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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I had a leak between the engine and trans. Thought it was the front pump seal, so I pulled the trans. and here's what I did.
1) Found (2) torque converter bolts loose(1/16" backed off). After I measured the bolts and the available thread in the converter, it seem the bolts were bottomed in the torque converter lugs and would not pull the converter tight up agains't the flex plate. I bought new bolts and a new flex plate and made sure everything would tighten up.
2) I visually inspected the pilot on the converter and it showed no sign of wear(AKA grooves etc.) The pump seal in the trans. looked pretty good to me also.
3) I pulled the front aluminum pump cover off and replace the large o-ring on it. (The original ring looked OK) The seal at the center of this cover looked fine so I did not replace it.(Did not know there was one there)
4) Did a dye-penetrant check of the converter and also a visual to make sure there were no cracks.
5) After re-installing the front cover, I then installed a new front pump seal and a new o-ring on the torque converter pilot.
6) Installed new trans. filters(both of them) and pan.
7) Installed trans. back in truck( took me about 8 hours by myself) with no problems.
8) Filled with 6 quarts ATF+4 and started truck. Set e-brake and blocked wheels and let truck run in neutral. Monitered level and kept adding until proper level was reached on dipstick.(about 12 -1/2 quarts)

The truck runs and shifts smoothly as always, but the leak is still there. A friend was talking to a Dodge mechanic he knew and he wasn't sure but he thought there might be a retrofit or kit for the front pump cover.
Maybe a hairline crack in the case that I didn't see.

No matter what, I have to pull it out and fix it. I may just buy a rebuilt and put it back in. This seems like one of those, " I've never heard or seen that before".

Any help from members would be greatly appreciated.
 

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is it a bad leak..mine is ever so slight (between engine an tranny)... I have a cooler line fitting that leaks more..but not enough to really drop anything in the driveway...I've swapped my tranny out 4-5x (I breakem), but just with used or ones given to me..
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
The leak is probably about a quart every couple of weeks or so. Its hard to tell exactly. Its making a mess in my driveway, garage and the bottom of the truck. Is your truck a 4x4? The removal would have been so much easier without that bracket that goes from the left motor mount to the left front side of the trans. Had to take motor mount loose to get the bracket out of the way. I'm pulling it next week and checking everything in the front pump area again. I'm also going to talk with local trans. builder and see what he thinks.
 

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Did this leak just start spontaneously (recently)? Or have you had it all along?

Was there oil on the front cover (running down from the converter hub seal area)? If yes, was there a puddle of oil sitting in the flange of the converter hub seal (just below the seal lip)? Was the converter wet with oil?

If the converter was wet, then you likely have a bad converter hub weld or seam weld (pinhole in the weld), so that would require a new converter. If the front cover was wet, AND there was a puddle of oil sitting in the converter impeller hub seal, then likely that seal is bad. But you already replaced it, so it's unlikely you got another bad one. Perhaps there is a nick or gouge on the converter hub that is damaging the seal or preventing it from sealing properly? Note, however, that when you pull the converter out, some oil will drip out (and probably puddle in this seal), so it's not always easy to determine whether you had oil sitting there already (before you pulled the converter).

My guess would be that you may have porosity in the pump housing casting. Typically, this causes a leak when the machining (at the pump seal area) breaks through into the porosity. The porosity is typically a small pinhole in the angled face that is at the rear of the pump cover snap ring groove. I would attach some pictures here, but I think they'd exceed my file size quota. PM me your e-mail address and I can send them to you.

Anyway, these porosity pinholes break through into the pump gear pocket (on the inside, where the high-pressure oil is) and also break through into the inner pump cover snap ring groove. So you'll have oil leaking out from the SNAP RING area, not from the pump seal itself. The only fix is to replace the pump....

If you decide to replace the pump, I have good news and bad news. The good news is that we changed the pump design (running change in 2007 MY) so that the pump seal is now pressed into the pump cover (the aluminum "pie pan," which is now steel) and there is no inner snap ring any more. The pump housing hub is no longer exposed, so a new-style pump CANNOT have a porosity leak. The current pump service kits are the new-style design, and they can be used in your trans (as long as you install the pump and the cover as a set). The kits include a pump and a new cover. The pump kit you would want is 68009879AC (or later), and lists for $340.00 from Mopar.

The bad news is that if you just pull the pump out of your trans (by itself), it is VERY easy for one of the thrust bearings inside the input clutch assy (the next big "chunk" of parts behind the pump) to fall out of position. If this happens, you will have a complete trans failure about 300-600 miles down the road (and will need to replace the entire trans!). You can check for a dropped thrust bearing after you reinstall the pump (trans will have no input shaft end play, and you will be unable to turn the input shaft by hand, if a bearing has dropped). If you have a problem, you'll have to pull the pump back out, pull the input clutch assy, tear it down, and replace the (now broken) thrust bearing. You can put a blob of grease (Vaseline®) on the thrust bearings when you reinstall them, to stick them in place so they won't fall out. So this is a potential pitfall - not an insurmountable problem, but something you definitely need to be aware of! I can e-mail you the pump kit instruction sheet (which has pictures of old- vs new-style pumps, etc.) if you want.
 

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I know the old 727's were vented through the pump cover , not sure if this model trans is or not . If it is , and thats where you leak is coming from , that normally means something internal going up . How about a bad pump bushing for the convertor ? Again I'm not sure if this applies to this model trans . I'm thinking out loud .
 

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I know the old 727's were vented through the pump cover , not sure if this model trans is or not . If it is , and thats where you leak is coming from , that normally means something internal going up . How about a bad pump bushing for the convertor ? Again I'm not sure if this applies to this model trans . I'm thinking out loud .
No, he would have a 545RFE trans, and the vent for RFEs is on the outside of the case, at the top, just behind the bellhousing. Also, they have no pump bushing per se. The converter hub pilots in the pump drive gear, which has a pilot that rides in a bore in the pump housing.

Bellhousing leaks on a (pre-2008) RFE must be converter weld, pump seal, pump cover seal (inner or outer), or pump housing porosity.

Oh, there is one other possibility. The pump has a drainback hole that relieves pressure from behind the pump seal. If that hole is not drilled all the way through, pressure builds up and will blow out the pump seal. But that's a fairly obvious (and low mileage) failure. It results in a BIG leak!
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
It's really hard to see anything during removal from the truck, since the bell housing almost completely surrounds the converter.
The leak started several weeks and it seems to be staying about the same. I ordered the truck new in 03' and I've done all the maintenance/repair myself since the warranty ended. I have had zero problems with the trans. since new.(130,000 miles) If not for the leak, the trans. has been good. When I took it apart I wasn't really looking for things other than the seal. The converter had some fluid on it, but not soaked. I had one of my shop guys Dye-check the pilot on the converter and the machined area where the seal rides. I did not have him check all the welds thought. When I took the old seal out of the pump housing, it didn't seem worn or damaged to me. The input side of the converter had no burrs or visible wear.
Everything up front seemed OK. When I pulled the seal, I could see a bearing behind it. I didn't think there was any kind of bushing as I keep hearing about.
I called a local trans. builder(who was very helpful) and told him what I did. He said" of course it leaked, you didn't replace the pump gasket and the front bushing". He said if I brought the trans. to him, he would seal the front end for me.($140.00)
No matter what, I will be pulling it out this weekend. I wish there was a way to bench/pressure test this with the converter on. The trans. guy told me he couldn't do it.
Also, the case has a vent on the top of the trans. as Trans Engineer said. I don't think the pump drainback hole would be an issue either, since it's been fine up till now.
I guess I'll check the converter again when I pull it, and I can also dye check the case in this area. I've also considered pressure testing the converter, since I have the equipment in my machine shop to make a test plug that would fit in the pilot side with o-rings. I think 150 P.S.I. would be sufficient.
 

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Your trans builder is confusing this trans with an RE series trans. The RFE has NO pump gasket (just the O-ring and square section seal on the pump cover) and NO pump bushing.

Yes, if your drainback hole was not drilled through, you would have noticed that LONG ago (like, 129,900 miles ago!). So that's not your problem.

In my experience, the converter will only be wet if the leak is at the impeller hub weld, or the seam weld (around the OD). If the pump cover is leaking (or you have pump porosity) the oil will be running down the cover, but the converter will be dry. The only exception is when the drainback hole is bad, and the pressure blows the impeller hub seal lip out and sends a spray of oil onto the converter. But as I said, that's not your problem. So I would check the converter welds. And 150 psi is way too high. Use more like 30 psi.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
One of my co-workers has a friend who is a dodge mechanic. He is going to run my VIN and check all TSB's and any other issues. He is also going to check and see if this trans. gets the new front pump/cover conversion.Is this something that was changed due to design flaws? If this is such an issue, how did it make it 130,000 miles before leaking? I'm at the point now that if I don't find anything obvious, I may buy a new/re-manufactured trans. I plan on keeping the truck for several more years and I don't want to keep having this problem.
 

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I had a leak between the engine and trans. Thought it was the front pump seal, so I pulled the trans. and here's what I did.
1) Found (2) torque converter bolts loose(1/16" backed off). After I measured the bolts and the available thread in the converter, it seem the bolts were bottomed in the torque converter lugs and would not pull the converter tight up agains't the flex plate. I bought new bolts and a new flex plate and made sure everything would tighten up.
2) I visually inspected the pilot on the converter and it showed no sign of wear(AKA grooves etc.) The pump seal in the trans. looked pretty good to me also.
3) I pulled the front aluminum pump cover off and replace the large o-ring on it. (The original ring looked OK) The seal at the center of this cover looked fine so I did not replace it.(Did not know there was one there)
4) Did a dye-penetrant check of the converter and also a visual to make sure there were no cracks.
5) After re-installing the front cover, I then installed a new front pump seal and a new o-ring on the torque converter pilot.
6) Installed new trans. filters(both of them) and pan.
7) Installed trans. back in truck( took me about 8 hours by myself) with no problems.
8) Filled with 6 quarts ATF+4 and started truck. Set e-brake and blocked wheels and let truck run in neutral. Monitered level and kept adding until proper level was reached on dipstick.(about 12 -1/2 quarts)

The truck runs and shifts smoothly as always, but the leak is still there. A friend was talking to a Dodge mechanic he knew and he wasn't sure but he thought there might be a retrofit or kit for the front pump cover.
Maybe a hairline crack in the case that I didn't see.

No matter what, I have to pull it out and fix it. I may just buy a rebuilt and put it back in. This seems like one of those, " I've never heard or seen that before".

Any help from members would be greatly appreciated.
Very small leaks from the front of the transmission and rear of the transmission are normal, it's good that the seal leaks a tiny to keep the hub from rusting. Anyway's did you replace the pump gasket or pump seal, their is a metal clad seal for the torque converter hub and then their is the paper pump gasket that seals the pump to the bell housing. I rebuild them and usually it's the metal clad seal that has a itty bitty leak which is perfectly normal. However if you leak enough that it actually has a dramatic effect on the fluid level in the transmission then that's a different story, oh yea when you put the bolts on the torque converter use locktite blue on the bolts and torque them to 25 FT/LBS also let the locktite cure fully. The first time I never used locktite and the bolts all loosened themselves, it caused a engine knocking noise, I was lucky to catch it because if the bolt was to fall out it could of put a hole in my transmissions bell housing.
 

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Very small leaks from the front of the transmission and rear of the transmission are normal, it's good that the seal leaks a tiny to keep the hub from rusting. Anyway's did you replace the pump gasket or pump seal, their is a metal clad seal for the torque converter hub and then their is the paper pump gasket that seals the pump to the bell housing. I rebuild them and usually it's the metal clad seal that has a itty bitty leak which is perfectly normal. However if you leak enough that it actually has a dramatic effect on the fluid level in the transmission then that's a different story, oh yea when you put the bolts on the torque converter use locktite blue on the bolts and torque them to 25 FT/LBS also let the locktite cure fully. The first time I never used locktite and the bolts all loosened themselves, it caused a engine knocking noise, I was lucky to catch it because if the bolt was to fall out it could of put a hole in my transmissions bell housing.
Opps, didn't notice the transmission we were talking about isn't a older torque flite, my mistake.
 

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One of my co-workers has a friend who is a dodge mechanic. He is going to run my VIN and check all TSB's and any other issues. He is also going to check and see if this trans. gets the new front pump/cover conversion. Is this something that was changed due to design flaws? If this is such an issue, how did it make it 130,000 miles before leaking? I'm at the point now that if I don't find anything obvious, I may buy a new/re-manufactured trans. I plan on keeping the truck for several more years and I don't want to keep having this problem.
Your trans will have the old-style pump and cover, but you can replace them with the new-style parts (as long as you use the new-style pump AND cover together).

We made this change to eliminate the possibility for pump porosity leaks. It was not to fix a design flaw. If the entire pump assy is inside the trans (no exposed hub any more), then even if the casting has a porosity pinhole it will not cause an external leak.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Your trans will have the old-style pump and cover, but you can replace them with the new-style parts (as long as you use the new-style pump AND cover together).

We made this change to eliminate the possibility for pump porosity leaks. It was not to fix a design flaw. If the entire pump assy is inside the trans (no exposed hub any more), then even if the casting has a porosity pinhole it will not cause an external leak.
I'm hoping maybe when I remove the trans. and check everything, I'll find a leaking converter. I am still going to dye-check the pump and housing.
The Dodge mechanic can get me the pump kit and converter for his cost, so I may just replace both.
If I do all this though, I'm thinking about buying the Mopar master rebuild kit and going thru the whole trans.
I hate to spend $500.00 to $600.00 on pump and converter and not go thru the whole trans.
What do you think?
 

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I'm hoping maybe when I remove the trans. and check everything, I'll find a leaking converter. I am still going to dye-check the pump and housing.
The Dodge mechanic can get me the pump kit and converter for his cost, so I may just replace both.
If I do all this though, I'm thinking about buying the Mopar master rebuild kit and going thru the whole trans.
I hate to spend $500.00 to $600.00 on pump and converter and not go thru the whole trans.
What do you think?
It's really up to you whether you go through the whole trans or not. If you're pulling the pump, it probably makes sense to at least pull the input clutch (IPC) assy and go through it (if for no other reason, simply to avoid the dropped thrust bearing issue). The IPC assy has a LOT of snap rings in it, and some look pretty similar, so be sure to tag them all so you get them back in the right place. Also note that two of the rings are tapered (they have an angled face on one side). Those tapered rings must be installed with the angled face UP (rearward). The grooves that they go in have one angled side (which matches the angle on the snap ring) so the angled snap ring face must sit against the angled side if the groove.

If you go through the entire trans, note that there is also a tapered snap ring in front of the center bulkhead. That ring goes in with the tapered side facing forward (again, against the angled side of the groove).

There is no master overhaul kit (from Mopar). We sell an input clutch kit, that includes the UD, OD, and Reverse clutch packs (list was $113 last time I checked). There is also a 2C/4C clutch kit ($102), and an LR clutch kit ($63).

One thing I would recommend is to check the size of the solenoid switch valve (SSV) bore in the main valve body (the one inside the oil pan). It is very common for this bore to get worn oversize at high mileage (like 130K), and if it is worn you will get pressure leakage into or out of the OD clutch passage (not a good thing). On top of the valve body is a sliding code plate (that moves when you run the shift lever back and forth). Inside the upper half of the valve body, underneath this sliding plate, are two valves - the manual valve (which has a pin that engages the slot in the code plate - this is the valve that moves when you move the shift lever) and the SSV. The SSV is retained by a plastic retainer, and it has three (3) barrel-shaped plugs at the outer end of its bore. You want to check the size of the four (4) outer lands in the bore (where the plugs slide). The diameter should be 11.544 mm (0.454 inch) max. If the bores are worn oversize, replace the entire VB assy with a new Mopar VB ($414 list). The new Mopar VBs are all anodized to resist this wear, so your new VB should last much longer than the original one.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
It's really up to you whether you go through the whole trans or not. If you're pulling the pump, it probably makes sense to at least pull the input clutch (IPC) assy and go through it (if for no other reason, simply to avoid the dropped thrust bearing issue). The IPC assy has a LOT of snap rings in it, and some look pretty similar, so be sure to tag them all so you get them back in the right place. Also note that two of the rings are tapered (they have an angled face on one side). Those tapered rings must be installed with the angled face UP (rearward). The grooves that they go in have one angled side (which matches the angle on the snap ring) so the angled snap ring face must sit against the angled side if the groove.

If you go through the entire trans, note that there is also a tapered snap ring in front of the center bulkhead. That ring goes in with the tapered side facing forward (again, against the angled side of the groove).

There is no master overhaul kit (from Mopar). We sell an input clutch kit, that includes the UD, OD, and Reverse clutch packs (list was $113 last time I checked). There is also a 2C/4C clutch kit ($102), and an LR clutch kit ($63).

One thing I would recommend is to check the size of the solenoid switch valve (SSV) bore in the main valve body (the one inside the oil pan). It is very common for this bore to get worn oversize at high mileage (like 130K), and if it is worn you will get pressure leakage into or out of the OD clutch passage (not a good thing). On top of the valve body is a sliding code plate (that moves when you run the shift lever back and forth). Inside the upper half of the valve body, underneath this sliding plate, are two valves - the manual valve (which has a pin that engages the slot in the code plate - this is the valve that moves when you move the shift lever) and the SSV. The SSV is retained by a plastic retainer, and it has three (3) barrel-shaped plugs at the outer end of its bore. You want to check the size of the four (4) outer lands in the bore (where the plugs slide). The diameter should be 11.544 mm (0.454 inch) max. If the bores are worn oversize, replace the entire VB assy with a new Mopar VB ($414 list). The new Mopar VBs are all anodized to resist this wear, so your new VB should last much longer than the original one.
If the SSV bore is worn, what do you do? I have the tools to measure it, but not the specs. If it's out, I guess you have to replace it. The "Master kit" I saw was P/N: R00H4543AB
 

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If the SSV bore is worn, what do you do? I have the tools to measure it, but not the specs. If it's out, I guess you have to replace it. The "Master kit" I saw was P/N: R00H4543AB
The diameter should be 11.544 mm (0.454 inch) max. If the bores are worn oversize, replace the entire VB assy with a new Mopar VB ($414 list).

I did confirm that R00H4543AB is released as an overhaul kit for the 545RFE transmission (1999-2007 MY, so it must have an old-style pump cover in it), but I can find no record of exactly what parts are in it.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
The diameter should be 11.544 mm (0.454 inch) max. If the bores are worn oversize, replace the entire VB assy with a new Mopar VB ($414 list).

I did confirm that R00H4543AB is released as an overhaul kit for the 545RFE transmission (1999-2007 MY, so it must have an old-style pump cover in it), but I can find no record of exactly what parts are in it.
I'm pulling it out tomorrow. Wish me luck. I'll update my findings on Monday.

Thanks for all your input,TransEngineer.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
Did this leak just start spontaneously (recently)? Or have you had it all along?

Was there oil on the front cover (running down from the converter hub seal area)? If yes, was there a puddle of oil sitting in the flange of the converter hub seal (just below the seal lip)? Was the converter wet with oil?

If the converter was wet, then you likely have a bad converter hub weld or seam weld (pinhole in the weld), so that would require a new converter. If the front cover was wet, AND there was a puddle of oil sitting in the converter impeller hub seal, then likely that seal is bad. But you already replaced it, so it's unlikely you got another bad one. Perhaps there is a nick or gouge on the converter hub that is damaging the seal or preventing it from sealing properly? Note, however, that when you pull the converter out, some oil will drip out (and probably puddle in this seal), so it's not always easy to determine whether you had oil sitting there already (before you pulled the converter).

My guess would be that you may have porosity in the pump housing casting. Typically, this causes a leak when the machining (at the pump seal area) breaks through into the porosity. The porosity is typically a small pinhole in the angled face that is at the rear of the pump cover snap ring groove. I would attach some pictures here, but I think they'd exceed my file size quota. PM me your e-mail address and I can send them to you.

Anyway, these porosity pinholes break through into the pump gear pocket (on the inside, where the high-pressure oil is) and also break through into the inner pump cover snap ring groove. So you'll have oil leaking out from the SNAP RING area, not from the pump seal itself. The only fix is to replace the pump....

If you decide to replace the pump, I have good news and bad news. The good news is that we changed the pump design (running change in 2007 MY) so that the pump seal is now pressed into the pump cover (the aluminum "pie pan," which is now steel) and there is no inner snap ring any more. The pump housing hub is no longer exposed, so a new-style pump CANNOT have a porosity leak. The current pump service kits are the new-style design, and they can be used in your trans (as long as you install the pump and the cover as a set). The kits include a pump and a new cover. The pump kit you would want is 68009879AC (or later), and lists for $340.00 from Mopar.

The bad news is that if you just pull the pump out of your trans (by itself), it is VERY easy for one of the thrust bearings inside the input clutch assy (the next big "chunk" of parts behind the pump) to fall out of position. If this happens, you will have a complete trans failure about 300-600 miles down the road (and will need to replace the entire trans!). You can check for a dropped thrust bearing after you reinstall the pump (trans will have no input shaft end play, and you will be unable to turn the input shaft by hand, if a bearing has dropped). If you have a problem, you'll have to pull the pump back out, pull the input clutch assy, tear it down, and replace the (now broken) thrust bearing. You can put a blob of grease (Vaseline®) on the thrust bearings when you reinstall them, to stick them in place so they won't fall out. So this is a potential pitfall - not an insurmountable problem, but something you definitely need to be aware of! I can e-mail you the pump kit instruction sheet (which has pictures of old- vs new-style pumps, etc.) if you want.
Could you send me the new pump install instructions? Also, I have the trans. out and standing on the trailing end of the housing. I would think this would help negate the problem of the bearings falling out and makes it very easy to work on. I am going to buy the pump kit on Monday and install next week. In my service manual they do touch on the issue of bearings #2,3,or 4 moving. I will be very careful during removal.
Thanks
 

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If you have the trans standing upright (on its end) that should help eliminate any chance of the bearings falling out of place. I would still have someone hold the input shaft while you pull the pump out, just to make sure it doesn't move. Then once you get the new pump in, make sure it sits down against the case face, and once the pump bolts are tightened, make sure you still have some end play on the input shaft, and that you can turn the input shaft by hand. If you have end play and can turn the shaft by hand, then your bearings are OK.

Input shaft end play should be .018-.035 inch (0.46-0.89 mm). Pump bolt torque is 28 Nm (250 In-lbs).
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
If you have the trans standing upright (on its end) that should help eliminate any chance of the bearings falling out of place. I would still have someone hold the input shaft while you pull the pump out, just to make sure it doesn't move. Then once you get the new pump in, make sure it sits down against the case face, and once the pump bolts are tightened, make sure you still have some end play on the input shaft, and that you can turn the input shaft by hand. If you have end play and can turn the shaft by hand, then your bearings are OK.

Input shaft end play should be .018-.035 inch (0.46-0.89 mm). Pump bolt torque is 28 Nm (250 In-lbs).
I had a piece of 2" x 2" hardwood that I clamped across the face of the case and shimmed underneath it until I got a tight fit agains't the input shaft. With no movement allowed, I pulled the bolts out of the pump and slid it up until it was agains't my blocking and off the input shaft.
This morning I checked the torque converter with 120 P.S.I. air pressure, and found a leak at one of the (4) threaded lugs. Looks like a small hairline crack going thru the weld into the converter housing. Very,very hard to see with the naked eye. We checked it with dye-pen., but did not show due to the fact that it was inpregnated with trans. fluid.
I have ordered a new converter and I am still going to install the front pump kit/conversion just to be on the safe side.
I think this weld failure was due to the fact that the (2) of the four bolts were too long and allowed movement between the converter and flex plate. The trans. guy I talked with last week thought there might have been a TSB about this problem.
I'm not going to do a total rebuild since I've had the truck since new,and know how its been maintained.
By the way: it only took me (4) hours to pull this time. Hopefully the last time for a while.
 
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