Transmission question

I have a 54 Packard Henney Sr. The column has Park Neutral High Low Reverse (in that order). Does this mean that I have to shift from low to high manually? I believe that is what I am supposed to do, but everyone thinks that it should shift automatically. Does anyone know anything about this transmission? Thanks, any info will be greatly appreciated.
 
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Just a guess, but I would imagine if its an automatic transmission "high" would shift through the gears automatically, and "low" would keep it in low gear and prevent it from shifting into high gear, if you were in mud, snow, etc. to give you more traction.
 
Thanks Todd, but my transmission doesn't seem to shift on its own. I have done a little research on it and it is an ultramatic transmission. I don't quite know what that means. I am NOT mechanically inclined!! I hope someone out there knows what this is and how it should operate!!!
 

Peter Grave

PCS Member
I have been with Packard as a collector owner and mechanic since 1954 so I can speak to the question. Ultramatic, in the "H" position the vehicle will start in torque converter the depending on load and throttle position will shift into direct drive (torque converter clutch lock up) this will occur between 22mph and 45 mph. It depends again on the load and throttle position and is controlled by the governor and throttle linkage connected to the transmission. The "L" position is for start up on a steep hill or mud etc. the vehicle will stay in low and make a shift at some point to a combination of low and torque converter but it can not shift to direct drive. The two most common failures on these transmissions is #1 looses direct drive #2 will not move in the "H" position. The lack of direct drive has multiple causes it would take a while to go into these. The no move in "H" is usually burned out high range clutch plates. The direct drive is accomplished with a clutch plate in the torque converter (yep looks just like a stick shift clutch plate) pump pressure supplied when the governor releases it pushes a piston locking the clutch plate in.
As far as the development goes many years ago I had the pleasure at a Packard Club National meet to meet Forest Mc Farland and listen to his version of the development of Ultramatic. Management realized in the mid 40s they had to get an automatic transmission to stay in the game. Discussions ensued and GMs Hydramatic was ruled out as the shifting was very rough and difficult to engage reverse. Mc Farland said he recommended Buicks Dynaflow two test vehicles were fitted with Dynaflow and the Board of Directors drove them. The decision was no, very smooth as they wanted but too much motor revving and noise from the engine created by the revving . Mc Farland was charged with a do it better and thus he developed Ultramatic to the Boards satisfaction. He said the development cost two million if memory serves me and was way out of line for an independent manufacturer but at the time Packard had the dollars and management had their standards. Interesting that they did sell Ultramatics to White for installation in trucks and to American Motors for installation with Packard Motors in some Nash and Hudson cars.
 
Thank you Peter, but you are talking above my head, since I don't know the mechanics of a car. But it sounds like the short version is that I should be able to put the car in the H and just drive without shifting (except for the hills and etc.). I will give it a try and see what happens. Thank you again!
 

Peter Grave

PCS Member
Quite accurate put it in "H" and GO only thing is it should shift into direct drive between 22 and 40 MPH on the speedometer. If it just goes and does not shift you have a problem and it should be delt with or the car could let you down. How about posting a picture I would like to see it not many 54 Henneys made
 
Thanks again Peter. I have copied your information and am going to give it my mechanic. I have posted pictures of my hearse but I don't remember how I did it (I did it a year ago). You can see them in the photos. She's a little rough right now, it had been sitting in a field for 10 years before I got it. I'm still working on the mechanical problems right now, just had the motor rebuilt. Getting interior next, then the paint.
 

John ED Renstrom

PCS Member
Super Site Supporter
if you going to do the interior first I would get the door jams painted while the interior is out. it will save you a lot of headaches later in the game.
 
Old post but I'll reply anyway as this same question comes up from time to time on PackardInfo.com. The short answer is no, you do not shift between them as it's an automatic transmission. Put in H and leave it there for normal driving. The longer answer is that you CAN start out in low if you really need a little more power, such as on a steep hill or driveway, but only a very low speeds. It is not recommended to shift between L and H for normal driving.
 
Old post but I'll reply anyway as this same question comes up from time to time on PackardInfo.com. The short answer is no, you do not shift between them as it's an automatic transmission. Put in H and leave it there for normal driving. The longer answer is that you CAN start out in low if you really need a little more power, such as on a steep hill or driveway, but only a very low speeds. It is not recommended to shift between L and H for normal driving.
Good info. My neighbor is looking at this Packard Henney Limou auto transmission. We got some steep hills around here so I'll tip him about the info. It's in the shop for the installation of the new brake pads and tires from 4Wheelonline plus the alignment.
 
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