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Old 04-24-2021, 04:26 PM   #1
tarsman013
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Default Best Auto or Manual for LS swap

Looking to do a LS swap on a 245 wagon...

I would like a setup that is as low maintenance as possible, yes i know, dont swap the car then.

I thought of going manual with a t56, but damn are they more expensive than i realized. Ones in good condition go for WAY more than a comparable auto, and honestly, as cool as a manual is, I'm not so great driving stick and a project car is probably not the place to hone my skills

I looked over options for a 4l60e but these things are so hit or miss with reliability and quality. A 4l80e is what I would rather go with, but they are heavy and too large for a direct fit, needs some massaging, which I am totally OK with doing, I just dont know if I have overlooked the "perfect" option because my lack of knowledge of American powerplants. I live near 3 junk yards, work by 2 more, and have a copart location pretty close to home and work, so parts should not be an issue. Additionally, I live in BFE with no HOA, so no issues with having a project car(s) sitting around.

I have done some initial research, and was going to do a miata swap, but miatas are so damn expensive and have literally 0 utility, a volvo wagon can go put up its new motor and trans from the junk yard and has the ability to tow a project car if absolutely necessary, plus as a 6ft fat guy, I fit in volvos much better

FWIW I am in Tampa, FL if anyone happens to be local and has a wealth of knowledge.
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Old 04-24-2021, 05:00 PM   #2
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People make parts to adapt a regular WC T5 to an LS... but I'm pretty sure that would just explode at any higher-than-stock LS power levels.

T56 and TKO seem to be the best-supported manuals for an LS swap.

If your reason for NOT using a T56 is price, maybe a stick isn't for you. You can do a 4L auto trans considerably cheaper.
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Old 04-24-2021, 05:12 PM   #3
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Look into the AR5. Lots of people are using them behind LS engines, and the adapter kits aren't too pricey.

The 4L60E isn't a bad trans. It gets a bad rap because people throw 200k junkyard transmissions behind boosted LSXs and when it explodes they call the box weak. A COMPLETELY rebuild box can work reliably for a very long time behind a stock or mild LS, especially considering they were put in trucks that were a lot heavier than your average volvo. The reason 4L80Es are so loved is because, again, the junkyard ones don't break as quickly so people think they're 'better'. They are more heavy-duty, but a junkyard trans is a junkyard trans, ultimately.
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Old 04-24-2021, 05:20 PM   #4
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Forgot to mention in my first post; CD009 is also an option. Might be able to find one at a local Asian car importer.
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Old 04-24-2021, 05:38 PM   #5
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/\ /\ /\ That's what I'm using. CD009, behind a turbo 5.3 with about 550 hp.

A few stray thoughts about it:
- The trans itself is pretty cheap - $750-ish for min (JK40C variety out of a G37), but the adapter kits tend to be a bit pricey
- You'll probably need a top mount shifter to put one behind an LS in a 240 - unless you want to do bigger surgery to the tunnel than I felt like doing
- LS kit and top mount shifter and odd-n-ends and you're probably into T56 costs. Cheaper to replace the trans if you crunch it up somehow in the future, though.
- It's a sort of weird 6 speed, the ratios are all pretty close and low, I don't think 6th gear on it is as high as 5th was on my previous T5 (on a 16T redblock). You'll probably want to team it up with a much lower (numerically) geared rear axle. I have a Ford 8.8 waiting to go in at some point, I plan on putting something close to 3:1 in it. An LS turbo does NOT need closely spaced low gears.
- It only needed some mild thumping in the tunnel to fit in, it's wide around the middle, unlike a Volvo trans.
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Old 04-28-2021, 11:08 AM   #6
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I chose an AR5 from a Chevy Colorado for my LS 242 after a long time comparing all the options.

I looked into the CD009s, T56s, TR6060, considered autos, but eventually fell on the AR5 for its initial price and cost of replacement if need be. You can still find semi-low mileage AR5s for $300-500. My ~68k mile transmission was about $500 delivered.

You can get adapters through Fabbot. They use a 4L60 bellhousing, mine needed to be modified but I believe his new kits don't need to be. Everything else is LS, clutch, T/O, flywheel, etc.

My total cost for transmission, adapter and associated parts came out to ~$1200.

Upsides:

-Price point is good

-fits in the tunnel without any hammering

-replacement transmissions are cheap

Downsides:

-AR5 is weaker than other options, 3rd gear is its real weak point

-You must cut the tunnel for the shifter, or come up with some sort of remote shifter solution

-It is a 5 speed, but that doesn't bother me much

-Gear ratios aren't fantastic, but that also doesn't bother me much
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Old 04-28-2021, 11:18 AM   #7
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The Powerglide in my V8 wagon [old school 350] is now going on 33 years,400K miles later on the trans. Still works fine.
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Old 04-28-2021, 02:17 PM   #8
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I am using a T56 in my 242/LS swap. I was able to get this essentially free, I bought it on a pallet with a second 5.3, sold the stock engine for what I paid for both. It was a ‘98 from a Camaro. Had to massage the tunnel with a BFH to clear..
The good part is the shifter position is perfect for a 242. I was able to use a stock Camaro clutch and flywheel. I initially used a Wilwood clutch master and a stock GM slave cylinder. This setup proved problematic- I couldn’t get consistent performance out of the clutch and had a notable breakdown in Franklin N.C. at last year’s Mountain Meet. (Many thanks to Gordon Marques for helping me out!) I ended up swapping to a stock Volvo 262 clutch master and extended my clevis rod to get more travel. This combo works perfectly. While it was out, I sent the T56 for a rebuild. The synchros were toast and had to replace the 5/6 gear set. Now it shifts like butter, and I also installed a MGW shifter for really short throws. This combo also uses a reverse lockout box to energize the lockout solenoid until speed is < 5 mph. It taps into the VSS on the T56 for speed.
I was able to wrangle the trans in and out without too much difficulty by installing the bell housing first. My rebuilder said that a lot of the junkyard T56 trans are worn out, especially the older ones like mine. I got all new bearings and seals too. Cost $1200 as a carry out. Add in another $700-800 for clutch, master and slave cyl, plus a dedicated hydraulic pedal, so about $2K in parts and labor.
I like the ratios and with two overdrives it really cruises nice on the he highway. I was able to use a one piece driveshaft from a local shop. Just used the T56 and Volvo 1031 flanges and took the measurements to them and they fabbed it up and balanced it. Balance is crucial- in 6th, the ratio is .5:1, so that shaft is really spinning at cruise. No problems with clearance or vibration at all.
I am n/a, so stock clutch and trans work well at this power level, about 325whp on Kenny’s dyno.
If I turbo it, I would probably switch to a dual disc clutch and an 8.8 rear axle. Still thinking about it.
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Old 04-28-2021, 02:33 PM   #9
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That's one small advantage to the CD009's weird (for a 6 speed) ratios - when teamed up with a tall rear end ratio you get lower driveshaft RPMs. Look at that donor car propav8r got where the driveshaft failed to see why that might be a good thing.

As an aside - the 6 speed car manual I just bought (MSM Miata) has the same damn problem - 6 speeds all crammed together, geared way too low. Same fix is needed on it - taller rear end. Apparently they were sold with a 3.63:1 rear diff in other markets, but got a 4.1:1 in the US market for 'reasons'.
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Old 04-28-2021, 03:14 PM   #10
MikeSr.
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I used a 1031 3.73 rear with a G80 locker and it seems to be just right with this setup.
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Old 04-28-2021, 04:03 PM   #11
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CD009 ratios: 3.78/2.32/1.62/1.27/1.00/0.79
Miata ratios: 3.76/2.27/1.65/1.26/1.00/0.84

Lol, same damn thing with both of them. The turbo LS just needs revs far less than the turbo Miata does.
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Old 04-28-2021, 04:44 PM   #12
MikeSr.
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T56 2.66/1.76/1.30/1.0/.74/.50
Probably could also use a 4.11 with that high a first gear and the .50 sixth gear
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