More transmission oddities - clutches

I'm disassembling my transmission that fried the direct clutches after only 10k miles. I already found some funky stuff with the intermediate servo. Now I'm inspecting the clutches and noticed some stuff I found odd.

On the 4th clutches, it looks like I'm missing a clutch. there are 3 steels and 2 clutches. So it goes in the order of backing plate, clutch, steel, steel, clutch, steel. This can't be right, is it? FYI my input shaft had .033 of end play.

On the direct clutches, there are 6 clutches and 6 steels. The steels are .090. Most clutches are down to the metal, but one is still in tact. It measured at .061 and I'm wondering if it was really .080 at the get go? Not sure how thick the material is.

If the forward clutches, there are 3 .080 steels and 1 .060 steel. Is this normal? The clutches look ok but the steels have hot spots on them.

Thanks in advance for the replies.


Seen Your Member
The overdrive stack up you describe is exactly how they were built originally. To put a third clutch in it you need to cut about .080 off the piston. The input shaft end play is not a direct indication of front section end play because of the play involved with the snap ring holding the input shaft to the OD carrier. To get front end play you need to stick a feeler gauge under that snap ring and subtract that measurement from the one you took before removal. Snap ring play is usually .020-.025.

6 directs at.080 with .090 steels is stock configuration. When you go back together with it order about 3 oversize .100 steels so you can tighten up direct clutch clearance. Order some good clutches from a vendor such as Dave and follow his instructions.

Forward clutch I'd imagine that .060 steel is a wavy steel to soften engagement. Reuse it. Replace the rest of the pack. Forward clutch/steel stack up is not critical. It's engaged when you put it in D. Only time they see movement against each other is when you are backing up. You'd be surprised how funky you can stack the forwards and they'll still work perfectly as long as the pump pressure is stable at launch. So do whatever gets the clearance right. Some play with doubled wave steels to soften forward engagement.
Oh, ok. Thanks for the response! This is my first trans that I've ever gone into, so learning as I go. I'm guessing my directs were not that tight, which caused the premature wear.


Texas, Where are you from
Sounds like you are doing fine work. Keep it up and you will have snappy, crisp shifts in no time.

I never had a 4th get burned up so I went back with the stock setup with two BW tans in mine.
I did the double wave in my forward to absorb the shift. It is a Buick after all. Did stock bw tans there too.

I wish you would have measured the clearance on the servo and those directs before disassembling them. They both need to be WAY tighter than the factory or joe trans builder sets them up and this is CRITICAL.

You will probably need a selective way thicker or shim for the lower end of the trans. Mine was like .040 with the factory one I took out. More clearance means a lot of abuse as the trans goes through the gears and those parts bang back and forth. Measure, this isn't optional.

As far as directs I went in with the raybestos stage 1 reds. Mine is a street car with stock to moderate power. It ain't going into the 11s or one a cannonball run any time soon. It isn't a stock stack but as with any builder there are things that don't get posted on an open forum. Clearance it, measure it, pull it apart and adjust and reassemble and measure again. Again, this is MANDATORY, and shows why the GURU builds aren't cheap.

If you want more just ask. Way more info on this section of the forum that can be taken in in a week or two. And the best thing is guys will share it with you.


Seen Your Member
Oh, ok. Thanks for the response! This is my first trans that I've ever gone into, so learning as I go. I'm guessing my directs were not that tight, which caused the premature wear.
A big part of the situation is hydraulic pressure. Stock pressure levels don't allow the clamping force necessary for added horsepower. You need a shift kit. And not a boxed kit from transgo etc. I'd recommend Dave (again).
It was rebuilt by Len Freeman in '04. It has the hardened pump stator, 13 vein pump, hardened forward drum, (Art Carr components), and thicker band. It had the red clutches. I have a feeling the combination of too much clearance on the direct clutches plus my lack of knowing that I should have overfilled the pan 1qt lead to the early demise. I'll call Dave tomorrow.


Texas, Where are you from
If it was "suckin' air" no clearance will work to solve that. I use a bottom feed filter in the stock over filled pan. Gotta have fluid to make pressure.

If you do this you must do something to keep the filter off the vb switch

IMAG4468.jpg IMAG4475.jpg
Good to know. Thanks! I have a Hughes deep pan I got from a friend last week and intend on using that with the 700-R4 filter. I need to grind the 2 stands on the bottom shorter to make that happen. Still need to look into how much.
I spoke with Dave for easily 2 hours this morning. Awesome guy and super patient! Found even more of a mess. Going to just work with him to get the right parts.