Pre selector transmission questions.

TJohnTJohn Posts: 5Member
Hi all,

I am in the process of pulling my Aunt's grandfathers 1937 Hudson Super 8 deluxe custom, "77" code on the VIN, out of storage.  He died in 1959 and the car was parked in a dry garage at that time and hasn't been moved since.  I'm wondering if the pre selector transmission will function with the car not running?  I assume it needs hydraulic pressure to function?  How can I know it's neutral to pull it up on a flatbed.  I assume trying to force the stick shift into a neutral position is not going to work.  Unfortunately I am not going to be on location when it gets pulled out so I'm not able to put hands on it and get a feel for it.  I know nothing about Hudsons and have never even heard of a transmission like this before.  Any insight would be greatly appreciated, I'd hate to jack it up moving it.  Unfortunately tweakers are getting into the old house at this point and the car needs to moved promptly before it gets vandalized or stripped.
Anyway, Thanks in advance,


  • Jon BJon B Posts: 7,465Administrator
    I take it from what you say, that you will NOT be starting the car before pulling it up on a roll-back?  (If so, that's a wise decision:  the very first thing you should do before starting the car, is to drain the oil pan and then remove it.  Then clean it out and probably clean some of the mucky oil out of the engine interior.  You do NOT want all that 63-year-old gunk splashing around within the engine.

    Hudson has thoughtfully provided an emergency gear shift lever with which you can shift the car into neutral, using the clutch, of course.  This lever is stored on the passenger's side panel beneath the glove box. 

    OR, if the vacuum (not hydraulic) shifter was giving your aunt's grandfather fits before he died, he may have already installed that emergency gearshift lever.  In which case it will be there on the floor, just like any floor shift of the period.

    If the emergency lever's in the storage position, unsnap and remove it. there will be a round rubber cap in the center of the floor, fitted on top of the gearshift stub that protrudes through the floor mat.  The bottom of the emergency shift lever fits into the stub and you can then depress the clutch pedal and gently force the transmission into neutral.  

    At least that's how it should work, on paper.  In reality you have 63 years of hardened grease and oil resisting your efforts.  But give it a try, anyway.

    Now: once you get the car started, the Electric Hand (for that's what the pre-select shifter is called) may indeed work.  Or may partially work.  I have seen "barn" Hudsons of that era whose electric shifters worked just fine.  If the shifter isn't tip-top, a bit of lubrication and possibly a cleaning of some of the electrical terminals will be necessary. But that's another story.  First, let's get that car out of the garage before the "tweakers" arrive!
  • Jon BJon B Posts: 7,465Administrator
    By the way, if your Electric Hand DOES give you trouble, all is not lost.  There is a detailed section about it in the shop manual (reprints are available) and you don't need to be an electrical engineer to get it up and running again.  Here's a video made by a fellow who's restoring the Electric Hand from his '37 Terraplane pickup truck.
  • TJohnTJohn Posts: 5Member
    Perfect!  Thank you, the shifter is in place like a normal looking stick shift.  Good to know I can use it like I know.  I definately won't be starting it before going over and through it.  Thanks again for the info.
  • Jon BJon B Posts: 7,465Administrator
    Unless the previous owner disconnected some of the vacuum lines and linkages, you may be "fighting" the power unit when you attempt to shift (once you get the car running).   If the shift lever can NOT be pulled out of the stub on the floor, then the previous owner either (1) welded it in place, or (2) replaced the transmission cover with a "regular" (non-Electric Hand) transmission cover.  If he did that, then your car will shift with the ease of any other 1937 Hudson-built vehicle.

    If you decide to keep this car, then when you get more adventurous you might want to restore the Electric Hand to working condition.
  • TJohnTJohn Posts: 5Member
    edited May 2022
    Off the transmission topic for are some pictures of the move.  Old home to new home.  Top picture is new home.  Thanks John B for the quick overview/lesson on that crazy interesting transmission.
  • onerare39onerare39 Posts: 1,083Expert Adviser, Member
    edited May 2022
    Good Save!  One of our longtime members lives in Seabeck, WA, very knowledgable in all things Hudson.  I will forward this thread to him.
  • TJohnTJohn Posts: 5Member
    At some point someone who is "knowledgable in all things Hudson" might come in real handy.  It'll be a bit before I might do anything with it.  My wife and her cousin got the car moved, I won't be home from work for another week.  I'm looking forward to getting a closer look at this thing, now that I have some room and some light.  I have the original title and bill of sale for this car as well.
  • jjbubaboyjjbubaboy Posts: 916Senior Contributor
    Great save TJohn! Looks like a real beauty.
    I live in Washington as well so might be able to give tips and info when the time comes.
  • superwaspsuperwasp Posts: 403Member
    Oh wow. That looks pretty solid. Definitely worth the effort. I bet the paint will even buff out nicely.
  • Jon BJon B Posts: 7,465Administrator
    I believe this is the flagship of the Hudson line: eight cylinder and extended wheelbase.  Also comes with certain items "standard" that would otherwise be options, like the flip-down convenience shelf on the back of the front seat, and will have the radio and maybe even cigar lighter (lighters were very scarce on Hudsons), probably has the deluxe heater with defroster (which was introduced to Hudson in 1937).  Looks like your radio antenna is "sagging", though, you need to get under the runningboards and tighten the cable so it's taut, otherwise it will get caught in something and rip out.
  • TJohnTJohn Posts: 5Member
    It's my understanding that this was a pretty fancy car.  Has the flip up footrest in the back seat.  This is not normally my flavor of car, but I'm starting to get excited about it.  I'll at the very least shine it up and see if I can't get it running and driving.
  • d50erockd50erock Posts: 13Member
    Any update on the car?
  • 37 CTS37 CTS Posts: 551Senior Contributor

    Congrats, you have the biggest and best Hudson sedan for 1937.  I have one just like it, even the same color.  This is a special car and they drive very well. Your car looks to be so very complete and please consider just getting it running, and driving.  Then polish and detail as needed.  As you need help the forum is where you will find help. Please join the HET Club to meet the membership.
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