There aren't many aftermarket modifications that hold up to the claims marketing monkeys put on them. And it's not often that we're able to get our hands on an upgrade that puts our expectations to rest and still keeps delivering. ATS' Five Star converter and Copilot combination is one of those faith-saving mods. With these modifications in place, the Allison transmission's efficiency was increased, which added an incredible 1.85 to the truck's mpg. That gave our LB7 engine damn-near 18 miles to the gallon. Did we mention our Duramax makes 450 hp and more than 1,000 lb-ft of torque? That's right, 18 miles to the gallon, with enough power to haze a set of 38x15.50 Open Country mudders with the stock gear ratio. So, if you did the math, not only would the ATS mods save you money in the long run with fuel economy, but you won't have to replace it like the stock tranny. All that adds up to being paid to run ATS' transmission modifications.

Stock automatic transmissions coupled to an enhanced diesel powerplant will start showing signs of overpowering at about 450 hp and 750 lb-ft of torque. We found the average tranny (Ford, Chevy, or Dodge) gives up the ghost at about 450 hp and 750 lb-ft of torque on its best day. These power levels can easily be reached by simple bolt-ons. An air intake, an exhaust, and a killer programmer is all it takes to get the tranny to start slipping. And after it's happened once, you can rest assured ECM will throw a tranny trouble code sometime in the near future. This is true even with the Allison, one of the toughest of today's Overdrive trannys.

What makes the Allison so tough, you ask? Many new trannys are simplistic derivatives of their predecessors. The 5R110 is Ford's newest heavy-duty transmission, but when it's placed next to Ford's older 4R100, E4OD, and A4LD you can see they have the exact same overall shape, plus they share common components and engineering ideas. Both Ford and Dodge Overdrive trannys have evolved by the simple method of adding the Overdrive to an existing tranny. This is known as a Stack Transmission, and yes, if you lay one of their modern trannys next to its one-to-one automatic predecessor (vacuum-controlled) C6, you'll find many similarities. Similar to how Ford added the Overdrive unit to the front of its C6, Dodge formed its stack transmission by adding an Overdrive to the back of its 727 TorqueFlite.

The Allison is a totally different breed of tranny compared to the old-style Stack Transmission, because the extra gear was not an afterthought. The older transmissions are vacuum-controlled, which meant converting to electronic controls was limited by 50-year-old mechanical engineering. The Allison was fully designed as an electronically controlled Overdrive from the start, therefore all its functionality can be completely controlled by programming. This design is called a Full Synchronized Transmission and was actually used by Dodge on its Caravans, but was labeled the Ultradrive tranny. Much like many new ideas, it was released before thorough research and development could refine it. This plagued the Ultradrive with problems, and Dodge laid it to rest as fast as it was implemented. Not to worry, ATS Diesel has bulletproof mods for all three big truck makers. Because the Dodge and Ford are stack-style transmissions, the upgrade will be slightly different from the Allison upgrades we'll be discussing in this issue.

What does all this mean to the modern oil-burning torque-monger? The answer is a daily driven truck that can sustain 1,000 lb-ft of torque, that's what. After using ATS Diesel's Aurora 2000 turbo (made for towing), new CP3 pump, high-volume electric pump to feed the new high-flow CP3, and the aggressive programming, our Duramax made 425 hp and 1,025 lb-ft of torque on a Mustang chassis dyno. This truck is a daily driver, and the program only gets turned down for an occasional towing. The Copilot's enhanced power management works seamlessly with the ECM. This provides smooth comfortable drivetrain functionality till you lay into the throttle. Then, the shift pressure, torque management, converter lock, and other tranny functions become equally aggressive to match the engine's output.

As the innovator of added clutches to a locking torque converter, ATS Diesel has conquered transmission performance for every domestic light-duty diesel truck. We had ATS show us what's up with its tranny mods. It's a good thing too, since we found the company's newly released converter, the Five Star, to be an incredible asset to the performance consumer. The ATS Five Star increases transmission efficiency, providing more power to the wheels and better fuel economy. When we asked Clint Cannon, the owner of ATS, how it worked, his reply was, "How does the Positrac in a Plymouth work?" After we laughed over Joe Dirt movie quotes for an hour, he explained that the clutch drive in the transmission is controlled by the converter. The Five Star torque converter increases the viscous clutch drive's efficiency to the point that it transfers power, instead of robbing it-therefore, the transmission's torque multiplication is maximized."

ATS' tranny upgrades are just as well engineered as the patented two-piece, billet steel, square-tab-constructed, Five Star converter. "It takes more than just adding clutches to build a performance tranny," says Clint. "Our clutch mods are held to a greater tolerance than the stock unit." When we asked Clint how he keeps a tighter tolerance than stock, his reply was, "With a laser beam," and another hour was spent laughing over stupid movie bits. "We use a laser to cut the clutch material and plates to ensure the thickness and fitment of the materials are precise and consistent." The precision fitment of the ATS components equalizes the pressure of a transmission's clutch pack's engagement or disengagement. This helps to supply a smooth shift, reduced clutch wear, and provide predictable performance results. Plus, the addition of added clutch surface area, using ATS' clutch material, provides superior traction to help eliminate unwanted slip

It doesn't matter if your truck is bone-stock or not, putting ATS' tranny mods in your automatic will make the tranny last longer and pay you back in mileage and wear. How can you afford to go without it? Here's a close look at what's in the Allison and what ATS improves with its mods.

SOURCE
ATS Diesel Performance Inc.
www.atsdiesel.com
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