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BD Diesel Shows Us The Tricks to Make an Automatic Tranny Live

Six-Speed Science

Harry Wagner
Sep 1, 2017
Photographers: Harry Wagner
Ram trucks have a reputation for making big power with minimal investment, thanks to the legendary Cummins diesel engine. Unfortunately, that isn’t the only reputation they have. The trucks are also known for having weak stock transmissions that cannot stand up to big power. The six-speed 68RFE in the ’07-and-up Dodge Ram pickups with the 6.7L Cummins is an upgrade over the previous 48RE, with roller bearings instead of thrust washers and brazed fins on the torque converter straight from the factory. Still, there is room for improvement, and upgrades become mandatory once you have turned up the wick on your rig’s engine.
Fortunately, BD Diesel Performance has everything you need to build a 68RFE that will live a long, happy life in your hopped-up truck. If a transmission is in good condition, the addition of BD’s deep transmission pan, ProTec68 separator plate, and pressure-control kit to raise the line pressure might be all you need. If your setup makes big power—or the transmission is hurt—it might be time for more significant upgrades. BD offers rebuild kits and billet torque converters that address the common issues with these transmissions. You can have components installed by your local transmission shop, or you can purchase a complete transmission from BD Diesel Performance or one of its dealers.
Photo 2/15   |   Bd 68rfe
We took a trip to BD’s British Columbia headquarters to see exactly what goes into a 68RFE. The combination of technical knowledge, custom parts, and extremely clean working conditions results in automatic transmissions that are as reliable as they are strong.
Photo 3/15   |   These are the components that go into BD Diesel Performance’s 68RFE six-speed automatic transmissions. They are available as a kit to rebuild a transmission or you can order a completely built unit directly from BD or through one of its dealers.
Photo 4/15   |   BD uses QT100 pressure plates that allow for increased clutch counts and reduce deflection and distortion within the clutch drum. Raybestos clutch packs are used due to their reliability and smooth engagement.
Photo 5/15   |   They start by soaking the friction material on the clutches. The clutch count is increased to hold higher torque levels; the overdrive pack gets a 17 percent increase, the underdrive pack a 20 percent increase, and the 2C pack a whopping 33 percent increase in holding power.
Photo 6/15   |   A heavy-duty Low/Reverse sprag (right) uses a cam-and-roller design that is significantly stronger than the stock plastic race. BD also upgrades the 4C spring retainer to billet and adds a steel girdle to the 2C piston to handle increased line pressure.
Photo 7/15   |   A billet input shaft is an option for handling big power with a 68RFE. BD recommends upgrading to the billet input when making more than 500 hp.
Photo 8/15   |   BD technicians tear down each transmission for industrial cleaning of all the components, then they inspect them prior to assembly. Each transmission is built by a team of techs who assemble approximately four transmissions a day, five days a week.
Photo 9/15   |   The transmissions benefit from increased line pressure as a result of their proprietary valvebody separator plates. BD is the only company offering gaskets with its separator plates to limit cross leaks and control shift quality. The plates and gaskets are available with or without BD’s electronic pressure controller depending on whether you have tuning to control your transmission or not.
Photo 10/15   |   BD’s transmission pan is stiffer than the stamped stock piece and offers increased volume. It’s available individually if you don’t need a new transmission but want to take advantage of such features as increased cooling, a drain plug, and a temp sensor port.
Photo 11/15   |   BD builds billet torque converters for every diesel transmission on the market. The 68RFE converter uses a one-piece cover and a unique trapezoidal tooth shape that is self-centering and reduces wear and torque converter chatter.
Photo 12/15   |   Plastic is great for storing leftover food, but it doesn’t belong in a transmission. Note the pitch of the blades in this aluminum stator, which lowers the stall of the torque converter to take advantage of all that low-rpm Cummins torque.
Photo 13/15   |   Every transmission is put on a dyno and run through the gears prior to being shipped. Line pressure is monitored in each gear to ensure the unit is operating properly before it is shipped out.
Photo 14/15   |   The electronically controlled transmissions require a detailed calibration process once they are installed. BD outlines exactly what is required in its instructions, which are available for download from the website.
Photo 15/15   |   After adding a BD-built 68RFE transmission, you can tow heavy loads or increase horsepower without damaging the transmission.

Sources

BD Diesel Performance
Sumas, WA 98295
800-887-5030
www.dieselperformance.com

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