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Old 05-13-2004, 09:33 AM   #1
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Transmission Rebuild Cost

Actual cost (less tax) for the following services:

Tow 15 miles interim from storage to shop $ 95
Remove, Overhaul, Replace Transmission $650
Repair leak in exhaust bypass control valve $ 50
Replace Rear U-Joint – Service all others $ 50
Install External Drain in Tranny Pan $ 25
Full Service and Inspection of Differential $ 45

Total $915

Not a bad price, considering it took only 4 working days from first phone call to completion.

As a comparison, I could have purchased a TH 475 AC-Delco rebuild (2 year, 24K warranty) for $1365, (price for the AC Delco was the same at the Chevy dealer and the independent shop that ended up doing the work), and had the Chevy dealer remove the old tranny, and install the new with a labor charge of 10 hours at $85 per hour ($850) for a total of $2215. I would have saved the $95 tow, but would not have the extra work itemized above completed.

The independent shop offered to remove the old transmission and install the same AC Delco unit for $330 labor cost, of course, I would have still incurred the $95 towing cost on top of that, so that would have put me at $1790 out the door.

An interesting aside: As soon as I explained to the other shops I contacted that the tranny was a TH-475, and not a TH-400 or TH-450, everyone wanted to drop the conversation like I was selling tickets to a Michael Jackson “Save the Children” concert. The problem was compounded when I mentioned “Motorhome”, 1986 Chassis, 35 feet long, and 11 feet high.

The downside of the independent shop is that I only have a 12 month/12K warranty, but I was unable to interest a “nationwide” affiliate shop to take it on.

On the plus side, I had an immediate “good feeling” while on the phone with the owner of the shop doing the work. The Chevy shop did not leave me with the same feeling at all. I have no doubt of the competency of the Chevy dealers people, but all of the conversations I had with the Service Rep of the Chevy dealer left me with absolutely no “warm and fuzzy” feelings that all would be taken care of.

The test drive by the shop is scheduled for this afternoon (rebuild delayed one day from estimate due to the “heavy duty” torque converter I requested not being available for overnight delivery), I will post again after I pick it up.

Before the tranny cratered, it was indicating a stall speed of 2500 rpm (as it always had since I owned it). The new torque converter is designed to stall at 1900 rpm. I’m anxious to see how (and at what indicated speed) the new stall speed works out. Although I liked the higher stall speed, the rebuilder indicated that the higher stall speed converters are generally installed on “race applications”, and the “heavy duty” (1900 rpm stall) torque converter now installed in the 345 is a much better choice for a motorhome application.
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Old 05-13-2004, 10:15 AM   #2
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I'd agree that in the application you have a lower stall speed is the best choice. One reason is that under stall speed, the torque converter generates more heat. Once the T/C locks, less heat is being generated. Given the weight of the coach, you should almost surely see a happier trans at the lower MPH and RPMs. Again, it's the weight of the coach. If it was a 3k to 4k lb. sports car, I'd be less concerned, but with a few more tons of weight, well, you can only imagine the heat that **could** be generated.

On my car, I had the PCM reporgrammed to lock the TC around the same RPM so that I can to in overdrive. So far I've had about 3000 uneventful towing miles...and now with the heavier Safari, I am equally as hopeful.

Eric
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Old 05-13-2004, 11:28 AM   #3
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Wink

Quote:
Originally Posted by Silvertwinkie
I'd agree that in the application you have a lower stall speed is the best choice. One reason is that under stall speed, the torque converter generates more heat. Once the T/C locks, less heat is being generated. Given the weight of the coach, you should almost surely see a happier trans at the lower MPH and RPMs. Again, it's the weight of the coach. If it was a 3k to 4k lb. sports car, I'd be less concerned, but with a few more tons of weight, well, you can only imagine the heat that **could** be generated.

On my car, I had the PCM reporgrammed to lock the TC around the same RPM so that I can to in overdrive. So far I've had about 3000 uneventful towing miles...and now with the heavier Safari, I am equally as hopeful.
Eric:

I understand what you are saying, but I am somewhat concerned that the (already) underpowered engine will be trying to do too much work at speeds from 2000 to 2400, where it is (capable of) producing less horsepower than at 2500 rpm. Before (with the old torque converter), at 2500 rpm, I had about a 5mph overlap from max engine speed in 2nd gear (50 mph at 3400 rpm), and coming out of stall in third at a decent power producing rpm (45 mph at 2500 rpm).

I guess I'll just have to wait on a real world road test/trip.

An improper shift/stall point would lend credibility to my needing (wanting) a new engine and a gear splitter.

On Edit - I was always careful of minimizing the time in stall, often manually shifting as the (load and road) conditions required. -- Which is why I liked the 5 mph overlap at 45 - 50 mph.
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Old 05-13-2004, 11:56 AM   #4
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$650 installed is a great price. I recently had to replace the transmission in our Jeep Grand Cherokee. Because of time contraints I elected to have it done by a local shop. We also got the 12/12 warantee and they did a great job. Total cost out the door was about $2000. This was after calling around. After the job was done, the owner told me that Jeeps trannies help keep them in business. Not sure I needed to hear that.

It always amazes me that parts for the MH (which is a heavy duty vehicle) are consistantly and many times significantly cheaper than the same items for either of my cars.

Out of curiousity what are the major differences in the TH-475? I guess I though we all had TH-400's down there.
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Old 05-13-2004, 02:52 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by swebster@myrvadvanta
Out of curiousity what are the major differences in the TH-475? I guess I though we all had TH-400's down there.
Steven:

Don't know the differences - *Maybe the OD of the rear seal *

Check out the price differential on this site -

http://www.westernengines.com/tranny.htm
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Old 05-13-2004, 04:13 PM   #6
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Interesting that it shows a TH400 Motorhome and the TH475 as Motorhome - with Straight Cut Gears. hmmmm
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Old 10-27-2004, 06:12 PM   #7
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One More Chapter

The Scenario -

Returning to Katy from Clouldland Canyon Rally - late in the day - downtown Shreveport - accelerating from stop - no shift to third gear.

The bad news is that third gear is totally absent.

The good news is that I still have first and second, am only about 50 miles from the shop that rebuilt the tranny earlier this year, and I have the Saturn in tow.

It's good to have a contingency plan.

3200 RPM gave me 45 MPH in second gear, enough to deliver the MoHo to the shop for a look-see, and then loaded up and drove the Saturn the last 5 hours or so to Katy.

More after I get a post-mortem on the failure.

Life with a "Classic" (that means "old") AS MoHo needs to be viewed as "adventure after adventure", not "disaster after disaster".

If a problem presents itself, you simply have to handle it.
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Old 10-27-2004, 06:30 PM   #8
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Good attitude my friend. Your brake deal and now the trans could make many a man weep. But the good times are worth the effort.
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Old 10-28-2004, 12:25 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 87MH
Life with a "Classic" (that means "old") AS MoHo needs to be viewed as "adventure after adventure", not "disaster after disaster".
Dennis, if you can maintain that attitude through everything these old jewels throw at us, I want some of whatever you're smoking!

Losing the center bearing in the Coliseum parking lot just before a Titans game and replacing it the next day was an adventure. Losing the engine when it blew up 200 miles from home and having it replaced at that distance was a disaster! Maybe it's the magnitude of repair cost that turns one into the other.

Seriously, though, I do share your attitude. I love my old Argosy, and, even with all I've had to do to it, I can't imagine replacing it with something newer. When we tailgate at football games, I'm amazed at how people can totally ignore the $150K+ rigs and come over to ask about mine! I figure anybody with enough money can have one of those. It takes a special kind of dedication to own one like ours.

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Old 11-09-2004, 07:26 PM   #10
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Post Mortem of Failure - Return from Cloudland Canyon

Picked up the MoHo last Friday - spent a really great weekend at Tyler State Park in North East Texas - great park if you are ever in the area.

Transmission teardown revealed two apparently unrelated failures - third/reverse clutch plates failed and the tranny case was nearly fractured into two parts.

I related all of the incidences - how I drove - how the third gear failure occured - owner of the shop quoted Forest Gump - It Happens.

His shop was filled to the brim with school busses, delivery trucks, and big pickups. He replaced my blown case with a "Heavy Duty" version of the TH-475, and installed all new internals clutches, bands, and torque converter.

For sure, he didn't make any money on me. He related that he had had to do only a handful of jobs on warranty since he had opened his doors. I would do business with him again in a heartbeat

The cracked case really bothers me, there was no impact (other than the terrible Alabama washboard I-59 in both directions), nor any detectable vibrations. The tranny rebuilder said that given the absence of wear, he thought the damage occured within a couple of hundred miles of arrival at his shop. Bottom line - I have been REALLY careful with the transmission. I usually shift it by hand being careful to keep the RPMs between 2500 and 3200.

One observation - 3200 RPM in second gear on I-20 gave me 45 MPH (as always) - you sure see a lot more at 45 than at 60. Individual tree limbs are discernable, and the drive takes on a whole new perspective at the slower speed.

Wouldn't want to have to do 45 across West Texas, though.
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Old 11-09-2004, 08:48 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 87MH
The cracked case really bothers me,
I wouldn't worry about the case cracking, that looks like installer error. There is a dowel in each side and they are a tight fit, I bet it was cocked when the installer tightened it up and he busted it. Just check to make sure this one is seated tight all around. OTOH, I bet the owner had enough words with him that it won't happen again.

John
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