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SCORE Journal - The Official Publication of SCORE Off-Road Racing

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Page 68 of 78

WEDDLE INDUSTRIES Geared-Up For Reliable Shifting By Dan Sanchez It’s a well-known fact that off-road racing has destroyed more transmissions than one can count. Over the decades, racing transmissions have improved in strength and available gearing, especially for buggy classes, which were at first limited to slightly modified VW Bus transaxles. It wasn’t until companies like Weddle Industries in Goleta, California, began making huge strides in transaxle performance that many transaxles became race-worthy. John Weddle and his son Chris began building high-performance transaxles in their garage during the 1970s. In 1991, after failing to find a quality part they needed, the Weddle’s began making their own race-ready differentials, and thus, Weddle Gears was born. In 1993, Chris Weddle discovered Albins Off-Road Gears in Australia, and they developed a long-term relationship. Albins is now the primary manufacturer of exclusive Weddle gears and transmission components. Around 1996, the Weddle family began working with Mike Mendola, creator of the MD4S transaxle, and began making Weddle racing gear sets for them. Weddle now has the rights to MD Transaxles and produces all MD and S Series units, which are now called the Weddle MD Series and Weddle S Series. Now, in Goleta, California, Weddle Industries is run by Ron Weddle, Chris’s cousin, who is a partner and leader in the day-to-day business. “The ability for transaxles to handle more power is always something racers are chasing,” said Ron Weddle. “But with our components, we’ve been able to improve the strength and gear ratio abilities, and reliability for 1600, Class 5, Class 10, and Class 1 racing buggies.” While Weddle doesn’t build the old VW transmissions anymore, they do carry many of the hard-to-find parts, and instead concentrate on building the best racing transmissions. “We’re constantly testing components and finding where the weak points are, then we focus on making those parts better,” said Weddle. “Weddle is the North American distributor for the Albins transaxle line. We sell them in North America and maintain a supply of parts on the shelves to maintain them for our race customers.” The Albins transmissions are a work of art to see and the explanation of how they work showcases the ingenuity and design of what goes into them. “Our best SCORE Trophy Truck transmission and differential is the Albins Sequential Shift with a torque converter and clutch combination,” said Weddle. “In most manual transmissions like these, the driver has to turn the engine off to switch into reverse. On the Albins ST6 with the torque converter and clutch package, the driver simply pushes in the clutch to change gears. With other style transmissions, if they stop for a pit in fourth gear, they would have to start in fourth gear, but not with the ST6.” Full racing Weddle Albins transmissions and differentials run anywhere from $30k for a differential to $50k for a 4WD Weddle Albins ST6 Trophy Truck trans. The shop in Goleta is more like a warehouse of testing equipment and parts, many of which are shot-peened, polished, and prepared in-house to make them stronger and last longer. The company has also expanded into creating components for UTV transmissions, where improvements are sought after by many race teams and OE transmission builders. “We are selling more UTV parts and having dealers building them with our components,” said Weddle. “We have spent the last two or three years learning what breaks in these transmissions, fixing the problems, and we’re slowly building a much better transmission for these race vehicles.” Many of the UTV components are factory pieces that Weddle also race preps, polishes, and shot peens for improved heat dissipation and strength. “We also do things like measure the UTV transmission shafts and cases to add proper preload for less movement when the units are at operating temperature.” When it comes to VW transaxle parts for Class 5, Class 11, and VW Beetle enthusiasts, Weddle makes sure to stock some of the best and rarest parts. “We carry everything from a fifty-cent gasket for a Type 1 VW Beetle transmission, to a $60K SCORE Trophy Truck package,” said Weddle. “We also have rare SKF and other hard-to-find parts like oil pumps, shifters, clutches, and more.” As the need for improved components for stronger transmissions increases in the off-road racing marketplace, Weddle is positioned to work with teams and will continue to find solutions that can handle more power and withstand the abuse of off-road racing. For more information on Weddle transaxle and transmission components, visit

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