Overheating transmissions in Antarctica - PowerStrokeNation : Ford Powerstroke Diesel Forum
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post #1 of 50 (permalink) Old 11-16-2007, 12:01 PM Thread Starter
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Overheating transmissions in Antarctica

All of our vehicles equiped with Mattracks have a problem with the transmissions overheating, this his been a known issue and we always tell the drivers to just pull over untill the transmission cools down. Recently (as in 2 nights ago) we had an operator ignore our warnings and the vehicle caught on fire.

Pictres:
Before: http://img134.imageshack.us/img134/7229/dsc00517wa3.jpg
Durring: http://img122.imageshack.us/img122/3875/p1120175uf9.jpg note the line of trans fluid leading up to vehicle
After: http://img134.imageshack.us/img134/3277/dsc00506pk6.jpg

Now the company is actualy going to try and FIX the overheating problem. We have already tried installing aftermarket coolers but that apparently hasnt solved the issue so i have come to the experts.

We have 2 different types of Mattracks, one you have alread seen but the details are: 2000 F250 5.4L 4x4 with the Mattracks. They have not been regeared and are constantly run in 4x4 mode, along with the snow here the engines are under full load just about all of the time and they only see up to 20mph.

The other type is a 2005 F550 6.0L 4x4 crash recovery/fire truck with the larger Mattracks.

Picture: http://img443.imageshack.us/img443/9523/dsc00484za1.jpg

It too overheats and is starting to melt the wiring harnesses around the transmission. The Ford factory wiring harnesses appear to have a heat shield tape (metal/aluminum in color) but the problem is the company that builds the unit on back just uses cheap split loom harnesses and those are melting. I have proposed dropping the tranny and retaping everything but that still doesnt solve the overheating issues that and they dont want to down the vehicles any more then they have to. Its not melting the insulation around the wire just the loom holding everything together.

We have roughly a dozen F250 Mattracks and 4 F550 fire trucks.

I have proposed getting aftermarket coolers with fans but they need to be idiot proof as in they come on automaticlly. Do you guys know of such a product and how much does it cost? I have also suggested getting an aftermarket guage to accuratly display the temp.

Do you think regearing the differental would help enough to make it worht the cost?

Any suggestions are welcome and thank you for your help.
-Mike
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post #2 of 50 (permalink) Old 11-16-2007, 02:36 PM
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Re: Overheating transmissions in Antarctica

I find this REALLY interesting! I was an automatic trans engineer at Ford from '88 to February of this year. The last three years I was a trans cooling engineer.

Are they in 4x4 high or low? Running at full load at 20 MPH in 4x4 high is going to cook the trans. There may not be a way around that. Keeping the transfer case in 4x4 low puts a 2.7:1 ratio in the driveline, which will reduce the load on the trans by about 2.7:1. At 20MPH in high the torque converter will be unlocked and making A LOT of heat. In low range the converter may be locked, I'm not certain. Even if it isn't locked the loads will be a lot lower, so it will create a lot less heat.

If you already are using 4x4L, regearing both differentials would help a lot.

Do you run synthetic ATF? Getting dino ATF to flow through an air to oil cooler at the ambients you see will be a problem. I've seen dino fluid gel in the cooler at about -20F, and I know you see a lot lower than that. When the fluid gels a bypass opens and then there is NO flow to the coolers. Your trans would have seconds to live after that happens.

Yet another problem you have is that if your 2000 model year trucks were built before February, 2000, they don't have a cooler in the radiator. You need that!

I think an air to oil cooler may not be the solution here because of the extreme ambient temps. A really good water to oil cooler may do a better job.
I did a quick search and found this, for example. I don't know this company, but this is the type of heat exhanger that I was thinking of.

http://www.flatplate.com/?gclid=CImc...FQZegQodqmmC8g

The way to do this would be to mount it anywhere under the truck or under the hood that is convenient. Location is not important. Run the ATF through it and use water returning from the heater to cool it. You don't want to use water directly out of the radiator because it could be too cool and cause gelling. Heater return water is plenty cool enough to keep the trans cool.
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post #3 of 50 (permalink) Old 11-16-2007, 04:33 PM Thread Starter
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Re: Overheating transmissions in Antarctica

Thanks for the responce. Just to answer a few of the unknowns... They are most likely driving in 4x4 in high, i havent tried with low. I am in the process of installing a 100-230* temp gauge on the F550 we currently have in the shop and we will go from there.

I dont know about the F250s but the F550 fire truck has 4.88 gears in the diffs... that is just an FYI i guess.

Current ambient temps are warming up and are around 10-20 degrees F, when i first got here they temps were as low as -25 not counting any wind chill.

The 4 new 2005 trucks are probably lucky enough to still have the factory fluid in them as they only have low miles/hours. The one in the shop currently has 3,600 miles (1,600 hours). But the older 2000 we would have changed out durring sceduled transmission service a long time ago.

I asked what kind of fluid we are using and couldnt get much information but was told that it is in fact synthetic.

*EDIT* also, do you think using tow/haul mode would help at all? The only problem with this is that the operators would have to turn it on every time they restarted the vehicle.
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post #4 of 50 (permalink) Old 11-16-2007, 05:54 PM
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Re: Overheating transmissions in Antarctica

The 2000 trucks don't have tow/haul, so that's out. The later trucks do, but the difference would be minimal. The real problem is 4x4 high. I think you could solve your problem by shifting each truck to 4x4 low and leaving it there.

The 2005 trucks have synthetic ATF. That's the factory fill. There has been synthetic available for the older trucks, but the factory fill was dino.

As for axles, the 4.88 is common in the F550s. I don't think you need to go lower. Try 4x4 low. I think that's the problem.
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post #5 of 50 (permalink) Old 11-16-2007, 06:02 PM
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Re: Overheating transmissions in Antarctica

I agree with Mark. I have solved over heating issues with a heavy load on a very steep, windy mtn road by switching to 4x4 low.

I could have pegged the gauge if I had kept runnng in high.
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post #6 of 50 (permalink) Old 11-16-2007, 06:08 PM
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Re: Overheating transmissions in Antarctica

Get a tranny temp gauge & try low range & see what it does. I'd get one of the bigger coolers & a fan that comes on when you start it so it's more dumbazz proof. Might also try strapping a block of ice to the tranny?


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post #7 of 50 (permalink) Old 11-16-2007, 06:18 PM
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Re: Overheating transmissions in Antarctica

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Originally Posted by Cat_Rebel View Post
I'd get one of the bigger coolers & a fan that comes on when you start it so it's more dumbazz proof.
I think that will make the problem worse when the temps get extremely cold. Oil to air coolers are not a good thing when it's well below zero!
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post #8 of 50 (permalink) Old 11-16-2007, 06:20 PM
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Re: Overheating transmissions in Antarctica

I think he's talking about adding another cooler in addition to the factory stuff with a fan. Not a bad idea for low speed situations IMO
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post #9 of 50 (permalink) Old 11-16-2007, 06:43 PM
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Re: Overheating transmissions in Antarctica

I don't know if it would be feasible/allowed, but having DP-tuner flash a custom program might help. They could set the speed limiter to about 30mph and have it all programmed specifically for 4L, including having the TC locked up 100%. If the driver tried to go in 4H, it would lug the engine, telling him to switch to 4L.
You said you had tried aftermarket coolers, but there are a lot to choose from. The 6.0L cooler might help the 5.4l trucks.
If the trucks have a low ratio (geared for speed), it probably would help to regear.

I'll post more tonight when I have me notes in front of me.

Go ARMY!
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post #10 of 50 (permalink) Old 11-16-2007, 08:01 PM
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Re: Overheating transmissions in Antarctica

Quote:
Originally Posted by gregrob View Post
I think he's talking about adding another cooler in addition to the factory stuff with a fan. Not a bad idea for low speed situations IMO
Yeah kinda like what all of the mud boggers do. But then again I don't know alot about over heating trannys because the most we ever saw on my Ma's or buddy's truck on a 100* day in town was about 150*.


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