Quick Tech: Fluid Pump-Integrated ATI SCS-30 Transmission Cooler

Does your Powerglide get heat-soaked in the pits and staging lanes between runs? Do consistent transmission and converter temperatures sound like a good idea for your bracket racer? Then the ATI SCS-30 cooling system may be just the thing. Designed by ATI Performance president Jim Beattie, the SCS-30 is a standalone cooling system that pumps all that hot ATF through the transmission and cooler, instead of letting it just sit in the case.

In between rounds, the transmission can heat soak because the hot fluid sits stagnant in the case heating all those parts up, much like how the engine temperature will rise after being shut off. For a street car this is not that big of a deal, but when consistency means winning or losing, it is important. Similar to your engine’s cooling system, the fluid functions as the coolant for the transmission; however, where the engine coolant is just a coolant, transmission fluid also provides the hydraulic action for the basic function of the transmission. Furthermore, it is the sole lubrication method.

There are a lot of moving parts inside a transmission and heat is the enemy. ATI’s SCS-30 can help protect your Powerglide.

The transmission often gets overlooked in terms of cooling and lubrication. Having spent a lifetime developing high-performance transmission products, Jim Beattie designed the SCS-30 for the Powerglide to bring consistent temperatures to the mix. “The turbo cars in particular were creating steel bluing heat in the converters, and the super-hot oil was sitting in the converter until they got back to the pits and started a fan blowing on it,” Beattie told us. “We actually could see the fluid level heat stains inside the converter from the hot oil laying in there after a run, and found that it was important to start the cooling process immediately following the run.” This led to the development of the SCS-30.

The Different Options

There are multiple options for the SCS-30, including the dragster version that features the cooler mounted at the top of the case. There are three main versions of the system; factory installed ($695), Tranny Builder package ($1589), and the Dragster package ($1988). The Tranny Builder pack comes with the cooler system, SuperCase, Chevy bellhousing and an OEM extension housing. The Dragster kit includes the SCS-30, SuperCase, cooler and fan, case mount, handles and hoses. Other options include ATI valve bodies with either a transbrake or foot brake, temperature controller and a 12v fan-mount cooler. The SCS-30 is available as a factory installed option for new ATI Powerglide Transmissions and SuperCases, but if you already have a built ‘glide in an ATI SuperCase, the cooler can be retrofitted to your case.

Powered by a heavy-duty 30 GPH pump, the 12v motor mounts to the exterior of the case and uses a 10-mm belt to drive the internal pump.

How it All Works

When the engine is off, the cooler pump kicks in, pumping the trans fluid into the converter, out to the cooler, and back into the transmission at 30 GPH. This requires either an electric fan on the cooler or an ice cooler to provide the heat exchange. The external pump for the cooling system does not replace the function of the internal transmission pump; this is not a high-pressure pump, rather a simple high-volume pump to keep the fluid moving. When used with the optional temperature sensor and a bung heater, the system can be tuned to maintain a specific temperature. Transmissions work best in a specific temperature range, so being able to manage the temperature variation is critical.

Another interesting aspect of the SCS-30 is that the pump maintains the lubrication function of the fluid. When the engine is shut off after a run, the transmission stops pumping fluid, but the internal parts are still moving. With the SCS-30 engaged, the fluid continues to lubricate the transmission, reducing wear and tear on critical parts. This means more runs between rebuilds, saving time and money over the course of a season.

Inside the case, you can see the actual pump (lower right), the stainless braided lines and the modified valve body. You can modify your valve body to accept the lines or use an ATI modified unit.

The SCS-30 cooling system is a serious race piece, designed with a heavy duty, extreme-temperature, all-metal geared pump. A 10mm timing belt runs the HTD toothed pulleys on the exterior of the transmission case. Inside, the Teflon lined, stainless braided lines use AN fittings that attach the internal pump housing to the valve body. The pump runs through the filter, so there are no worries about sucking junk into the inner workings; just good, clean ATF. The exterior lines (Dragster Package) also feature AN fittings, with nylon braided rubber lines for durability. The system requires either the ATI valve body kit or you can drill and tap your existing valve body. All of the electronics are 12-volt.

The SCS-30 should be considered for any serious heads-up or bracket racer that wants consistent transmission performance. This system eliminates the fans and sprayers that are currently being used. That mess is inefficient; the SCS-30 works much better, with just the flick of a switch. As time permits, ATI is looking at developing similar cooling systems for other transmission platforms as well. So now you can stop blowing up transmissions and losing races because of an inconsistent slushbox.

About the author

Jefferson Bryant

It is almost terrifying the breadth of Jefferson's technical abilities. A fabricator, master technician, engine builder, paint and body guy, dirt track racer, road course driver, or a glossy magazine reporter, Jefferson can do it all. Oh yeah, he's also a YouTube hero.
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