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Out with the slush, In with the stick
last updated: 09/30/2007 09:50:38 PM

March 2005

One of the obvious problems with Project: Y had always been the abused automatic transmission, and Jason's 383 stroker just amplified the problem after a few days driving around Ohio back roads. And one of the disappointments I'd always had with the Canney Family Corvette was the automatic transmission.  So after a 3 year hiatus and just "sitting", once again the urge came flushing back to get to work on the Corvette again.  This 'complete' transmission appeared one day on eBay, and moments later it was mine.

The seller had a rating of 150 with no negative feedback, so I felt confident his description was fair and honest. This 1979 box has almost everything needed to make the swap, including pedals.

And he gave a pretty detailed description and broke down all the numbers, and their production meanings.

Here's the eBay auction description:

Corvette 4 Speed Borg Warner Super T10 Transmission

Item number: 7961672972

Well are you looking for the complete 4 speed conversion for your C3 Corvette??? Well here it is. Transmission, Bell Housing, Shifter, Mounting Brackets, Bell Crank, All rods. (Includes pedals not shown but included) Everything you need to convert your Auto to a 4 speed. Lets talk about the Trans. Borg Warner super T-10 with 63,865 miles on it. This was my grandmothers car. No I'm not lying. She was a service manager at a local Kawasaki dealership and she drove it back and forth to work for about 11 years before she moved up to Redding. Transmission was broken in with 1000 miles and then Redline synthetic was used up to and including now. It was changed every 25K miles Religiously. No syncro problems. No bent shift forks. No Welds. This trans is it top condition. Here are the specs.

CODE: WB1292 (W=Warner, B= Feb., 12=Date, 9=year, 2= second Shift)

903 Case (Aluminum)

Input shaft 1 1/8 26 spline 2 groves

Output Shaft 32 spline (Comes with Yoke)

Gear Ratios - 2:43/1:61/1:23/1:00/Rev-2:35

VIN code 19S - 1=Chevy, 9=1979, S= St. Louis

Shifter is stock 79 Chrome Ball "T" Pull up (Rev Lock Out) shifter. Also comes with both mounting plates for trans mount and shifter mount.

Bell Housing stock Aluminum with no cracks or welds. Shift fork and rubber boot included. Ill also through in the flywheel and Clutch (but I suggest replacing the clutch and pressure plate. Its only stock and why put it together without a new one).

Ok so hears the deal. I can ship it anywhere via trucking Co. I usually use Freight Quote and they seam to be OK. I live in San Jose CA. I will deliver it to your house within 150 mile for $50.00. I figure after this is crated up weight is going to be about 150-175 Lbs. Or you can come pick it up too. I'm easy...

Here's the payment part. Payment must be made in full within 24 hours of end of auction via Pay Pal. Sorry no Flexing on this. I don't have time for all my horror stories about flakes. You pick your shipping method. If you have a trucking Co you'd prefer to use its OK with me. I have a dock at work and they can pick it up there. Please check your application. This will work on virtually all C3's but please check yours first. You are responsible for the fit. It was removed from a 1979 Corvette L82. Now some may ask, Cliff, Why in the hell would you take a perfectly great transmission out of a good running car? 

Lo and behold, despite FedEx letting it sit on the dock for 5 days, then again for 5 more days, it arrived in fabulous shape and packing:

The seller far exceeded any and all expectations I had and is my hero of 2005!

Here are the last pictures before the automatic came out 

After 2 hours of jacking and lifting, out come the pipes 

July 2005

I've been 7/8ths of the way through projects before, only to have something bring the show to a halt, so I vowed to gather all my acorns before doing the actual swap. And as I am a team of one here, I needed to plan everything out ahead of time. (I'll be the first to admit, that's not the usual game plan). After a week of undoing shit, here's the last picture of the car with the automatic in it.

And here is one sloppy leaky transmission after a graceful careful removal. Where you don't see dirty grease, I have it on me.

Another discovery is the 1981 did not have the z-bar frame bracket welded on, but in 81 it was a bolt on so Corvette Central sent one. There also is no hole for the clutch pedal to Z-bar rod. Gonna have to bore a hole in the firewall. Bloomington gold was never in the cards for this Corvette anyways.

July 8 2007

yeah yeah yeah.. It's been two years since I pulled the slush box out.. back off already, you sound like a wife! :) 

Well, Chip Foose never showed up to overhaul the car. I was really expecting him to, as I'd dropped enough hints to people I know that he knows. Oh well, all I see that's different is some surface rust and critter dropping inside the car. I wonder if the chipmunks brag to their friends, that they live in a Corvette.  Sheez, I gotta pull my thumb out of my ass and get this thing going again.

Despite the 96 degree heat, I did manage to get the flywheel installed, and discovered while test fitting the standard to the removable automatic's cross member that the shifter mounting bracket that came with the 79 transmission was changed in 80 (of course) and now I have a new quest.

Here's that show stopper I wasn't expecting and thought I'd preplanned well enough... Apparently the bracket that holds the shifter in the 1980 and 1981 Corvettes is a simplified version as depicted in this diagram. The 79 that came in with the transmission, (above) just doesn't fit.

July 9 2007

Today started hot and just got hotter, so in between sending out a dozen emails to Corvette parts places looking for the above shifter bracket, I decided to get down and dirty and see what was under all the caked on greasy oily dirt on the cross member.

Surprisingly, The cross member is in pretty good condition. Buy while I was cleaning, I thought... if I can't get the correct bracket for the cross member I have, maybe I can get the correct cross member for the bracket .... hmmmm always good to have a plan B.....

There's a hole in the ozone, and a hole in my floor. I took a wild assed guess that the indent in the floor was approximate to where the hole should be. As it turns out, this hole is a little wide by 2 inches, and about 1/2 inch shallow.

I contacted a company called Corvette Pacifica (found from eBay) and they said "Sure! We have your shifter bracket!" .. but when it came in it was for a 1966 Corvette (I wish!) Anyways, they apologized and said send it back, and they'd keep looking. So I got a nod from a place called Just Corvettes. And they sent ... the same 1979 bracket I already had... HELLLLLOOOO !!

So I sent it back. In the meantime, Corvette Pacifica DID find the correct one and here it is in all it's holy grail-ness:

A week later... Just Corvettes sent a replacement for the 79 returned. And yes, it's exactly the same as the one above. So now... I have two 1980-1981 manual transmission Corvette shifter brackets. Considering only 14% of the 80-81's were 4 speeds means I may just have a collectible item here.... 

See how it all looks like it was meant to be and how everything just seems to "line up" like it's supposed to:

August 18, 2007

It's been a busy month around here with looking to buy a house and hunting down last minute items (mostly misplaced nuts and bolts) but, after spending the day down in Chippewa Lake, Ohio looking at lake front houses to move closer to my relocated job to Akron, I decided to give it a shot and stick it in.

The first thing that needed to be corrected was the thrust bearing in the flywheel. I had overlooked it and misplaced the brass one that came with the clutch package two years ago. So I ordered a needle bearing one and got back to business.

With new bolts in my pocket (gotta love Corvette Central), the new clutch pack (surface rust gratis 2 years sitting open in the garage), and bell housing give it a look like it belongs there

ya Gotta love air tools.. ya just gotta..

And by utilizing the jack I'd purchased to drop out the automatic (remember, I'm a gang of one here), I slid the Borg Warner in with surprisingly very little effort. Hey! look! It's in and I didn't have to go to the hospital!

Hey Carol.... while your under there............

The best part about having a garage to putter around in....

about now I'd love to tell you I fired it up and backed it out of the garage, but, unexpected problem #2 is, the automatic apparently has smaller, (lighter duty) universal joints, so the drive shaft has to be either...

  1. replaced with an earlier heavier duty manual trans version (as well as the differential yoke)

  2. have the front universal holder cut off and replaced with an appropriate larger one

  3. find a lighter duty front yoke that fits both the trans and the current drive shaft

  4. locate one single universal joint that's a mixed breed (ya right)

As it turns out, I caught a break on this snafu. A post over to the Corvette Action Center yielded a response that in fact, there is a conversion universal joint that would bring the two pieces together. And for $20.. it was a no brainer. Further down the road, I'll swap the driveshaft and transmission flange out, but right now.. it's running with this from Summit Racing :

permanently welding the shifter bracket on the transmission cross member

September 2007

One of my biggest anxieties about this whole project has been the location and drilling of the hole for the clutch rod to go from the clutch pedal through the firewall to the z-rod. Well, I caught a break on this one. It seems all Corvettes have the hole in the metal, but the hole needs to be drilled in the fiberglass. 

This shot looking from the pedals forward inside the cabin shows that Chevrolet was even nice enough to leave a hole in the insulation.

And here's where it ends up in the engine compartment

and when the rod is connected to the z-bar...

Can you read the expression on this poor fools face? Its the reaction to the realization that the brake booster apparently has served it's usefulness in this Corvette's life, and that nothing is going to be completed under this dashboard until a new booster arrives... which means a new master cylinder... and new brake lines....

September 20, 2007 
"once a day to celebrate, now just another day"

One concern I had while connecting the pedals was how high the clutch pedal was in relation to the brake pedal. (Like a good 2 inches higher). Digging and researching revealed that, in fact, the clutch pedal should sit approximately 1/2 inch higher than the [power] brake pedal. The reason I have seen so many Corvettes with high clutch pedals (which can make one think they have a low brake pedal) is this little $3 part. Its a rubber bumper that fits in the pedal cluster pressing against the clutch pedal arm.

and it fits right here, solving the great clutch pedal mystery.........

September 24, 2007 
"a fresh start"

Did you know you can't use the automatic starter with a manual transmission? I didn't either...

September 30, 2007

The significance of this picture is self explanatory. After buttoning up the exhaust, dropping the car down on all fours, getting the wiring straightened out, it started up on the second try. And after adjusting the clutch.....

just a little bit more.. yet to come......

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Sunday, September 30, 2007 09:50:38 PM

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