Converter Selection
There's more to choosing the right torque converter than stall speed and multiplication ratio. The entire vehicle package needs to be taken into account. "In order to recommend the correct converter for your application, we need to know vehicle weight, engine displacement, cam specs, carburetor size, cylinder head and intake manifold specs, rearend gearing, tire size, and whether or not you're running a power adder," says Stan. "Dyno figures are always a plus, but the key is providing us with thorough information so we can make the proper recommendation."

Converter Coatings
"Black has always been the best color to dissipate heat out of an engine or transmission, but it was hard to identify TCI converters from those of our competitors, since they also painted their units black," Stan says. "We tested many different colors to try to find something that dissipated heat as well as black, which would distinguish our product line from the rest. Eventually, we ran upon a coating that is gunmetal gray, with metal particles mixed in it. It proved to be better than any of the blacks we tested by running 10 degrees cooler and dissipating heat more quickly. Now called HDT coating, it is applied in a different environment from a typical paint booth, but it was well worth the investment."

"TCI Automotive's method of testing transmissions is a three-step process. First we check the valvebodies by subjecting them to a 200-plus-psi hydraulic test to make sure they operate as designed. Next we use a transmission hydraulic tester. It bolts onto the transmission in place of the valvebody, and the transmission is then subjected to fluid-line pressure to ensure it seals properly in all gears. Finally, the valvebody is bolted onto the transmission and the entire transmission assembly is tested on our new ATS Electronic Dynamometer. The dyno utilizes a 40hp electric motor and a software program written specifically for each type of transmission we manufacture. The dyno measures the horsepower and torque going into and coming out of the transmission in each gear to make sure they're within an acceptable range."

Trans Components
Automatic transmissions are incredibly complex, but the efforts taken to ensure longer life in big-horsepower applications encompass four key components: the pump, the planetary gearset, the valvebody, and the drums. The pump supplies all the oil into the converter and throughout the transmission. This fluid pressure is critical, as it keeps clutches and bands applied in each gear under load. The planetary gearset multiplies engine torque and, when designed properly, reduces stress on other internal parts in the transmission. The valvebody is responsible for supplying transmission-line pressure and selects the gear the trans operates in. The drums house the clutch and steel combinations, which carry the load in certain gears. "Factory clutch combinations were meant for factory vehicles," explains Stan. "TCI uses modified combinations and friction materials in these clutch packs to allow more horsepower to run through the transmission. We have transmissions that survive in 3,000hp applications, which is possibly due to the rugged composition of our clutch and steel combinations."

"SFI is a foundation that conducts independent testing of parts that can cause damage to a race car, race car driver, or surrounding spectators if they fail," Stan says. "TCI has to submit products to the SFI Foundation and meet their testing standards before we can sell them to consumers. Transmission shields, flexplate shields, flexplates, and balancers are some of the products that must be submitted for SFI approval. SFI testing on shields involves spinning a drum or flexplate until it explodes, then making sure the shield adequately contains the debris. Flexplates must spin at a certain rpm for a certain period of time without failing before they can pass the SFI test. In addition to parts costs, TCI must pay the SFI Foundation for each test it conducts. Once TCI parts pass the test, we then have a standard to build our products by."