1956 Removing automatic transmission without the engine


Active Member
Mar 17, 2020
Thunderbird Year
Some technical notes for removing the transmission without the engine on 1956. May also apply to the 1955 and 1957.

I recently replaced the front seal on my 1956 without pulling the engine. At the time it looked easier for me to try and pull the transmission leaving the engine in place. That way I didn't need any help removing the hood and I didn't need to borrow an engine hoist. I ran into a couple of problems and maybe someone else trying this can be helped. It's seems pretty straight forward from the online instruction except one does need to be careful not to let any of the assembly to pull back while removing the tail shaft. What can happen is the thrust washers on the sun gear shaft can fall out of place. If one was removing the trans to overhaul it then this wouldn't be a problem because you would have everything lined up as it should be and then attach a brace to hold the whole assembly in place. As instructed I attached a brace after I removed the tail shaft assembly, but by then it was too late. Of course this was not discovered until I went to install the tail shaft and found I couldn't rotate the driveshaft.

Another hint that might help someone who tries this project and doesn't have a transmission jack, but does have a floor jack. What I did was to bolt a board the size of the oil pan to the jack saddle pad. I used a adjustable strap to hold the back of the trans to the board. Without the strap the trans will want to tip off because of the weight of the bell housing and the convertor. Because I was working on the car only off the ground the height of the jack stands I needed to remove the convertor and the bell housing while under the car. To control the pitch of the trans to remove and replace it I used a scissor jack on top of three 1/2 inch pipes. That way I could support and control the bell housing end and with the floor jack control the main body of the trans. The pipes allowed the whole assembly to roll with the floor jack.

As it turned out my leaking problem was not the front seal but the square rubber seal at the front pump and trans body. It looks like maybe from day one this was a problem because the pump body had been machined out of square and didn't load the rubber seal as it should. I reworked the pump body and now no leaks.

I've attached a couple of pictures one showing the trans on the jack held in place by the adjustable strap and the other showing the scissor jack and the pipes.

IMG_0667.JPG IMG_0672.JPG
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Forum Moderator
Staff member
Mar 9, 2003
Title shortened from "Some technical notes for removing the trans without the engine on a 1956" to "1956 Removing the transmission without the engine"

Also, try not to use slang terms like "trans". This has an impact our search feature and prevents posts from being found when people are searching.

Thanks for posting the photos!