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blackglasspirate Sat Jul 11, 2020 8:17 pm

Well, it's that time of year again. The time of year where my transmission decides to crap out and leave me in tears. I rebuilt the transmission in October, it failed within a month because of crud that was left over in the TC and an oil cooler I got off of a friend (despite doing my best to clean them out). Then I had it rebuilt again in Phoenix in January, and things have been great since...until today.

Going over a somewhat small pass from Salmon, ID to Missoula, MT we were just putzing along going slow as usual up the pass with an occasional kickdown from 3rd to 2nd to maintain speed. Once we came over the pass and started coasting I noticed a weird downshift, then upshift, then downshift again. After the final downshift it would stay in 2nd, with no upshift to 3rd. We pulled over, let it sit a few, then tried again but we had a very delayed upshift from 1st to 2nd, then no upshift from 2nd to 3rd. Reverse works fine. We opened up the engine bay and saw some ATF had come up and out of the dipstick tube. Checked the fluid and it was somewhat high but smelled only like ATF. Checked the gear oil and it seemed normal (not low to indicate mixing with ATF), though it was a bit frothy with bubbles. I don't know if that's normal since I've never checked the gear oil level while hot. The only reason I could think of for ATF coming out of the dipstick was either mixing, causing high fluid levels, or clogged vents on top of the trans. So I cleaned out the vents as much as possible with no change. I also took the governor out to make sure it wasn't gunked up. It didn't seem gunked, but I cleaned it up with carb cleaner anyway with no change.

According to the 010 troubleshooting guide, no upshift to third could be dirty governor, valve body, 2nd gear brake band, or bad D/R clutch. I plan on cleaning the valve body out tomorrow to make sure it's not gunked up and stuck, and also test the clutch packs with compressed air. If that doesn't do it, I'm setting the whole thing on fire and watching it burn.

Luckily I was traveling with friends, who drove to the closest town and bought some supplies for me to do the work tomorrow, but for now we limped to a trailhead about 100 miles south of Missoula and are going to spend the night and do the work here.

If anyone has any other ideas or suggestions on things to do/check for, I'm all ears.

joelsolomonson Sat Jul 11, 2020 9:34 pm

I had a similar experience where I went over a pass at pretty high outside temps and after coasting down the other side could not shift up to 3rd. I had to nearly redline it to get it to eventually shift. I got home, dropped the trans pan and put in new filter, gasket and AFT and all was well. I think my valve body was gunked. I didn't see anything alarming in the pan other than browner than normal ATF. Fresh fluids and filter fixed me right up. Hope yours is as easy.

jlrftype7 Sat Jul 11, 2020 10:49 pm

Did you ever get a new separation plate for the valve body, or at least look yours over?
They do get hammered over time, several great pictures here on Samba of the balls punching through the holes on the plate, wear tracks, etc.

My condolences over that trans.... Iíve been there, been stranded by mine too.... :oops: :cry: :cry: :cry:

blackglasspirate Sun Jul 12, 2020 6:06 am

joelsolomonson wrote: I had a similar experience where I went over a pass at pretty high outside temps and after coasting down the other side could not shift up to 3rd. I had to nearly redline it to get it to eventually shift. I got home, dropped the trans pan and put in new filter, gasket and AFT and all was well. I think my valve body was gunked. I didn't see anything alarming in the pan other than browner than normal ATF. Fresh fluids and filter fixed me right up. Hope yours is as easy.

Thatís good to know, hopefully mine is as easy! About to start working on it now.

For the valve body plate, I didnít replace it but I did look it over and sanded it down where the ball had worn some ridges on one of the holes. Iíll have eyes on it again here shortly.

djkeev Sun Jul 12, 2020 6:33 am

When my automatic was doing its delayed upshifts and pissing fluid thing, I tried many fixes before replacing the 2nd gear cover seals and piston seal.

One of the things I did was source a BRAND NEW valve body from Germany.
Previously, in an attempt to fix the shift I disassembled and repaired the worn plate in the valve body.
Bottom line, the new valve body once installed changed nothing over the one in there. That tells me the old one is absolutely fine.

I still have the old valve body. If you think it might help you, let me know.

I know I'm a few days away with shipping but.........

Dave

blackglasspirate Sun Jul 12, 2020 6:39 am

djkeev wrote: When my automatic was doing its delayed upshifts and pissing fluid thing, I tried many fixes before replacing the 2nd gear cover seals and piston seal.

One of the things I did was source a BRAND NEW valve body from Germany.
Previously, in an attempt to fix the shift I disassembled and repaired the worn plate in the valve body.
Bottom line, the new valve body once installed changed nothing over the one in there. That tells me the old one is absolutely fine.

I still have the old valve body. If you think it might help you, let me know.

I know I'm a few days away with shipping but.........

Dave

Thanks, Dave! I will keep that in mind and let you know.

The seals/rings for the piston are new, I replaced them when I rebuilt it in October. Doesnít mean they didnít crap out already though, so itís something to consider. I was going to try the compressed air tests once the valve body is out to see if the piston and clutch packs are engaging properly.

Stay tuned...

MarkWard Sun Jul 12, 2020 6:59 am

Running an automatic overfilled is not good. The fluid reservoir needs to be below the moving parts. When overfilled the fluid gets whipped into a froth. This adds air to the hydraulic fluid, resulting in poor applying. The friction from slipping over heats the fluid causing it to expand. Otherwise itís physically impossible for the fluid level to climb up and out the fill tube. Sounds like you were in extreme conditions so the auto was probably working at itís limit.

When it started having symptoms, the damage was done. Probably a good idea to add a temp gauge in the pan this time. Adding an external cooler if you have one complicates getting the level correct. Bummer.

blackglasspirate Sun Jul 12, 2020 7:25 am

MarkWard wrote: Running an automatic overfilled is not good. The fluid reservoir needs to be below the moving parts. When overfilled the fluid gets whipped into a froth. This adds air to the hydraulic fluid, resulting in poor applying. The friction from slipping over heats the fluid causing it to expand. Otherwise itís physically impossible for the fluid level to climb up and out the fill tube. Sounds like you were in extreme conditions so the auto was probably working at itís limit.

When it started having symptoms, the damage was done. Probably a good idea to add a temp gauge in the pan this time. Adding an external cooler if you have one complicates getting the level correct. Bummer.

Well just to be clear, I didnít overfill it, but the level was high when I checked. Could be that it was just very hot and super expanded, or diff fluid was getting it, though Iíve seen no sign of that. I havenít touched the fluid level since my last fiasco in January and Iíve checked it a few times since and the level has been fine.

I just dropped the pan though and found something that made my heart sink. Remnants from the new thrust washer put in in October that I got from Alika. Not sure how it would have gotten melted/twisted like this. At this point it seems like a complete tear down is in order, but Iím going to go ahead and clean the VB anyway to maybe be able to limp to Missoula or somewhere I can get help.



blackglasspirate Sun Jul 12, 2020 7:27 am

Also, the pass I was going over wasnít all that extreme. Weíve done much worse. Oil and coolant temps were on the higher than normal side but not extreme.

MarkWard Sun Jul 12, 2020 7:55 am

Well something got hot for sure. Good luck getting where your headed.

djkeev Sun Jul 12, 2020 11:24 am

Idahodoug was just pleading for company recently!

Not sure you could make it to Northern Idaho though,

There is a Vanagon Camper rental place at the Missoula airport, Dragonfly, Scott I think. He does his own work.
Contact Candyman, he is in Missoula and knows not only him but a local mechanic good with Vanagons.
Found it! .......Jeff at wise Westy.


Dave

Hope this helps!

Check your PM sent you more info

kourt Sun Jul 12, 2020 4:58 pm

Wow, that thrust washer really cooked out.

Too bad I didnít see this post earlier. I just left Great Falls with two days to spare before my next climb. I could have popped over for some extra support. Now Iím in South Dakota with my van. Keep us postedóthese troubleshoots are always interesting.

Kourt

blackglasspirate Sun Jul 12, 2020 5:20 pm

kourt wrote: Wow, that thrust washer really cooked out.

Too bad I didnít see this post earlier. I just left Great Falls with two days to spare before my next climb. I could have popped over for some extra support. Now Iím in South Dakota with my van. Keep us postedóthese troubleshoots are always interesting.

Kourt

Ahh, that sucks - we just missed you. Iím waiting to hear back from GTA and Wise Westy at the moment.

And yeah that thing got real hot. I canít tell if it failed and then clogged something up, causing the overheating, or if thatís just a side effect from something else. There was minimal swarf in the pan, so if something else but the dust then it didnít make itís way down there.

Iím looking into renting a uhaul trailer and bringing it to Bend to get GTA to handle it. I think I may go insane if I try to do it myself this time, plus doing it myself in someoneís driveway will take much longer.

Oh the joys of the road...

ALIKA T3 Sun Jul 12, 2020 6:14 pm

Hi Pirate!

following our pm exchanges, here`s the temperature characteristis of the blue thrust washers I supply for other people interested in this matter :wink:

Quote: I know GTA is the only guy I know who makes his own thrust washers, they are white with no groove, more see-through. Easy to recognize.

The POM material I use starts to get really soft at 330F. 400F is melting point. That`s hella hot!!

I`m really curious about your findings. Keep me informed if you can Wink

Aloha!

blackglasspirate Mon Jul 13, 2020 10:25 am

Talked to Wise Westy today and GTA but so far we are still stuck.

GTA said they couldnít fit us in for another 3 weeks, and so far thatís our only option. They are at least 2 weeks out on rebuilds so it would be the same if I had them ship one to us.

If anyone has any recommendations within 500 miles of Missoula, Iím all ears.

blackglasspirate Wed Jul 15, 2020 8:57 am

We ended up renting a U-Haul and trailer and are now on the way to Bend, OR. German Transaxle gave us a 3 week estimate but said they are going to try to get us in sooner and there's the slim possibility it could be late next week.

Either way, we're rolling into Bend today and are just going to be camping on the street in front of GTA until they can see us.

Not exactly the ideal situation, considering the weather will be in the 90s, but I can't afford a new transmission AND 3 weeks in a hotel :shock:

Wish us luck.

mikemtnbike Wed Jul 15, 2020 9:06 am

I not only wish you luck, I wish you long-term success.

dobryan Wed Jul 15, 2020 9:07 am

mikemtnbike wrote: I not only wish you luck, I wish you long-term success.

X2.

VanandGone Wed Jul 15, 2020 1:28 pm

Well if it's any consolation, we had them ship an Auto up to Alaska last July after ours crapped out spectacularly after the Dempster Highway. The build took 2 weeks and they air shipped it (don't ask what that cost!!). By far the best working transmission I have ever had in the Van we did the turbo upgrade and 3.72 R&P, very happy with GTA. Say hello to Katika, she's awesome.

djkeev Wed Jul 15, 2020 1:56 pm

Wise choice!

Sorry about the time frame though.

Looking at the thread titles THIS is the year of Automatic transmission problems!

Dave



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