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Transmission Discussion of preventative/corrective maintenance and other technical issues regarding your coach's transmission.

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  #1  
Old 08-06-2009
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theronflatlee theronflatlee is offline
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Default ZF Transmission Fluid

According to the logs, our '88 FC35SB has Transynd in the ZF, but it has been nearly 5 years since it was changed. While the transmission seems to stay cool enough and shifts well, I am going to change it because it is far past the recommended 3-year time limit.

I did some research regarding the type of fluid since I was having a hard time finding Transynd and could not find a filter either. It turns out we have ZF shop in the area (Bowers Transmission in Kent, WA, which is near Seattle--see http://www.bowerstransmission.com or http://www.zf-transmissions.com).

I talked with the service manager at Bowers and learned some interesting things. Specifically, they recommend 10W30 or 15W40 motor oil in ZF transmissions, to be changed every 10,000 miles. I asked him about the ability of synthetics to handle the heat, and he said that while it was true, it depended on the number of miles put on per year and whether it is stop and go usage or not. He said the transit buses with ZFs in the City of Everett's fleet use motor oil, and he has checked the wear on them after 200,000 miles, which was negligible. He also said they had problems with pure synthetics in earth movers and some of the transit buses because of the stop and go nature of the usage.

He did say that synthetic ATF should not hurt a 'Bird, but he had to wonder if the cost was worth it since most coaches are not driven 75,000 miles (the longest change schedule) before 3 years is up...we drive ours no more than 10,000 miles per year.

By the way, filters at Bowers were only $41.60 each (10 in stock), an updated EPROM for the computer (changes the shift points) was $130, and they'll do a transmission oil change for $250.

I am kind of conflicted. I can get the filter from them, change the oil myself and plug in an EPROM, but I can't decide which fluid to use. Transynd is very expensive, Amsoil makes a synthetic called Torque Drive that is close to $50 per gallon, and 5-8 gallons of dinosaur oil is relatively cheap in comparison. Then again, a rebuild at Bowers will cost you $6000.

So, any opinions on the fluid to use in a ZF Ecomat HP500 with integrated retarder?
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  #2  
Old 08-06-2009
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Jeff,

In my research with ZF Chicago & ZF Phila. They only recommended
Dextron and highly recommended Transynd, The program was drain and change the filter, about 5 gallons, wait three years of RV usage and drain and change the filter again 5 more gallons of Transynd, Then good for possibly your RV lifetime, It was probably never changed in the past..
It will not run cooler with syn, But it will handle the retarder heat much better, We travel the Alleghenies every year and the Rocky mountains often. This has worked for us. And as the retarder works with the braking system we use it all the time. They also said to look forward to a front seal leak, at that time drive it in and it will not be a huge repair, but removal cleaning & health check.
Recently Jim Birkshire removed the ZF himself and drove the tranny to Philadelphia for this repair work.
Transynd comes in a 5 gallon pail, when I changed it was $200 plus filter.
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Last edited by Bill Pape; 08-06-2009 at 08:47 PM.
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  #3  
Old 08-06-2009
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In 2008 I went to the Ft. Myers location (http://www.precisiontrans.com) to get a fluid change and adjustment of some springs. I asked about Transynd and the head mechanic said that it wouldn't be worth the extra cost for me. Since the coach had about 110K on it he didn't recommend it. If the coach was new he said that he could see the benefits of putting Tansynd. He recommended just using ATF. I think he may of said that they did put motor oil in transit busses. So I geuss its who you talk to. Everyone has opinions...

http://www.precisiontrans.com/pdf/Po...rucksBuses.pdf
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Old 08-06-2009
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The issue of motor oil has been brought up in the past & I believe there maybe some discussions on the old forum or other forums. If I recall it was not recommended to use motor oil as there was some adverse affect through the filter & cooler. Last fall we had the transmission fluid & filter changed at Peterbilt and they installed Dextron III. Regardless I have installed a label on my fill cap reading NO MOTOR OIL - Dextron III ONLY.
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Old 08-06-2009
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Question. Kinda on topic here: I thought once you converted to Transynd then you were done. No mileage or time requirement for fluid changes. Am I wrong here?
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  #6  
Old 08-06-2009
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Default Fluids

Opps,

I lost a post somewhere , it may be in another thread???

Someone on the Forums had shifting problems with motor oil.
I do not remember, if it was a ZF or Allison.
Had to change it to the Red Stuff.
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  #7  
Old 08-06-2009
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that was Woody,his SP didnt work well at all with 30 wt.
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  #8  
Old 08-06-2009
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bwinter1946 View Post
Question. Kinda on topic here: I thought once you converted to Transynd then you were done. No mileage or time requirement for fluid changes. Am I wrong here?
You still need to swap it out every 3 years.
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  #9  
Old 08-06-2009
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dont put motor oil unless you have a transit

its shifts slow and hard.........and will not let the retarder work unless its warmed up!
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  #10  
Old 08-07-2009
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Hi all--thanks for the input and advice. I am leaning toward the synthetic transmission fluid, because it is not that much more spread over three years, and the integrated retarder can be pretty hard on the oil, especially with the number of passes we tend to go through year round. If I had an electromagnetic retarder like on our '83 (one of my favorite parts of that wonderous coach), maybe I'd try the oil for a year, but I think I am just going to go with the Amsoil "Torque Drive" as it is easier to find (at the NAPA stores) and supposedly equal or at least close to Transynd.
One thing I didn't mention from the Bowers conversation I had was that the earth movers had trouble with condensation when using the synthetic, and I have seen a few references around the web to water from condensation being an issue in the Northern latitudes. I don't quite understand how it would be any different than regular oil...maybe it is that water doesn't mix as well with synth as with dino oil. Has anybody had experience with this?
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