Cadillac Escalade Torque Converter and Flex Plate Issues

Short show this week guys.  I’ve had more to do this past week than I can quite say grace over.

Brain has been studiously trying to trial fit the motor in the Escalade and mate to the transmission.  Turns out the shaft cap of the 6L80E torque converter protrudes 0.945 inches while the 4L80E is about a half an inch.  This caused the motor to bind on the torque converter.

The easiest solution appears to be to use the 6L80E flex plate off the engine.  Instead of flat, it is slightly dished and adds a half inch to the game more or less.  But it also means we need to pad our adapter plate by .37 inches.    We are having a spacer ring of that thickness made at Cape Machine Shop.

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As long as we are doing that, I’m thinking to order a 1400 rpm torque converter.  I inadvertently did the verbal switcher and referred to this as lockup.  Lockup is actually an ECM commanded event that physically locks the torque converter.  The 1400 rpm is more correctly the STALL speed.

In theory, if you locked up your breaks and put full power to the engine, this is the rpm  where the motor would stall.  The hydraulic coupling between the motor and transmission becomes so great that this event occurs.

Typically OEM torque converters are at about 2000 rpm.  The racing guys will use 2500 or 3000 or even 3500 rpm torque converters to get higher on the torque curve of their peaked up engines at stall speed.

Diesel applications actually require lower stall speeds as they run at much lower RPMS – typically 1800.

And so we have contacted Performance Automotive Torque Converters (PATC) about a 6L80E 1400 rpm torque converter while we’re fooling around with it.

This would allow us to reach stall at a lower RPM more in line with the torque curve on an electric motor.  I do not know what effect this will have on our shift points and automatic shifting. It probably will do more harm than good I fear.

Tom Alvarey brings up the point that we may need to remove the power from the engine during the brief period when shifting via the ECU.  As always, this is a marvelous observation, but his history has not been at all influenced by facts or any knowledge of the subject.  So I’m not sure.  This one certainly makes sense.  If it does this with the throttle plate, we are good to go.  But if it does it with ignition or fuel injectors somehow, we are hosed.  But it would seem shifting with the motor in full power is not wise, so this makes sense to me.  Not sure what the cure is.

And I’m not quite sure it is a problem.  How quickly can you remove power from an ICE engine? There is a certain momentum and mass at play here – actually much more than an electric motor.  I know the shift changes on this transmission are so quick you can hardly feel them.

Brandon Hollinger brought us an entertaining as always update on his Austin FX.  It almost got me thrown off YouTube as he used some copyrighted music, and the ever changing and ever resourceful YouTube now has a way from preventing to mobile devices such as iPhone and iPad in that event.  My initial use of Amazon is justified over and over.  I really detest YouTube.  We post it there as a convenience to a very few viewers and have less than a 1000 views per month on it.  They had added us as a “partner” but I haven’t used their ad function to generate income anyway and really really detest this service and all aspects of it.   It does make it easier for some who watch on their Internet connected TV sets.  And for the past few weeks I’ve used their embed function on this blog.  But I am seriously considering going YouTube free again.

In any event, it appears Brandon has become ensnared in one of the achilles heels of this industry – nonperforming vendors.  We were over 7 months with Jim Husted on what he promised was a 45 day deal.  Brandon is now 2.5 months on an adapter from California.

He is also converting from automatic transmission to manual.  Plenty of punishment there.

Fred Behning has a new project also in this video.  And so with these two guys I was able to cobble together a little bitty bit of a show this week.  Recall that Fred had the delightful little bug eye sprite.  He’s now obtained a VW based REPLICA of an MG TD.  Problem is, he’s going to cannibalize the Sprite for components to use on the TD.  I understand. But I still hate to see a gorgeous car like the Sprite dismantled after all that work.

My mother passed away Wednesday of this week.  It was after a long illness with fibrosis and the last few months have not been good.  So it was a blessing all around.   Still, I’ll miss her.  We had developed a habit of watching the St. Louis Cardinals with her of an evening.  She never missed an inning all season last year.  My wife is also a rabid baseball fan.  I confess I think the sport is like watching batteries charge it moves so slowly.   But I could sit with them and read or whatever and gradually kind of followed the game last year as the Cardinals did well in the end.

My four brothers and sisters arrived and we were all around her bed when she passed on a beautiful spring afternoon.   We saw so many dear friends on the occasion of the visitation and many we had not seen for some time, so that was good.  And a lovely Mass on Saturday morning capped it off with our choir providing the music in the Old St. Vincents church.  Bullt in 1835, this brick Gothic monstrosity is truly one of the most beautiful churches in the world.   I was baptized there as an infant, as was she.  So history and tradition here in the heartland runs a bit deeper and older than most places.  Many of her friends were on hand and typically spanned a 50 to 60 year period, if you can imagine that.

Cape Girardeau is a slice out of time in America.  I often enter stores or businesses in this town where I distinctly recall the proprietor’s father manning the same counter 50 years ago.  It is a very unusual place and one of the best kept secrets in the country.  IN many ways, it is as America was four decades or more ago.  And very possibly that shapes my unusual views.  Things may seem better to you in earlier times.  I don’t have to seem.  They ARE better in earlier times.  And in Cape, in many ways you can recapture that.  A strange brew blend of the old and the new.  But relationships are long term affairs here.  And family history runs deep.

My father pased in 2005.  And it was time for Ben to go too.  I’ll lose not a wink over that.  But it will take some adjusting to become accustomed to being an orphan waif.  A new role.  A new week.

My deep appreciation for all the e-mails of condolence we’ve received.  Apparently many are of the age of funerals also.  While this one was better than most, it is what it is…


Jack Rickard

26 thoughts on “Cadillac Escalade Torque Converter and Flex Plate Issues”

  1. Jack,

    My condelences for the loss of your mother. I had the opportunity to chat with her for a little while at the party at your house during EVCCON. She seemed like a remarkable woman, raising such a successful family, and didn’t hesitate to say how proud she was of your accomplishments and those of your siblings. I’m glad that I had the chance to meet her, however brief it was. May she rest in peace!


    Alex Vieira

  2. Then I guess it is the right time to post a first comment.

    I don’t know what is this ”age of funerals” you are speaking of. I lost my father in March 2011 when I was 26….

    Anyways, just to tell you my sincere condolence and also say thanks for the text that you just wrote. Knowing that people die surrounded by their family makes me feel warm in my heart. I did cried a bit reading that.

    I’ve been watching the show and reading the blog for 2 years now (I liked to the old theme song!). I Wanted to thank you for your devotion to the work you are doing. The ”short” show (48 min is not THAT short 😉 this week for me is just another proof of this devotion.

    Condolence again, may the love of her friend and family never die.

    Xavier Cinq-Desbiens

  3. My condolences to you Jack on the passing of your Mother. May the good Lord continue to guide you and comfort you from the loss of your Mother and transition from this time. And what you explain about the town in which your family took root so long ago sounds like my young life growing up in the 60’s here in North West Florida,but you are still living it there. That too is a blessing.
    God bless ya Jack!

    Jim Holifield

  4. I was on an big exhibition in Germany called the Hannover Messe. One part is called “MobiliTec” – Leading Trade Fair for Hybrid and Electric Powertrain Technologies, Mobile Energy Storage and Alternative Mobility Solutions.
    I found a company from Chicago, USA with a spezial heatsink layer for flat and cylindrical cells. I talked to Will Georgi from
    Perhaps this is something…

    My condolences

  5. Well, Jack, there were many aspects of coming to the first EVCCON meeting that were special and unique for me. Meeting your mother at the closing party at your house was one of them. In conversing with her, it was easy to see where you get your spirit and energy from. She did indeed express pride in the conference and all you’ve done. It was a special pleasure to have met her and your family. My condolences to you. As many of us are likewise boomers, we understand what you recently went through with your mother’s illness. Your mother raised a son that is living a life well lived and changing the world, one EV at a time. Requiescat in pace et in amore!

  6. I’m very sorry to hear about your mothers death. That’s tough news. Don’t worry about the short show. It was actually the length of most television shows. So not really short.

    I’m looking forward to next weeks show to see if you manage to get the motor into the vehicle.


  7. Jack,
    I just saw this on line and knowing how much you dislike connectors I thought you might be interested… it eliminates a lot of wires and connectors throughout the car.
    I am sorry for your loss Jack, I know it’s difficult to process even when expected. My condolences to you and your family.

    1. Mark, is a really “Kool” product. Only ones imagination limits what one can do as far as electronic controls for the function of an EV.
      My thought is in some cases it may simplify the conversion of modern vehicles by eliminating the ECM module which communicate with the Body Control Modules in running the functions of the car.
      No matter..there is a lot to consider.
      Mark Yormark

    2. Fascinating system. I think trying to integrate with a new car’s body control modules and harness would drive you nuts.

      It won’t replace the ECM gear on a modern car, either- particularly one with ABS and power steering that wants to know vehicle speed, RPM, etc. Given that, I don’t see the real value throwing away (some or all of) a newer car’s harness and controls in order to try and graft this one on- with $1200+ in new hardware.

      The applications I think most appropriate are in the street rod community, where guys have been begging for conveniences like soft delays on dome lights, great remote functionality, driver’s side toll windows, door ajar indicators, and many other rather mundane functions not practically implementable in older cars. It sure would be an easier wiring job, too…

      It will be important to watch whether the racing community goes for this stuff or not. If it works as advertised, they won’t care what it costs; if you don’t see it in the paddock soon, though, there’s probably more to the story than the marketing pdfs let on.

      Note that the system has a max supply voltage of 14.2V, which is something to pay attention to. I wonder what happens at the 15V nominal that Jack and many other Vicor DC-DC users are running.

  8. Jack,
    I was so sorry to hear about the loss of your mother. I spoke to her breifly at EVCCON and she wanted all of us to know that she did not want any of the credit for you and she “damn sure didn’t want any of the blame either”. We all had a good laugh. She was obviously so very proud of you. My condolences.

    David Seabury

  9. Hi Jack,

    I’m bottom balancing some 10 Ah Headway cells for testing and I have a question – how close should they be in resting voltage 0.1 volt? 0.01 volt?

    Interestingly they arrived from the supplier fully charged. The four I have done so far all produced over 11 amp hours using my (not very accurate) kit at about a 0.7 C rate

    1. Point taken.
      When “woo” turns to “oow”!??

      They have to produce now Jack. The auto guided pedestrian vehicles for them are being built right now, (French Company) for the Olympics. The head honchos have their names up in bright lights. I’d be scared stiff if I was them and about to be flogging nothing at this point. A litany of PhD’s careers will be in tatters.

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