One of the most popular of the new breed of automatic transmissions is General Motors' 4L80E, and that's what we chose to get the AMSOIL/STREET RODDER Road Tour '59 Chevy into gear. The Hughes Transmission crew has years of experience with this transmission and they feel it is the perfect choice for those who want the strongest overdrive automatic available, and that was reason enough for our decision.

According to Hughes the 4L80E is the ideal automatic transmission for street rods. It has a gear spread that allows hard, off-the-line acceleration with an overdrive top cog for reduced engine rpm for long distance cruising (ratios are First, 2.48:1; Second, 1.48:1; Third, 1.00:1; and Fourth, 0.75:1). In addition, these transmissions can be made to withstand huge amounts of horsepower with modifications Hughes has perfected. Add to that a torque converter that allows higher-than-stock stall speed for maximum torque multiplication along with a lockup function, which virtually eliminates all heat buildup in the converter at cruising speeds for improved efficiency, and you've got the best in terms of performance and practicality.

Like all contemporary automatic overdrive transmissions the 4L80E requires an electronic control unit to operate. Hughes offers controllers that are pre-programmed and require no software, laptop, or PC for installation, tuning, or proper function and a pre-terminated wiring harness for simple plug-and-play operation is included. When required, a throttle position sensor (TPS) kit and mounting bracket that will work with virtually any carburetor is available; with EFI systems the Hughes harness is simply spliced into the existing TPS.

SELECTING A TRANSMISSION

Hughes Performance has a 4L80E transmission available for practically any engine combination and power level. Their Street/Strip series is a great choice for combinations producing up to 850 flywheel horsepower, the Heavy Duty Street/Strip version is capable of withstanding 1,000-plus flywheel horsepower, and for those running even bigger numbers there is the Extreme Duty Street/Strip series that is rated for use with 1,500-plus flywheel horsepower. Keep in mind, the object of selecting a transmission is not to impress your friends but get the right transmission for the application. A crate motor won't require an Extreme Duty transmission, but if the engine in question is making 603 lb-ft of torque and 621 hp, like our Ron Shaver–built 430-inch LS, some improved parts are a wise choice. The best way to get the correct transmission for your application is to do what we did with the AMSOIL/STREET RODDER '59 Chevy—give Hughes a call and let them make a recommendation.


1. This is the completed Hughes Extreme Duty 4L80E transmission assembly for our Impala. From left to right: Tony Kane (Hughes' general manager), Dean Livermore (owner of Hot Rods By Dean, builder of the 2014 AMSOIL/STREET RODDER Road Tour '59 Chevy), and Danny Gutierrez (Hughes' transmission technician).

2. Each Hughes transmission is completely dyno tested to verify line pressure, shift function, and cooler flow before it goes out the door.

3. Hughes has an array of heavy-duty, high-performance parts for the 4L80E. Here is a comparison of stock GM components at the top—34-element intermediate sprag, intermediate outer sprag race, and direct drum. Lower components are Hughes Extreme Duty parts: 36-element intermediate sprag, Extreme Duty heat-treated, extra-wide intermediate outer sprag race (allows use of up to five intermediate frictions and steels instead of three), and Hughes-modified GM direct drum.

4. Clutch packs must be able to transfer power without slipping. Hughes' intermediate clutch pack (those responsible for Second gear) is beefed up with a billet steel pressure plate, five High Energy intermediate frictions, five intermediate steels, and a heavy-duty snap ring.

5. The direct clutch packs (responsible for direct drive or Third gear) are also improved with six red Alto direct frictions and six direct steels.

6. On the left is a forged steel forward clutch hub with Torrington roller thrust bearing for reduced friction and resistance to wear, on the right is the OEM GM forward clutch hub with thrust washer.

7. Improved bands are part of the Hughes' package, that's a Kevlar intermediate band on the left; right is high static rear band.

VALVEBODIES

When it comes to selecting a valvebody there are a number of choices.

The 4L80E features electronic solenoids built into the valvebody. These solenoids control the shift functions, regulate the line pressure generated by the front pump, and regulate the torque converter lockup clutch function. A stand-alone computer is normally required, however many modern aftermarket EFI controllers will operate this transmission as well, which means a separate TCU would not be necessary.

Another option is a full manual valvebody. It features a forward shift pattern (P-R-N-4-3-2-1), and requires the driver to manually upshift and downshift the transmission. This valvebody option will not shift automatically, and eliminates the necessity of an electronic transmission control unit. The torque converter lockup function can still be retained and operated via a simple toggle switch or push button that will have to be manually activated by the driver. The full manual valvebody option is a great choice for the enthusiast who wants to save a few dollars on a 4L80E package and does not mind shifting the transmission manually.

The third valvebody option is a full manual transbrake valvebody. It features a forward shift pattern (P-R-N-4-3-2-1) and requires the driver to manually upshift and downshift the transmission. The transbrake feature allows the transmission to essentially be “locked up” in low gear so that wide-open throttle can be applied without experiencing any vehicle movement. When the transbrake is released via an electric button the transmission unlocks and allows the vehicle to launch under maximum power. This option is very popular for street/strip enthusiasts who want the benefits of an overdrive transmission on the street, maximum performance potential at the dragstrip, while eliminating the necessity of a TCU.

Our fourth valvebody option is an automatic transbrake valvebody. This valvebody option requires the use of a special electronic transmission control unit. This very unique valvebody option allows the driver to place the shifter in “drive” (Third gear), activate the transmission, launch the car, and the transmission will then automatically upshift based on the settings programmed into the electronic transmission control unit. This valvebody option is ideal for the enthusiast who wants the comfort and ease of automatic shifting, along with maximum performance potential at the dragstrip.

TORQUE CONVERTER SELECTION

When designing a torque converter Hughes gathers as much data about the customer's combination as possible, such as crankshaft stroke length, camshaft duration, camshaft lobe separation angle, torque production, vehicle weight, rear gear ratio, and rear tire height. Use of power-adders will also influence how the converter will be built.

Hughes offers 9-, 10.5-, and 13-inch torque converters for our 4L80E transmission packages, with stall speeds ranging anywhere from 1,800 to 5,500-plus rpm, depending on what the combination requires. The majority of Hughes 4L80E converters feature a billet steel front cover and billet steel lockup piston with extra-wide heavy-duty clutch lining for maximum durability. They also offer triple lockup disc options for those customers wanting the absolute strongest torque converter that money can buy.

COOLERS

When it comes to transmission coolers, it is very difficult to over cool an automatic transmission. Hughes recommends that the customer install the largest external transmission cooler they can fit in the car and their budget.


8. To ensure true and flat sealing surface, prevent cross leaks between pump stator and pump body, and eliminate cavitation of the pump gear set and/or torque converter, Hughes machines the mating surfaces.

9. The cleaned, refurbished, and painted transmission case is ready to receive its internal components.

10. Here Gutierrez installs the gear train into the transmission case. The gear train includes the intermediate shaft, sun shaft, center support, reaction carrier, output carrier, ring gear, and output shaft.

11. Next comes the installation of upper valvebody, internal wiring harness, and the case connector.

12. The last internal parts to go in place are valvebody and filter assembly.

13. The last step before going on the dyno is the installation of deep cast aluminum transmission pan. It's equipped with a drain plug for easy servicing and holds 4 extra quarts of fluid for additional cooling capacity.

14. Dynotech offers factory replacements along with custom driveshafts in steel, aluminum, composite, and hybrid (carbon-fiber wrapped aluminum).

BUILDING A DRIVESHAFT

Dynotech, formally known as Balance Engineering, built the custom driveshaft connecting the Hughes transmission to the Roadster Shop IRS centersection in the Road Tour '59. Dynotech Engineering Services specializes in manufacturing custom-made driveshafts that are hand assembled, computer welded, and high-speed balanced, and what's really cool is they are as close to you as the nearest telephone. Supply Dynotech with the necessary information and incredibly in most cases a driveshaft will be shipped within 72 hours—sometimes less.

Dynotech's driveshafts are guaranteed vibration-free, and they stand by their work 100 percent. All of their driveshafts are assembled by hand while using modern technologies, such as computer welding and high-speed balancing. As a result Dynotech's driveshafts are held to remarkably close tolerances.

DRIVESHAFT MATERIALS

Dynotech offers driveshafts in steel, aluminum, composite, and hybrid materials:

Steel: These driveshafts come in three versions: OEM replacements; seamless, drawn-over mandrel tubing for high performance and racing use; and chromoly. Chromoly shafts are for serious racing applications, with increased torsional strength designed to resist well over 2,000 hp. But while they are super strong, a chromoly shaft is significantly heavier than an aluminum shaft of the same size.

Aluminum: These 6061-T6 aluminum shafts are for performance, street, racing, and stock replacement applications. They are lightweight and come in 3-, 3.5-, and 4-inch diameters with 0.125-inch wall thickness. Yokes accommodate 1310-, 1330-, and 1350-series U-joints. Dynotech's aluminum driveshafts can comfortably take up to 1,000 hp and around 900 lb-ft of torque. For 99 percent of performance and race cars out there, the weight savings and high horsepower rating of an aluminum driveshaft would be enough.

Carbon Fiber: Intended for extreme high-performance and racing applications, these shafts are strong, resistant to flex, and they are expensive. They are available in 3.5- and 4-inch diameters with steel or aluminum yokes for series 1310, 1330, 1350 and 1410 U-joints

Hybrid: Carbon-fiber wrapped aluminum driveshafts are for high-performance racing applications. These shafts carry the highest rpm rating and come in 2.75-, 3-, and 3.5-inch diameters with 0.125-inch wall thickness. Yokes for 1330 and 1350 U-joints are available.

It won't be long and the AMSOIL/STREET RODDER Road Tour will be kicking off a summer of cruising. Check out streetrodder.com for more on our '59 Chevy and the 2014 Road Tour.

15. For applications that require them (like a stock '59 Chevy) Dynotech offers two-piece driveshafts.

16. The first step to driveshaft construction is cutting the tubing to length.

17. Next the cut ends are made perfectly square in a lathe.

18. The yokes are pressed into the tube while overall length is checked.

19. After the yokes are pressed in place overall length is checked again. All driveshafts are built to within 1/16 inch (0.0625-inch) in length.

20. Dynotech assembles all of its driveshafts by hand while using modern technologies, such as computer welding and high-speed balancing. As a result Dynotech's driveshafts are held to remarkably close tolerances.

21. As the driveshaft turns 360 degrees the automated welder runs a continuous bead.

22. After assembly and welding all driveshafts are checked for runout then high speed balanced between 5,000 and 8,000 rpm to less than 0.20 ounce/inch.


SOURCE
AMSOIL
925 Tower Ave.
Superior
WI  54880
800-777-8491
http://www.amsoil.com
Hughes Performance
2244 W. McDowell
Phoenix
AZ  85009
Speedway Motors
340 Victory Lane
Lincoln
ME  68528
800-979-0122
http://www.speedwaymotors.com
ARP
800-826-3045
http://www.arp-bolts.com
Dynotech Engineering
1731 Thorncroft
Troy
MI  48084
800-633-5559
http://www.dynotecheng.com
  • «
  • |
  • 1
  • |
  • 2
  • |
  • 3
  • |
  • View Full Article