Ripper Shifter for and Other T5 Upgrades
Borg Warner T5 is undoubtedly a great transmission. It offers
good gear ratios, overdrive for cruising the highways, and
at just 75 lbs., they weigh about half of a toploader or C4/C6/AOD
automatics. Because the dimensions and bellhousing patterns
are the same as that of any Ford Windsor (or Cleveland) these
transmissions swap easily into early Fords. Ford put T5's
in Mustangs starting with the 1984 model year. Through '89
the T5 was only rated to handle 265 lb.ft. of torque. The
later World Class models, found in 90-93 Mustang 5.0's, will
handle 300 lb.ft. of torque without a problem. The upgraded
Cobra "T5Z", will handle slightly more. Our '67 Mustang, "Project
11.99", was converted to a T5 about four years ago. It has
made several hundred bonsai runs at the track, and still shifts
flawlessly. The low 3.35 first gear makes for great launches
as well. We've also seen plenty of T5's run well into the
11's behind as much as much as 377 cubic inch strokers. This
is not to say the T5 is bullet proof, we've also seen a fair
share of them give out after a few missed powershifts. There
are a couple of keys to making your T5 more reliable, and
increasing its strength and durability.
We'll cover a few things that you can do in your garage with
basic hand tools, without having to get into the transmission
itself. There are definitely ways to beef up the guts of the
transmission, such as installing the smaller and stronger
2.95 first gear, but that is better left to the professionals.
We've found that the following four upgrades and maintenance
tips will offer significant improvement in how your T5 shifts,
but also in how long it lasts.
First and foremost, install an aftermarket short throw shifter.
Many of the earlier T5 shifters had outrageously long throws
(the amount of stick travel before it's in gear). Borg Warner
improved the shifter in the 90's, but not before several aftermarket
companies, like B&M, practically perfected it. Secondly, it
is highly recommended that you upgraded to a steel bearing
retainer. The T5Z Cobra transmissions already have this upgrade,
and for good reason. The stock aluminum bearing retainer will
slowly gall and weaken due to the rubbing action of the throwout
bearing. If you're using a performance clutch with heavier
spring pressure, the retainer will wear even faster. Eventually
the retainer can fail, leading to clutch and input shaft failure.
Finally you should always run a quality synthetic or synthetic-blend
ATF (Mercon-Dextron II / III) in your T5. The fastest way
to ruin a T5 is to put in manual gear oil. It's also a good
idea to periodically inspect and, if needed, replace the tailshaft
bushing and rear seal. The bushing wears a pattern with the
driveshaft slip yoke. If you bought your T5 used, or if you've
just bought a new driveshaft or slip yoke, you should always
replace the tail shaft bushing so the two items can wear-in
together. Putting a new slip yoke into an old bushing can
quickly ruin the polish on the slip yoke and lead to excessive
clearance and vibrations.
Installation is easier with the transmission out of the
car, but can be done in the car without too much hassle.
On late models you'll need to remove the shift knob, console
cover, and upperboot. There is also a lowerboot attached
with four hex-head screws, which can be tricky to get
to. You don't need to drain the trans fluid to change
the shifter. Start by removing the four 13mm bolts which
secure the stock shifter to the transmission.
the bolts out, use a screwdriver to pry the stock shifter
off the case.
can see the difference in construction between the Ripper
and the stock shifters. The stock shifter base is stamped
steel and will flex under heavy force. The Ripper uses
an all billet aluminum design. The stick itself is stainless
the small plastic shifter cup. If it is in good shape
(they usually are), it can be reused. Otherwise you'll
need to round up a replacement, from Ford or a transmission
off the old silicone, and apply a bead of new silicone
sealant or RTV.
place the new shifter onto the case, making sure that
the shifter ball seats into the plastic cup. The new shifter
comes with offset washers which allow you to position
the shifter 1/2" fore or aft, based on your preference.
Install and tighten the supplied allen head bolts.
The shifter stops are an important feature of T5 aftermarket
shifters. They will prevent overtravel of the shifter
when your slamming the gears. One big problem with the
stock shifter is that if bang the gear hard enough you
can damage the internals and bend the shift forks. Set
the stops by putting the shifter in third and turning
the allen screw until it just touches the stick, then
back it of half turn. Repeat for the lower stop with the
shifter in fourth gear.
holding the allen screw in place, snug up the lock nut.
Go ahead and shift through all the gears and make sure
all the bolts are nice and tight.
final step is to slip on the supplied boot and retaining
ring. You're now ready to slam the gears with confidence!
The B&M Ripper definitely changes the feel and action
of shifting. The throws are shorter and thus faster. The
shifter also offers more positive "cluncks" when engaging
gears, without the sloppy feel and play in the stock shifter.