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History BW Overdrive: Five Gears for the Price of Three!

Discussion in 'The Hokey Ass Message Board' started by Jive-Bomber, Sep 3, 2019.

  1. Jive-Bomber
    Joined: Aug 21, 2001
    Posts: 3,217


    Jive-Bomber submitted a new blog post:

    BW Overdrive: Five Gears for the Price of Three!


    Continue reading the Original Blog Post
  2. squirrel
    Joined: Sep 23, 2004
    Posts: 43,640


    Having just spent almost two weeks driving hundreds of miles a day a Hudson with the R10 overdrive, I agree it's a really neat setup. My car had 4.56 gears, but would cruise at 65 or so in overdrive. And with that steep rear gear, you really don't need to use low gear to get moving, in most situations. Back then, the owners manual suggested keeping the car in Second gear when in traffic, and just using the automatic OD shifting to go from "low" to "high". It works pretty well.
  3. NoSurf
    Joined: Jul 26, 2002
    Posts: 4,094


    I put a Lincoln Zephyr trans and OD in my coupe when I rebuilt the whole car several years ago. Very nice to use on long trips.
    kidcampbell71 likes this.
  4. Jakes38
    Joined: Aug 30, 2011
    Posts: 67


    One of the best swaps in my 55 so far. I love this trans, but my solenoid recently conked out. Mine was not the factory option, so I just ran a universal cable and set up the electrical with a toggle switch and relay, essentially making a 6 speed. Haha!
    Anyway, does anyone have any suggestions as to where to find a replacement solenoid? I've seen a couple on Ebay, but man, are they pricey!

    Also- another question and then I'll quit rambling-
    I've seen several comments on several other threads about these transmissions being weak, and I'm curious as to what the weak point is? My Y-block is a little hotter than stock and I've put this trans through the ringer more than a time or two. Is it just guys trying to dump the clutch and really wail on em? Asking for a friend...
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  5. squirrel
    Joined: Sep 23, 2004
    Posts: 43,640


    I had a 59 edsel with a 292 and ended up with a slightly earlier Ford transmission with R10 overdrive in it. Went on a long trip, about a quarter of the way into the trip the ovedrive made a crunchy sound, so I pulled the lockout cable and left it out for the rest of the trip. When I got home, I took it apart, the roller bearings in the overdrive planetary gearset were mostly all broken.

    If you only engage overdrive in high gear, then there is less load on the planetary (you don't get the additional torque from being in a lower gear), so the overdrive will last longer.

    Or get an R11 overdrive, they were used in Packards and some Fords, and probably a few others. They are much heavier duty.
    Cosmo49 likes this.
  6. Jive-Bomber
    Joined: Aug 21, 2001
    Posts: 3,217


    Great overview of the B-W transmission here:
  7. Automotive Stud
    Joined: Sep 26, 2004
    Posts: 3,895

    Automotive Stud

    I've got a Mercury unit behind the flathead in my roadster. It's a sweet way to run 4:11's in the quickchange and have a period correct setup with overdrive.
  8. Boneyard51
    Joined: Dec 10, 2017
    Posts: 2,870


    I put a three speed overdrive out of a 1957 Ford with a 292 in my 1960 Ford van with a 200 cubic in six and a 4:11 nine inch and 14 inch tires. That compared to the 144 x three speed, made all the difference in the world! That van was a pleasure to drive! I rebuilt the whole front suspension and when I put that nine inch in I added some leafs to raise the rear end and stiffen the ride a tad. Folks were not used to seeing one of those vintage vans traveling 75 to 80 mph on the interstate! It’s still sitting down on the ranch, just don’t drive it A/C !

    chriseakin likes this.
  9. You can substitute a standard Bosch relay for the original, it just needs to be wired in as per the original. But keep in mind there's three sets of contacts that control the OD; the relay, the governor, and inside the solenoid. If any one set fails the OD won't work right.

    As to the relative strength of these trans, it depends on which one you have. Ford used three different transmissions in front of the typical R10 OD unit over the years; a light-duty Ford-built unit, the medium-duty BW T86, and the heavy-duty BW T85. Only the T85 was fitted with the heavy-duty R11 OD unit; they're fairly rare, usually only found in trucks and behind early hipo applications. Most OD trans will be the top-loading T86 unit. The main weak point in that trans is the syncros; do much speed-shifting and you'll take them out. If left in OD most of the time, you'll never notice the bad syncros until the OD clutch rollers/hub wear out from the abuse and you have three speeds of neutral... AMHIK... Jim's caution about heavily loading the OD in the lower gears is good advice.

    And gear-splitting is actually pointless. If you do the math, you'll find there's little difference in the 'extra' ratios. Most Ford (and other makes) three speeds of the era used about a 2.60 first gear and a 1.60 second gear, with third being 1:1. Multiply those by the OD ratio of .7 and first OD becomes 1.8:1, with second OD becoming 1.1:1, roughly 10% lower than 'standard' second and third. If you're lucky enough to have one of the 'close ratio' trans versions, the difference becomes even smaller. Any possible acceleration gain will be lost to the time it takes to make the additional shift.
    grapeboy, Hnstray and Boneyard51 like this.
  10. v8flat44
    Joined: Nov 13, 2017
    Posts: 232


    Actually you have 6 speeds if ya wanna wind it up high enough in first; o/d will engage.
    Probably not good to do it very often......still kinda fun.... mike
  11. Beanscoot
    Joined: May 14, 2008
    Posts: 1,074


    Do the R10 and R11 OD units interchange?
    Or do they have different bolt patterns, input shaft etc.?
  12. Atwater Mike
    Joined: May 31, 2002
    Posts: 9,795

    Atwater Mike

    My '56 Ford convert had a 'tuned' 292 and B/W open top T-86 with R-10 O.D.
    Favorite street race trick was to lure Chevys into rolling 25, then GO at a marked place (telephone pole, etc.) Using gears to my advantage, I deduced not many tri-5 Chevys
    had O/D transmissions, so were mostly trapped in a 'second gear takeoff' from 25.
    Sooo...we'd roll 20. 22, 23...(low gear,) and I'd lean over (like 'shifting') only I'd push in the overdrive handle. Deceling for just a second, my O.D. unit would catch, now the Chevy guy shifts...thinking we're both starting off in second.
    Telephone pole, Chevy guy'd usually clutch it for some RPM...I'd just push the gas pedal to the floor, O.D. kicks out, and I'm back in low gear.
    Impressive 'passing gear'...Healthy Yblock was now right in the torque range, wound up to 65 in Low Gear...Shift to second, to 90. Race was usually over, but sometimes went a little further.
    Chevys typically ran out of steam past 110, so I'd get the faster ones there.

    No kidding, when I beat the 'Fastest Chevy in Santa Clara/San Jose' (Gilbert's '56) I proudly erased the name on my rear fins, ("White Rat #1") leaving only '#1'...)
    Uh...I beat Gilbert by 1/2 car length the first time, 1 car length the second.
    But #1 was just a 'little bit faster'.
    Oh...2 weeks later, Chevy man Gilbert had traded the '56 Chevy off. Now, he was driving a new '58 FORD with a 'Police Interceptor' engine. LOL
    Boneyard51 likes this.
  13. squirrel
    Joined: Sep 23, 2004
    Posts: 43,640


    The R11 is a larger unit. it has a larger output shaft.

    The "input shaft" of the BW overdrive, is actually the mainshaft of the transmission it's attached to.

    the bolt pattern of the OD housing depends on what transmission it was designed to fit, they are all different.
    Beanscoot, Cosmo49 and Boneyard51 like this.
  14. 56sedandelivery
    Joined: Nov 21, 2006
    Posts: 5,779


    All that's old is new again; or it at least seems that way as far as overdrive transmissions go, even though virtually all of them are automatics these days. The R-10 vs R-11 is really in the planetary gear set, the R-10 had a three pinion planetary, the R-11 had a 4 pinion; not quite roughly twice as strong. Basically, it was strictly Ford who had the R-11's. I've had several overdrive 3 speeds over the years, I just never got around to installing them into a car; two Saginaw 3 speed with overdrives (the ones used to make a Saginaw 4 speed with overdrive), and at least four Muncie 319 transmissions. I still have one Muncie 319's, and several Hurst NOS conversion floor shifts to go with those transmissions; those are almost impossible to find now. I also have a shifter that bolts directly to the floor boards, and it could be used to make a floor shift unit for just about any 3 speed; I just don't know what car/truck it came from originally. I keep saying, "one of these days", and I'll get around to actually using my last Muncie 319; it's the only reason I've hung onto it; well that and it just costs too much to ship one. I am Butch/56sedandelivery.
    Last edited: Sep 3, 2019
  15. proartguy
    Joined: Apr 13, 2009
    Posts: 361

    from Sparks, NV

    I ran a Mopar R-10 overdrive in my Dodge panel for many years and then in a ‘46 Plymouth with great results and no problems. They were set up with a toggle switch to activate the solenoid and the cable for the lockout/engagement. The gear splitting feature is a benefit with the Mopar 3 speed because of the wide gear spread between 2nd and 3rd, “second over” makes for a great “four speed” with the addition of the 3rd gear overdrive for cruising.
    Last edited: Sep 16, 2019
    NoSurf likes this.
  16. Flintstone
    Joined: Oct 23, 2008
    Posts: 839

    from Fenwick ON

    have a 50 mercury 0/d in my 40 coupe with 4.11 gears cruise a 65 and I get 23 mpg with three 97's
    Boneyard51 and NoSurf like this.
  17. wingspread7
    Joined: Mar 29, 2009
    Posts: 804


    My Grampa had a 51' Stude Champion with OD. One feature I liked about it was it would also "free wheel" when you let off power but not disengage. Was this true of all the older type ODs you guys are speaking of? I'm considering such a set up for one of my 57' Chevy projects.......
    Boneyard51 likes this.
  18. squirrel
    Joined: Sep 23, 2004
    Posts: 43,640


    Yes, the Borg Warner overdrives all freewheel when the lockout cable it pushed in, and the solenoid is not powered.

    Makes going down mountains interesting.
  19. Yep, if you live somewhere with long downhill grades you can run out of brakes.... LOL

    The car will also coast away when parked and left in gear if you don't set the parking brake unless you put it in reverse.
    sidevalve8ba and Boneyard51 like this.
  20. I love them, had 2 trucks with them (down to 1) and have 2 spare transmissions....1 is going into the '60 Elco when I get to work on it. Have 2 friends that have them in cars also.
    Boneyard51 likes this.
  21. Most tend to engage around 23 mph anyhow. Also my '64 panel truck had a toggle switch instead of using the governor, I could engage the o/d on the fly (and dis engage it too).
  22. oldsman41
    Joined: Jun 25, 2010
    Posts: 1,134


    Being i still run the flatty in my 51 merc the od is a real blessing. 4.27 rear gear but in od cruises nice.
  23. Even though I own a 3 spd Chevy truck O/D, I am not familiar enough with these transmissions to know if it is an R
    R10 or R11.
    Do you happen to know if the 3 speed, 55-60, Chevy truck transmissions used the R10 or the R11 O/D unit, and do you happen to know the diameter of either of the O/D units?
    I bought mine at a swap meet, so I am not certain of the origin of the transmission.
  24. They usually have the type cast into the housing, i.e. R10 or R11.
    j-jock likes this.
  25. partsdawg
    Joined: Feb 12, 2006
    Posts: 2,456

    from Minnesota

    Relying on my foggy old memory here. Years ago I saw a homemade camper made from a short bus that had a automatic transmission with a 3-speed OD behind it.
    Was explained to me that the reasoning was that the auto trans was set in gear ...usually drive... then the manual trans was used.
    Supposedly the owners made many trips through the Rockies and he could shift down with the auto for going up and down the hills.
  26. I'll have a look tonight.
  27. squirrel
    Joined: Sep 23, 2004
    Posts: 43,640


    Chevy used the R10 only, as far as I know
  28. I found the number on the tailshaft, R10 OH-1. Now, all I need is a project for it.
  29. boo
    Joined: Jul 6, 2005
    Posts: 530

    from stuart,fl.

    I'm an OD nut, have BW od's in 2 modelA's, one has 4.11 rear other is 3.78 w/16' wheels, rdst pu w/columbia od w/4.44 rer, , 27 T-v8 w/columbia w 4.11 rer, 34 cabriolet w/85 ford trk 4 spd od, building a 34 rdst w/331 cad eng T-85 od w/4.11 rer. still have one more columbia rear w/378 grs for some fut. ????
    Cosmo49 and seb fontana like this.
  30. anthony myrick
    Joined: Sep 4, 2009
    Posts: 4,542

    anthony myrick
    from al

    Got a friend with a Hudson
    Wants to add an OD
    any you guys have one?
    Will it swap with a studebaker?

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