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Vitesse Overdrive Advice Please


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Hello everyone,


I've recently acquired a 1970 Mk2 Vitesse Saloon and just joined TSSC.


3000 miles ago but in 2008/9 the car had a very thorough rebuild including a full transmission rebuild with a reconditioned Overdrive unit fitted. 


When I drive it the overdrive is very slow (several seconds) but also very violent to engage. Once engaged there are no issues and it disengages smoothly and instantly.


Does it just require running in, or might there be adjustment or other issues I should investigate?



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When did you last replace the oil in the g/box & o/drive - which are combined and use Hypoid EP90. Worth remembering that low oil content reduces pressure and this can effect the o/drive from engaging & disengaging properly.


If not a recent oil change, may be worth doing bearing in mind that a minimum of 6yrs has elapsed since the rebuild. Additionally the HOT oil change will get rid of any grot in the box; ensure you disengage the pressure within the o/drive prior to draining. Leave it to drain overnight.


The o/drive also has a gauze which will benefit from cleaning when you change the oil.


If this does not work, you may need to adjust the o/drive solenoid and the various WSM's deal with this job - straight forward but a pain to do with access. 


I presume you are running with a D type o/drive - standard fit ?? Have a look a Canley's website as it contains an excellent section on o/drives.


I'm sure others will be able to give advice but this is a decent start point.


Good luck.





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yes as Richard says,  


this sounds like low oil level , the level filler is the one used by the gearbox its a square headed plug on the drivers side of the main gearbox case

just fill it till it shows at the hole


its not easy to get to from under and from the top needs the tunnel rmoved, or , as many do cut a decent sized access hole  alongside the clutch pedal zone.   with a simple cover made to blank the cut out.


to clean the gauze filter I m sure you need to remove the tunnel, these get a nasty sticky gunge in them after some long useage.

they are located under the square plate on the passenger side of the OD,


if the level doesnt cure the hard lazy engagement ita again tunnel off,  remove the rectangular plate onthe drivers side next to the solenoid


operate the OD and check the lever insisde has a 3/16" hole in it which must align witha similar hole behind the lever in the ally case , you can use a dril as a test alignment


adjustment is buy turning the shaped nut on the solenoid shaft ,dont touch the  pinned castle nut and end cap stop.


that should keep you busy for the bank holiday rainy sunday 



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Thanks to everyone for their advice, I investigated things yesterday.


The box needed about 50ml of EP90 to dribble out of the filler, so probably not that I reasoned.


I moved on to clean the filter but was sure it would be fine as the box and overdrive are both exchange units less than 4000 miles ago.


I suspected that the actuation system would need adjusting and was about to start on that when I noticed that one of the leads on the inhibitor switch was hanging on to the spade connector by about two strands. Needless to say it promptly broke when I tried to disconnect it, so out came my stock of connectors and the gas soldering iron.


Having fitted the new connector and cleaned the switch terminal I reconnected the wire and ran a static test to ensure that there was power everywhere there should be and with that successful carried out a brief road test sans tunnel cover. Success! Although not the fastest engagement ever the overdrive now comes in smoothly. Was it the connection or the minute amount of oil needed? Think I will never know for sure but that's part of the joy of cars of this age.


With the overdrive seemingly fixed I took the opportunity to fit a new dynamo pulley that I found at the Knebworth Autojumble on Sunday. My original pulley had the original separate fan plate which had been badly mangled, presumably when it was removed to fit the recon dynamo I have a receipt for from 2008. When I pulled the pulley I found that the fan plate had been incorrectly fitted as well.


The new pulley is a one piece assembly with the fan and as such is dynamically balanced (you can see the drilling marks) and the pulley itself is a slightly larger diameter than the original (about 1.5mm). As the old advert said "the difference is amazing", the dynamo runs smoothly and silently and still delivers full charge across the rev range and no odd untraceable noises from the front of the engine any more. 


With that done I took the opportunity to get the tyres changed yesterday. When I acquired the Vitesse it was running on 165/70 13 budget winter tyres, they had plenty of tread but the ride and handling were rubbish. It also sat a little low, threatening the exhaust at every speed bump.


My motorsports experience means that I don't like stretching or especially squeezing tyres on rims so I went for 155/80 13 Michelins, not the cheapest but what a result. The ride is lovely, the steering light and the handling superb. The car turns in beautifully, diving for the apex with minimal input and the back end can be controlled with the throttle. It's GREAT.


Next jobs are carb and dizzy rebuilds. but that will wait until winter.


Peter, thanks for the invitation 



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Steve, that's great news and well done.


I had my carbs refurbished and then fitted an electronic dizzy - the difference is very noticeable and makes for enjoyable driving; be it idle or full throttle.


All the best.



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  • 3 months later...

I found this thread in the nick of time! I recently got a nice Vitesse with a j overdrive, and had exactly the same symptoms Freyasgrandad described. I had assumed it was something awry with the pressure relief valve, or an electrical fault.

I took the trans cover off yesterday, to see if I could find anything obviously wrong. Wiring fine, so I topped up with Ep90 while I was down there. The gearbox took 1.2 litres before it was full! (I think the capacity is around 1.3l?).

Overdrive fine now, and no leaks so far. A lucky escape ????

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J type can suffer from solenoid being slugish, unscrew with thin 1"af spanner , remove small circlip

in its end and tap shake pull the small plunger out , clean all and refit

the plunger should click when pwered up on a bench,


d types have a easy remove amature , theres a switch in the end to change the two coils over

most of these cant be repaired as can be solid sealed

but the travel must be correct by powering the coil and adusting the hole in the lever

to aling with the hole in the case (3mmdrill works)


There is no adjustment for j types


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D type is a little slower than j type but not by any real diference

you can improve d type with

You can fit higher output pump to D types

and replace the relief valve spring

Make sure the sol plunger is free and not corroded inside the solenoid.

check the engaged lever setting

check the small hole down the pressure spool valve is clear (under the capnut on the top case)



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  • 11 months later...

Pete sorry to jump on this thread but after having a yearly tinker under the car i noticed the OD (D Type) pinned castle nut and end cap stop was really loose.  Obviously i cannot just 'tighten' it up as it will possibly foul the solenoid shaft when i engage the OD. I'm thinking its a case of tunnel off, checking the movement with the WSM and then screwing it back on once I've engaged the OD so as not to foul the shaft whilst its on its engaged profile?


Thanks as always, 





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