Two decades into the new millennium, it’s the undisputed Golden Age of performance. Not only can your order 1,000 reliable horsepower with nothing more than a phone and a credit card, but you can find the project to wrap around it just as easily.
But whether you buy a crate motor, an entire vehicle or have your dream quarter-mile car built for you, the very next step is finding the right transmission to put all that power to the wheels. And while Tremec has been building the most reliable manual transmissions in the business, there are two major features of your new drivetrain that’ll need to be addressed:
Bellhousing Alignment: Your new Tremec manual transmission has been engineered to provide the driving experience you’ve come to expect from the best name in the business, but there’s a very important link in that chain of power that shouldn’t be overlooked: the bellhousing. Literally standing between the motor and the transmission, making sure the bellhousing is properly chosen and aligned is the difference between the strongest and weakest link in your new drivetrain chain. The tech experts at Tremec can guide you through the basic tools you’ll need and the procedure to align your bellhousing correctly.
Driveline Installation: Once the bellhousing and transmission are in place on one end and the rearend has been mounted on the other, it’s time to spec your new driveline. While the correct universal joints and input shaft are necessary, there are three rules to making sure the driveshaft is balanced and will spin freely:
a) Universal joint operating angles at each end of a driveshaft should always be at least 1 degree.
b) Universal joint operating angles on each end of a driveshaft should always be equal within 1 degree.
c) For virtual vibration-free performance, u-joint operating angles should not be larger than 3 degrees
Another low-buck automatic conversion that could very well pay for itself
Several months ago we highlighted the Turbo Hydra-Matic 200-4R transmission as an automatic overdrive transmission for the economy-minded. The addition of an overdrive gear to any three-speed transmission, be it an automatic or manual shift, can improve fuel mileage and help decrease the wear and tear on your engine.
This month we will discuss the big brother to the TH200-4R referred to by General Motors as either the TH700R-4 or their later designation for it, which was the 4L60 transmission. Although some transmission installers feel that the low first-gear ratio and high second-gear ratio do not make the TH700R-4 the best racing transmission, there are quite a few adaptations you can perform to make it a race-ready drivetrain component. Weighing 184 lbs. this transmission can easily handle power torque ratings up to 650-lbs.ft. of torque, while propelling as much as 8,500 lbs. of payload down the pavement. This makes the TH700R-4 a prime candidate for a swap into any GM rear-wheel driver as a replacement for a TH350, Powerglide, TH400, or TH200-4R.
The TH700R-4 was the first overdrive automatic transmission used in GM cars and trucks in 1982, designated as a Hydra-Matic MD-8 transmission according to GM’s RPO codes. The quickest way to identify one of these units in a vehicle is by the square 16-bolt oil pan. The governor and speedometer drive are both located on the driver’s side of the transmission, the sleeve for the speedometer gear can be found in the tailhousing of the unit. TH700R-4 transmissions use a lock-up torque converter, and they use an electric control solenoid to operate the lock-up function. The electrical connector for this solenoid connector is also on the driver’s side of the transmission case.
Initially, the TH700R-4 came with a 27-spline input shaft from 1982-1984. Later production units were equipped with a 30-spline input shaft. Although the later 30-spline version is more desirable, both units can be interchanged if a torque converter with the proper spline count is also used. For the most part, you will find TH700R-4 models using the standard 153-tooth GM small-block flexplate; however, there are 168-tooth Chevy big-block and 166-tooth Pontiac flexplates available in the aftermarket. A detent or TV cable controlled the passing gearshifts. Several different detent cables were used depending on the vehicle the donor transmission came from. Later versions of this transmission, referred to as the 4L60E (1993 and up), used an additional electric kickdown solenoid to engage the passing gear; however, for this article we will be focusing on the earlier TH700R-4 and the 1990-’93 4L60 units.
Both the TH700R-4 and the 4L60 versions have an overall length of 30-3/4 inches except in the Corvettes, which measure 29-7/8 inches overall. All other important dimensions such as bellhousing bolt circle and location of the transmission mount are listed in the parts locator section of our website at http://www.hemmings.com/parts-locator/transmissions.html.
You can find a donor transmission from one of these General Motors vehicles:
o 1984-’91 Buick Electra, LeSabre and Estate Wagon
o 1991-’92 Buick Roadmaster
o 1990-’92 Cadillac Fleetwood Brougham
o 1982-’92 Chevrolet Impala and Caprice
o 1983-’93 Chevrolet Camaro and Pontiac Firebird
o 1983 Chevelle
o 1982-’92 Corvette
o 1985-’91 Chevy Astro Van
o 1982-’93 S-10, T-10 and Sonoma small pickups and Blazers
o 1991 R and V series Suburbans up to 3/4 ton
o 1982-’93 C and K series pickups up to 3/4 ton
o 1982-’93 G series vans up to 3/4 ton and full-size Blazers
The overdrive four-speed automatic is replacement for older three-speed Turbo Hydra-Matics or two-speed Powerglides
Many classic cars that used an original Powerglide two-speed or TH-350 three-speed can benefit from installing a TH-200-4R four-speed automatic without having to perform major modifications. The 200-4R can be used on many other GM passenger cars because it was manufactured with both a Chevrolet and a B-O-P bellhousing bolt pattern. The taller, fourth gear allows the engine it is installed behind to rotate at lower RPM than a three-speed transmission, and this not only will save on gas and engine wear, but it also allows you to change to larger rear axle ratios without severely impacting streetability.
TH-200-4R transmissions are very easy to locate from salvage yards, and most replacement parts are still available from transmission parts suppliers and auto parts stores. Heavy-duty parts for racing applications are available from transmission parts suppliers, as well.
Will a TH-200-4R fit in my car?
Your engine size should be a consideration; many muscle-car enthusiasts recommend using the TH-700-R4 or 4L80E overdrive units on large V-8 and higher performance engines. However, in many V-6 and small V-8 applications, a TH-200-4R will fit with fewer modifications.
The TH-200-4R, like the TH-350, uses a 27-spline output shaft, which is similar in length to the TH-350 and the TH-200, making it a natural for many overdrive conversions. The TH-200-4R is also similar in length to the Powerglide and the B-O-P Super-Turbine 300 (two-speed), which makes it a popular unit for converting from a two-speed to a four-speed automatic.
The TH-200-4R has a 2.74:1 first gear ratio, and overdrive is 0.67:1. Its odd-shaped 16-bolt pan has 13mm bolt heads. The TH-200-4R was used in GM rear-wheel-drive cars equipped with the 231 Buick, 301 Pontiac, and the Oldsmobile 307, 350 gas and 350 diesel engines from 1981-’90; however, many Chevrolet 267 and 305 V-8s also used the TH-200-4R because of the multi-fit bellhousing.
The transmission identification is on a plate on the right side of the case towards the tailshaft. This ID plate is attached by one rivet. The plate will have a two- or three-letter transmission code in large letters.
Which TH-200-4R should I get?
The most desirable TH-200-4Rs for performance enthusiasts are the units manufactured for Buick Grand National, Olds 4-4-2 and Chevy Monte Carlo SS in 1986-’87. These units used a special valve body. They also had a larger reverse boost valve, second to third intermediate servo, and a specially designed governor assembly. Their BQ, OZ, CZF, KZF or BRF transmission codes can identify these more desirable units.
This transmission is ideal for swapping with a TH-350 or a Powerglide, because the overall length and the bell housing bolt pattern of the TH-200-4R are the same, and your original driveshaft does not have to be shortened. The output shaft is 27-spline, the same as the TH-350’s. Moving the crossmember will be necessary, because the TH-200-4R crossmember is mounted on the extreme end of the tailshaft.
I purchased an early Model B gearbox a while back at a good price, (3 years ago!! but never took things any further but now back on the radar) not in the best condition but appears to be serviceable. The other parts I’ve been gathering with the help of John Cochran. (need any Model A bits, he’s your man)
There are a fair number of parts needed to complete the conversion, but I think it’s worthwhile as its a synchronised transmission. The later unit is supposed to be a better option but we’ll work with what we have and it’s a good project to take into 2023.
As you can see some of the parts need some work. There are a number of differences between the Model A and Model B set up. Major items are the clutch housing, flywheel, relocation of the pedals and wishbones just to mention a few.
Made a start on the shift tower which had some rust and debris that has fallen into the gearbox, this however should be easy to remove. The unit was filled will gear oil when I originally purchased it to keep things lubricated during storage. As you can see even with a cursory initial clean up on the shift tower, things look a lot better.
During the clean up I came across the part number which is cast into the casing, stating 40-7222, which was a little confusing as this is the earlier transmission.
A quick check over at the excellent VanPelt site quickly solved the mystery
The 40-7222 shifter housing (known as the “slanted” tower) pictured below was used from 1933 through 1935 models. The B-7222 housing (1932 only) looked the same but had two mounting bosses on the right hand side for the parking brake handle mount. Both early housings incorporated the B-7235 shift lever guide plate (see picture at bottom of this page). The guide plate was discontinued after 1934 production. The early housings used the B-7230 and B-7231 forks through 1933 and perhaps part of 1934 production. The slanted towers used the smaller 7230/7231 shifter forks, but also used the smaller shifter levers. Although it will bolt on to any 1932-52 toploader gearbox case, it can NOT be used with the 1939 and later gear sets with the late style synchronizers. This housing is the single detent type, using the same detent spring and plungers as the 68-7222 housing.
Looking for a manual transmission but don’t know where to start? This handy guide to Tremec transmissions should help you out! From the OEM-sourced T-5 and T-56 transmissions, to the TKO and TKX transmissions you can buy today, this in-depth look at Tremec’s group of manual transmissions is designed to help you choose which gearbox is right for your project car. https://www.holley.com/brands/tremec/…https://www.holley.com/products/drive…
After driving my Model-A for a while with the stock 3-speed non-synchro transmission, it seemed like the car would be much more compatible with modern-day traffic if it had an overdrive gear. A company in Muncie Indiana, called Auto Restorations makes a kit for installing a Borg-Warner T5 transmission in a Model-A. The kit costs $895, and includes transmission adaptor, driveshaft, brake linkage changes, clutch disk, speedometer cable, etc. Presumably everything you need. After a call to get information (765 288-3291, they don’t have a web site) I ordered a kit.
The only thing you need to know before ordering is how many splines there are on the input shaft, so that you can get the proper clutch disk. The donor transmission comes from a Chevy S10 2WD pickup. These T5 transmissions are unique in that they have the shifter placed further forward than a standard T5. Even though the shifter is further forward, it still is about six inches rear of the original Model-A shifter once the conversion is done. T5 transmissions are synchromesh in all gears and high gear is 0.72:1, a nice 38% reduction of RPMs while cruising. My transmission had the 14-spline input, but some of these T5s have a different spline count. I believe all have a standard 27-spline output. I found a transmission at the local Pull-A-Part for about $70 including tax and the core-charge. They aren’t very difficult to pull out, but I did donate a nice socket to inside the frame of the donor vehicle while I was taking off the cross brace. Here’s what it looks like:
The kit arrived, well packaged, in two boxes. Many of the parts were primed in red oxide. I though that it would have been a nice touch if the supplier had powder-coated them, and I considered doing that myself, but decided instead to paint everything in black prior to installation. In retrospect, I’m glad that I didn’t powder-coat them, since several parts needed to be modified.
Instructions are included, but they are pretty sketchy and in unusual order. I suspect that no word processing was used so that modifying and updating the instructions had long ago ceased. They do include some good pictures and drawings though, that I found to be very helpful. I didn’t have any idea if this was going to be a half-day or week-long job. As it turns out, the latter was the closest guess. If you want to see the instructions that come with the kit, here’s a copy…T5 Installation Instructions.pdf
First thing I did was to modify the transmission. This involves cutting off a tab behind the shifter and drilling a hole below the shifter to accommodate two thick steel plates that bolt to the rear of the transmission. These plates are the new support for the rear control arms connecting to the axle. As was going to be typical in this job, the plate on one side had to be machined to fit the transmission, and the spacers from the kit weren’t quite the right size, so I ended up making new ones. Also, the hole in the T5 needs to be bored to a larger size to work with the kit.
The next step was to start disassembling the car. This involves unbolting the rear spring, brake rods, and shock absorbers from the car so that differential can be lowered and moved back to remove the torque tube. Here’s one step in the instructions: “Go to the back of the transmission and remove six bolts holding the torque tube. At the differential this torque tube should release so it can be taken down. If not, you may have to persuade it.”
Those two sentences turned into hours and hours of work. As it turns out, removing the torque tube at the rear involves pulling the pinion bearings (complete with races) from the differential. After several hours of unsuccessful persuasion, I found a note tacked onto the end of the instructions about how to use a disk and some studs included with the kit to help. Finally, success! Here it is at work:
Once the torque tube is out, the transmission can be removed. It’s not a bad time to also take out the brake linkage since it will all be modified anyway later on. When the transmission is out, the new clutch disk can be installed, using the existing pressure plate. The instructions tell you that you need to get an alignment tool, but they actually included a decent plastic tool for this purpose. The kit also doesn’t mention, but includes a new pilot bushing that slips into the existing flywheel bushing, and extends it out and to the correct diameter for the T5. Forgetting that would be something you would remember for a long time since it would require pulling out everything again. You can see it in this picture.
This week Davin tackles upgrading our 1946 Ford truck’s transmission. This was a truck assembled in 4 days on the grounds of the Hershey Swap meet in 2015 and ever since the plan has been to upgrade to a T5. Well, six years later Davin finally found the time. Watch along as we take you through the process. We’ll show you what it takes to do an upgrade like this, and worse case you might learn what not to do..
For 1935, Ford offered customers “effortless driving.” Today, that clutch pedal is just too much work for the average new-car buyer.
I hear somebody, maybe Volkswagen, has announced the end of manual transmissions—with other manufacturers almost certain to follow suit. Honestly, I don’t care much.
Any development on new cars is only of peripheral interest to me. I’ll likely never buy a new car. If I did, it would be some kind of roomy, economical family hauler—not a sports machine (the kind my colleague Mark McCourt insists need three pedals). The manual transmission has been extinct in family vehicles for a long while now. I’d much rather spend my money on something like a 1940s De Soto Suburban anyway.
The newest car I’ve personally owned was the 1993 Ford Escort I had from 2001 to 2009. I replaced it with a ’61 Ford Falcon and have largely tried to stick with stuff of ’60s or older vintage ever since. Largely, I’ve also sought out manual transmissions in these older vehicles, though my current car (foreseeably a long-term keeper) has a Powerglide automatic.
Manual transmissions are like every other manual item of the 20th century that has been automated: air-fuel mixture, spark advance, heck, even staying in your own lane and not tailgating people. Satisfying to those of us that enjoy extracting fine control from a machine, but mostly just an irritation to the average new-car buyer who seems to view driving itself as a major inconvenience anymore. Expecting 21st century, multinational corporations to cater to the enthusiast is a pipe dream. Why not ask for access to their proprietary software while you’re at it?
Better to stick with old cars and create your own reality. They’re not going anywhere, barring draconian legislation that bans driver-operated vehicles from the roads. Even if gasoline goes away, enthusiasts have already started exploring dozens of ways to repower old cars.
What is overdrive? Simply stated, any overdrive transmission turns the driveshaft faster than the engine’s crankshaft when overdrive is engaged.
To get underway, the crankshaft must turn faster than the driveshaft; the driveshaft is underdriven. This gives the engine a mechanical advantage over the driveshaft. Once cruising speed is reached, however, if the engine could turn a lower rpm than the driveshaft, through overdrive, it would reduce engine wear and yield better fuel mileage.
Both automatic and manual transmissions may have overdrive. With today’s manuals, though, the driver must depress the clutch and physically shift into overdrive. It wasn’t always that way.
Engineer William B. Barnes is credited with designing and mating a secondary overdrive unit to a common three-speed manual transmission, using a planetary gearset to increase the output shaft speed. He shopped it to Borg-Warner’s Muncie Gear Division in 1932, where it was further developed and presented to Chrysler Corporation. Chrysler first made it available in 1934 Chrysler and De Soto Airflows to augment their gas mileage.
Barnes’ original design required that the unit’s sun gear be held in place with a manual control to engage overdrive. Subsequent development added electric components to control that function, resulting in what became known as “automatic electric” overdrive. Simply known as “overdrive” thereafter, it became a popular option on many cars and trucks during the 1930s and beyond.
Manual transmissions are an icon of the automobile hobby. The ability to operate a car with three pedals sets an individual apart from the mass of drivers who just see cars as point-a-to-point-b transportation. “Driving a stick” lends a certain air of mystery and adventure to a car owner.
Still, how many devotees of the clutch pedal can tell fact from fiction when it comes to the innards of their beloved gearbox? Most of us don’t know a lot more than the number of forward speeds and how many of them are synchronized. It doesn’t need to be that way. The selection, installation, and maintenance of what was once called the standard-shift transmission can be quite straightforward.
From a three-on-the-tree to the seven-speed in a C7 Corvette, all manual transmissions have certain points of commonality. The muscle-car four-speeds of the ’60s and ’70s are likely the most familiar to Hemmings readers, but five-speeds like the Borg-Warner T-5 have been with us nearly 40 years. Even the beloved T-56 six-speed came on the scene in 1992, with the Dodge Viper. That’s a lot of accumulated knowledge. To get the latest information for gearjammers, we consulted with TREMEC dealer Silver Sport Transmissions. Below are five things to consider when contemplating a manual transmission in your ride.
1. Overdrive in Moderation
Historically, a transmission’s top gear transmitted power from the engine in a 1:1 ratio (“direct drive”) where one turn of the engine causes one turn of the driveshaft. Starting in the Seventies and Eighties, however, manual transmissions adopted overdriven top gears, meaning the engine can be turning slower than the driveshaft. When selecting an overdrive ratio, keep in mind that the lower the number, the more overdrive. On a TXK five-speed trans (shown above), the buyer has a choice of 0.81:1, 0.72:1, and 0.68:1, which offer 19-, 28-, and 32-percent overdrive, respectively. Beware of falling into the “more is better” trap, however. As with camshafts and carburetors, too much overdrive will work to your disadvantage. Unless you have an engine built for it, matched to the proper rear-end ratio, you may find yourself lugging the engine in overdrive
2. Keep things in Sync
Synchronizer rings and cones smooth the transition from one gear to another, so that you only have to press in the clutch once per shift. They may date back to the 1930s, but they’re not limited to the technology of that era. While traditional brass construction still persists for most applications, Silver Sport’s experts note that they wear faster than some options now available. Worn synchros lose their grip and exhibit crunching where crisp shifts used to be the norm. “If you plan on high-rpm shifts or if you’d like to extend the life of your transmission before it needs a rebuild, carbon-lined synchronizers are the way to go,” said Silver Sport’s Misty McComas. Carbon linings come in both partial and full varieties. With partial (shown above), only the blocker ring or cone is lined, but with full, the whole synchronizer is lined. The latter is recommended for situations where more grip is desired. Even if you’re not power shifting, a harder-wearing consumable means more fun time versus maintenance.