Adding transmisison temp gauge - DodgeTalk : Dodge Car Forums, Dodge Truck Forums and Ram Forums
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#1 Old 01-13-2013, 05:18 PM
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Adding transmisison temp gauge

I am considering adding a transmission temperature gauge.. if it can be done in an easy manner.

I'm going to take a wild guess that there is no capped off port on the transmission where one can be installed to get a proper reading.

So I am wondering.. would it be acceptable to install the temperature sensor in the output line from the transmission?

My van has a good sized aux transmission cooler on it that a past owner had installed. They disconnected the steel lines from the radiator and ran them to the aux cooler instead so it has rubber hoses within easy reach connected between the steel lines and the cooler. I can simply install a T fitting in the rubber section and have the sensor there. They have the cooler between the A/C condenser and radiator down at the bottom, roughly centered.

That would be fairly accurate to the transmission's temperature I think and would save having to try to drill a hole and tap threads into the transmission itself which would be a major task that I don't want to get involved with. Sensing the uncooled transmission fluid's temperature would be pretty accurate since I think that is what a sensor would detect anyway if it was installed in the transmission casing.

** EDIT: Now I realize, that is exactly how aftermarket kits are made to be used.. haha **

Seeing as how it has such a big cooler, I may not even need to worry about the temp despite towing a 5x10 trailer so long as I don't purposely push it too hard.

What would be the normal operating temp range for one of these ol' 3 speed(?) non-overdrive transmissions at full operating temp on the highway? Towing might add to it but knowing the regular temp range is what is needed. What is the temp when it's considered to be "getting too hot"?

1978 Dodge B300 Xplorer 228 Class B motorhome (5.9L 360, A727, 19ft long)
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#2 Old 01-13-2013, 06:20 PM
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I've thought about adding a tranny temp gauge.

I'd probably put the sender in a bung in the tranny pan taking the opportunity to change the filter and refresh the ATF fluid with 4+ quarts of the recommended fluid.

I have used my IR temp gun and shot the tranny pan after a long level highway drive and I think it was ~180f but cannot remember specifically as it was 5+ years ago.

I do not like bypassing the radiator cooler completely, as it helps warm the fluid faster to the viscosity the transmission was designed to operate at.

Let us know the solution you employ

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#3 Old 01-13-2013, 06:56 PM
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Well, it looks like they probably cut the steel lines off a tiny bit on the ends where it would go to the radiator. So I'd have to try to retrofit it back with threaded to barbbed fittings on the radiator and run hose from the steel lines to the radiator's connections. You know too? It could be the radiator's trans section could be damaged and leaking, or clogged. There might be some very good reason they did it the way they did it so I am tempted to leave that be.

The engine is carbureted so when the engine is cold, it likes to warm up a minute or two anyway to get past a bit of rough idle.. so the transmission gets a chance to warm up a bit first anyway. I can start it in neutral and let it sit there while the engine warms up if it's been sitting over night.

When I installed an aux trans cooler on a car I had, I left the original separate wimpy little trans cooler that was separate from the radiator.... and added the aux cooler to it in-line.

I hate messing with transmission and oil pans.. I really do. I will have a transmission shop do fluid and filter changes on it and I'm not sure they'd do that kind of mod for me.

The temp ranges I am finding online say 180-200 is normal for an A727 which is probably what my van has. That corresponds with the reading you remember having. Anything over 200 starts to burn the fluid I read. That sure is a small window.. 20 degrees! but now I have some idea what gauge I should get since the max temp shown on gauges varies depending on which you buy. I'd probably get one that goes up to 225 so i can see if it's ever actually going past 200 degrees.

I think a full sweep gauge would be best... the short sweeps are hard to figure out where 200 degrees even is! They cost about $130 for a full sweep gauge, vs about $40-60 for short sweep ones. I'm thinking it may be worth the cost to have piece of mind for knowing how hot the transmission is getting, especially if I do find myself on a mountain road (some have turn offs for stopping even) where I can pull over and park to let it cool down for a while before continuing on. $130 for a gauge is a lot cheaper than $1300 for a tranny rebuild.

Or am I over thinking/over worrying about this as I tend to do?

1978 Dodge B300 Xplorer 228 Class B motorhome (5.9L 360, A727, 19ft long)
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#4 Old 01-13-2013, 07:10 PM
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With the infamously robust 727, I'd not worry as much. With the fragile OD transmission like my a-500 and a large load to push up a mountain, then I'd be more inclined to get one.

The IR temp gun could satisfy you that it is not running too hot with the cooler you have. Mine sees a lot of use, from my fridge, to finding resistance in connections in my electrical cabinet.

Before I really did my own work, I had a tranny joint add an external cooler. They just bypassed the radiator cooler because it was apparently easier than hooking it inline, then told me it was unnecessary anyway. BS I think, but I Still have the same tranny and just used the one external cooler for at least 10k miles.

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#5 Old 01-13-2013, 07:48 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cubey View Post
Or am I over thinking/over worrying about this as I tend to do?
Probably not if you will be towing a 5x10 trailer over mountains. Years ago I bought an '87 Caprice from a friend that had been upgraded for towing with
a large trans cooler (installed in series) and was reassured that the TH350 would not overheat while towing my GF's Civic from VA to New Mexico. He had had no problems with it towing a trailer loaded with two Harleys from VA to Sturgis the previous 2 summers.

So we left VA and I decided to take the scenic US 50 route through West Virginia.

And fried that sucker....
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#6 Old 01-13-2013, 08:34 PM
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Where on the tranny would I find a stamp code to tell me what I have? I'm guessing it's an A727 based on the year model of 1978, and having a 360 engine. It has a Dana 60 rear end that has been totally rebuilt... bearings, gears and all. Plus it has a new trans output seal (at the driveshaft) plus new drive shaft u-joints.

I think I have a brand new radio shack temp laser reader around someplace I got out of a barn I cleaned out. Might do the trick.

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#7 Old 01-13-2013, 09:04 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by VanMoreSon View Post
Probably not if you will be towing a 5x10 trailer over mountains. Years ago I bought an '87 Caprice from a friend that had been upgraded for towing with
a large trans cooler (installed in series) and was reassured that the TH350 would not overheat while towing my GF's Civic from VA to New Mexico. He had had no problems with it towing a trailer loaded with two Harleys from VA to Sturgis the previous 2 summers.

So we left VA and I decided to take the scenic US 50 route through West Virginia.

And fried that sucker....
Hmm.. did I say 5x10? I meant 5x8 but anyhow. It's an open trailer but partially raised sides with metal mesh (and a mesh floor) and a tail gate ramp. Not quite as heavy as a fully enclosed trailer but still. I am actually debating a 5x8 enclosed... but not convinced yet. Plus I'd have to find one in my price range used. May be a lost cause aruund here close by. In larger cities it's possible.. like, 3+ hours away... each way.

I found this gauge for $100 with free shipping which seems to be the cheapest full sweep gauge I can find so far:
http://www.4wheelparts.com/Interior-...5&t_pn=AMG4351

This isn't much of any cheaper but might be more ideal.. a digital gauge: http://www.ebay.com/itm/AUTOMETER-CO...-/250305077928

*edit* Even better.. dual analog and digital. The one 3/5 star review is complaining about the brightness of the gauge, not about the gauge itself per say. Much cheaper:
http://www.amazon.com/MaxTow-MT-DV12...8133011&sr=1-7

..and, an analog only one for $60 shipped. May as well go for digital and analog for $8 more above though. http://www.amazon.com/GlowShift-Tint...sim_sbs_auto_3

..or analog only for $50 shipped. Digital is easiest and best in my opinion... you look at a number and you know in half a second. Don't have to eye an analog gauge for several seconds to see what it's reading.
http://www.amazon.com/GlowShift-GS-R...sim_sbs_auto_3

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Last edited by Cubey; 01-13-2013 at 09:36 PM.
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#8 Old 01-13-2013, 09:29 PM
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Take a photo of the tranny pan and compare its shape to a 727 pan you can find all over the net.

Neat Amazon link. Bookmarked.

I wonder how much different a transmission temp gauge kit is compared to a engine oil gauge kit.

Could it be that the word 'transmission' printed on the face plate costs 30$$ ??

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#9 Old 01-13-2013, 09:40 PM
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None I think.. other than the gauge says trans instead of oil is all. Same with water gauges. They have the water temp logo on them, or say "water". As long as something liquid flows by it constantly and heats it up, it doesn't care what it is. It could be hot chocolate for all it cares.

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#10 Old 01-13-2013, 09:59 PM
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In a B300 it should be a 727 but then it may have been changed out at some time. The MHs are supposed have heavier duty units but I'm not sure this would be true in a Class B. The numbers are located right above pan on the left side.

Check the trans guide in post #3 below (in PDF):


http://board.moparts.org/ubbthreads/...Number=5065725
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#11 Old 01-13-2013, 10:23 PM
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I finally found a short sweep gauge that has a 200 degree mark. Only $37 w/ free ship: http://www.glowshiftdirect.com/Tinte...ure-gauge.aspx

It's been about 2 years since the trans was rebuilt.. the fluid and filter in it should be good still so I hate to pay $100+ to a trans shop to change it when it doesn't need it yet. It's also been driven at most 3,000 miles since the trans was rebuilt. I know the interval is usually 2 or 3 years but it hasn't been driven much.. so it hasn't had a chance to get dirty or the filter clogged.

If a trans shop will install a sensor to the pan (I can wire it up later) then that will be the ideal way to go. The one I used for the 2003 car I bought in 2008 with 150k miles on it (yeah, someone drove the HELL out of it!) I asked them to install a trans cooler and they said it had one and didn't need it. They meant the wimpy little OEM cooler. I guess they were trying to be nice and save me some money but I ended up doing it myself since they didn't seem to want to make a little extra dough doing it.

They did a good job on the fluid and filter change though, no leaks at all. My mom has that car now and it's still doing fine.. though she barely ever drives it. I doubt she's put 3,000 miles on it since she bought it from me in late 2008. It's due for a trans fluid change probably but she doesn't have the money. She barely does for oil changes or other repairs on it. I have been doing the repairs on it for the last couple years.... brakes, starter, alternator, coolant change. She buys the parts and I come put them on.

But I am leaving this area permanently (aside from visits of course) in my motorhome in about 2 months.. don't know what she's going to do then. My brother is not mechanically inclined at all nor does he have the money to pay for a mechanic for her.. and neither to I.

If I can find one of these for much less money... the trans shop should be ok with swapping the pan and installing the sensor since it already has has a tapped hole already: http://www.nasautomotive.com/PML_Cas.../ntp103-as.htm
Plus it's a deeper pan for more fluid... which equals better cooling capability.

I will check the trans tomorrow to see what it has.. but I think I will just use a tee in the rubber hose to the cooler for the sensor for now. I can always have a trans shop do a pan installation of the sensor later in a year or two when it's got a few more miles on it. I won't cut the hose.. just get a short piece for between the steel line and the sensor fitting tee. That way it can be put back later on without an extra splice. Not sure how hard it is to find those parts since those kits don't come with one it seems. Pricier ones from other companies do.

1978 Dodge B300 Xplorer 228 Class B motorhome (5.9L 360, A727, 19ft long)
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Last edited by Cubey; 01-13-2013 at 10:58 PM.
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#12 Old 01-13-2013, 11:08 PM
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I like the aftermarket pan idea.

I have not really found one for my a-500 and am not willing to give up ground clearance, but love the idea of a deeper pan, especially one with a threaded temp sender port.

I also put a Magnefine filter on the tranny cooler line. It has a bypass if it gets clogged, a strong magnet, and filters down to a smaller micron size like 20.

Here is one I opened that was on my power steering return line.


The In pan tranny filters are rated to something like 80 micron and larger particles. Good for small rocks

'89 b250 318 TBI
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#13 Old 01-13-2013, 11:52 PM
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That pan is nice but I think I'd find a good used stock pan off eBay or from a yard and add the fitting and a drain myself for a few dollars and save $200.
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#14 Old 01-14-2013, 12:06 AM
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Yeah.. that's why I'm gonna do in-line for the temp sensor.

Here is a deep A500 pan and they said it "can" be machined for a temp sensor:
https://www.hgmelectronics.com/displ...ansmission+Pan

I will ask at oreilly if they sell the brass tee and adapter for a 1/8" sensor. Being brass... a regular plumbing one would work so that could be gotten at Home Depot really. If I can make the $37 kit work in-line, I will. It has an easy to read digital gauge and is priced better than any other kit I have found. But I have to make sure it can be done before I buy it.

An in-line filter would be handy. I think it would be ideal to have valves on either side of it so you can change the filter with very minimal fluid loss. you would just have to make sure you open the valves back when you are finished.

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#15 Old 01-14-2013, 12:23 AM
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Originally Posted by Cubey View Post
Yeah.. that's why I'm gonna do in-line for the temp sensor..
OK, yeah I was thinking as a DIY servicer and the drain is nice to have, so they could be done at the same time.
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#16 Old 01-14-2013, 12:30 AM
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Right... but I'm budget minded right now. I don't like doing trans pans myself so I don't care about the drain plug really. I would never touch it.

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Last edited by Cubey; 01-14-2013 at 12:51 AM.
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#17 Old 01-14-2013, 10:41 AM
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I would install the sensor in the cooling line that runs from the tranny to the cooler. I would also install it as close to the tranny as possible to keep it as accurate as possible.
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#18 Old 01-14-2013, 10:57 AM
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I have read that there is a 1/8" test port on the A727 transmission that is the "factory" spot used for a trans temp gauge:

Quote:
The correct "factory" location for a 727 temp sender was in the rear servo pressure test port. That plug is a 1/8" NPT thread form
Source of quote: http://www.ihpartsamerica.com/forums...-location.html

Someone in this thread however, says it may cause problems to the trans further down the road: http://www.dieseltruckresource.com/d...e-t292794.html

Anyone have any thoughts on this?

And yes, it has a 727 trans. The stamp says PK4058302 which *is* a 1978 code... so I guess the original was in fact rebuilt. Not sure there's enough space on the factory pan side edge for a sensor... It has to have a receiver welded on.

The idea of putting the sensor very close to the trans at the output would be ok I guess.. but I don't see how the temp would go down very much traveling from the trans up to up front (about 8 feet?) in a steel line to get to a sensor up front there before the fluid goes into the cooler. Sure, it would have some wind cooling the steel line some I guess... which might effect the reading by what, 1-2 degrees at most? I guess it wouldn't be that much harder to install it near the trans... either way I have to disconnect the line and lose a little bit of fluid.

Which side of the trans has the output line?

I guess I'm just a little more nervous messing with a steel line at the transmission than I am about a hose to steel line connection up front.

It sucks that all the side'ish drain pans are $100 and up (and are all deep pans). The $30-50 shallow ones have bottom drain. If it has a side drain, it can be used for the sensor and double as a drain plug as well.

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Last edited by Cubey; 01-14-2013 at 11:52 AM.
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#19 Old 01-14-2013, 04:52 PM
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Well it seems I may be able to add a deeper pan, if it's about 3 to 3.5" deep (from the transmission. I shimmied under the van again and realized the exhaust hangs way down below the transmission pan. Even a 3" pan would still have a slight ground clearance advantage to the exhaust pipes.

Problem is, I can't seem to find a 3.5" or less deep pan with a side drain or a 1/8" port!

This pan looks really nice but geeze.. look how deep it is... 4.5 inches! It adds 5qts capacity and has air channels on the bottom for airflow under the pan for extra cooling, plus it has a bottom drain and a 1/8" port for a temp sender.
http://www.lpiracing.com/Derale-Extr...838p183082.htm

My stock pan has about 11.25" ground clearance from the bottom of it right now. The transmission's rim has about 13" or a little over (I was using a 12" ruler).

The exhaust has about 8.25" clearance. So... I guess that 4.5" pan would put the trans pan pretty much equal with the exhaust's ground clearance I wonder if that would actually cause MORE heat generation for the fluid... or counteract the added capacity at the very least. The heat from the exhaust would be blown right up against the deep pan instead of past it like it does now with a shallow pan.

The pan gasket it has may be leaking a little.. no noticeable puddle but a single droplet hangs on the bottom of the pan. So I am debating having the pan, fluid, and filter changed for good measure... assuming I can find a pan like I want. But as minor of a leak as it has... I'm not worried about major fluid loss as it stands right now.

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#20 Old 01-17-2013, 02:03 AM
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A few notes:
1. The front port on the transmission is the outlet. This is where the fluid is at peak temperature. I have seen class A motorhomes with temp sensors near this point.
2. The temperature in the pan will be lower than the peak temp near the front port.
3. The rear servo isn't the best location for the same reason.
4. Trans temp gauges and some oil temp gauges read higher than water temp gauges.
5. The 300* gauge referenced should work fine. 280* will cause damage to the rubber seals, and cause the fluid to smoke. 200* is a good target to stay below.

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