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Per­for­maBuilt shows us the guts of their Level 3 buildup of a 4L60E trans­mis­sion

Per­for­maBuilt shows us the guts of their Level 3 buildup of a 4L60E trans­mis­sion

If you’re build­ing a per­for­mance car, there are a num­ber of ar­eas you need to fo­cus on to make sure all of your up­grades are in sync with each other when it comes time to push the lim­its of their in­di­vid­ual ca­pa­bil­i­ties. For ex­am­ple, if you are up­grad­ing your sus­pen­sion, the wheels and tires had bet­ter be able to han­dle the new g-forces the car will ex­hibit in the cor­ners. Plan­ning on adding a su­per­charger, turbo sys­tem, or just up­ping the ante in cu­bic inches? You’d bet­ter hope that the trans­mis­sion is up to han­dling the task. We’re here to tell you that Per­for­maBuilt Trans­mis­sions has one goal in mind: to en­gi­neer and build the tough­est trans­mis­sion on the planet, and they’ve proved so not only with their up­dated de­signs but also through their pledge of qual­ity, per­for­mance, and un­par­al­leled cus­tomer ser­vice. All of their trans­mis­sions are dynotested at their pro­duc­tion fa­cil­ity and de­liv­ered to your door ready to in­stall with a rock-solid warranty with no ex­cep­tions for rac­ing or mileage.

On a re­cent visit, the team was pre­par­ing one of their Level 3 In­vin­ci­ble 4L60E units, which is one of their strong­est mod­els de­signed for ex­treme per­for­mance. Packed with up­grades, it fea­tures a bevy of mod­i­fi­ca­tions mak­ing it ca­pa­ble of han­dling up to 800 rwhp (rear-wheel horse­power), which is far more than the ca­pa­bil­i­ties of a stock 4L60E, which is around 300 hp.

Each unit is me­thod­i­cally re-en­gi­neered to over­come many of the in­her­ent fac­tory weak­nesses by adding strength and dura­bil­ity. Some of the is­sues ad­dressed in­clude boost­ing line pres­sure from an OEM level of be­tween 140-150 psi to 220 psi, and keep­ing the unit bal­anced to avoid “shift shock” (bang­ing shifts) by tight­en­ing down clear­ances; this re­sults in firm, quick shifts as driver in­put be­comes more ag­gres­sive. From front to rear, up­grades in­clude a BORGWARNER 29-el­e­ment dual-cage sprag as­sem­bly, Son­nax Smart Shell to elim­i­nate the strip­ping of splines and break­age, a set of Raybestos car­bon com­pos­ite per­for­mance clutches with new Raybestos steels, and two Son­nax Su­per Hold bil­let ser­vos for Sec­ond and Fourth gears for max­i­mum hold to name but a few. Fol­low along and check out just what it takes to bring a stock 4L60E to the high­est level of per­for­mance. CHP

01 | With all the high-per­for­mance parts laid out on the as­sem­bly bench, you get an idea of just what it takes to bring your 4L60E to the next level. 04 | The OEM five-pin­ion plan­e­tary, with a grooved sun gear for im­proved lu­bri­ca­tion, is then set in place. The sun gear is a crit­i­cal part, which after in­spec­tion gets four slots ma­chined into its bot­tom face. This im­proves lu­bri­ca­tion to the rear plan­e­tary gear as­sem­bly by al­low­ing the oil to es­cape from be­tween the bear­ing and the gear it rests against, pro­tect­ing the area from fail­ure due to a lack of proper lu­bri­ca­tion.

11 | A bil­let steel col­lar (pic­tured) is pressed into place to re­in­force the weak point where the alu­minum drum typ­i­cally cracks around the steel in­put shaft. 12 | Here you can see the new col­lar pressed into place. It will ef­fec­tively take the stress off the alu­minum drum and in ef­fect al­lows the alu­minum to act as a bush­ing in­stead of a struc­tural com­po­nent.

17 | An­other up­grade is the in­stal­la­tion of a BorgWarner 32-el­e­ment dual cage in­put sprag, which is the strong­est avail­able on the mar­ket to­day.

20 | Here you can see the new re­verse-in­put drum and all new clutches to which an ul­tra-wide car­bon com­pos­ite 2-4 per­for­mance band with re­in­forced pin area to pre­vent tear-through will be added. This band will be able to take the ma­jor abuse and heat. The pis­ton will also re­ceive new in­ner and outer lip seals. 21 | The re­verse-in­put drum is then mounted to the in­put drum.

10 | An­other prob­lem­atic OEM area per­tains to the in­put drum that houses the 3-4 clutches that get dam­aged un­der abuse. They add a re­in­force­ment col­lar along with eight Raybestos car­bon com­pos­ite per­for­mance clutches with new Raybestos steels for bet­ter drum clear­ance com­bined with boosted pres­sure for quicker and more ef­fi­cient shifts with more hold once the clutches are en­gaged.

06 | Next, the OEM sun shell is up­dated with a Son­nax Smart Shell, which is cryo­geni­cally hard­ened and bal­anced. It cor­rects a his­tor­i­cally weak point of strip­ping splines and break­age in the trans­mis­sion with ex­tra strength en­gi­neered into the unit as well as be­ing bal­anced to elim­i­nate any po­ten­tial for vi­bra­tion.

03 | The orig­i­nal four-pin­ion rear plan­e­tary in the 4L60E (right) is re­placed with an OEM five-pin­ion rear plan­e­tary (left), which is con­sid­er­ably stronger. Here you can see the thick­ness and strength dif­fer­ences be­tween the two.

02 | Once the trans­mis­sion core has been thor­oughly cleaned, in­spected, and painted the build gets started with the in­stal­la­tion of the rear ring gear.

08 | Re­plac­ing the orig­i­nal four-pin­ion front plan­e­tary set, a new OEM five-pin­ion unit is pre­pared for in­stal­la­tion.

07 | The front ring gear and re­ac­tion tube are then loaded into place.

05 | This is fol­lowed by the low-re­verse clutches and a heavy-duty, low-roller as­sem­bly.

09 | Here you can see the new OEM five-pin­ion plan­e­tary now in place.

14 | In build­ing the im­proved unit, the next per­for­mance part in­stalled is a Son­nax in­put drum re­in­force­ment kit.

13 | Here you can see the lay­out of parts await­ing as­sem­bly for the 3-4 clutches.

15 | Next, the Son­nax bil­let over­run pis­ton from the in­put drum re­in­force­ment kit is set in place.

16 | This is fol­lowed by the clutch re­turn springs and over­run clutches be­ing care­fully low­ered into place. 18 | The 3-4 clutch set is then up­dated with eight Raybestos car­bon com­pos­ite per­for­mance clutches with new Raybestos steels al­low­ing for high-im­pact dura­bil­ity, heat re­sis­tance, and su­per hold on the 2-3 shift. 19 | The drum is then com­pleted with new “sized” Te­flon rings.

23 | The new ul­tra-wide car­bon com­pos­ite band is fit­ted around the new drum. Con­sid­er­ably wider than the OEM unit, and when com­bined with the in­creased pres­sure and new flat drum sur­face to clamp onto, it re­sults in a sub­stan­tial in­crease in hold­ing power.

22 | The en­tire as­sem­bly is then loaded into the trans­mis­sion case.

27 | The valve­body is then in­stalled com­plete with a new wiring har­ness and so­le­noids. Pro­pri­etary mod­i­fi­ca­tions are made to the valve­body for en­hanced per­for­mance and longevity. Fi­nally, a deep OEM-style pan and per­for­mance fil­ter are in­stalled to com­plete the build.

24 | The two Son­nax Su­per Hold bil­let ser­vos for Sec­ond and Fourth gears are pic­tured here await­ing as­sem­bly. A huge im­prove­ment over orig­i­nal OEM ser­vos, they in­crease the hold­ing power of the band by roughly 50 per­cent.

28 | Here’s the com­pleted Per­for­maBuilt 4L60E Level 3 In­vin­ci­ble trans­mis­sion ready for in­stal­la­tion once it ar­rives to your doorstep with ev­ery­thing you’ll need to get the job done, backed up by a bul­let­proof warranty.

26 | A 13-vane pump with hard­ened rings is as­sem­bled with a full-time lu­bri­ca­tion mod­i­fi­ca­tion, which as­sures max­i­mum plan­e­tary life and cool­ing. The max line is set at ap­prox­i­mately 220 psi.

25 | Once the unit is as­sem­bled, it is in­stalled into the trans­mis­sion case as the band clear­ance is set.

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