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Triumph Torque    Cars    Herald/Vitesse  ›  Vitesse Noisy Gearbox / Over Drive Upgrade
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Jason C
April 24, 2017, 8:07am Report to Moderator


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Hello!

I have a grumbling/rumbling, coarse sounding noise in 2nd and 3rd gear from the gearbox, once in 4th gear there is no noise. My mechanic believes it’s a layshaft bearing collapsing. With 4th gear being direct, therefore no noise. He has advised to recondition the gearbox asap before further damage is done to the gears. Vitesse Mark 1. Think I’ll leave this to the mechanic as I think I’ll be out of my depth on this one. A few pointers would be great to help make sure the job gets done right, as it seems a major. Have confidence in his workmanship, just wanting to do some research before jumping in. He mentioned around 1—2k NZD, depending on the condition of the gearbox once it’s dismantled.

Any thoughts would be greatly appreciated.

- I’ve often wondered about upgrading to an overdrive, but having never driven one, I'm unsure of whether I’m missing out. From what I’ve read the OD is really great!! Great for passing and driving on the open road, reducing revs and fuel consumption. For me I've found to be wanting a 5th gear for driving on the open road. I’ve also read that an OD helps increase performance, as you have an extra gear to keep pulling through. Just thought now would be a good time to explore the option of a potential upgrade to OD. Like I mentioned have only read of the merits of the OD, but don't have anything to compare to, only driven a more modern car 5 speed. Love to hear from your real world experiences!

- Canley Classics no longer stock OD unit kits. Not sure how easy it will be to track down an OD gearbox and shorter prop shaft in good condition.
Assume if I can find one, it would need to be rebuilt.

- Someone once mentioned to me there was a “stronger” gearbox from another Triumph that could be used as a replacement in the Vitesse.

- I’m not looking to build a race car. My goals are to keep the car original within reason where I can, and as I do things if possible improve the driving experience. Also the goal is reliability, as they say do something right.

- Check/replace clutch assembly while we’re at it?

- I’m told the gearbox's weren’t "quiet" in their youth, imagine more like what my 4th gear is like now?

- If an OD was fitted to my Mark 1 would it have had the switch on the gear knob?

Any pointers would be great! Love to hear what to look for, any traps... And thoughts on the OD — how it feels to drive!

Thank you all!
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RobPearce
April 24, 2017, 9:30am Report to Moderator

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I had a non-OD Mk1 many years ago as my first car. I was happy with it like that until a friend pointed me to an O/D box on a scrap car (back when you could find Vitesses in scrap yards). I would never go back to non-OD now.

The stronger gearbox is probably a Dolomite 1850 unit. Later ones were the single-rail type, which doesn't really suit the Vitesse, but early ones were externally identical to the Vitesse box. It's possible to build up a stronger (1850-type) box into a Vitesse casing. The biggest difference, though, is in the mainshaft tip bearing, which can fail catastrophically (as happened to me on that first Vitesse OD box). This is more problematic on OD boxes because there's less support of the mainshaft. The 1850 box is much stronger here.

Depending on your gearbox choice, you may end up with a 23-spline input shaft (later 1850) instead of the 10-spline. If so, you will need to replace the clutch (driven plate, at least) while you're at it. It would probably be a good idea, anyway.

If a Vitesse had OD from the factory it would have the switch on the steering column, behind the indicator stalk. The switch in the gearknob was introduced around 1970 - for the MkIV Spitfire, the Mk2 2000 and the Dolomite - and never fitted to Vitesses. You will find it hard to source the correct gearstick to fit one. The column stalk is, in any case, a nicer control.


Current fleet
1967 Vitesse 2L conv "Tessa"
1970 Spitfire Mk3 (project) "Toby"
1972 GT6 Mk3
Not enough time or space
Recently sold:
1972 2.5 PI estate "Harry" (gone to russell on here)
1973 Toledo 2-door "Spike" (gone to a club official)
Used to have:
1968 Vitesse 2L saloon
1980 Dolomite 1500
1977 Dolomite 1850
1980 Dolomite Sprint
1982 TR7 DHC Sprint
1975 2500S saloon
1971 Herald 13/60 Estate (with 1500 Spit engine)
1975 Stag
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Jason C
April 24, 2017, 10:18am Report to Moderator


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Thanks Rob!

Interesting, for my requirements do you think ideally to source a Dolomite 1850 unit and then fit an overdrive unit? Am I correct in thinking the OD is a separate unit designed by Laycock de Normanville that was fitted to a range of different British cars around that time i.e. it's not directly integrated with the gearbox itself?

Perhaps ideally source a Dolomite 1850 gearbox with OD, then fit column stalk control? Also, I've noticed a J or D Type mentioned, what is this referring to?

The column change looks nifty, from what I see, looks like a indicator style stalk behind the high/low beam control with a different shaped plastic cowling?

Then find a shorter prop shaft from what I understand, are these specific to the Vitesse with OD fitted at the time?

Apologies in advance for all the novice questions! Thank you!
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Richard B
April 24, 2017, 10:18am Report to Moderator

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If you are going to do it, now's the time...  and yes I would say do it especially, as you say you miss not have a 5th gear.

Mike Papworth (UK) should be able to sort you out the parts to upgrade your existing box. Although shipping would cost.

You can have you existing prop-shaft shortend. If it was me, I would look for a Triumph D'Type or J'Type OD unit with as many of the ancillaries as possible and then build up a unit to suit. Vitesse/GT6 box straight fit, Spitfire/Dolly box a good source of bits.

Bear in mind the Mainshaft and the O/D adapters have different versions depending on what you have got, so get the O/D first.  


ps. just read your post, yes the OD is integrated into the gearbox. It replaces the tail-piece.

pps do some research and ask questions here before buying if you are no sure.


Surrey AO and Triumph Hoover, Location: Guildford - Surrey,
Spitfire 2.5PI - 1967 having surgery, PI Saloon - 1969 RBRR x 3, PI Estate - 1969 (to restore), Stag - 1971 RBRR x 2,
PI Saloon MkII - 1971(stalled project), Sold some cars!  

Daughters own: Herald 1500 1961, Herald 1500 Coupe 1962, Dolomite 1300 1976, Herald 13/60 Estate 1970
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Jason C
April 24, 2017, 10:58am Report to Moderator


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Thanks Richard

Agree, research is critical. I'm a little confused what the D'Type or J'Type means? Reading, although this was in relation to TR:

"The J-type is an improved design and parts are more readily available. But it shifts slower than an A-type, which IMO is less 'sporty'. Given the choice, I'd go with the A."
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Matt306
April 24, 2017, 11:01am Report to Moderator

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There us a fab overdrive shop in rugby. Very helpful and cheaper than car suppliers as he supplies them.


Worcestershire Area Organiser search Facebook for Club Triumph Worcester
Triumph 13/60 1970 Convertible  first car restoration, many botches much learnt... Now back MOTd and Taxed... 2016 RBRR COMPLETE
1974 Spitfire Mk IV in Yellow and Rust... for restoration
Triumph 1000cc 1991 Daytona got to go to pay for Yellow Peril
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Jason C
April 24, 2017, 11:12am Report to Moderator


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Hi Matt, thanks for the recommendation — by chance do you have the name of the business? The birthplace of Rugby, nice, there are a few people around these parts into Rugby.

Trying to track down any New Zealand specialists. I was once told of a man known simply as "The Over Drive Man" ... ha, no name, no address. Interestingly noticed http://www.quantumechanics.com mentions NZ as one site of manufacturing.
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glang
April 24, 2017, 12:04pm Report to Moderator

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Hi Jason, I dont want to make things even more complicated but have you considered a 5 speed gearbox conversion? Now with the ever increasing cost and difficulty in finding good original boxes and overdrives its making these admittidly expensive conversions more attractive and I believe theres even a company or two in your part of the world that offer them.
There are several advantages in that the replacement box would be more modern and so smoother/quieter plus offer better spares availability. Also overdrives are quite complicated and delicate electrohydraulic devices that can give problems while the gearboxes used in conversions are pretty much bomb proof.
Me Ive just stuck with the original non OD in my MK1 Vitesse and am quite happy but of course that might change when it comes to rebuilding it......
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Richard B
April 24, 2017, 12:40pm Report to Moderator

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A'Type was for over 1800cc
D'Type was up to 1800cc (Triumph pushed that up to 2000cc)  
J'Type replaced both types and is more robust.


I would not try fitting an A'Type into a Vitesse, you need a big saloon / TR type box. Can be don't but...

Small car box's (Vitesse, GT6, Herald, Spitfire, Dolomite (upto 1850) can take either D' or J' Types

(I have run a 2.5PI engine through a D'Type, but now have a J'Type fitted)


Surrey AO and Triumph Hoover, Location: Guildford - Surrey,
Spitfire 2.5PI - 1967 having surgery, PI Saloon - 1969 RBRR x 3, PI Estate - 1969 (to restore), Stag - 1971 RBRR x 2,
PI Saloon MkII - 1971(stalled project), Sold some cars!  

Daughters own: Herald 1500 1961, Herald 1500 Coupe 1962, Dolomite 1300 1976, Herald 13/60 Estate 1970
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Jason C
April 24, 2017, 12:47pm Report to Moderator


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Hi Glang, thank you — that's another solid idea. To be honest I'm pretty keen on trying to keep the car "original", well as best I can. It does seem to get complicated quickly. My current non-OD gearbox hasn't been great since I've owned the car, suffering from this noice thats only got worse. I listened to some poor advice, saying the noise was an "old car" thing. In many ways fixing the original I'm betting would make a world of difference. I'm currently nursing it through 2nd and 3rd to be safe and the noise is awful. How noisy do you find your gearbox, pretty good? Guess coming down to the idea of spending 2k on the existing or 2k towards an overdrive. But finding one and fitting one I fear could soon add up quickly.   
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Jason C
April 24, 2017, 1:00pm Report to Moderator


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Ah, thanks Richard. That makes sense. J'Type sounds to be the best version being the final iteration. Any idea on production quantities of the units? J'Type easier for parts availability down the track...
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Jason C
April 24, 2017, 1:11pm Report to Moderator


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Side thought: how does the OD driving experience compare to that of a traditional 5 speed?
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glang
April 24, 2017, 1:23pm Report to Moderator

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Quoted from Jason C
Hi Glang, thank you — that's another solid idea. To be honest I'm pretty keen on trying to keep the car "original", well as best I can. It does seem to get complicated quickly. My current non-OD gearbox hasn't been great since I've owned the car, suffering from this noice thats only got worse. I listened to some poor advice, saying the noise was an "old car" thing. In many ways fixing the original I'm betting would make a world of difference. I'm currently nursing it through 2nd and 3rd to be safe and the noise is awful. How noisy do you find your gearbox, pretty good? Guess coming down to the idea of spending 2k on the existing or 2k towards an overdrive. But finding one and fitting one I fear could soon add up quickly.   

Yes mine is noisy by modern standards although some of that is down to sound proofing. Our gearboxes were/are covered by basically a cardboard box so changing this for a well insulated and sealed replacement will go some way to improving things. My synchromesh is still pretty good on all gears although I have worked a lot to perfect my gear change technique and also treat it very gently.
The difficult thing is to detect an increase in noise and catch the gearbox before any major damage is done as that will make the repair much more complicated. Yours could be the layshaft as you say or the input to mainshaft needle bearing as that also goes quieter in top gear - anyhow it doesnt matter as you would replace both in a strip down but the failure of either could damage the main gears....
I know a different gearbox is non standard but I think its one of those mods that is pretty well accepted and would probably increase the cars sale value as nobody wants to drive a crunchy, noisy, high reving example
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glang
April 24, 2017, 1:37pm Report to Moderator

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Quoted from Jason C
Side thought: how does the OD driving experience compare to that of a traditional 5 speed?

Just seen your side thought Jason and although I havent got OD now I have had previously and it is nice if working well. Apart from reducing cruising revs theyre good for overtaking because without moving your hands from the steering wheel you can effectively drop a gear so that the engine is at its most torquey for a faster/safer maneuver.
However they do absorb a certain amount of power and if not in tip top condition can be slow to operate and even slip. Have a look online as to how they work as theyre quite an interesting bit of kit.

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daver clasper
April 24, 2017, 4:26pm Report to Moderator
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Hi Jason

My Vitesse J Type O/D gearbox is quiet from whine noise, though when in O/D a bit of a whine (quite common I understand). As it is a "bitza". (Vitesse casings and gears though I think Dolly 1850 top shafts, and runs a TR7 4speed/Dolly 1850 clutch drive plate to accomodate the later J type),It makes a bit of noise in 1sr (apparently 1st meshing slightly with reverse idler). This is common on this "bitza" speck apparently.
According to Mike Papworth who rebuilt it, this is the strongest arrangement for a small case box and will take 150 bhp.

On my Vitesse the OD sump (which needs to come off to access the filter/pressure relief valve/pump) is slightly obscured by one chassis main rail, so I had to jack up G/B a bit to remove.  

The DType O/D box will not be this hybrid type and use Vit/GT6 bits as factory speck I understand.

Stock of good internal core, is thin on the ground now I understand (Mike Papworth has stockpiled some I think). He has a good reputation and reasonable prices I would say (I know shipping would cost you and a pain if any problems with a unit from UK).

Hope this woffle is of use.

Dave




  
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