Thursday, May 22, 2008

New High Gear Powerglide Piston (And how it was born)

Unlike some performance industries, the drag racing drive train industry has been supplied for nearly thirty years by junkyards. Using often modified OEM parts from the economy two speed Powerglide transmission of the 1960s and 1970s, drag racers, transmission builders, and parts suppliers championed the simplicity, durability, and for many years, availability of core, junkyard parts.

During the course of the last several decades, these qualities have been affected by consumption of available parts, junkyard scrap recycling, the elements, and the ever increasing demands put on the transmissions by higher quality racing surfaces and increased engine output levels.

Even before the depletion of available OEM core parts, several components of the Powerglide transmission have proven to be clearly unsuitable for racing, such as the OEM iron clutch hub and the input shaft. These were quickly redesigned and manufactured.

As time passes, the two curves of availability and durability change and more parts are fashioned from new material because of these changes, such as the case, gearsets, and pumps. Parts manufacturers like BTE must meet the demand of higher output engines from their customers and also combat the dwindling supply of OEM parts.

Recently, the industry has reached a point of no-return. Core prices for junkyard cores have risen so high in price that it is now more economical to manufacture new parts than buying old oem parts and re-manufacturing. (And a new, designed specifically for racing component is much more desirable than a 40 year old reworked piece from a junkyard, right?)

The pictured high gear piston is one of the last holdouts of the OEM days. This new piston replaces the factory design primarily due to low availability and not performance limitations. We've changed the design to use a spring pocket for spring retention. These billet aluminum pieces are strong and suitable for all applications.

Thanks for reading. I'll be adding a variety of posts and videos here at the blog covering what's going on inside our operations or anything interesting from the racing community. If you have any questions or suggestions for a topic, please leave a comment or email me at

1 comment:

Unknown said...

Brandon, Just found this through facebook.

Should be a neat way to get out information once it catches on.

Take Care,

Rob Lombardi