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PerformaBuilt Level II - Pro Race (Build Pics)

This is a discussion on PerformaBuilt Level II - Pro Race (Build Pics) within the Drivetrain forums, part of the LSx Technical Help Section category; ...

  1. #1
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    PerformaBuilt Level II - Pro Race (Build Pics)

    Last week, I traveled to Sugarloaf, Pennsylvania to pick up my new PerformaBuilt Level II Pro Race transmission and billet 3,200 r.p.m. stall torque converter. I have been building our 2002 Trans Am from the back to the front since last December, and the next step in the process was upgrading the transmission. I shopped around the internet, and after looking at the various offerings I found that no one could touch the two (2) year warranty offered by PerformaBuilt on its transmission and converter packages. They even back their products at the track which I found very enticing. Interestingly, PerformaBuilt does not require a core meaning that you can keep your existing transmission. They also furnish a transmission cooler and flush kit with every purchase. And, last but not least, PerformaBuilt sponsors our site.

    By way of background, the stock 4L60E in our cars is simply an electronic version of the tried and true 700R4. In lieu of a TVS cable, transmission lock up and other functions are controlled by the vehicle's Powertrain Control Module (PCM). The 4L60E works great in stock powered cars and has been upgraded through the years to withstand the rigors of the higher output LS engines. However, this transmission is near the top of its capabilities and a little added power combined with track use can result in its demise. Despite upgrades by GM, the 4L60E has several inherent weak points. These include the fact that it is limited to a single band, the reaction sun shell is not very robust, a number of internal components can be broken or are prone to wear out, and there are internal lubrication issues.

    I began by e-mailing PerformaBuilt and inquired as to what transmission and torque converter package they would recommend for our car. I received a prompt reply and after I related that the car would be run on both the street and track, PerformaBuilt's rep requested detailed information on the current vehicle weight and setup. Our car tips the scales at 3,575 lbs, has a host of UMI suspension pieces, a Moser 12 bolt with 3.73's, and last year it turned a best of 12.885 at 107.93 m.p.h. on track wheels and tires. PerformaBuilt recommended their Level II transmission and a 3,200 r.p.m. billet torque converter. It must be noted that with any transmission, proper lubrication and temperature control are what really matter. Failure to maintain either of these within recommended parameters will damage the transmission in a hurry. That is why PerformaBuilt supplies a transmission cooler with all of its transmissions along with a flush kit designed to purge the system of all old fluid.


    PerformaBuilt begins the build process with cores that are shipped in to its facility from around the country. Each core is disassembled and inspected in a tear down area. Any damaged or worn parts are promptly discarded. The empty cases are washed in a special parts washer that blasts them with a cleaning solution as they are rotated. Upon removal, the cases are dried, re-inspected and then coated with a heat resistant oil based enamel that is baked on. All small parts are cleaned and inspected by hand before the assembly process begins. PerformaBuilt utilizes a number of quality aftermarket components in its Level II build, including but not limited to the Beast sun shell, Allomatic reverse frictions and steels, a Borg Warner dual cage input sprag assembly, a Sonnax twin piston servo, and Raybestos Z-pack clutches. The Level II Pro Race transmission is rated to withstand up to 700 horsepower and is designed to shift normally under light throttle conditions. However, put your foot into it and the transmission steps up the shifts significantly to give that e.t. lowering snap that track enthusiasts demand.

    Upon arriving at PerformaBuilt, I was met by the shop owner, Alan Pickering, and lead builder, Rich McCormick. I assumed that I would receive a quick tour of the premises, take a few pictures, and then load up my new transmission and hit the road for home. Well, this isn't what happened instead, I was treated to the privilege of watching my transmission being assembled and then tested and run on their in-house dyno. I spent 2-1/2 hours watching as my transmission was meticulously assembled and checked along every step of the way. To expedite the build process, Rich had several of the sub-assemblies already put together and awaiting installation.

    My build started with an empty case that had only the seals installed.





    A special anti-clunk component, that also reinforces the case, was inserted in place of the stock spring. The rear planetary assembly was set down inside the case and the center support and sprag were inserted through the bottom.





    The rear sun gear, and also front sun gear, have grooves machined into their faces to allow for additional lubrication.






    Similarly, the sun shell is slotted to feed fluid to the rear planetary assembly. Pictured, couterclockwise from left, are the stock GM sun shell, hardened GM sun shell, and the Beast.





    The front planetary assembly is inserted into the case, followed by the input drum and other components. A wider band is installed in place of the factory piece and offers approximately 30% more holding capacity. The band also holds its shape better and does not wear into the case like a stock piece can. This pic shows a stock band in the foreground and the piece installed by PerformaBuilt behind it.





    The pump assembly then caps off the build. PerformaBuilt utilizes the newer 13 vane pumps as they provide more consistent fluid pressure under lower r.p.m.s.





    Stock line pressure is generally 180 p.s.i., however, PerformaBuilt makes the appropriate modifications to boost this to approximately 220 p.s.i. Throughout the build process, parts were final cleaned and lubricated as they were installed.





    The aftermarket dual cage input sprag utilized by PerformaBuilt is pictured on the left, compared to the stock piece on the right.




    Air pressure was utilized to check the function of the band prior to bolting on the valve body. Modifications to the valve body are proprietary and therefore were not discussed during the assembly procedure.








    Finally, the factory installed plug in the end of the input shaft was removed.





    This plug restricts fluid flow and its removal enables the lock up function to feel like the transmission has shifted to another gear when it is engaged. It must be noted that PerformaBuilt's build tolerances are tighter than stock and this results in both better functionality and less wear.

    Upon completion of the assembly process, a new filter and test pan were installed.








    The transmission was then mounted to the dyno and filled with fluid before being tested. The testing procedure involves turning the transmission with a large electric motor with switches activating the various servos and lock up function. A braking assembly is utilized to check for any slippage.



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    Rich demonstrated that upon being engaged, the brake stopped the dyno motor which indicated that there was no slippage within the transmission. Once testing was concluded, the pan was removed and the fluid drained before installation of a new filter, pan gasket and pan. It was noted that a cork pan gasket was utilized rather than neoprene. As Rich explained, there is no question that with time the cork gasket will weep. This forces an owner to service the transmission and change the fluid. I found this to be incredibly thoughtful on their part and fully understand the reason for doing this. The Performabuilt staff then carefully cleaned my new transmission before wrapping it. Transmissions that are shipped to customers are packed in an expanding foam shell to fully protect them during the shipping process. In my case, we simply loaded the wrapped transmission into the back of my truck.

    I was absolutely thrilled to be able to witness my transmission being built. Talking with Alan, Rich and the other PerformaBuilt staff members during the build process was very educational. I was impressed with their attention to detail and willingness to discuss with me each step of the assembly procedure. I have no question that I purchased the best transmission out there for our car and I am eager to experience its new capabilities. Sometime during the next few weeks, the Trans Am will go in the air to receive its new PerformaBuilt transmission and torque converter.

    For more information, check out PerformaBuilt's website: PerformaBuilt

    4L60E Specifications:

    4L60E – stands for 4 forward gears, longitudinal mount, 60 series, electronic controls
    Fluid capacity: 8.8 quarts
    Fluid change with pan removal: 5 quarts
    Fluid Type: Dexron III
    Approximate wet weight: 218 lbs.
    Gear Ratios: 1st – 3.059:1
    2nd – 1.625:1
    3rd – 1.000:1
    4th – 0.696:1
    Reverse – 2.294:1



  3. #3
    Senior Member TLS_Addict's Avatar
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    Awesome!

    Cant wait for you to get that all together and hit the track.

    They look first rate. Two year warranty is good piece of mind as well.

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    Impressive Jeff. Look forward to seeing this in action and what new times you make.

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    I am holding off just a bit on the install to allow our roads to improve. I know that once it is in the car I am going to be dying to drive it.

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    Good things happen to those who wait

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    Awesome.

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    Senior Member bills98ta's Avatar
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    Wow, they do have a pretty awesome setup there !!!

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    Senior Member bills98ta's Avatar
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    What stall did you decide to go with ?

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    Awesome.

    Thanks for posting Jeff.. Very good read as well..
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    Quote Originally Posted by bills98ta View Post
    What stall did you decide to go with ?

    3,200 -- it's not as high as what a lot of you guys run, but for me should work just fine.

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    Nice. If I had an auto, I'd use them.
    Last edited by Cutlass; 03-16-2011 at 05:53 PM.

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    Very cool, Jeff. I always appreciate when someone allows me to see how they work on or produce something - especially when it will be used on one of my vehicles. I know you're the same way. I've heard good things about PerformaBuilt transmissions, so I'm sure you won't be disappointed. It's nice to see a company that takes pride in their work.

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    Nice pick Jeff,we have a stage II performabuilt 4L60E and it is everything they say it is! First to Second shift is firm but not hard,same with Second to Third and I freakin love it.
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    Very nice Jeff. Thanks for taking the time to gather all this info and post it up.
    I can't wait to see some track times when you get it installed. I predict 12.39

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    Looking at the pictures they forgot the clutch packs

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    that is a sweet lookin build there......what kind of 4th gear servo is that? is it a sonnax?.....i am jealous now......now only do ya have a beefy tranny......ya got the 2$ tour too

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    Quote Originally Posted by Firebirdjones View Post
    Very nice Jeff. Thanks for taking the time to gather all this info and post it up.
    I can't wait to see some track times when you get it installed. I predict 12.39

    I am hoping to dip below 12.4 as that is what a friend runs with his Olds. So a 12.39 would be perfect. It's all about staying faster than your friends, right?


    Quote Originally Posted by c5z28 View Post
    Looking at the pictures they forgot the clutch packs

    I did not include all the pics as a post is limited to 15, iirc. I was also talking with Alan and checking out some other things in the shop during the build so I may have missed them going in.

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by sjsingle1 View Post
    that is a sweet lookin build there......what kind of 4th gear servo is that? is it a sonnax?.....i am jealous now......now only do ya have a beefy tranny......ya got the 2$ tour too

    I believe it is the Sonnax "twin piston super servo". I was pretty impressed when Rich showed me the difference between the stock parts and what goes into their builds. Quite a difference on a lot of the components.

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    Nice write up/review!

    Seems like they really know what they're doing over there, I especially trust companies that will walk you through their process. Shows they got nothing to hide.

    I learned a few things along the way as well, transmissions aren't something I've dug into to too much, but this would be something I'd consider if I was an A4.

    Nice choice, as usual, Jeff!
    Last edited by KMdef9; 03-17-2011 at 06:03 AM.

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