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post #1 of 22 (permalink) Old January 1st, 2017, 02:38 Thread Starter
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Stronger Transmission Swap?

My MK1a is starting to show the signs of the infamous 5th gear pop out, unfortunately. I am trying to negate it by driving economically but I really want to hear my 4A-GE sing.

I was thinking of doing a rebuild, but then I thought of just throwing that out the window and just swapping the transmission for something stronger and more reliable. I'm plenty happy with my blue top 16V, but the C50 leaves a lot to be desired, I'm really worried about it now that I drive my MK1 every day.

I've read on the C160 and C60 being a good choice, but there seemed to be a lot of confusion on which is stronger. I really just want something that I can beat on a bit without breaking a sweat (and not worrying if it's going to pop out of gear mid acceleration). It is only going to handle my little N/A 16V anyway.

The two biggest things though are:

1. Strength and reliability.
2. Easy of installation.

Other than that I suppose something with a better top gear for highway cruising would be nice. But I read the C160 is great at that.

Any suggestions?? And where I should start looking to buy one?
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post #2 of 22 (permalink) Old January 1st, 2017, 04:27
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The c160 is a jdm part that was issued with the blacktop20v, so if you're leaning that way, you might start looking where they sell 20v's. i see c60's on the celica forums but they have usually been abused because the previous owners misshift while enjoying "lift" (toyota's answer to VTAKKK YO!!). As far as strength, basically as long as you drive reasonable and stay N/A both boxes will do nicely (though i have seen c6x teardowns that show how much more robust those boxes are).

For ease of install, the c160 takes the stock axles, i think the c6x series uses a different spline count (same as N/A gen 2). C160 will require some drilling/fab work but no case swapping; the c6x series may require swapping bellhousing/casings (not sure bout the details on it but it is built for the ZZ-series engine) and some drilling (unless you get the one that points the right way, then it'd be just the case swap).

If sanity during highway runs/max mpgs is your thing, then the c160 is your dog(that sixth ratio is diferent). You may get lucky and find one attached to a 20v that the owner just wants gone. One that is prepped for our cars will cost extra.

Edit to add: being that the c160 comes attached to the blacktop, it is definitely the rarer of the two. The c6x could be found in various states of use on the last gen celica and on toyota matrix/pontiac vibe.

Last edited by highdensity; January 1st, 2017 at 04:35. Reason: Rarity
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post #3 of 22 (permalink) Old January 1st, 2017, 11:07 Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by highdensity View Post
The c160 is a jdm part that was issued with the blacktop20v, so if you're leaning that way, you might start looking where they sell 20v's. i see c60's on the celica forums but they have usually been abused because the previous owners misshift while enjoying "lift" (toyota's answer to VTAKKK YO!!). As far as strength, basically as long as you drive reasonable and stay N/A both boxes will do nicely (though i have seen c6x teardowns that show how much more robust those boxes are).

For ease of install, the c160 takes the stock axles, i think the c6x series uses a different spline count (same as N/A gen 2). C160 will require some drilling/fab work but no case swapping; the c6x series may require swapping bellhousing/casings (not sure bout the details on it but it is built for the ZZ-series engine) and some drilling (unless you get the one that points the right way, then it'd be just the case swap).

If sanity during highway runs/max mpgs is your thing, then the c160 is your dog(that sixth ratio is diferent). You may get lucky and find one attached to a 20v that the owner just wants gone. One that is prepped for our cars will cost extra.

Edit to add: being that the c160 comes attached to the blacktop, it is definitely the rarer of the two. The c6x could be found in various states of use on the last gen celica and on toyota matrix/pontiac vibe.
Is there anything that will be easier to find but will still hold up well? Just driving this morning I can already tell the 5th gear is getting a lot worse.

Edit: What about the C56 or some E series tranny? I know I can put in a C56 with some modification of the selector shaft fitting, haven't read up much on the E series though, the only thing I know is that they are generally beefier transmissions.

Last edited by achulz; January 1st, 2017 at 11:18.
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post #4 of 22 (permalink) Old January 1st, 2017, 15:20
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The 5th gear pops out because it is worn out. If you rebuild it properly, or get a different transmission in good condition, it will last for 100-200k miles like the one that you have did. If you want a 6 speed, then that may be a worthwhile swap in itself, but you don't need a stronger transmission.
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post #5 of 22 (permalink) Old January 1st, 2017, 15:53
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Similar to the c160, the c56 came on the more common but still jdm silvertop and, according to wiki, some geo gsi's--again, you're in for a search. As far as E-series, good luck prying any of those from the greasy, boost-addled fingers of the supercharged crowd. While it is stronger, it also requires different axles (beefier but same spline count as N/A) and i'm sure they're all accounted for by now (i.e. no junkyard surprises).

I'm with the professor on this one--rebuild will get you on the road faster and should last longer than someone's 2nd hand stuff unless you're willing to wait, watch the for-sale forums like a hawk, and eat the charges for shipping an upgrade.
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post #6 of 22 (permalink) Old January 1st, 2017, 16:41
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Dude,


I vote for a C56 (which I have on my '87) from either a silvertop or newer blacktop. There is a slight difference at the selector shaft with the silvertop version being the easiest end to work on but the dude that runs Matrix Garage offers a relatively easy adapter solution for the blacktop.



I would verify that this kit is compatible with the C56. I'm 96 percent sure that it is. Remember, if you purchase a silvertop C56, you don't need this kit; just the OEM dust seal and rubber dust boot, not the custom machined aluminum adapter for the seal.

http://www.matrixgarage.com/products...on-adapter-kit


Good luck

Last edited by Chesterkv; January 1st, 2017 at 21:33.
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post #7 of 22 (permalink) Old January 1st, 2017, 20:46
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+1 on the C-56. It can handle quite a bit more torque and has smoother operation. The ST C-56 is easy to mod, just need to drill the shaft boss all the way through and cut the seal boss for a seal. Done a few. The BT C-56 needs an adapter for the seal. Both use the internal linkage from an MR2 trans. The 6 speed requires a bit more. The trans built for an A series engine will bolt up but requires a different selector linkage than the 5 speed. It would also need the seal adapter. Easiest linkage to adapt to a MR set up comes from the Elise/Exige. Axles need to come with the trans as the 5 speed axles are different.
If you are looking to build a more economic car with trans gearing the 6 speed is the way to go. 6th gear is like a .76 where the 5 speed is @.85. lower cruising RPM.
The E series isn't really a good choice for the NA set up. The gears are for a torquier engine, Taller gears that is. It loads the engine more and requires it to work harder for the same acceleration. More fuel, less economy. The E series would be a good choice for a boosted or stroked engine.

Big mike has a list of gear ratios in this thread. Might be of interest to you.

Toyota C-series 6-speed Swap Info

Mikey is running a 6 speed from a Pontiac Vibe with a 4AGZE. He puts 220hp to the ground. Just in case you might wonder about it's capability. There are a couple of 2s out there putting more than 200 to the ground over 9000rpm with a C-56. A C-52 from the later MR2s are decent as well.

As for the 5th gear pop out. That movement you feel in the shifter when you get on and off the throttle is the gear moving on the shaft, it has an angle cut, helical, for quieter operation. IF you have the trans rebuilt make sure to go to someone that does performance rebuilds. Someone that understands how to shim the gears to reduce such play. I like to mention Marlin Crawler. I've watched Marlin build trannys for 20 years. He builds and modifies transmissions and other gearing accessories for 4X4 Toyotas and has come up with quite a few ways to make them more reliable. He's also, as of late, been building C-56s. So it might be an option.

Good luck with your decision on the trans.
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post #8 of 22 (permalink) Old January 1st, 2017, 23:55 Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by rmeller View Post
The 5th gear pops out because it is worn out. If you rebuild it properly, or get a different transmission in good condition, it will last for 100-200k miles like the one that you have did. If you want a 6 speed, then that may be a worthwhile swap in itself, but you don't need a stronger transmission.
So if I were to get something like this: ebay.com/itm/C50-C51-C52-20-3mm-5-Spd-Transmission-Rebuild-Kit-86-98-/370459511339?hash=item56411b8a2b:g:CeUAAOxyVaBS2dW k&vxp=mtr
Would that be all I need to get the transmission in top shape again? What else do you suggest I replace during the rebuild? The fifth gear itself and the input/output shafts?

Edit: I think a rebuild would be a better option as well after reading these new posts, even though the C56 is a strong option with some of you guys. I don't want to search all over my state let alone the whole US and pay for shipping charges....

Last edited by achulz; January 1st, 2017 at 23:59. Reason: Going to rebuild instead
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post #9 of 22 (permalink) Old January 2nd, 2017, 00:07 Thread Starter
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post #10 of 22 (permalink) Old January 2nd, 2017, 01:34
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The trans in that ebay listing is for the 1.5 liter engine in the Xb. It won't bolt up to a 4AGE. Some would say you just change the bell housing, but the casting has changed over the years and the machining process is different, so you'd have to take the guts out of this trans and put them in your C-50 case. Long story short, a C-50 isn't the same as a C-50, but it is.

If you do plan to rebuild the trans yourself be aware or the tools you'll need. Press, pullers SSTs...... Don't get in a bind because you don't have the right tool. Don't destroy parts trying to take shortcuts.

C-56 is not hard to find, really. I have 2 sitting in the back yard. They've been sitting on the porch for at least a year. I'm not sure of the condition so I didn't offer. They are really plentiful, just ask. Post in the WTB section.
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post #11 of 22 (permalink) Old January 2nd, 2017, 10:40 Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by sirdeuce View Post
The trans in that ebay listing is for the 1.5 liter engine in the Xb. It won't bolt up to a 4AGE. Some would say you just change the bell housing, but the casting has changed over the years and the machining process is different, so you'd have to take the guts out of this trans and put them in your C-50 case. Long story short, a C-50 isn't the same as a C-50, but it is.

If you do plan to rebuild the trans yourself be aware or the tools you'll need. Press, pullers SSTs...... Don't get in a bind because you don't have the right tool. Don't destroy parts trying to take shortcuts.

C-56 is not hard to find, really. I have 2 sitting in the back yard. They've been sitting on the porch for at least a year. I'm not sure of the condition so I didn't offer. They are really plentiful, just ask. Post in the WTB section.
I will post there then. If I don't find one, I plan on having the C50 rebuilt for me, but I want to get all the parts so I only pay for labor.

If I were to get that transmission solely to pull the guts out, would it be worth the cost or is there some place I can get new gears along with new synchros and such?
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post #12 of 22 (permalink) Old January 2nd, 2017, 11:04
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Don't know if the ebay kit is the correct parts. I will point out that the C50 and C52 are different. They are functionally the same, but the C52 does have a stronger 5th gear bearing. This was to remedy the effect that you are observing, but it also means that it is unlikely that you can interchange the parts from the two boxes. I don't know the answer to this, but you need to make sure that you have the right parts. The ebay seller couldn't care less.

You can go to a Toyota parts department, and they can give you the correct part numbers for your car and tell you if they are available new. I had my transmission rebuilt with new parts, but that was about 10 years ago.

Last edited by rmeller; January 2nd, 2017 at 11:07.
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post #13 of 22 (permalink) Old January 2nd, 2017, 12:06 Thread Starter
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Don't know if the ebay kit is the correct parts. I will point out that the C50 and C52 are different. They are functionally the same, but the C52 does have a stronger 5th gear bearing. This was to remedy the effect that you are observing, but it also means that it is unlikely that you can interchange the parts from the two boxes. I don't know the answer to this, but you need to make sure that you have the right parts. The ebay seller couldn't care less.

You can go to a Toyota parts department, and they can give you the correct part numbers for your car and tell you if they are available new. I had my transmission rebuilt with new parts, but that was about 10 years ago.
Do I only need the bearings and synchros to fix the problem? Or is the fifth gear itself worn out?
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post #14 of 22 (permalink) Old January 2nd, 2017, 12:21
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It is the locking splines that actually engage the gear that are shot. That will include several parts, such as the hub and one of the gears itself.

This is what happens: The gear runs on a bearing, and when the bearing wears out, the gear gets play along the shaft axis. Then the gear starts sawing back and forth as you apply torque in gear. Over time, this grinds down the splines that hold the gear in, and once they are beveled, the gear will pop out under torque. The car that I bought new in 1986 went 200k miles before 5th gear went out, and the one that I bought with 100k on it made it to 150k miles before this happened. Hence, I think that a rebuild is a good deal if it is possible. It is likely to cost more than a used transmission, but you will know what you have when it is done.
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post #15 of 22 (permalink) Old January 2nd, 2017, 12:32 Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by rmeller View Post
It is the locking splines that actually engage the gear that are shot. That will include several parts, such as the hub and one of the gears itself.

This is what happens: The gear runs on a bearing, and when the bearing wears out, the gear gets play along the shaft axis. Then the gear starts sawing back and forth as you apply torque in gear. Over time, this grinds down the splines that hold the gear in, and once they are beveled, the gear will pop out under torque. The car that I bought new in 1986 went 200k miles before 5th gear went out, and the one that I bought with 100k on it made it to 150k miles before this happened. Hence, I think that a rebuild is a good deal if it is possible. It is likely to cost more than a used transmission, but you will know what you have when it is done.
Does Toyota still make the OEM parts for the C50? If I can get new OEM splines and gears from Toyota then I will definitely do a rebuild instead of a swap.
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post #16 of 22 (permalink) Old January 2nd, 2017, 13:29
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So, I'll ask the question that should have been asked from the git. What is your budget? I'll take into account the consideration of the ebay C-50. For the amount of money they were asking for that trans you could have a reputable shop rebuild yours and not have to worry about getting the wrong parts. Might even be able to get a used C-52 or 56 and have it gone through. I'll see if I can get an idea of the cost from Marlins, for reference, parts and labor FYI. I highly doubt it would be as high as that ebay trans.

And where are you located?
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post #17 of 22 (permalink) Old January 2nd, 2017, 14:02 Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by sirdeuce View Post
So, I'll ask the question that should have been asked from the git. What is your budget? I'll take into account the consideration of the ebay C-50. For the amount of money they were asking for that trans you could have a reputable shop rebuild yours and not have to worry about getting the wrong parts. Might even be able to get a used C-52 or 56 and have it gone through. I'll see if I can get an idea of the cost from Marlins, for reference, parts and labor FYI. I highly doubt it would be as high as that ebay trans.

And where are you located?
Houston. I plan on saving a couple of paychecks for this rebuild, so it will be happening within a month or two. I'd like to not spend over $1K, but the lower the better.
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post #18 of 22 (permalink) Old January 3rd, 2017, 01:08
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Dudes,

My understanding is that a basic rebuild of a transmission starts around $2,000 if a transmission shop is performing the work. Perhaps prices are high here in the S.F. Bay Area.

Last edited by Chesterkv; January 3rd, 2017 at 01:19.
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post #19 of 22 (permalink) Old January 3rd, 2017, 09:47 Thread Starter
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I think $2,000 is a little high, even if you're paying for parts and labor.
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post #20 of 22 (permalink) Old January 10th, 2017, 12:05
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I understand you save a ton in labor if you drop off the transmission at a shop vs having them remove and install it.
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