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KahnBB6 10-05-13 12:58 AM

Had my rebuilt R154 transmission installed yesterday (initial impressions)
I just had the guys at SpeedForSale in Alpharetta rebuild my JZ/SC converted Supra MKIII R154 transmission using all the Marlin Crawler parts and the Driftmotion 3-4 shift fork and install my setup for me. Jared and Brett are awesome and I highly recommend them. Thought I'd share some early impressions:

I'm still breaking in the clutch and synchros so I haven't taken it over 4,000RPM or really gotten into it. Yet. Probably by the time I get home tomorrow.

In 85 miles of driving the synchros are wearing in nicely but man, what a difference! It's a completely different feel from the W58 in a good way. Where the W58 is certainly an easier transmission to go through the gears in, I think the R154 has far more confidence. There is zero play in my shifter (a SupraSport V3) and it's like shifting a bolt-action rifle compared to the NA transmission. The sound coming from the gearbox is fantastic.

If there is one thing negative I can say about it it's that I now realize what people mean when they say you have to learn how to shift this bigger transmission. It requires a precise hand or it won't go into gear but I rather like it-- much more the muscle car gearbox the SC deserves. Actually I need to reserve judgement on that until I've gone through a few hundred miles. I'd compare it to a T-56 in general feel. Or maybe the general feel of how "precise" an S2000 6-speed is when shifting. Yes, I've driven both of those. The R154 has taken the feel and balance of my car even farther into GT muscle car territory and far, far, far away from whatever Lexus wanted it to be in the USA.

Overall I love it. I'm still on my original NA engine so it's definitely overkill without a turbo but that will come later.

Some specifics:

--The 82-85 Celica crossmember I used for my swap (being an MKIII box) was actually not a bolt-in affair as I'd hoped and required extension and welding on the passenger side of it but it was still far more of a "factory-like" solution than drilling the SC W58 crossmember or only using two bolts from the SC trans mount.

--The SupraSport V3 short shifter is FANTASTIC, however, it truly is slightly too far forward. Everything clears (I'm using a Soarer extension housing) but it doesn't sit in the same position as the SC's OEM shifter and pulls the leather of the console boot a bit in 1st and 3rd. Still, I love how it feels.

--The "Soarer" or "MKIII" front driveshaft I have works but clearly isn't the right part. I'm going to need to look for yet another "MKIII R154" front driveshaft. I'll have pictures up in a couple of days to show what I mean.

I will post some pictures after tomorrow. I can't wait for the clutch to be broken in (OEM Toyota 7MGTE parts) so I can really put it through its paces.

scENFORCER 10-05-13 07:18 PM

Damn, so tempted to throw an R154 behind my vvti V8 after a review like this..

KahnBB6 10-05-13 08:29 PM


Originally Posted by scENFORCER (Post 8173808)
Damn, so tempted to throw an R154 behind my vvti V8 after a review like this..

Cool! It's a very different "industrial" feel compared the W58 to be sure but personally I like this. I can totally understand now why people like the W58 more than the R154 in terms of feel (although a Soarer or Chaser remote version might give a different impression) but I don't find it hard to get used to.

You drive it differently. Shifting is very deliberate. You need it with a turbocharged engine but other than that it's personal preference.

Keep in mind, my first impression is from a freshly rebuilt transmission using a 100k mile '89 box that only saw CT26 boost as a starting base. Getting one used without a rebuild or a really abused R154 might feel a bit out of sorts.

scENFORCER 10-06-13 01:35 PM

My SC has been built to industrial standards lol. Definitely a more rigid car than my old stock one, not as comfy, but more percise. Seems like the R154 is the way to go.

KahnBB6 10-06-13 03:48 PM

^^ Ha. Mine too. I like it the more I drive it.

KahnBB6 10-09-13 12:41 AM

Another update:

The trans oil was drained and replaced after 265 miles or so to eliminate all the brass particles from the initial break-in.

I'm sure the clutch has become mostly broken in by now. I'm pleasantly surprised that the pedal action on the OEM 7MGTE clutch is so light. It's such a change from the ACT Stage II I had on my W58. In retrospect I didn't need the heavy clutch when I had stock engine power.

The synchros have been wearing in already after the 900 miles I've logged so far (yes, I had a LONG drive back from Georgia and drove the car a bit while visiting a good friend up there). My initial description of an "industrial" feel in regards to shifter action has to be changed to "strong". It is getting easier to shift the transmission as it breaks in. The short throw shifter may have something to do with this. At this point I'm finding it easy to go into all the gears.

I had already disabled the neutral safety switch on my pedal by looping the connector and gotten used to starting in neutral without depressing the pedal.

There is a quirk to get used to: reverse gear has no synchro on the R154 whereas the W58 does. To ensure that you don't grind reverse you always want to throw the shifter into 1st before selecting reverse. Weird after having driven other manuals but it's not a big deal. Sometimes you can get lucky but it's best to train yourself to go 1st, then reverse. Given the upgrade this transmission is over the W58 in terms of strength I can live with an odd design choice like this.

The Suprasport V3 shifter, as I mentioned before, does sit an inch too far forward compared to the SC shifter, however it still works just fine even with the stock leather boot. I thought I'd have to get a custom boot but it isn't necessary. Technically where it sits isn't dead center but it's a very minute change and all gears can be selected with ease. Nothing hits so as to prevent selection. The rubber boot on the shifter itself does hit the plastic console trim (under the upper leather boot) but it impedes nothing.

In use, I prefer the V3 over the stock shifter. If you have the older style W58 in your car I'd recommend it also. The throws are exactly where you want them to be.

I haven't taken the engine over 4,000 rpm or held more than 3,800 rpm for more than a few seconds to break in the clutch. At this point I think I have given it enough miles of regular city driving for that, however I am keeping it on the safe side until a real MKIII R154 front driveshaft comes in on Friday (thank you AZ Turbo!). Whatever driveshaft I have in there now is NOT from a Soarer or MKIII as the seller claimed and is drastically short on my splines and isn't allowing any contact with the rear seal. MT90 oil was slowly leaking onto my exhaust system and burning off all the way to Florida.

I'm driving as gently and sparingly as possible until the MKIII driveshaft comes in and I'm getting some more MT90 topped off tomorrow morning.

I should mention another odd quirk is the idle being a bit lopey on occasion. I was told that the car needed to "re-learn" its idle and indeed this is true: it was far too low just under 500rpm at first and now it's a bit higher. When the A/C is on it's fine around 1,000 RPM. After a couple of days since the reset it's getting normal and only sometimes exhibits an odd idle. I can't help but wonder if it's my ECU capacitors or perhaps that the 1JZ flywheel was designed for a 2.5L engine that idles higher than the 2JZ-GE once it's come to temperature. Anyway, unless I keep noticing this I'll have to assume that the ECU has needed to relearn what optimum idle is since the OEM 1JZ-GTE flywheel weight is different from the OEM 2JZ-GE flywheel weight.

Also, my stock W58 flywheel was beyond resurfacing when it came out so maybe the ECU was just used to a flywheel that was out of spec.

I have some pictures to add tomorrow.

KahnBB6 10-12-13 12:30 PM

Here are a couple of pictures from the R154 rebuild and installation saga. These were taken roughly a week ago.

Today the correct MKIII R154 driveshaft is going in but unbeknownst to me the metal dust collar on the back of the MKIII R154 seems to hit the MKIII driveshaft u-joint. Strange since the two parts were made for each other. My shop removed the collar but that hasn't solved the issue. Trying to work that out. The seal contact and spline engagement are normal now, however.

Can anyone explain this? I have yet to hear of anyone complain that their MKIII R154 front driveshaft makes noise.

Here are the pictures from when the car was at SpeedForSale in Alpharetta, GA:

Note: the Soarer extension housing had not yet been installed when this first picture was taken.

Whatever R154 car this driveshaft went into it certainly wasn't a Soarer or an MKIII Supra. I don't know what it is from. A Chaser? Anyway, it's out now.

And a comparison of the stock 92-94 SC300 5-speed "swan" shifter and the SupraSport V3 short shifter for MKIII Turbos. The V3 is indeed a bit too far forward to be perfect but it works flawlessly in the SC300 without any need to modify the console. The leather boot is stressed just a little but not by much.

stockhatch 10-12-13 02:26 PM

The short driveshaft could have been a stock sc300 piece. They will fit like that IIRC.

KahnBB6 10-12-13 02:34 PM

Wait... then you're saying the W58 output splines are the same as the R154 output splines? Which means that I was running an SC W58 front driveshaft on my R154?

stockhatch 10-12-13 03:04 PM

I may be mistaken. Its possible that the auto front driveshaft has the same spline as the R154. I was pretty sure ONE of the SC front pieces would spline up, but was too short.

KahnBB6 10-12-13 03:18 PM

If you're right then the first driveshaft I was sold was definitely from an SC300/400 automatic. Ripoff. It indeed fit and was too short but still worked, just barely. I had no idea anything would fit the R154 except driveshafts from cars they came from. That driveshaft is worthless for scrap I'm sure. Oh well...

LEXXIUM 10-13-13 07:54 AM

Nice review man, I was thinking going w58, from parts availability stand point and cost for my swap, but after reading your post I just might go r154 (man I can't make up my mind:))
Your drive shaft could be from chaser r154, I would get the right one before you put a hole in your floor board with that ds.
Do you have any pics of the shifter in the console? I wanted to see his far forward it sits compared to mk3 shifter

KahnBB6 10-13-13 08:50 PM

Well, the W58 is still a nice transmission. Usually the decision to go R154 or V160 is directly tied to turbocharging. I do think the NA 5-speed box has its advantages as long as you don't need it to hold significant horsepower. It's all you need for an NA 2JZ-GE or stock engine 92-97 SC400. For your VVT-i the horsepower and torque is slightly in excess of a stock 1JZ VVT-i so I'd consider it a toss-up.

The W58 has its durability limits but it is a transmission eager to wind up. The R154 winds up... differently. It feels bigger and linear whereas the W58 (paired with a 4.08 or 4.27 rear) is eager to go right to the redline. Maybe this is more apparent to me on an NA engine with the shortest possible gearing for acceleration. Since installing it I find I'm smoother to accelerate but I haven't taken it above 5k rpm. It feels like the works spinning in there are much bigger than before (which they are) and absorb more of the power coming from the flywheel. A 290hp V8 would be a totally different experience, I think. My power level is interim now anyway. I am still breaking in the synchros from the rebuild also. For me I find my acceleration less dramatic than before and I use less revs to do it.

My lingering complaint now might be using the stock Toyota 7MGTE clutch disc. I'm still getting used to it all.

That said, I still do not find the R154 to be "clunky" in actual practice as people claim. It does take *slightly* more force to shift at speed but that's probably my brand new synchros breaking in. I also think it overwhelms the NA 6-cylinder engine a bit. It also was meant for taller gearing than my 4.272:1. 4.083:1 at most (Soarer GT-T) and usually 3.77 or 3.90 (Supra MKIII, Chaser, Mark II et al).

I have since replaced the short driveshaft with a true MKIII R154 front driveshaft. No more leaking out the rear seal and perfect spline engagement.

I will snap some pictures of the V3 shifter in the car with the boot on and off. You will be surprised at how normal it looks.

suprakidxx 10-23-13 08:51 PM

I too have just bought a marilin crawled 154 with ssv3 and extreme PP. im eager to see how it performs

KahnBB6 10-23-13 11:00 PM


Originally Posted by suprakidxx (Post 8203112)
I too have just bought a marilin crawled 154 with ssv3 and extreme PP. im eager to see how it performs

You'll like it. I've found it even easier to drive since my last post and I have to take it back about the 7MGTE clutch-- it's fine. Just had to get broken in more. The SupraSport shifter feels great still. Overall I understand why it's a transmission designed for a turbocharged engine with longer gearing. It works brilliantly on an NA 4.27 combo but it's obvious once you drive it that a turbo can only help exploit it far more. Under boost... I can't tell you anything about that, lol.

"Truck transmission"... "clunky transmission"... yeah, okay.... sure it is...

As I mentioned before, with this transmission (and a V160 apparently) you have to select 1st or second to ensure that reverse is slowed down before selecting it due to not having synchros there like the W58. Not a big deal.

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