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Used transmissions: Borg Warner T-50…

Comment/Question: I just bought a hot rod with a 350 chevy and a T50 5 speed. The transmission does not shift well, especially down shifting. Can these be serviced or should I find another T50 or a different top shifter? What is your turn around if i ship it to you? Bill Gould
Answer: The T-50 is not a super duty manual transmission, however a healthy T-50 should suit your purposes well, a modified ‘beefed up” unit is nearly indestructible, but expensive. Unless you are serious about using it hard, in most cases switching the type of standard transmission can be a real hassle. The clutch may be different, the length may be different (necessitating a different drive-shaft), and the cross-member may be in another location. Either way, if I was going to do all of that work, I would just assume rebuild it to suit the purpose or go with a T-5 B/W transmission.
Does it grind upon downshift? If it grinds, it is more than likely inside the transmission. If it is sticky or hard to push into a lower gear with NO grinding, than it may be a clutch problem. I would probably drain the lube over a white piece of cardboard and look to see if any contamination comes out in the fluid. Like brass color or ferrous (magnetic) metal. These are telltale signs of an internal problem. It also cuts to the chase faster.
Next, check the clutch and replace the clutch for insurance sake.. It sounds like the clutch or part of it may be bad or out of adjustment, if the car shifts properly when the engine is off. If your clutch is worn out or not disengaging all the way, it will drag shifts and be resistant or hard to push into a lower gear, if it grinds it is inside. Buy a NEW clutch from the parts store. New ones cost about as much as a rebuilt one and are infinitely better. Brands like: LUK, Sachs, Valeo, etc are all factory original and readily available.
I don’t recommend anyone who is not a specialist to rebuild their own trans. Contrary to popular belief, standards can be more difficult to rebuild than automatics. It would be an understatement to say that rebuilding a standard transmission is a piece of cake, would you perform brain surgery on your child to save a few bucks? Transmission rebuilding is for highly trained veteran mechanics, like brain surgery is performed by trained, highly educated Doctors. In fact, it is downright insulting to a veteran transmission rebuilder to be referred to as anything less than an intelligent well trained specialist with a lot of experience.
The reason a properly rebuilt standard transmissions using genuine American made parts is not as affordable as the “cheap” units is because the after-market for standard transmissions is infiltrated with a ton of cheap Chinese made gears now, and they are complete and unadulterated crap. Designed so less than ethical company’s can compete price wise with the used units and tell you how inexpensive their rebuilt manual transmissions are.
Trust me, you will pay double price when the “cheap one” breaks right out of warranty or you break a gear and get told gears are not guaranteed.
The metal is scrap iron, the gears are not hardened properly, guaranteed gear and bearing failure, fast. So consider this, the fact is that the “cheap units” will probably powder (destroy) the input gear and cluster gear on you first ‘holeshot“, that makes them a bad deal and more expensive, and angering. Broken gear are not generally covered under warranties. Good old fashioned crafted American made gears can take much more punishment. Here is a little vibe on my experience with punishing a transmission.
I would not look into interchangeability. For the most part it is easier and cheaper to go back with original since it already fits, especially in a hot rod situation where custom mounting may have been fabricated.
Last thing is that I would get one from Brian, it will be the most cost effective way to handle the transmission swap. The T-50 is a fine unit, however if you do your own rebuild, get the American made parts.

If you decide on a good used manual transmission, GotTransmissions.com would be my choice.

Good Luck.

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