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How to: A4LD transmission rebuild diary

Prefix for threads which are instructional.
This thread is starting to fill up and I still hven't seen any nude tranny pictures!

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Delighted to see this thread caught your attention. I was hoping along the way you might throw in your 2 cents worth. Hmmm no nudie trannie pics yet .. now come on - think a l ittle. Last time you went to strip trip club, did they EVER walk out nude to start? (Hint.... knowing you are some fundamentalist nutcase and never been... NO !!!). Seriously... next week is busy but hope to back fill A4LD tools etc... week after, start the teardown... then gone for a week and then get serious. Oh also next week, I am hoping to post prices and parts... planning to purchase them at that time so it will be REAL cost. Would enjoy hearing your comments on desirability, necessity etc. (And If I missed something in my earlier listing I'd like to know it NOW !! <g>) When this thread is done I would hope it is seen as a collaborative effort that can be referenced by all the guys (and gals) who wanna DIY rebuild. In the end I am sure the moderators will need to edit it, and shorten it, but feel free to treat this as YOUR thread too. Attempted hijacks welcome. That goes equal for you SteveVb and Aldive too and anyone else


ps. Next week starts the pics with the posts. For those who have never done it, posting pics in a post about makes the time required 10x more. So when you see a pic festooned posting, thank the poor idiot (SOB or whatever) who did it.

I'm still here

I'll be checking out this thread as it progresses. I have some pics of my tranny oil and what it looked like.

Last night, I think I barely made it home. The Ex starting making a whining noise at stops. Sort of like a belt slipping, but sounded more like a really bad bearing. As I would come to a stop, it would start slow and accelerate until it was at the same speed as the motor. As I would accelerate, it would dissapear. If I put it in neutral, it would immediately stop.
It also feels as if I can't lay any power to the wheels unless i go over 3500 rmps. Torque Converter? Doesn't really matter. Made it home and have pics of my oil. Metal in the pan. :mad:

The only advantage I see with the alum. pan is that is has a higher capacity and has a drain plug (and optional temp sending plug). Has anyone ever drilled and tapped their own drain plug? Shouldn't be hard.

SEli- sounds like you may have broken the intermediate band. Doesnt matter- you will have to take the trans apart to repair.

Thanks Steve for all your help.

I have another request for info. It would be nice to know what sort of "working area" is needed. (ie, what size table, seperate cleaning table for cleaning?

I don't have a work bench, but I have plenty of wood to make a heavy duty bench. Was thinking of a 4x8 (overkill?) white carpeted table top for easier viewing of parts during assembly?? And something separate as a cleaning station?

Another needed tool is a torque wrench. One that goes down LOW, 10 ft lbs if memory serves (not claiming it does)

I enjoy any quest for knowledge. Bulletproof A4LD, everything mentioned didn't include the parts that went bad on mine. Just don't think you can make it that much better when you consider the cost. I could never imagine putting in a shift kit. Over 100K of driving I never felt anything strange. My only mods are to keep it cool. Rebuilding an A4LD doesn't have to be expensive. One should even consider a partial rebuild. I know I'm cheap, I should be repairing cars in Cuba. I just put my transfer case back together with pieces of beer can in it, rebuilt the belt tensioner and the $10 starter solenoid.

Pic of pan

Opera, I'm cheap too, I think the HD torque converter will be the most expensive part or my rebuild. I have the manuals on the way to start reading.

Opera, what does your tranny cooling system consist of? I'm definately adding a 2nd cooler.
What went bad in your tranny??

One thing is for sure, everyone seems to agree that heat is public enemy #1 for the a4ld.

Here's a pic of my transmission pan. Doesn't look good. Anyone care to anylize?

Cooling is just a decent standard external cooler and the external filter. Mostly I like the filter for adding an almost extra quart of fluid. Unless you have some seal problem, the clutches will still look pretty good. This leads one to think that if you can keep the seals cool the transmission should have a long life. There will always be random mechanical failures. I will be getting the new cast tranny pan. Extra fluid adds a longer time constant to temperature swings. Nice when you stop moving or have short term bursts of heat. Think of putting a pan of hot water on the stove. The water is allready hot(130+) and look how long it takes before it boils. Water does have a higher heat capacity but it oes give you an idea how much heat two extra quarts can absorb.

I was on one site and this company was very proud of only having a 5% return on rebuilt torque converters in warranty. Think of 1 in 20 transmissions having to be pulled again. Think someone ought to have pictures showing what their HD is like compared to standard, like they did with FRAM filters.

Don't all pans look like that? My 97 looked just like that when I dropped the pan @ 106K and it is still running 42K later. No chunks of metal is good. I found needle bearings in my pan and it ran without a single noise.

Originally posted by Eli 91 XLT
Thanks Steve for all your help.

I have another request for info. It would be nice to know what sort of "working area" is needed. (ie, what size table, seperate cleaning table for cleaning?

I don't have a work bench, but I have plenty of wood to make a heavy duty bench. Was thinking of a 4x8 (overkill?) white carpeted table top for easier viewing of parts during assembly?? And something separate as a cleaning station?

I had two work spaces - both wood topped. 4x8 would be nice, I had one that was maybe 20" wide and 36" long, and another that was 2'x4'. More space the better. Nice to be able to spread the parts out and keep the assemblies in order. Get a box of zip lock bags to hold parts and assemblies, mark the bags with a sharpe and you are set. I would not use carpet- fibers and such, plus it will get soaked with fluid and wont keep things clean. A nice flat wipable surface would be best.

A transmission holer would be good- I didnt take the time to gfab one up, but in hindsight it would save a ton of time trying to get the various drums, supports, washers and seals to slide into place if I had the trans in a jig to hold it upright.

Get some petroleum jelly for assembly.

You do need a INCH/lb torque wrench.

Operahouse - what parts failed in your transmission? Were they common failure mode parts or a random occurrence in your opinion? As for shift kits, the one I was initially considering was just the Sonnax one for control pressure. Hardening the bore seemed to make sense, esp if I could discern any taper or other out of round condition. I'm interested in knowing what people's transmission failure experiences have been.


I cant wait to follow this rebuild.
I had my A4LD, 160K miles, well maintained, (never touched still working when pulled), 93 Explorer trans rebuilt by a guy who had been building Ford autos for HD applications for a long long time.
All hard parts were replaced and every possible update was performed. I dont claim to know much about building a durable A4ld, but I figured I could chime in with my experience thus far.

Transmission was installed in my BII last year, truck was onverted to a automatic at the same time including trucks PCM and necessary wiring. I used the floor shifter from a 2wd 84 BII, Explorer kick down cable and BII floor pedal assembly and master cyl blockoff plate :)

The Explorer a4ld was fitted with a 84 ranger shift arm, to work with my bell crank and floor shifter.

I cut the Explorer metal lines about 3-4" after they leave the trans & radiator. I flared the 4 end fitting pieces. I got the HD highest temp trans cooler lines I could get, routed the lines through the frame and to the radiator. I mounted a Hayden motorhome trany cooler in series with the stock Ford 3 core aluminum Ex radiator, 11 blade fan and HD clutch. I also replaced the Ford transmission mount and the T case gasket.

The torque converter was tested for hub runout and it was a HD braised unit from a local performance builder.
I believe the front pump seal of choice was a brass unit.

The A4LD works great! I use it or DD, towing, and 4x4ing. 4 months after install it blew a front pump seal.
New seal was pushed in and the converter was replaced, excessive hub runout.
Has been working fine ever since.

I have also added the aluminum pan with drain port and sender port. Autometer phantom trans temp gage.
I use the motocraft A4LD filter and change the fluid regularly.
I do have some sheilding beteen the exhaust and shift solenoids, and the trans cooler lines and headers.
I also purchased the AutoFAB transmission mount (WOW what a difference).
The tempature stays between 135-150 degrees under regular driving, has seen 180 when towing.
I plan to get a better cooler and possibly a aux fan I can flip on.

The trans should hold up, I ma hoping for at least 100K. I see a C5 in my trucks future however (trail rig).

Since my rebuild I have heard stories of the A4ld being rebuilt with all the guts of the later model automatic, and it working very well, while still retaining the computers 1-2 shift, 3-4 shift and converter lock up.

I am looking forward to getting the Apten chip to elp with the shift points. OD is pretty useless on the street in town, with 33's and 4.10 gears a little room for improvement is to be expected. Also the BII floor shifter likes to jump from D to OD wheen wheeling...possibly the bell crank and solid shift linkage with the BII body flex is too much, the Autofab mount helped greatly.

The a4ld can be built to work well and last if cared for, at least thats what I keep tlling myself! hahaha so far so good.....

Ok here's the promised tool list:

Tools For A4LD Rebuild

Required - Front Pump alignment tool set (available aftermarket or as part OTC 74P-77103A-H (The C-3 Ford Toolset)

Clutch Spring Compressor (aftermarket)

Measuring tools - dial indicator and depth micrometer or caliper with ability to measure depths, flat feel gauges to measure clutch pack clearances. Optional - inside bore expansion gauge set and micrometer to measure valve body bores.

Torque Wrench capable of 10 ft lbs readings accurately (1/4 inch drive) an one for 30 ft lbs (3/8)

Other tools:

Bench mounted transmission holder (not at all essential, but nice)

A4LD Bench Mount Adapter
OTC 93T-77002-AH

(Or see OperaHouse post below about using an engine stand mounted to the pan bolt holes - great idea)

Extension Housing Seal Replacer (Can be improvised, part of the 74P-7000 C-3 toolset (2WD)

Extension Housing Seal Remover (can be improvised) OTC - 77L-7697-E (2WD)

Extension Housing Bushing Replacer (can probably be improvised) OTC - 77L-7697-F (2WD)

Convertor End Play Checking Tool (useful for checking if the end play is acceptable if you plan to reuse the TC, or checking the work of the rebuilder. If you are buying a rebuild and trust them, this tool is not necessary) OTC - 80L-7902-A

Neutral Start Switch Socket (Thinwall socket will work just fine) OTC- 74P-77247-A

Lip Seal Protectors (Awfully nice to have on reassembly but not critical) 74P 77548 - A, B

Front pump seal remover (for use with slide hammer - a time saver - bu prbably any internal puller would be just as good) OTC 74P-77248-A

Overrunning Clutch Replacement Guide (again really nice, time saver - may not be needed on 4.0's) OTC- 74P 77193-A

Front Pump Seal Replacer (can be improvised)
OTC 87L-77248-AH

Front Pump Seal Staking Tool (can be easily improvised) OTC 87L-77248-BH

Thrust Washer Select Tool (still waiting to see on this) OTC 86L-70014-A

Servo Rod Selecting Tool (Still waiting to see on this) OTC 74P-77190-A

Shift Level Seal Replacer (easily improvised)
OTC- 74P-77498-A

Gauge Bar (For selecting 1,4 and 5 bearings/washers) can be improvised OTC 93T-77003-AH

Obviously, some snap ring pliers, a set of inside and outside is nice.

For the substitutions...

Bearing pullers, usual complement of tools, including large sockets (use as seal drivers, or better get yet actual seal drivers) A pilot bearing puller is invaluable.

I'm sure I have left something out, and I'll edit this as I find out what. You will notice that most of the tools are from the old 1974 C-3 tool set.


I had two failures in the OD. First failure was the welds on the OD planetary gear assembly. Next failure was the castle teeth on the OD drum that mates with the star washer adaptor. Suspect the star washer was bent and by a year later it bent even more. A cheap part that probably should be replaced every time. They easily get a bow of over 0.020 that isn't noticed. Previous rebuilder even left one friction clutch out of forward clutch. Also after over 50K, the OD clutch and HI REV were still 0.030 tighter than they should be because the replacement steel plates were too thick. Tranny fluid looked like black motor oil at the first 6 month change.

OperaHouse - Thanks. The heavy duty welded planetary for the OD was on my list (number 3). I recalled your post some time ago about the star washer, once once I had everything apart planned to replace it - seemed silly not to. The exploded view isn't very helpful, so I thought I'd wait until it was disassembled.

On that upgrade/replace list I plan to add the rear crank pilot bushing as a replacement too.

And so the list grows. Hope to start the teardown this coming weekend. (So you can see naked trannie pix).

Also need to get up lighting and stuff for the video. I am hoping to reduce this entire process into a video or DVD.

Glacier, I'd be glad to give you a few pesos for a copy of that video. I also plan on donating to this site to help the cause :)

My ?: Around how much does the tranny weight with all components inside?? Which way do you want to mount pointing up?

Also, if you want Autocad dwgs. done for anything (such as your fixture), I can do those as well. Just give me a sketch, and I'll make it look good. It's my profession.

An engine stand works well to hold the transmission. You can get a cheap one as low as $29. Nice that it has wheels and is a convienient height to work on. I used a three point mount to the pan mount with extra long bolts and additional spacer. Be sure to use an extra large washer on the pan face to prevent any surface dings. Remove the valve body on the bench or ground, and attach the engine frame pivot. Then you can lift it into the stand. Without valve body, fluid and TC the transmission weighs about 120#. Just a guess, I was able to do it alone. The tranny easily spins around on the stand as this seems to be the center of gravity. The official mounts hold it from the tailstock which seems awkward. The only need to get into the valve body area is to remove the center support screw which is easy enough with the mount in place.

The engine stand is a great idea- thks Opera

Eli- Opera hinted at it, but you need to get to both the front and the back of the transmission, also the bottom.
The ability to turn the trans up and down on the engine stand is a great idea.

Thanks guys. I'll see if I can borrow an engine stand, but don't mind spending 50 bucks for a new good tool.

Side note: I don't believe I've heard anyone mention the ATSG manuals? I just got mine in the mail yesterday and have only peeked inside. So far I like what I see. I paide 30 bucks for them from transmission exchange co. Don't want this to sound like a huge plug, but Spencer over there at txchange has been the only person that has responded to my multiple e-mails about parts, etc in a very timely and descriptive manner. There were a couple others that I'm still waiting for prices/responses, but they're the ones that wont get my biz. :p

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I have the first ATSG manual, but not the upgrade manual from them. I have the FORD manual as well. I intend to get the ATSG upgrade manual. The ATSG manual covers the basics, the FORD manual is more detailed. (ATSG basically edits out of the FORD manuals).