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Old 09-21-2011, 10:18 AM   #1
A555 A520 OBX Hybrid Transmission Build Tips  
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A555/A520/OBX Tranny build tips

I am building my first A555/A520/OBX hybrid transmission. This unit is an A555/A520 hybrid with an OBX LSD installed. You cant get the OBX for the A555 directly, but you can swap in an A520 intermediate shaft and ring gear and get the OBX in an A555...and that is what we are doing here.

I have been building engines for years, but this is my first manual tranny. Since this is my first tranny rebuild, I am wet behind the ears, a green horn, Im sure to make a small mistake or overlook something that an experienced eye might have not missed so I thought I would just ask:

What are some of the common mistakes made when rebuilding a tranny?
What do I need to be sure to do or not do?
How do I determine if a synchro is worn (out) by visually inspecting it?
Assembly tips, etc.

I have everything needed. Two same year trannys, an A520 and an A555, a complete set of bearings, seals, and synchros for this unit. It's the late model 89 style A555 with the large nut on the end of the intermediate shaft rather than the c-clip.

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Old 09-21-2011, 10:34 AM   #2
re: A520 A555 OBX LSD Build Instructions & Tips  
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check the steel plate everyone recomends changeing out for the moly plate , it can wear thin around the holes the shafts pass through

next check the alum plate that goes next to it - look for a crack between the holes the shafts pass through

I found the best way to keep track of the parts that come off the secondary shaft is to stack them on the bench , first part off , on the bottom of the stack - next one on top of it etc

you'll need to find the tools to bang out/ off the old bearing races and cups & to bang the new ones in -- or find a nice trans guy to do it for lunch money (easiest way)
once the bearings are delt with the trans it's self is relitavely easy - though I've noticed that getting the guts out & into a 555 seems tougher than the old 525's
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Old 09-22-2011, 02:20 PM   #3
Re: A555/A520/OBX LSD Build Tips  
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Going to fill this one with RedLine MTL. Seems to work good for me.

Last edited by ILIKESHELBYS; 09-28-2011 at 09:56 AM.. Reason: clarification in title to topic
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Old 09-26-2011, 08:06 PM   #4
Re: A555/A520/OBX Build Tips  
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Here is why you replace the end plate with a new OEM one or a better and stronger chrome-molly replacement unit. Under hi-boost and/or spirited driving, this plate actually flexes outward and over time it will not snap all the way back flat again. This flexing action wears a groove in the plate as well and the bearings loose their critical pre-load and will simply just come apart after the components start to exit their respective cages and races due to the additional clearance.

The last picture is of a new chrome-molly end plate.
Attached Thumbnails
A555 A520 OBX Hybrid Transmission Build Tips-endplate_1.jpg   A555 A520 OBX Hybrid Transmission Build Tips-endplate_2.jpg   A555 A520 OBX Hybrid Transmission Build Tips-endplate_3.jpg  
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Old 09-26-2011, 08:27 PM   #5
Re: A555/A520/OBX LSD Build Tips  
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Here is a shot of the A555 and A520 ring gear next to the OBX LSD. You can see why the OBX wont fit the larger solid 555 gear, the gear is solid and you physically can't bolt the OBX to it.

But to get the 3.50FD I wanted in the tranny(the 555 was a 3.87), you take the 520 intermediate shaft and ring gear and combine them with the gear set and case of an A555. If you look close you can tell the pinion of the 520 shaft is a bit larger than the 555 unit and the ring gear has 1 tooth less or more depending on which ring gear you are holding. Both pinions have the same number of teeth but the ring gears are 49 and 50 tooth.
Attached Thumbnails
A555 A520 OBX Hybrid Transmission Build Tips-520-555-ring-gears.jpg   A555 A520 OBX Hybrid Transmission Build Tips-520-diff-obx.jpg   A555 A520 OBX Hybrid Transmission Build Tips-obx-520-side-view.jpg  

Last edited by ILIKESHELBYS; 09-28-2011 at 09:58 AM.. Reason: clarification in title to topic
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Old 09-26-2011, 08:37 PM   #6
Re: A555/A520/OBX LSD Build Tips  
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To build the 520/555/OBX hybrid you basically need to acquire two same year trannys, one A555 and one A520. There was a change in 89 with the intermediate shafts being different between the years so get either two 89s or two 87-88s.

These pictured are 89 units. You can tell them apart by noticing the large nut on the end of the input shaft on the A520 input shaft.

The picture reveals also the differences in the non-getrag gears of the A520. The A555 uses the heavy duty new process Getrag gear set.

Look even closer and you might notice the end of the A555 shaft starting to chip just a bit, this is the first sign of wear on these. The A520 unit shows no pitting at all yet, just normal discoloration.

So to build this hybrid, you use the A520 intermediate shaft and ring gear, everything else comes from the A555..except the OBX LSD that is.
Attached Thumbnails
A555 A520 OBX Hybrid Transmission Build Tips-555-520-intermediate-shafts.jpg   A555 A520 OBX Hybrid Transmission Build Tips-555-520-intermediate-shafts_thumb.jpg  

Last edited by ILIKESHELBYS; 09-28-2011 at 09:59 AM.. Reason: clarification on the title to the topic
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Old 09-26-2011, 08:41 PM   #7
Re: A555/A520/OBX LSD Build Tips  
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Here are a couple of shots of the ends of the intermediate shafts. You can see the wear on both of them. Both units are still usable however. "turbovanman" is said to have/has the ability to recondition the shaft surface back to o.e spec and size and hardness...however I do not have any personal experience with that service. I would like to know what that might cost and post here for others to see.
Attached Thumbnails
A555 A520 OBX Hybrid Transmission Build Tips-520shaft.jpg   A555 A520 OBX Hybrid Transmission Build Tips-555shaft.jpg  

Last edited by ILIKESHELBYS; 09-28-2011 at 10:06 AM.. Reason: get subject inline with topic
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Old 09-26-2011, 08:54 PM   #8
Re: A555/A520/OBX Build Tips  
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Here are a couple of shots of the OBX unit. The finishing of the OBX unit varies greatly so I suggest that you opt-in to have your supplier perform this service for you if you are not familiar with these units. A typical raw OBX unit will often need to have threads chased with a tap and casting flash removed. Also suggested is to replace the fastener hardware with higher grade bolts. I was fortunate enough to get Chris from TurboUnleashed to prep my unit for me. Its an affordable service that will save me countless hours of kicking myself in the back side for not doing it right the first time!
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A555 A520 OBX Hybrid Transmission Build Tips-obx-side.jpg   A555 A520 OBX Hybrid Transmission Build Tips-obx-top.jpg  
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Old 09-26-2011, 09:08 PM   #9
Re: A555/A520/OBX LSD Build Tips  
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The large sealed bearing goes on the end of the intermediate shaft and must be pressed on or off. In some rebuild sets, this bearing is shipped w/a compatible (pronounced cheaper!) bearing.

The other end of the intermediate shaft goes into the inner bearing race which is pressed into the front of the tranny case. You can see it in the picture below with the small retaining strap still holding it in place. Story goes its not good to mix and match intermediate shafts and bearings. The shaft is not available new and when it was, it shipped with a new bearing. You can replace the bearing still and you should.
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A555 A520 OBX Hybrid Transmission Build Tips-sealed-bearing.jpg   A555 A520 OBX Hybrid Transmission Build Tips-inner-bearing.jpg  

Last edited by ILIKESHELBYS; 09-28-2011 at 10:07 AM.. Reason: Get subjectinline with content
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Old 09-26-2011, 09:15 PM   #10
re: A520 A555 OBX LSD Build Instructions & Tips  
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ehh, not totally true with that last statement. i've bought many intermediate shafts when they were available, none of them came with a new bearing, you had to buy that seperately. also if the case hardening is damaged at all on either of those intermediate shafts, that will need to be repaired before using them or they will undercut and tear up the gearsets (something you dont wanna have happen) turbovanman has the ability to recondition the shaft surface back to o.e spec and size and hardness.
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Old 09-26-2011, 09:21 PM   #11
re: A520 A555 OBX LSD Build Instructions & Tips  
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Here is a portion of the complete rebuild kit that I purchased. Paid about $300. Pretty much everything I needed was in the kit except for the small parts kit which would have included the snap rings and a few other small items. This kit was spose' to be for an 89 unit....its an 87-88 unit I can tell because SOME of the synchros in the 89 unit are not single piece as shown in this kit. They are multi piece. I was lucky, I have two used but good sets of the multi-piece style synchros. Included in my kit were bearings for the intermediate and input shaft, differential bearings, all seals, shift fork pads.
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Old 10-30-2011, 12:42 AM   #12
re: A555 A520 OBX Hybrid Transmission Build Tips  
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After installing the new OBX LSD in the diff housing, an initial guaging shim is installed in the diff bearing end retainer and the entire assembly bolted together. Pictured here is the dial indicator set at 0* just before pushing up on the ring gear to measure the amount of deflection/end-play. I had 17/1000 of an in" of total end-play, so I added the suggested preload amounts of 6-10/1000 for a total additional shim thickness need of 23-27/1000 of an inch. The shim package I purchased was a pack of 10 shims, each .005in think. 5 x .005 gave me .025in total shim which was perfect. You have to take it all apart again to install the final shims by the way. I found the Diff shims needed at: www.transmissionpartsusa.com

Also pictured with the coins are the ring gear bolt (12 required) and the smaller shim for the input shaft bearing. These also come in a variety of thicknesses.

Here is a link to a two minute YouTube on how to use a dial indicator, its worth the watch even if you've already used one.
Reading and Using a Dial Indicator.mp4 - YouTube
Attached Thumbnails
A555 A520 OBX Hybrid Transmission Build Tips-dial_indicator_1.jpg   A555 A520 OBX Hybrid Transmission Build Tips-shims_1.jpg   A555 A520 OBX Hybrid Transmission Build Tips-sonnax.jpg   A555 A520 OBX Hybrid Transmission Build Tips-dif_1.jpg   A555 A520 OBX Hybrid Transmission Build Tips-dif_2.jpg  

A555 A520 OBX Hybrid Transmission Build Tips-shims.jpg  

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Old 10-30-2011, 12:57 AM   #13
re: A555 A520 OBX Hybrid Transmission Build Tips  
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So here is the whole shebang all assembled and cleaned up. I plan to fill it with RedLine MTL and it will be driven by a TurbosUnleashed Yellow plate and 6 puck thanks to Chris over there. Also got one of their lightened steel flywheels and the ARP fasteners for the flywheel to crank as well as the clutch pressure plate to flywheel thanks to Cindy over at FWDPerf.

I opted to wrinkle finish the end cover, I think it adds a nice touch. This unit is going in my DD GLHS L-Body so I am also doing the heim shifter joint upgrade at the same time as building the two custom linkage brackets so I get to keep the rod-shifted set-up with the later A-555/520/OBX LSD tranny.

To make the larger of the two brackets I just cut the OEM A555/520 bobble strut bracket just right and welded it to the standard A525 bracket so that all the linkage, as far as the tranny goes is right where it was before. I works perfectly and is OEM strength I guess. The other bracket is just a thick piece of angle iron two holes and the OEM pivot pin welded to it.

I have pictured the larger bracket with a front, back and side shot to help you see how that is done. This works great on L-body cars to install the A555/520 and keep your dogbone torque rod. You can also use the poly/solid adjustable dogbone now as well.
Attached Thumbnails
A555 A520 OBX Hybrid Transmission Build Tips-a552_1.jpg   A555 A520 OBX Hybrid Transmission Build Tips-a552_2.jpg   A555 A520 OBX Hybrid Transmission Build Tips-bracket_1.jpg   A555 A520 OBX Hybrid Transmission Build Tips-bracket_2.jpg   A555 A520 OBX Hybrid Transmission Build Tips-bracket_3.jpg  

A555 A520 OBX Hybrid Transmission Build Tips-bracket_4.jpg   A555 A520 OBX Hybrid Transmission Build Tips-bracket_5.jpg   A555 A520 OBX Hybrid Transmission Build Tips-bracket_6.jpg   A555 A520 OBX Hybrid Transmission Build Tips-bracket_7.jpg  
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Old 10-30-2011, 01:51 AM   #14
re: A555 A520 OBX Hybrid Transmission Build Tips  
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Here is the pressure plate, disk and flywheel combination I decided to go with. All this custom stuff came from Chris at TurbosUnleashed. The lightened steel flywheel seemed to be an excellent compromise in cost and streetable performance for my daily driver needs. The yellow clutch should give me ample clamp for my 250/275 HP target and the 6 puck is reported to be kind and tame enough for the street with enough bite to not be chattery at the same time. Not very tollerent of fluids I hearing though so a good fresh rear main seal is also installed, I went w/the full teflon type on this one.
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A555 A520 OBX Hybrid Transmission Build Tips-clutch_1.jpg   A555 A520 OBX Hybrid Transmission Build Tips-clutch_2.jpg   A555 A520 OBX Hybrid Transmission Build Tips-flywheel_1.jpg  
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Old 10-30-2011, 01:55 AM   #15
re: A555 A520 OBX Hybrid Transmission Build Tips  
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ILIKESHELBYS is keeping our cars runningILIKESHELBYS is keeping our cars running
To use the A555/520 in an l-body you need the larger size axels so to get that all you have to do is buy 90+ Omni automatic axels and stuff them in your A555/A520 5 speed diff! Perfect fit and OEM. Pictured are the automatic axels inserted in the 5 speed. Also it's easy to tell the size difference in the third picture.
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A555 A520 OBX Hybrid Transmission Build Tips-axels_1.jpg   A555 A520 OBX Hybrid Transmission Build Tips-axels_2.jpg   A555 A520 OBX Hybrid Transmission Build Tips-axels_3.jpg  
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