Opinions on Alto Red Eagle Clutches/Kolene Steels

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1,392
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Charlotte, NC
I am in the process of gathering parts to rebuild the E4OD on my truck. I'll be doing the rebuild myself. My engine is a relatively mild performance build, so I am pretty much sure that stock clutches will be sufficient along with the numerous upgrades I'm having to make since it's an early model E4OD. With this being said, I'm pretty much set on using a Transtar rebuild kit, but my question before I buy is has anyone ever used Alto Red Eagle Clutches/Kolene Steels? What is your opinion on them? As far as what I'm looking for out of my transmission is a unit that engages smoothly and is durable above all else. I'm not looking to to burn rubber every time I take get the wheel and hear the little chirp between gears on WOT and whatnot lol. Anyway, what is your opinion on Alto Red Eagle/Kolene Steels?
 
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Sunny Florida
IMO these are primarily for hi performance applications. I would suspect these may alter the feel and have a harsher engagement. Also probably last a bit longer, too...
 
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Ga
Personally..I like Raybestos frictions and steels if they sell them for your transmission. Very good product for the street. They probably have a performance set of frictions like Torqkit or GPZ too. Very hard to wrong with Raybestos.
 

Mud

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Texas
I've done a number of th400's and 4R70W's. I don't really care for the red alto clutches as they are typically thinner and tend to generate greater heat. In many cases because they are thinner one or two more are added to the clutch stack to aid in engagement (provided end clearances are maintained). The kolenes are ok but stock plates are fine as well. My preference on clutches is Raybestos, usually stock replacements. The pic below is of Raybestos clutches used in a crown vic tranny. Note the waffle design and generally thicker material, both of which help engagement and add life. Be sure that you check the steel plate thicknesses as well - they can be mixed in order to provide the proper assembled pack clearances. As far as shift feel, new accumulators and new seals at intermediate/forward/etc clutch pistons will go a long way to provide a nice firm shift. They have rubber edges that get brittle with age/wear and some loss of fluid in the bores. Shift overlap can be reduced by some drilling of separator plate feeds to the various pistons and accumulators, there's info on the internet. This allows greater volume (faster fill and exhaust) out of the pistons/accumulators which reduces the overlap (time as one clutch pack disengages and the next one engages). This creates the firm shifts that get harder as the rpm's go up (faster fluid flow) and are often described as result of higher pressure. Not true, pressure is controlled by a solenoid within the system, it's the faster volume of fluid that is doing the job. Generally less overlap = less heat generated.
 

qdeezie

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Charlotte, NC
So, there are two Raybestos clutch modules of interest. The standard tan high energy types and the red Stage 1 clutches. The red Stage 1 clutches have the aforementioned waffle design and the tan high energy ones don't. On paper, the Stage 1 clutches sound exactly like what I've been looking for. Although I could go for either to be honest.
 

qdeezie

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Lol well the consensus is no Alto. I honestly appreciate the feedback. My engine build is likely within the 350ft/lbs range. Definitely no more than about 370. It looks like I will be using stock replacement Raybestos frictions along with a Borg Warner OEM band and stock steels. As much as I'd like to go with the Stage 1 Raybestos, I will table that idea based on the feedback indicating that I don't need it. This actually saves me money to be honest, so I am very happy about that. I'm open to any other feedback if anyone has anything to contribute.
 
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Fort Worth, Texas
Originally Posted By: qdeezie
Lol well the consensus is no Alto. I honestly appreciate the feedback. My engine build is likely within the 350ft/lbs range. Definitely no more than about 370. It looks like I will be using stock replacement Raybestos frictions along with a Borg Warner OEM band and stock steels. As much as I'd like to go with the Stage 1 Raybestos, I will table that idea based on the feedback indicating that I don't need it. This actually saves me money to be honest, so I am very happy about that. I'm open to any other feedback if anyone has anything to contribute.
Did you see the Sonnax link I posted?, 90% of all E4OD failures are hydraulic related....Poor Line Pressure rise resulting in Friction failure. The Sonnax Sure Cure kit is worth every penny, Get the Accumulator Bore sizing tool & Rear Case Bushing install tool. I use the Sizing tool on all the Accumulator bores before fitting the Accumulator Valves. The Bushing tool is sweet! Get a ATSG manual if you don't have one.
 

qdeezie

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Originally Posted By: clinebarger
Did you see the Sonnax link I posted?, 90% of all E4OD failures are hydraulic related....Poor Line Pressure rise resulting in Friction failure. The Sonnax Sure Cure kit is worth every penny, Get the Accumulator Bore sizing tool & Rear Case Bushing install tool. I use the Sizing tool on all the Accumulator bores before fitting the Accumulator Valves. The Bushing tool is sweet! Get a ATSG manual if you don't have one.
Yep, I'm on the Sonnax bandwagon. I saw that tool and was wondering if it was worth the money. You definitely answered the question about that. I will make it a point to focus on the hydraulics so I can be one and done with it. Are there any brands of gaskets/seals that have a more stellar reputation than others? Also, I have a question regarding clutches after looking through the Raybestos parts catalog. So, with the direct drum clutches, I see that there was an original flat design and an updated "waffle" design. However, when looking at buying an entire friction module, it appears that the original flat design comes with the early model flat direct drum friction. With this being said, how common is it to piece out all of the friction packs instead of buying an entire prepackaged friction module? Basically, to get exactly what I want, it looks Like I'm going to have to buy the forward, intermediate, direct, low/reverse, coast and overdrive frictions separately because the entire friction module doesn't have the directs I want. Does this make sense? Is this normal to buy each clutch pack separately to build your own friction module? It's probably more expensive, but I think that's what I need to do.
 

Mud

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X2 on Sonnax stuff, I've used their valve body kits on all 4R70W's that I've done. You asked about seal/gasket kits - the best that I've found have been OEM replacement kits, at least for these Ford transmissions I've rebuilt. Funny thing is that they come with the waffle Raybestos clutches. I would not get too complicated about piecing things together, you are doing a stock rebuild that should get you many more miles using stock parts. I would be more concerned about ensuring clearance specs are accurate. I don't know condition of the unit now, but suggest a new torque converter - if there's garbage in it you can't get it out. Upon re-start that stuff gets circulated into the rebuild. Same for any coolers, pass-thru coolers can be flushed but thermostatic coolers can't really be cleaned as DIY. Also suggest that if you have not done a rebuild before, get the book as noted, along with any dvd if available. Then spend some time to go through everything several times before you take anything apart. I always find new things to absorb doing this and makes me feel more prepared/confident.
 

qdeezie

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Charlotte, NC
Yea, that's honestly what I'm doing now, just reading stuff over and over and things begin to make sense the more I read it. It is definitely lots of time and research. I'll be buying a DVD soon. And with it being an early model E4OD, lots of parts need to be updated. The update handbook has been great as far as providing direction. I'm looking at an FM64X torque converter. It has a billet cover and a Luk clutch along with a few other upgrades. I am of the opinion that factory E4OD TCs are not for any real duty outside of regular light duty everyday driving as one would do with a car.
 

qdeezie

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Charlotte, NC
Question - I emailed Raybestos about what ATF and got an answer from that that basically says any Ford recommended spec or any quality synthetic ATF will be ok with their frictions. My question here is even though I'm a synthetic guy, do you think a quality non-synthetic Mercon spec ATF would be sufficient or should I do Mercon V or greater? For what it's worth, the truck was spec'd Mercon, but obviously with a new trans that brings up my question as far as what fluid the frictions would work with best.
 
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Fort Worth, Texas
E4OD/4R100's do great with Mercon V, Mercon V fluids are back spec'd for Mercon. Mercon is a obsolete fluid spec like Dexron III....No manufacturer License/Approvals on these 2 fluid specs. For full synthetic, Mobil 1 Multi-Vehicle ATF is Mercon V approved. As is Castrol Transmax Full Synthetic Multi-vehicle. These are just my favorite 2 fluids for E4OD's. For a conventional, Can't beat MotorCraft Mercon V, Castrol Transmax Mercon V is good also.
 

qdeezie

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1,392
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Charlotte, NC
Got a question about the direct drum frictions that I've been researching. So, I see that the 89-95 E4OD has smooth direct frictions and the 96-up E4OD has the waffle style frictions. I've read that using the waffle style direct frictions in the 89-95 may cause shift concerns (too soft/too hard of a shift) because the ECM is not calibrated for these frictions. To lay it all out there, I purchased an aftermarket 5 friction direct drum with 2 feed holes for the E4OD. I made it a point not to use the 95-up 5 friction direct drum because that has only one feed hole and the 89-94 came with two. Also, my truck came with 3 direct frictions from the factory. And in looking for 5 waffle style frictions, I stumbled across some Borg Warner heavy duty graphite direct drum frictions (waffle style) and I went ahead and bought them because the price was right. I'm really interested in using these, but willing to return them if it's not going to work. Is the style of friction I'm using something I should be concerned with? In my mind, I feel that this is not a real concern. Especially since I'm already changing the drum anyway to use more frictions. However, for those of you that have built transmissions and went from smooth to waffle, does this have any validity in your opinion? Also, I didn't specifically set out to buy HD frictions, I just came across a bargain. The goal was to use High Energy, but as I mentioned, the price was right.
 
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qdeezie

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Charlotte, NC
You know, since this is a bit of a custom build and I will be adding 1-2 extra frictions to a few drums, I ended up going with Borg Warner frictions since I was having a difficult time trying to procure individual Raybestos frictions. My first observation is that visually speaking, these modern day Borg Warner frictions are of very high quality. I have a few unused older Borg Warner frictions sitting around from another project from way back in the day and these new frictions blow them out the water as far as quality goes (from a visual perspective). I am very impressed.
 
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Fort Worth, Texas
Are you going to rebuild a 4L80E? It's good to have some kind of reference your first time around. I've done just fine with ATSG manuals.....But some like video better, Though it may be good to have a ATSG manual for any technical stuff left out in the video. Summit Racing usually has the best price on the manual!! If you need help with performance/hydraulic/durability modifications or just questions that may pop-up during the build.....Start a thread & I'll be glad to help.
 
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