Installation of a "modern" overdrive in my 1930 Model A Coupe - May 15, 2005



We began the installation of the Volvo overdrive at about 8:30 AM on Sunday,
May 15th.  We had a good "team" working on the projected that included
Minuteman members, Rick Gadbois, Jack Stokinger (a 40 year member of MAFCA),
Bucky Silvestrone, Dick Stitt, John Jacobson, Doug Linden, Wayne Champagne
and myself.  We have installed Borg Warner overdrives and Mitchell
overdrives in the past but this was the first Volvo unit.  Rich Little and
his partner Mick are EXCELLENT craftsmen.  The welds are superb on the
adapters that take the Volvo unit and mate it with the Model A driveline.
The installation was straightforward although you need the right tool for
pulling out the pinion gear.  We had both a KRW puller and a Mitchell puller
(we used the Mitchell).

I purchased the reverse backup lockout switch with my unit ($40) and this
prevents the OD from being engaged while you are in reverse.  Some drilling
and tapping of the transmission cover is necessary to mount the switch.

After everything was back together we filled the universal joint with a tube
of Mobil 1 synthetic grease, put 600W in the rear end and filled the OD with
20W-50 synthetic oil (as per Rich Little's recommendation).  We also did a
brake adjustment and checked the 600W in the transmission.  Done by 3 PM including
a 45 minute lunch break.

It took a few trips to get everything working in the overdrive.  All of the
bubbles have to work their way out of the little pumps inside the unit and
oil has to circulate everywhere before the OD wit function properly.  I had
my little coupe out on a club tour and after cycling the OD in
and out a number of times it is now workin' like a champ!  Switch "on" - OD
"in". Switch "off" - OD "out".  No cables, no extra gear shift levers...just
one switch mounted under the gear shift knob!  Sweet!

Update 3/1/06:

Took the coupe on a 2300 mile tour last Summer and I had absolutely no
problems with the overdrive unit.  Everything ran great!

I receive emails quite regularly about the Volvo overdrive with most asking "how can I get one?"  It's my understanding Rich Little in California is still doing the conversions based on the availability of rebuildable cores.  They only do this work on a limited part time basis.  I'm afraid I cannot help you get a unit nor do I have any info on rebuilding the overdrives or which Volvo unit to look for.

Update 2/25/15

I now have Volvo overdrives in all three of the Model A's and they have given me many miles of trouble free touring.