The profitable and proper remanufacturing of torque converters served as the focus for the 24th annual seminars and meetings of the Torque Converter Rebuilders Association (TCRA). The two-day event was held in the Detroit area in June and drew approximately 100 participants. As has been the case since the first of these converter segment get-togethers, there were both tours of interest and ample social gatherings. To the participants, the TCRA seminar is an event!
A Thursday evening, pre-event hospitality was sponsored by core supplier WolfPack Enterprises at the Detroit Marriott Troy, which served TCRA as hotel and conference facility for the weekend. As is the group’s tradition, Fridays are devoted to tours. Some years those visit member reman facilities; others, as was the case this year, they venture to nearby points of interest. The group toured Ford’s Rouge River facility (pictured above) that included a look inside the F-150 assembly operations. Following that the group moved on to the Henry Ford Museum where a boxed lunch was provided by WolfPack.
After returning to the conference center, the annual member meeting was held to elect board members, officers and conduct association business. A Sonnax-sponsored evening reception followed at the General Motors Heritage Museum in Sterling Heights. That 81,000 square foot building houses more than 165 GM production and concept vehicles displayed based on design, technical or sales importance to the automaker’s history.
TCRA has traditionally filled its conference Saturday with seminars and guest speakers. This year was no exception as an early morning start was preceded by a hosted breakfast sponsored by BorgWarner Transmission Products. Seminar break snacks and beverages were hosted by Transmission Specialties and Recon Torque Converters.
Gears Magazine publisher Rodger Bland kicked off the educational series of speakers with an inspirational message and the day of seminars was topped off with Transmission Digest Publisher Bobby Mace’s presentation of survey and market data that influences the converter aftermarket.
In between those two was a combination of technical seminars related to torque converter rebuilding with a notable emphasis on performance converters. This emphasis was represented by a pair of presentations from Blake Carter of SunCoast Performance, who concentrated on performance 10-speed transmission and converter issues; and Joe Rivera, founder of the ProTorque brand that is now a product line of Boninfante Racing. Joe’s talk focused on the process and culture for being successful in the performance torque converter business.
Sonnax Vice President of Technical Development Bob Warnke spoke about complaints blamed on the torque converter that quite often have origin in the valve body or other non-converter transmission problems. As part of his presentation, Warnke announced his retirement, effective later this year, from Sonnax.
Covering similar torque converter concerns was a presentation from John Parmenter, a transmission shop owner who serves as a trainer and product development consultant to transmission kit packager Precision International.
Rounding out the seminar program were speakers from supplier companies. Robbie Ferguson from Raybestos Powertrain discussed important aspects of friction paper manufacturing and bonding techniques that prolong the life of the converter. Schaeffler’s Alfredo Jimenez presented a look at some of the technical advances that are being applied to current and near future converters to increase desired performance while reducing weight and load on the powertrain. Steve Jaussaud of Sonnax explained that supply chain issues were waning as the value of backorders have been cut in half in the past few months. Jaussaud also informed Sonnax customers about some changes and some new products, ending with the news that a new company transmission parts catalog will be mailing soon to include technical content that helps identify whether particular issues are related to the transmission or the torque converter.