Palmy's Winter Project

Max162Max162 Posts: 38Member
edited October 23 in HUDSON
Hello Hudsonites,

As winter is coming in my place, along with the end of the antique car riding season, it is time for me to give my Hudson Super Wasp that I named Molly a rest.

While she'll be safely stored in the garage for winter ( Darn you Calcium!!! ), it will be a good time to do maintenance and repairs on her : She has known abandon in a container, yet she's still kickin' dust like a champ.

For this winter there is a big repair to do regarding the transmission and some small and aesthetic enhancement. As I want to attend the next regional meet of the H.E.T. Club at Burlington, I do have a little dealine on those projects.

First, the big repair;

As many might already know from my previous posts, I have a leaking issue on the 3 band Borg Warner DG-200 automatic transmission and recently, while riding the car, the tranny has gotten hot enough to smoke alot, even refusin to shift to the last gear. Fortunately, I was still able to drive it back home, but the issue is severe and is needed to be fixed.

For now, I have 3 options :

1. Fixing the actual tranny will be by far the easiest option of them all, though I am fully aware that a transmission job isn't an easy one to do. The thing is that I need to pinpoint the leak problem while improving the transmission's cooling system wich is by air alone. "  Oh you Studebaker, you that created the DG 3 banders, I shall need your help and wisdom for the needed parts ."

2. Swapping the DG for the Hydramatic, the original tranny used for Hudson. Don't get me wrong, the DG-200 works fine while making the car more economic gas wise, but if I'm somehow unlucky with the DG parts research, the Hydra can be a go. What scares me the most is I'll need more than just the transmission, as I'll also need the related parts and the subframe that was used to hold it. So far, this option can be a nightmare if I'm not well equiped and prepared.

3. This one is more of a question as while it seems tempting at first, I still need more informations about it:

Is it possible to change the auto. tranmsission for a standard transmission with an overdrive ? If so, will this be a bit easier or harder than changing a DG for a Hydra ?

 To make things clear, the standard transmission has to be the original transmission that was put in the car in 1954. Advices from the Hudson mechanical experts are warmly welcome to clarify this option.

There will be other jobs on the car, mainly maintenance and aesthetic add on, like lighting emprovements such as adding highlight/ fog lamps in front, back up lights in the rear and so on. I will be trying to add some updates and pictures along the way so you can see the progress maybe contribute in a way through ideas or advices.


I don't really know if there's a proper place for the thread to be, but if any admin knows a suitable place for it, feel free to move it. 


  • GlowplugGlowplug Posts: 1,813Expert Adviser
    The conversion of a 1954 from BorgWarner auto to Hydramatic is a bolt in exercise.  A document detailing the process is located on my website  Go to the website select “transmissions”.  The conversion document link on that page is named ...Converting 1954 Hudson automatic transmission .pdf

    Converting to Standard or STD/0D will require more than parts swapping.  My buddy converted his Hornet Coupe from Single range Hydramatic to 3 Spd/OD to do so he purchased a parts car to gain the parts and measurements to complete the conversion. 

    Rebuilding the transmission would be my suggestion. 

    Good Luck
  • BrowniepetersenBrowniepetersen Posts: 3,048Senior Contributor

    My 54 Hornet Special Coupe came from the factory with a three on the tree.  In the early 60's the third owner had the standard replaced with the Hydro (built by Ike Smith). George *(3rd owner) was buying up old 54 Hudson racing cars.  When I got the car the linkage had not yet been installed-or had been removed for another project (sketchy details).  Anyway, back on the road now and shifting good....


  • Max162Max162 Posts: 38Member
    Palmy's Winter Project : Update 1

    After reading the past suggestions ( thanks you Ken Crates and Browniepetersen ) and long hours of thinking regarding the transmission, I'll go for the first and easiest option with is repairing / rebuilding it. Knowing that it'll be a big job, I'll take my time to fix it while learning more about it.

    While I'll be looking the needed parts and instructions through Studebaker's forum and their part shop " they are the Fathers of the 3 band DG after all ", I've started another small project : Lighting improvement.

    During the past weeks before the tranny's issues one of the headlamp bulb has died on me and from here I've decided to improve Molly's lighting.

    What you see here are a set of semi-sealed headlamps and a pair of LED headlamp bulb, bought to, specially designed for 6 volts, positive ground electrical system that I've decided to give a try. The headlamps does have a diameter of 7 inches, just like the original ones on Molly, wich is great as it as as easy as swaping them with the others.

    As you can see on the picture above, the new headlamp ( the one located on the driver's side) fits nicely, while giving it a good look too.

    With the LED bulb installed, we can see a good emprovement, but as I was testing them, I've observed that the LED didn't do the switch between high to low beam. A small problem that can be easily fixed by adding a LED headlight load equalizer that I'll get from LEDlight along with the rest of the LED bulbs and the needed electric parts for the turn signals.

    So far I'm happy with the results, as it gives a good vision while keeping the good look of Molly. If you're looking for some lighting improvements, you can try with for your Stepdown. There's also other shops that gives the same products if I do remember  correctly.

    I'll be giving you more updates for the upcoming winter projects as soon as possible. Feel free to give ideas or good critisism regarding the lighting improvements.


  • GlowplugGlowplug Posts: 1,813Expert Adviser
    Right on!  Making the effort to fix your own stuff is the glue that keeps us attached to HET vehicles
  • Max162Max162 Posts: 38Member
    edited November 5
    Update of Nov. 4 2019

    Molly is lifted, ready to pass the winter and the cares that she deserved.
    It's also the time for me to slowly tackle the big job the Transmission leaking issue.

    "A tranny is leaking mysteriously ? Inspector Palmy is on the case."

    I will be taking my time to carefuly remove the parts in the way and the transmission itself so I don't break things by mistake. With my shop manual in hand, I shall find out the source of the leak and hopefully fix it. As it is one of the biggest job on Molly, I do want to take my time while doing it.

    While she was jacked up, I've also decided to remove the wheels and take a closer look on the white wall.

    These tires are modern radial ones with a wide white wall that can be fitted on them when inflating the tires to squeeze them in place. It's a good and cheaper option for those who can't afford proper white wall tires yet, but as seen on the pictures, they can deteriorate quickly when traveling with a car, and I traveled a fair amount during the last months.

    since they are worn out, I will be removing them and keep the tire walls black for the sake of maintenance ease and a bit of lack of funds to put wide white wall tires on Molly for now. Maybe one day, I'll be looking to put that pretty touch on the car. 

    If anyone has ideas, suggestions or advices to give me during those projects, feel free to type it down; I'll be open to your feedbacks. Also, the remaining LED lights and related parts will be soon at my door and I'll give an update on this very soon.

    Yours truly,


  • Ken U-TxKen U-Tx Posts: 3,706Senior Contributor
    The "Portawalls" were designed to be fitted to black-wall bias ply tires. Radials, due to the normal sidewall rolling during cornering, will rub and damage the Portawalls. They are not suitable for use on radials.
  • 40indianssgmailcom40indianssgmailcom Posts: 125Senior Contributor
    Curbing the tires also caused tearing and removing chunks from the fake white walls
  • Max162Max162 Posts: 38Member
    Update of Nov. 6th

    I've recieved the remaing LED lights and parts for Molly, thus nearly close to finish the light improvement.

    With all those parts in hand, all I need is to install them and I have to say, it is indeed bighter in every place of the car.

    Even the crest in the front has gotten more distinctive with the LED in it.

    I even changed the interior lights, bringing more light inside. There's still the equalizers for the turn signals, but I'll have to do a dive in the shop manual and read the wiring diagram for them. I've also installed some load equalizers for the headlights, but unfortunately the problem has remained.

    This picture shows one of the headlight junction box in the front side where the headlight wires are connected. Once the equalizers installed ( one per side ), the high and low beams should be working, but for me, it didn't worked so far. I don't know if I've plugged them on the wrong wires ( shouldn't be the case, but you never know with my luck...) or if the problem comes somewhere else. Ideas or advices from any Hudson electical saavy are welcome to help with the headlights.

    While plunging myself into the car's shop manual for the wiring diagrams, I've also drowsed on the automatic transmission for the upcomming big job and I found a possible clue.

    According to the Manual Supplement for 1953-1954 models, the Borg Warner trannys have received a new valve block incorporating the front and rear pump relief valve in order to reduce front pump pressure. Those that were built prior the transmission serial number HA-7118 has been identified with a letter " V " after the number.

    It did rung me a bell in my head and returned under the car to take a close look on the serial number.

    As seen here, my tranny serial number is HA-8617, but no V letter at the end.

    "  Watson, be got something interesting here for sure. "

    Right now I'm wondering if the lack of a front and rear ralief valves can cause the leak as there is nothing to reduce front pump pressure, wich also brings me a question:

    Does the V letter at the end the tranny number indicates that the new valve block has been installed ? If not, what does indicates it ?

    I'll continue the investigation with this clue in mind. If someone knows more about this modification on the DG-200, let me know.

  • Max162Max162 Posts: 38Member
    edited November 12
    Update of November 11th

    after some days of reading in the transmission's shop manual, it is finally time to start the investigation of the leaking tranny.

    The first place I wanted to check is the tranny's oil pan and having a glimpse of the valve block. Draining out the fliud was a logical but also necessary as the transmission fluid was brown, along with the horrible smell of it. The smell was so strong that I needed to take a shower and put my clothes to get washed ofter the job done.

    From now on I shall remember the horrid stench of burnt transmission fluid

    Then the next step was to remove the pan screws and carefully bring it down, uncovering the tranny oil screen and the onimous valve block.

    From this picture, the valve block looks like new , for a 65 years old car. Next to the shroud ( though we can't see it well on the picture ), lies the front and rear pump relief valve. I'll let it as it is untill I know how to do a proper inspection on it.

    As for the screen...

    Well let's say it is doing his job well so far. I'll give it a good clean up before putting it back, that's for sure.

    While I did have the transmission oil pan down I also took a close look on it.

    As seen here, there's metal particles at the bottom of the pan. I do know that some metal particles in the pan is normal, but too much of it is a sign of a deteriorating part inside of the tranny, wich bring me to ask this question to any member of the club:

    Is this amount of metal particle is normal or a sign of a more serious internal problem for the transmission ? Having the advices of the experts would be good. 

    As for me, I'll continue the inspections while slowly removing the part under the car so I can eventually remove the entire tranny from the car. As said before, any ideas or advices are warmly welcome, as I want to learn more on this old lady that is my 54 Super Wasp named Molly.
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