Cheapest way to convert 4 speed 2nd gen car to T-56

Discussion in 'High Tech Retrofits' started by z2871rsbb396, Jan 24, 2010.

  1. jakeshoe

    jakeshoe Veteran Member Lifetime Gold Member

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    Yeah,
    I have connections to get some good stuff for good pricing. I may not have it in stock like Summit but if it's not needed in 1 day, I can get it pretty quick.
    I deal with lots of tire kickers. They say they are going to buy it from me, then go elsewhere. It makes my tolerance for BS get lower and lower and my prices higher for the hassle.
     
  2. WMCC Doug

    WMCC Doug Veteran Member

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    I have a LT1 style T-56 (.5 6th gear) in my 74 Z28 and absolutely love it! It's the single best modification on the car, by far. The car still has it's original 3.73 gears and I'm running 275-40-ZR17 BFG KDW's for tires on the rear.

    The engine is the original L-82 350 with a mild 268H Comp Cams cam. I can very confortably run in 6th gear at 55 mph. (of course there is no quick excelleration at that point) Down shifting is simple and quick if I need to speed up.

    We used a Center Force special adaptive flywheel that has the old style crank shaft bolt pattern and the T-56 (metric) clutch bolt pattern on the outside edge. The bell housing from the LT1 style car (mine came out of a '95 Z28) bolts directly to the old small block. An LT1 style starter bolted right up too.

    We shortened the driveshaft, used an ATS cross member (very nice). The only mod to the tranny hump was a short narrow slot on the rear of the 4-speed hole to make clearance for the T-56 shifter. A short adaptor to mount the shift handle to the shifter stub put it right in the center of the 4-speed console.

    We also used the ATS bracket to mount the T-56 hydraulic clutch cylinder under the brake booster. It was a very clean install.

    It's wonderful to get on the highway and cruise along at 80 mph, running about 2000 rpms. I alway smile when I pass those poor suckers in their 60-70's muscle cars plodding along a 50-55mph.

    Our Camaro Club is very active and we drive all over the place. It's nice to be able to run with the 4th Gen cars and not feel like I'm holding the whole group down.
     
  3. earlysecond

    earlysecond Veteran Member

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    Kirt,
    Here is my input AND my situation is VASTLY different from yours. . .I think. '70 Camaro 383 stroker MILD cam, lucky if I have 400hp at the flywheel, no injection, 4:10 rear posi. Observations:
    1. The T56 was THE best money and amount of work I spent on my whole project, except for paint. People on here will vouch for me, when it was an automatic car it was undrivable, plain and simple. I publically shared, on more than one occasion that I was going to sell it an buy a car with a T56.
    2. OTHER THAN the bodywork and paint forum, THIS is the sub forum where I got the most INCORRECT, WRONG SCREWED up , confusing advice on this generally awsome site, spefific to researching and installing my T56. I am only sharing my own experience so I hope nobody gets offended. NOW, IMPORTANT to NOTE: a lot of the confusion is the fact that there are so many ways to skin the same cat. Some of it was the usual interweb mentality that causes problems. THEN there were some FANTASTIC members who stuck by me through my confusion, until I got a worakable solution and were super supportive.
    You must first decide if you want 6 gears or 5 BECAUSE there will be plenty of people who will, for some unknown reason, spend days typing quips to talk you out of 6 gears. With 4:10's and some fun interstate rides (of which the car was flat out INCAPABLE a year ago [before the T56 install]) I use 6th gear plenty. If you never get on a limited access highway or go 70mph, or you have and keep 3:08's (in which case you probably do not need OD anyway) you may not need 6 gears.
    3. KITS- for me, out of the question as they were cost prohibitive. I understand that you want to keep your mechanical clutch set up, which may actually be wise given the complexity (IMO) of fabbing everything up for certain hydraulic set ups. Not sure about you but a 5K kit would have been more than I had in the car purchase, paint and engine build combined. I am confident that they are nice but I am too cheap. One huge advantage to the transmissions in the kits, they have mechanical speedometer outputs. Unless you already have an electronic, aftermarket speedo, this gets to be a $300 problem. Of course there are other advantages BUT I could not justify the cost.
    4. Short of using a kit, this is not an overnight or weekend install. A lift and tranny jack were my best friends. It could have been done on the floor but I bet I would have never completed it (Not much of a mechanic am I)
    5. Did I mention that this was the SINGLE best upgrade I ever made to my project car?

    Now your post has MUCH in common with a post I made about last year this time, maybe a little later. I do not want to point you to it because what I did is enough different that it may add more confusion to your situation which, if you are like me, was already enough! haha I was also looking for the least expensive way to get this done and MISTAKENLY, (not the seller's fault he is a good guy) bought a BARE LT-1 sourced T56 which IS different than and uses a complelty diffferent clutch set up and input shaft. I would NOT recommend this route as even GM has stopped making some of the critical components that you may need to replace!

    SO it sounds like you are in good hands with the guys who are helping you. AN LS-1 sourced T56 with an adapter plate will require some modification to the cross brace in the tranny hump to make work. I would not sweat the shifter location too much it is close enough to look good. Search Bonzo's work because, I belive, he did the most similar conversion to yours. Do not look at LT-1 installs like mine lest you go blind they ARE different and probably no cheaper for several reasons.

    I would:

    Decide if I want 5 or 6 gears to row thru [no brainer in my book]
    Decide if I want a kit or a bare LS-1 sourced T-56 then track one down
    Make sure that you want to keep the mechanical clutch [maybe a good idea]

    PULL THE TRIGGER and never look back.
    This upgarde transformed my car from something that collected dust and got in the way of paintwork in my garage to a "cruisy", fun car that may even get some longer trips on it this year [Carlisle?]

    Free advice, especially from the internet is worth what you paid. What you are attempting to do HAS been done before and will be done again. If you can weld you can modify or fab everything but the adapter plate and drive shaft which is minimal.

    Best of luck with your decision,

    Brent

    PS-*DISCLAIMER*- it was NOT my intention to peeve anybody with my words. Some of my problems with my install were self created. The one or 2 posters who caused me problems are NOT here any more, nor should they be. Without people like Bonzo, John Wright, Todd, Woody and Matt who sold me parts, I would have never pulled of this upgrade. I probably forgot others who were a huge help too but I wanted to make sure that I was clear on my "harshness".
     
  4. Aceshigh

    Aceshigh Veteran Member Lifetime Gold Member

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    I've been in the tire kicker zone for quite awhile with my 2nd OD trans purchase.
    So I'm sure I bugged ya enough til I finally got the used T56.
    Finally made up my mind.

    Hope I didn't bug ya too much. The advice was and always is appreciated.
     
  5. z2871rsbb396

    z2871rsbb396 Veteran Member Lifetime Gold Member

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    early second, I appreciate your response and straightforward reply.

    Right now i am in the process of trying to find a good LS1 transmission. If I can find one, that is the route I will go. I am not above buying a kit, however I am lookikng for cheaper alternatives to do this. The more I save the more I can put towards other things.

    The TKO does also sound like a good option, however, I don't want to do it and wish I had 6th gear. right now it is all about shopping and saving up as much cash as I can gather. (wife and two kids help eat that up). Comparing numbers, looking at speed calcualtors, and all, it is going to come down to what kind of deal, or what I find first. I have had this car since 86, so it not like I need to hurry up and get it done. I do however want to get this mod done so it can be a little more freeway friendly.

    Kirt
     
  6. PolarBear

    PolarBear Veteran Member Lifetime Gold Member

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    I suppose I should just ask Jake, but does anyone know if you can get the throwout bearing spacer from anyone other than (formerly) ATS? I will be buying the remaining parts soon (hopefully) for the T56 swap.
     
  7. Aceshigh

    Aceshigh Veteran Member Lifetime Gold Member

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    I looked around and so far I only know of ATS and possibly Speed Inc
    by my house who specialize in LSx drivetrains.

    Might want to try calling Speed Inc. FYI - they are expensive.
    http://www.speedinc.com/
     

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