Deltrans Inc. is a transmission rebuilder in Newark, DE. In business for 30 years, the company is now managed by long-time employee Bill Harris. Bill said he’s been building transmissions for 25 years, “more than 20 of that time here. In the last couple years I’ve taken on more management (tasks) and I’m now doing more diagnostic work.”
Type of work
Deltrans rebuilds automatic transmissions, transfer cases and torque converters. With five techs, the shop averages about 30 jobs a week, half of them in-vehicle and the other half just the transmission itself. All their work is on light duty transmissions, no vehicles bigger than 12,000 pounds.
Bill says Deltrans is equipped to do anything a transmission needs. “Being able to do it in-house has made us a one-stop shop. We do all our own torque converters and machine our own parts.”
The machine work includes reconditioning pumps, resurfacing drums or machining them for clearances, resurfacing pressure plates and much more. For instance, we saw the front half of a torque converter chucked into a lathe, and a MIG welder mounted to deposit metal on the pilot boss so it could then be machined down to the correct size.
Bill says rebuilding their own torque converters is an important capability, not because it saves money (it probably costs about the same as buying them) but because it’s the only way to be assured of the quality he demands.
“There’s a considerable amount of machining that needs to be done. We bond our own clutches on torque converters, so the old one needs to be machined off and the pressure plate resurfaced. Instead of doing one at a time we’ll do 20 all at once, because it takes less time and we’ll have them when they’re needed.”
Keeping a clean shop
In addition to precision machine work, the next most important part of a rebuild is cleanliness. There are several parts washers in the shop, including an automatic parts washer that Bill compared to a steam cabinet. “It lets us clean cases, pans and cross members so we can assemble a clean transmission.”
Probably the most important cleaning machine is the cooler flusher. Once connected and set to an (adjustable) automatic cycle, it pulses hot transmission fluid through the transmission cooler, flushing out any debris left over from the old transmission. It gets used on every vehicle that comes into the shop. “It runs all day, from first thing in the morning. This machine has saved more radiators and paid for itself just by not having to replace radiators to replace the transmission cooler. It’s an important machine and I’m looking forward to getting a second one.”
Like many others in this business, Bill says the most important tool in the shop is between the ears. But after that, it’s the machine tools and special equipment that enables them to do what they do.
Modern transmissions have a lot of electronic components, but the mechanical parts are still there and still need the same kind of repair or reconditioning.