Author Archives: David

VT-VZ 6 Speed Auto (6L80e) Conversions

So those that know me, know I’m a big fan of the 6L80/90e transmissions, especially since the 4l60e is plain garbage when it comes to taking any power & so something I’ve been working on for the last few months & during the “COVID 19” lock down is installing the 6 Speed Auto (6L80E) gearbox’s from the VE commodore into the early VT-VZ chassis for a couple of mates.

Having already converted my own VY ute to VZ/VE ecu/transmission last year I knew they physically fit in the tunnel just fine & perform exceptionally well.

However the TCM (brains of the gearbox) expects to receive & send data to the ecu for it to work. Luckily a company in the US who does a lot of OEM integration work have a controller which allows you to run the gearbox with ANY engine combo, including Carb or Diesel motor’s (providing you feed it an rpm & tps or pedal signal) as it act’s as a “middle man” to transmit the required information to the transmission.

PCS Controller – TCM-2650 & Wiring Harness

Imagine that! a gearbox that when tuned correctly will take 500whp+ with ease & still have 2 over-drives & can be picked up for as little as $250 (probably start increasing now..) Wreckers, your welcome :-p

Anyway, the first car to receive a gearbox upgrade was a VZ Clubsport that was originally manual, however had been converted to a th400 for drag/roll racing due to being turbo’d, but due to the 3.46 diff the car was no longer enjoyable to drive on the freeway or long trips due to high cruising rpm’s.

Installation is straight forward, requiring a custom steel bracket cutout to suit the original gearbox rubber mounts, new 8.8 bolts/washer & hybrid VE/VX tailshaft.

Custom Transmission Bracket

For the Tail shaft the front half requires a slip yoke just like the VE/VF since the gearbox & diff side are fixed points.

Final Drive Engineering built the tail shafts

Being a VZ, it was really easy to integrate tap-shift buttons on the steering wheel as there is already a factory steering wheel option with them (VZ SV6), so with the simple addition of 2 additional wires into the clock spring harness below the steering wheel & plugging into the relevant 12v and signal wire to the TCM they worked straight away (besides programming changes in the gearbox).

VZ Steering Wheel with Tap Shift

So now you can drive the car in “D” mode for full auto or pull back to “3” and have manual shift control all the while doing a tad under 2000rpm @ 100kph in 6th gear.

For now this car is running a factory 2010 (0CPA) gearbox & converter for it’s new engine run in & tuning, but will eventually get a new All Fast converter to help spool up.

The second car to get an upgrade was a friends Auto VX SS with just an exhaust & OTR with 180k km’s in change & already running a 3.46 diff ratio.

Now your probably thinking why spend so much on a car you can pick up for $2000?

Well this car is a Dad & Son venture to go drag racing again & knowing that the 4L60 is the weakest link for durability & it would cost similar money to make strong enough to be reliable, I raised the question of why not go with the 6L instead, with the bonus of having better gear ratios & thus not requiring a further diff ratio change.

To start with they decided to go with a Yank 4000 rpm converter straight off the bat, knowing that they would eventually be doing a head/cam upgrade in the future.

This car is setup similar to the VZ in regards to tap shift mode, however for the moment manual gear selection is done via a small switch until a VZ steering wheel can be acquired & installed. Stock Shifters are still in use for both cars, so there is no visual difference between inside the car.

Power wise the stock LS1 motor is making a consistent 312whp for now & using a 2008 year (8CVA) gearbox, while the VZ is making a tad under 600whp on low boost & pump fuel.

Safety & Tuning Options

Just like factory, the cars will not start unless in Park or Neutral, this is done via the programming of PWM output’s on the PCS Controller. VZ requires 12v to start, LS1 is a Ground, A relay is required for reverse lights however.

PCS Configured PWM Output’s

To get as much longevity out of the gearbox (especially on high hp combo’s) it’s a good idea to do some form of torque management for shifts, on the VZ this is accomplished via a relay to “switch” the inlet air temp to a configured temperature to an area of the tune it would never normally get to & this is setup to pull a bunch of timing (which can be varied based on rpm), which is what the PWM9 above is configured for, initially set to 1 second for testing it has since been adjusted, remember it still takes time for the physical relay to turn on/off.

Spark Cut for shifts

The LS1 ecu however can have the Operating system code changed out to Efilive’s Custom OS 5 which has Boost & Nitrous support, so when an input is triggered it can retard timing at different rpm levels, though the same method deployed in the VZ is a universal solution.

LS1 Timing Retard vs RPM

Tuning of the gearbox is done just like normal via either Efilive or Hp Tuners for adjusting shift speeds/pressures etc, However the PCS controller does come into play as it can adjust the reported “engine torque output” sent to the transmission, for a normal sub 400whp engine combo the standard calibration is perfectly fine to use. Just ensure the TPS & engine calibration is correct.

There are 2 different versions of software for the adjusting the PCS controller & while the later version is the best to use to make changes, it’s seriously lacking in functionality with the live monitoring component broken.

Luckily the older software version will pull a smaller calibration area out & allow adjustment of pretty much all the same things & has a functioning monitor so you can calibrate/confirm your TPS settings & check inputs are working.

PCS Monitor Mode

Word of warning: There a lot of options in the software & most will have no effect on the 6L80 as it’s a “universal” controller for multiple transmissions, so don’t go uploading firmware that is not intended to run a 6l80e, also some of the available outputs like PWM 2&3 are what are configured to send the TPS & Torque information, so don’t re-define for other outputs.

I also found that the wire used as the speedo out, does not work with GM computers & needs to be moved to pin 17 on the controller labelled as the Zero Crossing Point. I Set the PPM to 2000 or 4000 & then adjusted the ecu settings as needed to get ecu & dash clusters lining up correctly. A Tech2 may be required to adjust cluster PPK values.

Ideally you need the use of a dyno so you can confirm the speed the transmission is reporting based on your tyre/diff ratio as it uses this to perform the shifts, the speed is then sent to the PCS controller over can-bus which then relays that out the speedo wire.

Cost wise:

PCS Controller/Harness = $900 usd
Tailshaft = $5-600 if providing both halves (original rear, with ve front)
Gearbox = Whatever you can low ball for a decent working one
*Converter optional*
Trans Cooler Adapter = $45 from memory
Trans Cooler & lines = $300? sky’s the limit, depends if you already have one or starting from scratch

Labour/Time to work out the wiring & programming shit? = Priceless (I probably spent a good week breaking/working things out)

The VX was done in 2 days, 1 day to swap trans, run lines for trans cooler.

2nd day to do wiring & work out speedo settings, this excludes driving/testing shift and converter lock up speeds etc.

Performance?

Well the VZ is always fighting for traction until 5th gear with it’s RE03’s & the VX goes surprisingly well for it’s power output & the current 17″ cheap street tyres.

Private Track testing

That’s it for now, I hope this post inspires you to get rid of your “4L shitty” or worse gearbox.

Dave

Dyno Dynamics PDA Upgrade

So after many years of putting up with the lack luster battery life that comes with the HP Ipaq unit that controls my dyno, I thought I should finally do something about it.

Having previously worked for a logistics company that did a lot of scanning of freight with Motorola devices, I did a quick search on ebay & found a bunch of MC75 units available for a reasonable price, so I took a gamble & ordered 1.

A week later the unit turns up, sadly no charging cable or dock came with it, so another week of waiting for that to turn up before i could play with it.

Once the dock arrived & the unit was charged, I loaded up the original command module application via it’s micro-sd slot & updated the applications parameter file with my EDM bluetooth address, fired up the app & success…

Well sort of, at first i had no control of the dyno with my existing config file, so i tried a different PDA model that i knew the app supported & presto! I had full control just like normal, However the Motorola display having twice the resolution of the original HP unit at 480×640 vs 240×320 made it “box” the app into the top left corner of the screen like the simulator picture shows.

I noticed that the text in some of the screens was much larger, so that told me it was auto-sizing some of the text fields correctly at least. So not wanting to accept this limitation, I wondered if it would be possible to edit the original application code.

So after spending a few hours looking for & testing some Visual Basic & Dot Net de-compilers I eventually settled on a program called dnSpy.

It can break down the original exe program & present all the instructions & pages that the application uses & then recompile the app back into a executable again after making changes.

OK then, this could actually be possible.
What i found was the program seems to be broken down into a few area’s:
Orange Box = Comm’s & system related instruction data
Yellow Box = Event related data for each page
Red Box = Page layouts, set’s page size & picture box sizes

Since the app was created as a Microsoft form design, the interface starts by setting a background picture, then overlays additional picturebox’s (buttons) on top, they were easy to modify to the new locations I needed by just doubling the X & Y locations & picture size. I then compiled the program & loaded it to a windows mobile emulator to test the change.

Success! this got the buttons in the right location, but the button images and background were still half the size they needed to be, so at first I tried extracting all the built-in pictures & simple doubled the image sizes by 200%, this worked at first for a while during testing until I got the main executable to around 7mb in size & the application would then crash the emulator, this effectively wasted 5 days of me playing with it after work.

So more research was needed & what I found was that this was due to the way the images are loaded into memory on the device, so i had to find another way.

Again a little more googling & the answer was relatively straight forward. I just needed to set the picturebox image to stretch with the following line for each image.
this.pictureBox.SizeMode = PictureBoxSizeMode.StretchImage

The End result
I even customized the boot splash screen with the addition of my own logo & version change

But wait there’s more! rather then having to rely on using the original Dyno Dynamics supplied cab install file & then copying my version over the top, I went & created a new cab installer package with my own updated file.

Racewars 2019 Wrap Up

As I’m sure everyone knows by now there was a fatality from the weekends racing & my sympathies go out to the family of this young man.

It’s an unfortunate situation to lose a fellow participate at any event, especially one that in the years that I have competed puts a lot of emphasis & requirements on safety, both in regards to competitors cars being fit for purpose & the track side safety personnel.

Obviously an event like this is very special to us racers/gear-heads as it gives us an outlet & something to look forward to every year so that we can achieve & set new goals for ourselves. Even passengers get to experience what it’s like to be in a 1000+ whp car, the experience is something they don’t forget I’m told. 🙂

This year we went to the event with 3 cars with the hopes of achieving 200mph (322kph) for all 3, I got there with my own car running 324kph on my first run sunday morning, my Dad managed to run a very ugly 321 before the incidents occurred & the event was eventually cancelled.

My Dad was already waiting in line for his 3rd run along with my older brother Greg just a few cars behind in my car since “the spare” broke the torque converter bolts on the saturday & we were unable to repair it that night, however before it broke it was just as quick (actually quicker over the 400m) then even my own thanks to it’s smaller turbo’s providing much quicker spool up.

With the event cut short & my early run achieving a decent enough standing, albeit nothing greater then some of the previous day’s 800m speeds achieved by other competitors it was a somewhat hollow victory taking out the 3rd fastest overall & fastest v8 trophies.

Anyway, I’ve uploaded a majority of trimmed down camera footage to youtube already and have them in the Racewars 2019 playlist.

Racewars 2018 Wrap Up

RACEWARS 2018 – event has come and gone & people definitely stepped it up this year with 11 cars going over 300kph over the standing 1000m.

For the Team of TorqueUP cars that attended, there was breakages just before & at RW18 so while we did get some fantastic results. We will be back again next year targeting 200mph (321kph) in a couple of cars.

Breakages: The 1st casualty came in with my vy ss ute a week before RW with the reluctor wheel slipping on the crank, effectively stopping the motor from running at all. It’s now getting dialled back into the correct position and tig welded into place.

It had gone repeatable 750+ whp with a stock 6l80e on a measly 12 psi of boost thanks to a couple of GTX35’s.

However with such little time to pull the motor & fix, we chose to replace it with a N/A 416ci LS3 that was then tuned up to 480whp. We didn’t change diff ratios so it was always going to be a struggle for it to pull high top speeds with the long gearing. But it made it through the event and drove back on to the trailer.

My own drag car with its new All Fast Converter was looking good and very fast until it snapped the input shaft around lunch time Saturday, so we made the decision to come back home (380km trip each way) and swap in a spare t400 gearbox. We left RW at a little over 1pm and were back on the road heading back to Albany just after 8pm.

Unfortunately, the 2nd gearbox was just as weak as the 1st and on the first run Sunday morning on the shift into 3rd it broke the input shaft again, effectively killing any chances of a return to the track.

My Dad’s drag car killed an alternator on Saturday too, but it’s had 3 years of hard living, so we had a spare picked up and delivered to home for me and my brother to bring back when we returned the previous night and was installed first thing Sunday morning.

With my own car out of action it allowed me time to spend tweaking the boost/tune on my Dad’s & other customer cars.

Now the good news:
The stand out of course was my Dad’s drag car, it too was also sporting a new converter from the team at All Fast, identical to my own & with the same tyres & gearing. It proceeded to run a 301.95kph pass over the rolling 800m so it was looking good for the 1000m standing starts.

1000m Results:
Run 1:
308.89 km/h – 18.891 s
Run 2:
308.80 km/h – 19.857 s
Run 3:
310.67 km/h – 19.069 s
Run 4:
311.38 km/h – 18.971 s

Now the thing to take into consideration is that after Run 1, I jumped in and did a pass under my own racing number, well 2 actually but I aborted the 1st run after I smoked the tyres through 2nd gear and ended up in the far-right lane. The good run netted me a 314.96 km/h – 18.593s pass.

My older brother then had a go with run 2 with Dad following up with runs 3 & 4 for the day.

The next big heavy hitter was my friend Roger in his 2010 Camaro, with the car left alone until Sunday for the 1000m event, he did multiple high 280’s then mid 290kph passes before one his precision turbo’s gave up a seal again and proceeded to dump oil straight into the exhaust.

His car runs a built 6l80e with twin 6266’s on a forged ls3 with another All Fast converter.

Next was another customer with a little MP1900, 6lt Monaro taking out the 8 cylinder blown class with a couple of 260kph passes.

The last, but definitely not least cars were Driven to/from the event being that of Rick & Rob with their Blown Ls7 Corvette/Camaro, being stock’ish factory LS7’s they are not exactly happy to take a lot of boost (fuel supply limited also) so both run a max of about 6psi.

The Corvette did a couple of 252kph runs before a rear tyre puncture called the end to his racing & Rob in his Black Camaro also did a PB of 252kph just behind Rick’s Z06.

As for the ute, well it kind of got parked after we had done the 300+ runs, with less than half the power of the drag car, it’s a pretty boring & slow run.

33″ RG Colorado Tune

Riley came in with his lift kitted & big tyre’d Colorado on the weekend to get his transmission looked at & ecu re-calibrated. The car had been suffering from what can only be explained as a stuttering/false neutral shift between gears since shortly after purchase.

I quickly diagnosed it as a low fluid problem as the Commodores platform has a similar issue on hard launches when the fluid moves to the back of the pan. With the tran’s dip stick removed it was evident that it was very low.

The good news is with an additional 2lt’s of Dex6 fluid added & a reset of the transmission adapts, the hesitation was now gone.

So a word of warning, If you are experiencing any funky shift changes in your 6L45/6L80/6l90e transmission equipped cars & you have a dipstick. Check the fluid level. Don’t rely on someone else checking it for you.

As for Riley’s ecu tune? Switchable tunes with stock 137whp to 174 for max power on the 33” tyres sound?

All done via efilive’s DSP4 option.

Colorado 7 Caravan Hauler

Another Colorado I tuned recently was Pete’s Colorado 7.  He arrived with caravan in tow (all 3ton of it) With it unhooked it was on to the dyno for a couple of baseline pull’s before the tuning started.

The car already had a full 3″ exhaust system, So it had a decent starting point. However with the engine ecu & transmission calibration adjusted he & his wife were on their way for another caravaning adventure.

A couple of days later he let me know that on this trip they used half the amount of fuel it normally used for the same route & towing was a breeze.

Another happy Customer.

 

VF SS UTE Maf Tune

A friend from the country (Moora) came for a drive to the big smoke this weekend for a maf tune on his ute after having already fitted extractors, exhaust and then getting the dreaded check engine light from the now out of factory spec exhaust gases.

With the car strapped to the dyno,  the car made a best of 302.9hp from the 3 factory tune dyno pulls with the car riding the low octane spark map the entire time.

Then it was time to fit the new OTR & infill panels & adjust the tune to suit.

The car seemed a little low on power compared to previous 6lt motors I’ve tuned, so the question was asked, “what fuel is in this?”

“Just plain unleaded”

ha, right, that would explain it then.

Regardless of the lower octane fuel, we still made a nice healthy 48whp gain as can be seen by the dyno sheet.

How's the consistency for back to back runs!
How’s the consistency for back to back runs!

Once the car is filled up with some 98 octane fuel the car will start to learn towards the higher octane spark map and pick up some more hp.

Racewars 2017 – 300+ Club

It’s been a couple of weeks since the Racewars 2017 event in Albany & boy was it a great weekend.

Along with my dad & brother we had 3 cars entered, They were:

VE SS A6 with Cam’d & Magnacharge’d 2300 – My Dad’s
VE SS M6 – 402ci LS2/ETP Heads & Harrop 2300 – Brothers
VX Drag Car – 410ci Twin Turbo/TH400 – Mine

My Dad’s car performed flawlessly all weekend & became the stand in when my brothers car died, but there was still a decent photo taken of them together before it did, lol.

Now with my brothers car,  about the 4th or 5th run on the saturday the engine developed a severe miss and shake when running, after pulling the plugs out and finding 1 of them severely damaged (Cylinder 2) we put it on the trailer. 

We didn’t know how bad the damage was going to be until we got it back home and pulled the heads off anyway.

However during the weeks since racewars & between working on it, it was mentioned online that during cleanup the racewars crew had picked up the head of a valve albeit squashed and bent off the runway.

Considering the state of the plug, we were pretty certain it was “ours” & then as sure night comes after day, That’s exactly what we found when we pulled the head off the drivers side. Valve stems still in place by the new springs at least…

Wait a minute, something doesn’t look right….Along with the combustion chamber for that cylinder, the piston had taken a beating. Luckily the bore doesn’t looked to have sustained any major damage, but we haven’t gotten the block off for machining/honing for the new pistons yet so the verdict on the block is unknown.

The annoying thing about all this, is before the event I had just spent a bunch of money on the new valve springs/seats/retainers as the old springs had been on for nearly 8 years or so & since the motor is mine it had been used in 2 of my previous car’s so it was well over due for freshen up.

The pistons i don’t really care about as we had already planned on changing them out after racewars anyway.

So with saturday kinda starting out pretty shit with my brothers car & me originally only planning on doing limited runs in my drag car to save it for the 1000m stuff. I ended up using it a lot more with some passenger rides & testing for the 1000m.

With my brother in the car for a couple of 800m roll-on’s we hit a high 292 & 298 so i was pretty confident of going over 300kph on the sunday. My “idea/plan” leading up to racewars was to get my 300 or more and then put it straight on the trailer, that way i wouldn’t be getting “greedy” with it especially since i still needed the car to compete at another drag racing event on the 22nd of April (3 days away as i write this).

On the Sunday for the 1000m standing starts & with the passenger seat removed the car seemed worse for traction especially for the first 300 meters, I was having to get off or feather the throttle but the 1st run got another 298kph at-least.

Thankfully the 2nd run at 2:29pm got slightly quicker at 302.58kph & with that it went straight on to the trailer.

That is.. When i made it back to the pits… as my battery had gone flat on the return road with the fans on.  As it turns out my alternator even before the event had started to show signs of being on the way out.

1 run fueling would be leaner then what i was commanding in the tune, the next run it would be fine or richer. So i started logging the ecu battery voltage and sure enough the voltage wasn’t consistent.

So i have now put in a new alternator and ran a new sense wire all the way to the battery in the rear & I have 14.6 volts at the battery with the car running vs 12.3v previously which is no good for my fuel pumps & the tune!

Obviously it would worsen depending on how long the car was running for, which at the Motorplex isn’t really that long at each event, but the 8-10 minute drive back through the dirt at Albany was a bit too long to be driving all the electrics.

Anyway I hope you enjoyed reading & watching my sum-what summarized view of the weekend from a racer’s perspective. We’ll be back in Albany again next year with hopefully a couple more of our own 300+kph capable car’s…

Stay Tuned

8.6 1/4 Mile Pass

Went out for some testing during the week with the new gearbox/converter & diff gears in my drag car.

Still launching without the 2 step & trans brake.
5 runs in total with 2 being low 9’s for the warm up run & then a shutdown when it got a bit skate.

3 best runs were:
8.963 @ 249.63kph (17psi)

8.826 @ 252.95kph (17psi)

8.697 @ 257.37kph (20psi)

Drag car still runs stock IRS with a Harrop Enduro cover/gforce1320 stub axles & stock driveshafts & was doing consistent 1.4 – 60’s all night.
Looking forward to changing the diff out for Motul Racewars 2017 to see if it will crack the 300kph mark over the standing 1km & maybe even take out Cash Days 1/8 Mile Racing

2016 RG Colorado Tune

After test driving my own tuned 2017 Model Colorado with some towing duties, my Dad decided he needed to upgrade from his ZD30 Patrol too, So he went out & purchased a run out 2016 Model before Christmas & so I spent some time on Christmas eve on the dyno.

With just under 100km’s on the clock it was loaded onto the dyno for a couple of baseline pulls before flashing in my new calibration. Power is slightly lower compared to mine but that’s probably due to some slight hardware changes between the years. (mentioned futher below)

So what sold my dad on the Colorado over his existing Patrol? well he simply put a caravan on the back of my car and drove the same hill with a decent grade and noted the speed & throttle difference.

The patrol needed 3rd gear and was maxed out at 65kph with the pedal on the floor. The Colorado? well it did it in 4th gear(auto) & he was having to back off at 85kph so as not to break the speed limit. A pretty convincing test for him.

The main hardware difference between the new 17 model is a 2.75~3″ exhaust stock compared to 2.25~2.5″ for the 16. However the 17 model get’s a DPF (Diesel Particulate Filter) after the catalytic converter (which is easily removed and tuned around).

Along with the new engine ecu calibration, I also have a new transmission calibration better suited to towing also loaded in.