Special internal hard parts engineered to beef a Gear Star transmission can be custom-ordered for any model they offer. But the beauty of a Gear Star 4L60E linked with an HGM Compushift fitted with HGM's optional Display Programmer is the ability to dial up or down how many mph the torque converter locks up, softens up shifts, or cranks it up until the rear tires bark each time the transmission shifts. This versatility enables you to compensate for changes in tire size, differential gearing, and vehicle weight, and even fine-tune the Gear Star 4L60E to better suit a variation in the powerband brought on by a wilder camshaft or bigger or multiple carbs.

Looking back, it is kind of funny, but admittedly I had some initial fears about attempting to install a computerized 4L60E into my truck. The stories that I heard about guys frying a conventional overdrive automatic transmission because they had improperly adjusted the TV cable lurked in the back of my mind as my deadline to leave for Americruise rapidly approached. But once I understood how to set up the TPS (throttle position sensor) and verify that it was correct by scanning the settings with the Compushift Display Programmer, I was cool with it. This was thanks to Mike Hoy at Compushift taking the time to instruct me on how to adjust the ratio arm correctly. Initially, I set the TPS up as per Mike's directions over the phone and then drove out to Compushift in Torrance, California, where Mike plugged in the Compushift Display Programmer and confirmed the TPS was zeroed with the gas pedal at idle. A quick punch of the gas pedal all the way to the floor revealed the TPS was at 100 percent full throttle.

Of course, as they say, the proof is in the pudding. So bright-eyed and bushy-tailed after receiving an amazing amount of help and support from a host of great people and manufacturers that we'll feature beginning in the October issue covering the complete build-up of my 2007 Americruise project, I hit the highway to meet up with the Painless guys leading the southern tour.