Transmission Selection

Hello,

Our truck is a 2004 Dodge 2500 4x4 Hemi truck we have run in the past couple of Baja 1k's, and are looking to make life a little more simple. We have been runnning the 545RFE, but after a DNF last year have lost faith. Our idea was to run a transmission that will be a manual valve body, little to no electronics, and tough as nails. We are going to change the engine to run a carb set up, so there will be no communication issues between the engine and transmission. I have heard a 727 is a great transmission for the strip, but I have little data about off road applications. Any ideas would be great. Thanks.

Richard
 

Zambo

Well-Known Member
Richard, get a set of paddle shifters and an aftermarket computer from PCS or TCI and that 545rfe will work fine. It took a long time to figure it out but ours is bombproof now.
 
How ya doin Zambo! Sounds like you are all doing great down there.

The first year we used the 545RFE it worked just fine, but had no luck in 08'. The stand alone system is a must, but it is staying with the 545RFE reliable enough? Did you have have any other trick parts in the case?

Richard
 

Zambo

Well-Known Member
The 545rfe took a loooong time to get figured out. I'm sure you saw us on the side of the course at rm880 in the 07 1000 after it blew. It does NOT like to be shifted manually, it likes to be put in drive and shifted electronically with the controller. The controller will let you adjust line pressure etc and accept an input to tell it to upshift or downshift. I believe the Hummers do it the same way but they have a momentary up/down toggle switch for shifting rather than paddles. Either way, its a simple electrical input to shift the truck. Our transmission has been built with your typical heavy duty clutches etc. We have two coolers and even with the fans off the temp rarely gets off the peg. We've raced Primm, the 1000, Parker, the Mint, and the tt250 on the same transmission and it still shifts like its brand new. We even weighed it and its the same weight as a turbo 400. Biggest thing after you get it working right is you have to take ultra care to ensure that the electrical connections and wiring are bombproof. Now get your azz back to baja so we can stomp some of that Carli crud!
 
The only reason I work is to come down and race! We will be back again this year.
I just want a reliable truck, so when I drive down from Canada we only have driver error as a cause of failure if we dont finish the race. haha.

I was under the impression these trans were no good, but I would rather not start over and have to fit another type of transmission in, then dial that one in.
 

johnnyweb

Well-Known Member
Does the old torque flite 727 bellhousing fit the more modern hemi motor? Electronics suck in the desert.
 

Zambo

Well-Known Member
Electronics suck in the desert.
In some way yes, in other ways no. GPSs are electronic devices and they are pretty reliable. Its not like nobody ever blows up an manual valvebody trans either. Electronics allow a much higher degree of sophistication and better performance but the tradeoff is that they require more protection and technical know-how. For instance a motor running MPI fuel injection usually runs more efficiently and powerfully than a carburated motor. In a like manner, an electronic transmission can offer similar performance gains is the system is built correctly. For instance, the 545rfe, with the right programming, can actually be shifted as if it were a 5 speed. It has a 2nd prime, or kickdown gear, that you can use for racing in a much different way than it is used on the street. We spend a great deal of time shifting between 2nd and 2nd prime in the majority of most race courses, an rpm split of only about 400 but it makes a huge performance difference. Rather than choose between lugging the motor in 3rd or winding it out in 2nd we can stay right in the power band longer, and that not only makes us go faster but also saves a lot of wear and tear on other parts of the truck. Plus we never have to take our hands off the wheel to shift.
 

RDEgal

Member
Hello,

Our truck is a 2004 Dodge 2500 4x4 Hemi truck we have run in the past couple of Baja 1k's, and are looking to make life a little more simple. We have been runnning the 545RFE, but after a DNF last year have lost faith. Our idea was to run a transmission that will be a manual valve body, little to no electronics, and tough as nails. We are going to change the engine to run a carb set up, so there will be no communication issues between the engine and transmission. I have heard a 727 is a great transmission for the strip, but I have little data about off road applications. Any ideas would be great. Thanks.

Richard
Richard

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951-296-6163
www.ranchodrivetrain.com
 
In some way yes, in other ways no. GPSs are electronic devices and they are pretty reliable. Its not like nobody ever blows up an manual valvebody trans either. Electronics allow a much higher degree of sophistication and better performance but the tradeoff is that they require more protection and technical know-how. For instance a motor running MPI fuel injection usually runs more efficiently and powerfully than a carburated motor. In a like manner, an electronic transmission can offer similar performance gains is the system is built correctly. For instance, the 545rfe, with the right programming, can actually be shifted as if it were a 5 speed. It has a 2nd prime, or kickdown gear, that you can use for racing in a much different way than it is used on the street. We spend a great deal of time shifting between 2nd and 2nd prime in the majority of most race courses, an rpm split of only about 400 but it makes a huge performance difference. Rather than choose between lugging the motor in 3rd or winding it out in 2nd we can stay right in the power band longer, and that not only makes us go faster but also saves a lot of wear and tear on other parts of the truck. Plus we never have to take our hands off the wheel to shift.
Zambo,
I was looking into the stand alone system for the engine and transmission, and ordered the FAST trans stand alone and harness. I was wondering if a ecm for a standard 5.7L truck will operate the engine as a stand alone with no problems? The FAST engine stand alone is over 3k, so Im trying to put that off for a year if I can. Any ideas.

Richard
 

Zambo

Well-Known Member
Zambo,
I was looking into the stand alone system for the engine and transmission, and ordered the FAST trans stand alone and harness. I was wondering if a ecm for a standard 5.7L truck will operate the engine as a stand alone with no problems? The FAST engine stand alone is over 3k, so Im trying to put that off for a year if I can. Any ideas.

Richard
We used the ecm from a truck with a manual trans at first when we were running stock efi. Then we went to an AEM controller when we switched to a carb. MSD also makes an engine controller for the 5.7 now.

Having the hardware to control the trans is only half the deal. It took us a while to get the programming just right with our transmission controller. The guys at PCS were awesome in analyzing our recordings and tweaking our control program. The TCI fast controller is actually made by PCS and rebranded I believe. Did you get the paddles as well, they work great but you can also use a simple mom-off-mom switch to shift or you can use the buttons on the wheel if you have them. I wouldn't trust those stock buttons on a typical momo wheel for something like shifting though.

I wouldn't discount Ramsey's advice either, there is a lot to be said for a good old Th400, we just couldn't go that route obviously in stock full.
 
I talked with MSD and they have nothing? Maybe wrong guy?
I have also thought about a 46RH, a 727, and the TH400. Crap..I just want to race! The plan as of now is to I have is to have a couple of 545rfe transmissions controlled with a stand alone, and use a stock ecm form a manual truck for now. Lots of stress to get it reliable. We will get to Baja this year if it kills me!

Richard
 
Thanks Zambo!

That MSD is for spark and timing only. Does that go with a manual truck ECM to help it out, or were you thinking it was a stand alone? I think for this year I will need to run a stock ECM from a standard truck to keep a little cost down but I think it will work good.
I just recieved my TCU from Fast/TCI, and are going to go with the paddle shift from PCS, but now i think i am going to have to run another steering column. Any ideas of where to get one?

Sorry for all the questions, but there are not too many people running our setup. Thanks.

Richard
Big Dog Performance
 

Zambo

Well-Known Member
I thought it controlled fuel injection too but I haven't used it. We run a carb and an AEM controller. Sorry but not much help there. We used your typical sweet joints, bushings, and 3/4 inch tube to fab up a steering column. Are you getting rid of the steering so you can hook up the paddles? If so, you can use buttons on the stock wheel instead of the paddles or you can just hook up a mom/off/mom switch for now. I'm pretty sure the Hummer guys did it this way, they put a little handgrip right next to the steering wheel and had a simple switch mounted on it somehow. Samco on here could tell you more about how exactly they built it.
 

Zambo

Well-Known Member
Just an update for you, we pulled our 545rfe and sent it back to the builder after four races (TT250, Mint400, Parker 425, Baja 1000), plus the associated testing and other use. Builder reports that it is in perfect condition and could probably race two more seasons easily. Not bad for pushing a 7k pound truck with a 525hp motor on 37s.
 
Wow I didnt think the 545RFE would be that tough. You guys have been doing well.

We just signed a deal with a power train Company up here to build us all of our transmissions and tcases, so I guess we will se how it goes. We are scheduled for testing in a couple weeks which will tell us if we can make it all work out with the new electronics.

Yes I was wanting to find a column to fit the paddles, but I think I have an adapter that works for us. We are still exploring that part of the puzzle.

Richard
 
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