016 at 08:28 (2,523 days old) by miele_ge (Danbury, Connecticut)        
"I'm just to pretty too crawl under greasy old cars

miele_ge's profile picture
If that is your photo as your avitar, then I would agree 100%. Still, there is nothing like a handsome man a little grubby after a good project.


Post# 860749 , Reply# 44   1/8/2016 at 19:52 (2,523 days old) by stan (Napa CA)        

stan's profile picture
What a nice complement.
Yes that's me. I ware a butch cut now though.
Still no news on the Plymouth! I told them I was in no hurry, so it's fine with me if the babysit it!

Post# 860757 , Reply# 45   1/8/2016 at 20:33 (2,523 days old) by Supersuds (Knoxville, Tenn.)        

supersuds's profile picture
I did a little research and it appears Plymouth didn't offer overdrive until 1952, for some reason. Chevy didn't have overdrive until 1955, because they used a torque tube drive before then and adding an overdrive unit would have been too complicated, apparently.

How is your 1973 Oldsmobile ragtop, Stan?

Post# 860768 , Reply# 46   1/8/2016 at 22:12 (2,523 days old) by Stan (Napa CA)        
The Ragtop

stan's profile picture
Is great John.
However I'm board of it, so I've got it for sale!
Haven't been very ambitious in selling.. just has a FOR SALE sign on it while parked under covered parking LOL.
Was waiting til Spring to set her out.
Getting kinda tired of maintaining old cars.

Post# 860905 , Reply# 47   1/9/2016 at 16:37 (2,522 days old) by cuffs054 (MONTICELLO, GA)        

Hold up there missy! Stan how about a pix with the crew? I don't think you would like bad in any hair style!

Post# 860926 , Reply# 48   1/9/2016 at 18:24 (2,522 days old) by wayupnorth (On a lake between Bangor and Bar Harbor, Maine)        

wayupnorth's profile picture
I know what you mean Stan about frigging with old cars. I have a 35 year old Corvette that has been in storage for 12 years because I dont want to mess with replacing brakes and valve cover gaskets to put it back on the road. I would love to sell it and get it over with too. But I am not giving it away with only 49,000 miles. I always thought that he who dies with the most toys is the winner. Naaaa, I am too old to play with these toys any more.

Post# 860983 , Reply# 49   1/10/2016 at 02:21 (2,522 days old) by Stan (Napa CA)        

stan's profile picture
"Plymouth didn't offer overdrive til 52"
I've read that too, but Chrystler offered it in the 30s on DeSoto?
From what I've read, and seen.. It's possible to add a overdrive to the 50, but seems complicated, or at least takes some imagination.

Tim..have you got pic to share of your Corvette? Are you going to have to do the work so you can sell it?
These old cars can be daunting at times, but I've always figured that I'm just the caretaker of these old least til it's time to pass them on to the next guy that will keep them alive, or better take them further.
I'm torn! ...I'm glad the Plymouth is with the mechanic, but I'm annoyed at myself for not making more of a effort to fix it myself.
I'd really like to be under it when he's got it up on the hoist with a drop light on it!

Guess I'd bitch if I was hung with a new rope! LOL

Post# 861021 , Reply# 50   1/10/2016 at 10:37 (2,521 days old) by wayupnorth (On a lake between Bangor and Bar Harbor, Maine)        

wayupnorth's profile picture
Hi Stan, here is my 1981 Corvette. I would prefer to just sell it as is where is.

  View Full Size
Post# 861069 , Reply# 51   1/10/2016 at 16:44 (2,521 days old) by Supersuds (Knoxville, Tenn.)        

supersuds's profile picture
It may not be that bad according to this source.

"Overdrive proved popular enough that Plymouth offered it as a complete service package to be installed in the field on P22 and P23 series cars. Net dealer price, which included the overdrive and mainshaft assembly, clutch disc, hand brake drum, wiring harness, and necessary controls was $142.25. First shipments of the kit were not scheduled until mid-May 1952. For owners of earlier Plymouths, the unit was virtually a bolt-in swap for cars dating back to 1940. As early as 1940, Plymouth had used a long tailshaft assembly on their transmissions. Removing this tailshaft allowed the overdrive unit to slip into its place, allowing the original drive shaft to be used."


Post# 861278 , Reply# 52   1/11/2016 at 19:48 (2,520 days old) by mopar65 (Almont MI)        

mopar65's profile picture
Post# 861373 , Reply# 53   1/12/2016 at 09:34 (2,519 days old) by Supersuds (Knoxville, Tenn.)        

supersuds's profile picture
A filmstrip! Cool, I haven't seen one of those since elementary school.

Post# 861501 , Reply# 54   1/12/2016 at 20:41 (2,519 days old) by norgeway (mocksville n c )        
Funny overdrive story

When my Mothers cousin married in 1950, They took her husbands parents new Packard convertible on the honeymoon trip to Niagra Falls, Jan, being somewhat of a lead foot just had to find out how fast the Packard would run with the overdrive engaged.....75 in first, 110 in second and She said it ran past the numbers on the dial in third, I thought she was kidding, so I asked Dick her husband, he said, She is NOT kidding, I told her if She blew up Daddys new Packard he would kill us both, but  it really would FLY!, She is 84 and still has somewhat of a heavy foot!

Post# 863183 , Reply# 55   1/20/2016 at 23:37 (2,511 days old) by Stan (Napa CA)        
The old girl is home

stan's profile picture
Turned out to be just a worn out bushing in the shifter linkage. E brake is fine.

Tim.. Beautiful car! Thanks for sharing the pic.

Post# 863185 , Reply# 56   1/20/2016 at 23:41 (2,511 days old) by rp2813 (Sannazay)        
A G-Rated

rp2813's profile picture

Happy ending!

Post# 863226 , Reply# 57   1/21/2016 at 07:39 (2,510 days old) by mayken4now (Winchester, VA)        

mayken4now's profile picture

Good Story Stan.  Didn't I say the linkage from the get go?  They failed on all sorts of makes and models due to the nature of usage and being constantly moving while shifting.  It can leave you with the impression (unexplainable) that there is a major issue going on.  


Glad you have your car back home and all is well.



Post# 863995 , Reply# 58   1/25/2016 at 12:47 (2,506 days old) by stan (Napa CA)        

stan's profile picture
You did Steven! Thank you.
At first, I questioned if it was something that simple. On the side of the road.. Couldn't see the worn bushing, just wanted to get it unstuck!
(I wasn't going to get that to happen)
I have some slight apprehension about the repair that was done.. While driving down the highway, I heard a snap, and found that it jumped out of gear
(into neutral)
Hasn't done it since, but...

Post# 864010 , Reply# 59   1/25/2016 at 14:38 (2,506 days old) by rp2813 (Sannazay)        

rp2813's profile picture

That only happened to me once with the GMC while taking the Waldo Grade in the downhill direction, most of the time with my foot off the gas.  The shift lever was seriously vibrating, and then it just popped into neutral on its own.



Post# 864102 , Reply# 60   1/26/2016 at 00:51 (2,506 days old) by dartman (Portland Oregon)        

My 42 Jeep used to do that in second gear but it was a 3 speed top loader like all ww2 and flat fender jeeps.
There was a bushing or something, maybe a syncro, that always wore out on them. I had a better used tranny put in it and they swapped around the best parts and less then a year later it was doing it again.
The 41 power wagon I also had had a much stronger drivetrain and the tranny never had any issues, it was a non syncro 4 speed crash box and was damn near unbreakable as long as you knew how to double clutch.

Post# 864740 , Reply# 61   1/29/2016 at 22:18 (2,502 days old) by sudsmaster (California)        

sudsmaster's profile picture

There is probably a procedure for dialing in the linkage setting so they don't pop out of gear or clash. It would be in your service manual, which you have, of course!


And here is a link to a wholesale closeout of various 1950 Plymouth parts:



Post# 866998 , Reply# 62   2/13/2016 at 14:34 (2,487 days old) by Stan (Napa CA)        

stan's profile picture
I have the service manual (with my greasy fingerprints on it) LOL.
No more issues with it popping out of gear...however now it's making a noise that I fear is a transmission bearing..
On my last nerve with this old girl, so she's going to sit for a while. If I find that it's a overhaul, then I'm done. I'll put her up for adoption! Losing my patience with old cars.

Post# 867002 , Reply# 63   2/13/2016 at 15:13 (2,487 days old) by Supersuds (Knoxville, Tenn.)        

supersuds's profile picture
It's always something with them. Having three is a full time job.

Post# 867012 , Reply# 64   2/13/2016 at 16:15 (2,487 days old) by sudsmaster (California)        

sudsmaster's profile picture

Like I said, these transmissions are very simple affairs and not rocket science to rebuild. The bearings are likely standard and readily available off the shelf or online. That is, if the noise is actually a transmission bearing and not dragging brakes.


However the idea that old cars last forever is a myth. They were designed when labor was cheaper than advanced materials so they typically require much more maintenance than newer cars. Softer alloys, less durable rubber, more primitive lubricants, etc. So we tend not to drive them as often or as far or as fast as new cars, and save them for special days.


Post# 883893 , Reply# 65   6/8/2016 at 03:23 (2,372 days old) by Stan (Napa CA)        

stan's profile picture
This old girl has sat a while and I'm ready to deal with this noise. It sounds like something in the driveline. Almost like a dried out u joint? Im going to get greasy.. get under her and see what I can see. If I get it up on blocks maybe turn by hand I'll hear this noise and hear exactly where it's coming from.
@cuffs I'll be wearing a dew rag for this, so your going to get your wish, a dirty hairy greasy man under a car! LOL

Post# 883961 , Reply# 66   6/8/2016 at 12:12 (2,371 days old) by rp2813 (Sannazay)        
a dirty hairy greasy man under a car

rp2813's profile picture

After that visual, if I were within closer range I'd be happy to assist.  I could use a change of scenery after dealing with the brakes on the Jimmy without the desired outcome, and I have successful experience with a Rambler driveshaft under my belt.  


Those among us who know me know just how I mean that . . .


Post# 884070 , Reply# 67   6/8/2016 at 22:37 (2,371 days old) by askolover (South of Nash Vegas, TN)        
brakes on the Jimmy

askolover's profile picture

I did those last year on mine...all four wheels!

Post# 884088 , Reply# 68   6/9/2016 at 02:05 (2,371 days old) by sudsmaster (California)        

sudsmaster's profile picture

The '50 Plymouth, unless changed out, has ball and trunion U-joints fore and aft, also called Detroit U-joints. These can and do wear out. Most frequently the rubber sleeve covering the U-joint ages and cracks or tears. Then the grease inside can be lost or contaminated.


Inside the U-joints is a smaller shaft, with a ball on the end. The ball is bisected by a trunion pin. On the trunnion pin ends two more balls are fitted, which ride on needle bearings so they can rotate on the pin. The whole assemble then rides inside a heavy cast and machined housing, which has grooves to accept the needle bearing equipped trunion balls. So the U-joint can flex in the with regard to the driveline radial direction as well as move in and out in the driveline axial direction.


Proper rebuilding of the Detroit U-joint, including replacement of the rubber sleeve, involves pressing out the trunnion pin on a big hydraulic press. An automotive machine shop should have one, but you might have to look around for a machinist or mechanic willing to press out the pin and/or rebuild the U-joint.


When you get under the car you can inspect the rubber sleeves for integrity, and see if the driveshaft can be moved by hand forward and backward. If not, it might be seized up.


Usually the noise, I'm told, is a loud clunk when going over bumps and/or under load.


What I've seen is that the heavy machined casting that the trunnion runs in develops wear spots where the trunnion balls usually ride. Or there's a rubber sleeve/lubrication failure.


It's not too difficult to pull the driveshaft with the U-joints attached, but of course it's dirty uncomfortable work on your back under a car jacked up and on stands. (Don't rely only on jacks!). After that fixing the damn Detroit U-joints is no picnic, and pressing out the trunnion pin can be dangerous involving very high pressures. Pressing in a new pin requires a careful technique, because you want it to be centered on receiving ball. One mechanic who pressed mine in machined a spacer so that the pressing would stop at the right point.


Have fun.


Post# 884352 , Reply# 69   6/10/2016 at 01:18 (2,370 days old) by Stan (Napa CA)        
Thanks Rich

stan's profile picture
For that info.
Got side tracked with other repairs, so haven't got to the Plymouth yet.
I've set aside time on Monday to get dirty. Also want to look at the e brake

Post# 1158238 , Reply# 70   8/30/2022 at 03:29 by Stan (Napa CA)        
Decided to update this thread

stan's profile picture
Donít know where the 6 years has gone!
So the noise turned out to be worn needle bearings in the trany
I went on driving the car around twin. The sound was evident only in first gear. Clutch was slipping in third gear then Finally the starter took a shit.
New starter
New clutch (pics of old) and new parts for tranny except sncro gear. (Couldnít find one and mine was kind of o.K.
New brakes and wheel cylinders. And fresh tune up (rotor cap points plugs) new battery.
All well but still canít drive it cuz the SOB sprung a radiator leak!
Though you boys might want to see.

  Photos...       <              >      Photo 1 of 5         View Full Size
Post# 1158241 , Reply# 71   8/30/2022 at 05:07 by askolover (South of Nash Vegas, TN)        

askolover's profile picture

I'm a car nut so I like to see their innards.  My VW has 314,000 miles on it currently.  I kind of sort of have a feeling the dual mass flywheel is going out.  Still running original clutch!  All of that would get changed out if the above scenario does play out.  I'll be due for a timing belt and water pump in about 5500 miles.  I miss the simplicity of my old diesel Rabbit from 1980, but I can't complain about this 2001 bug that I bought new for my 30th birthday.

Post# 1158242 , Reply# 72   8/30/2022 at 05:20 by SudsMaster (California)        

sudsmaster's profile picture



I also have a 1950 Plymouth, a "Special Deluxe". Her name is Bubbles. Part of the agreement so I could purchase her was to keep the name, LOL. I've had Bubbles for over 28 years. Used to drive her a lot. That clutch sure does look familiar.


I've replaced a lot of parts on Bubbles. Had the motor rebuilt - they didn't do a very good job, had to rebuild the motor again after about 2 years and 27,000 miles. The rings they put in were scoring the cyclinder walls. This time I pulled the motor myself and took it to a better machine shop.


She has a manual transmission (I don't think Plymouths had automatics in 1950), which works quite well. Found the little service book (had to go out to garage to fetch it).


Last time I drove Bubbles was in 2017. So she probably needs an oil change. Maybe a draining of the gas tank, too. IDK. Have to check coolant as well. And the battery may be dead. Such fun!


Yeah, I'm making plans to drive her again before this summer is out.

Post# 1158245 , Reply# 73   8/30/2022 at 06:24 by qsd-dan (West)        

qsd-dan's profile picture
Clutch doesn't look bad at all, at least the material isn't worn down to the rivets, which is a good thing. I bet the slipping issue was weak pressure plate springs. Too bad about not locating new synchro's. You can extend the life of the 1st gear synchro by coming to a dead stop before shifting into first or blipping the throttle before shifting into first while rolling at slow speeds. The first method is the safest.

Post# 1158275 , Reply# 74   8/30/2022 at 18:56 by SudsMaster (California)        

sudsmaster's profile picture

AFAIK, the 1950 Plymouth has NO synchro for 1st gear.


Post# 1158288 , Reply# 75   8/30/2022 at 21:48 by combo52 (50 Year Repair Tech Beltsville,Md)        
Reply number 74

combo52's profile picture

Thanks Rich I was quite sure there was no Sysco in first gear in a 1950 Plymout.


When Jeff and I started this business in 1979 we went out and bought two short wheelbase dodge tradesman 1974 vans with 225 slant sixes and three speed on the column they didn’t even have synchromesh in first gear, it made it kind of challenging in traffic because you had to come to almost to complete stop or double clutch to get it back into first gear and my van didn’t have power steering or brakes somehow or another Jeff’s van actually had power brakes.


I also think it’s unusual that you’d have trouble with a bad clutch slipping in third gear usually a bad clutch slipping it’s hard to even get the car Up to speed in first or second gear with a bad clutch.


I almost never comment on anything if I’m not absolutely sure about.


John L

Post# 1158289 , Reply# 76   8/30/2022 at 21:53 by Stan (Napa CA)        
Rich is correct

stan's profile picture
No synchro for first. Iíve always has to come to a complete stop before shifting into first. And even with all this work done, I still double clutch going into second..shel shift normal but she likes it better if I double clutch. I issue going from second to third.
My issue now is getting her loose from reveres!
Somethings not quite right with linkage ?
Greg take care of your Bug!
Rich, donít let Bubbles just sit there! She need exercise 😀
Hereís more pics

  Photos...       <              >      Photo 1 of 3         View Full Size

Forum Index:       Other Forums:                      

Comes to the Rescue!

The Discuss-o-Mat has stopped, buzzer is sounding!!!
If you would like to reply to this thread please log-in...

Discuss-O-MAT Log-In

New Members
Click Here To Sign Up.

Discuss-o-Mat Forums
Vintage Brochures, Service and Owners Manuals
Fun Vintage Washer Ephemera
See It Wash!
Video Downloads
Audio Downloads
Picture of the Day
Patent of the Day
Photos of our Collections
The Old Aberdeen Farm
Vintage Service Manuals
Vintage washer/dryer/dishwasher to sell?
Technical/service questions?
Looking for Parts?
Website related questions?
Digital Millennium Copyright Act Policy
Our Privacy Policy