57 belvedere 301 v8 removal?

Rusty Muffler

Active Member
Feb 11, 2011
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Petaluma, Ca.
Hi all, been a while since I sold my 66 Fury, but have recently acquired a 57 Plymouth Belvedere 4 door sedan. The 301 engine has been rebuilt and is out of the car. I bought the car this way with all the parts and bolts in the trunk. The trans was not removed, just supported at the front. I see the main frame crossmember where I assume the engine mounts go. After some reading I see mention of a rear engine cross member? I can see no evidence of that. Also the torque converter has 8 threaded studs coming out of it in a circle that mate with holes on the rear of the crankshaft. There's also a 1" thick horseshoe shaped spacer that goes between the engine and transmission. Question here is, how did they get to these studs to install the nuts? The MOTORS manual says to remove the engine you have to remove both engine and transmission. This is obviously not the case. What am I missing here? In the bell housing picture you can see a little slot at the bottom for access?
Also, is this car a Positive ground or Negative ground? Thanks!!
You can find downloadable Plymouth Factory Service Manuals in the Service Manual Library at www.mymopar.com (free download). Similar model year Chrysler/Imperial and Dodges, too.
I have the manual, they're not clear but it looks like I should pull the convertor out of the bell housing and bolt it to the crankshaft, then guide it into the transmission.
On page 345 (or thereabouts) in the '57 Dodge FSM, it mentions reinstalling the transmission. Apparently, when removing the PowerFlite, the torque converter housing stays on the engine as it talks about two guiding rods which are inserted into those bolt holes. Then making sure the transmission is installed squarely so as to not damage the front hub and such.

From that, it appears that the torque converter stays bolted to the crankshaft when the transmission is removed. Plus the "converter housing" (i.e., bell housing?) stays bolted to the engine block.

Thank heavens for flex plates.

Thanks, that sound right but as in the pictures the bell housing stays with the transmission. Good work and thank you! I'm missing the oil filter canister and bolt (used would be fine), engine mounts, and a carter 4v carb. where would I look for that? Also, do they make an adaptor kit to use a spin on fillter?
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I guess that back then, transmission jacks were not really everywhere, so they made the bellhousing as a separate casting, then let the torque converter stay with the crankshaft and inside of its bellhousing. Which made the resulting "transmission" lighter to deal with, and easier to handle with the car on a lift. With the two guide rods in the top two bolts of the rear of the bellhousing, to keep things lined-up, it still seems that the splines on the front pump would need to be indexed pretty close in position to those in the torque converter. But I guess they could have them cut such that if they were close, they'd just rotate and let things slide together without drama.

The OTHER side of having the separate bellhousing is that it would be easier to handle the torque converter by itself?

BUT, whether the torque converter is separate from the transmission or as it now is, it can still be difficult to install the nuts on the studs. Which means you'd have to rotate the engine a bit each time?

NOW, is the bolt pattern on the end of the crankshaft such that the bolt holes are evenly spaced or is there a greater space between two of them, such that the converter and crank will only bolt together ONE way? Or perhaps one bolt hole is farther from the center of the crankshaft than the other ones are?

Might check the parts book to see if there might need to be any circular or star lock wahers under the torque converter to crankshaft nuts. Just to be sure. Or if some special flange-head nuts were used? Plus if they might be "prevailing torque" (i.e., deformed lock nuts) with the washers captive to them?

That's the first time I'd paid any attention to the full frame on those cars. Noticing that the rear torsion bar mounts were just brackets on the inside of the frame rails, rather than a part of the rear transmission mount items as they are on later models. Interesting!

57 Plymouths are 12 volt negative ground. It looks like the transmission is already bolted to the rear crossmember and that is what is holding up the back of it. I've done quite a few 57/58 Plymouths over the years with both big and small block engines. I always prefer to install the engine and tranny together when possible. As said above, bolt the converter to the engine and then put them together. Good luck. Lets see some pictures of the car.
Make sure that when you install the trans that the tabs on the Torque Converter Reaction Shaft, I think it's called, line up with the slots in the torque converter. I made the mistake of just jamming the trans in on my first install in my '59 Sport Suburban and I screwed things up mightily! That was 1969! Also, don't forget a new converter seal.
Thanks Wedge, something not mentioned is there's also an O ring on the reaction shaft that needs replacing. Are you familiar with that?
Like I said, it was 1969, so I might have known back then. I learned early on to replace the converter seal every time the trans comes out. When Max's trans was out my friend said he didn't want to be held up by weird parts issues so I went to Fatsco and ordered all the seals and O rings because the '62 to '66 transmissions are different. It leaked about a quart a week sitting in the garage so I don't know what he or I missed!
Thanks again Wedge, I've heard of these "guide pins" that help when installing the engine to mate with the transmission? I need a pic to understand how they work and how they pull out when done? I think it's going to be a bear to position the engine on a hoist to mate with the transmission.
@Rusty Muffler I understand your dilemma. I've always been a trans out first then engine out or engine and trans out together. I think with the trans in and engine out there are way too many things to try and line up at one time. If you don't want to drop the trans out, I would mark the converter and the bell housing so things will line up with the pump tabs and converter slots and install the converter on the crankshaft then bolt the bell housing to the engine, that way you only need to align the input shaft with the converter and the 4 trans bolts.
Thanks again Wedge, I've heard of these "guide pins" that help when installing the engine to mate with the transmission? I need a pic to understand how they work and how they pull out when done? I think it's going to be a bear to position the engine on a hoist to mate with the transmission.
The guide pins are nothing special. I use long bolts that thread into the transmission mounting holes in the bell housing.

Cut the heads off the bolts, cut a slot across where the bolt head was for a screw driver to help in removal of guide pins.

You have four bolts holding the transmission in, the guide pins either go in the top holes or the side holes, slide transmission in place , install two bolts, remove guide pins, install other two bolts.

The guide pins need to be long enough so the transmission is on the guide pins before the input shaft is in the torque converter.

If installing transmission while engine is in car too long of guide pins will hinder the transmission install because of clearance with the transmission being back enough to get on the guide pins.

The factory service manual is pretty clear on this procedure as well as showing that the rear of the engine needs to be supported temporarily until the transmission is installed.

I like to tilt the engine back some to give more clearance for installing the transmission.

It will make more sense to you by reading the FSM and looking at the space you have to work with under the car.
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I just remembered that I installed a couple flathead 6cyl. engines with the PowerFlite transmission in the car like you have above.

Make sure the oil pump drive splines are lined up in the torque converter, I don't remember if one of the bolts are offset so the crankshaft can only go in one way. As stated above, verify that so you're not scratching your head wondering why it won't go together.

Also as stated above, you can get the nuts on the studs of the torque converter by starting them with your finger tips and expect no more than 1/6th. of a turn of an open end wrench to tighten them down. It's slow going but it's doable.

As far as some type of locking washer, I don't remember, but the protrusion of the stud through the crankshaft will tell you what type, if any, will fit.