Jeep Wrangler AX-15 to 700R4 transmission swap - part II
Making it all fit Short Cuts
by: Ron Hollatz - 10/2000


Lokar shift linkage
Lokar uses a direct shift linkage instead of the usual cable. The coiled cable and silver box are for the dash mounted Lokar LED shift indicator.

Photo by author

Shifter location
The adjustability of the Lokar shifter allows easy placement through the existing opening in the floorboards.

Photo by author

Modified tailhousing
Some minor grinding and an extra set of bolts was required to mount the Lokar bracket. Also shown is the Advance Adapters transfer case adapter.

Photo by author

TD Performance SlamGuard transmission oil pan
TD Performance SlamGuard transmission oil pan.

Photo by author

B&M remote oil filter
A B&M remote oil filter helps keep the transmission fluid clean.

Photo by author

Once I had decided on the parts to use, see part I of my 700R4 transmission swap article, it was time to get to work. To avoid any unforeseen difficulties I test fit as many of the components as I could before they went in. It's a lot easier making adjustments while the transmission and transfer case are out of the vehicle.

The Lokar shifter

Most shifters used in automatic transmission conversions use a cable from the shifter to the transmission. Since the most common failure I've heard with these shifters is broken cables, I decided to use a Lokar automatic transmission shifter. The Lokar shifters are mounted directly to the top of the transmission and use a direct linkage to the transmission. The Lokar mounting system allows you to move the shifter position from front to rear. The shifter lever is available in several lengths and is also adjustable allowing you to put it wherever is most comfortable. A safety lock-out button in the shifter knob prevents accidental shifting. The button is much easier to use than the levers featured on other shifters.

The Lokar brackets mount to each side of the transmission and on the tailshaft housing bolts. This is where I ran into my first challenge. The Lokar shifter is designed to fit 2-wheel drive transmissions which have a tailshaft housing bolted onto the rear of the transmission. On 4-wheel drive transmissions the transfer case takes the place of the tailshaft housing. The tailshaft housing is much smaller and the Lokar bracket is designed to fit over it using the same bolts into the transmission housing. Luckily I was able to grind some material from both the transmission housing and the Lokar bracket allowing me to add an extra pair of bolts from the front.

Most automatic shifters mount in some kind of housing with a shift indicator. Lokar gives you a couple of different options if you decide you want a shift indicator (many people don't use one). They offer a shift indicator either built into one of their boots, or a remote indicator to be mounted in the dash. I chose the dash mounted version so I could see what gear I was in without looking down at the floor. I mounted the billet aluminum indicator just below the gauges in my YJ. The sending unit bolts onto the transmission with a bracket using 2 of the transmission pan bolts. A short rod connects the sensor housing to the shift rod. Alignment is as simple as bolting it together and removing a pin from the housing. When I first installed it I didn't tighten the bolts enough so the sensor housing moved. All I had to do was loosen it up and use the pin to align it correctly. Color coded wires are then run up to the indicator in the dash.

The shift indicator kit also included a back-up light and neutral safety switch relay module. This module connects into the shift indicator wiring and uses 12 volt heavy-duty Hella relays. For the back-up lights I just needed to splice in the wire which used to go to the switch on the side of the manual transmission. I chose not to wire the neutral safety switch so I could use the starter motor to move the Jeep in an emergency. My gearing is low enough I can even start my Jeep while it is in gear.

Keeping the transmission cool

The key to 700R4 longevity is keeping the transmission cool. It doesn't take very long for the temperature to get in the danger zone while crawling over difficult terrain making a transmission cooler a must. The B&M SuperCooler I used is a low pressure drop cooler which reduces the possibility of failure by using stacked plates instead of the usual tubes. This allows the cooler to self-regulate the amount of ATF going through the cooler while providing a more durable design. The model I chose has fittings so I could use Earls braided hose to eliminate the chance of a hose being pulled off while on the trail. The braided hose is overkill, but I'd rather not have to worry about it. I also carry a short piece of hose I can use to eliminate the cooler in case of damage. A B&M remote filter is also in the system to keep the fluid as clean as possible.

Another good way to improve cooling is by using a deep transmission pan so more ATF is in the system. Unfortunately the design of my skid plate prevented me from using most of the deep pans. I did find a slightly larger SlamGuard pan from TD Performance. Besides holding some extra fluid, the pan has a 3/16" steel skid plate welded to the bottom. The skid plate is a nice addition since my cross member doesn't extend to the front of the transmission. The pan also includes a drain plug making changing the transmission fluid a snap.

Adapters by Advance Adapters

The adapters from Advance Adapters really made this swap a piece of cake. The swap required adapters on both the engine and transfer case sides of the transmission. Both adapters included the necessary hardware and well thought out instructions to complete the swap. The Chevy automatic transmission to Jeep engine adapter was designed for CJ applications, but it also worked on my YJ. The people at Advance Adapters were very helpful and quick to respond to the differences I found between the Jeep models. When I ordered the engine to transmission adapter I had to order it as two parts. The first is the adapter and related hardware which is used for several Jeep engines. The second is the flywheel for the specific Jeep engine. The flexplate for the 258 6 cylinder can also be used for the 4.0L.

I'm not going to cover the complete install of the transmission since Advance Adapters provides detailed instructions. I will try to cover anything you need to know up front to make the swap as painless as possible. If you are thinking about the 700R4 swap I recommend getting Advance Adapters Jeep Conversion booklet and the instructions for the specific kits you will need. These will give you a good idea of what is required so you don't have any surprises.

On to Part III - The old parts are removed

Contacts: Related Links:
  • Advance Adapters
    Dept. ORN
    4320 Aerotech Center Way
    Paso Robles, Ca 93446-0247 USA
    Phone 800-775-4407
    Fax 805-238-4201
  • Lokar Perforamance Products
    Dept. ORN
    10924 Murdock Drive
    Knoxville, TN 37392 USA
    Phone 865-966-2269
    Fax 865-671-1999
  • South Bay Driveline
    Dept. ORN
    573 W. Julian St.
    San Jose, Ca 95110 USA
    Phone 408-995-6000
    Fax 408-995-6513
  • 4X4 Unlimited
    Dept. ORN
    10025 40th Ave. NE.
    Elgin
    , MN 55932 USA
    Phone 507-285-1231
  • B&M Racing
    Dept. ORN
    9142 Independence Avenue
    Chatsworth, CA 91311 USA
    Phone 818-882-6422
    Fax 818-882-6694
  • TCI Automotive
    Dept. ORN
    One TCI Drive
    Ashland, MS 38603 USA
    Phone 662-224-8972
    Fax 662-224-9308
  • Advanced Frame Works
    Dept. ORN
    223 Stratosphere Dr.
    Lewistown, MT 59457 USA
    Phone 406-538-4996
    Fax 406-538-4997
  • Hesco Inc.
    Dept. ORN
    1329 Fourth Avenue South.
    Birmingham,AL, 35233 USA
    Phone 205-251-1472
    Fax 205-251-8358


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