The efficiency of the transmission rebuilding industry is closely tied to the transmission kit. I recall in the mid ‘80s one of the first visits I made to a transmission shop was to Ira Cernitz at Long Island’s Libra Transmission. Ira’s shop was a good representation of the time period. Out in the bays area there were shelves that ran the entire depth of the shop to hold the paper and rubber kits along with frictions, steels and other non-hard parts that were needed to rebuild often-seen units. Furthermore, there was a parts counter in front as the shop, like many others, served as a local distributor for shops that didn’t invest in inventory.
At about that same time, some local/regional warehouse distributors, on the way to becoming national in scope, were beginning to grow by opening or acquiring additional locations. Transtar acquired Jack McCarty’s Dadco in Southern California and shortly thereafter HTP acquired the Transoutheast operation (formerly Dupps) in Charlotte North Carolina. These acquisitions were quickly followed by rapid growth for what were to become the familiar national distributors.
Overhaul boxed kits (often called pizza box kits because of the similarity of the packaging) were the focal point for specialty transmission parts distributors. The simple paper/rubber kit that came from aftermarket kit packagers like TransTec, Bryco (TTK) and MGW (Precision International) was packed in the distributor’s box with other necessary components. The result was a more convenient item to order and something that covered all or most of the parts that were typically replaced during an overhaul. The convenience in stocking, ordering and delivering the right parts has given rise to a number of variations and flavors. From the overhaul kit, adding more components, distributors created banner, master and super kits.
Volume remanufacturing operations found that kits often solved their inventory challenges as well. These remanufacturers have sufficient volume that they can order a custom-filled kit with a bill of materials (the quantity and specification of each individual component) that best fits their processes.
Aftermarket kit design is supported by engineers and development people at the kit packagers. These people dissect transmissions, identify all the parts contained and then find a source for each of those parts to be placed in their packages. For example, a small O-ring needs to be sourced and must be not only the correct size but also, in most cases, the same materiel as the original part.
Today aftermarket builders are advantaged by all of the kits that have made the repair of transmissions more efficient by eliminating the need for a builder to know and to source individual components. Component parts necessary for a particular transmission or, quite often, for a small group of similar versions of a transmission family are packaged and placed on the distributors’ shelves for same-day or next-day delivery to aftermarket builders.
All In The Bag/Box
Gasket and Seal Kits (Paper and Rubber)
Contains all paper gaskets, rubber O-rings, pan gasket, rubber lip seals.
Contains gasket and seal kit plus metal-clad seals and sealing rings.
Banner Kits (less steel)
Contains overhaul kit plus friction clutches.
Master Kits (MOK)
Contains banner kit plus steel clutch plates.
Super Kits (SK)
Contains master kit plus filter, bands, modulator, common bushings and washers.
Originally packaged to adhere to California’s state rebuilding requirements. This kit typically contains all the parts of a super kit except the steels.
Contains other than stock replacement parts for a build that addresses additional torque or other duty requirements. These kits typically serve the performance/racing segment of the industry.
Beyond these kits are other kits, packaged for convenience. We currently include in our survey of suppliers:
• Friction kits (modules)
• Filter kits
• Washer (Thrust) kits
• Valve body kits – stock or shift enhancing
• Bushing kits
• Bearing kits
Readers of Transmission Digest overwhelmingly depend on specialty distributors of transmission parts as kit sources. Our recent polling came up with the following: