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Level 10 Transmissions - Build The Best Off Road Tranny You Can

Posted in How To on November 20, 2008 Comment (0)
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Level 10 Transmissions - Build The Best Off Road Tranny You Can

Being that it is 2008, we're guessing that most of you have moved to automatic transmissions in your vehicles by now. Though we can already see the hate mail coming in from some old die-hard Jeepers, we're going to make the statement right now that you can't beat a well-built automatic transmission in the dirt, at least not in the type of stuff most of us play in. Don't get us wrong, we love stick-shifts on the street; they're a ton of fun, even if they are a pain in the butt in traffic. And yes, manual transmissions offer the reliability and a certain amount of fail safety that an automatic transmission cannot. You can even use the starter to move a dead-engine vehicle with the clutch engaged in a manual transmission vehicle, which can be very handy on trails and in rockcrawling. But with today's technology and experience in building the majority of auto trannies used in our off-road trucks, you really have very little to worry about if you have a really well-built transmission.

Auto trannies allow you to use the brake and throttle pedal without having to worry about a clutch (no third foot on most of us), they act as a dampener in your drivetrain that can keep other parts from failing during extreme shock loading, and you can even have manual valve bodies put into auto slushboxes if you want full control of the shifting.

Bulletproofing automatic transmissions isn't restricted to old TH350s, TH400s and C6's either. Newer transmissions in currently made trucks still have similar architecture to their predecessors, so many secrets and tricks of older automatic transmissions apply to the newer transmissions as well. Pat Barrett at Level 10 has been building bombproof transmissions since 1973, and he made a bold claim to us that he could make a tranny that could withstand OUR abuse!

Did he know who he was talking to?! The editor of this magazine has put seven trannies in one truck that has 90,000 miles on the odometer. Another truck has had two trannies, another truck four; another truck two; yet another truck three... you get the idea. When Pat offered to build a tranny for us that would not break, we couldn't get it strapped to a pallet and shipped to 'Jersey fast enough ...

A couple weeks later, our transmission arrived back at Jeeps R Us (where we had removed it) with its new 'Animal' build. The Animal build is a Level 10 exclusive system available for most popular off-road transmissions.

Level 10 builds every transmission to spec for each particular application. There are no off-the-shelf transmissions waiting for someone to pick them up. Each one is built factoring in the vehicle use, performance modifications, the weight of the vehicle, any future mods, and what type of power the engine puts out.

Since we had sent our old tranny as the core to rebuild, we knew it was the correct one, but we had a little trouble fitting the new torque converter to the flexplate.

Jeeps R Us finally figured out for us that it was such a tight fit that the paint on the billet torque converter was making it not fit. After relieving it of some paint, Level 10's new billet torque converter met up smoothly to our stock flexplate.

To date, it is still alive! We've been running on it for the last few months and have put about 15,000 miles on it. When we originally left the shop in our vehicle, we did not have the shift pressure cable attached, so we had some very weird shifts until we figured it out. But once it was all adjusted correctly, everything worked smoothly. And we do mean smoothly! Though the shifts were still fast and without slip, there were not the violent kicks we felt with other performance-transmission shifts.

Level 10 had definitely built a transmission very specific to our application of truck that sees some hard driving and abuse, but still a lot of daily driving. And since we've killed lesser-built transmissions of this same model, we'll definitely attest to its impressive build.

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Sources

Royal Purple
Porter, TX 77365
888-382-6300
www.royalpurple.com
Jeeps R Us
Laguna Beach, CA 92651
949-497-9183
http://www.jeepsrus.com/
Level Ten
www.levelten.com

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