View Full Version : overdrive switch moved to manual gear shifter

12-31-2006, 04:44 PM
On my '52 Commander (learning lab) someone has neatly installed a toggle overdrive switch on the manual gear shift selector and there is a fuse holder with fuse dangling under the dash for same. Why ?? What has happened.....Brad

12-31-2006, 05:13 PM
This is probably a means of getting the overdrive to engage when the car is moving below the governor speed. You turn on the switch, and lift your foot off the accelerator briefly, and the overdrive engages. I used this system for years in order to be able to drive around town in "overdrive-second" which is roughtly equivalent to regular high gear. This way, I could shift back and forth between regular second and overdrive second via the overdrive, without using the clutch pedal. To get out of overdrive, you simply turn off the switch, then release the accelerator briefly.
Hope this helps.

Jerry Buck
Racine, Wisconsin
'53 Champion Coupe - C (owned since 1956)
'61 Lark VI Convertible

John Kirchhoff
12-31-2006, 05:19 PM
I did that one time for some odd reason, I do know something mechanical went wrong. Once I pulled up to the post office and when I came out, I couldn't get the thing in reverse. Finally dawned on me I'd left the overdrive switch on, flipped it off, backed up and went on about my business.

12-31-2006, 07:42 PM
My '50 Land Cruiser had a rotary one wire switch built on the gear shift lever. With the switch rolled back, everything was normal. With it rolled forward, the car was in permanent overdrive. LIke John said, you had to roll it back to shift into reverse. But rolled forward, all gears were through overdrive, there was no freewheeling. I thought it was a factory option (I bought the car used, from the dealer, it had been his demonstrator) but have found no documentation for this switch.

Tom Bredehoft
'53 Commander Coupe
'60 Lark VI
'05 Legacy Ltd Wagon
All three Indiana built OD cars

12-31-2006, 09:19 PM
It's a means of manually operating the OD. And while this sounds like a neat thing to do, it can work against you. Studebaker used the governor to decide when OD was necessary. This is usually about 32MPH or so. The governor's made to sense that speed and allow OD engagement.
What might have prompted the use of this manual control switch is the governor or part of it's circuit going bad and the switch was someone's fix rather than to fix it right.
Since the governor really just provides a ground, someone will use the switch to provide a ground instead. The ground energizes the OD relay and the relay powers the solenoid.
On early 50s cars, there's a reverse lockout switch that prevent inadvertent OD engagement when reverse is selected. I think the engineers finally realized that this scenario was unlikely since you'd have to be doing 32MPH in Reverse to have a problem. BUT! when you bypass the governor with a manual switch, there's the very real chance you'll forget and do reverse with the OD engaged. And you may not be as lucky as John was because it can thrash the sprag clutch and then you're screwed.[xx(] I've seen it happen.[V]

Miscreant adrift in
the BerStuda Triangle

1957 Transtar 1/2ton
1960 Larkvertible V8
1958 Provincial wagon
1953 Commander coupe

12-31-2006, 09:23 PM

John Kirchhoff
12-31-2006, 09:49 PM
Speaking of going 32 mph in reverse, that's what's cool about the electroniclly powered speedos these days, you can see how fast you're going. I do know the Dodge truck at work will go 35 mph in reverse. That's where having driven a combine sure helps since they steer with the rear wheels.

01-01-2007, 08:27 AM
6 speed!
Gotta love the hot rod guys.....

quote:Originally posted by bradnree

On my '52 Commander (learning lab) someone has neatly installed a toggle overdrive switch on the manual gear shift selector and there is a fuse holder with fuse dangling under the dash for same. Why ?? What has happened.....Brad

Blue 15G
01-04-2007, 06:45 PM
Let me get this straight...You're able to drive 35 mph in reverse and you're still able to look at the speedometer while doing so? [:0] You must have really good rearview mirrors! Or, you're doing this on the Bonneville salt flats where there's nothing to run into. :D

01-04-2007, 11:27 PM
All the overdrive Studebakers I have ever owned, I set up to operate as six-speeds. I just took the kickdown switch off the accelerator linkage and mounted it through the floorboard where it could be tapped with a toe. Then, just run up to the governor speed in low, let up on the throttle and it goes into OD. Wind it up again in low OD, clutch in, tap the kickdown switch and shift to second. Wind up second gear and let up on the throttle and so on.

Actually, low OD and second were so close in ratio, there was little point in the exercise, but entertainment was hard to come by with a Flight Hawk - with a 4.56 gear that long-stroke 185" was winding 5krpm in low by the time it was going fast enough to go into OD.

thnx, jv.


Blue 15G
01-05-2007, 07:44 AM
I have my '54 Champion set up with a toggle switch to engage the OD just because I haven't figured out where the problem is yet. Before I installed the switch, with the OD handle pushed in, the car stayed in OD at all times. It won't kick down and it won't go into direct at low speeds. Someday I'll finally troubleshoot it correctly. Until then, My "6-speed" works fine. [^] I agree though, that there's little use in driving it as a 6 speed.

01-05-2007, 08:07 AM
When I first got my Stude the kickdown switch did not work. I would use second gear overdrive when extra power was needed. I later fixed the problem ( a loose wire ) and I like the way it works. The factory set-up is hard to beat!!!


John Kirchhoff
01-05-2007, 10:05 AM
Yes Blue, it showed 35mph, but I had my head cranked around looking out the rear window. Of course I didn't take time to read all the other guages, tune in the radio, adjust the mirror and all that stuff! I was on a gravel road with no way to turn around and it was either back up 1/2 mile or go forward 2.5 miles to where I could get turned around, so that was pretty much a no brainer.

Blue 15G
01-05-2007, 12:17 PM
My hat's off to you, John. I couldn't drive 35 mph in reverse without having a heart attack.