Topic: Most reliable engine trans combo for Lemons?

I watched a bunch of the recaps and some seem to be fond of the Chevy V6 + 5-speed. Does that sound right? Got a better idea? Make an assessment.

2 (edited by SpaceFrank 2017-08-11 02:04 PM)

Re: Most reliable engine trans combo for Lemons?

The most reliable engines in Lemons are the ones that are kept over-cooled, well-oiled, and well below the redline at all times when racing.

For the best chance of not blowing up, I'd start out with something overbuilt and underpowered. Old American inline sixes, Chevy 4.3s and similar truck V6s, Malaise-era V8s with miserable HP ratings, etc. Others will have different opinions on this.

If it doesn't already have one, install an oil pressure gauge and make sure the engine has at least 10 psi per 1000 RPM when completely warmed up to operating temperature. Fix any significant oil leaks; if you can't eliminate leaks completely, drive the car long enough to get a handle on how fast it leaks so you can top it up in the cold pits when necessary. Overfill the oil a little if you can do so without issues (we run 1 quart over in our slant six). At your first race (or test session, if you're a team of over-achievers), keep an eye on your oil pressure in the corners to see if it dips. If it does, back off the throttle in corners until you get a chance to install some oil pan baffles. Don't bother installing an oil cooler unless you know your oil temps are a problem, which they shouldn't be with a stock engine; an improperly sized or badly installed oil cooler will cause far more problems than it solves.

Install the biggest radiator you can fit in the car. Run a good quality, cooler than stock thermostat. (If you're truly paranoid, running a gutted thermostat is usually better than running without one, for various reasons.) Running colder than stock might slightly increase engine wear or cost you a few points of HP, but it will greatly reduce your chances of catastrophic failure. Remember, water temps under 210 will also keep your cooling system unpressurized, which makes you far less prone to coolant leaks.

A lot of engines with good reputations for street reliability fail when abused for hours at a time in endurance racing conditions. Most drivers aren't seeing sustained high RPMs every day on the way to work or the grocery store. Whatever the manufacturer's redline RPM is, subtract 1500 from that number and cover everything above that on your tachometer with red duct tape. (If your car doesn't have a tach, install a really big one right in front of the driver's face.) Explain to your drivers that they're not to exceed this number under penalty of death.

I'm not really a good guy to ask about transmissions. We've had good luck with a Mopar A904 automatic, as long as we manage to keep all the fluid on the inside. If you're going automatic, a big trans cooler is also a good idea here. If you're going manual, convincing your drivers to shift like a grandma has also been known to help. Whatever you go with, making sure it's full of new, decent quality fluid never hurts.

I almost forgot. Don't even think about trying to make more horsepower until you've got a couple mostly-trouble-free races under your belt. Learn your car, work all the bugs out, learn how to organize your team and not step on your dicks while driving. You'll pick up plenty of speed that way in your first few races. Making the car fast comes later. Trying to make more power before you do all the other things almost universally leads to explosions and heartache.

Good luck, and welcome to the insanity! Don't forget to have fun.

Command Pilot/Flight Director, Escape Velocity Racing
Index of Effluency, Heroic Fix, Class C Trophy, now hopelessly gunning for Class B.
Currently 1-2 vs. Team Fairlylame in the Class of 1964 Championships

Re: Most reliable engine trans combo for Lemons?

Oddly, Afla Romeo V6 and stock 5-speed.  Likely as the sample size is small and run by "experts" in that combo.

Normally, "tractor" motors.  If treated like tractor motors.  The main thing to add from above is if said motor had a 5000 RPM redline, set the ignition cut about 1000 rpm below that.  Keep all the fluids cool, find the "peak" for that motor (3800, HP peak is about 4400) and set the rev limiter there or below.

Re: Most reliable engine trans combo for Lemons?

This is a question for Eric Rood keeper of all databases.

Anecdotally I don't recall ever seeing a Top-loader or a T5 apart at a race.

The Mazda BP 1.8 has a pretty good showing.

Really aside from total head-gasket cases like the ford 3.8 V6, and the PRV V-6, It's more what you do to the engine, not what engine.

Mistake By The Lake Racing (MBTL) https://www.facebook.com/groups/MBTLracing/
88 Thunderbird "What's the word? Thunderbird!", "What's the Price? Thirty Twice!"
A&D: 2014 Sebrings at Sebring (NSF), 2014 NJMP2 Jurassic Park (SpeedyCop), 2012 Summit Point J30 (PiNuts)

Re: Most reliable engine trans combo for Lemons?

T5s have a terrible Lemons rep. Behind a 4 or small V6, maybe, but unless you have a cheaty as heck built one (which you still should gear so you never use 5th) expect to rebuild it every few races.

I am a big proponent of 60* GM V6s - the 3.1 in the Cav has something close to 400 hours of abuse on it, and I'm waiting for it to break. Having basically retired the car now we may never know...

Now I get to find out how much abuse the Volvo B18/20 can stand. Looks like a good candidate - rock-and-stick technology, huge knowledge base, hop up parts galore.

The J-Body retirement season - prepare for a Swedish challenger!

2007/2012/2013 Driver's Championship (what was I thinking!?) 78 races and counting...

6 (edited by jimbbski 2017-08-13 07:01 AM)

Re: Most reliable engine trans combo for Lemons?

The T5 trans can be reliable if treated right.  The problem is there are many variations built over the years and some are much better then others. The Mustangs version of the  T5 is generally thought of as the best version. The GM version that came in the V6 cars is just behind. The downside is that very few of the parts will interchange. You can take all of the internals of one trans and install them in most any case.  The GM T5 uses a 27 spline main shaft and the Ford T5's uses a 28 spline. Also the input shafts have different spline counts and the input shaft gear has to match the main cluster gear.

I've prepped a number of T5 for Lemons racing, street cars, and my own V8 Mustang road race car.

Taking a trans out of a junk car and then racing it is not going to work. At the very least you need to pull it apart and inspect it.  Check the bearings and then re-shim the main shaft and input shaft bearing clearences.   If either shaft (input or output)  has a lot of give when you wiggle it,  it needs attention. Getting an aftermarket shifter is also a good thing to protect the internals from a driver who bangs his shifts. And yes gear the car so that you don't need 5th gear. You can even run these trans without that gear in the case, not that is helps in any way.

The bearings seem to have the hardest life in these trans. Replacing some of them does not cost that much as they are common and cheap.
Only the main shaft bearing and the front cluster gear bearing are not. But they tend to hold up better then some of the others.

Re: Most reliable engine trans combo for Lemons?

IMHO, Mercedes M119 5.0 DOHC V8, with its accompanying 4-speed automatic (stronger than the 5 speed version, I hear) has been basically a black box- nothing is modified, standard cooling system, stock 8 quart oil capacity. We lost a head gasket at the hottest race ever (Buttonwillow 2013) but aside from that... Nothing ever happens to the drivetrain. I shift at 6000 much of the time, too. This is with an unopened 200,000 mile engine. Rebuilt the trans as a precaution, speaking of, the 4 speed Benz 722.3 is good at this, IMO, because it's non-overdrive and does not  have a lock up converter. So it is designed to withstand heat, since there is slippage ALL the time!

OMG Racing '94 Benz S500 #140: https://www.facebook.com/pages/OMG-Raci … 2774944199
Judges Choice and Regional Award winner! Chuckwalla '12, Buttonwillow '13, BFE GP '15, Miller '14 & '15, Sonoma '13,'14,'15. Inde '16,17.Finisher of the inaugural Lemons Rally, in the black Jag.... and IOE in the Super Snipe back in '12...look for the #820 Audi back on a track near you in 2017!!

Re: Most reliable engine trans combo for Lemons?

This is the big thing. If you stick a Turbocoupe T5 behind a "Totally not cheaty, just ignore that GT40 intake" 5.0 HO, your'e gonna have a bad time.


jimbbski wrote:

The T5 trans can be reliable if treated right.  The problem is there are many variations built over the years and some are much better then others. The Mustangs version of the  T5 is generally thought of as the best version. The GM version that came in the V6 cars is just behind. The downside is that very few of the parts will interchange. You can take all of the internals of one trans and install them in most any case.  The GM T5 uses a 27 spline main shaft and the Ford T5's uses a 28 spline. Also the input shafts have different spline counts and the input shaft gear has to match the main cluster gear.

I've prepped a number of T5 for Lemons racing, street cars, and my own V8 Mustang road race car.

Taking a trans out of a junk car and then racing it is not going to work. At the very least you need to pull it apart and inspect it.  Check the bearings and then re-shim the main shaft and input shaft bearing clearences.   If either shaft (input or output)  has a lot of give when you wiggle it,  it needs attention. Getting an aftermarket shifter is also a good thing to protect the internals from a driver who bangs his shifts. And yes gear the car so that you don't need 5th gear. You can even run these trans without that gear in the case, not that is helps in any way.

The bearings seem to have the hardest life in these trans. Replacing some of them does not cost that much as they are common and cheap.
Only the main shaft bearing and the front cluster gear bearing are not. But they tend to hold up better then some of the others.

Mistake By The Lake Racing (MBTL) https://www.facebook.com/groups/MBTLracing/
88 Thunderbird "What's the word? Thunderbird!", "What's the Price? Thirty Twice!"
A&D: 2014 Sebrings at Sebring (NSF), 2014 NJMP2 Jurassic Park (SpeedyCop), 2012 Summit Point J30 (PiNuts)

Re: Most reliable engine trans combo for Lemons?

Guildenstern wrote:

This is the big thing. If you stick a Turbocoupe T5 behind a "Totally not cheaty, just ignore that GT40 intake" 5.0 HO, your'e gonna have a bad time.


jimbbski wrote:

The T5 trans can be reliable if treated right.  The problem is there are many variations built over the years and some are much better then others. The Mustangs version of the  T5 is generally thought of as the best version. The GM version that came in the V6 cars is just behind. The downside is that very few of the parts will interchange. You can take all of the internals of one trans and install them in most any case.  The GM T5 uses a 27 spline main shaft and the Ford T5's uses a 28 spline. Also the input shafts have different spline counts and the input shaft gear has to match the main cluster gear.

I've prepped a number of T5 for Lemons racing, street cars, and my own V8 Mustang road race car.

Taking a trans out of a junk car and then racing it is not going to work. At the very least you need to pull it apart and inspect it.  Check the bearings and then re-shim the main shaft and input shaft bearing clearences.   If either shaft (input or output)  has a lot of give when you wiggle it,  it needs attention. Getting an aftermarket shifter is also a good thing to protect the internals from a driver who bangs his shifts. And yes gear the car so that you don't need 5th gear. You can even run these trans without that gear in the case, not that is helps in any way.

The bearings seem to have the hardest life in these trans. Replacing some of them does not cost that much as they are common and cheap.
Only the main shaft bearing and the front cluster gear bearing are not. But they tend to hold up better then some of the others.

We've gotten 2 races out of our 5.0 GT engine/ turbo coupe T5 combo.  I think there's about 40 lb/ft difference IIRC.  I remind the guys, slow, deliberate shifts.

Silent But Deadly Racing- Chief cook and bottle washer, Former Flyin Turd Race Team Captain 
Ricky Bobby's Laughing Clown Malt Liquor Thunderbird Turbo Coupe, Datsun 510, 87 Mustang (The Race Team Formerly Known as Prince), 72 Pinto Squire waggy, Parnelli Jones 67 Galaxie
Besmirching race tracks in the Eastern US since 2001

10 (edited by Mr.Yuck 2017-08-14 10:08 AM)

Re: Most reliable engine trans combo for Lemons?

No problem with our "hot-rodded" 305 an T-5. Al I can say is we did 3 races w/ an auto before the swap. No way I'd run an auto again.  The key is NOT to act like you are in a "cup" car and power shift or use the trans to slow down. T-5 came from our 88 Formula 305 parts car that had 130k+ on the clock.

"get up and get your grandma outta here"

Re: Most reliable engine trans combo for Lemons?

NA Volvo B230F and "World Class" T5. Add a full size full cell and you can race for 4 hours, shift at redline every time, and the engine will never break a sweat. Volvo's bottom end is overbuilt and the cylinder head is simple. The stock Volvo manual transmissions are also pretty tough at lower horsepower numbers, but the WC T5 is pretty indestructible with the right fluid and driver's who don't abuse it.

Bert One - 1981 Volvo 262c Bertone | Ernie - 1990 Nissan 240SX

Re: Most reliable engine trans combo for Lemons?

I can tell you a Rover V8 w/BW35 transmission is NOT a reliable combination. The Rover V8 w/GM T5 (non-world class) is slightly more reliable in only that the T5 has only had problems but not grenaded.

1992 Saturn SL2 - Elmo's Revenge -  Class B winner, Heroic Fix winner x2
1969 Rover P6B 3500S - Super G-Rover - I.O.E Winner, Class C Winner

Re: Most reliable engine trans combo for Lemons?

Sir Thomas Crapper wrote:

We've gotten 2 races out of our 5.0 GT engine/ turbo coupe T5 combo.  I think there's about 40 lb/ft difference IIRC.  I remind the guys, slow, deliberate shifts.

Yea, 2nd is the big weak spot. But watch for runout with the Turbo 4 T5. I guess the needle cages or something are weaker, but It usually shows up as NVH which, yea you don't notice.

Mistake By The Lake Racing (MBTL) https://www.facebook.com/groups/MBTLracing/
88 Thunderbird "What's the word? Thunderbird!", "What's the Price? Thirty Twice!"
A&D: 2014 Sebrings at Sebring (NSF), 2014 NJMP2 Jurassic Park (SpeedyCop), 2012 Summit Point J30 (PiNuts)

Re: Most reliable engine trans combo for Lemons?

OnkelUdo wrote:

Oddly, Afla Romeo V6 and stock 5-speed.  Likely as the sample size is small and run by "experts" in that combo.

Agree on the Alfa V6, not so much on the 5 speed transaxle that comes in those cars.  We've had great reliability from the V6 motors, 25,000 Lemons miles out of one of them, which had 150k+ miles on it when we dropped it in.  We have had various problems with the transaxles and some times the drive shaft (which has to be considered as part of the engine/tranny combo in this configuration).

That said, we've only ever terminally broken a transaxle once, all other failures have been repairable.  And the transaxle we broke had 5 years of Lemons races on it, so in the grand scheme of things, that's probably pretty good.

bs

15 (edited by VKZ24 2017-08-15 10:41 AM)

Re: Most reliable engine trans combo for Lemons?

SpaceFrank wrote:

The most reliable engines in Lemons are the ones that are kept over-cooled, well-oiled, and well below the redline at all times when racing.

For the best chance of not blowing up, I'd start out with something overbuilt and underpowered. Old American inline sixes, Chevy 4.3s and similar truck V6s, Malaise-era V8s with miserable HP ratings, etc. Others will have different opinions on this.

If it doesn't already have one, install an oil pressure gauge and make sure the engine has at least 10 psi per 1000 RPM when completely warmed up to operating temperature. Fix any significant oil leaks; if you can't eliminate leaks completely, drive the car long enough to get a handle on how fast it leaks so you can top it up in the cold pits when necessary. Overfill the oil a little if you can do so without issues (we run 1 quart over in our slant six). At your first race (or test session, if you're a team of over-achievers), keep an eye on your oil pressure in the corners to see if it dips. If it does, back off the throttle in corners until you get a chance to install some oil pan baffles. Don't bother installing an oil cooler unless you know your oil temps are a problem, which they shouldn't be with a stock engine; an improperly sized or badly installed oil cooler will cause far more problems than it solves.

Install the biggest radiator you can fit in the car. Run a good quality, cooler than stock thermostat. (If you're truly paranoid, running a gutted thermostat is usually better than running without one, for various reasons.) Running colder than stock might slightly increase engine wear or cost you a few points of HP, but it will greatly reduce your chances of catastrophic failure. Remember, water temps under 210 will also keep your cooling system unpressurized, which makes you far less prone to coolant leaks.

A lot of engines with good reputations for street reliability fail when abused for hours at a time in endurance racing conditions. Most drivers aren't seeing sustained high RPMs every day on the way to work or the grocery store. Whatever the manufacturer's redline RPM is, subtract 1500 from that number and cover everything above that on your tachometer with red duct tape. (If your car doesn't have a tach, install a really big one right in front of the driver's face.) Explain to your drivers that they're not to exceed this number under penalty of death.

I'm not really a good guy to ask about transmissions. We've had good luck with a Mopar A904 automatic, as long as we manage to keep all the fluid on the inside. If you're going automatic, a big trans cooler is also a good idea here. If you're going manual, convincing your drivers to shift like a grandma has also been known to help. Whatever you go with, making sure it's full of new, decent quality fluid never hurts.

I almost forgot. Don't even think about trying to make more horsepower until you've got a couple mostly-trouble-free races under your belt. Learn your car, work all the bugs out, learn how to organize your team and not step on your dicks while driving. You'll pick up plenty of speed that way in your first few races. Making the car fast comes later. Trying to make more power before you do all the other things almost universally leads to explosions and heartache.

Good luck, and welcome to the insanity! Don't forget to have fun.

I agree with most of the above with a two exceptions as listed below:

Even a stock engine can benefit from an oil cooler.  Our B20 is bone stock and we saw temps as high as 292F.  Installed an oil cooler and now we barely make it to 260F.

Forget a tach.  Who's got time to watch that thing?  Get a programmable shift light from Summit, replace the 194 bulb with an LED, and set it to 1K below factory red line.  Ours is so bright Ray Charles can see it...blindfolded!

To reinforce what SF said above, make sure it runs cool above all else.  If the engine overheats, you'll be parked. All he other efforts you have made to make it faster, or handle better won't be worth jack.

Captain
Team Super Westerfield Bros.
#411
'93 Acura Integra

16 (edited by SwarlesInCharge 2017-08-15 06:29 PM)

Re: Most reliable engine trans combo for Lemons?

So if I blew up a BMW 540 engine and the car is not worth anything, I should swap in a Chevy 4.3?

-Robert, Party Sheep Racing
The Jerry Lundegaard GMAC Financing Award, Joliet 2013 [Cutlass Ciera w/ Iron Duke]
Now an Eta E30: Joliet Fall 2015 - got beat by a minivan, Gingerman Spring 2016 - still made of slow,
Joliet Summer 2016 - way too humid for a head swap, Gingerman Spring 2017 - less slow but still breaking cooling system

Re: Most reliable engine trans combo for Lemons?

SwarlesInCharge wrote:

So if I blew up a BMW 540 engine and the car is not worth anything, I should swap in a Chevy 4.3?

It will piss off the BMW faithful, so yes

1992 Saturn SL2 - Elmo's Revenge -  Class B winner, Heroic Fix winner x2
1969 Rover P6B 3500S - Super G-Rover - I.O.E Winner, Class C Winner

Re: Most reliable engine trans combo for Lemons?

chaase wrote:
SwarlesInCharge wrote:

So if I blew up a BMW 540 engine and the car is not worth anything, I should swap in a Chevy 4.3?

It will piss off the BMW faithful, so yes

that GM 4.3 is in no way going to be close to the 4.4 V8. My 540i had 270,000 miles on it and was running very strong when I neglected to fix the timing chain tensioners.. You'd be better using a 350.

"get up and get your grandma outta here"

Re: Most reliable engine trans combo for Lemons?

Audi I5 (the anemic 10v n/a version) and the Audi 016 trans.

"THE WONDERMENT CONSORTIUM"
Nothing's for certain, it could always go wrong. Come in when it's raining, go on out when it's gone.

Re: Most reliable engine trans combo for Lemons?

We run a VW 2.0 ABA 8 valve engine.  We swap them out every few years when they get tired but we haven't broken one yet.

Re: Most reliable engine trans combo for Lemons?

Chrysler flathead for the win!

22 (edited by Brett85p 2017-08-17 09:27 AM)

Re: Most reliable engine trans combo for Lemons?

Chevy Ecotec 4 cylinder engines have been bulletproof for us. 120k mike plus junkyard engines with a new timing chain will rev all weekend. Leave them stock and use fresh cheap oil for each race. Unfortunately the trans we have been using from a 2WD Colorado has not been so reliable but working on some mods for that.

Apocalyptic Racing - Occupy Pit Lane racing
Racing the "Toylet" Toyota Celica powered by Chevrolet Ecotec.
16x Loser with the Celica. 5 times loser in other fine machines

Re: Most reliable engine trans combo for Lemons?

OnkelUdo wrote:

Chrysler flathead for the win!

this was in a 51 Dodge pick up I picked up a few back. It sat for about 30 years.... I rebuilt the carb, changed out plugs, wires, cap, rotor and this was the result..... https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cJ7pMoG6KWg

"get up and get your grandma outta here"

Re: Most reliable engine trans combo for Lemons?

bshorey wrote:
OnkelUdo wrote:

Oddly, Afla Romeo V6 and stock 5-speed.  Likely as the sample size is small and run by "experts" in that combo.

Agree on the Alfa V6, not so much on the 5 speed transaxle that comes in those cars.  We've had great reliability from the V6 motors, 25,000 Lemons miles out of one of them, which had 150k+ miles on it when we dropped it in.  We have had various problems with the transaxles and some times the drive shaft (which has to be considered as part of the engine/tranny combo in this configuration).

That said, we've only ever terminally broken a transaxle once, all other failures have been repairable.  And the transaxle we broke had 5 years of Lemons races on it, so in the grand scheme of things, that's probably pretty good.

bs

I also think that the Alfa v6 has one of the best engine wails at full tilt of any of the cars in the Lemons field.
That and maybe one of the motorcycle powered teacup sized cars like the Angry Hamsters car.

-g

Myopic Motorsport's #888 Bosozoku Texino Thunderbird (1995 tbird w/ 93 V8 swap + shopping cart rear wing)

Re: Most reliable engine trans combo for Lemons?

How about one of the most reliable engines of all time, the Mercedes 240D engine? I just happen to have one sitting around if anyone has a suitable project in mind............................

Everybody grab your brooms, it's shenanigans!