It Ain't Rocket Science: I Learn About Power-Glides and So Can You!


et’s see, I have been racing for about 30 years and only using the venerable Chevrolet-based Power-Glide for five years. So I am definitely a “rookie” on Power-Glides. For some unknown reason I thought there was a “secret code” or something when it came to Power-Glides. I guess it was more the venturing into the unknown that had me ordering them from reputable builders. With two cars and engines in the 950 and 750 horsepower range we needed to be able to do our own repairs and maintenance to our transmissions.

I started to look into rebuilding my own transmissions, and what I discovered is they are engineered so they are durable and easy to work on. Almost no special tools are required to rebuild them, and parts and technical advice are easy to come by. Sorting through all the advice is probably the hardest thing, and I think you will find the experience I have had very easy to follow and duplicate. I have to thank Carl Munroe and TSR Racing Transmissions for his “Power-Glide Transmission Handbook”. The other thing that resulted from this research is my son and I opened a transmission shop to rebuild race Power-Glides and to supply racers with great parts at discount prices if they want to do their own work. The company we formed is called Midwest Performance Transmission, and our website is We invite you to take a look at our site after you read DRO this month. We are constantly updating prices and hopefully we will have a complete list of our small parts for rebuilders listed soon.

There is an endless list of different modifications that certain transmission builders use and believe in. The modifications detailed in the next couple months in this column will cover basic inspection, modifications and the “freshening-up” of a current working race Power-Glide. If you are taking a junkyard transmission apart there is a lot of closer inspection of the hard parts to see if they are useable. I will not be going through the entire operation and history of the Power-Glide and what makes it work. To be honest, that doesn’t interest me. I’ll leave that to the engineers and detail freaks who are interested. What I am interested in is helping those of you who want to tear into your Power-Glide and keep the hard-earned cash you pay to your friendly trans builder in your pocket.

Here we go: What to look for and what to do when rebuilding your Power-Glide.

  1. General inspection and initial measurements are critical and shouldn’t be overlooked. I recommend cleaning everything up the best you can to make it easier. The more time you spend on disassembly and closely inspecting parts, the better the rebuild will go. Look for small cracks in the pistons, bushings that are worn out, and grooves or gouges on machined surfaces.
  2. Get a strong bench to do your work on, preferably metal or covered with metal. The one thing I have learned about transmission fluid…”It gets in, and on, everything”. Make sure you have enough room to spread things out to keep things organized, or get several small plastic containers for things like front pump bolts, linkage parts, clutches, etc.
  3. You will need a few special tools but nothing major when you consider the money you can save doing your own transmissions. A good dial indicator with magnetic base, a good set of dial calipers, a set of feeler gauges and a small slide hammer you put a 3/8 NC bolt on. Removing the reverse piston spring retainer and high gear drum spring retainer requires a special spring compressor OR some patience and ingenuity with a couple five or 6 inch C-clamps.  TSR has some special tools available in the Power-Glide Handbook that are priced fair and work great.


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