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According to John, a good converter should last three to five years if it is maintained properly and has not been abused, although rebuilding cycles are sometimes shorter, depending upon the number of runs. J.W. has sufficient confidence in its product to guarantee every new competition converter for one full year. (Factory rebuilds of any brand of converter are covered by a 90-day warranty.)

According to J.W.'s Winters, any converter or transmission can benefit from a quality synthetic fluid, which will handle heat better and last longer than conventional oils. J.W. Performance Transmissions now offers its own premium synthetic fluid in gallon containers.

"The most critical point in taking care of the converter is changing the transmission fluid regularly," he advises. "And stay away from the off brands. If the engine is making a great deal of horsepower, that fluid should be a synthetic brand, as well."

The advent of the larger engines has certainly changed the way converters are built. For one, they need to lock up harder. To deal with that, companies like J.W. are tightening the converter up clearance-wise, making it more efficient, as well as taking advantage of stronger and faster internals.

Here's the inside of the pump half of the converter. The stator-sprag assembly will rest in the center, rotating on the stator-support shaft of the front pump, mounted to the transmission. Fluid is transferred between the transmission and converter through the "snout," critical to proper cooling.

The most important thing, however, is getting the heat out of the converter, says Winters: "Dissipating heat can be done in many ways. The idea is to get as much fluid moving through the converter as possible. We find that to do that, we end up taking some stall out of the converter and building additional torque multiplication into it. However, the offset to this change is that the converter may become too violent for the car, causing tire spin. It's a balancing act."

In addition to the Super 8, J.W.'s nine-inch line includes the SPL (Special Positive Lock) series, which is made for bigger engines in bracket cars. Built for longevity as well as consistency, this converter's turbine is created to spin up to the flashpoint a little sooner than normal. For blower cars and unblown engines above 600 inches in heavier cars, J.W. offers a Mega-Power 10-incher that uses a steel stator. The larger diameter will allow more oil to flow through the converter to live in the ultra-torque environment. In nitrous applications, a steel-stator-equipped, nine-inch SPL might be used if the engine is not too big, but the 10-inch model is probably a better choice for displacements above 650 inches. Again, the correct converter is contingent upon the individual combination: displacement, rearend ratio, camshaft, car weight, etc. The proper converter needs to be selected based around these factors if it is going to work as intended.

The market for torque converters remains as fluid as the units themselves. The world of the 21st century will allow more and more modern science to be applied to converters, but some things won't change.

J.W. Performance Transmissions
1826 Baldwin St.
Rockledge, FL 32955
Phone: (407) 632-6206
Catalog & cap: $6

"Right now, there are all kinds of developments going on in our industry," says Winters in conclusion. "Every company is looking for something new, trying to reinvent the wheel, so to speak. The technology has changed constantly since I've begun doing this; that won't change, so we work hard to stay ahead of it."


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