Trans Breakthrough:
Six-Speed Automatic

TCI's 6X Six-Speed automatic-based on GM's 4L80E, which is itself based on the indestructible Hydramatic Turbo 400 box-is a dream come true for hot rodders wanting a trans with the ultimate in strength, compactness, and efficiency. Through some extremely innovative (and patented) modifications to GM's four-speed 4L80E unit, TCI has made a bulletproof six-speed automatic that can withstand up to 850 hp with no sweat. Starting out with a computer-controlled 4L80E, TCI changes the planetary gearset to alter the gear ratio spread, then applies the overdrive clutches in Second and Fourth gears to fill in the extra gear ratios. Major modifications to the valvebody fluid circuits allow the extra gears to operate, and additional clutches and steels are added to the package to beef up the torque throughput. TCI combines the reworked trans with a special controller and harness, which is dyno'd and tuned all together as a system prior to shipping. TCI also offers lockup converters (and even a multi-disc with a billet case for high-hp cars) to complement the 6X.

The ratios of the 6X Six-Speed trans are: 2.97, 2.23, 1.57, 1.18, 1.00, and 0.75. The overall shape is identical to a 4L80E, and only slightly longer that a Turbo 400. Essentially, you can bolt the TCI 6X into most any car that can accommodate a Turbo 400-cars with a small trans tunnel (Camaro, Nova, etc.) may need some fabrication. Other cool options are a billet aluminum paddle shift, or an Outlaw shifter with dual up and downshift buttons on the handle (nice for a more drag-oriented ride). TCI tells us the 6X costs $6,065, and includes the harness and controller as a complete system.



Cool Tools:
Moroso LeakDown Tester

Much like a doctor uses a stethoscope to assess the health of his or her patient, the engine builder, serious enthusiast, or racer uses a leakdown tester to deduce the health of a high-performance engine. Poor ring seal, valve seat damage, and valveguide wear can all cause a loss of power, but figuring out the exact source can sometimes leave you scratching your head. This tool can help. Via a simple pressurized air connection to the combustion chamber-connected at the spark plug port-a leakdown tester can detect the sealing integrity of any cylinder, and when used properly, can even tell you exactly where that leakage is coming from. Moroso's new leakdown tester-PN 89606-is ideal for the hot rodder or racer, with its rugged construction and compact design. Only top-quality components are used in its design, and it's calibrated for high accuracy and repeatability. Housed in a stand-up black powdercoated steel case to make taking readings easier, the tester comes with 14mm (long), 14mm, and 18mm (short) adapters, a tapered plug adapter, and whip lines.


MSD Wiring Guide

If you've ever called the MSD technical hotline (915-855-7123) for help with an installation or a tech problem, it's a good bet your tech guy was reading from this bible: MSD Ignition Wiring Diagrams & Tech Notes. This healthy 166-page tome is stuffed with helpful stuff, from the obvious (like the firing order of many engines), to the technically advanced (like wiring a sophisticated drag racing ignition with all the bells and whistles). It's been compiled from decades of tech phone calls and online inquiries, and pretty much anything that's been asked by a customer is answered right here in step-by-step detail, and accompanied by diagrams and charts. MSD knows that the DIY guy has to be a jack of all trades, and that vehicle wiring (and ignitions in particular) can present a major technical hurdle for enthusiasts. As such, this book (available as MSD PN 9615 for $3 from MSD) should be considered a must-have for every garage, large and small.

MSD Ignitions


Steering Tech:
Chevelle Rack Cradle

The new Flaming River power rack-and-pinion cradle kit for Chevelles has over 6 inches of travel, and provides the factory's full lock-to-lock turning radius that is often lacking from other rack-and-pinion conversions. Flaming River's cradle kit is a completely new unit built in the USA, and allows for an adjustable pinion angle. Designed for '68-72 Chevelles and other GM A-bodies (Buick Skylark, Pontiac LeMans/Tempest/GTO, and Olds Cutlass), the kit uses a travel bar design to properly position the steering pivot points to their original location and deliver the original turning radius. The travel bar system features a stabilizer guide clamp that locates the inner tie-rod ends at the original pivot points. Moreover, the '68-72 Chevelle system uses the factory tie rods to connect the travel bar to the spindles. It installs in the original steering box and idler arm mounting holes, and does not require any cutting, drilling, or welding, and installs using basic handtools.

Flaming River also offers small-block Chevy Ultra Angle headers, which have been specifically designed to leave room for the steering shaft and universal joints when installing a rack-and-pinion system. The Ultra Angle headers are available uncoated (FR50001) and coated (FR50001C). The Chevelle cradle kit includes the rack/cradle assembly, a floor shift tilt key column, wiring adapter, grade-8 bolts, universal joints, support bearing, power steering pump, and polished aluminum reservoir. Flaming River's power rack-and-pinion cradle kit costs $2,750 with tilt column, and $3,170 with tilt key column.

Flaming River