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Borg Warner R-10 and R-11 Overdrive Tech Tips...The Odds and Ends

11/28/17



OK...if you have been paying attention to the tech stories in the Garage Tech section of the website you know I have written two tech articles about the Borg-Warner R-10 and R-11 overdrive.

You should know by now they these two transmissions are basically the same except for the number of cluster gears inside of the sun gear, with the R-11 having four while the R-10 has three. Both transmissions have proven to be plenty durable in normal use. The R-10 is the most common with the R-11 transmission used in the heavier cars like Packard, and in the higher horsepower applications in various brands in later years. The electrical is the same for both in that a solenoid, relay, kickdown switch, of the same voltage will work on either transmission.

It is not uncommon to find the Borg-Warner overdrive transmissions installed in all sorts of non factory applications. These transmissions were cheap and plentiful in the 1950's and 1960's and and easy to adapt in all types of drive lines.  Complete transmissions could be purchased from a salvage yard for twenty dollars...back in the day. That is what they were selling for in the 1960's when I was growing up.

When you upgrade a 6-volt vehicle to 12-volts you will also need to upgrade the solenoid and relay to 12-volts. The kickdown switch and the governor will both work fine on 12-volts.

Because of the demand for solenoids, both for production and the aftermarket, there were three different companies that manufactured solenoids, Delco,  Autolite, and Borg -Warner. Borg-Warner had sold over two million of the overdrive transmissions by 1954. All of the solenoids will interchange with each other physically, you just need to match up the voltage of the solenoid to the voltage of the vehicle's electrical system, and check the shaft length.

What this means is... when you go to the next swap meet... pay attention to the overdrive solenoids for sale. Often times a Ford solenoid will be $125.00, and two rows over you will see a Studebaker Solenoid for sale for $75.00. Now you know those are both the same solenoids.

Solenoid Shaft Lengths...
The most common shaft length by far is the 1" long shaft as measured with a ruler placed on top of the solenoid shaft and slid up next to the flange of the solenoid.  Convertibles and Station Wagons sometimes had longer shafts if there was an extra cross member in the frame. Typically these were shaft lengths of 1.5 or 1.75 in length.

Another common application that had a longer solenoid shaft was the 1946-48 Lincoln. Those applications typically had a shaft length of 1.5 inches. Lastly the solenoids used in 1968 thru 1972 Chevrolet pickup applications had a shaft length of 2.0 inches.

There were about 1500 Chevrolet pickups sold with overdrive option... so they are somewhat rare. Chances of finding a replacement long shaft solenoid for this application are almost slim to none. In some cases you can rebuild your current solenoid.

So the point is...DO NOT ASSUME all of the solenoid shaft lengths are the same or that yours is the most common one inch solenoid shaft. You need to physically measure your solenoid shaft so you know for certain what the lengths is.

If you have one of the longer shaft 6-volt solenoids... from a 48 Lincoln for example, you need to keep in mind that there is no 12 volt equivalent of that solenoid, and you cannot exchange shafts inside of the solenoid without a lot of effort because the early shafts were held using an "e clip" while the later solenoid shafts were held in place using a roll pin. Apparently there was a problem with the "e clips" falling out as internal parts began to wear, so that was the reason for the change.

The Flat Spot On The End Of the Solenoid...
The position of the flat spot on the end of the solenoid shaft is there to allow the pawl to slide by so you can then turn the solenoid to lock the pawl into the end groove on the Solenoid shaft. Does it matter where the clock position of the flat spot is...?

NO IT DOES NOT...if you install the solenoid correctly. The best way is to apply battery power to the number four terminal on the Solenoid and ground the case. That will make the solenoid shaft extend out. Now rotate the Solenoid until the flat spot is at the 12 o'clock position. Slide the solenoid shaft into the transmission and rotate the solenoid so your bolt holes line up. 

Next remove the battery power from the solenoid. If the pawl is in the groove at the end of the solenoid shaft, when you remove the battery power... the solenoid will be drawn in towards the transmission housing. That will confirm for certain that you do indeed have the pawl in the groove.

This is by far a much better way to install the Solenoid. If you just stick it into the transmission without extending the shaft you will not know for certain that the pawl is in the groove. Often times the pawl gets pushed back and forced up inside the transmission which is not a good thing. Once you energize the Solenoid it will be two late if the Pawl is not in the groove, the damage will be done.

Checking the Governor
When the transmission gets “stuck in overdrive” you already know what to do first, if you have read my overdrive book. Besides the careful rocking motion and solenoid service discussed earlier, there is one other thing you need to check if you are still having trouble… the governor.

First remove the cover of the governor and then hold the governor contact points apart. Next ground the cover of the governor by touching it against the transmission case.

If that causes a  “click” to be heard, the “click” indicates a short circuit in the governor cover assembly and the cover assembly wiring connections or the wiring itself  is “shorted out” and needs to be repaired. If there is NO click, the governor is ok and you need to look to the solenoid for your defect.

Removing And Replacing The Governor
To remove the governor from the transmission, first disconnect the wire at the cover (or wire end connector) and loosen the governor housing using an (1-3/8”) open, end wrench to turn the nut at the base of the governor. To replace the governor insert the governor into the transmission housing and engage the teeth of the governor drive gear into the teeth of the speedometer drive gear. Next, tighten the nut located at the base of the governor housing using an (1-3/8”) open, end wrench. Reconnect governor wire and check for proper transmission operation.

Reverse Lockout Switches
If your reverse lockout switch fails there are no new ones available so your best bet is to remove the defective switch and connect the two wires together that were connected to either end of the switch. Reverse lockout switches were discontinued on B-W overdrive transmissions beginning in the early 1950s. Your B-W overdrive transmission will work just fine without one.




Borg-Warner Company History
To tell the story of Borg-Warner Automotive, you have to trace the formation of several manufacturing companies in the United States and abroad. The first of these was Morse Equalizing Spring Company of New York, founded in 1880, which patented the rocker joint. In 1901 Warner Gear of Muncie, Indiana, was formed, and the next year, Marvel-Schebler Carburetor Company began operations in Flint, Michigan.

A fourth company, Long Manufacturing, came on line in Chicago to manufacture automobile radiators, while a fifth company, Borg & Beck, was organized in 1904. All of these companies figured in the development of Borg-Warner Automotive.

By 1906 Morse manufactured a line of automobile chains that were soon licensed for sale in England and Germany. Then came the production of automotive timing chains, followed quickly by Warner Gear's development of the industry's first manual transmission.

In 1910 Long Manufacturing moved from Chicago to Detroit. While a sixth company, Mechanics Machine Company of Rockford, Illinois, began producing transmissions in 1911. Over the next several years, Morse built a new facility in England as Warner Gear fashioned a growing reputation for quality.

By the 1920s, Borg & Beck's sturdy yet inexpensive clutch was mass-produced in millions of cars while Mechanics Machine Co. developed a universal joint with continuous lubrication, an innovation that rendered the former model (which had to be greased every 500 miles) obsolete.

At the same time, Warner Gear standardized its manual transmissions and introduced the T64, at nearly half the cost of its predecessors. In the young yet burgeoning auto industry, each of the aforementioned companies was busy developing a specialized product line, unaware that they would be united under the banner of Borg-Warner in a sweeping merger in 1928. 

Borg & Beck, Marvel Carburetor, Mechanics Universal Joint (renamed from Mechanics Machine in 1925), and Warner Gear became the Borg-Warner Corporation. The following year, Morse Chain (an auto timing and industrial chain producer at this time) and Long Manufacturing joined the new company at the same time that the Norge firm (including its Detroit Gear subsidiary) was acquired.

1930-50: Firsts and Innovations
The next decade brought several technological firsts for both Borg-Warner and the industry: Warner Gear pioneered the 'synchronizer,' a device that made a manual transmission's gear teeth mesh together with ease for smooth shifting; Morse Chain brought out its first roller chain; and Borg-Warner's self-contained overdrive transmission was introduced to immediate success as Chrysler and 11 other automakers quickly placed orders.

Borg-Warner Automotive Service Parts Division was also launched in the 1930s, and in 1936, to emphasize Borg-Warner's commitment to and enthusiasm for auto racing, the company commissioned a sterling silver trophy for the Indianapolis 500 (the first was presented to Louis Meyer). 

In the prewar 1940s Borg-Warner created its Spring Division (to supply automatic transmission parts), began working on transfer cases, and soon directed its attention to World War II production needs. Among its contributions were Morse Chain's drives for Navy tugboats and jeeps built with Warner Gear's transmissions. After the war, Warner Gear's technology briefly lent itself to the medical field in 1949, producing iron lungs.

It then returned to auto parts in 1950 with three revolutionary developments--the torque converter, a three-speed automatic transmission (the 'Ford-O-Matic'), and a newfangled clutch that would become one of the company's biggest sellers worldwide. 

Automotive sales for the company reached over $200 million. Among the first automakers to jump at Borg-Warner's newest innovations were Studebaker and Ford. The latter was so enamored of Borg-Warner's transmissions that it signed a five-year exclusive contract with Borg-Warner in 1951 for the production of automatic transmissions.

1950s-70s: 
As the 1950s continued, Borg-Warner expanded its operations in several new directions. Not only did the company venture into South America, creating Borg & Beck do Brasil, but it also built new facilities in Simcoe, Ontario, and Letchworth, England. The English facility was soon producing Warner Gear's overdrive units and the Model D.G. automatic transmission.

In 1956 the T10 four-speed high performance manual transmission was introduced in the Chevrolet Corvette to wide acclaim. As Marvel-Schebler tinkered with a fuel injection system, Borg-Warner built (and patented) the first retractable seat belt restraint system and developed a line of paper-related wet friction components.

To broaden its international operations, Borg-Warner acquired Coote & Jurgenson, an Australian transmission producer for autos and tractors in 1957. Three years later, Brummer Seal Company was merged into Borg-Warner's Spring Division. In 1962 Borg-Warner expanded into Mexico, and into Asia in 1964 and 1965 with two Japanese joint ventures (NSK-Warner and Tsubakimoto-Morse).

As the company's varied units continued to devise new product innovations (the 'Hy-Vo' chain, Flex-Bands, and the aluminum Model 35 automatic transmission), Borg-Warner diversified into chemicals, plastics, industrial products, financial assistance, and eventually even into security and armored car services, its automotive division had remained a constant, usually contributing upwards of 50 percent of Borg-Warner's total revenue.


The Studebaker Hill Holder Option


Another common transmission option you may encounter is what Studebaker advertised as the the "Hill Holder." Because virtually all cars and trucks were standard transmission in the early days, it was sometimes difficult to start out on on an incline without the vehicle rolling backwards. The "Hill Holder" device was designed to prevent the vehicle from rolling backwards as the clutch was being released.

The device that Studebaker called the “Hill Holder” (which eventually became the generic name for the device) was developed not by Studebaker (or by B-W as many assumed) but by the Wagner (no doubt part of the confusion (Wagner vs Warner) Electric Corp. of St. Louis. Wagner copyrighted the “NoRol” name and made it commercially available beginning in January of 1934.

Wagner approached numerous auto companies to try to interest them in considering it for production vehicles. Studebaker was the only one that showed a serious interest in the device. It was tested at the company’s Proving Ground extensively in 1935 and due to the favorable results of these test the company decided to offer it on its new line of 1936 cars and trucks. It became standard equipment on all the 1936 Presidents and a $10 option for the Dictators.

Other manufacturers offered the device as an option up thru the 1960's where it gradually faded from popularity with the introduction of automatic transmissions.


Is This The End...?
As I dig thru my 40 plus year collection of technical literature and notes, I will post more information on the Borg-Warner Overdrive transmissions. You can find all of the information from the three tech articles and more in "The Official Guide To The R-10 and R-11 Overdrives, available in the technical book section of the "Parts" section of the website. 







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Since 1987, Fifth Avenue owner, Randy Rundle, has been making antique, classic and special interest vehicles more reliable and fun to drive.