Mishimoto 6.4L Powerstroke Transmission Cooler R&D - Ford Powerstroke Diesel Forum
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post #1 of 19 Old 12-01-2017, 09:49 AM Thread Starter
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Mishimoto 6.4L Powerstroke Transmission Cooler R&D

Hey everybody,

Wanted to let you all know that Mishimoto has begun development of a performance transmission cooler for the 6.4L Powerstroke! Check out the first of our blog posts below. As always, feel free to ask any questions and keep an eye out for new posts!

Thanks!

-Steve

Redefine the Limits – Transmission Cooler R&D, Part 1: Stock Review



What defines a limit? In the English language, a limit is “a restriction on the size or amount of something permissible or possible.” In practice, however, limits are not always as rigid. Anybody who’s ever mastered a sport or skill will tell you, limits are made to be pushed and broken. A limit is only as defined as one’s willingness to accept it. In the automotive industry, limits are often found by exceeding them. We push our cars and trucks until flaws appear, then step back and find a way to make them better.

Physics tells us that almost everything has limits, whether or not we’ve found them yet. Air at a certain temperature can only absorb so much heat energy, and transmission fluid loses its ability to lubricate beyond a specified temperature. Add a transmission cooler between the two, and you have hundreds of variables that will decide the limits of what’s possible for your truck. In the case of the Ford 6.4L Powerstroke, the limits have yet to be defined.



When it comes to towing and hauling heavy loads, the third-generation Ford Super Duty is hard to beat. With a 6.4L diesel engine that produces over 600 lb-ft of torque and a towing capacity up to 24,500 lbs, it’s obvious what these trucks were designed for. Aside from its ample power, the 6.4L Powerstroke is mated to an equally capable transmission. Normally, this is where I would suggest that all those accolades mean very little, because they’re let down by an inefficient transmission cooler. But that’s not true here.

Before we dive into the stock 6.4L transmission cooler, you should know that there are essentially two different methods of transmission cooler core construction: tube-and-fin and stacked-plate.


This animation shows how little surface area the fluid contacts in a traditional tube-and-fin cooler.

The most common type of transmission cooler, the tube-and-fin style, is usually constructed with a large diameter tube that snakes back and forth between cooling fins. This type of cooler is the cheapest, but least efficient, style of cooler. The tube that winds through the cooler has a low surface area in contact with the cooling fins, so a large area of the cooler does not transfer heat from the fluid. Because of their low cost, but equally low efficiency, tube-and-fin transmission coolers are fitted to light-duty cars and trucks that just need a cooler to maintain fluid temperatures during normal driving or very light towing.

Heavy-duty vehicles may still use a tube-and-fin style cooler, but it would likely be similar in construction to a radiator, with rows of long tubes that run the length of the cooler, stacked with cooling fins. That method of tube-and-fin construction is more efficient than the single tube style, but the tubes are prone to cracking and damage from rocks and debris. The most efficient and durable style of transmission cooler, and the kind suited for heavy towing and hauling, is the stacked-plate cooler.


Here, you can see how much more surface area a stacked-plate cooler can cram into similar dimensions.

Stacked-plate coolers use a similar design to radiators, but instead of the traditional rolled or extruded tubes, they use hollow plates to carry the fluid across the core. These plates have a thicker wall than tubes, which makes them much more durable. The inside of the plates often includes fins known as turbulators. These turbulators move the fluid throughout the channel so that more of it is exposed to the plate’s surface and cooled. Because of those features, a much smaller stacked-plate cooler can be used in place of a tube-and-fin cooler to achieve the same cooling.



Unlike many OEM transmission coolers, the 6.4L cooler seems to have been made with the idea that owners may want to push the limits of what the truck and transmission are capable of, without destroying them. The stock transmission cooler for the Super Duty is a stout, stacked-plate design that takes up a huge swath of the front stack. From our research, we found that many owners never have an issue with the transmission overheating, and if they do, there are often compounding factors.

So, if what I’m saying is true, and the transmission cooler isn’t the Achilles heel of the 6.4L’s towing capability, then why are we making an upgraded transmission cooler? Remember physics; everything has its limits, especially automotive parts. While the stock cooler is well designed for towing and hauling up to the recommended weight, there’s still a limit to how much it can cool.



We’re used to finding the limits of our vehicles by going past them, but that often results in hours on the side of the road or miles of driving delicately hoping that temp gauge doesn’t creep any higher. It may take the right road, with the right amount of weight on the trailer, with the wind going the right direction to reduce the stock trans cooler’s efficiency enough to overheat the transmission. But, as these trucks get older, the likelihood of conditions being just right increases. Eventually, the limits of the stock trans cooler will be found.



Instead of waiting to find the limits, we want to make a trans cooler that pushes the possibilities of what a direct-fit cooler can do. It will be a challenge to make a more efficient cooler than the stock unit within the stock location, so we’ll be thoroughly testing this cooler as we go to make sure we’re headed in the right direction. At Mishimoto, our motto is, “Push the limits,” but we’re going beyond just a push. We’re redefining the limits.

Thanks for reading,

-Steve

Last edited by Mishimoto; 12-01-2017 at 10:26 AM.
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post #2 of 19 Old 12-07-2017, 07:11 AM
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Defiantly interested. Same mounting location and brackets correct?
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post #3 of 19 Old 12-17-2017, 04:57 PM
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What about a fuel cooler? Not to change the subject but you have everything else but that.
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post #4 of 19 Old 12-18-2017, 05:30 AM Thread Starter
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Defiantly interested. Same mounting location and brackets correct?
Sorry I didn't see this earlier! The mounting and lines will be a bit different from stock to accommodate the larger cooler, but everything you need to mount the cooler will be provided with the kit and there will be no modification to the truck's body needed.

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What about a fuel cooler? Not to change the subject but you have everything else but that.
A fuel cooler is definitely something we've been kicking around with a few of the Powerstroke vehicles, but it's not yet on our product plan. I can certainly pass your interest on to the development team though and if you have any examples of others in need of a fuel cooler, please pass them along!

Also, @michaelite are you an Army Engineer? I worked for USACE Baltimore for about four years (civilian).

Thanks!

-Steve
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post #5 of 19 Old 12-19-2017, 06:05 PM
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Originally Posted by RandomForumGuy View Post
Defiantly interested. Same mounting location and brackets correct?
Sorry I didn't see this earlier! The mounting and lines will be a bit different from stock to accommodate the larger cooler, but everything you need to mount the cooler will be provided with the kit and there will be no modification to the truck's body needed.

Quote:
Originally Posted by michaelite View Post
What about a fuel cooler? Not to change the subject but you have everything else but that.
A fuel cooler is definitely something we've been kicking around with a few of the Powerstroke vehicles, but it's not yet on our product plan. I can certainly pass your interest on to the development team though and if you have any examples of others in need of a fuel cooler, please pass them along!

Also, @michaelite are you an Army Engineer? I worked for USACE Baltimore for about four years (civilian).

Thanks!

-Steve
Yes Steve. Prime Power, you might of heard of us. Just left active duty and now in the reserves. Prior to that, I was a combat engineer.
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post #6 of 19 Old 02-04-2018, 10:49 AM
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Very interested in this! Even with the modifications it should still be a pretty easy install since all the lines from the trans are under the passenger side frame rail and hook into the radiator down low on the passenger side.

Any time frame when this will be available?

F250 CCSB 6.4L Powerstroke
SCT X4 SOTF, No Limit Tunes, EDGE Insight CTS2, ATS Stage 2 Trans, Sinister Diesel Goodies, Elite Diesel Goodies, and a bunch under the hood.


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post #7 of 19 Old 02-05-2018, 05:41 AM Thread Starter
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Yes Steve. Prime Power, you might of heard of us. Just left active duty and now in the reserves. Prior to that, I was a combat engineer.
I have! I believe we had a few Prime Power grads come through to work on a few projects and with hurricane Sandy relief. Thank you for your service!

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Originally Posted by 08PowerstrokeFX4 View Post
Very interested in this! Even with the modifications it should still be a pretty easy install since all the lines from the trans are under the passenger side frame rail and hook into the radiator down low on the passenger side.

Any time frame when this will be available?
This will be a direct-fit cooler, so no modification necessary We're looking to release this in March or April of this year with a pre-sale shortly before that.

Thanks!

-Steve
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Steve, that sounds great! Looking forward to getting my hands on this and putting it on the truck!

F250 CCSB 6.4L Powerstroke
SCT X4 SOTF, No Limit Tunes, EDGE Insight CTS2, ATS Stage 2 Trans, Sinister Diesel Goodies, Elite Diesel Goodies, and a bunch under the hood.


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post #9 of 19 Old 02-26-2018, 01:30 PM Thread Starter
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Hey all,

Good news! We have an update on this transmission cooler, and even better, it's in pre-sale! Check out the end of our R&D process and test results below and check out our site for the pre-sale details!

Redefine the Limits - Transmission Cooler R&D, Part 2: Design



As Dan inched our 6.7L F-350 onto the trailer, the October sun beat down onto the black asphalt. It wasn’t even 11:00AM and the thermometer read almost 80F; hot for October in Delaware, but perfect for transmission cooler testing. I climbed into our 6.0L F-250 follow vehicle while Dan cranked down the straps on the trailer and we set out for an afternoon filled with hills and valleys.


Our last look at the 6.4L Powerstroke transmission cooler revealed something a bit out of the ordinary for our blogs. Instead of highlighting all the failures of the stock transmission cooler, we shared that there really aren’t many, yet. Yes, the stock 6.4L trans cooler is good enough. Good enough for a stock truck. Good enough for towing the recommended weight. Good enough for people who are okay with settling for good enough. But at Mishimoto, we don’t settle. “Good enough” isn’t good enough for us, and we’re willing to bet it’s not enough for you either. So, we’re sticking to our moto and pushing the limits, even before they’re found. We’ve spent months developing an upgraded transmission cooler for your 6.4L Powerstroke and it’s time to show you what we’ve come up with.



In the world of automotive coolers, bigger is usually better. There are limitations to that philosophy, and most vehicles have other requirements that take precedence over sheer size. In the case of the 6.4L trans cooler, however, there aren’t any major issues with the stock cooler that we needed to correct, so we were able to focus on making our cooler as large as possible. Of course, that goal wasn’t without its challenges.



The cooling stack of the 2008-2010 6.4L Powerstroke fits together a bit like a can of Pringles; there’s not a lot of room between components behind the grille. To make our job even harder, the transmission cooler sits between the intercooler and the radiator, with a power steering cooler and lines positioned right above it. That limited the space available for our cooler, but Ye had an idea to make the most of the space we had. All the components in the stack, aside from the intercooler at the very front, sit at an angle. The intercooler and radiator form a V shape with the transmission and power steering coolers sitting in the middle of that V. With some clever designing and the aid of 3D models, Ye was able to utilize the open area in the middle of V, mapping out the lines in the process to make the cooler a direct fit.



3D models are all well and good, but there’s no substitute for the real thing. Well, prototypes are a pretty good substitute. There’s a lot of complex geometry involved in Ye’s design that must be spot on, so having a prototype that we could bolt to the truck was essential before we could start production. Our head fabricator, Mike, mocked up the outside dimensions of the core from u-channel aluminum while our 3D printers churned away building the end-tanks. The hose design was also critical, so we 3D printed those as well.

The final pieces of the puzzle, the parts that really make this design work, are two brackets that attach the cooler to the radiator and angle it out into the V of the cooling stack. These brackets include a lot of bends and slots that allow some adjustment to the angle of the cooler. Mike cut the brackets out on the waterjet and bent them to fit. We bolted the components onto the truck, and with the radiator reinstalled, we knew that Ye’s design would fit. It was time to start production.



Shortly after the design was finalized, we had a production sample in the shop. Mike did a great job with the prototype core and brackets, but they both look far more impressive in final form. Ye didn’t waste any time tearing into the cooling stack of our 6.4L to install our cooler. In just a few minutes, she had the intercooler out, which is impressive considering the intercooler is about as big as she is. In even less time, the stock transmission cooler was replaced with our cooler and we had our first look at the final product in its home.



The cooler clearly fit, but it’s performance still needed to be tested. Luckily, we were having an unusually hot October, perfect weather for testing the cooling system. The several large trucks inhabiting our shop, and a trailer to put one of them on, would be enough weight to make the true to life. Under these circumstances, we could really see what the prototype trans cooler was made of.



Now, Delaware is not exactly known for its mountainous terrain. About half an hour west of our facility lies Maryland. Aptly nicknamed “little America,” Maryland is home to beaches, wide open fields, and thankfully, rolling hills and mountains. With our 2011 6.7L F-350 loaded onto the trailer, we headed west. The terrain transitioned from flat fields and waterways to steep rolling hills. A long stretch of hills with grades ranging from 4-7% made for the best area to collect data. We hit record on our AEM data-loggers and started weighing down the pedal.



As the sun lowered and the temperature dropped in tow, we concluded our testing. We recorded several runs with both our cooler and the stock transmission cooler after doing a quick swap in the field. With an 80F ambient temperature and the air over the asphalt hovering around 90F, the cooler had its work cut out for it. However, Ye was confident that the 63% larger core volume and 121% greater fin surface area would yield significant performance improvements. She was not disappointed.



The compiled data showed that at peak performance our transmission cooler lowered inlet temperatures by up to 10F and outlet temperatures by up to 20F. Eager to verify our results in a more scientific format, we turned to our in-house Dynapacks. The Dynapacks allow us to put a set amount of load on the truck for consistent testing, free from traffic and in the controlled environment of our facility. While we were road testing, we closely monitored the calculated load reported by the truck’s computer. We then set our Dynapacks to replicate that load and began testing. After warming up the truck, we completed several two-minute runs at 70% load with each cooler. The results matched our road testing. Again, our cooler produced a 10F drop at the inlet and 20F drop at the outlet when compared to the stock cooler. Proof positive that bigger is usually better.



Our 6.4L transmission cooler looks great, fits like a glove, and cools leagues above the stock cooler. Now all that’s left to do is produce it. This is where I say goodbye for now, but I’m happy to say we have good news: the pre-sale for this trans cooler will soon be live. This will be your chance to upgrade your 6.4L’s transmission cooler and ready it for anything you or the world can throw at it, while saving some money.

Keep pushing the limits, even if you haven’t found them yet.

Thanks for reading,

-Steve

Last edited by Mishimoto; 02-27-2018 at 07:03 AM.
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post #10 of 19 Old 04-09-2018, 12:26 PM Thread Starter
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Hey everybody,

Just a heads-up that this pre-sale will be coming to an end soon!

Thanks,

-Steve
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