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So I have been wondering for a while now and haven't seen much on the subject that I've found helpful or been able to make any sort of sense of what was being said. I have a 2006 Ram 1500 with the 5.7 and it's a 4x4. I want to swap the trans and put something better in it or at the very least find a place that can build a strong 545 RFE with good parts that can take a beating from added HP and Torque figures. I've been looking around and have found the NAG1 or the 8HP70/90 transmissions. Does anyone have any kind of insight about if it would work or not? Mostly wondering if it will bolt into place right. If it will bolt up well everything else will be able to be worked out with the right amount of cash and time.
 

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Red Trucker
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Supposedly ATS has finally pulled their heads of their collective asses with their claimed strong RFE.....thus far I only know of one person who would actually recommend it. Most places that claim a strong RFE are hit or miss on whether it lasts. The NAG1 is the 5sp (4sp + 1 OD gear, different from the RFE with 3sp + 2 OD gears) in the LX/LD/LC cars. Herky for sure, but as it wasn't ever used or designed to go in a truck, it's alot of work for minimal gain and less fuel economy. The ZF trannies have already been swapped into Rams, even early 3rd gens. Well, an 8HP70. Haven't heard of a 90 being done yet. Guy in Canadia has a 2004 with a 6.1 based 392 and an 8HP70. Some things to consider: the retro harness is $1000 for this swap (non-negotiable); it requires either a current dial or t-handle shifter, neither of which readily fits into a 3rd gen, early or late, though Russell as a 2010 Ram as a mule and he's trying to find a way to keep the stock column shifter in play (and not have to mess with the PCM); the ZF (like the NAG1) doesn't have provision for a slip yoke, requiring either a 2 piece driveshaft or a single splined slip shaft; might get away with a modified stock trans mount since structurally the trucks haven't really changed all that much. There are extra wiring bits required for the early PCI bus 3rd gens. You have a CAN bus so it's much easier to integrate the harness.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Supposedly ATS has finally pulled their heads of their collective asses with their claimed strong RFE.....thus far I only know of one person who would actually recommend it. Most places that claim a strong RFE are hit or miss on whether it lasts. The NAG1 is the 5sp (4sp + 1 OD gear, different from the RFE with 3sp + 2 OD gears) in the LX/LD/LC cars. Herky for sure, but as it wasn't ever used or designed to go in a truck, it's alot of work for minimal gain and less fuel economy. The ZF trannies have already been swapped into Rams, even early 3rd gens. Well, an 8HP70. Haven't heard of a 90 being done yet. Guy in Canadia has a 2004 with a 6.1 based 392 and an 8HP70. Some things to consider: the retro harness is $1000 for this swap (non-negotiable); it requires either a current dial or t-handle shifter, neither of which readily fits into a 3rd gen, early or late, though Russell as a 2010 Ram as a mule and he's trying to find a way to keep the stock column shifter in play (and not have to mess with the PCM); the ZF (like the NAG1) doesn't have provision for a slip yoke, requiring either a 2 piece driveshaft or a single splined slip shaft; might get away with a modified stock trans mount since structurally the trucks haven't really changed all that much. There are extra wiring bits required for the early PCI bus 3rd gens. You have a CAN bus so it's much easier to integrate the harness.
Ok thanks for the reply first off! So the ZF and the 8HP70 have been done. Do they have the same bolt patterns of the RFE?

If it does then all I'll need is to find one and then find the shifter and PCM to make the rest of it all work smoothly. I believe I stumbled across companies that build stronger ZF and 8HP70 transmissions while I was trying to find my answers before so that might be something I look into to see if they can help with that too as far as pointers.
 

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Red Trucker
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Ok thanks for the reply first off! So the ZF and the 8HP70 have been done. Do they have the same bolt patterns of the RFE?
8HP70 IS the ZF. And of course, a hemi bolt pattern is a hemi bolt pattern; same engines.

If it does then all I'll need is to find one and then find the shifter and PCM to make the rest of it all work smoothly. I believe I stumbled across companies that build stronger ZF and 8HP70 transmissions while I was trying to find my answers before so that might be something I look into to see if they can help with that too as far as pointers.
What PCM? That's not how this works. You have to use your stock PCM (how else do you intend to run your engine?). With the ZF transmissions, the TCM is actually part of the valve body, it's internal. The harness comes with a separate OBD port for accessing the trans tuning.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
What PCM? That's not how this works. You have to use your stock PCM (how else do you intend to run your engine?). With the ZF transmissions, the TCM is actually part of the valve body, it's internal. The harness comes with a separate OBD port for accessing the trans tuning.
Ok right, that makes sense. With the TCM being attached and that it needs a separate harness is what's got me now. With my truck being an 06 and all of the ZFs being introduced to mopar in 2013 the computers won't talk to each other or am I mistaken?

What should I be looking for in order to get the PCM to play nice with the TCM.

To jump back to the original response, the shifters... if neither readily fits into the 3rd gen Rams is there an alternate route or any other way to work around the fit?
 

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Red Trucker
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Ok right, that makes sense. With the TCM being attached and that it needs a separate harness is what's got me now. With my truck being an 06 and all of the ZFs being introduced to mopar in 2013 the computers won't talk to each other or am I mistaken?

What should I be looking for in order to get the PCM to play nice with the TCM.

To jump back to the original response, the shifters... if neither readily fits into the 3rd gen Rams is there an alternate route or any other way to work around the fit?
Well for starters they are different generations of CAN bus, although Russel is working on that. The retrofit harness comes with instructions on where to hook it up. The only hitch I could possibly see is how to tell your PCM the trans is still there, though that might be part of the instructions. Not sure if the method used on PCI bus (pre Can bus) would work for CAN bus. At the moment there is no workaround (he's working on that too), you either integrate a dial or use a console style shifter. I converted mine to console already, so when I do this it'll be relatively simple to swap over.
 

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I have heard that the PCM is given a signal that the tranny is in neutral. Perhaps that's with a jumper wire on the 545RFE cannon plug? I know there's a wire to jumper in it to get the starter circuit a ground (tested that a few years ago). Truck shifted like garbage, but it did run...
 

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Red Trucker
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I have heard that the PCM is given a signal that the tranny is in neutral. Perhaps that's with a jumper wire on the 545RFE cannon plug? I know there's a wire to jumper in it to get the starter circuit a ground (tested that a few years ago). Truck shifted like garbage, but it did run...
I asked....yes lol.

629468
 

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Discussion Starter #9
So I've been curious, who is this Russel that you have mentioned before? Is it a person or a company currently working on a setup to get the 8HP75 to work with the 3rd gen rams?
 

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Red Trucker
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So I've been curious, who is this Russel that you have mentioned before? Is it a person or a company currently working on a setup to get the 8HP75 to work with the 3rd gen rams?
Lead tech (owner maybe?) at/of Sound German Automotive, at any rate the guy I talked to on the phone for about an hour while he explained how his $1000 harness worked and answered any questions I had. The guy who has made it possible for 8HP70's to be used all the way back into 3rd gen Rams (at least behind hemis); by proxy due to similarities, if you needed to you could swap in an 8HP90 once the 70 swap was done. Hellraiser has already swapped 90's into boosted 4th gens.
Downside to this swap:
  • Not even remotely factory/bolt in for a 3rd gen.
  • Not cheap, harness is $1k, a trans can be anywhere from $800-$2200, e-shifter is $100-200 (LD/LC shifter or Ram rotary), requires a custom 2 piece or splined slip driveshaft because the ZF does not have a slip yoke provision and a later hemi flywheel.
  • Because of the specific shifters that have to be used, hacking up a 3rd gen dash is required because they don't really fit anywhere

Upsides:
  • EIGHT [email protected] GEARS (six fwd plus two overdrive ratios); imagine how much even a stock pre-eagle 5.7 will pull with one of those behind it
  • Despite the cost, the harness hookup is VERY straightforward:

629475


Those are the absolute minimum inputs, plus power, etc to make it work. The harness has a built in OBD port specifically for tuning the trans since the TCM is integrated into the valve body; it's what makes this retrofit/swap so easy to do to a variety of vehicles.
  • 8sp ZF trannies are EVERYWHERE, they've been in US Mopar production since 2012-13 ish, with the better models a little later on.
  • Yeah the shifter requirement is a bitch, but if you've already done something silly like convert your truck to floor shift with console (like I did), it isn't that big a deal to take it one step further lol. Thoguh if you wait long enough, Russell might figure out the factory column shift thing and dash hacking won't be required. Check out Sound German's FB page, that's where the updates go out:


I was already starting to gather research & parts for this swap for my original 5.7 since I'm on my THIRD goddamn RFE 🤬 . I came into a factory reman 6.1 that's gonna go in and I'll definitely need something better.
 
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