I called BTS and spoke to Tina (nice gal), and gave her the rundown. She passed the phone to Brian (I said, "Wow, Brian Himself! I'm famous now!" He laughed and said, "Bull-$#!t."), who pried himself away from his work to listen to my tale of woe (slams into reverse and pops back out when cold, no reverse hot). I asked him about the TransGo SK E4OD kit, and if that would fix the problem.
He said, since I had the pan off, I could see the low/reverse clutches through the little 'window' in the trans near the tail. So I can!
"Move em back and forth, with a screwdriver or your finger or something. How much play is there?"
Um, probably close to 1/8".
"Whoa- you're looking for MAYBE 1/16". The piston's max travel is, I think, 0.050". Do the plates look burned?"
"Stick your screwdriver up in there and rub it on one of the frictions; do you get anything off, any black stuff?"
"It sounds like someone was using Low to slow the truck down while they were hauling a load down a hill. The problem is, in Low, the trans only supplies 25PSI to that piston, which is barely enough to hold it if you've got a heavy load behind. The TransGo Tugger kit ups that to 90PSI, which is pretty well locked."
I acknowledged that one of the POs was a rodeo barrel-rider, at least judging from all the stickers about it in the windows, and the gooseneck hitch in the bed led me to believe he was towing at least two (maybe more) horses at a time in a gooseneck trailer.
"Yeah, that'd do it, especially around these hills."
After I got off the phone, I got my feeler gauges and tried a variety of combinations until I had several which, added together, would fit between the plates with a bit of friction.
0.030 + 0.028 + 0.026 = 0.084". That comes out to roughly 1/12"... not horrid, but certainly not great, and not near enough to hold the clutch pack considering the max throw of the piston. After closer inspection, I noted that several of the "frictions" had friction material on only one side. Not sure what that indicates or how that works, but the end result is, if I want reverse, I have to have it rebuilt ($$$$$!) or delve in there myself ($$ + time).
Considering that I bought this truck to swap its engine into my '95, I think I'll live without reverse for a little while longer. Once the swap is done, my first major trip will be down to BTS to sell my E4OD to Brian as a core!
1995 F250 XLT 7.3T (on donor '97 engine with 180xxx miles) 4x4 - LuK SMF, Diamond Eye 3" downpipe to 5"straight-pipe exhaust. ZF5 manual trans, Curt hide-away gooseneck hitch, Super Duty suspension conversion.
1997 F250 XLT 7.3T - 2wd E4OD, alloy wheels w/ bald tires, gooseneck hitch, pretty much bone stock. Soon to become a trailer, spare tires, spare parts, and scrap.