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Old 06-04-2016, 08:18 AM   #11
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On a related note, what's the avg life expectancy of the 4R100 in the 7.3L SMBs? Just curious since our rigs are so heavy.... my 02 has just over 100k on it now. I monitor the temps and it had a fluid change or flush when I bought it with 70k.

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Old 06-07-2016, 12:05 PM   #12
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If either BTS or JW is close enough for you to drive to (assuming the rig is driveable), I think both will rebuild your transmission on the spot, saving the cost of any shipping, and the hassle of dealing with a core.
I tried to get that going earlier this year with John Wood, but I think they are just too busy for the level of persistence I was able to put into this project at the time. It's been a crazy year with non-van travel so I'm part of the problem.

At this point I'm using a quart of fluid to get 10 miles, so it's time to have something shipped. A minor mystery is where that quart is going, it's not leaking or smoking, but then I've only put two quarts in, so they could be hiding in my extension housing.

I talked to the folks at BTS, who were super easy to reach and talk to. Yes, shipping is a couple hundred more, but I'm now on their schedule, so that's the route I'm taking.
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Old 06-07-2016, 12:21 PM   #13
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On a related note, what's the avg life expectancy of the 4R100 in the 7.3L SMBs? Just curious since our rigs are so heavy.... my 02 has just over 100k on it now. I monitor the temps and it had a fluid change or flush when I bought it with 70k.

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I tried to answer that question, but can't figure out if my transmission is original or not. Does anyone know where to look for a tag? My engine has a Ford re-manufactured tag on it, so I'd expect the transmission to have come from Ford as well.

If it is original, it did 130k miles as a tv news van (probably not an easy life), on the original cooler, and then another 20k as a camper going up long steep climbs and towing the occasional car hauler.

I honestly think the transmission fluid had fine metal shavings in it when I got it home way back when. It's also always been a little odd about not quite locking up the converter.

I have no way of knowing if the 4wd output shaft conversion was done with enough care, it's certainly been leaking a little from the output shaft seal forever. I tried to get that fixed, but only recently figured out that there was a miscommunication with the shop on that: They thought the extension housing shared fluid to the transfer case and just sealed that up.

I also ran the thing pretty hot (210 degrees) for a couple hours towing last summer. (Bad situation, I chose to risk breaking gear rather than people. I'm comfortable with that choice even if that's the root cause of the upcoming bills).
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Old 06-07-2016, 03:27 PM   #14
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210F is not that hot; whereas 300F is. Sounds like something else is going on. 240 or 250F for sustained periods is not good, however. I'm not even sure the idiot light comes on at 250F?

Just my 2 cents as I did my research for a bigger tranny oil cooler and looked at cost versus need. For me it just came down to peace of mind.
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Old 06-07-2016, 09:08 PM   #15
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...I talked to the folks at BTS, who were super easy to reach and talk to. Yes, shipping is a couple hundred more, but I'm now on their schedule, so that's the route I'm taking.
Cool. Not only does my Excursion have a BTS transmission like I mentioned, my entire Excursion was rebuilt by Brian Thompson (the Brian of BTS) when he bought it with a crushed roof and replaced the entire body. He owned the Ex for quite a while, sold it to a guy in Arkansas, who I eventually bought it from.

If you talk to Brian, tell him his white 2001 Excursion says Hi.


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Old 06-09-2016, 11:57 PM   #16
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First, it is very difficult to get an accurate dipstick reading, especially after you've just added fluid. Best thing to do is take a reading in the morning after all the residue fluid in the tube has drained back into the pan.

Also, being only one or even two quarts low should not cause driveability issues.

If you are down two or more qts you will experience shift and lock-up problems.

Transmissions do not burn up fluid, like an engine can, so if it is low, it is going somewhere - and if it is not on the ground, then it is into the Transfer Case. There is no seal at the back of the transmission. The seal is in the front of the Transfer Case and when these go bad fluid ends up in the Transfer Case until it gets full and starts coming out the breather tube.

Open the upper plug (filler plug) and see how much fluid comes out...

Fix that problem first and you may not need a transmission at all.

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And yes, I'm really sure that mine is done. I took one last trip with it over Memorial day weekend, knowing it wasn't in great shape. I barely made it home: Coasted down the West side of the San Mateo bridge in neutral and made if off the ramp. Then I added my last quart of fluid and made it the rest of the way.
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At this point I'm using a quart of fluid to get 10 miles, so it's time to have something shipped. A minor mystery is where that quart is going, it's not leaking or smoking, but then I've only put two quarts in, so they could be hiding in my extension housing.
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Old 07-04-2016, 12:37 AM   #17
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-- Sorry for dropping offline, I'm literally going to spend the first night in my own bed since I made my previous post here. (I made it from Denali to SFO today, it sure gets dark early here. )

Baja: Thanks, those are good thoughts, but the fact that it's shredding metal that keeps blocking up the coolers suggests I have at least one more problem. A couple months back, I also had a shop run through the diagnostic tests and both second and third didn't pass. (Low pressure IIRC, I may well not be remembering correctly at the moment.)

It's also pretty much a done deal at this point, BTS rebuilt transmission is sitting at the shop since this morning, going to drop off the van for the swap after the 4th.

And while it's possible that I could have gotten my old transmission going, it's beyond the expertise I can manage to locate on the peninsula, and beyond what I'm willing to figure out myself at this point. FWIW, I actually really enjoy the side-effect of learning about american medium duty vehicles, that comes with living with a vintage camper van, but at this point I just need it to work again.

That doesn't mean that I don't want to learn any longer, so as long as BTS is OK with it, I'll be happy to share what they learn from the tear down of my core.
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Old 07-04-2016, 11:26 AM   #18
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On tranny life I've always thought 150-200k was pretty good for an E40D that gets used for intended purposes, meaning one that pulls trailers, heavy rigs, etc. I'm sure they take more abuse behind a diesel than any gas engine too. I would love to hear more about average lifetime of 4r100's. I asked the guy (1man shop rebuilding for the last 20 yrs) who did my Expedition's 4r75 this same question and he agreed, 150-200k average for the E40D. He said he has rebuilt some 4r100s but not very many as they are super tough and only rebuilt 1-2 5r110's. Those are still fairly new though. He said in his opinion the 5r110 is about as strong as an Allison. Oh, and he's drives a Chevy.


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Old 07-04-2016, 08:29 PM   #19
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I'm pretty sure my 4r100 did 100-130k miles running around as a news van. So, heavy and sometimes in a hurry before it got to deal with big tires and trailers. FWIW, between myself and my partner, we have a history of killing automatic transmissions. (160k miles on a Montero and 140k miles on a v70 awd, neither are that far off of expectations, clutches on manual transmissions seem to outlast cars for us.)

That said, I installed the new cooler today (bypassed for now, until the new transmission is in place) and it seems to be shifting fine again. The fluid OTOH seems to involve a metal paste in suspension. -- That can't be right. I didn't pull the filter I put in-line a couple hundred miles back, but I wouldn't be surprised if it was full of chunks again.

I also picked up a temperature probe, so I can compare readings there with what I'm getting from OBD, but that's mostly scientific curiosity at this point.

Also, really excited that this will probably come together without me having to miss a camping date.
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Old 07-06-2016, 10:56 PM   #20
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The van is mostly back together.

However, now the shop is telling me that they need to replace the radiator (oil to water cooler) as well in order to be able to warrant their work. I had thought that those were generally just flushed. Hmm. (This is a new shop for me, needed someone that could deal with the heavy stuff safely.)
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