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Im about to rebuild an automatic trans for the first time. Any tips?

Discussion in 'The Hokey Ass Message Board' started by garagedoreen, Apr 29, 2009.

  1. garagedoreen
    Joined: Dec 12, 2006
    Posts: 168

    from LA,CA

    Im about to rebuild a 1962 Cadillac 4 spd Jetaway transmission. Ive never rebuild an automatic trans before. I just ordered 2 books on that trans to overhaul it and the rebuild kit. Im going to start disassembly this weekend.

    Any basic trans rebuilding tips?

  2. SaltCityCustoms
    Joined: Jun 27, 2007
    Posts: 1,211


    Make sure to keep everything labeled, there are more parts than you will ever imagine.
  3. garagedoreen
    Joined: Dec 12, 2006
    Posts: 168

    from LA,CA

    yeah, that rebuild kit already has a bunch of crap in it. I can only imagine whats inside.

  4. bob3757
    Joined: Sep 26, 2008
    Posts: 164

    from Tigard, Or

    The only advice I can give is something I learned the hard way, many years ago. Clean all the parts thoroughly and blow them dry with air, DO NOT wipe them with a red grease rag, or you will end up with a filter screen plugged up with red rag fibers. Bob
  5. kelzweld
    Joined: Jul 25, 2007
    Posts: 295


    Clean the outside of the case before you strip it. You could probably build sub assemblies to make it less of a big job for a first build. And pay close attention to the correct clutch clearances. Have fun.
  6. One thing to remember is on those transmissions, at least the hydramatics I worked on is that the steels in the clutch packs are slightly convex so look carefully at the clutches and steels when you assemble them. read the book before you start taking it apart.
  7. garagedoreen
    Joined: Dec 12, 2006
    Posts: 168

    from LA,CA

    thanks for the replies. good stuff.
  8. flynbrian48
    Joined: Mar 10, 2008
    Posts: 7,202


    Good for you for not being afraid of tackling that job! Here's how I do it:

    1. Remove the trans.:)

    2. Read the manual.:cool:

    3. Think about all those little springs, washers, little balls, levers, doing whatever it is they do in there and picture in my head how they all work together.:confused:

    4. Clean the bench.:eek:

    5. Load the trans into the back of the truck and take it to somebody who knows what all those little parts are and how to get them back where they belong.:eek:

    6. Wipe pen off with red shop rag and write check when I pick it up. Never had red lint clog a filter doing it this way!:D
  9. bct
    Joined: Apr 4, 2005
    Posts: 3,099


    get one of them wire tools for manipulating the seals...looks like a wire loop on the end of a dental pick...
  10. TagMan
    Joined: Dec 12, 2002
    Posts: 6,171


    I'd also take some pics as you go along. They really help when you're reassembling.
  11. buckeye_01
    Joined: Jun 20, 2005
    Posts: 1,441


    Watch the seals. If you cut one, don't put it in. If you don't have to take the valve body apart, DON'T. Most of all, be patient.
  12. Ebbsspeed
    Joined: Nov 11, 2005
    Posts: 5,597


    I always lay down an old sheet on the shop floor, then I can line all the parts up exactly as they come apart. You'll end up with a long row of snap rings, clutch parts, drums, spacers, seals, planetarys, etc. so that it ends up looking like one of those "exploded" diagrams, only it will be in 3-D. Then you remove the old parts from the lineup and set the new ones in their place, to get your lineup for re-assembly. Measure any clearances BEFORE you take assemblies apart, and document them. CLEAN, CLEAN, CLEAN. Take pictures. Take more pictures. Then when you think you have taken enough pictures, take some more from a different angle. Make sure you soak the clutches and bands in trans fluid for whatever period of time your rebuild kit or manual says. Take your time. As far as I'm concerned, an automatic transmission is the most complicated component on a vehicle. I'm still amazed that there were people out there a long time ago that figured out how to make them.
  13. Bluesfella
    Joined: Apr 30, 2004
    Posts: 146


    Having no experience with ANY transmission rebuilds before (manual or automatic), I bit the bullet about 2 years ago and rebuilt a 700R4 to go in my Chevy. I CLEANED my garage first, then laid an old clean sheet on the workbench. Like Ebbsspeed said, lay everything out in the order it comes out of the case. Keep eveything labeled, and SUPER CLEAN. If you follow the directions, it's really not that hard, you just have to be meticulous. I drive my '55 Chevy every day with this trans in it, and it works flawlessly. You can do it!
  14. garagedoreen
    Joined: Dec 12, 2006
    Posts: 168

    from LA,CA

    thanks all for the tips. Ive built a few motors and a few late body 5spds, but never an automatic.

    yeah, pictures, pictures and pictures. lay out the parts in order, soak the parts. And before i start, clean the garage!

    Im going to clean up my work bench and charge my digital camera. Ill post up some pics of the rebuild.

    Oh yeah, the trans shop where I bought the rebuild kit. says to use paint thinner to clean the parts. does that sound right??
  15. Lucky77
    Joined: Mar 27, 2006
    Posts: 2,490


    My buddy worked at a trans shop and he had a piece of wood that he would set flat on the floor/bench with a piece of dowl rod sticking straight up. Every part that he took out went onto the dowl in the order it came out in. The dowl could be removed with everything in order when it came time to clean/inspect/replace parts.
  16. Best bit of advise so far! hydros are a pain. do you have bushing drivers? a press to release the spring plates on the drums? a way to stand it up so it won't fall over when you start putting everything back in? a way to pressure check it to see if the clutch packs are working? this is a lot different than a manual trans. I worked at a trans shop for 3 yrs as a rebuilder and it ain't fun sometimes.
    Last edited: Apr 30, 2009
  17. Paint thinner evaporates and doesn,t leave a film/oily residue on the parts like varsol does.I also use a product called Trans-gel to re-assemble trannys with. Lubes and holds components when re-assembling.
  18. garagedoreen
    Joined: Dec 12, 2006
    Posts: 168

    from LA,CA

    thats a good idea! Thanks.
  19. ten thumb
    Joined: Jul 16, 2008
    Posts: 76

    ten thumb
    from texas

    Turn off your cell phone and lock your shop door when you start on it. I did R&R work for a re-builder and the only one I ever seen him mess up was because of interruptions.
  20. borndead327
    Joined: Feb 9, 2005
    Posts: 1,388


    Get a good set of snap ring pliars
  21. Retro Jim
    Joined: May 27, 2007
    Posts: 3,859

    Retro Jim

    Any good advice for a first timer on a Ford C4 ?
    I can rebuild standard trans and engines but never did a auto trans either . Would really like to do one .
  22. Flatheadguy
    Joined: Dec 2, 2008
    Posts: 2,037


    Read all the above comments. Well, almost all of them. A few can be disregarded. Take your time. I'll repeat.... clean everything...then clean again. Go for it. What is the worst that can happen? It doesn't function properly? So what. Figure out why and fix it. It may take more than one disassemble, reassembly. Do not give up.
    It ain't rocket surgery!! (huh?)

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