I have a 1994 Ford f-150 that I plan to do a lot of towing with. The factory settings on the E4OD transmission left me dissatisfied. Upshifts were vague and slushy. Until I installed a tachometer, I was not even sure all shifts were taking place! Before I towed anything heavy, I wanted to take care of this before it results in decreased transmission life, a direct result from the prolonged clutch slippage found in the mushy factory shifts.
B&M's Shift Improver Kit comes to the rescue. It changes the wimpy stock shifts to nice, firm upshifts, without being too aggressive. The following should be taken as a supplementary to the included B&M instructions (which are very thorough in their own regard) and not as a replacement. As always, modify your vehicle at your own risk!
All E4OD equipped F series, Broncos 1989-1996
1. B&M shift Improver Kit
2. 8 quarts transmission fluid (Mercon or better)
3. Transmission filter
4. Copious amounts of shop rags
5. Few cans of brake parts cleaner
6. Petroleum Jelly
7. Large catch pan (an old cat litter box works great)
1. 3/8 drive ratchet with extension and 10mm, 8mm, and T30 torx sockets/bits.
2. 3/8 drive in/lb torque wrench
3. Gasket scraper/razor blade
4. Electric drill
5. File, emery cloth
6. Paper clip
7. Precision screw driver
8. Large flat blade screwdriver
9. Compressed air (not needed but nice for cleaning off transmission before working)
11. Work light
It's important to clean off the transmission before beginning. I shot the transmission with a good dose of brake cleaner to penetrate the nasty sludge that had accumulated over 105,000 miles. After a minute, I hit it with a thorough blasting of compressed air. While it worked great cleaning up the transmission, it made a mess out of me and the garage floor. Always wear eye protection when doing something like this!
Remove the E4OD shift solenoid connector, located behind a heat shield on the rear passenger side of the transmission. The heat shield is held on by two 10mm bolts. Push in on the central tab and then push up on the connector to remove it. This can be easier said than done, as the exhaust pipe runs right next to this area, making it difficult to get a hand up there to disconnect it. I ended up using the flat blade screwdriver to push in on the tab while gently pushing up. Once the tab was recessed, I was able to pry the connector off. Be VERY careful though. You don't want to break your connector!
This is what 14 years and 105,000 miles did to the wires on my E4OD connector. The insulation was worn away on every single wire. It's a miracle I never had any problems with this. I took time out of my shift kit install to repair this mess before it caused problems in the future.
Using a precision screw driver, pry out the red plug.
Once removed you can see the little plastic tabs holding each wire in place. Insert the precision screwdriver to pry up on the tab, and gently pull on the wire you wish to remove.
Here is one of the wires removed. I chose to remove and repair one wire at a time, so that I did not get confused on their placement. Fortunately, none of the wires were broken or frayed, so all I needed to do was clean and re-insulate the wires
I use a 30 watt Weller Soldering Iron to shrink the heatshrink tubing. It provides more control and less heat then a lighter. Just use the larger diameter steel portion of the soldering iron to shrink the tubing by gently stroking it over the wire.
The finished product. Imminent disaster: averted. 18 gauge heatshrink tubing supply: decimated. Ready for another 14 years of trouble free service (hopefully).
Loosen all 20 10mm pan bolts and remove all but the front bolts. Using a large flat blade screwdriver, pry the pan open and let all the fluid drain out.
The front most item is the electronic shift solenoid control. Directly behind that is the main valve body. The large black object is the tranny filter. Remover the tranny filter by simply tugging downward on it. An orange O-ring will be left in the oil pump bore. Remove it by gently prying it out with a large flat blade screwdriver. The solenoid assembly is held in place by 7 T30 Torx bolts and one stud that has a 10mm nut on it.
Remove these and pull straight down on the assembly. If you were meticulous with the pre-project cleaning, there should be little to no dirt next to the electrical connector that comes out with the solenoid assembly. Clean any remaining dirt out of this area. Not pictured is the accumulator valve body assembly on the rearmost portion of the transmission. It is held in place by 2 10mm nuts on studs and several 8mm bolts. Remove all the nuts and bolts and the assembly should be free. Finally, remove the remaining 8mm bolts and 2 10mm nuts on studs holding the main valve body in place.
All that should be left at this point is 3 8mm bolts holding the separator plate hold down bracket in place. remove these bolts, keeping a hand on the separator plate. Finally, slowly drop down the separator plate, making sure to keep it level, as (in the case of my 1994 F-150) there are 9 check balls and a spring resting on top of it. You don't want to lose these check balls!
Here are all the valve body assemblies removed, along with the tranny filter. The tranny pan makes for a good spot to rest these items while you're under the truck.
It helps tremendously to have a place to put all the nuts and bolts while removing the components. A little plastic parts tray like this one can be very handy. In total, there should be 20 tranny pan bolts, 7 T30 Torx bolts, 3 'short' 8mm bolts that hold the separator plate, 18 'medium' 8mm bolts that hold up the accumulator and main valve bodies, 7 'long' 8mm bolts associated with the main valve body, and 5 10mm nuts, for a grand total of 60 fasteners! You NEED a parts tray to keep these in one place!
Here is the separator plate, showing the 9 check balls. There are also two filter screens. Not shown is a spring that sat on top of the 1/4' EPC steel check ball, which fell into the catch pan while lowering the separator plate. Setting the separator plate on the catch pan allowed me to easily slide the plate out from under the truck without risk of losing any check balls..
Here is the separator plate on the work bench. If you don't have a meticulously clean work area, some fresh shop towels on top of a flat surface will work just as well. I also took this picture as reference to the placement of all check balls for re-installation. At this time it is a good idea to check with the illustrations provided with the kit instructions to make sure your transmission is the correct one the the model year of your vehicle.
If your check ball locations don't match your model year, you'll need to check the ID tag on the transmission to determine the actual date of the transmission itself, so the check balls can be placed back into their correct locations on reassembly. Once you've got that squared away. Remove the check balls in put them in a safe area free from your work site.
Remove the old gasket material from the separator plate.
Marked are the locations that must be drilled out to enlarge the orifices. The B&M kit comes with the appropriate drill bit. Once all holes have been drilled, use the file to remove any burs and finish with emery cloth. Use brake cleaner to remove any sanding residue. Finally, apply a fresh set of gaskets, included in the kit, for your model year transmission.
Two sets of gaskets are included to cover all model years. Simply line up the gaskets to see which ones fit. Then dab on clean petroleum jelly onto the surface of the separator plate to hold the gaskets it place. The gaskets in my kit were bent due to shipping in the undersized box, yet miraculously, the petroleum jelly held the gaskets in place like a champ.
Now it's time to turn our attention to the valve body modifications. Shown here is the accumulator valve body. Using a straightened paper clip with a tiny 90 degree bend at the end of it, hook under the retaining spring and gently pull up. Placing a finger over the retaining spring area while pulling up will prevent the retaining spring from flying across the garage! One of the many 8mm bolts holding the valve bodies in place is used here as a tool to remove the retainer plate once the retainer spring is removed. Simple hand thread the bolt into the end of the retainer plate and give a firm tug to dislodge it.
Shown here is the retaining spring, paper clip, retainer plate, and old accumulator springs. At the top of the picture is the new B&M spring. The old springs have two springs, a long one and a short one that fits inside the long one. The new B&M springs do not use the short springs. After swapping springs, reinstall the retainer plate and retainer spring. A precision screwdriver works well to fully push the retainer spring back on.
Now we work on the main valve body, using the same techniques as above.
Insert into the main valve body a brass spacer. Then reinstall the the retainer plate and retainer spring.
Now that we are finished will all the modifications, it's time to put everything back together again. Liberally coat all the check balls, EPC spring, and EPC filter (if equipped) with petroleum jelly, and install them in their respective locations inside the upper valve body assembly on the underside of the transmission. The petroleum jelly holds all these components in place while you work on putting the separator plate back on, and quickly dissolves once the transmission fluid starts flowing.
Shown here is the upper valve body on the underside of the transmission. Note the EPC filter already held in place with petroleum jelly. Once all components are place in their proper locations, place the separator plate on the transmission, and have the separator plate retainer handy as well as one of the 3 8mm 'short' separator retainer plate bolts to quickly secure the retainer plate.
Then install the other 2 'short' 8mm bolts, followed by the main valve body, accumulator valve body, and solenoid assembly. Finally torque all the bolts and nuts down to 80-100 in/lbs. Remember, you have 40 bolts and nuts to work with, so take your time! Lastly, install a new tranny filter, and reinstall the transmission pan, tightening all 20 10mm bolts. Don't forget to reconnect the E4OD electrical connector and install the heat shield!
After all that, it's time to turn our attention to under the hood. B&M includes two quick connectors and a 'shift module' (which for all intents and purposes is most likely a resistor heat-shrinked to some spade connectors), that increases the shift firmness by increasing line pressure. Follow the directions supplied with the kit to find which wires you need to connect, as it varies by model year. Next, hop in the cab and make certain that the gear shifter moves through all the gears to ensure it is correctly positioned on the main accumulator valve body.
To be honest, there seems to be only one way the end of the gear selector fits into the main valve body, but it never hurts to check, especially before adding your new fluid! Finally it's time to add the transmission fluid. It turned out I only needed 8 quarts (Ford lists the transmission as taking up to 14 quarts).
Start up the engine, and after a few seconds, run the run through each gear, pausing in each gear for a second or two before moving onto the next gear. Do this two or three times to ensure the fluid has reach all areas. Some hard engagement is normal at this time as fluid flows into all areas of the transmission, but it should smooth out more as you repeat the gear selections. Get out of the truck and check for fluid leaks.
With the engine still running, check the transmission fluid level and add more if needed. If everything looks good to go, take the truck for a test drive, being sure that all tools and work lights are clear from the area before backing out of the garage. Take it easy at first letting the transmission warm up. Then have fun and let 'er rip. The shifts should be noticeably faster and firmer than stock.
Once done with the test drive, park the truck on a level surface and with the transmission in neutral and parking brake engaged, check the fluid level once more and add if necessary. Once again check for leaks. If everything checks out once more, call it a job well done. Enjoy your upgraded transmission!