Frankentranny companion for the 5R55W. | Ford Explorer Forums - Serious Explorations

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Frankentranny companion for the 5R55W.


June 28, 2009
Reaction score
City, State
seattle, washington
Year, Model & Trim Level
2002 xplorer limited
Well here it is nearly six months since I completed my 5R55W rebuild, My procrastination has once again got the better of me. This wkd the explorer dash console chirped at me, indicating an oil change was near due, then miles later "chirp", now it was required........... I made a promise to myself that I would post my experience for others that were contemplating doing the rebuild themselves and just need a push off the fence.
I had this post mostly typed up 5months ago, so if there are errors or links that are expired - let me know so I can correct them.

To review my situation:
I had a friend that was moving out of state. Weeks prior the their departure, the 2002 explorer limited they owned crapped the trans. After getting a couple estimates and trade-in values from local shops/dealers they ended up just giving it to me. So, with no third gear, After finding this forum, reading much, I diagnosed as a broke intermediate band. I drove it for many hundred miles to see how I liked it. I have never had an automatic transmission apart. The automatic trans is one of the only components that has eloded me. I started out asking a couple friends that I have in the auto business their comments, then conducting much research online. When I found Brians frankentranny thread and learned of the possible modifications possible as well as the expert photo's and disassemble analysis, I was all in.
Knowing the time it takes to take good photo's, arrange them meaningfully, and then also get terminology correct is a giagantic task. I imagine it took Brian near the same time to assamble & install his trans as it did to fully complete his frankentranny thread..........My hat is off to him for posting his experience!!!! as it definitely gave me the "burn" to do the job.

So, all the above said, because frankentranny is a sticky and essentially covers the same general trans(5R55e), I will post only the items that I did not fully understand until I actually had the parts in my hand, when the diassembly was complete.
I will follow the downward disassembly Brian used and comment were I had issues or modifications. Think of this as companion thread to Frankentranny for those of us that have a 5R55W or 5R55S

Also because the RatioTek pdf is available - I will refrain from posting pics that are duplicate.

This will fill in some gaps that I feel are pertinent for the DIY rebuild.

Just a quick plug......
I ordered my parts from , & .
tpusa has excellent prices and support, carries mainly rebuild parts, shiftkits, etc, but does not carry all parts.
I had an improperly molded forward piston in my rebuild kit, which they shipped out a replacement asap with priority shipping.
800700 has excellent prices, carries mainly hardparts, but again does not carry all parts.
wittrans has still decent prices(not as great as tpusa or 800700) & great support.
they have most every part available and the most kickass part find fiche I have seen on the web...really cool & easy to compare part #'s between different transmissions.
(in my case for modification purposes), they also offer free shipping if ordering over $75.
I had a damaged, during shipping, rev servo piston, which they sent out a replacement via 3day ups, so I could have it for the wkd with no additional ship cost to me.

So..... on to the project (again referrencing directly to Brians Frankentranny sticky)

stay tuned,

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Already ran into an obsticle, trying to uplaod photos and getting them small enough to be under the size limit......found a handy MS program here to do the job:

Just to reiterate to clearify and slightly condense Brians first post, as it helped me understand a bit clearer the lineage of fords experiments :)
It may be helpful to have two webpages open so, one can compare this thread directly with Brian's.
post #1
A4LD has front seal problems, wheras the 4R55E does not.
A4LD (referred to as the A4 for the rest of this series)
4R55E (the next gen A4 used from 95-96, referred to as the 4R for the rest of this series)
5R55E (the third gen A4 used from 97-02, referred to as the 5R for the rest of this series)
5R55W (the fourth gen A4 used from 02 and up, not mentioned again)

also see post #54

post #4
The 5th gear of the 5R is achieved by overdriving first gear (for an extra gear between 1st and 2nd),
which means that the overdrive band is applied in 2nd and 5th gears in the 5R
(4th gear from the A4 became 5th in the 5R, 3rd became 4th, 2nd became 3rd, and a new 2nd was born).
What this means is that the 5R has the same lowest and highest gear ratio as the A4,
so it does not change the low end pulling power or the fuel efficiency and speed of the high gear ratio, they are the same.
((my note - I edited Brians statement, in part, above in RED, as I believe it was a typo))

also see this for whats it's worth @ post #8:

Ok, One of the the only "error's" I made was not fully understanding the pump removal prior to removing it, so I wasted a bit of time, but did not hurt any of the components.
In the end, I used my unsuccessful "puller" arms to lever out the pump, until the seal popped. Now, I would build a coupler tool to grab the pump snout and pull it out that way.


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Fords unlearning

@ post #4
I was really disgusted to see that ford "unlearned" from their failures and went back to the bushing design pump & OD drum setup of the A4 & 4R on the 5R55w, retarded.
The 5Re upgraded to a bearing style - I will say that I did not see any measurable wear in the OD bushing or pump snout - it was perfect.

I would have loved to have used the bearing pump from the 5Re, but concluded that I had exhausted my patience of ordering and reodering parts and $ supply .... maybe next time.
If I would have had all the parts needed to measure & fit(drum, clutches, sun gear, band, planet, etc) without having to buy them first, I would have jumped into it.
Brian had most, if not all, of the parts for his project, I did not.

here is that bearing design pump set-up...although now it is a bit higher price.

@ post #5 & #73
I replaced the #1 selective plastic washer with the thinnest (.107") selective Torrington bearing (used under the center support against the intermediate drum).
Because I had a .090" plastic shim and the front or upper stack was within spec and had to remove material from either the pump or OD drum.
Measuring the drum, I found it to be too thin to remove any material from, so I had to lathe the pump.
This proved to be a bit harder for my lathe set-up - I had to machine a bushing to fit into the top side of the pump post to support it properly(4th pic).
I removed only .017" from the pump, giving me an final clearance of .010" on the top stack. I believe spec is .007-.028"

*note* The bearing had a slightly larger ID of 2.525" then the plastic washer of 2.445".The plastic has locating tabs (1st pic) that insert into the pump casting that center it within the OD Drum face shoulder. In my case, substituting the bearing in place of the plastic, the outer diameter of the bearing is 3.515" while the plastic is 3.215". The bearing is a perfect fit into the OD shoulder (3rd pic) and keep it centered. I think it is critical that a tight top stack clearance is kept, to retain the bearing

I apologize for the picture quality - the camera I have at the shop is less then stellar, I almost didn't insert them, most were so blurry they were useless.


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OD Clutch

@ post #9, 10, 65 & 80
Upon disassembly I now understood why towing in OD is not recommended - a small clutch pack, jeez.
I immediately started devising a way it increase the number of plates - it wasn't until I found Brians thread that I found that method.
My overdrive planet carrier friction splines did not have near the wear shown on Brians.
I modified the OD piston and pressure plate to accept an addition friction and steel, but slightly different.

My pack clearance as-is, was .062" & within spec with the existing selective snap ring, all the plates and steels were only under new thickness by .001" so I reused all 4.
The aditional plate and steel I added, totaled .133", so .133" had to be removed. This where my modification differ's for Brian's.
I decided that I wanted to keep the plates as far into the splines as possible. I replaced the selective snapring with the thinnest .052", in place of the stock .080" - this immediately dropped my material removal to .105
I removed only .030" from the piston & .070" from the pressure plate, which brought my new clearance to about .058".
the really cool idea here is, the clearance can be exactly what you want, instead of relying on selective snaprings - in this case I wanted it to be as close to min spec as possible.

again, I apologize for the photo's.
The stock piston & pressure plate is on the right. The pistons are setting on the pressure plates.


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nice work your makin good progress keep it up =D

Other OD Clutch notes

@ post #9
forgot to post my spline wear with 132,000mi (1st pic)
also to clearify.....when the pistons are machined down, the discs are moved farther outward towards the end of the splines in the planet carrier, something to keep in mind when modifing.

@ post #10
I had only slight trouble machining the pressure plates, they ARE hard and I had to play around with the rpm to get no "chatter", however I did use a carbide tip. (pic 2)
The pistons are a breeze to turn down, I love machining aluminum.

*note* (pic 3) is my very badly draw diagram of the moddified pressure plate. I found it difficult to accurately meassure the clearence of the disc stack due to the angle a feeler guage has to now be inserted.The selective ring is now recessed into the pressure plate and I had to bend up many different thickness feeler gauges to measure properly.
One other note.... I found it necessary to hold the stack firmly down with one hand while I measured with the other, this kept an accurate measurement and does not allow the pressure plate to lift up 180degrees from where the feeler gauge is inserted. (reference the ratiotek .pdf for spec's)

@ post #13
This is a pic of my sun gear adaptor, the teeth are angled to achieve a "locked" connection, they had no wear. (pic 4)


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OD Carrier Bearings

@ post #14
The backside bearing surface of my overdrive planet carrier, where the thin overdrive planet to overdrive center shaft bearing rides, was slightly fretted (page 35 of ratiotek pdf)(pic 3). I could not bring myself to pay $180 for a new planet, so I lighty smoothed the surface with emery cloth and reused the planet, but replaced the bearing, even though I could not detect any damage. This bearing is the same internal part of a torrington designed bearing, but lacks the inner & out race. The new bearing I ordered had a steel cage instead of the original plastic one. (pics 1 & 2)
*note* I could only find this bearing individually from wittrans.
Also as I will list below reguarding the TASC document involving the inner planet bearing - such attention may also be applied here.(pic 4)


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OD Carrier splines

Post #14 update #1 pic #6
My overdrive planet carrier friction splines had slight contact from the spring retainer, nearly the same as Brians/Jefe's 5R photo #6. I also removed material from the inside of the carrier, resulting in 015" from each side, totalling .030" overall diameter.

post #14 & #80
I noticed when the carrier was mounted up in the lathe that the assembly had many thousandths of run-out, I remounted the planet three times, all with same results.
When I started to remove material - the section of the splines that contacted the spring retainer were the first to be removed - it took about .008" before all splines were being machined true.
I concluded that the plastic guide that ford installs to "correct" this issue could be ommitted if they just trued the asm after welding on the carrier. I also would conclude that a tight upper stack clearance would also be benificial, in that it would not allow as much "rocking" of the component stack, keeping everything aligned. I think this is an important step in the rebuild....thank you Brian for your keen eye to detail !:salute:
My 5RW trans already had the updated retainer.


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1st Intermission

Post #16
I will skip OD ring gear as there was nothing of note here.
You should be looking at the center support now.
time for a beer.


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@ post #16
I was happy to see the 5RW retained the bearing snout of the 5RE and look indentical, and just to clearify, the speed sensor is on the outside of the trans, not in the center support.
Also I checked the bottom stack clearance prior to disassembly and used the same method to check upon reinstall.
I had the center support snap ring in place to keep the bottom component stack tight.(pic 1)

@ post #21
And now, I am disgusted that ford again "unlearned" from their failures as they reverted back to the thin lugs of the A4/4R.
My input shell was worn just as shown on Brian's 4th photo.
I had to R&R my intermediate drum, due to the snapped band.
Note the heat check / cracking damage - the cracks were all the way through the drum.(pic 2,3,4)

The broke band just set against the bottom of the case, the broke off tab end of the band was rubbing on the intermediate drum, the servo arm and tab were in the pan.
I could have added an additional clutch fricton and steel, but did not see the need, as all the plates were only .001" under new thickness.

I reused all 5 internal spline frictions and all 5 external frictions, then adjusted clearance with a selective ring.

One difference here between the A4 & 5Re is the frictions in the 5RW are singal sided - the back side operate as a steel plate. Here again the RatioTek .pdf is a most excellent reference.


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Dirt cheap tools

These tools I crafted up worked really sweet - they are cut out of standard ABS or PVC pipe, used in a press - made the clutch pack spring retainers very easy to remove and reinstall.
Using the correct diameter pipe, these will work for all 3 clutch packs.

again, photo's are somewhat blurry.


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Forward clutch drum, planet & ring gear and shell

@ post #24
pic #1
Notice the brass rings on either side of the snout bearing on the forward clutch/drum, my rebuild kit came with plastic/delrin replacements.
I opted to reuse the brass rings as there was no way I was going to R&R them without damaging something.

pic #4
My 5Rw had 5 frictions and 5 steels, my splines looked near perfect.(pic 1)
All 5 frictions in the forward clutch were worn .003-.004", the steels were worn only .001" so I only r&r'd the frictions.
Due to the wear in this clutch I would have liked to add additional plates, but felt it would suffice with new frictions.
Also the piston design is not the same as the OD or Direct clutches (both have the same pistons).
Modification is a bit different and without ordering new parts to compare with it is a bit difficult - see Brians post #73.

**I did not pick up on post #58 until after the trans was done, after the fact, but the 6 plate piston would be the answer, If in fact the pistons listed, are for the Forward clutches and not the OD & Direct clutches.
But it seems these pistons were never researched further to verify compatability**

I certainly won't be removing the trans to insert the new piston and extra friction/steel :)

@ post #26
just a small variation of the welding process of my planet. (pic 2)

pic #7 & 8 - I will make a note here, that the torrington bearing seen under the six planet gears can be the problem child here:
Mine was ok. I also found this article after my trans was assembled and thought it may help someone else. (pic 3)

Another item to note is the yellowish nylon plastic cap that is seem here at the backside of the planet of the 5Rw.
My guess would be, that it is to assist the problem bearing above in not getting crushed.
Being as the Sonnex document above does not show the planet, I am not sure if all 5Rw's have this cap.
Wittrans shows the cap as a washer for all 5Rn-s-w transmissions.
I wish I would have had this document during my rebuild, so I could have researched further.


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Low/Reverse Assembly

@ post #32
just a note.....
I kept a chronological order of part placement as I removed each component via taking many pictures, however the innies and outies(as Brian puts it) bearing races was somtimes hard to determine in my pic's.
Fortunately the Ratiotec .pdf indicates the correct direction of each torrington bearing.

@ post 33 pic #4
just a variation in number of planetary gears used in the 5Rw, only five instead of the 5Re and A4's six used.(pic 1)

@ post 34 pic #4
A slight difference in the ring gear between 5Rw and 5Re as mine lacked the "race side" gold insert. (pic 3)...

@ post 38 pic #3
I was a bit concerned about the "blueing" of the one way clutch area, but could find no cause or damage, all surfaces were smoothe.
I concluded that it must be a heat treating process.(pic 2)

@ pic #4
notice that on the 5Rw, bearing "A" is not used. The 5Rw uses a lipped torrington bearing between the ring gear and sprag race. (pic 3)
Because I do not have the 5Re parts inhand, I have to reply of Brian's pic's - I seems the A4 wave washer has replaced by the 5Re "A" bearing. And then the 5Re "A" bearing was replaced with the 5Rw torrington bearing.
The complete low/rev planet, ring and drum is "located" and rides on the lipped torrington bearing, not needing the A4's wave washer.


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Snap Ring Removal

@ post #43 pic #3
I probably could have replaced this trust washer with a bearing, but the ID is not the same as any other bearing used in the trans and there was virtually no wear present and looked brand new.
A bit of research would be neccessary to find a correct fitting bearing, so I skipped this modification.

@ post 45 pic #3
All I had on hand at the time was a standard snap-on snap ring plier and it proved to be a bit of a stuggle to get the snap rings out, as there are only teeth instead of holes to grap the rings.
I used a cut up plastic container to insert between the case and ring to stop the ring from snapping back into the ring groove, then all I had to do was pull the plastic out and sheezamm...ring out.


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Servo's & Bore repair

After 132,000 there was wear in the OD & intermediate servo bores, however not as much as I have read about, the OD servo did stick to a minor degree, inserting by hand.
I purchased the Servobore kit from another member here on the forum. This kit is such a breeze to use ...... what a first rate fix.
Servobore instructions strongly direct using the correct drill speed and pressure, being as I have much experience drilling by hand I found it quite easy, there is a sweet spot in rpm and pressure where the ream tool just pulls itself through with little effort.....again what a kick ass well machined repair kit.

I wish I would have taken more pic's of the job as I did not get any of the final install...dang. I am not sure this made a heck of alot of difference but, notice I used feeler guages to "shim" the ream guides tight in the bore. The ream guides had about .040" of play up and down between the snap ring - looks dumb , but held the guides tight.

also I included a loctite chart, Servobore recommends 640 and I agree it is the best # to use.
It took me a bit of hunting around the shop until I found some 640, would be nice if the kits came with a small tube of the proper loctite.
(pic 1,2,3)

pic #11
just a note when ordering the servo pistons as there are several options and I have trouble understanding the difference.
A double lip piston(lip A & B) - will seal in the bore as well as the cover, whereas a single lip (only lip "A")will only seal in the bore. (pic 4)


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Garage Sale

Now that my rebuild has proved successful, I am putting my kit up for sale.
It is the black series master kit here:
Like brand new, has one bushing set left for one more transmission case (more can be ordered).
Original Box, complete with instructions.
$225 shipped, just email me. paypal preferred.


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wow, can't believe I never saw this before. I've been waiting for someone to do this to the 5R55W here on ef. This is being bookmarked so I can read it and soak it in after the school semester ends. THis needs to be made a sticky!

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where does the time go?

sorry for the delay in finishing this thread, once again, life is in the way!

I still have much to add.

I will also include my temp/pressure gauges and dipstick installation.

so keep checking back........