Cryogenic Treatment Makes For One Tough Tremec TKX From American Powertrain


Bulletproof reliability has become the norm in the automotive world. While vehicles built in the ‘60s were only expected to last to that magical 100,000-mile marker, it’s not uncommon for the most basic of modern-day beaters to surpass a quarter of a million miles.

Enhancements in manufacturing technology like cryogenic hardening have made reliability the expectation instead of the exception. Because of that, its use has even spilled into the high-performance motorsports industry.

One example is American Powertrain’s (AP) partnership with Brian Thiesen and the team at Nitro-300 Xtreme Finishing to supply the toughest Tremec TKX available. Optional on any transmission purchased through AP, Nitro-300’s cryogenic superfinishing adds torque capacity, reduces internal friction, and can lower the operating temperature of any TKX destined for heavy duty.

The process, as Brian explains, sounds simple enough, but is founded on exact science. “Step 1 is we cryogenically treat the gear/shafts in a specialized freezer that uses liquid nitrogen in a controlled process that lowers the temperature to -300F and hold it there for 20+ hours. Then the unit brings the temperature back up to ambient at a controlled level – total runtime is 3 days.”

This precisely-controlled temperature ramping is to help the material’s molecules realign uniformly and create a more stable microstructure. “The overall benefits are a slightly harder, more uniform & balanced material that provides greater durability (wear & fatigue) along with an increase in overall strength. The cryogenic process also provides better heat dissipation due to the material being more uniform,” says Brian.

Once the underlying composition is solid, external surfaces are prepped. “Step 2 is our Xtreme finishing where we use a process developed by REM Chemicals. We use their patented chemicals and media within our vibratory tumbler that over the course of 6+ hours polishes away the microscopic peaks & valleys from the gear/shaft sets. This entire process is dedicated to reducing friction & wear,” Brian continues.

“When the customer uses the transmission the first time – those peaks & valleys are gone [and] therefore they didn’t break-off during the initial drive which could have damaging effects. Second, since we’ve polished the material to a near chrome level, we’ve reduced friction – thus creating less heat which increases the long-term wear and durability of the transmission.”

It’s a no-brainer for those that can’t afford for the gearbox to be the weak link in a durable driveline. Give American Powertrain a call to get a quote on your very own supercooled TRX and take your transmission’s tenacity to the top.

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Kent Will

News Editor Kent grew up in the shop with his old man and his '70 Charger R/T. His first car was a 1969 Super Bee project when Kent was fourteen. That restoration experience lead to pursuing a degree in Mechanical Engineering and a career in manufacturing. Since then, the garage has expanded to include a '67 Satellite, a '72 Scamp, and a 2010 Mopar '10 Challenger.

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