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80 El Camino
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Discussion Starter #1
Hi all. Slowly working my way through my '80 daily (summer) driver, trying to bring everything back up to stock or better condition. I've had it almost 2 years. Most recently I wanted to change the fluid and filter so decided to install my first shift kit (B&M) and went with the 'heavy duty' setup. I'm a lifelong do-it-yourselfer so I like reading up on as many opinions as I can to learn about the pitfalls before basically going ahead and doing whatever I want in the end! Clearly there are differing opinions re. B&M vs Transgo vs home built, spring in vs spring out etc..etc...
Anyway, the history of my tranny was uncertain... sometime in the past, the 267 was swapped for an 86 truck 350. The numbers tell me it was a manual Flint built truck so it leads me to believe the tranny is original to the car. Only thing is, the whole case has a fairly recent gray paint job. It runs like a top though, smooth shifts with just a slight bump you can feel. Fluid looked decent, darkish red but not brown. Fluid didn't smell burnt although I was a little surprised at how much metallic sediment was stuck to the bottom of the pan considering it might possibly be a rebuilt considering the newish paint (see photos).
tranny filter change.jpg
tranny pan sediment.jpg

When I got to the separator plate, I realized right away that a B&M kit has been put in already (a surprise I had prepared myself for). There were only 2 check balls and 3 holes were opened up to 3/16 just like B&M says to. The surprise was that one of the holes near the 2-3 accumulator piston was in the wrong place! (see photo).That left me wondering, was this just a mistake or did they do something different with the tranny that I'm not aware of! So this is the question.... What would be the purpose of that hole? I'd love to hear from a tranny guy that knows the valve body logic well. As best I can figure, it's an exhaust opening because the passage behind it dumps into the pan. There is a hole in the gasket for it as well, so there must be some application that uses a hole there...Lockup converter maybe?
After much searching for some kind of mod that would have called for that hole, I came up empty. Being an anxious do-it-yourselfer, I wanted to forge ahead so I assumed that the hole was an error (no harm no foul?). I took the online advice of some respected tranny guys and went conservative with my hole sizes and I left the 1-2 accumulator spring in. See the photo of the new plate and hole sizes.
In the end, the tranny still runs great (y). The shifts don't feel any harder but that's okay, I'm happy to have gone in and come out at least as good as before. Right now I know what I've got and if I feel like doing more I know where I'm starting from.
One more question...If I decide to pull the cover off the 1-2 accumulator to check the spring, is it possible to do on the 5th gen with the tranny in place? There is only 1" of clearance between it and the tunnel! (see photo).
Thanks for reading through and for any wisdom you can provide. Sean.
old separator plate.jpg
B&M separator plate after drilling.jpg
1-2 accumulator cover.jpg
 

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I can't answer all your shift kit questions but you should be able to slide the crossmember back a little and lower the tranny enough to get the cover out.
 

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80 El Camino
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Discussion Starter #3
I can't answer all your shift kit questions but you should be able to slide the crossmember back a little and lower the tranny enough to get the cover out.
Thanks for your 2 cents re. the accumulator cover... that's what I thought would be required but wanted to hear a second opinion. Shouldn't be too hard as the underbody is pretty clean (of rust). Just have to give myself the extra time to do the job and to be careful of the distributor!
 

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If you remove the accumulator cover prepare for a very bad time trying to get it back in. If the tranny is out it might not be so bad but I did it with the trans in. I replaced the spring (was a little compressed) and the o-ring which had gone bad. Had a leak from there I wanted to correct. The retainer ring doesn't have holes in it to use the tool. Trying to get that cover back in... I imagine that is what hell would be like hahah. Sorry I can't help with the other questions.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
If you remove the accumulator cover prepare for a very bad time trying to get it back in. If the tranny is out it might not be so bad but I did it with the trans in. I replaced the spring (was a little compressed) and the o-ring which had gone bad. Had a leak from there I wanted to correct. The retainer ring doesn't have holes in it to use the tool. Trying to get that cover back in... I imagine that is what hell would be like hahah. Sorry I can't help with the other questions.
Well, that's good to know...I don't have a leak, I'm just curious whether the spring is in there, broken, or working just fine. I guess if the spring is working as it should then that's where the problems start, trying to get it all back together where there's limited space.
Sounds like I should leave well enough alone in this case, at least until I have a better reason to get involved... the car is basically stock so it's not as though it's a performance issue! Thanks alot.
 

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I think a good way to test if the spring is broken is actually part of removing the cover. Using a curved pry bar and putting a bolt on top of the trans pan (see picture) use the pry bar to push in the cover in to see if there is resistance from the spring (you'll know, the spring has a lot of tension). Just don't remove that awful retainer ring. Be warned though, if you do this, the o-ring might slip and you will want to get in there and replace it! I would probably leave it be.

This is an excellent in depth guide to the TH350, which covers the intermediate accumulator. This might help you
 

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