2007 TCRA Seminar in Review by Martin Brooks

2007 TCRA Seminar in Review by Martin Brooks

Martin Brooks of Aceomatic Transmissions, in Christchurch, New Zealand.

Approximately 35 hours flying time plus check-in and waiting time to attend a two-day seminar on torque converters.  Was it worth it?

The 10th annual Torque Converter Rebuilders Association (TCRA) conference was held in Cleveland Ohio recently.  It attracted about 100 attendees mainly torque converter rebuilders with a few transmission people as well.  The big drawcard was the chance to visit the Luk factory and see torque converters actually being manufactured.

Friday morning saw two busloads loaded at 8am for the trip to the Luk factory.  We were greeted there and given a presentation from their engineers on current a future torque converter technology.  For those of you out there that think converters are on the way out, forget it.  With the new manufacturing processes and the new technology aimed at fuel saving the torque converter is going to be around for a while yet.  One interesting development is a converter that disconnects the impellor from the engine under idle conditions showing fuel economy savings of 7% in city test conditions.  We can expect to see new materials being used in converter manufacturing adding to the challenges of the rebuilding operation.

The factory tour followed and I personally was amazed at how few people were actually working on the line.  Luk produce about 1.2 million converters here a year on three lines with a fourth line under construction.  One line was producing CD4E converters and this line appeared to have about 6 people working on it.  Everything was automated.  The various parts are brought to the line and the machining processes carried out with very little human intervention.  Even the checking of layout before the two halves are welded is checked by digital photograph and scan.  We were not taken to the actual stamping plant to see the bodies and vanes being stamped etc but Luk tell us that the only part that they buy in is the stator housing.

After the Luk tour it was lunch then back to the hotel.  We were then given the chance to visit Hi-Tech Metal Group who carry out furnace brazing on components including torque converters.  I think that those of us who attended that tour were amazed at how a small copper slug can spread through the component and braze it together.  Free time followed and personally I visited the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.  I was intrigued as to why Cleveland calls itself the home of Rock and Roll.  The answer would make a good trivia question. 

Saturday was classroom seminar day.  There was a diverse range of speakers.  Although it was a converter seminar many of the speakers were covering transmission related issues that can affect the torque converter operation.  More and more as converter suppliers we need to keep abreast of the transmission issues that may be causing the converter problem.  There is absolutely no point in supplying a replacement converter to a transmission shop that has a transmission with a problem.  Valve body wear along with various sensor issues were covered.  Speakers from GM and Chrysler gave us some idea of what is planned for the future, expect more ratios 6, 7 and 8 speeds are already either on us or very close from many manufacturers.

So to my original question was it worth it?  The answer has to be a resounding YES.  Not only was there a great amount of information available but it is almost impossible to put a value on the personal contacts and business ideas that come from attending events like this.  I do encourage you if you are undecided or think that you can’t afford to do these events to think again.  My opinion is that in today’s market you really cannot afford not to attend.

Martin Brooks of Aceomatic Transmissions, in Christchurch, New Zealand.