TH400 Rebuild - Help me put together a list?

Discussion in 'Transmission & Driveline Topics' started by evilWS6, Jan 20, 2018.

  1. evilWS6

    evilWS6 Veteran Member

    309
    0
    Jan 22, 2013
    ny
    Hey fellas! It's been a bit.

    My poor '73 has been sitting for almost a year now with a TH400 that's been on it's way out. I finally just sold my Chevelle, so I'm ready to get the ball rolling. This will be my first transmission rebuild. I've done several engine swaps and a couple engine builds, but I've never been in a trans to do more than a filter change.

    Patient:

    '73 Camaro
    350
    Mild Cam
    Holley 650
    Edelbrock Performer Intake
    Longtubes / 3" Exhaust

    That's it, pretty mild.

    Plans:

    I want the TH400 to be beefy, because I drive the car pretty hard. I have a Hurst ratchet shifter and I almost always smash through the gears when I'm messing around. It's had the same trans in it for 20+ years, and as far as I know, it just has a shift kit that used to chirp 2nd (also, I had someone tell me that it's actually a reprogram kit, NOT a shift kit that get's you that firm shift?) Anyway, so yes - I'd like it to be stronger than it needs to be.

    Eventually, I'll throw some good heads on the engine and get it to breathe a bit better, but I'm pretty happy with the motor. What I'm unhappy with is the rest of the driveline. It has a stock replacement torque converter on it, and despite it having a locker rear end (or welded, for all I know) I think it still has 2.73 gears. I want it to utilize the power more efficiently, so I'll be putting in a new converter as well.I think the converter spewed it's guts and is the reason for everything failing in the first place. I could use some help picking a stall size, too. I was thinking of getting one from Jegs.

    What I Currently Have:

    I bought these specifically for the rebuild:
    • Cliff Ruggles TH400 rebuild workbench book
    (https://www.amazon.com/Rebuild-Modi...?ie=UTF8&qid=1516423431&sr=8-1&keywords=th400)
    • Bushing Driver Kit
    • Digital Caliper Gauge
    • Digital Dial Indicator

    Also have:
    • Sockets, wrenches, plenty of screwdrivers, feeler gauges, c-clamps, impacts, the usual and some more.

    Rebuild Kits:

    These are the two kits I have saved:

    1. https://www.ebay.com/itm/Th400-400-Alto-Red-Eagle-Kolene-Master-Transmission-Rebuild-Kit-1965-On-Level-2/371068211280?ssPageName=STRK:MEBIDX:IT&_trksid=p2055119.m1438.l2649

    "This rebuild kit includes all of the High Performance Red Alto Friction Plates, Kolene Steel Plates, Sealing Rings, Metal Clad Seals, Gaskets, Orings & Rubber Piston Seals + Red Eagle Front band, Pump bushing, tail hsg bushing, and modulator!!"


    2. https://www.ebay.com/itm/Th400-400-Alto-Red-Eagle-Kolene-Master-Transmission-Rebuild-Kit-1965-On-Level-2/371068211280?ssPageName=STRK:MEBIDX:IT&_trksid=p2055119.m1438.l2649

    "This rebuild kit includes all of the High Performance Red Alto Friction Plates, Kolene Steel Plates, Sealing Rings, Metal Clad Seals, Gaskets, Orings, rubber Piston Seals, High performance Red Eagle Band, filter modulator, Complete Bushing Kit + Complete Torrington Bearing Kit, Thrust Washer kit, and Reverse Band!!"

    -----------------------------

    I'm aiming for #2 as it seems to be the "complete" kit, but I guess it's hard to tell what I NEED without opening the case up and having a look. But I guess I'd prefer to rebuild everything while I'm in there.

    Anyway, I think that's everything I have at the moment. Could you guys help me choose a kit, a converter, identify any missing parts/tools, and offer any further advice?

    Thank you very much everyone!
     
    Last edited: Jan 20, 2018
  2. camaro71/holland

    camaro71/holland Veteran Member

    1,041
    42
    Aug 27, 2003
    The Netherlands
    Just my $0.02 after rebuilding a few transmissions including some TH400's:

    Buy the Ron Sessions's book as wel, it's more detailed and precise.
    Read both books BEFORE you start, till you think you anderstand the steps you'll be executing.

    Google for DIY/home made tools that will make this job a bit easier. Had a topic on it in this forum, but due to the sh$t with photobucket, you won't be able to see the pics.

    For your engine as you describe it, even after the head upgrade, you won't need anything fancy for your transminssion to be just fine. You don't need the Kolene steels from the kits, which will initially pollute your oil anyway.

    In stead of buying the ebay kits, I suggest you contact one of the builders who also sell overhaul kits. They will give you what you need, including a few small extra's they've engineerd/learned/discovered through the years. There are many you can choose from, but for TH400 (and TH-R200) I prefer to do business with CK Performance. He even put all his knowledgde about the 400 in a two volume book, but I think those books will exceed your goals a bit, being written for the more performance orientated builds.

    All you need for a succesful build in my opinion is:

    - Basic kit with Alto steels/clutches or the regular Raybestos 4l80e stuff,
    - Make sure the kit includes new roller sprags,
    - Rollerize the rear bearing,
    - Dual feed the direct clutches (included in some reprogramming kits)
    - Set all clearances within the limits, erring to the tight/minimum side. Put special attention to front/rear/oil pump clearances,
    - Get a good reprogramming kit like Transgo. A good vendor will ad some extra parts to it and provide you with updated instructions,
    - Get a deeper/extra capcity pan including an extension tube,
    - Drive it like you stole it and never look back.

    Good luck, it's good fun.
     
    evilWS6 likes this.
  3. evilWS6

    evilWS6 Veteran Member

    309
    0
    Jan 22, 2013
    ny
    Thank you very much for taking the time to type up your reply! You're definitely not the first person to suggest sticking with a kit that's more "stock" than the one's I posted. So, you just think the Kolene steels are the overkill bit of those kits?

    I'll keep looking around and see what the other kits look like. Thank you again :)
     
  4. camaro71/holland

    camaro71/holland Veteran Member

    1,041
    42
    Aug 27, 2003
    The Netherlands
    Comment by Pete Hughes from Hughes Performance Transmissions:

    "We use OE-style steels in the vast majority of all of our transmission builds. 3,000+ flywheel horsepower through OE-style steels in Powerglides and TH400's with no issues."

    'Nuf said.....;)
     
  5. budro6968

    budro6968 Veteran Member

    2,587
    353
    Apr 2, 2016
    Jax Florida
    I would take your pump and Extension housing to a local trans shop to have them knock the bushings out and drive in. Those can be a pain if you dick them up. I made a spring compressor for the clutch packs. A piece of all thread and some c-channel steel beam. You could weld some bed frame to get the width you need on the cheap. But you could even take them to the shop and have them remove the snap rings too. I did that a few times in the past. They did it for free. Putting them back is when it is nice to have your own tools to check clearance and do air checks. I used muffin pans to keep all the little pieces parts organized.
     
  6. Fbird

    Fbird Veteran Member Lifetime Gold Member

    2,974
    313
    Feb 12, 2011
    atlanta, ga
    search Jake Shoe ...on nasty...should be a picture guide of doing a th400 IIRC. Should be a sticky on here about doing that! I think he's built a couple of them ;)
     
  7. camaro71/holland

    camaro71/holland Veteran Member

    1,041
    42
    Aug 27, 2003
    The Netherlands
    Don't want to play a smart ass, but in my opinion those two are the easiest ones. The most difficult one can be the rear case busing as you need an extension to drive it in from the front of the case because the case won't stand on it's bell housing. You can place a log to support it, but most just drive it from the front. Tip: this bushing can 'walk', so secure it with blue lock-tite. Or if you get a quality kit, some have a bushing with a lip on one side, which will hold it against the insde of the case.

    If you ask me which bushing is the most challenging, I would say it's the long mofo in the center support. Not only because of it's length, but also because it needs to be lined out with the opening in the center support, or you'll experience oil starvation at that point.

    image.jpeg

    Don't worry too much about the exact depth of other bushings in the trans. Some literature will say exactly how deep you need to drive it in (like 0.026 from the top) but looking at the parts that turn in the bushing, you'll see that there is always enough meat to run on. To be sure, just make pics of the locations before you drive them out and compare later during the assembly.
     
  8. budro6968

    budro6968 Veteran Member

    2,587
    353
    Apr 2, 2016
    Jax Florida
    I was just thinking of what it costs to buy a bushing driver kit to use one time. Plus I have seen the guys that have dinged the pump bushing and have to re do it. Those kits don't come with the other bushings any way.
     
  9. larrylarry

    larrylarry Veteran Member

    1,524
    68
    Dec 22, 2011
    San Antonio Tx
    Driving out the bushings isnt that hard to do just mesure there depth before kocking them out. A shop press or bench press is nice to have. I didn't have either, I used a 4" long 3/4 " bolt & nuts. I used several different sized washers, a few I had to draw a pattern of the new bushing on a washer an grind the washer on a bench grinder to get the correct size to press in the new bushing.
     
  10. evilWS6

    evilWS6 Veteran Member

    309
    0
    Jan 22, 2013
    ny
    Well then. That settles that LOL. Now to find a good place to get the kit from!

    I'll give it a shot, but after Photobucket removed their third party hosting, the pics are probably gone. FWIW, I use Imgur now for that stuff.

    Luckily I got one for Christmas, hopefully it does the job.

    Forgot to mention I also have snap ring pliers that I got for this job, so I should be good with that part.

    What's the deal with the front pump? Do those get rebuilt or replaced? When everything started acting up, I would have what sounded like pump whine on startup. I haven't seen any stock replacement pumps listed for sale though.

    And yeah, as this is my first time (and I have bad eyes) I will measure the depth of everything before I take them out, so I have those numbers and ones in the book to refer to.

    I think the biggest problem is going to be finding somewhere that I can do all of this without my family knocking anything over or getting things dirty! My workbench is about 4 feet long. I need a bigger boat.
     

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