Our theme for this race ought to be "Keep Cool".  We could hang old radiators all over the car.  And fans- can't have too many fans!  Last work session we began installing a new, better radiator, and this weekend we decided to attack the heat contributed by the automatic transmission.

A lot of racers install shift kits in their automatic transmissions.  Shift kits do a lot of good- they give better control over shifts, allow full manual control if desired, and tighten up the transmission so more power gets to the drive wheels.  And, because the shift kit makes shifts quicker and firmer, less heat gets generated in the transmission, so it actually can make the transmission last longer. 

Back in 1975, buyers of the LTD most likely didn't have any interest in knowing when their car was changing gears.  Things were so bad back then, all they wanted was to be ensconsed in their rolling living room/ sultan's palace on wheels, and glide down the road with as little interaction with the driving experience as possible.  Gear changes were too much like reality, and Ford obliged its comfort and isolation-seeking customers by making the c6 just ease into the various ratios.  And when the speed limit is 55 mph, and you've got only 153 horsepower being transmitted, and the rest of the car is pretty much designed to fall apart or corrode before the 5 digit odometer rolls over, well, who cares?

Well, its 2011, the LTD is now a racecar (in the loosest sense of the word), and we want tire-shredding 1-2 upshifts and lightning-like downshifts for when we're pouring on the beans coming out of the corners.  Mr. Shift to the rescue!

Mr. Shift is the floating head/ mascot of the TransGo shift kits.  Dean's Transmission supplied the kit (Stage 2, the race version!) and McCall and I followed the well-written instructions and floating head to modify the C6.

First, you take off the pan, spill ATF everywhere (especially in your hair), and lose a half dozen of the mounting bolts in the catch pan that only caught about 1/3 of the fluid. 

Then you look in the pan and see this little plastic thing that's floating in the residual fluid.  WTF is that? 

After poring over the entire transmission and not seeing where the little plastic doohickey could have come from, we got on the interwebs and found someone who had the exact same question.  Turns out, the plastic thingie was a plug that FoMoCo put in the C6 when it ws manufactured but before it was installed in the car.  When the stogie- chomping assembly line UAW hack shoved the fill tube into the C6, it pushed the plug into the pan where it would roll around for the next however many scores of thousands of miles until the ATF was changed, and which point the shop that changed the fluid would drop the pan, wonder WTF that little plastic doohickey was that was floating around in the fluid, and possibly just leave it in the pan when they reinstalled it.  You know, in case it had some magical, slushbox-functionality-enabling powers. 

I'm guessing that's what happened, anyway.  Either that, or we're the first set of eyeballs to look inside this transmission since 1975.  Which is just as likely.

After solving "The Mystery of the Little Plastic Doohickey", McCall and I set about installing the shift kit.  Its pretty strightforward- take apart the valve body, replace the little springs with the stiffer springs supplied in the kit, and put it back together.  In addition to stiffer springs, the kit also provides a new slidey valve thingy for one of the hydraulic circuits.

I've no idea what this does, but the factory piece has a hole drilled through it, while the shift kit piece has no hole drilled in it.  Near as I can figure, the hole allows performance to escape.  No hole means the performance stays in!

You also have to drill out a hole in the steel plate that gets sandwiched between the valve body halves.  Apparently this hole allows performance in.  Bigger hole = more performance!

New gaskets, clean everything up good, and put it all back together with a new filter. 

Clean the pan, paint the outside for good measure.


We picked Smoke Gray, because for some reason I have accumulated many rattle cans of Smoke Gray paint.

Putting the valve body back on the transmission took a little patience and some aligning of the shift lever and the kickdown lever.  At several points in the shift kit installation process it was quite handy having 2 sets of hands available.  This was one of those occassions.  Once the valve body was in, we bolted the new pan and gasket in, and poured 4 quarts of new Type F fluid in. 

Since the cooling system is still slightly disassembled, we couldn't take the car for a road test, or warm it up enough to figure out how much more fluid needed to be put in.  We did get the band adjusted, though.

Once the cooling system is finished we can top off the fluid and adjust the kickdown linkage.  Then we'll take the car out and follow the very explicit instructions included with the shift kit on how to perform Big Smokey Burnouts!


Comment from: Waterwolf [Visitor]
WaterwolfOK--Lets put some figures on this. Red Bull article says you averaged 53 MPH. Lets look ahead to the Charlotte race. If you can saty on the track for 12 hours at 53 MPH, that equates to 636 miles......a days drive in the old LTD. If the track is 1.5 miles as you suggest, that comes out to 424 laps. How many laps did the Class C winner (the old truck with a couch in the bed) turn at Kersaw in May?
08/13/11 @ 20:14
Comment from: Matt [Visitor]
MattAwesome write up guys. Performance holes FTW!!
08/15/11 @ 10:42
Comment from: volvoclearinghouse [Member] Email
volvoclearinghouseI hooked up the lower radiator hose and ran the engine with the garden hose stuck into it. More brown crud effluenced from the themostat housing. I'm fairly certain it's casting sand from 1975.
08/18/11 @ 07:24
Comment from: glassbuster [Visitor]
glassbusterSo have you taken it for a test drive? We are expecting a big smoky burnout!
08/19/11 @ 22:46
Comment from: volvoclearinghouse [Member] Email
volvoclearinghouseI did add a couple more quarts of Type F, after idling for a while in 'N' while flushing the block the ATF wasn't even on the stick. It goes solidly into all gears at idle now, so all signs are promising.

Smokey burnouts after we get the brakes fixed. I promise. :-)
08/21/11 @ 19:02