Gain extra benefits by becoming a Supporting Member Click here find out how!
Gold ***Platinum***
deek01BigDogSS (6)jk56chevy (11)WarrenL (2)Jens (10)
edad2000Custom_Deluxe_20VetteGyrl (2)JohnB (2)
speedygman (7)rickityfiftyMafo971Clifford Lao502drfleetline
Jud Leowish Non-synchronizedWGS53MobyVandurahereford
gary635g (6)
johnhem (10)
Greyimpala (5)
axmaker (3)
socalarch (3)
usmile4 (8)
Classic Performance Products Classic Parts
Ciadella Interiors American Auto Wire Art
Exile® Battery Keeper™ 6/12 volt charger w/ LED battery monitor
Low priced Genuine GM Auto PartsEcklers AutoMotive
Hellwig Products IncPerformance Rod & Custom
Impala Bob's Bob's Chevy Trucks Bob's Chevelle Parts Bob's Classic Chevy

Recent Hot Topics
Current Quote
"I've gotten my money's worth many times over. I don't know how people managed to get anything figured out on their old cars before the internet.
This site's the best!"
~ Supporting Member
Recent Topics
Join the Community today

Username Post: powerglide-no reverse        (Topic#208727)
Posts: 31

Reg: 02-03-04
02-02-09 04:45 PM - Post#1621200    

I have a 57 with a stock 283 and powerglide. At one point on my last cruise in the fall I backed up and the tranny had a slight "stumble". I can't describe it any better. While I sort of noticed it, I didn't think anything of it until I got back to my garage. I have no choice but to back in, and the tranny slipped so much I barely got the car parked. I tried topping up the fluid, but it made no difference.

Before I start to rebuild or replace the tranny, what simple things can I check myself? A mechanic friend suggested I start by changing the fluid. Could there be a block causing reverse to slip? Linkage adjustment? Any other adjustments not involving taking the tranny out?

I was hoping, no doubt foolishly, to avoid having to do the tranny this year. At any rate some help would be appreciated. And keep the KISS principle in mind! :-)


This Forum is Sponsored by
"10th Year" Silver Supporting Member
Posts: 1814
Loc: Pensacola Fl
Reg: 02-17-02
02-02-09 05:41 PM - Post#1621256    
    In response to North57

If it was normal up to that point I'm betting you just need a linkage adjustment.
* If I agreed with you we'd both be wrong.

Ultra Senior Member
Posts: 11006

Loc: Wisconsin..USA
Reg: 09-27-02
02-02-09 05:43 PM - Post#1621259    
    In response to North57

Possible broken side motor mount. Engine will be saging a bit.
Common for the reverse band or link to break (overhaul)
Sorry, but the fluid change is not the answer.
ChevGene 1934 Master sedan 1939 Master DeLuxe Town Sedan 1950 Styline DeLuxe Power Glide 1957 Nomad 283 PG 1963 Corvair Convertible

Frequent Contributor
Posts: 1206

Loc: Birmingham AL
Reg: 10-11-08
02-02-09 06:19 PM - Post#1621304    
    In response to Gene_Schneider

I have NEVER had a transmission behave differently after a fluid change, other than to fix a leak or "feel better" about having new fluid. I doens't fix things like this.

From what I have told, the age of these units is such that the seals get hard and don't hold pressure, thus, you get no reverse.

Rebuild and be done.
1964 Chevrolet Impala SS 327 Powerglide (SOLD!)
1981 Ford Granada 3.1 L (200 inline 6) (SOLD!)
1985 Chevrolet Suburban C20 454 Turbo 400
1999 Mercedes E300 (SOLD!)
2008 Mercedes E350
2012 Mercedes S550

"7th Year" Silver Supporting Member
Posts: 386

Loc: Northern Virginia
Reg: 04-08-08
02-02-09 06:52 PM - Post#1621342    
    In response to North57

Easiest first check is the linkage. The rod (linkage) at the bottom of the steering column (before the steering gear box) that runs to to the tranny could have slipped. There is an adjustment bolt for this rod that is easily accessible. I would certainly check all the linkage for proper adjustment before I would spend $ on a tranny rebuild. Good luck!
'57 Four Door B/A Sedan w/283

ChevyTalk Subject Matter Expert
Posts: 21128
Loc: See the USA in your Chevr...
Reg: 12-06-99
02-02-09 07:16 PM - Post#1621358    
    In response to North57

Hi North,

Let's look at the easy items first.

Okay - the fluid level is fine and there are visible leaks. GOOD NEWS!

Check the driver side engine/trans mount. They are notorious for failure (reproduction mounts are - not originals). They COMPRESS - so look at it closely.

Next stop... the pivot on the rear side of the trans case - which holds the linkage bellcrank.
Another part prone to wear - who lubes these linkages on a regular basis???
Look closely at the bellcrank hole. It is fairly common for them to wear into an OVAL shape - so the linkage geometry goes to crap and the first thing you notice - NO REVERSE or PARK does not engage well.

If you got this far - that means everything was fine..... okay - put an oil pressure gauge on the Reverse test port. The pressure reading should be 240-275psi for a V8 and 165-191 for a 235.

Hmmmmm, if the pressure is in spec and she won't go into Reverse - the Reverse band will require adjustment or replacement. Either way - its coming out of the car.

If the pressure is below specs... you could have a plugged oil suction screen
- Broken servo piston ring
- Pressure regulator valve is stuck
- worn front pump

I know, I know - none of this is good news - since the trans has finally said... HELP ME, PLEASE HELP ME..... and out it is going to come.

If you need trans rebuild parts - check out this link

Bowtieollie Moderator

Posts: 436
Reg: 01-01-08
02-02-09 08:02 PM - Post#1621406    
    In response to bowtieollie

First thing I would do with someone in the car is lift the trans with a jack. [Safety First!] If it is the mounts the car should go into reverse. I hope this works!

Posts: 31

Reg: 02-03-04
02-03-09 01:37 PM - Post#1621860    
    In response to bowtieollie

Thanks for all the replies, that's exactly what I wanted to know. I will certainly check the mounts and linkage first.

Bowtieollie, that was very detailed, thank you. Regarding the bellcrank linkage at the rear, how is that fixed? Park is often a little hard to engage, so that could be the problem. Is that an out comes the tranny fix, or is there a temporary fix to make the the car driveable for a while? Since I must back into my (rented) garage, that's a problem.

I assume everything you mention after requires taking the tranny out?

Unfortunately I can't get under the car to check any of this until the weather warms up a little here in the frozen north. Knowing what to look for and expect helps a lot.

Posts: 181

Loc: Bargo Australia
Reg: 10-25-06
02-03-09 06:24 PM - Post#1622052    
    In response to Gene_Schneider

I agree about the oil change Gene , 40 years ago I pulled down the PG in my 56 wagon to put a kit through it and the oil was full of grit from the fibre stuff on the plates disintergrating , but the box was still working well
1935 Master sports roadster, 1959 Belair 2 Dr, 1963 Corvair convertible, 1939 Norton Big 4 sidecar-drive outfit , 1943 Ford Jeep, 1956 Holden Ute
From the beautiful Southern Highlands of NSW

ChevyTalk Subject Matter Expert
Posts: 21128
Loc: See the USA in your Chevr...
Reg: 12-06-99
02-03-09 06:29 PM - Post#1622056    
    In response to North57

Hi North,

The bellcrank linkage is located on the driver side rear portion of the main transmission casting.

Follow the linkage from the steering column down and under the car. This is best done with the car safely in the air by the way.

As the linkage comes across the transmission, the rod will attach to a bellcrank which rotates and changes the direction of the shift linkage to the transmission.

Screwed into the outside of the trans case is a very large stud. Going from memory- it may be 3/4" diameter. This is the bellcrank stud and the bellcrank itself is notorious for wearing its pivot hole into an oval shape. Sometimes, the stud is also worn.

The bellcrank can be removed, the oval hole machined true and a brass bushing can be made to repair the bellcrank. Years ago, we just threw them away and replaced with a new bellcrank.

The stud can be welded up and remachined if a fairly large groove has developed (from the rotation of the bellcrank).

All of this is external to the transmission and can be serviced while your favorite radio is playing and you are laying on your back.

If this bellcrank is worn AND the driver side transmission/engine mount has failed - it is almost a no brainer that this is why your transmission is "acting up".

I do not know what happened to motor mounts for the 55-57 models. The originals would last for many years. The replacements seem to go away in less than 5 years - and that is even on trailer queens. This has been discussed many times on CT - and you may want to do a search on that topic also. Some members have drilled the mounts and have installed two bolts to keep the mount together - should it fail.

Good luck with the project - I hope its a minor service such as the linkage - and does not require a complete rebuild.....
Bowtieollie Moderator

Posts: 31

Reg: 02-03-04
02-03-09 07:05 PM - Post#1622076    
    In response to bowtieollie

Thanks Ollie. Having access to such expertise, and help from so many, is truly a blessing!

My Birthday Week
Posts: 3973

Age: 72
Loc: Milledgeville, IL. 61051
Reg: 11-23-00
02-03-09 08:32 PM - Post#1622138    
    In response to North57

I have NEVER seen a dry seal on a transmission that prevented the trans from operating.
I have torn down transmissions that have set for 30 years and NOT found a "dry" seal.
I would say if reverse just started to go bad that quick and the rest of the trans operates well, then the reverse band linkage (inside) is bad. Even the lining won't just fall off the band, that quickly.
You are probably looking at a rebuild.
Any man that thinks he is too old to learn new things, probably always was....

Ultra Senior Member
Posts: 11006

Loc: Wisconsin..USA
Reg: 09-27-02
02-03-09 08:51 PM - Post#1622155    
    In response to Coley

You were lucky to get five years out of those motor mounts when the cars were new. Used to stock a ton of them.
With the limited use our "collector" get they will last much longer.

You mean oil dosen't dry UP?
ChevGene 1934 Master sedan 1939 Master DeLuxe Town Sedan 1950 Styline DeLuxe Power Glide 1957 Nomad 283 PG 1963 Corvair Convertible

Edited by Gene_Schneider on 02-03-09 08:51 PM. Reason for edit: No reason given.

Senior Member
Posts: 9041
Loc: Tampa Bay, Florida
Reg: 12-23-03
02-04-09 05:07 AM - Post#1622302    
    In response to Gene_Schneider

If the mounts and linkage are OK try tightening the adjustment on the reverse band, one turn at a time.
In memory of George K Fullam(Goodwrench) Died 31 Mar 2005

To view my '57 Bel Air, and my previous '55 & '56 hardtops and '56 Corvette: Click Here

This Forum is Sponsored by
Icon Legend Permissions Topic Options
Report Post

Quote Post

Quick Reply

Print Topic

Email Topic

FusionBB™ Version 2.1
©2003-2006 InteractivePHP, Inc.
Execution time: 0.1 seconds.   Total Queries: 15   Zlib Compression is on.
All times are (GMT -0800) Pacific. Current time is 11:55 PM