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Converter 101

This is a discussion on Converter 101 within the Automatic Transmission forums, part of the Drivetrain category; Hi folks... I am constantly running into people that are buying cheap "JUNK" converters and end up disappointed in the ...

  1. #1
    Member squirlnutz's Avatar
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    Converter 101

    Hi folks...

    I am constantly running into people that are buying cheap "JUNK" converters and end up disappointed in the long run. I was hoping I could provide a little bit of information so that people could be a little more educated when they buy a converter. Here goes...

    Picture #1. This is a STOCK GM 4 cylinder converter out of a Chevy Cavalier.

    Picture #2. I have gone through the trouble of cutting it open so you can see inside. On the left you see the front cover. It is the cover that actually bolts up to the motor. It has a smooth surface on the inside for the lockup clutch to ride on. If you notice, the lockup clutch is actually rather small. It is about 3/4' wide with a small overall diameter.

    Picture #3. This is a picture of a TCI cheap converter. This is the type of converter people keep using because of their low price, yet later end up paying quite a bit more because the converter takes a dump and takes out the transmission. That was the case with this particular converter.

    Picture #4. From this angle you can get a better look. The converter is actually a stock GM converter with an ADAPTER RING welded on the front. This ring is so that a 4 cylinder converter is able to bolt up to an 8 cylinder engine. They also replace the pilot and the hub to match the needs op the 8 cylinder engine. This adapter ring is the very first indication that you have bought a junk converter.

    Picture #5. I went ahead and cut this converter open as well. As you can see, it WAS the same lockup clutch that you find on the GM stock 4 cylinder converter. This lockup clutch works great in a 120hp Cavalier or Pontiac Sunbird that weighs 2500lbs. It just doesn't hold up well in 400+ horsepower GTO's, Corvettes, and F-bodies that weigh considerably more. Notice how the lockup clutch is destroyed. It has also wiped out the surface on the front cover where the lockup clutch applies. Guess where the lockup clutch is? You guessed it... In the transmission, clogging up the filter and causing transmission failure. (Which is exactly what happened to the poor guy that owned this converter.)

    Picture #6. A closer look at the destroyed lockup clutch.

    Picture 7. A closer look at the destroyed converter cover and lockup surface.

    Picture #8. Now a look at a little bit pricier converter. This one is a Precision Industries Vigilante converter. (That's obvious just by the color.) Notice that there is no adapter ring on the front cover. The front cover is machined from a solid piece of billet. It is thicker and stronger than the stock cover and will not flex.

    Picture #9. Now let's look inside... First, notice the cover on the left. The billet cover has a nice WIDE area for the lockup clutch to ride. Not that thin area provided by the stock converter. The part in the middle is the lockup clutch. See the difference? MUCH bigger. It is bigger in diameter and it is bigger in width. The amount of surface area is enormous compared to the TCI. This lockup clutch can take a TON of abuse unlike the 4 cylinder ones. And, if by chance you like to lock up your converter on wide open throttle runs, Precision Industries supplies multi disc clutches for even more holding potential.

    Picture #10. This is a picture of the TCI lockup clutch next to the Vigilante clutch. Which one do you prefer?

    In this post I have not mentioned Stall, or STR's or anything else. Can a cheap TCI converter get you a good 60 foot? Absolutely. It's not just about track times, it's about longevity.
    So, when you think you're saving money by buying a $400 converter. Think again. You will cost yourself much more in the long run. If you can't afford a better part. Wait... Save up for a couple more months. Buy the good part and you'll be happier in the end. Nothing is more disappointing than breaking down.
    I hope this post helps someone out there. It took a while to prepare, I hope someone benefits from it.
    Last edited by Cutlass; 02-21-2010 at 07:44 PM. Reason: fixed it for ya!!

  2. #2
    Member squirlnutz's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by squirlnutz View Post
    Hi folks...

    I am constantly running into people that are buying cheap "JUNK" converters and end up disappointed in the long run. I was hoping I could provide a little bit of information so that people could be a little more educated when they buy a converter. Here goes...

    Picture #1. This is a STOCK GM 4 cylinder converter out of a Chevy Cavalier.
    [I MG]http://i129.photobucket.com/albums/p233/surflobstr/DSC01328.jpg[/thumb]
    Picture #2. I have gone through the trouble of cutting it open so you can see inside. On the left you see the front cover. It is the cover that actually bolts up to the motor. It has a smooth surface on the inside for the lockup clutch to ride on. If you notice, the lockup clutch is actually rather small. It is about 3/4' wide with a small overall diameter.
    [I MG]http://i129.photobucket.com/albums/p233/surflobstr/DSC01329.jpg[/thumb]
    Picture #3. This is a picture of a TCI cheap converter. This is the type of converter people keep using because of their low price, yet later end up paying quite a bit more because the converter takes a dump and takes out the transmission. That was the case with this particular converter.
    [I MG]http://i129.photobucket.com/albums/p233/surflobstr/DSC01330.jpg[/thumb]
    Picture #4. From this angle you can get a better look. The converter is actually a stock GM converter with an ADAPTER RING welded on the front. This ring is so that a 4 cylinder converter is able to bolt up to an 8 cylinder engine. They also replace the pilot and the hub to match the needs op the 8 cylinder engine. This adapter ring is the very first indication that you have bought a junk converter.
    [I MG]http://i129.photobucket.com/albums/p233/surflobstr/DSC01331.jpg[/thumb]
    Picture #5. I went ahead and cut this converter open as well. As you can see, it WAS the same lockup clutch that you find on the GM stock 4 cylinder converter. This lockup clutch works great in a 120hp Cavalier or Pontiac Sunbird that weighs 2500lbs. It just doesn't hold up well in 400+ horsepower GTO's, Corvettes, and F-bodies that weigh considerably more. Notice how the lockup clutch is destroyed. It has also wiped out the surface on the front cover where the lockup clutch applies. Guess where the lockup clutch is? You guessed it... In the transmission, clogging up the filter and causing transmission failure. (Which is exactly what happened to the poor guy that owned this converter.)
    [I MG]http://i129.photobucket.com/albums/p233/surflobstr/DSC01332.jpg[/thumb]
    Picture #6. A closer look at the destroyed lockup clutch.
    [I MG]http://i129.photobucket.com/albums/p233/surflobstr/DSC01333.jpg[/thumb]
    Picture 7. A closer look at the destroyed converter cover and lockup surface.
    [I MG]http://i129.photobucket.com/albums/p233/surflobstr/DSC01334.jpg[/thumb]
    Picture #8. Now a look at a little bit pricier converter. This one is a Precision Industries Vigilante converter. (That's obvious just by the color.) Notice that there is no adapter ring on the front cover. The front cover is machined from a solid piece of billet. It is thicker and stronger than the stock cover and will not flex.
    [I MG]http://i129.photobucket.com/albums/p233/surflobstr/DSC01335.jpg[/thumb]
    Picture #9. Now let's look inside... First, notice the cover on the left. The billet cover has a nice WIDE area for the lockup clutch to ride. Not that thin area provided by the stock converter. The part in the middle is the lockup clutch. See the difference? MUCH bigger. It is bigger in diameter and it is bigger in width. The amount of surface area is enormous compared to the TCI. This lockup clutch can take a TON of abuse unlike the 4 cylinder ones. And, if by chance you like to lock up your converter on wide open throttle runs, Precision Industries supplies multi disc clutches for even more holding potential.
    [I MG]http://i129.photobucket.com/albums/p233/surflobstr/DSC01336.jpg[/thumb]
    Picture #10. This is a picture of the TCI lockup clutch next to the Vigilante clutch. Which one do you prefer?
    [I MG]http://i129.photobucket.com/albums/p233/surflobstr/DSC01337.jpg[/thumb]
    In this post I have not mentioned Stall, or STR's or anything else. Can a cheap TCI converter get you a good 60 foot? Absolutely. It's not just about track times, it's about longevity.
    So, when you think you're saving money by buying a $400 converter. Think again. You will cost yourself much more in the long run. If you can't afford a better part. Wait... Save up for a couple more months. Buy the good part and you'll be happier in the end. Nothing is more disappointing than breaking down.
    I hope this post helps someone out there. It took a while to prepare, I hope someone benefits from it.
    this was copied and pasted

  3. #3
    Exalted Cyclops 67CamaroRSSS's Avatar
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    I doan see nutin!

    Fortunately I know how a converter works and could visualize from your description.

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    also factor the cost to rebuild the trans after it is wrecked by a cheap low quality converter .

  5. #5
    Moderator Cutlass's Avatar
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    Senior Member Z28_Driver's Avatar
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    Good information. What a difference between the two converters. TCI should be ashamed by this. Using a 4 cylinder converter on a 8cyl.

  7. #7
    Moderator Firebirdjones's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by squirlnutz View Post
    Hi folks...

    I am constantly running into people that are buying cheap "JUNK" converters and end up disappointed in the long run. I was hoping I could provide a little bit of information so that people could be a little more educated when they buy a converter. Here goes...

    Picture #1. This is a STOCK GM 4 cylinder converter out of a Chevy Cavalier.
    Click for full size
    Picture #2. I have gone through the trouble of cutting it open so you can see inside. On the left you see the front cover. It is the cover that actually bolts up to the motor. It has a smooth surface on the inside for the lockup clutch to ride on. If you notice, the lockup clutch is actually rather small. It is about 3/4' wide with a small overall diameter.
    Click for full size
    Picture #3. This is a picture of a TCI cheap converter. This is the type of converter people keep using because of their low price, yet later end up paying quite a bit more because the converter takes a dump and takes out the transmission. That was the case with this particular converter.
    Click for full size
    Picture #4. From this angle you can get a better look. The converter is actually a stock GM converter with an ADAPTER RING welded on the front. This ring is so that a 4 cylinder converter is able to bolt up to an 8 cylinder engine. They also replace the pilot and the hub to match the needs op the 8 cylinder engine. This adapter ring is the very first indication that you have bought a junk converter.
    Click for full size
    Picture #5. I went ahead and cut this converter open as well. As you can see, it WAS the same lockup clutch that you find on the GM stock 4 cylinder converter. This lockup clutch works great in a 120hp Cavalier or Pontiac Sunbird that weighs 2500lbs. It just doesn't hold up well in 400+ horsepower GTO's, Corvettes, and F-bodies that weigh considerably more. Notice how the lockup clutch is destroyed. It has also wiped out the surface on the front cover where the lockup clutch applies. Guess where the lockup clutch is? You guessed it... In the transmission, clogging up the filter and causing transmission failure. (Which is exactly what happened to the poor guy that owned this converter.)
    Click for full size
    Picture #6. A closer look at the destroyed lockup clutch.
    Click for full size
    Picture 7. A closer look at the destroyed converter cover and lockup surface.
    Click for full size
    Picture #8. Now a look at a little bit pricier converter. This one is a Precision Industries Vigilante converter. (That's obvious just by the color.) Notice that there is no adapter ring on the front cover. The front cover is machined from a solid piece of billet. It is thicker and stronger than the stock cover and will not flex.
    Click for full size
    Picture #9. Now let's look inside... First, notice the cover on the left. The billet cover has a nice WIDE area for the lockup clutch to ride. Not that thin area provided by the stock converter. The part in the middle is the lockup clutch. See the difference? MUCH bigger. It is bigger in diameter and it is bigger in width. The amount of surface area is enormous compared to the TCI. This lockup clutch can take a TON of abuse unlike the 4 cylinder ones. And, if by chance you like to lock up your converter on wide open throttle runs, Precision Industries supplies multi disc clutches for even more holding potential.
    Click for full size
    Picture #10. This is a picture of the TCI lockup clutch next to the Vigilante clutch. Which one do you prefer?
    Click for full size
    In this post I have not mentioned Stall, or STR's or anything else. Can a cheap TCI converter get you a good 60 foot? Absolutely. It's not just about track times, it's about longevity.
    So, when you think you're saving money by buying a $400 converter. Think again. You will cost yourself much more in the long run. If you can't afford a better part. Wait... Save up for a couple more months. Buy the good part and you'll be happier in the end. Nothing is more disappointing than breaking down.
    I hope this post helps someone out there. It took a while to prepare, I hope someone benefits from it.
    I agree I don't like TCI converters or transmissions, and I've said it here many times. Had bad experiences with them over the years.
    I prefer Coan converters and use one in one of my cars. Have seen alot of success with Precision Industries as well.

    What I don't understand is all this talk about quality converters, yet you are the same guy who mentioned going out and buying some unknown name brand converter called Revmax and bragging about how good of a deal it was in a previous post,,,,,what's up with that????

  8. #8
    member since may 2000 nhraformula's Avatar
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    I have one of the so called cheap TCI converters on my formula. Matter of fact i have used TCI stalls on several other cars and none never gave out. The current converter i have has been in use for 5 years and has taken quite the abuse.
    While TCI is not the best out there, calling it junk is going a bit far.
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  9. #9
    Veteran 0rion's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by nhraformula View Post
    I have one of the so called cheap TCI converters on my formula. Matter of fact i have used TCI stalls on several other cars and none never gave out. The current converter i have has been in use for 5 years and has taken quite the abuse.
    While TCI is not the best out there, calling it junk is going a bit far.
    I'm sure you've been around long enough to read all the same threads I've read and this subject has been tackled many times. It seems to me that TCI's are hit or miss.....you have some guys that have no problems out of them and you have some guys that have nothing but problems. The same can almost be said for any converter out there. I do think I've read more problems out of the TCI's though than the yank's or vigilante's.

  10. #10
    Moderator Firebirdjones's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by nhraformula View Post
    I have one of the so called cheap TCI converters on my formula. Matter of fact i have used TCI stalls on several other cars and none never gave out. The current converter i have has been in use for 5 years and has taken quite the abuse.
    While TCI is not the best out there, calling it junk is going a bit far.
    Don't mean to sound that harsh on TCI. I've had a few of their converters, but they were all of the "non" lockup version for older vehicle.
    None of them ever gave me issues, it's just known that TCI makes notoriously tight converters. Everyone I ever had was tight. B&M wasn't much better. Wasn't till I switched to Coan where I finally realized my mistake. I'm talking flat unexciting 1.75 60 foot times to wheel yanking 1.5 60 foot times without any loss of drivability.

    My biggest issue with TCI though was their transmissions. Had (still have it on the floor) one of their street fighter 400 turbos. It never did shift right at full throttle. Would find neutral on the 1-2 shift under power. After using their tech line for 2 months trying to find the problem, it was never solved. They wouldn't warranty it either. This was 20 years ago, maybe they have gotten better. But I have since moved on, learned to build these things myself and been doing it ever since with 100% success.

  11. #11
    Member squirlnutz's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Firebirdjones View Post
    I agree I don't like TCI converters or transmissions, and I've said it here many times. Had bad experiences with them over the years.
    I prefer Coan converters and use one in one of my cars. Have seen alot of success with Precision Industries as well.

    What I don't understand is all this talk about quality converters, yet you are the same guy who mentioned going out and buying some unknown name brand converter called Revmax and bragging about how good of a deal it was in a previous post,,,,,what's up with that????
    I did buy a RevMax converter for very cheep before I found this posting that compares converters with pics. I didnt know how they worked or why some are so expensive. Now I do and hopefully, so do other dummies like me. My converter has the the adapter ring of death on it, but Im still going to use it because of the price. I could upgrade my current convrtrt to a 3disk lock up, and other stronger parts, I could even up grade to a billet but Im going to take a chance on cheep. Hopefully this post will help some noobies understand some of the technology that goes int our cars that make them perform so well. A good leason in cheep VS quality.

  12. #12
    member since may 2000 nhraformula's Avatar
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    FBJones, you used TCI and had bad experiences, i and most others thank and respect the fact you took the time to post your experiences. When people search for converters, they can make an educated choice.

    Orion, your right, ive seen i dont know how many threads over the years of this nature.

  13. #13
    Moderator Firebirdjones's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by squirlnutz View Post
    I did buy a RevMax converter for very cheep before I found this posting that compares converters with pics. I didnt know how they worked or why some are so expensive. Now I do and hopefully, so do other dummies like me. My converter has the the adapter ring of death on it, but Im still going to use it because of the price. I could upgrade my current convrtrt to a 3disk lock up, and other stronger parts, I could even up grade to a billet but Im going to take a chance on cheep. Hopefully this post will help some noobies understand some of the technology that goes int our cars that make them perform so well. A good leason in cheep VS quality.
    I misunderstood then. I thought it was you who came up with all this information on converters rather than link it from somewhere else.
    In any event, I would still be interested in hearing how this converter performs for you with some track times. Thanks for clearing that up.

  14. #14
    Moderator Firebirdjones's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by nhraformula View Post
    FBJones, you used TCI and had bad experiences, i and most others thank and respect the fact you took the time to post your experiences. When people search for converters, they can make an educated choice.

    Orion, your right, ive seen i dont know how many threads over the years of this nature.
    I'm willing to share all kinds of experiences if people want to listen I've had a bad experience with AFR as well that really dropped the ball on me.

    I gave you the short version on TCI. I didn't mention how I had the transmission in and out of the car 12 times trying things suggested from their tech line to no avail. In the end I have a $1,000 door stop still sitting here, at least the case is usable for another build in the future. Needless to say I don't care to try any more of their products.

  15. #15
    Member jmhvenom's Avatar
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  16. #16
    Member squirlnutz's Avatar
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    Reciept says wovan carbon fiber clutch. Any one know what they are normally made of?

  17. #17
    U-R-Sofa-King-Retarded SINISTER-TA's Avatar
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    I swear I have seen that exact same write up about "junk converters" somewhere before.

    Has that ever been posted before? Like 2-3 years ago? I'm almost positive that was on some vendors website a few years back. Fuddle comes to mind, but I can't remember for sure.

  18. #18
    Moderator Cutlass's Avatar
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    yeah its copied and pasted from ls1tech

  19. #19
    Moderator Firebirdjones's Avatar
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    Ya that exact same thing used to be on Fuddles website. It's what they used to promote their stuff.

  20. #20
    Member JRENIGAR's Avatar
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    Good info from all. I will be buying a yank or something equivallent in quality. Thanks for the detailed pics, it helps to understand where your money goes in an expensive converter.


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