Diesel Technology’s Right Parts For The Job

No matter how much power your truck makes, it isn’t any good unless you can put that power to the ground. The 5R110 transmission from Ford has backed both 6.0L and 6.4L Power Stroke engines and is generally considered to be a pretty decent transmission. But like anything else that’s stock, there’s always room for improvement to handle bigger power output.

To find out what goes into building a stout 5R110, we made the trip down to Monroe, Georgia, to visit the crew at Diesel Technology Source (DTS) and watch them build what they consider their entry level performance transmission. While in Georgia we also stopped by Diesel Performance Converters (DPC) in McDonough to see what goes into their performance torque converters for the 5R110. Both DTS and DPC build and ship components all across the country so even if you’re not local to Georgia you can have them build for your project; it will just require some shipping coordination.

DTS owner David Browning tells us that a stock 5R110 that hasn’t be abused and overheated can handle engines making up to 500 horsepower, but that at that level they’re living on borrowed time. By that he means that there are people driving around in trucks approaching those power levels on stock transmissions that are working just fine. But if you tow heavy, race or sled pull regularly or do crazy stuff like neutral-drops to show off for your friends, the transmission will not last long at all. If you’re good to the transmission, not overheating or overloading it and maintain it properly, it can last for years at power levels approaching 500 horsepower, he added. But eventually the power will be just too much for the stock clutches to handle and it will begin to slip and burn the clutches.

1 You can see that the factory clutches on the right are in decent shape from this transmission but the new clutches on the left are stronger and DTS uses more of them for better holding power.
2 In this case, the three factory clutch discs on the right show signs of slipping and burning. DTS replaces them with five Alto clutch discs shown on the left.
3 By machining the top plate on the left, DTS is able to use more clutches in this pack as well, ultimately allowing the transmission to hold more power in each gear without slipping the clutches and burning them up.
4 While this clutch pack uses the same number of clutch discs, they’re replaced with the better quality Alto clutch discs and Kolene steels shown on the left.

5 & 6 The TCS Products input shaft on the left is machined from stronger 300 Maraging billet steel to resist breaking. It also features better machining at the weakest point where the splines meet the shaft (see arrows) to reduce the possibility of breakage at the abrupt factory transition.
7 The pump assembly is modified to provide additional line pressure to give the clutches more holding power.
8 Tony Tidwell installs the tail housing after it’s been painted and cured.
9 Then after flipping the transmission on the stand he begins loading the clutches and steels into the case.

For those who are making more power and want to race or sled pull on a regular basis or are just plain harder on their trucks, Browning recommends the DTS entry-level/street 5R110 build for trucks up to 800 horsepower. They completely disassemble the transmission down to the bare case and wash all the components including the mounting hardware in a high-temperature industrial parts washer to start with a clean foundation before the rebuild. After the case parts are cleaned, they’re painted and assembled after the paint cures rather than assembled and then painted over the hardware and bolts as some shops do with their rebuilds.

10 Before the drums are installed, precise measurements are taken and adjustment shims are installed as needed or parts are machined to make sure that everything is built to tight operational tolerances so that the parts do not prematurely wear.
11 The 5R110 uses a healthy-sized planetary gear set from the factory so it’s reused in the DTS street build.
12 Tidwell then lowers the drum and clutch assemblies into the case, carefully aligning them with the output shaft and clutch discs in the case.

13 & 14 Then he installs the final clutch set as well as the pump assembly.
15 To finish off the internal assembly, the TCS Products billet input shaft is slid into position, making sure that proper spline engagement is achieved.
16 Before installing the valve body, each DTS transmission is tested with air pressure to verify that the hydraulics will properly apply and hold the clutches through the gear changes.

17 & 18 After retrieving the valve body components from the parts washer, it’s reassembled and then installed on the transmission.

To increase the holding power inside the transmission, the DTS crew uses a Sun Coast Iron Pac-3 kit with Alto clutches and Kolene steels as well as a TransGo shift kit and solenoid modifications to ensure solid operation even with high-power engines. The drum is machined to accept additional clutches and provide considerably more holding power over the stock clutch configuration. The input shaft on the 5R110 is prone to breaking on high-power trucks so DTS replaces the stock input shaft with a heavy-duty 300 Maraging alloy steel shaft from TCS Products in Canada to handle up to 2,500 lb/ft of torque. To link the engine to the input of the transmission they use a DPC billet triple-disc torque converter that can handle the power without ballooning from the line pressure or slipping from the weak lock-up clutch used in the factory converters.

19 While this customer opted to reuse the factory pan, aluminum pans are available for an additional charge.
20 Looking at the clutches and front plates, it’s easy to see that the aftermarket billet components and larger clutch discs (seen on left) used in the DPC triple-disc converter will hold more power than the weak clutches and stamped steel factory components.
21 DPC machines the factory stator for additional fluid flow and uses Torrington bearings (not shown here) rather than bushings as used in the factory converter.
22 The turbine hub on the factory converter is held in place with small rivets that are prone to failure, but DPC welds their hub in place as seen with their modified turbine on the left.
23 Taylor Wilder assembles the clutch discs, front cover, pump and stator before closing up the converter.
24 Wilder carefully measures all tolerances on the converter to make sure that everything is properly aligned before the converter is welded.
25 Using an automated welding fixture ensures a perfect weld seam on every DPC converter.
26 After verifying that the converter is properly sealed and balanced, Wilder gives it a coat of paint in DPC’s metallic blue before shipping it off to another satisfied customer.

For trucks making more than 800 horsepower, DTS recommends their extreme/competition 5R110. The extreme/competition build is basically the same as the street build with the same features and assembly techniques. But DTS uses billet components throughout the transmission for added strength—it includes billet TCS Products intermediate and output shafts as well as a billet low/reverse hub to prevent it from deflecting and a billet overdrive planetary. Both transmission builds make use of the same triple-disc billet torque converter from Diesel Performance Converters. Of course, the price difference reflects the additional high-strength billet components used in the transmission, but if you’re making more than 800 horsepower it’s a safe bet that you will need to go with a full billet transmission build sooner or later, so you might as well save up and spend the money once rather than twice.

The photos on these pages highlight what goes into the DTS street 5R110 transmission and DPC torque converter. We’re not showing the removal or installation process here to save space; we’re focusing on the assembly and the components that make the transmissions stronger than stock. DW


Diesel Performance Converters

Dept. DW
2216 Commerce Place
McDonough, GA 30253

Diesel Technology Source

Dept. DW
171 HD Atha Road
Monroe, GA 30655

TCS Products (Canada)

Dept. DW
6217-205th Street
Langley, BC, Canada V2Y-1N7



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