thanks for the info again dmorris and larry. I agree on the long distance analysis both on the receiving end and the giving end. You are very wise on the comments. As you pointed out it is tough to find someone who will really try to hit the thing needed to fix the problem rather than the "fishing trip" or just replace everything and wind up with a big unnessary repair bill.
When I worked in the auto shop in the 60's the only real diagonistic tool we had was an oscilloscope better known as a "scope" It took a good deal of experience to pick out ignition and motor problems with them. We all spent a lot of after hours time looking at cracked dist caps, damaged wires, fouled plugs. We also tested our own cars as well as any other problem cars. After a while you could spot individual problems pretty easily and "it misses when it's cold/hot" or it has "lost power" or "not running right" were common problem we fixed without running up the "fishing trip" repair bills. "We were a small shop as you noted but had a good list of return customers.
Now that you mention the VSS (vhicle speed sensor) this was replaced last fall when I had the wheel bearings fixed. yes a front wheel bearing actually did go up in smoke and noise. I think the original VSS may have been damaged during the repair. Anyway it was replaced. Funny how a few questions will jog the memory. Anyway I'm going to hit the trans shop Monday. I'll fill in what happens. I have 2 other trans shops to go to also. All offer free or low cost testing.