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Overdrive options


SixasStandard
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Hello All,

As part of my search for a 2L Vitesse I may have to face the prospect of a good car coming along which ticks a lot of boxes apart from the O/D one!  If such a car does come along then comments from previous threads suggest that O/D is a real necessity to make the car more usable and enjoyable. Bearing in mind I don't come into the 'private yacht / diamond encrusted Rolex / private Caribbean island' sector of the ownership spectrum...….. how straightforward and expensive is it to remedy the situation? (the O/D gearbox...….not my credit rating).

I would welcome other Forum members' thoughts on my options. From my current (horrifically inexperienced) perspective the options would seem to be:

1) Don't be daft...….wait for a car with O/D.

2) Be daft......but source and fit an OE Triumph unit when one appears for sale.

3) As above, but use the surplus Laycock O/D unit from my Sunbeam Alpine, after a rebuild and necessary mods to said box and the Vitesse propshaft.

4)  Sell a kidney on the Dark Web, and after recovering use the funds towards a Type 9 conversion kit from the usual suspects...…..topping up the purchase price from savings.

5) Take up another hobby like full contact crochet.

All insights are welcome. I would particularly appreciate knowing the practicalities of adding O/D, and if anyone on the Forum has actually gone this route already.

Thanks,

Ian

 

 

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Hello Ian,

It's pointless having any type of O/D set-up if you do not have the car to go with it. 

As such, I would say get your Vitesse first and then you can determine which direction to go - as and when O/D or 5th gear options appear.

Many owners run a Triumph without O/D either as personal preference, not interested in converting or awaiting for an O/D option to appear. Yes it makes motoring at higher speeds more relaxing and easier on the engine but it does not stop you from driving the car. I am sure there will be plenty of other jobs to do whilst the O/D option manifests itself.

Regards.

Richard.

 

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I know Im in the minority here but actually dont mind not having OD on my Mk1 Vitesse and I have had it before. A lot depends how/where youre going to drive: fast roads 60+mph or slower 40+ ones. The Vitesse isnt very aero dynamic so generates quite a bit of wind noise (and a convertible even more) so I like to keep my speed under 60mph and at that I dont find the engine noise intrusive. To my mind OD is a complicated and potentially unreliable system that seems to make those gearboxes with it more prone to wear so if I wanted lower revs the only change I would consider is a slightly higher ratio differential....

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Thanks Richard/Johny,

Richard........the reason I'm asking at this stage is that my intention will be to occasionally use the Vitesse on long distance continental tours, perhaps even as far South as Italy...…..so periods of motorway cruising will inevitably be required, regardless of how scenic the route we choose to take. I wouldn't want to be clowning about at 40mph on an Autostrade ……… certainly not with the 'intente cordiale' so dented by recent political events. Long story short I will need to fit an O/D or five speed box to any car that I purchase which doesn't already have one...…..so the question is significant to my choice of car should the practicality of a conversion be too troublesome or expensive...…..ergo my query.

Johny……… the wind noise issue is one that I hadn't considered, and I'm sure it has an effect on driving speeds for the majority of drivers coping with their usual domestic driving. For the longer trips that I'm occasionally hoping to make with 'the Boss' I think that a 5th gear or O/D box would prove to be essential. The higher ratio differential is a good tip....thanks.

Regards,

Ian 

 

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ive said  before to add an overdrive you need to change the mainshaft  what  ever triumph box is fitted then you need adaptor plate propshaft mounts and a switch or two and get a working OD unit off the shelf kits are not   readily available ,  you have the alpine unit which will need homework to make into a fit 

costs type 9 as a kit can suck vast sums of money  unless you DIY  does need a lot of thought about where you want the gearstick to be on a 6 cyl.

fit a 3.63. spit 1500 diff   cheapest option by  many ££££ss  just needs a coupling swap and the output flange bolt holes up sizing and re cal  the speedo 

all i can tell you about wind noise is yes , and at 100mph the  wing mirrors fold back 

some fill the A post gutter to improve wind noise 

pete

 

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I do long trips abroad in mine but always take the scenic route (I am retired) and find 200miles is about the limit of Triumph fun I like to have one day. That distance is about 4 hours driving which for me is an ideal way to occupy a day with a leisurely start, stops on the way to take in the local scenery/culture and then check into a hotel with time to look round the town in daylight. However if your going to do long Autostrada runs then yes an OD is probably a good idea....

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2 hours ago, johny said:

I know Im in the minority here but actually dont mind not having OD on my Mk1 Vitesse and I have had it before. A lot depends how/where youre going to drive: fast roads 60+mph or slower 40+ ones. The Vitesse isnt very aero dynamic so generates quite a bit of wind noise (and a convertible even more) so I like to keep my speed under 60mph and at that I dont find the engine noise intrusive. To my mind OD is a complicated and potentially unreliable system that seems to make those gearboxes with it more prone to wear so if I wanted lower revs the only change I would consider is a slightly higher ratio differential....

Overdrive is nice to have, very nice but... As Johny says, a lot depends on the type of driving you anticipate. A Vitesse 2 litre without overdrive is fine at any speed up to 60-65mph. Faster, and it will feel a bit busy under the bonnet but the engine will keep going fine, doing about 4,000rpm at 70 mph. Noisy perhaps, but it won't suddenly self destruct.

My advice, for what it's worth, is buy the best car you can. If it comes with overdrive, great, that's a bonus. If it doesn't, you can still enjoy driving it and retro fit overdrive later if you really want to.

Last point is reliability. Well maintained, with good electrical connections and plenty of oil, overdrives are reliable. If neglected, they become one more thing to go wrong.

Nigel

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42 minutes ago, Nigel Clark said:

My advice, for what it's worth, is buy the best car you can. If it comes with overdrive, great, that's a bonus. If it doesn't, you can still enjoy driving it and retro fit overdrive later if you really want to.

Last point is reliability. Well maintained, with good electrical connections and plenty of oil, overdrives are reliable. If neglected, they become one more thing to go wrong.

Perfectly pitched, Nigel.

I would add, however, that long haul driving without O/D at any speed can be weary and also impacts on fuel economy.

My personal experience of the Vitesse OE O/D and equally Rootes O/D systems is faultless and I agree, again, that the correct level of TLC ensures reliability.

Regards.

Richard. 

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Regarding reliability, overdrives are usually incredibly reliable. In 30 years of owning Triumphs, with virtually all overdrive equipped, I have had only one overdrive itself giving any trouble (j type on a big saloon box in my 2.5 vitesse, slipping overdrive. That gearbox was fitted with just an oil change from a saloon that had sat in a field, with a hedge grown around it, for over 10 years, then run ok for several years.)  A used unit was fitted, no further issues.

I have had issues with the electrical side, usually wires through the gearstick but once replaced with new, trouble free. 

The 2 really annoying wiring problems were both the solenoid earth wire fracturing. They tend to get soaked in oil for many many years, and never swapped as they look fine. But the insulation goes very hard, and brittle, causing the wire yo fracture. Happened in my Sprintfire on the way to Holland in 1995, so had to drive at 4000rpm all the way there and back. But last year same thing happened on the way to the.  start of the RBRR. 3 attempts at fixing with fresh wiring feeding everything, then a stroke of luck when I say a flash from the broken wire when I was under the car in a pub carpark. New bit of wire, and we made it to the start with no further issues. 

But it is true, layshaft pins seem to suffer more in overdrive gearboxes. Maybe as the cars cover larger mileages, or there is more twisting force along the length of the layshaft?

 

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Ian - definitely the car comes first! A good one in terms of bodywork and trim - the best you can get. Having overdrive reduces engine revs and helps with NVH - Noise, Vibration and Harshness. It also reduces engine wear and improves fuel consumption, though you may not notice these. However, it's my impression that some people are more sensitive to NVH than others. You may be perfectly content motoring along with the engine at nearly 3500rpm when others find it wearing. That depends on you and your driving style. Get the car then decide - just drive about 20% slower and ask yourself if the engine noise reduction is something you want.

My only note of caution is that adding overdrive means at least changing the mainshaft, and many so-called Triumph experts will advise a recon gearbox. I know from bitter experience that a replacement box may not be as good as the non-OD one it's replacing. When you go back after 14 months and say it's started slipping out of 3rd gear and the so-called expert reminds you the guarantee is only 12 months ... ! This is my story from 30 years ago with my blue Spit, but building good gearboxes is getting more and more difficult as good core stock dwindles. The chap building the gearbox for my current project had 5 donor boxes before we found a good enough layshaft, and even that wasn't perfect - I'm told Mike Papworth has no stock of these at the moment.

Pete's suggestion of using a taller ratio diff is a good one.

Cheers, Richard

PS: Don't loose sleep.

PPS: Let's be careful out there!

3 hours ago, clive said:

But it is true, layshaft pins seem to suffer more in overdrive gearboxes. Maybe as the cars cover larger mileages, or there is more twisting force along the length of the layshaft?

PPPS: Good point. Lower revs means more torque to do the same work. And more torque means more wear in the gearbox! (But at least your engine lasts longer. :unsure:)

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7 hours ago, rlubikey said:

PPPS: Good point. Lower revs means more torque to do the same work. And more torque means more wear in the gearbox! (But at least your engine lasts longer. :unsure:)

Should have said "in third gear when you're using the layshaft."

Of course you're also right Pete, flipping into overdrive - especially under power - will add to wear in third gear.

Cheers, Richard

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35 minutes ago, Pete Lewis said:

i dont see any design factor that wears a OD box more than a Non  OD other than the box is used for a higher premium of use 

giving it more welly  in 3rd and flick changing under power  ,  rather than plodding around in 4th ,   

you dont get owt for nowt 

Pete

Thats why Ive stuck with the 3.89 diff on my non OD Vitesse. It gives the gearbox a much easy life by allowing 4th nearly all the time including most inclines.... 

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I wouldn't be without an overdrive particularly for long journeys. I purchased my D-type second hand about 20 years ago . Done over 100000 miles and never had a problem. Was first fitted to my herald estate, now in my spitfire. I sold the herald but not the overdrive.

Hope this helps!

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over all my years ive encountered D Types on Dads  Vogues and Sceptre 's  only one had a rusty solenoid to free  off,  had the Dtype for 13 years on the Vitesse6 all completely  trouble free  the J type on My MK2 2000 had a sticking solenoid spool valve  easy to remove and fit new inner 0 rings

so over the last 50 years .... all smiles for D and J types 

Pete

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Have had three rail J type overdrives in my Mk1 2L Vitesse for over twenty years, bought as a kit from John Kipping, would not be with out it.

First gearbox lost teeth on input shaft, replaced under warranty by John Kipping. Pickup a spare gearbox and overdrive which came with other spares, thrust washer under one way clutch in overdrive broke up after some years of use. The gearbox lost two teeth from third gear on cluster sometime later.

On all these occasions I could still drive home.

Have I been unlucky? or is it I use the car.

Never sell any spares, if you do they are common and cheap and if you need them they are rare and expensive and often the same part.

Regards

Paul

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36 minutes ago, 68vitesse said:

Have had three rail J type overdrives in my Mk1 2L Vitesse for over twenty years, bought as a kit from John Kipping, would not be with out it.

 

Never sell any spares, if you do they are common and cheap and if you need them they are rare and expensive and often the same part.

 

I'm still running the second-hand J-type box I bought for £180 in 2001 in my GT6, no problems other than wiring rubbing through and shorting a few years back.

As for spares, I've found out recently that if you throw it out, you'll need it within a month; if you give it away, you'll be amazed at how much you could have sold it for, and if you sell it on an online auction site, the feeling of guilt at how much it sold for will linger for quite a while.

 

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1 hour ago, Colin Lindsay said:

As for spares, I've found out recently that if you throw it out, you'll need it within a month; if you give it away, you'll be amazed at how much you could have sold it for, and if you sell it on an online auction site, the feeling of guilt at how much it sold for will linger for quite a while.

 

Think I could live with the quilt but not with the frustration of needing something recently given or sold. Tend to buy bits when I see them which leads to item not quite right or never needed but also some good buys.

Regards

Paul

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The OD is the more reliable part of the gearbox usually and if they are knackered internally it’s often from running in the swarf from a dying gearbox!  Most faults are electrical though.

Whiles it’s quite true that the use you intend for the car does make a significant difference, As we regularly use ours for long haul travel, I’d not be without OD or 5th, preferably with a taller final drive as well. The factory original gearing is woefully short. Both my 2L cars have Spitfire 3.63 diffs with the GT6 having OD and the Vitesse a Toyota Supra gearbox with a nice long 5th. 70mph at 3000 rpm. The Vitesse (convertible) will cruise happily at 85 - 90mph (in Germany!), though the crew are less happy due to the noise levels!  Its all wind noise though.  My Herald saloon could manage similar speeds and was significantly quieter.  I’ve not had the chance to drive the GT6 far yet but it seems very civilised at the legal limit even with most of the interior missing.

I’d not pass up an otherwise good car for lack of OD though. It can always be added, though it is a pricey business these days.

Nick

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Thanks Nick,

It is useful to get anecdotal evidence from someone who has done a lot of long distance driving, and it confirms what I thought would likely be the case. The Supra gearbox sounds interesting, although I imagine that supply will be just as troublesome and the cost just high as that for the Type9? I wonder if there are more modern alternatives?......the Mazda MX5 gearbox is now being offered by (ironically) a company called 'Vitesse' in Hinckley, Leicestershire...…..but only for the TR cars according to their website. I'll give them a call to find out more.

Thanks for your insights.

Ian 

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The problem isnt just the fitting but the ratios. Being lighter the small chassis sixes have to have low ratio gears (effectively a close ratio box and even then, as standard, my Vitesse 2L first gear could do with being lower) and theres not many other makes of gearbox available that are suitable. Even the type 9 really needs to be a specific one to be somewhere near right and although other diff ratios are available for my car the difficulty would then be pulling top gear.... 

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1 hour ago, SixasStandard said:

The Supra gearbox sounds interesting, although I imagine that supply will be just as troublesome and the cost just high as that for the Type9? I wonder if there are more modern alternatives?

i always wondered - and got shot down many times back in the day - why we didn't just go for better internals for our original boxes; surely if there was demand then suppliers would have found it cost-effective to improve our current boxes? Instead, a lot of people ditched them in favour of modern boxes regardless of where the gearstick ended up, requiring expensive adaptors and in some cases drastic surgery to the car, and so now we're in the situation of original gearboxes running out of internal parts with which to refurbish them, suppliers refusing to make the parts as they're not cost-effective, and no really suitable alternative. Surely with today's technology we must be able to make gearbox internals that are superior to the originals?

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