Variable pitch - How to use it ? Push start possible ?

Dedicated to discussion of the synchromesh, variable pitch dynaflow, and flight pitch dynaflow transmissions.

Variable pitch - How to use it ? Push start possible ?

Postby ceejay » Tue Dec 29, 2009 11:16 am

Hi all,

I bought a 58 Century Riviera today.. I'm new to Buicks and have a lot to learn.

My car has the variable pitch trans. What are they like to drive ? You feel no gear changes at all I suppose ?
Is it correct to say that in "D" the trans is in one "gear" and the torque converter does all the work ?

So is it like driving a modern "CVT" (Constantly variable Trans) ?? All you feel is the engine rev up but you don't feel even a slight jerk of a change ?

I have read on the internet, that with the variable pitch, it is possible to push start the car. This is unusual for a car with an auto trans isn't it ??!! According to what I read, its possible to do this because the variable pitch trans has a "rear pump"

So how would one push start this car ? start with it in "N" and once the car has gathered some speed shift it to "D" or start pushing with it in "D" ?

Also if you want to get away from the lights very hard, can you take off with the trans in "L" and once the engine has revved right up, shift it into "D" ? will this harm the trans ?
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Re: Variable pitch - How to use it ? Push start possible ?

Postby 58limited » Tue Dec 29, 2009 1:18 pm

I have never heard about push starting the Variable pitch Dynaflow, but maybe another forum member has.

The variable pitch, when shifted into "D", is always in third gear, so it doesn't shift as you accelerate. Yes, you can start in L at a light. I do it all the time. I shift to D at about 32 MPH. When you shift to D, the car goes into second gear, then shifts to third gear when you accelerate over about 40-45MPH.
1958 Buick Limited Riviera Coupe Model 755

Other cars:
1953 Chevrolet 3100 Pickup
1957 Pontiac Transcontinental Safari
1968 Ford Galaxie 500 HT
1977 Lincoln Continental Convertible
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Re: Variable pitch - How to use it ? Push start possible ?

Postby d2_willys » Fri Aug 06, 2010 4:37 pm

Yes you can push start a variable pitch dynaflow, and a flight pitch dynaflow (1958 only). Here is how it is done:

Variable pitch (all years): push car to 20mph, then turn on ignition and place selector in LO. Continue pushing till engine fires.

Flight pitch: Same as variable pitch, except place selector in G. :D
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Re: Variable pitch - How to use it ? Push start possible ?

Postby bhclark » Sun Aug 08, 2010 9:28 pm

d2 is correct.
Since there are no "gears", the twin and triple turbine can be push started.

I was amazed to learn this as well, but it's clear as day in the shop manual.

You feel no surges or "gear" changes at all, just a slow increase in engine rpm.

they are great cars.

NOTE....the G is for GRADE RETARD. DO NOT use this to start at a stop light as you would LOW in a regular twin turbine. You will damage the transmission. The "G" is for going down steep hills.
Brian Clark
'58 Super 2 dr Riviera(SNOW WHITE)
'59 Invicta 4 dr ht (LUCILLE)
'65 Wildcat Convertible (ROXANNE)
'96 Roadmaster Estate Wagon (LIZZIE)
BCA #41596, DWD #3
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Re: Variable pitch - How to use it ? Push start possible ?

Postby RoadMaster75 » Mon Nov 08, 2010 3:00 pm


I can verify that push starting can be done effectively as described.

I had much experience in the mid 60's doing this when ever my battery would die..
(which was often!) I had 55's then upgraded to a pair of 58s.

Getting a willing "pusher" was getting to be a problem as my friends
all began to get newer and newer cars...! They didn't wish to
risk damage to their chrome bumpers and grills!

Mike "RoadMaster75"
1958 Roadmaster75 - Unrestored w/ 40,000 orig. miles
1949 Willys-Overland Jeepster - Buick V6 power
1951 Chevrolet 1/2 ton Panel truck - 455 Stage One Buick power
1978 Cadillac Eldorado "Biarrtiz" - 22,500 orig. miles
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