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Discussion in 'The Hokey Ass Message Board' started by HOTRODPRIMER, Mar 14, 2023.

  1. I friend of mine living in Michigan has a overdrive in his 1954 Ford and it doesn't work, he has talked to several shops in his area but they all say they can't help with that antiquated system. HRP
  2. FrozenMerc
    Joined: Sep 4, 2009
    Posts: 2,976


    What type of Overdrive?

    1954 Ford, so I am assuming a BW R10 bolted to the back of a 3 speed.

    Is your friend mechanically inclined? And more precisely, what isn't working?

    The units are really pretty mechanically simple, and are easy enough to repair. Van Pelt Sales has most of the needed pieces. In my experience, most of the time however, it is an electrical problem that is preventing the trans from actuating properly.


    Last edited: Mar 14, 2023
  3. He is not mechanically inclined and seemly none of the shops he has talked to in the greater Michigan area are not knowable about the electrical systems and maintenance that is involved.

    There was a fellow in California that helped with the technical aspects, especially the overdrive systems and was a member of the '54 Ford Club of America, unfortunately he has since passed away. HRP
  4. FrozenMerc
    Joined: Sep 4, 2009
    Posts: 2,976


    If he was closer to me, I would gladly have him bring the car over and we would figure it out, but Michigan to Missouri is a bit of a haul.
    Packrat likes this.

  5. dan c
    Joined: Jan 30, 2012
    Posts: 2,467

    dan c

    great diagram. one thing, though: the '50 ford was the last with the lockout switch. you can't get them anymore. i just wired around it an fabbed a blockoff for the o.d. so--that '54 won't have it.
    a couple things come to mind. most likely the solenoid is bad or the cable is bad. solenoid, expensive, cable, cheap!
  6. .........
    Especially without overdrive.
  7. He has replaced the kickdown switch and the expensive relay, thus far replacing parts is to no avail. HRP
  8. I know it's no real money to be had working on old cars from a shops perspective........but this is just sad. This is one of the easier systems to work on vs. new cars.

    Which HAMBers are in Michigan.
  9. Me being a hot rodder I am trying to talk him into installing a T-5 and forget the overdrive. HRP
    seadog and ffr1222k like this.
  10. Last o'drive I used, I just used a PTO cable and a toggle switch.
    Then there was the time bac k in the 70s I had a 55 chevy hardtop and about 12 miles from home, the sprag in the overdrive went out. It was about 2 in the A.M. so Portland traffic was light. Good thing because the only working gear was reverse. I drove 12 miles in reverse through city streets and neighborhoods. The next day I could hardly move! I bought a used overdrive trans at a junkyard and being a po-boy I had to do the work myself. Replaced the sprag because the used trans was blown. Good experience.
  11. I did my own O.D.s and a couple others way way way back in high school days, but I don't consider myself an expert by any means.
    Judging by the vague description, which suggests an electrical control problem, The first test I would suggest is to put straight power to the shift solenoid to see if you can get a click. in,out, in, out, ....
    Next I would hook up some sort of test light to the governor can on the outside of the o.d. unit, usually has a rubber boot over it that you have to peel back to access the wires, and take a test drive to see if the on-off governer is not stuck, and it still performs it's speed-related on-off switch function. Use the test light to see if the on-off governor switch isn't stuck. If I remember right, it is related to the driveshaft rpm rather than the gears rpm. anyway, its right there by the final drive area of the tail.
    That's step one and two in my personal checklist...
    P.S. it would also be helpful to test a few wires to be armed with the knowledge of which wires are hot in which circumstances.... that will give you a bit of understanding as you start checking the devices for proper function...
    The first two questions to answer , maybe 3, are whether the in-out solenoid is stuck or if it still works, then whether the spinning governor still switches on and off correctly according to vehicle speed. (3-if power still gets there when it should)

    Oh, and P.S. -
    I think you need to have the cable, or handle, pushed IN to let the solenoid move for the tests. I think you should still hear the solenoid either way, but pushing the cable IN is more likely to give the solenoid room for a longer or louder in-out CLICK sound you might hear easier for your tests...
    Last edited: Mar 14, 2023
  12. jaracer
    Joined: Oct 4, 2008
    Posts: 2,021


    I see that he has used the parts cannon to replace some parts. Has any testing been done? Does it freewheel with the OD cable pushed in and not with it pulled out? Does the governor provide a ground at 28 mph? Is there power to the solenoid? Need to know all that before giving any advise. I'm pretty sure he wouldn't want to drive to Oregon to have me look at it.
  13. krylon32
    Joined: Jan 29, 2006
    Posts: 9,028

    from Nebraska

    Give Mac Van Pelt a call. I think he does this type of trans?
  14. Driver50x
    Joined: May 5, 2014
    Posts: 312


    They had overdrive back in 1950? I learned something new today.
    Joined: Nov 22, 2005
    Posts: 8,311

    from SIDNEY, NY

    Ford got it in '49, when they went to an open driveline.
    Toms Dogs likes this.
  16. miker98038
    Joined: Jan 24, 2011
    Posts: 947


  17. Mac VP
    Joined: May 13, 2014
    Posts: 431

    Mac VP

    If he’s not up to doing the basic troubleshooting for the transmission, I think he should probably have a local shop do that before any more parts are thrown at the job. He could try calling Bill at Brothers Custom……(248) 760-0700. We’ve worked with him on transmission parts before.
    If the troubleshooting has ruled out the electrical control system, he can contact us directly to discuss bringing it to us in Cincinnati for a repair/rebuild.
    As others have stated above, the usual problems are frequently related to the electrical system. Faulty solenoids, relays, governors, kick down switches can each be tested. Bad wiring including poor grounds is often overlooked. This is not to say that there couldn’t be mechanical issues with the transmission, but it makes sense to check the electrical system first.
    Blues4U, Toms Dogs, vtx1800 and 3 others like this.
  18. X2 on asking a rod/custom shop.
    We did mechanical work on old cars as well as full builds
    Even general maintenance.
    Oil changes, tires, tuneups, brakes, trans work…….whatever a customer wanted on an old car.
  19. RPMX1000
    Joined: Mar 18, 2009
    Posts: 6


    Where at in Michigan? I am in Mid-Michigan and am familiar with overdrive wiring and BW R10s.
    Budget36 likes this.
  20. lostn51
    Joined: Jan 24, 2008
    Posts: 1,768

    from Tennessee

    I wish my dad was still here because he knew these early Ford OD’s like the back of his hand. He had me fabricate parts for them as needed and never found one he couldn’t fix. I wish I had paid better attention when he was working on them and when he was rebuilding carburetors. But he would be the go to guy for this and truth be known he has everything here to fix it.

    rod1 and Toms Dogs like this.
  21. overspray
    Joined: Jan 14, 2003
    Posts: 1,419


    Yes -- cable pushed in-- and also check to see the cable is moving the lock-out lever on the transmission completely to the engaged position.
    I looked at a friends 50 Ford a couple years ago and that was one issue. The other was bad/worn wiring, corroded kickdown switch and a bad relay. I redid the wiring harness, used a Bosch relay in place of the original and replaced the kickdown switch. It worked like a champ.

    Here's the wiring diagram for the Bosch relay to replace the original. I have put a couple Bosch relays into the old housing of the original (with "guts" removed).

    Attached Files:

    Driver50x likes this.
  22. overspray
    Joined: Jan 14, 2003
    Posts: 1,419


    Actually Studebaker had it in 1926.
    Driver50x likes this.
  23. overspray
    Joined: Jan 14, 2003
    Posts: 1,419


    Hillbilly Werewolf likes this.
  24. I honestly don't know but I will find out, I met him at the '54 Ford Club of America convention in 2014. HRP
  25. justpassinthru
    Joined: Jul 23, 2010
    Posts: 433


    If he's interested in dragging it to Chicago, we have experience with them.

    Last one I did came in here last fall.
    It was in a 49 Ford. Owner had converted car to 12V.
    He converted the OD relay and solenoid for 12V and OD would not work.
    Then he tried one of those fancy solid state relays also, still not working.
    So he then replaced the KD switch and even the governor, and all the wiring, and still no OD.
    All the textbook troubleshooting he did, checked OK.

    Then it came to me.
    We ran the all same tests, and it did test OK.
    Relay, KD, Governor all operated as normal.
    Solenoid would click when energized.
    Trans would freewheel with cable etc.

    Possible it was internal trans problem, but it was working before the 12V conversion, so I kinda ruled that out for the time being.

    What we found was the new 12V solenoid he got from Mac's, even though it would energize with a notable click, was not strong enough to move the shift pawl to OD position.

    Took the solenoid off and tested it on the bench and it would energize and the shaft would move like normal until a little pressure was put on it, then it would only move 1/2 way.

    We installed the original 6V solenoid back on the trans and viola, OD worked again.
    The 6V solenoid on 12V does energize pretty hard, but works. Don't know how long the 6V solenoid will last, some say it can be done.

    I will say, this one had me stumped for a while, but I still felt the problem wasn't internal.

    If he's interested, have him PM me.

    Algoma56, rod1, Driver50x and 2 others like this.
  26. HA HA!
    You just reminded me of another one of my funny adventure stories.
    In the late 1980s a gearhead buddy and I took my 52 Studebaker pickup from Illinois to Daytona for a trade show to buy tools. (I got to meet and chat with the god of speed, Smoky at his booth)
    It had the original 170 flathead 6, 4.88 gears, and original overdrive. It absolutely NEEDED that overdrive to get past crawling city street speeds.
    4.88 without o.d. the .7 overdrive gave us aprox 3.41 overall ratio.
    Not far into the 2,000 mile trip the o.d. solenoid gave up. hmmm, maybe I DID grab a 6v solenoid when I started using 12v in the truck.
    Not wanting to drive 35-40 mph all the way there with the engine screaming it's guts out, we hacksawed the end of the solenoid off, then clamped the end of a cheap parts-store choke cable to the end of the solenoid plunger, then I was able to manually kick the o.d. solenoid in and out by pulling or pushing the choke cable on the dash.
    That was the only way to give the truck it's highway gears back so we could avoid abandoning the trip.
    I used that choke cable push/pull hookup to operate the o.d. for two more years until I swapped in a Stude V8.
    Geez, I have way too many of these stories to tell.... like the time we had to cut the end off a new 5 hr old fuel pump, and manually pump the fuel pump strapped and taped to the floor shifter of my Jeep to get away from the Chattanooga mountains, manually pumping it for 9 hours into Florida b4 the parts stores opened and I could buy a new pump....
    ok, I'll stop here for today.
    Last edited: Mar 17, 2023
    Algoma56, rod1, overspray and 3 others like this.
  27. A friend recently was having o/d not engaging. Thought it was the solenoid.

    He located used one and seller clamped the mounting ear to battery negative and tripped it with a jumper cable.

    Installed it in car, same problem.

    I suggested he sand down the mounting surface on the trans. Problem solved/bad ground.

    Turned out the original solenoid was fine also.
    Algoma56 likes this.
  28. @pprather , apologize for going OT for a moment, but remember the wipers on my Mom's Thunderbird quit working, grabbed one at wrecking yard, and had issues with it as well. Found it was the grounding grommet on the mount. Original one went back on, after cleaning the oxidation on the ringed grounding grommet. Worked for the duration.
    Okay, back to the overdrive issues.
    pprather likes this.

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