TCI has over 12,000 transmission...
TCI has over 12,000 transmission cores ready to build. Above is just one rack in one warehouse.
Not too long ago, Circle Track got the opportunity to get a behind-the-scenes tour of TCI's Ashland, Miss., plant. The place was impressive from the minute we walked in the door. Scott Miller, TCI's Circle Track Product Manager, showed us everything from the core room to the secret R&D center, complete with it's own dedicated dyno.
On the tour we got to see every aspect of performance transmission manufacturing. While the tour was impressive, one simple thing stood out beyond anything: We had never seen so many cores in our lives! TCI has several warehouses soley dedicated to storing transmission cores. It was truly amazing to see rows of racks with nothing but used transmission cores, there's something like 12,000 cores there. "We've got cores that are probably 20 years old," says Jimmy Wilkerson, TCI's Street/Strip Converter Manager, who also oversees the purchasing of the cores. "I've lost count of how many we've got." The cores are, obviously, the primary building block for TCI's products, and without them there would be no TCI.
During our tour, we learned a couple of important pointers about racing transmissions that we wanted to pass along to you. Racing transmissions are under severe stress, and as such, certain areas are subject to failure-failure that will ruin an otherwise great Saturday night. One such area is the fins in the torque converter. In most converters, the fins are slid through a slot and held in place by being bent over as shown in the upper right picture. While this process is fine in a stock converter, racing applications require something stronger. Regardless of the division you run, the fins in your converter should be furnace brazed. This process involves applying a paste to the fins and then placing the parts in a furnace. As the part heats up, the paste is pulled into all the cracks and crevices, making for a stronger metal-to-metal bond.
Tip number two is for those of you who like to rebuild your own transmissions. Adjusting endplay often requires you to insert and remove the input shaft multiple times. In order to save the input shaft from damage during this process, Master Transmission Specialist, Stacy Duncan, fabricated a dummy shaft with one end ground smooth. This allows him to quickly insert and take out the shaft as he adjusts the endplay. Once he has all of the tolerances exactly where they need to be, he simply swaps the dummy shaft for the actual one. Job completed with zero damage.
The trip to TCI was both fun and eye-opening. We'll continue to bring coverage of our behind-the-scenes in future installments, including how a two speed Powerglide is put together.
Note the bronze coloring on...
Note the bronze coloring on the bottom torque converter. Its fins have been furnace brazed in place, a critical step in ensuring race tranny durability. The top converter has yet to meet the oven.
TCI's Stacy Duncan fabricated...
TCI's Stacy Duncan fabricated a dummy input shaft with one end ground smooth, so he can easily insert and remove it while adjusting endplay. You can see the actual input shaft on the table.