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Technical '55 Chevy 3-speed od

Discussion in 'The Hokey Ass Message Board' started by StefanS, Dec 12, 2018.

  1. StefanS
    Joined: Oct 7, 2013
    Posts: 1,022

    StefanS
    Member
    from Maryland

    Got a line on one of these for my '51 with a 235. I have a '58 truck bellhousing so I can use the chain link method to hook up the clutch pedal. I also read some time ago that there's an extended pilot bushing (if anyone knows a source it would be appreciated) that would allow me to keep my bellhousing, use my Hotrod Works adapter plate and keep the factory clutch linkage. The question I have is, how we could I hook up the overdrive? I'll have the trans and everything attached to it, but that's it. I've tried to research and I've seen where people have used them, but there are no detailed write-ups on how they're hooked up. Thanks guys
     
  2. squirrel
    Joined: Sep 23, 2004
    Posts: 46,694

    squirrel
    Member

    there should be lots of detailed write ups....but maybe extend your search to cars other than Chevys?

    The last one I played with was in an Edsel, I used a horn relay to let the governor engage the solenoid. I used the push/pull cable to lock out the overdrive during in-town driving. I also added a microswitch on the end of the transmission shift lever, so I could have a kickdown...I was too lazy to mount it on the throttle linkage where it belongs.

    Is the transmission complete? if you aren't sure, maybe search pictures of other overdrives so you can see what all they need--solenoid, governor, cable brackets for both the cable housing and the center, speedometer gear, etc.
     
  3. Use the truck bellhousing, A Ad truck bell might work better? Squirrel is correct about the wiring and cable.
     
  4. StefanS
    Joined: Oct 7, 2013
    Posts: 1,022

    StefanS
    Member
    from Maryland

    According to the guy I'm getting it from it has the oil canister looking thing, and I'm assuming the speedo gear but that's pretty much it.
     

  5. StefanS
    Joined: Oct 7, 2013
    Posts: 1,022

    StefanS
    Member
    from Maryland

    I was planning (hoping) I could use a choke type cable to engage/disengage the od. Do I HAVE to have a kick down, as long as I remember to disengage it manually?
     
  6. wheeltramp brian
    Joined: Jun 11, 2010
    Posts: 999

    wheeltramp brian
    Member

    I use the choke cable on mine never worry about the kickdown. I just use a toggle switch to turn it on
     
    jimmy six likes this.
  7. Go here and scroll down to the "overdrive" book, buy it.
    http://www.fifthaveinternetgarage.com/technical_publications.php

    If the tranny is out of the car, I would pull off the solenoid and governor and check them. The solenoid has a ball with two flats on the end, just pull, rotate, and remove. Or you could just remove the bolts it and apply 12 volts and see if the plunger works. The governor has a set of points that need to be clean like the ones in a distributer.

    When the car reaches 35 mph the points close and activate the solenoid to engage the plunger. If the mechanical lever is pulled forward, then the tranny shifts into OD. A kickdown switch, usually attached to the throttle linkage, shifts the tranny out of OD.

    The book suggested will explain in better detail and offer wiring diagrams. The diagram I used was for a '57 Chevy. Very simple to follow.
     
  8. squirrel
    Joined: Sep 23, 2004
    Posts: 46,694

    squirrel
    Member

    plan on inspecting before buying...if he won't send you pictures, at least, you will probably get less than you hoped. If it's not complete, don't spend much for it

    Also do more research, there is no oil canister looking thing, but there should be a solenoid, and a governor, etc. Learn what they look like, and what they do.
     
    6inarow likes this.
  9. StefanS
    Joined: Oct 7, 2013
    Posts: 1,022

    StefanS
    Member
    from Maryland

    I'm going to buy the book for sure. He'll let me inspect it before I take it but he did tell me the gears look good. He's taking $150 for it.
     
  10. squirrel
    Joined: Sep 23, 2004
    Posts: 46,694

    squirrel
    Member

    it's hard to check the overdrive parts to see if they're good, without taking it all apart.
     
  11. StefanS
    Joined: Oct 7, 2013
    Posts: 1,022

    StefanS
    Member
    from Maryland

    Can I just pop the solenoid off and hit it with 12v or is it more involved then that?
     
  12. Jimmy2car
    Joined: Nov 26, 2003
    Posts: 1,707

    Jimmy2car
    Member
    from No. Cal

    Do as Jim Forbes said
    Learn about it. There's plenty of info on the net.
    If both the trans & OD are in good shape, you've done well
    Set up properly, they are a great feature to have.
    Jim
     
    Boneyard51 likes this.
  13. oldsman41
    Joined: Jun 25, 2010
    Posts: 1,256

    oldsman41
    Member

    Inspect it good before buying it. You dont need a kick down on it i dont have one on my 51 merc overdrive. Google borg warner r 10 overdrive and you will get lots of info. 150 is a good deal you cant really inspect the sun gear without tearing it down and that is what does the work, but i think i would go for it. Took me two trans and od units to rebuild mine but man it is great.
     
    Cosmo49 likes this.
  14. StefanS
    Joined: Oct 7, 2013
    Posts: 1,022

    StefanS
    Member
    from Maryland

    I have a t5 now, I just miss the column shift. I'm going to inspect it as far as I can and if nothing else I'll just pick it uo and tear it down. If worst comes to worst I'll just sell it for what I paid for it. I ordered the book so we'll see how it goes. Thanks fellas
     
  15. 1oldtimer
    Joined: Aug 21, 2003
    Posts: 7,491

    1oldtimer
    ALLIANCE MEMBER

    I've had several (and still have), I'll try to look for the crappy wiring diagram I did for my old '64 panel. Just buy an overdrive cable from a Ford repo dealer (choke might not be strong enough). The later 60's had a synco'd first gear, but the older ones are great also. The one I have in my '56 panel now is a factory setup and I'm getting used to using it. I like being able to engage it on the freeway on the fly, the stock setup you can't because of the governor.

    Around here those transmissions are $400-$500 in unknown condition IF you can find them, a friend paid $400 for one from Iowa and then shipped it here.
     
  16. 1oldtimer
    Joined: Aug 21, 2003
    Posts: 7,491

    1oldtimer
    ALLIANCE MEMBER

    Last edited: Dec 12, 2018
  17. StefanS
    Joined: Oct 7, 2013
    Posts: 1,022

    StefanS
    Member
    from Maryland

  18. squirrel
    Joined: Sep 23, 2004
    Posts: 46,694

    squirrel
    Member

    you can bypass the original wiring stuff, but think about why they used it on all the production cars that had ovedrive...there's a reason for the governor, and the kickdown switch, etc.
     
  19. 1oldtimer
    Joined: Aug 21, 2003
    Posts: 7,491

    1oldtimer
    ALLIANCE MEMBER

    Here's the setup that was on my '64 (they're standard ignition part numbers).
    wiring1a.jpg
     
  20. StefanS
    Joined: Oct 7, 2013
    Posts: 1,022

    StefanS
    Member
    from Maryland

    Hey I appreciate the diagram. That's perfect.
     
  21. Cosmo49
    Joined: Jan 15, 2007
    Posts: 1,171

    Cosmo49
    Member

    Hi. I've put on over 110k miles on two of these 3sp+od transmissions, one just like yours and for the last 40 k miles or so the second generation model that is all-synchro.
    Here's a couple tips or three:

    NEVER RUN THE TRANSMISSION WITHOUT THE GOVERNOR WIRED TO THE SOLENOID
    The reason for this is two-fold, one, it prevents you from destroying the overdrive because it will shut off the overdrive capability. Two, the governor is a great reason to have this transmission. It functions as a switch. I urge you to take it off the overdrive, place it on your work bench and carefully take the top off to look inside. Hold the governor in one hand and with your other hand spin the gear at the bottom. Observe the inside, as the spin increases in speed the metal goes outward and in real driving, approximately 28 or so miles per hour, the switch engages sending power to the solenoid enabling the overdrive to take effect, less than 28 mph, it shuts the od off, disabling the solenoid.

    I LIKE TO THINK OF MY OVERDRIVE AS ACTUALLY TWO TRANSMISSIONS
    The overdrive cable...IN = overdrive capable, Pulled OUT = Standard three speed transmission with gear engagement yielding engine braking to help you reduce speed. If I'm hauling a full load of cord wood around town I pull the od cable OUT and use the truck as a regular three speed. By far, the majority of my time driving I am in the overdrive capable function (od cable IN on dash). The FREEWHEELING is a little disconcerting because as a well seasoned manual shift driver you are used to constant engine braking with the transmission in gear and your foot OFF the GO pedal. Just think of freewheeling as coasting and using that ability to help you increase your miles per gallon. Think you'll wear out your brakes faster? IDK, depends on how hard you drive your car. I'm on my third set of shoes in 110 k miles, probably replaced them before I had to.

    Your generation of od has a solid governor, use it. My '69 3sp+od has a one year governor that has two variable adjustments to vary the cut in/out point, so I can adjust it lower or higher that 28 mph. I use my overdrive without a kick-down switch. I have a manually engaged push-pull switch with a dash mounted indicator light to tell me when I have reached overdrive engagement speed. When I'm less than od engagement speed the light goes off and the solenoid disengages the overdrive function.

    Happy trails to you.
     
    6inarow and squirrel like this.
  22. I used a 55, O.D. trans behind a 292 six in a 68 chevy stepside. Like Brian posted above, I also used a simple toggle switch and a PTO cable. A common choke cable would suffice. Some guys mount their toggle on the shifter handle. I mounted mine under the dash on the left side.
    The most common part to fail is the sprag unit. I once owned a 55 bel air with a 235/3 speed O.D. and the sprag unit broke. I went to the junk yard and bought a parts O.D. trans with a bad cluster......tore both of them apart and robbed the good sprag to put in mine. Nasty job but only spent $15 for the junk trans.
    BTW, I didn't need to make any pilot bearing changes on my 68....was a direct swap from the original 3 speed except for the drive shaft.
     
  23. squirrel
    Joined: Sep 23, 2004
    Posts: 46,694

    squirrel
    Member

    Another thing about the governor, it mostly prevents the overdrive from being engaged in low gear. That's a concern, because the planet gear needle bearings in the overdrive can only handle so much torque, and the main transmission torque multiplication in low gear, puts them in dangerous territory.
     
    Cosmo49 likes this.
  24. StefanS
    Joined: Oct 7, 2013
    Posts: 1,022

    StefanS
    Member
    from Maryland

    Of course I haven't installed it yet or ever used one for that matter, but my thinking of it is it's just like engaging 5th gear on my T5. I wouldn't try and shift into 5th going under a certain speed. I have no intention of trying to turn the trans into a 6 speed or engage overdrive on anything except 60 mph or above. On that same note I would disengage it as I slowed down, just like shifting into 4th coming off the highway/slowing down. Is it possible to configure the t-handle so you pull out to engage it as opposed to pushing in?
     
    Last edited: Dec 14, 2018
  25. 1oldtimer
    Joined: Aug 21, 2003
    Posts: 7,491

    1oldtimer
    ALLIANCE MEMBER

    I think that if you had enough room to either re route the cable or to make a new arm upside down, then maybe.


    Also to clarify my statement about missing the o/d on the fly. I don't always drive around with the o/d cable pushed in as it can be a pain always hitting the kick down switch (flooring the truck) to disengage o/d when it's lugging in 2nd gear (lots of hills around here). There isn't always a good time (either dead stop or under governor speed) to push in the cable before hitting the freeway or a long stretch of road. This is where my old panel setup came into play, you could push in the cable at freeway speeds, let off the gas, push in the clutch, flip the toggle and your in o/d. Then do the opposite when getting off the freeway.....just remember to never put it into reverse with the o/d on Or the cable pushed in.
     
  26. StefanS
    Joined: Oct 7, 2013
    Posts: 1,022

    StefanS
    Member
    from Maryland

    I really need the book to get here so I can stop asking questions. So I thought that you could just either flip the switch or pull the lever to engage/disengage od. So say you're driving in 3rd and you hit 55, do you just let off the gas and either flip a switch or pull the lever and then hit the gas again, just like you shifting into 5th on the t5 or is there more to it than that?
     
  27. KenC
    Joined: Sep 14, 2006
    Posts: 461

    KenC
    Member

    Here is a good explanation :
    https://www.fordification.com/tech/overdrive.htm
    Once you grasp that, you can ask about adding a manual switch to replace the kickdown.
     
    Cosmo49 likes this.
  28. Cosmo49
    Joined: Jan 15, 2007
    Posts: 1,171

    Cosmo49
    Member

    Pulling out the OD cable on the dash operates a lever on the side of the transmission and mechanically locks the sun gear to the planetary gears. (Ideally the cable should only be pulled out while the vehicle is stopped).
     
    squirrel likes this.
  29. 1oldtimer
    Joined: Aug 21, 2003
    Posts: 7,491

    1oldtimer
    ALLIANCE MEMBER

    IF the governor isn't hooked up then you can let off the gas, push in the clutch, push in the lever AND then hit the toggle switch......let the clutch out and your in o/d. It's a combination of the two (cable and toggle). Cable moves the gear into place and the solenoid locks it.

    With the governor hooked up and working, after 23ish mph you can't push the cable in.

    Go to Google and type in "borg warner overdrive manual pdf" it should be the first hit. Click on the link and save to your computer (or view it).
     
    Last edited: Dec 17, 2018
  30. squirrel
    Joined: Sep 23, 2004
    Posts: 46,694

    squirrel
    Member

    Use the governor, install some type of kickdown switch, and leave the cable pushed in for highway driving, pulled out for city driving...more or less.

    why make driving more difficult than it has to be?
     
    Cosmo49 likes this.

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