jump to example.com

After a bit of a hiatus we resumed our search for a transmission for our shop truck project. We learned several things in the process, not the least of which is this: transmissions can be expensive.

Thankfully our luck held and we managed to find one in the local area that would suit our purposes — but not without first looking damn near everywhere for one that fit both our budget and level of desired risk.

The simple fact of the matter is buying a new tranny would cost about as much as the entire build put together, so we decided to look for the used/rebuilt solutions. These, however, come with the knowledge that you could be right back in this position sooner rather than later. We broke it down into several categories.

Junkyard one and hope for the best. This option was definitely the cheapest, with the low end falling somewhere around $100 and buyer-beware rules in full effect. Also, you have to pull it yourself.

Reconditioned unit with a 12-month warranty. There are plenty of these around and you can get a nice, well-built transmission of almost any model or vintage for less than half what you’d pay for a new one.

Craigslist crap shoot. Here you are most likely to buy from an individual or a small shop/yard that warranty the part for a window of 30/90 days but you won’t have to pull it yourself.

We ran with the Craigslist option and found a nice unit that looks like it will do just fine. It came with a 30-day warranty and a great deal of nastiness all over the housing and case, but went for about $175 (which included the torque converter).

Before we mounted it up to the freshly-rebuilt motor, we decided to clean that bad boy up with about 3 cans of Gunk and the careful use of a pressure washer. It went pretty well, all things considered, and after an hour and a half drive to get the damn thing plus a little time in the driveway, we were rewarded with a new (to us) transmission.

Gunk Degreaser [Gunk Products]
Street Pricing [Google Products]


23 Responses to Budget Shop Truck Build, Part 4: A New Transmission

  1. JB says:

    Is that a new torque converter? if not change it out and since you’re in there change out the flex plate also (cheep Insurance). Also just an idea; a rebuild kit for that slush box shouldn’t run more than $100, new frictions, seals, and up grades would bring some real piece of mind.

  2. KMR says:

    I hope that tranny was washed down at a DIY car wash… they’re regulated to recover their facility water, filter / treat it, and reuse it.

    I hate seeing petroleum products being rinsed off into my drinking water sources.

  3. Shopmonger says:

    Yeah, but if you look transmission are also plentiful.

    Car-part.com is one of the best sites for these. Also finding a good tranny shop is hard…… Get to know the local Snap On or Mac guy, he may knwo the good shops. Also see who the local auto parts guy recommends, they know them all.


  4. Shopmonger says:

    KMR Says I hate seeing petroleum products being rinsed off into my drinking water sources

    I wouldn’t worry about it. All water treatment plants do a float off before they recycle the water.

    But the suggestions by JB are good idea, even a cheap rebuild kit would be a good idea, at least the front and rear seals….and maybe a quick flush…..Can anyone say Kerosene


  5. PeterP says:

    I’ve never rebuilt a transmission before. Is it one of those things that you need to know what you are doing before you start, or can you get a manual and figure it out as you go?

    Seems like a good skill to have.

  6. lowside says:

    Rebuilding a manual transmission isn’t too bad, with good instructions you can get one done over a weekend no problem. Automatic transmission I’ve never messed with before, so can’t help you there.

  7. shopmonger says:

    PeterP you can rebuild one with a good book and some patience. The older the transmission the easier. 700 350t ect are rather easy…. And be clean, like building an engine…..


  8. KMR says:

    Shopmonger, you’re assuming two things 1) that the run-off water from washing that transmission went into a storm drain and not onto grass or other sensitive area, 2) that the storm drain is linked to the city sewer, which is often not the case. Either way, and I know I’m a pretty unique environmentally sensitive car guy, it is in bad form to do this kind of cleaning in your backyard or driveway. Be responsible, do it right so you don’t harm the planet that isn’t yours anyway.

  9. JB says:

    Newer slush boxes are more easy than older ones due to the use of solenoids as opposed to a full hydraulic valve body filled with springs and check valves. I would say as long as you can follow directions an automatic is as easy to rebuild as a manual. Perhaps more so since you only need basic tools for the most part.

  10. Shopmonger says:

    JB I would agree… some of them are way easier than some of the manuals.

    KMR if you were a regular reader go search my posts i am a big time tree hugger, enviro-freak…. and a hard core car guy..

    But i also have done research about the problems related to auto work and i truly understand the implications to most operations. Understanding is much better than simply trying to scare people with lack of knowledge.
    Most of the people that make statements have no true idea of what happens when it goes back into the ground. Where i live, we all use well water, but when contaminates go through 800 ft of rock and soil they are broken down by bacterium in the ground….

    If you ever want info on this please email me and i will give you more informaiton on all processes and hwo to be more environmentally friendly….i have lots of solutions.



  11. ambush says:

    Automatic transmissions often require special tools, but of course that depends on the transmission. Diagnosis is also trickier. A manual transmission is fairly simple, most of the time the only special tool you need is a good pair of snap ring pliers. the biggest problem with rebuilding a manual transmission is keeping all the parts in the right order so they can go back together, a good way to do this is to put all the gears and pieces on one piece of wire and keep them on them while washing them.

  12. Dan Clemens says:

    The tranny fluid on the floor looks dark, indicating excessive wear of the friction material.(clutch packs) I hope you didn’t spend your money on a boat anchor.

  13. firekayak says:

    If they are cleaning off anywhere but the bath tub or the sink it is highly unlikely that the runoff is treated in any way. Why would a town (or whoever) pay to build a plant to treat water that fell out of the sky? Why would they add that water to their sewer system? If you put oil on the ground, it’s gonna go into a stream or percolate down into the soil, either way there is somebody drinking it downstream. At least at a car wash they should have a system in place to deal with the waste water, even though I would not be suprised to find how many of those just discharge into the wild w/ no treatment. KMR is right.

  14. Shopmonger says:

    Yes, i would agree that in SOME places the run off water is not treated. But lets be real, you think that more stuff isn’t blasted off the bottom of your car on one rainy day? Reality Check here!!!!!!!!! We have pointed out time and time again that there are fewer and fewer people doing these things on thier own. The amount that is brought down because of some pressure washing is so minimal. I guarantee you your self have done more damage to the earth in one week this year, than he did by washing this tranny. Do you use bio-soap?
    you do use bio hair shampoo? these are some of the harshest chemicals made today. Leave him alone and lets talk about the tranny, great job taking on this project don’t’ let people with little knowledge discourage you from this old long lost practice. Be sure and check the fluids and flush though, and ensure that as you do this be clean….i cannot express this enough.

    O and Sean try B&M for a tranny kit, you can tighten up the tranny with the stage 1 kit and will love it for shop work… and use some synthetic fluid with the proper additive. also make sure your linkage is tight….. they also sell some really nice shifter kits that will help with slop in shifter…..and don’t forget the tranny linkage to the carb and or throttle body (I think you have throttle body injection Can’t remember what truck you have sorry

    this linkage could be the issue with why it grenades on the kid who had this before you….I have had tranny shops get this wrong….no input no positive engagement = SMOKED TRANNY

    Good luck great articles…


  15. JB says:

    Shopmonger that is good advice but i disagree about the ATF. Use only what the factory specified, it will have the correct blend of detergents and friction modifiers that will insure proper operation and long transmission life. Also a good idea would be to add an external cooler before the heat exchanger in the radiator. And be sure to change the fluid every 12k and keep it at the proper level it is critical for the transmission to live a long useful life. Improper fluid level is the #1 killer of automatic transmissions, maladjusted linkage is #2 they are both critical. Good luck and have fun.

  16. Zathrus says:

    Why would a town (or whoever) pay to build a plant to treat water that fell out of the sky?

    You presume that the water is separated from the sewage. In most cities that installed sewers prior to the 1930s they used a combined sewer system that handles both waste water and storm water. That includes little “towns” like New York, Chicago, Atlanta, Washington DC, Seattle, etc.

    And if you think storm run off is clean… think again. It collects everything that’s left on the road, washes off your car, etc. — the environmental impacts from storm water runoff are significant.

    In any case, glad to see the shop truck build has been resurrected. Not something I’m likely to ever do, but it’s still interesting.

  17. Shopmonger says:

    JB great idea about external cooler…..specially since Sean will be driving it….HAAA HAAA HAAA HAAA HAA


  18. bob says:

    Shopmonger needs to “get real”. There is no way that one rainy day causes more poisonous runoff than the 3 cans of Gunk used by Sean (worse than the grease being washed off). For a “treehugger”, Shopmonger sure uses Repub logic. Specifically; Sean or Me or KMR or Shopmonger all do a little damage over the course of a day, but Sean added 3 cans of Gunk to his personal equation. Shopmonger’s logic says “everyone else’s dog already craps on the sidewalk, so what does it matter if I crap there?”

    Shopmonger: Any logic that justifies the use of Gunk discharged to a storm-drain is not environmentally friendly logic, and the only one needing a reality check is you. You always know everything though; don’t you.

  19. Shopmonger says:

    Well bob, i see you are as articulate as always.
    everyone else’s dog already craps on the sidewalk, so what does it matter if I crap there?” no, but to ridicule someone for doing an everyday task. What i am saying is that there are more important parts to helping the environment than this. Also , read the msds on Gunk, mostly a petroleum by-product with some very mild detergents. Almost all water soluble, I am not saying it is the best practice,
    And no i don’t need a reality check, i need more people to do some research before taking to task something.

    “You always know everything though; don’t you” well no i don’t but i do know how to research something before i speak. And i have done many jobs that are discussed here on ToolMonger.

    “There is no way that one rainy day causes more poisonous runoff” Maybe you need to google this, before you speak, on average a car can have 1-2 pounds of harsh road chemicals come off of it in one day after the first rain of the year….

    Ask roofers if there is no tar coming off your roof shingles when it rains……

    3 16oz cans or hundreds of pounds in the first 3 hours of rain….

    if you don’t believe this go to a place where it snows, and eat the snow from the side of the road,………. BlaCK AND NASTY…
    The ShopMOnger
    New Green Shop website coming soon

  20. bob says:

    First, I acknowledge the less than polite nature of my discourse (being an asshole).

    However, to be clear, I almost always post 1-4 sentence opinions/answers to queries, and do not think I have ever responded to another poster by name. Please do not confuse me with Bob, Bob the Drywaller or anyone else. I’m bob.

    Here is the url for basic Gunk’s Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS).


    I agree there are worser (as my grandson would say) chemicals out there. So I’ll modify my critique: Everyone else’s dogs are crapping smelly, runny turds on the sidewalk, so I’ll just crap a firm relatively non-smelly turd too; that’s not so bad!

    Regarding the rain: The point I didn’t make is similar. Specifically, my and everyone else’s car already pours down gunk when it rains, so I’ll use Gunk in the driveway, on my transmission project, where it can discharge into a strom-drain.

    Just give up. It is bad to discharge Gunk into a storm-drain. Sure there are worse things one can do, but this is bad.

    I do applaud any efforts to keep one’s shop’s total environmental footprint as small as possible, and I will look forward to reading it.

    I guess I’d agree for a second time, that there are worse consumer chemicals out there, it makes me sick the things I can buy at the grocery store. That doesn’t make it right though.

  21. Shopmonger says:

    bob (not BOB) HAA HAAAHAA

    Well put sir, it is so true that even using the lesser of two evils is not the way to view it.
    It would be better to use some Simple green and let it soak and then run off into a storm drain or sewer system that goes to a treatment plant.


  22. JB says:

    I would pick simple green over gunk any day simply because i feel it does a better job. Are you guys going to freshen up the rear end on that pickup? If I am not mistaken that truck should have the corporate 12 bolt in it, that is a nice strong axle. I suggest changing out the wheel bearings and seals so you can get many more years of dependable use. Also, make sure the vent tube is in tact and clear so you wont have to repeat any work.

  23. MattC says:

    Wow, this got off course. However, thank you for the updates on the project truck.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.