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My A4LD Rebuild Diary - Pt 4 - Postscript

Glacier991

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My A4LD Rebuild Diary - Pt 4 - Postscript/Ideas/Suggestions etc.

The Rebuild is done... see parts 1 through 3....
Part 1
http://www.explorerforum.com/forums/showthread.php?s=&threadid=98027
Part 2
http://www.explorerforum.com/forums/showthread.php?t=101571&highlight=A4LD+DIary
Part 3 (url)
Part 3, 2nd half:
http://www.explorerforum.com/forums/showthread.php?t=113354

yet many questions remain and we need a place to talk about those and float ideas and thoughts, this is the place...

So I'll start...


Bulletproof?

I have used the term "bullet proof" along the way, but is it really possible to build a "bullet proof " A4LD ? While I cannot pretend to know the answer abolutely, I am thinking the true answer is "probably not". Like so many other transmissions, the A4LD is the outgrowth of another. In this case, as we know its the old C-3, a French built 3 speed transmission, that grew an OD. It had it's growing pains, and many improvements were made along the way. Certain failure modalities were identified, and where FORD didn't address those, I tried to based on my research and the aftermarket. But does that make the end product bullet proof? I think I have made this transmission as strong as it can be, and I think this rebuild results in a more durable transmission than the usual one, but looking at its heritage, underneath it all, it is still a rather light duty transmission (LD). Me ? I'd be happy to get 150 -200,000 miles on the rebuild, rather than the 30-70,000 that seems to represent the rebuilt transmission life on the A4LD - I'd call THAT a success. So, "bullet proof" sounds nice, like something in a beer ad with muscular guys drinking beer at a racetrack, but I'd be cautious in claiming this rebuild is going to handle 600 HP or something. Better? I humbly think so. Worthwhile? I think so. But let' watch the truth in advertising on "bullet proof" though.

NOTABLE IMPROVEMENTS

Other than the spiral grooved friction plates from the 5R55, none of the 5R parts are used. Why? Well I could not get my hands on a 5R to test the compatibility, and more than one reputable source said "forget it"- no way! I do know the 5R had a new case, and the length alone of the inside gear train may be doom for any compatibility with the A4LD. I'd still like to see firsthand.

[EDIT NOTE: Since I posted this, BRAIN has done a thread on using the "guts" from a 5R into an A4LD case. It gets you ALL the upgrades and it appears to fit - at least so far as BRAIN has gone with it. If one had access to a 5R to use parts from (with some additions) it DOES appear you could further improve the A4LD beyond what I have doen here..BRAIN is still working on it, but it looks promising. His thread on here is called "Project Frankentranny" and it's a terrific read! With great pics!]

But, there are some rather significant improvements. Starting at the rear, the new rear race and back case washer are BIG improvements. I'd rank this as a"SHOULD DO". Given the problems with the rear sprag, I replaced mine, and think it may be a good investment to do so (as well as the front). Check the planetaries throughout, I believe that heavy duty 6 pinion planetaries with welded cages should be used.

I tried to maximize the number of bearings versus bushings, but since I am not all back together the verdict is still out on that. By going to the newer center support we were able to use some there.

Center support was extensively modified. I also think this may be a good strengthening action. Front OD was rebuilt with a new sprag and new HD welded planetary.

Pump is new, and bellhousing line bored and pump reassembled with care. Torque convertor a HD one, low stall, brazed and with torrington bearings.

Clutch plates are all the new 5R type with spiral grooves to sling oil. Supposed to run cooler and hold better.

Valve body has numerous modifications, these I think will be very beneficial to improve clutch pack holding and avoid certain known shift problems. Certain modifications, if I get the parts, may help prevent front drum clutch burning in some cases.

The governor bore work was probably overkill, but I was there and had the tool so I did it.

I'd say "Replace and do not reuse any servo" (OD or Intermediate) - mine were like rocks - new ones had SOME flex to them. CHEAP parts, $6 - 7 each.

My guess is that in order of my perceived importance, 1) the rear case race and washer; 2) replace sprags and upgrade planetaries; 3) upgrade TC; 4) if replacing pump - line bore bellhousing and reassemble with care; 5) valve body mods; 6) replace all rubber parts, including servos. 7) Use great care and attention to detail in reassembly.

I plan to add an external filter, but that's more preventative than anything, like an additional cooler.

I'm sure other things will come to mind.

I'll add to this as my mind thinks of things, feel free to join my wanderings here - your ideas, thoughts, comments, criticisms... places the thread need more words or pictures.... let me know..all comments welcome!
 



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zippee

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Will different friction plates require a different type of ATF?
 






Glacier991

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I am assuming that since they were 5R plates they are going to need Mercon V. I had some concern over the friction material in bands and the torque convertor being Mercon and not Mercon V - ending up with a mixed bag. So - I decided to go with a semi snythetic which is approved for BOTH uses. Excellent point though - these plates just FEEL grabbier, and from what I understand Mercon V is a little "slipperier".
 






Glacier991

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regroup bump, a lot more to be added to this post....
 






Glacier991

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As I read over what I wrote earlier, I realized I short shrifted the boost valve modification. That stands out as a major improvement in my mind.

More thoughts on the strength of this transmission, as I have built it. We replaced the OD planetary and rear planetary. The OD was a failure point - which brings up a subject - towing and also big tires. I am inclined to think that this transmission was never meant for serious long distance towing or much of anything of substance anyway. If I was going to tow, I'd want a supplemental cooler (on top of the factory one) and a temp gauge, at a minimum. I'd also remember NOT to tow (well not uphill anyway) in OD. That is probably a major piece of advice. NO OD for any uphill towing(probably goes for starting out until you get up to speed on the flat too)!! Big tires - can burn this puppy up in a hurry. If you HAVE to go that route, I think you will want to adjust your gearing to compensate - the torque load can kill the A4LD, esp the OD.

Obvious problem areas are mostly well known. The governor 1-2 shift problem tops the list. THAT is NOT a rebuild issue, and an easy DIY fix. The front seal on rebuild problem is also common - the fix there is to turn a new bushing in place in the bellhousing, and a new pump and TC may not be a bad idea either - and use the alignment tool on assembly. Just replacing a blown seal may not, in all liklihood be a lasting fix. The 3/4 shift solenoid clogging issue is also well documented, another easy DIY fix. Sprags in this transmission aren't a strong point - I'd replace sprags and races anytime I rebuilt one, just as a matter of course. If I didn't have the HD OD planetary I'd add that.

I am starting to think that prople ignore cleaning the component parts on a rebuild, especially the check balls in the drums. In this Auto trannie, cleanliness is next to... well you know...

To sum it up...I am of the mind that 1) a junkyard A4LD was in the right place to begin with. I'd not waste my time R&R'ing a bad trannie to put in another one. 2) A soft parts rebuild of the A4LD is a failure moved 20,000 to 30,000 miles down the road. 3) The A4LD should not be considered as a "towing" transmission. If you are rebuilding one and plan to tow, add an extra cooler and a temp sender, and add the Alto 7 plate clutch pack to your intermediate drum - by all means in every case, but especially this one, get a HD torque convertor, low stall. Tow only in D unless you are on the flat 4) Change the transmission fluid every 25,000 miles - and add magnets in the pan. Make sure you use the microfelt filter. 5) If you are buying a rebuilt one, ask what was replaced in the hards parts category. Look at the warranty. Reman may be the best way to go.
[Note - opinion offered here] I sincerely believe that you cannot do a quality rebuild on an A4LD and sell it for $700. Yes I know someone sells them for that and warrantees them for 24 mos or 24,000 miles. That's about what I'd expect from one. 6) If you have a failed part and have metal shavings - flush the cooler and REPLACE the TC! when you put the new one in. 7) Old A4LD's may not be amenable to band aid fixes - if you have a high mileage (over 100,000 mi) transmission and have ANY reason to remove it from the car - rebuild or replace it! 8) Certain used hard parts (like the servo actuator levers and input shafts etc) may be ok - otherwise use NEW hard parts. Don't buy someone else's problems.

I have over 200,000 on my soccer Mom Ex's original A4LD. I expect another 200,000 out of my rebuild. I don't tow and I have stock tires.

The people who are on their 3rd or 4th transmission probably either tow, or more likely offroad with big tires, or had a soft parts rebuild along the way, or some combination of the above.

I think the A4LD is unfairly maligned often, but I also think it's humble origins need to be remembered. In spite of the claims, I don't see any A4LD behind 600HP for long. The addition to the C-3 was the OD. The OD is also it's achilles heel.

I'm sure I'll have other thoughts along the way. Wanted to get those out as I was thinking of them.
 






stocki

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Euro A4LD

Hi,

the threads dealing with the A4Ld in this forum are th most valuable I`ve ever come by. Congratulations to all the contributors.

I own a European Ford Scorpio (Granada) 24V which is claimed to feature a beefed up A4LD with a 4gear OD planetary with different bearings, cast intermediate drum, bigger oil orifice at the pump ...

Did you ever hear about that, any comments ?

My tranny has got nearly 100k (155.000 km) on the clock and is still working flawlessly, except a little harsh shifts. I plan to overhaul the valve body including the mentioned shifting kits in the near future.

Cheers,
Christian
 






Glacier991

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Rogue's Gallery

Since this part of the overall thread is for general items.... I thought I'd show you what that "grinding noise" can be. Brain sent me these pics of his trannie's OD unit. I'm guessing the retainer failed and it disassembled... here are some pics...

Here's the retainer and the snap ring.... note the dog ears are bent or missing...
1528650.jpg


Here's another view

1528651.jpg


Looking down into the drum, where the piston is.... remember the pic of my new one, with the pretty springs on the posts? Try THIS!

1528656.jpg


No posts, but what looks like a chain link fence... what WAS there is this mess now...

1528657.jpg


This mess never stays put... it infects nearby parts.... look at the steels...

1528649.jpg


or try a "bronze" thrust washer

1528660.jpg


Feel free to add your *UGLY* pics here...

Moral - when it grinds... STOP DRIVING IT... you are only causing more damage
 






zippee

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I don't have the time (or more importantly, the tools) to do a rebuild. I came across a Motorcraft website that offers rebuilds, 30K warranty. Has anyone else done this?
 






Clatterman

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Local Ford parts-counters are offering me a rebuild A4LD with TC for $1805(*) and 36k miles. That's my baseline... but I have to do all the other work. I don't know if the bushing were machined properly or not.

(*) +$600 core. The build code you request will affect the price also.
 






Glacier991

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Responding to the "tools" issue.... As I was doing this I realized one of the problems in a DIY rebuild was tools. And given the age of these A4LD vehicles many would be relegated to the junkyard rather than put a couple grand into a new trannie. I decided to get several sets of tools and set up some kind of tool rental... where "ordinary guys" like us could have access to tools and advice to rebuild their own, and not send so many perfectly good early EX's to the junkyard. I'm still working on it, but figure I need some deposit to insure the tools come back or that I can spend the time and have the $ to buy replacements (I do NOT want to do that)... you pay roundtrip shipping/postage, and something for my investment and time (depending on interest that can be minimal.... looking for ideas here). I figure the "rental/loan" period needs to be 30-60 days min - (no smart remarks now!). So for those who have followed all this and say "yeah sure right, like *I* am ever gonna have THAT tool to use... YOU CAN ! Interested on everyone's thoughts....I plan to have a couple/3 full C-3 toolsets (pump alignment tools included) the factory A4LD manual, some specialty snap ring pliers, and clutch spring compressors. I need to know if this is worth my time and energy to continue to explore this idea?
 






zippee

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I would be seriously interested.

I would still investigate good local sources for machine work, but I would much rather do it myself.
 






Glacier991

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Stocki... I didn;t mean to ignore your post. Some of what you mention is already commonplace here ... the HD OD planetary for example... some of it I am not sure of... anything more you can provide is appreciated. I am thinking I am closing in on everything that CAN be done to make this transmission as good as it will be. Let me know if you have any parts numbers or anything. Welcome to the thread !

Zipee stay tuned, when might you need them?
 






zippee

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Soon...
 






Brain

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Well, I broke down and got a 5R to tear down and do a side-by-side comparison. Thanks again to Jefe. He did a swap (which is posted on this site) and had this tranny left over...beautiful specimen. I'm taking pictures of the components for a comparison post and the differences are numerous...some advantageous, and a couple not so much. There are only two thrust washers in the whole thing, one in front (#1 selective, which is a red plastic/polymer, not metal), and one in back (the one that fits between the case and the govenor/parking assembly. Here's a hint of what's to come- the output shafts are EXACTLY the same. :D

How do you think I can get the rear steel "wave washer" out without destroying the rear race? I unfortunately have hands bigger than a two year old, so there isn't much room to work back there. If I have to knock the race off, I'll probably go through the trouble of enlarging the case hole that the output shaft support bushing goes into so that the bearing from the 5R will fit. The insides are the same size, but the outside of the bearing is a little larger.

Glacier, when your source told you to forget about parts interchangability between the A4 and the 5R, he probably know about alot of the differences...but did he consider swapping out ALL the guts from the 5R into the A4?? The components are reeeeeal close in length. The fifth gear is really just an overdriven first gear, so there are no extra internal components in comparison to the A4 (0.75 times 2.47 = 1.85, the gear ratio of the "fifth" gear which is between the 1st and 2nd gears of the A4). My expectations are to use the body and valve body of the A4, the innards and servos of the 5R, and the bellhousing of the 4R (to make everything work together in harmony).

I'll keep you all updated.
 






Glacier991

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Brain.... as for the rear race, I can ship you the tool to remove it. I bought what was billed as a 4R55 center support (new) off E-bay, and it turns out to be a 5R55 one. NOW THAT got me curious about the reverse compatibility... clearly the inner piece of the intermediate drum is larger, as the "snout" with bearings on this new center support is about .200 bigger than the A4 version... looks like the forward drum may be also be bigger (and as an aside, I notice what was a Sonnax aftermarket sleeve was now standard there)... I found out that the place where the OD shaft unit comes thru is exactly the same size in both the A4 and 5R... I'm excited you will be doing a side by side. Before I read your post I thought to myself that I'd offer some deal to someone out here with a 5R that needed rebuilding, JUST to do a side by side. ALso I plan to start another thread to start collecting ideas for the 4R70W trannie... and mods upgrades etc... that one will be coming up more and more...might be a good time to start that... Brain what do you know about the intermediate drum/forward drum in the 5R and possible compatibility?

Entire guts swap... hmmmm interesting... but I wonder why they created a new case for the 5R, I understood it to be slightly longer... this could be VERY interesting.... frankentranny to be sure!

I'll post some side by side pics of the evolution of the center support A4 thru 4R thru 5R...later
 






Glacier991

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oops accidental 2nd post eliminated.. I'll use this space...

for the center support discussion. I know someone posted that his transmission shop friends said the center support was not a big problem on the A4's. I will defer to that, but have to ask, if this is true, why did FORD give it so much attention? Anyway.... the old A4LD center support has 2 sealing rings and a steel bushing.... center bore is native aluminum... looks like this

15286DSCN5097.JPG


The bushing sits flush with the end of the "snout". It was changed on the A4/4R "upgrade". The change was mainly to extend the bushing past the snout, to hold a torrington bearing... and drilling the support for a speed sensor...here's a pic of the bearing in place...held by the bushing...

15286Dscn4809-med.jpg


the bushing is extended about 1/8 inch beyond the snout end.. at first making me wonder if FORD had made a mistake when I first bought my "updated" one... enough to go to have them bring me a 2nd one to check! (Those guys at Aceomatic/ATC are great)... other change was on the back end.... the old one was plain Jane...

15286DSCN5103.JPG


The "upgrade" was turned to accept a torrington bearing there...here is the bearing in place....located and constrained by the "hole" or depressed area thusly turned (or put another way by the higher portion in the center...note the bronze bushing in the bore... this was a mod I did...(also you can see the front end of the "snout" of the forward drum, which seals in the bore... leading to another possible mod to add a steel sleeve there as well (more later).

15286Dscn4832-med.jpg


The upgrade 5R is the a little different here...the entire area is cut down....

15286DSCN5102.JPG


One common thing in the A4 and 4R is that the center bores are native aluminum.... not steel bushings.... Sonnax offered 2 fixes.... a sleeve in each end. One was pretty simple... a press in bushing for the OD shaft/sprag unit (which I went for and will always do). The other required machining for a new steel sleeve to maintain original OD for the forward drum snout (what I was alluding to above). I decided against that as I did not see wear there as a BIG factor, vs. cost - this required services of a machine shop. If you again look a couple pix back you can see the sleeve I added for the OD shaft unit. THAT is a MOD I recommend.

The 5R center support...FORD decided to sleeve one end of the center bore... hmmm, which one did FORD choose? They sleeved the forward drum end.... left the OD output shaft bore end... the one I felt was the more important of the two, alone. So guess what guys? My 5R rebuilds will have BOTH sleeves - FORD can do one, and I will do one (g)!!! Here's a look into the bore from the sleeved end on the 5R unit

15286DSCN5104.JPG


Ok enough suspense.... the most radical departure from the past in the 5R center support was that the 5R center support did not use bushings... it uses bearings... here a look... also again notice the steel sleeve for the forward drum snout....

15286DSCN5098.JPG


With bearings there is no extended race to hold a torrington in place.... hmmm this makes me curious... because there is another place besides the snout the for a bearing... at the base of the snout... haveta investigate what they did. I think the nicely machined area at the base makes a perfect spot for a bearing.... and torrington bearings rule the 5R's existence. In fact there are only 2 thrust washers in the entire 5R transmission...

I examined the bearing setup closely.... interesting... take a look... remember this is bigger... I wonder what the 5R intermediate drum looks like.... may have to buy one from my local teardown palace to play with [yes there IS a place in Sacramento that sells used transmission parts nationwide... walk in and buy anything transmission related! - ask I can maybe find what U need]

15286DSCN5099.JPG


When FORD left the A4 to make the 4R and 5R they went all electronic. EVen the 1-2 shift, which had previously been controlled by the governor, was now electronically controlled.... so...goodbye governor. This meant the computer needed to know more information about speed and rotational speeds within the transmission... that got added on the center support... here it is

15286DSCN5101.JPG


Much better than the old governor. Ok finially, for this post, here is a side by side on the A4 center (left) and the new 5R:

15286DSCN5113.JPG


Well for now that's it... I invite comments, thoughts and suggestions....Brain's (and other's) additions have been a welcome improvement... we are all figuring this out together! Join in.
 






Brain

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No way to get that rear washer off without removing/replacing that race...bummer. That puts a little chink in the "easy way" plan...I'll send some pics as to why.

Are we reserving space for future use now?? ;) Dibs on this block!
 






Glacier991

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I will assume the race in the 5R case will come out the same way my A4 and 4R races did... drilling thru rear governor bore and punching them off.... no other way. Can you give me governor bore ID? I am going to assume the same tool from Sonnax will work.... (SEE guys, you CAN have access to tools! I learned how to share in kindergarten!) I'm sooo jealous you have a 5R to play with.... I am going to be pulling my old 208K mile A4LD soon and would love to do a side by side.... (ANYONE IN NO. CA WITH A 5R?) Trying to figure out if the next A4 should be a "towing A4" or a "Good enuf" A4.....

Now ... about that intermediate drum....and forward drum....5R wise...
 






Brain

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I'm looking to get the washer out of the rear of the A4LD case so that I can use the 5R rear sprag unit, so the jig you have should work. Do you happen to have the length of the old race/new Sonnax race (I just got the washer kit). The depth of the cases are the same (~13.9" as the pictures will show), but the sprag on the 5R rides further back on the race, and the front of the race is used as a bearing surface. I'm sending 21 pictures in a few minutes. The battery died on the camera so you'll have to wait for more pictures, sorry.
 



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Glacier991

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Here's a teaser. Brain is gonna look into a complete 5R parts swap into the A4/4R... so maybe we can finally get some answers to reverse compatability. He sent this pic of the 2 assembled "stacks" (guts of the trannie)... side by side...I'll await his thread on this!

1528601_stack_comparison.jpg
 






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