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Old 01-28-2014, 09:41 PM   #15
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Congrats on the MoHo JD!
Cool ride.
My ol 70 Chevy C20 has a GVOD that was installed in around 1979 or so, I think. It recently decided to give up hope and quit on me last summer. It has over 100,000 miles on it, mostly with a pickup camper towing a boat by the previous owner. Luckily when they fail, they revert to direct drive. It definitely helped with the MPG on my C20 with 4.10 gears. I could get 15MPG on the highway pretty easily when it was working.
I'm still undecided on wether to rebuild it or install a 700-R4.
Good Luck and can't wait to see the MoHo!
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Old 01-29-2014, 04:19 AM   #16
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Congrats on the MoHo JD!
Cool ride.
My ol 70 Chevy C20 has a GVOD that was installed in around 1979 or so, I think. It recently decided to give up hope and quit on me last summer. It has over 100,000 miles on it, mostly with a pickup camper towing a boat by the previous owner. Luckily when they fail, they revert to direct drive. It definitely helped with the MPG on my C20 with 4.10 gears. I could get 15MPG on the highway pretty easily when it was working.
I'm still undecided on wether to rebuild it or install a 700-R4.
Good Luck and can't wait to see the MoHo!
Hi Lance,
Although the 700-R4 is a great transmission, it isn't up to the task of towing while in overdrive. From what I understand, the Gear Vendors unit can be used while towing, giving you an effective overdrive. I have a new Gear Vendors that I plan to install in my ex-Air Force 87 Diesel Suburban with a Banks Turbo & turbo 400 transmission, 4:10 gears (hopefully adding 3:73 gears at some point). My goal is to achieve similar mileage numbers to modern diesel pick- ups while towing & without the trailer.
Any idea what it costs to rebuild the Gear Vendors?.............perhaps cheaper than a new transmission?
Colin
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Old 01-29-2014, 06:20 AM   #17
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It's just money, right?

I'm not sure what it costs to rebuild a GVOD, but a factory rebuilt GVOD is around $1,000 and a hefty core charge of $800, a new electronic package is needed for $175, add some shipping and the price gets very hefty. Add the fact that my TH350 leaks fluid and will probably need to be rebuilt in the near future, and the 700-R4 looks better and better. I am more concerned with having overdrive when not towing. I have read that it is perfectly acceptable to tow with the GVOD however, when the GVOD worked, it was too much gear for towing my Ambassador in OD. It seems to tow much better with the RPMs at 3,500 where the engine makes max torque. I tow with it off and get around 8.5-9.5 MPG. I get about 10.5 MPG solo so, towing isn't much of a penalty without an OD of some sort.
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Old 01-29-2014, 06:52 AM   #18
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I'm not sure what it costs to rebuild a GVOD, but a factory rebuilt GVOD is around $1,000 and a hefty core charge of $800, a new electronic package is needed for $175, add some shipping and the price gets very hefty. Add the fact that my TH350 leaks fluid and will probably need to be rebuilt in the near future, and the 700-R4 looks better and better. I am more concerned with having overdrive when not towing. I have read that it is perfectly acceptable to tow with the GVOD however, when the GVOD worked, it was too much gear for towing my Ambassador in OD. It seems to tow much better with the RPMs at 3,500 where the engine makes max torque. I tow with it off and get around 8.5-9.5 MPG. I get about 10.5 MPG solo so, towing isn't much of a penalty without an OD of some sort.
You wouldn't have to pay the core charge if you supply the core though right? Your costs may be lower than a new tranny, which may only require gaskets etc. One of my former employees was a certified mechanic who grew up in his fathers transmission shop. He told me that heat was the big enemy of automatic transmissions, so if you have a great remote oil cooler & the fluid has not turned black, you may be in good shape with some minor seals & gaskets.

Several years ago I did the numbers for my Suburban set up & figured that with its current gearing, the engine was running at about 2600 rpm at 65 mph & would reduce to around 1800 if I installed the Gear Vendors & 3.73 gears. That's right in the sweet spot for the 6.2 diesel with the Banks Turbo. I'm really curious now to install it all...............when I "have time" My 59 Ambassador is lighter than yours & it punches a smaller hole in the wind, so I'm hoping that it'll work out well.
If you do decide to go with a "new" 700-R4, you might want to look into some of those specialty transmission shops that advertise in the numerous Street Rod mags. They've likely figured out all of the "tweaks" to make it right.
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Old 01-30-2014, 12:18 AM   #19
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Gear Vendors Overdrive

3400 RPM won't hurt that 454, back in the day I remember BB Chevys turning more than 4000 RPM hour after hour after hour under heavy load lasting over 100 K miles.

Besides, you could buy a new 454 for the cost of the gear venders unit and have change left over.

3500 only seems destructive because we are used to slower motors these days.
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Old 01-30-2014, 12:25 AM   #20
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Gear Vendors Overdrive

Oh, a cheaper way to get overdrive would be to switch to a 700R4 tranny, pretty much a bolt in except for shortening the driveline about 2".

(And using the right TV cable/Assy. Is critical.)

Edit,,,, sorry I should have read further before answering, I see that the 700R4 has been mentioned already.

This transmission when new was buggy and unreliable, it was updated into a fine transmission fully suitable in a tow vehicle or motor home.

If a person were squeamish about one in a stock configuration, (I am not) they can be bought in build suitable up to and beyond 800 HP......

A stock 700 would work fine behind a stock 454 and in front of 456 gears.
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Old 01-30-2014, 01:59 AM   #21
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HA. We are having trouble deciding which to take.

I do believe my playa tuxedo would be particularly svelte attire exiting the 350 LE. With stainless martini stemware, of course.

The purchase was not really my idea. I blame Cindy. She says it spoke to her.

But, on the other hand, it seems that everyone has more than one Airstream anymore.


The American Aluminum Dream, right?


Regards,

JD
We'll have to have Zep draw in a MotorHome subdivision in our camp plan this year. Ron has had that solenoid problem, some interesting stories there for him and Bam to tell. Yes, you two do make the epitome of fine elegance on playa for Burn night.
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Old 01-30-2014, 06:57 AM   #22
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Maximum Overdrive

Quote:
Originally Posted by Colin H View Post
You wouldn't have to pay the core charge if you supply the core though right? Your costs may be lower than a new tranny, which may only require gaskets etc. One of my former employees was a certified mechanic who grew up in his fathers transmission shop. He told me that heat was the big enemy of automatic transmissions, so if you have a great remote oil cooler & the fluid has not turned black, you may be in good shape with some minor seals & gaskets.

Several years ago I did the numbers for my Suburban set up & figured that with its current gearing, the engine was running at about 2600 rpm at 65 mph & would reduce to around 1800 if I installed the Gear Vendors & 3.73 gears. That's right in the sweet spot for the 6.2 diesel with the Banks Turbo. I'm really curious now to install it all...............when I "have time" My 59 Ambassador is lighter than yours & it punches a smaller hole in the wind, so I'm hoping that it'll work out well.
If you do decide to go with a "new" 700-R4, you might want to look into some of those specialty transmission shops that advertise in the numerous Street Rod mags. They've likely figured out all of the "tweaks" to make it right.
Colin
JD I hope you don't mind a little "extra" information-

I went to the local hot rod transmission shop to inquire about a new 700-R4. Something similar to this. I was told they could build a 700-R4 for towing with all the wide bands, etc and install it for around $1,800. That is IF you have a 700-R4 already. It will cost an additional $500-$750 for a custom driveshaft, move crossmember, mount TV cable and an updated flywheel. So about $2,500 or so. That is all parts and labor. I thought that sounds a little bit too much for me for right now.
I called Gear Vendors to inquire (again) about an exchange. I was told that my old Laycock J type overdrive (Made in England) was obsolete and they recommend I upgrade to the newest P type unit. That would be $1,300 and the new electronics would be $400 and since the P Type and J Type are not the same length, I would have to get the drive shaft shortened, so that would be another $500. Total for the upgrade $2,200 for parts only. I don't know how much labor a shop would charge for this work.
I told the guy on the phone at Gear Vendors that that was a little too much for me, so he said they could, if I begged and promised not to tow in OD, rebuild my old J Type for around $1,000. I would have to get a special return authorization. I would take it off, ship it to them, they would rebuild it and return it. While that was going on I could have the TH 350 rebuilt/refreshed with an aluminum pan with a temp bung and have things better than when it was new in 1970.
Then I read some things on the internet forums about rebuilding an old GKN Laycock Type J OD. It is all an interesting story. GKN (the same company that owned Henschen Axles we all know so well) also owned Laycock Engineering LTD. There are other places to get your Laycock J Type OD units rebuilt.
This one, Maximum Overdrive, was mentioned a few times on some truck forums. From what I read, the prices from this vendor are a good bit lower than Gear Vendors. I'll give them a try.
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Old 01-30-2014, 09:56 AM   #23
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Thanks for all the information.

I really don't want to get into a tranny swap.

I can install overdrive myself.

But, moving cross members, changing parking brakes, shift linkages, cooler lines, flywheels, torque converters, etc, etc, is a lot of work.

It might be a the edge of my skills, and is certainly past my time budgets right now.

As far as a 454 lasting 100k at high RPMs, maybe. But remember most all cars of that era lasted only 100k.

I understand there have been many improvements in engines that have increase lifespan.

But, I firmly believe that the slower RPMs of today's drivetrains have made a substantial improvement in durability as well.

My mind is not made up, I guess I just need to decide if 55-60 mph is fast enough.

Certainly, the cost of the GV product is at a premium, but a lot can be said for a complete, bolt on kit that has a warranty.

Sometimes the dollar amounts can end up being the same, we just spend the money at different rates. All at once, or buying another part to correct an unforeseen problem that has to be completed to make the money we have already spent not seem wasted.

Which, in the big picture, may be what I am doing, seeing as the beast is sitting in my yard.



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Old 01-30-2014, 10:40 AM   #24
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The biggest advance for engine longevity was the elimination of carburetors in the incorporation of EFI.

With EFI there is much less "fuel washing" of cylinder walls caused by poor atomization of fuel and excessively rich conditions that are common in carb engines, especially in warm up and "sticky chokes".

Low tension piston rings also add a lot to longevity.

Having run these 454s in commercial service, lots of them, the biggest enemy to these is crossfiring through old plug wires, destroying pistons. The old HEI ignitions made a lot of current, cross firing was easy.

Dropping engine speeds will have an effect on engine wear, just not nearly as much as common perception would impress.

If the advice of someone who has done a LOT of swaps from stock, (if not ever a gear vendors unit) as far as the gear vendors unit goes regarding installation, it is my opinion that when all is said and done a 700R4 swap would be an easier, less complicated, and cheaper instal.

How many miles on the stock trany? What if you instal the gear vendors unit and then the trany goes out?

Sorry, I don't mean to be pushy, but think it through, don't get stuck in "gadgetits", this can be an expensive condition.
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Old 01-30-2014, 10:48 AM   #25
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Remember you'll also need to have your driveshaft shortened with the GV installation.
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Old 01-30-2014, 11:28 AM   #26
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J Morgan:

I agree with your comments about the EFI as the single biggest improvement in longevity of gasoline internal combustion engines.


I don't have a need to run out and buy something, I am simply investigating ways to add some useful life to a 23 year old motorhome, with only 23k original miles.

There are many folks that say the 700R4 has absolutely no business in an application such as this, so your suggestion creates as many questions as answers.

Growing up on a ranch with farm machinery, I have seen many "simple" upgrades and swaps turn into complete disasters.

Regards,


JD
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Old 01-30-2014, 11:59 AM   #27
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Lol, in reality there aren't many simple swaps. Usually one change causes the need to make two or three other changes ...

Also take note, if in the next 20 years the motor home gets driven as much as it was in the prior 20 years, is a 20% increase in engine longevity worth the price of either upgrade?

Where might you better spend the 3k that either swap is going to cost?

Of note also, when I tow my 31' trailer, I get better fuel economy locked out of overdrive in my tow vehicle.
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Old 01-30-2014, 02:16 PM   #28
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For a transmission swap into that heavy beast, I think you'd want something like a 4L80E instead of a tow-prepped 700R4. I'm sure someone's done it (on another old truck if not an Airstream moho). I don't know if its electronics are self-contained or if it needs input from an engine-control module to work right.

A bone-stock 4L80E should be able to handle a 454, and an hd-prepped rebuild should last for decades of trips to Burning Man as long as the transmission cooler is decent.
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