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Thread: Overdrive not kicking in - 1950 Commander

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    Overdrive not kicking in - 1950 Commander

    I've bypassed all of the interlocks and connected a toggle switch directly to the coil of the overdrive relay. I did this after determining my governor switch is not operating correctly. After achieving 30+ mph, I flip the switch and have an indicator lamp that shows the relay has energized and closed the normal open contacts. I can also hear the solenoid activating on the transmission, I think. What I mean is I hear the solenoid doing something. It makes a noise. Unfortunately, the transmission will not switch to overdrive when I let off the throttle and coast. I've also tried coasting and pushing in the clutch. Still nothing. Any thoughts?
    Chuck

    1950 Commander Starlight Regal Deluxe
    1954 Ford Custom Coupe
    1969 Datsun Roadster 2000

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    President Member Jerry Forrester's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by chlenz62 View Post
    I've bypassed all of the interlocks and connected a toggle switch directly to the coil of the overdrive relay. I did this after determining my governor switch is not operating correctly. After achieving 30+ mph, I flip the switch and have an indicator lamp that shows the relay has energized and closed the normal open contacts. I can also hear the solenoid activating on the transmission, I think. What I mean is I hear the solenoid doing something. It makes a noise. Unfortunately, the transmission will not switch to overdrive when I let off the throttle and coast. I've also tried coasting and pushing in the clutch. Still nothing. Any thoughts?
    On a '55 I bought several years ago, the OD wouldn't kick in. I found that the control cable had broken off where it connects to the lever on the transmission and the previous owner had reconnected the cable and it wouldn't move the lever into the overdrive position.
    Jerry Forrester
    Forrester's Chrome
    Douglasville, Georgia

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    President Member TWChamp's Avatar
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    I assume you have the cable pushed in and it's adjusted to move the arm all the way to the overdrive position?
    If so, and it still won't engage, it must be an internal problem with the overdrive.
    The only problem I ever had with any overdrive was the first Studebaker I bought in 1968, which I purchased from the little old lady as she came out of church and got in the car. True story. Anyway the overdrive didn't work, and when I questioned the little old lady about it, she said she had no idea what overdrive was. She said she only drove it once a week to church and once a week to the grocery store, and never went over 30 MPH. When I got back to base I cleaned the relay contacts, and it was good to go.

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    Silver Hawk Member 52-fan's Avatar
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    When you have the handle pushed in and let off on the accelerator does the car feel like it is coasting? If you still have engine braking just like with the handle pulled out you probably have an internal problem. I had this with the first transmission in my 52. I confirmed my suspicions on the bench after checking the other things.
    I would first check to be sure that the cable is working properly as others have said before going deeper.


    "In the heart of Arkansas."
    Searcy, Arkansas
    1952 Commander 2 door. Really fine 259.

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    Must reiterate: the overdrive lockout lever must be all the way back against it's stop on the housing casting in order for overdrive to engage. "Close" does not cut it. I like to adjust the lockout control so that the lever hits the stop with the control knob about 1/4" short of hitting its bezel. With the lockout lever "close to" but not on the stop, you might get free wheeling, but the notch on the OD shift rail will not be aligned with the pawl properly, and prevent the solenoid from moving that pawl, and OD cannot engage.
    Gord Richmond, within Weasel range of the Alberta Badlands

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    Electrical power is definitely reaching the solenoid and I will again check to ensure it is firing but from my observations, the solenoid is definitely firing. I did need to adjust the lockout lever a lot from when i received the car. I pushed it to the hard stop, swinging it towards the rear of the car. But I will crawl underneath and triple-check this item. If all of these checks prove to be correct, do I need to pull the transmission again or can I pull the solenoid and somehow "unjam" the mechanical piece of this system? The car sat for about 10 years after rebuild. I'm guessing it's sticky like everything else I have found on the car. When I coast, the transmission is definitely still engaged with the transmission.
    Chuck

    1950 Commander Starlight Regal Deluxe
    1954 Ford Custom Coupe
    1969 Datsun Roadster 2000

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    I just read an article someone wrote on the OD system and it raised a couple more questions for me. The article explained that the transmission free-wheels/disengages at all speeds when the engine is not pulling the car? In other words, similar to a coast brake on a bicycle? And this is true at any speed? My transmission definitely is fully engaged at all speeds? The article also stipulated motor oil for the transmission and not gear oil?! "Another thing: The shop manual recommends using 40-weight, non-detergent motor oil or 90-weight GL1 mineral oil. If you use EP oil (oil with Extreme Pressure additives), the sprag and synchronizers will slip or will not shift as smoothly."
    Chuck

    1950 Commander Starlight Regal Deluxe
    1954 Ford Custom Coupe
    1969 Datsun Roadster 2000

  8. #8
    President Member TWChamp's Avatar
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    The overdrive will freewheel only at car speed less than when the governor sends the signal to kick in. Once it get above that speed of about 32 (on my cars) then the overdrive will lock in when you lift your foot off the throttle for a couple seconds to give it time to lock in. Then it will be the same as a 4th gear. When you floor the throttle, the kick down switch will send the signal to disengage the overdrive, and you'll be back to regular third. For a second or two, yes it will freewheel at all speeds with the lever pushed in, but right away the overdrive should engage at speeds over about 30, so I wouldn't call that freewheeling.

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    Golden Hawk Member StudeRich's Avatar
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    Maybe you just did not "Wind it up" enough, 30 is sometimes not quite enough, take it to 35-40 and lift the Go pedal abruptly, the engine also needs to have a low idle under 700 RPM.

    Also, if you have the wrong Speedometer Pinion for your Axle Ratio, or wrong Tire Size, the Speedometer MAY be way off.

    But with no Relay, no Governor, No Kickdown Switch and No reverse Lockout, maybe nothing will work!
    StudeRich
    Second Generation Stude Driver,
    Proud '54 Starliner Owner




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    The article you mention in post #7 is wrong if that is what it said. An overdrive trans with the handle pushed in will coast only until the solenoid is activated and the pawl is shoved in. Then it is in overdrive and there is no more coasting until that pawl is drawn out again when the solenoid is turned off. Does your car ever coast free? If not, then the lockout mechanism is stuck or improperly assembled. Does you car back up OK? If it doesn't then your pawl is stuck in and you are always in overdrive. Let us know.

    I do agree that 90 GL1 rated gear oil is a good choice for the trans and that is what I run in all my cars. It doesn't seem to make such a big difference in Studes, compared to GL4, but on Packards for ex. it make a whale of a difference in how they shift. The 40W works good too.

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    The car never coasts freely. It is always engaged and the engine slows the car when I let off the throttle regardless of speed. It drives as if the OD does not exist.

    The car has no issues backing up or shifting into any gear. It does not down shift into 1st unless I'm at a full stop. And I need to count to about 3 seconds if I'm at a stop light and I've had the car in neutral with the clutch pedal released. When I depress the clutch pedal, I need to count to about 3 seconds before attempting to put the car into 1st gear or the gears will grind. I can shift back and forth between 2nd and 3rd without issue with no grinding. But first gear requires me to be at a full stop. Not sure if this is normal or not so I thought I'd throw it out there for all to comment.
    Chuck

    1950 Commander Starlight Regal Deluxe
    1954 Ford Custom Coupe
    1969 Datsun Roadster 2000

  12. #12
    President Member TWChamp's Avatar
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    Since first gear is not synchronized, your shifting is normal.

    Have you had a chance to check the overdrive lever position on the tranny?

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    OK, if it never coasts, then you are going to have to take the OD apart and have a look. If you are a little adventurous, the overdrive housing and then all of the OD mechanism can be removed with the trans still in the car. That is usually what I do when the rest of the trans is OK and I need to get the car turned around in a hurry. Of course, if you are working on the ground, that is not so fun.

    Your clutch might be dragging a very little bit. 1st is not synchronized so what you are reporting is completely normal. I usually bounce the shift lever into 3d to stop the gears if I need to shift into 1st very quickly at a light. Once you get your OD working properly you will find that the freewheeling will enable you to shift to 1st even while the car is rolling. Anyway, none of that is affecting your main issue with the OD.

  14. #14
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    Make sure the jacket of the lockout cable is securely clamped at the transmission end.
    Gord Richmond, within Weasel range of the Alberta Badlands

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    Pulling the whole transmission is not much more effort than the OD section and I don't know what to expect pulling just the OD section of the transmission. But before I pull the tranny, I wonder if someone can tell me what the solenoid actuates. It's supposed to pull something when energized and I'm wondering if that something is stuck from sitting for 10 years. If I remove the solenoid, am I able to grab that "something" and try to move it?
    Chuck

    1950 Commander Starlight Regal Deluxe
    1954 Ford Custom Coupe
    1969 Datsun Roadster 2000

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    The solenoid pushes. It pushes a pawl, which is a 3/4 by 3/4 inch slug of hardened steel, with a bevel on one end, into a notched wheel to stop it. The end engaged by the solenoid has an external groove on one side, and a cross hole with a slot. The solenoid has a ball end on its plunger, with two flats, and you can rotate the solenoid about a quarter turn, to either engage it in the pawl, or withdraw it. The overdrive shift rail passes under the above-mentioned groove in the pawl, and if a a milled flat on the shift rail lines up with the groove on the pawl, the solenoid is free to push the pawl in. Should even the tiniest part of the full diameter of the shift rail line up with the pawl, it is blocked from moving.

    You could undo the bolts retaining the solenoid, turn it about 1/4 turn to the left, and remove it. Then place a flat-blade screwdriver in the slot in the pawl, and twist it firmly. That will give you a grip on the solenoid, and you should be able to push it in, and pull it out. It should move at least a half-inch. And you can observe the effect of the OD shift rail.
    Gord Richmond, within Weasel range of the Alberta Badlands

  17. #17
    President Member TWChamp's Avatar
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    BTW, when I get to 30 MPH, I can watch the ammeter and as soon as the governor sends the signal, I can see a flicker on the ammeter needle. You'll have to go a little faster though because when you let off the gas to let the overdrive kick in, the car will loose some speed, and the governor may kick back out.

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    They say it's darkest before the dawn. Right now it's really, really dark under my car. Here is the farthest I can separate the OD module from the transmission. I'm probably going to end up pulling the entire transmission but even then I need to know how to disassemble the OD from the rest of the transmission. Does anyone have any experience with transmission work? And when it's separated, what am I looking for? How will I determine the cause of the OD not engaging?

    IMG_0011.jpg
    Attached Images Attached Images
    Chuck

    1950 Commander Starlight Regal Deluxe
    1954 Ford Custom Coupe
    1969 Datsun Roadster 2000

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    You need to drive out the taper pin that retains the OD lockout lever in the housing, and pull the lockout lever shaft out about a half-inch or so. That will permit the OD housing to slide off the stacked parts inside.

    I much prefer to do this job with the entire transmission out and on the bench.
    Gord Richmond, within Weasel range of the Alberta Badlands

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    I have the OD housing pulled off and now I need some help understanding where I go from here. The OD lockout shaft does not return to the OD position. It appears to be stuck or is there a spring missing? Two photos are shown below with the OD lockout shaft in both positions.
    Attached Images Attached Images
    Chuck

    1950 Commander Starlight Regal Deluxe
    1954 Ford Custom Coupe
    1969 Datsun Roadster 2000

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    Chuck

    1950 Commander Starlight Regal Deluxe
    1954 Ford Custom Coupe
    1969 Datsun Roadster 2000

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    The spring is in the rear housing you removed. It's a compression spring, and bears against the shoulder on the OD shift rail that's about even with the rear of the planet carrier in the pics. The spring usually stays put in the rear housing, unless you mess with it. That brown-tinted oil kind of looks like it might be contaminated with water.
    Gord Richmond, within Weasel range of the Alberta Badlands

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    The spring is indeed missing and I am ordering a new one from a Studebaker parts supplier. I used a spare 6 volt battery to actuate the solenoid and it appears to be working correctly when the OD lockout shaft is positioned in the OD position. I'll install the spring and reassemble. Can someone tell me how in keep the 12 roller bearings in place while I reassemble. I did find what appeared to be a thin rubber band in the transmission. Do I use a rubber band to hold them in place?
    Chuck

    1950 Commander Starlight Regal Deluxe
    1954 Ford Custom Coupe
    1969 Datsun Roadster 2000

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    ....and it looks like someone performed a "flash" paint job all over (including solenoid)...that may suggest a troubled OD unit that may or may not have been properly attended to, and simply painted on the bench (maybe left out parts).......just wondering...

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    Yes, that is the method: hold the rollers in with a rubber band. The band has to be tight enough that you can rotate the cage so that the rollers go in to the bottom of their ramps and stay there while you assemble.

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    In terms of operation, when i have the OD lockout shaft in the OD position, I cannot place the transmission into reverse. I the shaft pushed back against the missing spring when selecting reverse? Or do you have to pull out the OD handle under the dash when selecting reverse? And then push the handle back in when getting into 2nd gear? Never had one of these transmissions and still a bit confused on how they work. (I painted the transmission as it was a bit rusty when I got the car.)
    Chuck

    1950 Commander Starlight Regal Deluxe
    1954 Ford Custom Coupe
    1969 Datsun Roadster 2000

  27. #27
    President Member TWChamp's Avatar
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    You shouldn't have to pull out the OD handle to shift to reverse. That's taken care of inside the tranny by the reverse lockout shaft.

    As far as painting over rust, I went to the Dollar Tree store and bought two cans of oven cleaner. This has the same stuff the shops used in hot tanks to clean engines, and it removes a lot of rust. I sprayed my Model A engine with it, wrapped it in a large plastic bag for a day, then rinsed with hot water and blow dried it so it didn't get flash rusting.

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    I've installed the spring and reassembled the transmission. I'm now bench testing the transmission and it now free wheels in with the OD engaged. I don't believe this is different from when I pulled the transmission. The car always felt like the transmission was engaged to the engine, with the engine being driven by the transmission while coasting. Now I can turn the output shaft in one direction and hold the input shaft. Unfortunately, when I energize the solenoid with a spare 6 volt car battery, the solenoid does make a sound but nothing seems different. The ratio between the input and output shafts are the same and it still "free wheels". Any suggestions?!?!
    Chuck

    1950 Commander Starlight Regal Deluxe
    1954 Ford Custom Coupe
    1969 Datsun Roadster 2000

  29. #29
    Silver Hawk Member 52-fan's Avatar
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    I admire your persistence. When you finally solve the issue, you will be the local expert on the problem.


    "In the heart of Arkansas."
    Searcy, Arkansas
    1952 Commander 2 door. Really fine 259.

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    Correction: I've installed the spring and reassembled the transmission. I'm now bench testing the transmission and it now free wheels in with the OD engaged. I do believe this is different from when I pulled the transmission. The car always felt like the transmission was engaged to the engine, with the engine being driven by the transmission while coasting. Now I can turn the output shaft in one direction and hold the input shaft. Unfortunately, when I energize the solenoid with a spare 6 volt car battery, the solenoid does make a sound but nothing seems different. The ratio between the input and output shafts are the same and it still "free wheels". Any suggestions?!?!
    Chuck

    1950 Commander Starlight Regal Deluxe
    1954 Ford Custom Coupe
    1969 Datsun Roadster 2000

  31. #31
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    Since it's on the bench, remove the solenoid, and insert the blade of a regular screwdriver into the pawl, and twist firmly to engage it. See if you can push it in or pull it out, while also moving the lockout lever. Perhaps something else is interfering with free movement of the pawl or the shift rail.
    Gord Richmond, within Weasel range of the Alberta Badlands

  32. #32
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    Success! I purchased a box of springs from Home Depot and stacked two of them together to build the approximately correct spring that was missing. The OD lockout shaft is still a little sticky and wants to hang up in the standard mode after switching from reverse to 1st. Nonetheless, the transmission did shift into OD for me. The primary issue was the missing OD lockout shaft spring. I also opened up the speed switch and cleaned the contacts. This is now working as well. All the great support is much appreciated. On the wiring side, I did determine the internal switch on the solenoid is a normal open switch which closes when the solenoid is energized and connects to ground. This doesn't make sense and I'm going to need to spend some time on the OD circuit before I fully understand it.
    Chuck

    1950 Commander Starlight Regal Deluxe
    1954 Ford Custom Coupe
    1969 Datsun Roadster 2000

  33. #33
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    The internal switch in the solenoid is to provide a path to ground for the ignition-kill function in the kickdown switch. Cruising in overdrive, if you floorboard the accelerator, the kickdown switch is actuated, and two things happen at once. One current supply to the OD relay, which passes through the normally-closed contact pair on the kickdown switch (pair closest to the plunger button) is interrupted. That unpowers the solenoid, but that alone won't kick it out of overdrive, since engine torque keeps the transmission components locked up. But at the same time the normally-closed contacts open, the normally-open contacts (furthest from the plunger button) close, making a path to ground from the ignition points, via the kickdown switch and the solenoid internal switch. Shorting the ignition points to ground momentarily kills the engine, releasing torque on the driveline just long enough for the solenoid to release, opening the internal switch, and restoring engine operation. They say it's about 1/4 revolution of the engine, but I don't know how to test that. When the solenoid releases, it goes back into direct drive (through the roller clutch), and regardless of the position of the gas pedal, it will remain there until the pedal is lifted completely, relieving torque on the driveline, and allowing the governor and relay to again effect a change into overdrive.

    The overdrive cannot shift either way under load. The kickdown circuit provides a means of briefly relieving load on the driveline to effect a downshift when needed for passing or climbing a steep hill. The perceived effect is lot like using passing gear in an automatic transmission.

    The kickdown switch does nothing when OD is locked out, or when driving in direct drive under the cut-in speed.
    Gord Richmond, within Weasel range of the Alberta Badlands

  34. #34
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    That explains it! Thank you! I was scratching my head last night, reviewing the schematic, trying to figure out why this black wire circuit would take the ignition points to ground. Outstanding explanation! Thank you!
    Chuck

    1950 Commander Starlight Regal Deluxe
    1954 Ford Custom Coupe
    1969 Datsun Roadster 2000

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