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Old 09-11-2006, 02:03 PM   #1
Unabomber
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OMGHi2U PPG helical cut synchro 1-4 box w/ ACT SB3-HD00 clutch review

The PPG helical, synchro gearbox along with the ACT SB3-HD00 clutch/pressure plate represents the finest driveline upgrade for 90% of Subaru WRX owners. Since I just got this combo, I thought I'd lend my thoughts to the masses.

ACT SB3-HD00 clutch/pressure plate

Why? Holds 411 ft/lbs of torque. Remember kiddies....clutches hold torque, NOT horsepower. 411 is enough for most people.

Why not Exedy? Price check on aisle nine! The ACT unit vs. the stage 1 Exedy....there's like a $100+ price difference.

How does the clutch feel? It IS heavier than stock. It's terribly hard to judge just how hard, but it's harder to push down than the OEM unit due to the harder clamping of the pressure plate. I still think it's wife friendly, but my wife hasn't driven my car yet. I'll post her impressions too, but I honestly don't think it will be the cause of a huge fight.

Engagement vs. OEM clutch? In my case, the engagement is closer to the floor vs. OEM. It engages terribly smooth though. It almost feels like the clutch in an ecobox car. Though I haven't tried it, it feels like you could give it no gas and let up the clutch and the car would take off. Big surprise for me as I was suspecting some engagement funny business.

Anything else? Other than the firmer pedal, there are no downsides to this clutch. It still has an organic face, so the engagement is nice and the face is gear friendly though I don't necessarily need that now that I have PPG gears. But I didn't want make the mistake most do and buy too much clutch, which is bad.

Cost? $450ish depending on the Vendor.

PPG helical cut synchro 1-4 box

Why? It is the most popular upgrade that is bulletproof. Yes, there are plenty of other aftermarket gears available, but the only one I've seen with any amount of US support is through PPG. RAs are cheaper and though we can debate till we are blue in the face about wether they are stronger than the newer/wider OEM gears, I could also point out quite a few broken RA box owners. To date, there's only been one failure (attributed to and fixed by the manufacturer) of PPG gears and that was by Phil on a 2 year old box with OMG levels of HP.

Helical cut gears are loud aren't they? This is the wife friendly box. The gears are cut just like your OEM gears. I've heard a straight cut box and it whines just like reverse. In my helical cut box, there is a slight whine, but NOTHING like straight cuts gears. Once my wife hears it, I'll update this, but I'm sure it's no big deal. Like the whine? Get straight cut gears, or a 1/2 straight, 3/4 helical combo.

Aren't PPG gears hard to drive? No. My box is the synchro box. This means it uses the OEM synchros and drives just like a stock car. Want dog engagement so you can shift in .000034 seconds? Get a dog box.

How do you go about getting them? I chose www.gearboxtech.com as my Vendor. You either send them your tranny and the swap the gears out, or they offer a core service where they send you a box and you return your old box to them. In my case, I went there with a core and left with a complete box in person as I live somewhat close to their home in Gaithersburg, MD.

How hard is it to swap out trannys? To be honest, I had a good friend and NASIOC Vendor local to me ALL ASPECTS do all that business. He took his time and we goofed off a lot during the install as about 10 locals showed up to mack on my PPG goodness. Install started at 10 and I drove off with my new tranny at 3, with a break for lunch. Cost would probably be around $500-$700 for most shops to do a R&R of the trannys depending on your area.

Blaa, blaaa, blaaa......how does it drive? To be honest, I haven't driven it all that much and didn't do that much before and after comparo, but here's my views so far that I remember:

1. There is a slight whine to the gears inside the car. The radio EASILY overpowers the whine though. Not sure about outside the car whine though and I'll update when I know.
2. Synchro noise. I can hear the syncros spin up much easier now, especially going into 2nd and 3rd gear. I'm a touch shy on tranny fluid, so I'll fill it up and update as to wether this is a fluid issue or perhaps they need to bed in slightly since all the synchros are new.
3. Gotcha item. No one makes replacement synchros, so you still have to use the right fluids such as Redline, Motul, Uncle Scotty's etc. for the best synchro engagement. Right now I'm using Motul 300 as that's all that they had in stock, though I'm a Redline lightweight shockproof man myself.
4. Top speed in 2nd gear? 65 MPH
5. Top speed in 3rd gear? 95 MPH
6. Top speed in 4th gear? I dont know. I got up to 110 with about 2k of redline left and got skeerd as I don't like to go that fast on country roads where I did my test.
7. Boost comes on harder. With the OEM box, I used to see like 5 PSI in first gear. Now I'm seeing 9 PSI.

Cost? $4300.

I'll update this later with more data/opinions.
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Last edited by Unabomber; 09-13-2006 at 04:04 PM.
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Old 09-11-2006, 02:50 PM   #2
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Thanks for the great review. I actually just picked up a spare tranny to ship to them to have built up when I get the cash. You are the one (well, and your FAQs) that turned me onto the PPG gears, and I really want a set now so I can stop worrying about the tranny and start worrying about easy to replace things like axles. Anyways, congrats, I know you have been wanting this for a while...
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Old 09-11-2006, 03:16 PM   #3
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Well, that didn't take all that long to get installed. Very nice. I'll bet you've got the biggest stupid grin on your face right now.

BTW, with that upgraded pressure plate you might want to start thinking about upgrading the clutch line to something a little less expandable (says the guy who needs to do the same).
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Old 09-11-2006, 04:54 PM   #4
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You make me want that gearset sooo bad....
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Old 09-11-2006, 07:36 PM   #5
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Unabomber is teh Newb This should be in the Car part Review forum, lol.
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Old 09-11-2006, 11:51 PM   #6
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$3500....!?!? well U got a sweet deal..... That is definetly way lower than the average joe is goin to shell out for 1-4 PPG straight, helix or mixed....and i got a good deal myself
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Old 09-12-2006, 01:26 AM   #7
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thanks for the review... i didnt go with a PPG because my projected costs were quite a bit more than that after factoring in a case, 5th gear, synchros, assembly, etc. would have loved to go PPG but the cashmoney pointed toward a 6 speed... if you really only spent $3500 and thats what others can expect to spend on everything besides a clutch/flywheel then maybe they'd pick up a lot of prospective 6 speed purchasers, or current owners

<--- hint hint
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Old 09-12-2006, 01:37 AM   #8
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Nice write up Ron. Update us soon with the wifes input.
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Old 09-12-2006, 01:45 AM   #9
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i reallly need to buy these.. at least 1st and 2nd.. so i can drive my car how its suppose to be driven and not have to worry about anything
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Old 09-12-2006, 08:51 AM   #10
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Subscribed. Straight cut 1-2 and helical 3-4 are in the future....far future I hope.
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Old 09-12-2006, 09:11 AM   #11
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yes prob. 3500 for the gears alone..then you need installation of gears in trans, a trans case IF you dont have one, any bearings or whatever might need to be replaced in it, (removal and installation of the trans itself,IF you cant do it by yourself) am i correct?
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Old 09-12-2006, 10:04 AM   #12
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Yes you are correct. . . . $2400 for 1-2 $4700 1-4 ( including syncrhos in either case ) THATS WITH VERY LITTLE LAYBOR COST. $1000 for a frount LSD. For the guys at Anderws to pull your tranz and reinstall its $500. If you bring the tranz out of the car they will smile and just might let you have a piece of their 10 chicken nugets that magicly tuned into a 10 chicken
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Old 09-12-2006, 11:22 AM   #13
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Very sweet... I can't wait to get my setup finished sporting the PPG goodness.
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Old 09-12-2006, 01:44 PM   #14
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How much better or stronger would straight cut gears be over helical?

Is the difference large? Would straight only benefit stupid high hp cars?
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Old 09-12-2006, 02:46 PM   #15
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also intrested would straight hold more power than helical. how much power are you running on your gears now?
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Old 09-12-2006, 02:52 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bluecamel04 View Post
also intrested would straight hold more power than helical. how much power are you running on your gears now?
straight cut will hold more power over helical, how much more I am not sure... Since no one has broken (through power) a set of PPG gears that I know of, there is little data to support conclusions. I would bet andrewtech/gearboxtech would know the theoretical numbers...
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Old 09-12-2006, 03:00 PM   #17
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From what Andrew at Andrewtechautomotive says they are fairly close in terms of power handeling. The straight cuts have a bit more surface area contact when it comes to the individual tooth to tooth contact ( hence the louder whine ) So in saying that I would think that yes, the straights are some what stronger. Yet its the tourque that you put to then and not the HP that will slice off teeth. You would have to be a 500+hp Subby that races daily and does 6500rpm launches when ever there is a Honda or car full of hottys near by to rilly kill a PPG gear set straight or helical.......keep in mind that there still isnt a PPG gear set in the USA to be busted, on the account of driver stupidity and massive TQ-HP. ( U could be the first though!?! ) Only one I know of was manufacture defect and PPG took real good care of that problem. If you are rilly worried about strength get the straights if U dont want the whine get helical if you want the best of both worlds get 1-2 straight and 3-4 helical
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Old 09-12-2006, 03:55 PM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Unabomber View Post
To date, there's only been one failure (attributed to and fixed by the manufacturer) of PPG gears and that was by Phil on a 2 year old box with OMG levels of HP.
My friend met a bugeye WRX at Nopi Dragwars in Rockingham a few months back that was insanely fast running very low 11's. The owner told him he had a PPG equipped tranny and that they took all the beating in the world. Then on his last drag launch he shredded that tranny and blew one of the gears (I think it was 2nd). It had a noticable whine in 1st and 2nd in the vid I saw of it and it sounded just like straight cut gears.

Whether there really were PPG's in there or something else I don't know but I am just stating what we were told. I bet they were Kaaz gears or something. This bugeye was from Virginia I think.
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Old 09-12-2006, 04:11 PM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bluecamel04 View Post
also intrested would straight hold more power than helical. how much power are you running on your gears now?
For a given gear width, helical will be stronger than straight cut. This is due to the fact that helical gears have an overlap of around 2 while straight cut gears have an overlap of about 1.35. The reason straight cut gears are percieved to be stronger is that most often straight cut gears are found without synchros thus letting the gear, wither straight cut or helical, be wider. This is all in one of the stickied FAQs around here somewhere.
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Old 09-12-2006, 04:33 PM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CoolRex View Post
My friend met a bugeye WRX at Nopi Dragwars in Rockingham a few months back that was insanely fast running very low 11's. The owner told him he had a PPG equipped tranny and that they took all the beating in the world. Then on his last drag launch he shredded that tranny and blew one of the gears (I think it was 2nd). It had a noticable whine in 1st and 2nd in the vid I saw of it and it sounded just like straight cut gears.

Whether there really were PPG's in there or something else I don't know but I am just stating what we were told. I bet they were Kaaz gears or something. This bugeye was from Virginia I think.
There was a very high hp bugeye running PPGs that would be at an event like that (s/n 500hpwrx or something like that, shawn lozy).


You have me very curious now.
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Old 09-12-2006, 05:14 PM   #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lotusdrift View Post
There was a very high hp bugeye running PPGs that would be at an event like that (s/n 500hpwrx or something like that, shawn lozy).


You have me very curious now.
Do you know if he was at the Rockingham, NC Nopi event this year? Like I said this is all coming from friends as I was at another event in VA that weekend proving my 11 sec stock block times .

Funny he was in my neck of the woods and I was in his neck of the woods on the same weekend.
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Old 09-12-2006, 06:23 PM   #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by williaty View Post
For a given gear width, helical will be stronger than straight cut. This is due to the fact that helical gears have an overlap of around 2 while straight cut gears have an overlap of about 1.35. The reason straight cut gears are percieved to be stronger is that most often straight cut gears are found without synchros thus letting the gear, wither straight cut or helical, be wider. This is all in one of the stickied FAQs around here somewhere.
Typically yes, but what we don't know is the tooth root width for the heli vs the straight. The rw of the straight cut may be big enough to offset the difference in strength when compared to the heli.

Another thing to consider is that with straight cut you're going to see lower thrust loads when compared to heli cut. I'm not sure how much of a bearing this would have on the gear strength though. Instead it's more of interest for longevity of the bearings and shaft trueness.
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Old 09-12-2006, 06:33 PM   #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Turn in Concepts View Post
Typically yes, but what we don't know is the tooth root width for the heli vs the straight. The rw of the straight cut may be big enough to offset the difference in strength when compared to the heli.

Another thing to consider is that with straight cut you're going to see lower thrust loads when compared to heli cut. I'm not sure how much of a bearing this would have on the gear strength though. Instead it's more of interest for longevity of the bearings and shaft trueness.
If the consideration expands to thrust loads, then you also have to look at the direction of the vector, not just just magnitude. Helical gears direct some of the thrust longitudinally down the shaft and some of it perpendicular to the shaft. Straight cut gears direct it all perpendicular to the shaft. With as flexible as the Subaru shafts are, this thrust force may be enough to bow the shafts to the point that the gears move away from each other far enough that the teeth are only meshing with part of their height and thus can shear off.
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Old 09-13-2006, 10:48 AM   #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by williaty View Post
If the consideration expands to thrust loads, then you also have to look at the direction of the vector, not just just magnitude. Helical gears direct some of the thrust longitudinally down the shaft and some of it perpendicular to the shaft. Straight cut gears direct it all perpendicular to the shaft. With as flexible as the Subaru shafts are, this thrust force may be enough to bow the shafts to the point that the gears move away from each other far enough that the teeth are only meshing with part of their height and thus can shear off.
AH! Good point. I had not thought of that.
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Old 09-13-2006, 11:18 AM   #25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CoolRex View Post
My friend met a bugeye WRX at Nopi Dragwars in Rockingham a few months back that was insanely fast running very low 11's. The owner told him he had a PPG equipped tranny and that they took all the beating in the world. Then on his last drag launch he shredded that tranny and blew one of the gears (I think it was 2nd). It had a noticable whine in 1st and 2nd in the vid I saw of it and it sounded just like straight cut gears.

Whether there really were PPG's in there or something else I don't know but I am just stating what we were told. I bet they were Kaaz gears or something. This bugeye was from Virginia I think.
This is probably out of date but from fastwrx.com, Lozy's car has:

-Challack dog box trans w/ 3.91 final gear
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