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Thread: 1953 m38a1

  1. #1
    Junior Member
    Join Date
    May 2019

    1953 m38a1


    Last summer I bought a 1953 M38A1, ran, drove, and altogether operated just fine. But after about a month of me beating the sh*t out of it, mainly due to my ignorance of what it could do and what it was meant for, the transmission became shot, and so did some of the wiring. Iím not super worried about the wiring problem currently, I can figure that out myself most likely, but one thing I really do not want to mess with by myself is the old T-90 transmission. With that being said, I would like to have the transmission solely redone professionally, whether it be rebuilt or remanufactured. What would be a fair price to look for in order to have a project like that done?

  2. #2
    Super Moderator LarrBeard's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2014
    Ft. Wayne, IN

    Rebuild/Remanufacture T-90

    Quote Originally Posted by JWehling60 View Post
    , I would like to have the transmission solely redone professionally, whether it be rebuilt or remanufactured. What would be a fair price to look for in order to have a project like that done?
    Well, we've all beaten one pretty hard at one time or another. Sometimes you get away with it, sometimes it breaks right way and sometimes it breaks a lot later on...

    You don't specifically mention whether you did a job on the transfer case as well, or just the transmission itself.

    A quick check of the KWAS catalog puts a restored transfer case at about $1,100. A rebuilt transmission is about $1,000.

    Now, when I restored the '48 2WD, the local transmission shop did a rebuild for about $450. It took them three tries, but still less than $500. I'd guess (and it's a SWAG) a similar amount for a transfer case. If you're going to do the transmission, go all in and do the transfer case too. It probably has issues from old age and excessive exercise!

    The "expert" may not know much more about it than you do - or could learn - but my philosophy is that the last guy who touched it owns the problems.

    Look at the You Tube videos to see just what is involved. You may be able to at least look at the innards and see what broke.

    Let us know what you find.

  3. #3
    Super Moderator gmwillys's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2017
    Welcome JWehling60,

    LarrBeard has you pretty much covered in information. I would agree that if you would like the transmission rebuilt by the folks who know these transmissions inside and out, then I would go with the K.W. rebuilt items. I would pay special attention to the transfer case as well. The oil for the transmission is shared with the transfer case, so if you created shrapnel, then you are bound to have issues with the T-Case.

    Share some pictures of your ride. We would love to see them.

  4. #4
    Super Moderator bmorgil's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2018
    Northwestern Ohio
    You are going to begin dissembling the transfer case just to get the transmission out. I would drop the cross-member, transfer case and transmission as a unit. I think gmwillys has some good advice. You are not that far from the T-case rebuild. The T-Case is one tough box. There isn't much to it. It needs to be shimmed correctly. That's about the trickiest part. For some reason they are sensitive to the procedure you use. Other than that, I wouldn't expect to find any big issues. Bearings and seals, replace the shift rail ball de-tent springs, and it should be good. You always want to take a look at the idler shaft. They get pitted because they set low in the case and get the water.

    I agree with LarrBeard's assessment of the cost. I think if you can find a shop that KNOWS the T90 and the Dana 18, They might do them both for a fair price. It takes me one short, long lunch day to rebuild the combination and, reassemble it to the cross member. A person who does transmissions every day will have no issue. I got to practice pulling the combination in and out, on my cracked transmission case. I can say that it is one of the easiest manual boxes and transfer cases shops would encounter. If they are familiar with them. Like anything else, there are a few "intricacies" about them both. I have about $900 in parts in my trans/transfer case. I also used a few special tools. The transmission however retains very few original parts, driving the cost up.
    Last edited by bmorgil; 05-30-2019 at 11:48 AM.

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