LAS VEGAS DAVE

THE OVERDRIVE MOD BEGINS

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Today I talked to Lloyd Young about an overdrive for my 38 Buick Special model 41. He is a wonderful person to talk to and possibly the most experienced person in the country when it comes to overdrives for old cars. I'm going to start  removing  the torque tube and propeller shaft and ring and pinion from my car tomorrow night. I will then ship it all to him for him to do the modifications. It's a lot of work and if anyone has any suggestions I would appreciate it. I would like to be able to drive the car on the freeway without harming it or getting run over and I think this is the best solution.

 

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Lloyd has done three of my cars and you couldn't ask for a better person to deal with.

 

He has my respect. His skill, attitude, and sense of fairness is an example for how we would like so many others to be.

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I have been under the car tonight just looking and thinking about how to go about it. I'm hoping the radius rod nuts will turn without damage, they look rusty so I squirted them with some penetrant but I haven't put a wrench to anything yet. Tomorrow night I will get the car up in the air. Its about 103 here in Vegas and even the nights are 85 or more. I am doing this in the driveway so it will all be outside work. Tomorrow I'll get the 38 shop manual back from a friend and see what it says. Lloyd told me pretty much how to go about it but he's done many and I never have so I need to be careful. I will keep posting as I go but if anyone has any suggestions please let me know. Tonight I noticed someone has put some soft foam pads on top of the transmission that go up to the bottom of the floor, I don't know why. Maybe to keep the noise down. I also can see that at one point the transmission was out of the car because there is some silicon gasket maker showing between the transmission and the bell housing. They didn't have that stuff in 38. I wish the old car could talk. Maybe the engine was out once but I was told it wasn't. The thing is that most of us are old and our memories are far from perfect so the person that told me that may be right or may be wrong. Stay tuned.

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The number one "trick" for removing rusted nuts is the prudent application of heat from a small welding tip on an acetylene torch. Get it red and get the wrench on it, preferably a six point socket, that you gathered up first. Bob H

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I got the car jacked up and on stands. I removed the bolts from the rear cover and the rear end oil is drained. I disconnected the parking brake cable. Its so hot outside I will tke a break for awhile. While underneath I noticed that the car has a new gas tank, new fuel lines and fuel filter, new steel brake lines. This car was in the Lewis Jenkins Collection since 1982 until he passed in 2014.  Lewis also had a restoration shop for Buick and Cadillac so I guess some things got attended in the approximately 30 years it was there. I found the state inspection forms for every year that Lewis had it in the glove box and each year it always gained 30 miles. Its very clean underneath but not painted or restored. I also notice no rust even under the trunk pan which is usually an area that gets rust. From what I understand Lewis had one of the largest 1940 Buick collections in the world.

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I am so looking forward to following this post because i want to do the same thing to my 34 Buick . Good luck , and not get too frustrated if things don't come apart or go back together easy.

Just take your time , keep thinking of the final outcome and most of all have FUN. 

 

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Here is the update until now. The rear cover is off the housing, the brake lines are disconnected and the parking brake cable will slide out  of the bracket that its in thats welded on the torque tube once the torque tube is removed. The torque tube flange is disconnected from the transmission u joint flange, that was easy. The panhard bar is disconnected from the frame and the other side will stay attached to the rear end housing.  Still to do is undo the shocks and I think that by letting the rear end hang from the coil springs I can move it back far enough to get he torque and ring and pinion out the front of the housing. Then it will drop down and I should be able to pull it out of the X MEMBER, it will then be ready to ship. My problem right now is I can't get the axles to slide out. Until they are out the ring and pinion are locked on to them and I can't do anything. I think I need a slide hammer tat will bolt to the hub or go over it. I'm off to a friends that has many tools to see if he has what I need. Stay tuned. By the way I took some pictures.

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 If I recall correctly you should be able to tap the axles inward one at a time and then remove an internal clip off each axle which is holding it.

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1937-44 is correct. There is a center block that must be removed first then slide the axles inward. The c shaped clips will come out by hand then pull both axles.

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My 38 shop manual also affirms what 1937-44 and RiKi5156B says. Tomorrow I'll try to see how to remove the center block from the ring and pinion and get the horseshoe clips out so that the axles can be removed. I want to thank you guys for pointing this out to me before I put a slide hammer on the axle and did any damage. 

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 Glad you checked back before putting the slide hammer or puller on the axle. It probably would have taken a lot to break those clips, but it sure would have been frustrating.

 

 I've thought different times about putting the overdrive in my 37, but never got that ambitious. I am however getting closer to putting a Century ring and pinion in and as the old girl and I are both getting a little tired of working hard.

 

 Looking forward to hearing progress reports.

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Is there some reason you are not pulling the entire torque tube and axle assembly out from under the vehicle before dismantelling?  At this point it appears all that's holding it in there are the bolts on the lower spring retainer and the lower bolts on the tube shocks.  Then you can set the housing up on three work horses and not be crawling around the ground, although it may be cooler under the car in your area.

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Is there some reason you are not pulling the entire torque tube and axle assembly out from under the vehicle before dismantelling?  At this point it appears all that's holding it in there are the bolts on the lower spring retainer and the lower bolts on the tube shocks.  Then you can set the housing up on three work horses and not be crawling around the ground, although it may be cooler under the car in your area.

There are a couple of reasons. One is the space I have is limited to outside the garage on one side of a two car driveway. The front of the car is within 2 inches of the garage and the back bumper is even with the sidewalk. I have a two car garage but it only has a single car garage door so only one car can be in the garage and the space to the side of that inside the garage is filled with motorcycles and parts etc. The garage door side has another car inside the garage already so that side of the driveway must be kept clear to allow entrance and exit. I'm hoping I can just leave the rear end hanging by the coil springs in the car until the overdrive set up comes back from Mr Young as that would take up the least space that way. Crawling around on the ground hasn't been to bad as the car is plenty high in the air. If I get the axles out tonight I'll see if the rear end can pull back far enough to let the ring and pinion clear the front of the rear end and then the whole torque tube should drop down low enough for me to pull it out of the XMEMBER and get it out from under the car. If this won't work I will only have a couple of more bolts to completely remove the rear end housing and go from there.  I don't have room inside the garage to store it and I would rather not leave it outside separated from the car if possible. Tonight my immediate focus is on removing the axles, I hope I will see that removing the spacer block from the ring in pinion is easy to see how its done. I wish I knew more about rear ends but I'm learning as I go. Stay tuned. 

Edited by LAS VEGAS DAVE (see edit history)

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We have put overdrives in three prewar Buicks and are happy with all of them. We don't usually go much faster than we did before but engine speed is lower at the same speed. That being said, our 27 sport roadster has been over 75 mph. We like having an intermediate gear between second and high, using second and overdrive. This may not be an issue with Buick 8's.

One thing to pay attention to is something called gear setup. It means the relationship between the ring and pinion gears and both are adjustable either direction. It is imperative that when you go back together this relationship is unchanged or you will have noise or broken parts. What we do is measure and record the position of the gears, depth of pinion out of case, backlash, and the like, before we take them out. Then put everything back in the same place when to OD job is done. If your vendor does the gear removal and replacement you don't need to worry. Also, we have our vendor put a seal both in front and behind the OD. You will really like the difference OD makes in drivability on modern roads.

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We have put overdrives in three prewar Buicks and are happy with all of them. We don't usually go much faster than we did before but engine speed is lower at the same speed. That being said, our 27 sport roadster has been over 75 mph. We like having an intermediate gear between second and high, using second and overdrive. This may not be an issue with Buick 8's.

One thing to pay attention to is something called gear setup. It means the relationship between the ring and pinion gears and both are adjustable either direction. It is imperative that when you go back together this relationship is unchanged or you will have noise or broken parts. What we do is measure and record the position of the gears, depth of pinion out of case, backlash, and the like, before we take them out. Then put everything back in the same place when to OD job is done. If your vendor does the gear removal and replacement you don't need to worry. Also, we have our vendor put a seal both in front and behind the OD. You will really like the difference OD makes in drivability on modern roads.

I'm leaving all that up to Lloyd Young as he will be the one that sends me back the torque tube with the ring and pinion already on it and ready to install. He has done this for over 30 years I'm told so I would imagine I also will be one of the happy ones with an overdrive.

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The torque tube assembly is now in the back of my truck and will be shipped to Mr Young tomorrow. The rest of the job went smoothly. Once you know how to take out the axles its just a matter of keep unbolting stuff until its finally done. Slide out the axles, remove the backing plates with the brakes still on them, remove the rear springs, lower the rear end slowly, I used a floor jack and motorcycle tie downs on each side as a safety in case the thing fell off the jack. I first pulled the rear end backwards to get the radius rods to slide out of the torque tube, then pushed the torque tube forwards to get the ring and pinion to clear the rear end. Then I lowered the rear end housing all the way down to the ground and rested it on a small dolly and wheeled it into my backyard. I put each assemblies nuts or bolts in a zip lock bag and labeled each bag with contents and reminder notes. I then slid the torque tube assembly out of the Xmember that it was in and lowered it onto a moving van blanket I had. Then pulled the blanket from under the car and the torque tube assembly was free at last. This job is a lot of work but it doesn't require a lot of skill, mostly common sense and determination. 

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I put a Lloyd Young overdrive in my 1929 Cadillac almost five years ago and everything everybody says about Lloyd is correct--he's a very knowledgeable, friendly, and honest fellow and I've enjoyed working with him over the years. My overdrive has been...problematic...but I don't blame Lloyd for it. He has rebuilt it twice free of charge and on one of those occasions, he even paid for a shop to remove the torque tube and reassemble the thing, a $1500 bill. I was extremely grateful and impressed by his commitment. Sadly, I suspect that I simply got a bad unit and once it's in there, Lloyd informs me that swapping it out for another one isn't possible since the dimensions and installation are unique (once you see how it's done, you'll understand).

 

Right now, the electricals for the overdrive on my car are borked. It never quite worked right, and would often fail to engage when it was hot and I had to drive for a few miles with overdrive and free-wheeling off to let it cool off (I learned to dread red lights and stop signs for this reason). More recently, it has failed to engage at all and if I can manage to get it engaged, it will randomly drop out of overdrive for no reason, as if power was cut. I have replaced the micro-switch on the clutch that disengages the system, and it still doesn't work. Replaced the solenoid and it clicks, but there's no engagement. My gut still says it's an electrical problem since it showed up as simply dropping out of gear when I was coasting, as if it had lost power. Whatever.

 

Last weekend I spent some time with a friend who just bought a 1931 Cadillac sedan with a Borg-Warner overdrive installed years ago. Whomever did the installation eliminated all the electrics, solenoid included, and retrofitted a simple bell crank mechanism that inserts a pin into the overdrive instead of the solenoid. Pull the cable and it moves the pin into the overdrive. Lift off the throttle and it drops into overdrive. There's a second cable on the clutch, so when you push in the clutch, it pulls the pin out of the overdrive and disengages the system, just the way the solenoid would work. Genius! I will be studying his setup and replicating it on my car in hopes that it will eliminate all the issues I've been having. Until I saw this, I was seriously considering a Gear Vendors unit as a replacement because I was just too frustrated, but that would also involve somehow finding a replacement torque tube. I've driven my Cadillac only once this year because of that frustration.

 

Anyway, my point isn't that the setup is bad, because I can't blame Lloyd or the car for a system that was never meant to be there being forced into the middle of everything. Lloyd has been first-rate and his attitude can't be beat. When the overdrive is working, it totally transforms the car and makes it a joy to drive. I'm very optimistic that the full mechanical conversion will solve all the problems I'm having with my setup because the gearbox itself should be pretty durable. So go forward with the plan, your car will do everything you hope it will and with luck, your experience will be like 90% of Lloyd's other customers and not like mine. And again, I don't blame Lloyd at all for this, it's just what comes with old cars and old hardware and it's not anybody's fault that a totally custom-engineered and ancient mechanical thing doesn't quite work perfectly.

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Dave:

 

I read in one of your earlier posts about your limited working space for the car but your last pic really shows how cramped it is!  My hat is off to you for being able to work in that small space and to get this out so quickly. I have a huge asphalt pad in my backyard to work on but it seems to take me about 10 times longer to do any project than planned. Keep us posted!

 

BTW, how are you shipping that thing to Ohio?

 

Cheers, Dave

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Dave:

 

I read in one of your earlier posts about your limited working space for the car but your last pic really shows how cramped it is!  My hat is off to you for being able to work in that small space and to get this out so quickly. I have a huge asphalt pad in my backyard to work on but it seems to take me about 10 times longer to do any project than planned. Keep us posted!

 

BTW, how are you shipping that thing to Ohio?

 

Cheers, Dave

Hi Dave, I've only been semi retire for 2 weeks so I now have time to do things. I used to get up at 4:30 every morning and go to work, had to go to bed early due to the hours so it was harder to get things done. It seems easy now. The space is cramped but the house is paid for so I will never have any more space than what it is. This also keeps me from buying more and more cars etc. I shipped the torque tube a couple of hours ago on OLD DOMINION FREIGHT LINES as thats what Lloyd wanted me to use. The crate was another project as he wants it sturdy enough to use again when he sends it back to me. It ended up weighing 185 pounds in the crate which was 80X16X16 inches in case anyone else is contemplating this project. I think it might be a month before I get it back as Lloyd didn't know exactly how long the machine shop will have it. Patience is the hardest thing for me but luckily I will be on a motorcycle ride for the first two weeks of August so I won't be just waiting on pins and needles.

Edited by LAS VEGAS DAVE (see edit history)

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