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Total Overdrive Failure


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Overdrive Failure

Barring something I have missed, it is apparent that my George Asche 3-Speed with BW overdrive has had an overdrive failure.

I ran every test in both the Chrysler and Borg-Warner manuals. I ran tests that George told me to try when the unit did not work right after installation. All the tests show that the control systems are in working order.

The unit worked for about 4 months. About a month ago while pulling onto an interstate the unit would not shift from 3rd to 3rd OD. I clutched it once and it then went in. I shrugged and forgot about it.

Last week I drove the car up and interstate and then up a 2-lane highway up a mountain for 2.5 hours and it worked fine. On the way home after about 4 hours parked I drove about 2 miles on a side road and then entered the 2-lane state highway. A slight downhill acceleration to 50 MPH and the unit would not shift into 3rd OD. I clutched it and “giggled” the linkage and went into OD.

This last week the unit did not go into 2nd OD a couple of times. I did the clutch and “giggle” thing and it went in.

Today when I took off this morning it was dead. No OD in any gear. Nothing I could do would make it work.

Drives fine as a 3-spped stick. Not what I have spent nearly $2500 for however.

I will call George on Monday, however, based on past experience I will be told that there is nothing he can do.

I warned him that this IS our primary car and I was willing to pay extra to make sure this unit way correct in every way. I do not think, based on some other things I have seen in and around this unit, that he paid any serious attention to the detail stuff as I requested.

Now here I am in California and it will no doubt cost me even more money to make this correct. I would have been better off keeping the M-5 and paying the money for a Gear Vendors OD. By the time I fix this mess, I will have spent as much.


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I think you should slow down with the typing and take time to diagnose what the problem is. It may be as simple as a blown fuse. At any rate there aren't many things that can go wrong. You've got the OD cable, which may have come loose. The relay can be checked by removing the wires from TH and IGN the put two clip leads to go from -6V to GND on the relay. You should hear a click as the relay pulls in. Then remove the wire (on the relay) label SOL. Take the wire and with a clip lead connect it to -6V.... you should hear a clunk on the transmission as the solenoid pulls in. ( I have a light on my dash that tells me when the soleniod is energized) The governor will get a little tougher as you need to connect a ohmmeter to the governor wire and travel down the road to see if the governor makes a connection to ground. You can also do this with a 6V light with one side connected to -6V and the other side connected to the solenoid wire. When the light comes on the governor is working. Remember all the governor does is to make a connection to ground when the speed is above 30 mph. Also make sure you have battery voltage at the fuse. Let us all know if you find out what the problem is.

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James sorry to hear about the problems your are having. I was actual considering one of Georges OD units for the 51 coronet. interesting point with regards, who can help if it fails prematurely. with the price paid for the unit, it should come with some kind of warranty.

Hope you the best


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I think you should slow down with the typing and take time to diagnose what the problem is. It may be as simple as a blown fuse. At any rate there aren't many things that can go wrong. You've got the OD cable, which may have come loose. The relay can be checked by removing the wires from TH and IGN the put two clip leads to go from -6V to GND on the relay. You should hear a click as the relay pulls in. Then remove the wire (on the relay) label SOL. Take the wire and with a clip lead connect it to -6V.... you should hear a clunk on the transmission as the solenoid pulls in. ( I have a light on my dash that tells me when the soleniod is energized) The governor will get a little tougher as you need to connect a ohmmeter to the governor wire and travel down the road to see if the governor makes a connection to ground. You can also do this with a 6V light with one side connected to -6V and the other side connected to the solenoid wire. When the light comes on the governor is working. Remember all the governor does is to make a connection to ground when the speed is above 30 mph. Also make sure you have battery voltage at the fuse. Let us all know if you find out what the problem is.


With all due respect, bull sh*t. Go back and read the threads on the problems I have had with the part failures on this unit from the minute it was installed.

I will not waste the time to go into all that detail again. Suffice to say that George’s Q & A is not anywhere near what I expected or paid for.

By way of one example of several: When I took the governor apart it had obviously not been cleaned other than someone running a point file over the point. I got a bunch of black junk out of the governor weights when I cleaned it with electro-motive cleaner. It has not been cleaned and lubricated. Obviously he just tested it for continuity. It was not R&R-ed as it should be when paying for a rebuilt unit.

The second solenoid he sent, after his first burned itself up, continually blew the fuse. After I spent weeks running down original documentation on the solenoids, I realized that he was not aware that there is a BW test for testing the solenoids to determine definitively if they are suitable for service. Merely applying power and seeing the plunger move out is not sufficient according to BW. If I have to run down such information then what am I paying for?

I have ALL the MOPAR and the BW documentation on the use, maintenance, rebuilding, and trouble shooting of these units.

I have run EVERY test in those manuals today with 2 people looking on as I did it. All of the control systems are working fine.

The only thing left are mechanical problems on the inside. I have suspected for some time that the original problem of frying the solenoid and the relay within the first 30 days of use was that the OD shift fork, shift rail, Sun gear pawl, blocker ring, or the sun gear itself has a problem.

I was very explicit and clear when I order it from George that I was willing to pay anything extra necessary to MAKE SURE that I had a top notch unit.

I have not got what I ordered or paid for.


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Hi James- That sucks...I too am rebuilding my car to be my main transportation. I'm sure that produces snickers amongst many...but thats my decision. I agree that for the money you paid the unit should at the very least come with a 36 month/ 36000 mile warranty. I know that there are alot of Georges fans around , but I have to cross him off my list of suppliers if he won't replace the unit . I'd call him again...the squeaky wheel gets the grease. I've been in sales all my life and we always take care of these types of things...even if the customer is wrong (YOU ARE NOT!!!)...sometimes people just have to bitch and fight to get their way. Good luck, Tell me how it turns out-Jim

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The tough part is James' location. Even with a full exchange, the 2 way shipping would be a factor. Wish I lived closer, I'd come over and scratch my head as well.

I know you're sick of working on it, but I do like the suggestion of patching in a temporary test light of some sort inside, where you can monitor exactly what the electrics are doing at the time the unit fails.

I can understand your frustration. I have never done business with George so can't say much, but it does seem like he should be willing to work out a solution. I would consider his stuff premium quality just going by what I've heard on the forum. Should have a guarantee unless it was sold as-is. Due to the distance and shipping costs, maybe he could agree to cover having local shop do a teardown and cover whatever is lacking.

But, if you two have reached the shouting match level, he's probably too p*ssed to want to do anything:confused:

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Let me just say this before going on. I don't know George, and never had any dealings with him at all. The only thing I know about George is what others have posted here. I think this is about the first time I've heard of a problem with what he supplies.

I'll agree with you that if you spend $2500 for something is should work correctly. However, I can also understand George's position. You both are miles apart on opposite sides of the country. You say you've hooked everything up correctly, and I can go along with that. However, George built the unit to go along with original stock running cars using mostly original parts. On the other hand you've done a lot of updating on your car over the years to make it to what you feel is better on todays road for an everyday driver. You've even completely re-wired the car along with other mechanical changes. George has no way of telling if one of those changes might affect his OD unit, primarily because he may not know every change you've made. One slight change that was made to the cars original system (mechanical or electrical) could possibly affect the performance of his OD unit.

Based on this, I think you both should have a good long discussion on "everything" you've changed on your car over the years. Then maybe with two calm heads together you can come up with a solution. Who knows, there may be no solution in the end. But.......you'll never know until you have that calm discussion on every possibility. Like Ken Bartz mentioned, it may be something real simple like a simple wire change or adjusting the cables or transmission a little. The only way to get that solution is to tell George everything in detail though, even if it takes all day on the phone.

It seems to me I remember you had some type of problem with the clutch and/or bell housing matching up at one time. Is it possible this is also coming back to haunt you with the OD working right? Just a thought, and an example of how some other change could possibly affect the OD.

I know you're upset to say the least. However, I think everyone who has a problem should first contact the seller before blasting him in public. Once you've blasted someone in public like this and they see or hear about it, it's going to put that person on the defensive. Then he may not talk to you at all, especially if you have no warranty.

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Sorry to hear of your delema. I dont think George was out to screw you. I believe him to be an honest man. And I think he will stand behind his work. I just got off the phone with George and he has not heard anything about your recent troubles. I did not tell him any details other than your unit is not working. I suggest you contact him. If he fails to make it right then you have a valid complaint. Be fair to him and give him a chance.

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James I agree with Don..I also remember the last time yu had trouble you were doing a lot of re-wire with your car and 6V alternator??..I know you may have check out all your circuits, but have you considered your grounds..do you have a dedicated ground to your car chassis and to the body..the body is mostly iso mounted except for the front..then these can build a reistance due to corrosion over the years..

I fell there are just too many satisfied George A customers here to think he would intentionally hoo-doo one person..do give him a call and as such see what can be done..even the best of rebuilders can have something go awry..these are mechanical and subject to failure at any given time and without any pre-warning..and also keep an open mind in the fact that he has not personally seen your electrical setup...

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Hi James, I too just had a George Asche over drive failure.

I stalled the OD unit and ran it in my car for a year before I took time to wire up the thing. Then I ran it less than 60 miles because it made a loud clink after it shifted into OD and when you took your foot off the gas petal in OD. If you “rocked” back and fourth on the gas the clink would be as you let off. I know something was very wrong so I removed the complete transmission and OD unit and put my old 3 speed in so I could drive my car and work on the OD unit (everything I do takes three times longer than is should). After taking the *#@!! OD unit apart, my friends and I could not see anything wrong inside, but we didn’t know what we were looking at either. We used all the books and exploded view and all we know for sure was all the “pens” were through all the gears but I still had something in the back of my head that said “something is moving back and fourth in the OD unit to make a noise like I heard. I told the Guys, just let it sit on the work bench and let me think this thing though. After reviewing everything again I know that to make the loud clinking sound I came up this, to make a any noise inside the OD unit it has to be a metal to metal. So I looked at the back of the “over drive gear” that has the three little gears in it and saw that there were new (bright) rings on the unit. I looked at the OD housing and saw new bright places in the back but still could figure out how the whole mess could move on the shaft when the nut on the back of that shaft was in place and pulling it in to the back bearing, nothing can or should move. Then we remove the back seal look at the bearing and see the back snap ring is not in the unit and never was put in the unit and that’s how the over drive gear was moving back and hitting the OD casing to make the noise.

Now I have over $300 bucks of shop labor in this unit (removal and take a part time) and have paired another $150 bucks to put it back in after I replaced the snap ring.

I call Mr. G and told him what I found. Mr. G says “Gee I must have been called to the phone while putting it back together and just missed it”.

Gee if I had just drove it and destroyed the OD I’ll bet Mr. G would have given me “nothing” back too.

I asked for a new snap ring and a set of gaskets to which Mr. G said OK.

When I asked about how would we deal with the “cost” of remove and reinstall of the not completed unit I received from him, that was a different story and nothing came of that.

I think you Guys should all send me some money on this one, if all of you hadn’t called Mr. G my unit would have had the snap ring in it and I wouldn’t be out $450 bucks (Ha).

So I fixed my new OD with Mr. Gs part and paid to reinstall it; now my unit cost is $2,400 bucks.

That’s OK I am working up a A514 automatic w/od to put behind my stock P15 engine and then one of you guys can buy a GA OD cheap.

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277 HEMI;

When I spoke with George today he told me about missing the snap ring on a transmission he sold. Your story is true.

I am not here to defend George Asche. I have no financial ties to him nor his work. All I have to offer is he is a good friend who has moved the Mopar flathead engine and drive train up several notches and I personally know lots of folks who have had good results using his products and experience myself included. I also have a good friend in James Douglas who has had a bad experience with George. I hope these issues are resolved and we can all remain good friends.

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I would have to agree with Don that George is an honest guy who can make honest mistakes. The overdrive that George built for me was missing an expansion plug. If I remember correctly, George himself noticed it as we were loading it into my truck.

Another thing to remember is that George is rebuilding, but not installing these transmissions. I think he is limited in how much testing he can do before he sends them out for us to install. James sounds like a very capable mechanic, but San Francisco would seem to be a challenging environment that would test any classic car.

I think that Mr Coatney and Mr Anderson will both attest that things can go wrong when rebuilding transmissions.

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With all due respect, bull sh*t.

The unit worked for about 4 months.

Classy guy,

At the risk of have eyes rolled at me. You quoted the unit worked for 4 months. Seems to me the circuitry would have to be right for it to work that long without problems.

How long should one expect a warantee on a used, or rebuild item to last?

Having said that. I have a small issue with my OD everytime I put the tranny back in the car after pulling it. I test it, and know the circuitry is right, soooo

I end up pulling the soilenoid, testing it on the bench, put it back in, and wa la, it works for some reason. Never to fail again, until the next time I pull out the tranny. Even before I pull it, I test the claw to see if it is still connected to the tranny, it is.

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I think something that has to be considered is that you are dealing with 50 year old parts and technology AND George is no spring chicken anymore either. I don't know George, only by reputation which is that of an honest, knowledgeable stand-up guy, doing this more as a hobby than a business.

If it wasn't for him, many Flatheads wouldn't be running and many OD units wouldn't be in vehicles.

The fact that some are not perfect could be due to the age of the unit, age of the rebuilder, or both...(or neither)

I know that doesn't ease James' situation any and it has gotten expensive, I just don't honestly think George is out to shaft anyone.

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I am not “blasting George” I am stating facts. His unit does not work as advertised.

I sent him a detailed report, as well as all the parts I did not use, from the first round of problems with his unit. He was to send me a spare relay and solenoid since I paid for them and had to go purchase NOS ones at a high price on short notice.

Since the parts and documentation were returned to George, I have never seen nor heard a thing from him.

George likes to lecture. His is not an active listener. When trying to troubleshoot something over a phone line, active listening is a must.

I repeat what I said earlier. When some states that they have done something x-times without problem as a response to an issue, then troubleshooting is lost.

A NUMBER of people contact me off the forum in the last 24 hours who have had problems with George’s overdrives. They have also reported issues with his customer service after the sale.

As to problems with the car in question as a possible cause of the OD failure, I reject that categorically. The problems I had were with the clutch over-center spring. That has been fixed a long time. None of the other modification to this car touch the transmission, its control systems, or the OD in any way.

Also, the OD worked 100% for about 2 months and 98% for about 2 moths, and now has failed totally.

I have run every test, know to me, in several service and repair manuals on these units. All test show that the electrical control systems are working 100%.

There is a very small chance that the windings on the NOS solenoid have for some reason “weakened” so as to not be able to put enough power on the pawl to engage it. I doubt it though as the unit is working ( I have seen it in my hand) and the current draw is within limits.

I will build the BW test stand as shown in one of my manuals and test the pound loading and current draw on the solenoid just to confirm it. George by the way, who is the Guru on these units did not knwo that BW had a test for the solenoid and that one that pops out does not mean it will work. He ships them out, but does not do a factory test on them. That is poor Q & A.

There is a 98% chance that the Pawl cannot engage the sun gear ring. It may be the Pawl raceway has an issue, the blocking ring may not be reversing out of the way, or several other items. The fact is, the pawl will not engage and the sun gear is not activated.

I will call George in the AM. I will state the facts plainly. I will ask him what HE INTENDS to do for me the customer. I also have little hope that he will do anything substantive.

$2500 and counting.


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I know the George’s phone rings at his residence. Knowing he is a religious man, I did not want to bother him or his family on a Sunday.

I will call in the AM and lay out the facts and see what he tells me.

Based on some of the private communication I have received from other customers however, I am concerned.


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I wish you and the other would stop with the wiring BS. It IS correct. Also, I have had contact with a number of people who have had problems with George's OD units. They just don't want to be beat up, like you folks are doing to me, and therefore have kept their issues to themself.


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Below is a copy of the original text I sent George. What I got does not reflect what I ordered.


Gerore Asche Sr.

1693 Fertigs Road

Venus, PA 16364

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Re: Overdrive Transmission

Dear George,

I wanted to drop you a note to inquire about a transmission swap for my 1947 Desoto Suburban 9-passenger sedan. As you know, this is a very big car as it holds 9 people, holds a lot luggage, and roof-rack which when loaded adds even more weight.

I am trying to come up with a transmission – rear-end combination that will achieve both the ability to take off on a hill when loaded as well as get the engine RPM down on the interstate.

I am running a 251 cu in engine that is basically stock, but with the compression around 8 to 1.

The current rear-end is the stock heavy duty 4.11 unit that came with the car. This is the big rear-end like the Chrysler 8 that has 12” drums.

We use this car as our primary automobile, so I would need to make the swap with as little fuss as possible.

Based on our previous conversations, I think that a couple of issues stand out. One is the fact that my Desoto uses a large emergency brake and a larger driveshaft yoke. The second is the issue of the linkage. The third issue I am concerned about has to do with the possibility of cutting the front driveshaft. The Desoto has two drive shafts. The front one is fixed length, with no slip yoke.

Can you tell me what your cost and time line would be for a transmission with the following features?

  • Three-speed with overdrive.
  • Fast second gear.
  • Heavy duty bearings.
  • Input shaft for use with fluid drive. (I have fluid drive and tip-toe shift at present)
  • All necessary shifter linkage. (I have Tip-Toe shift core extras that can be sent for mods)
  • Adaptation of Large Desoto emergency brake. (I have core e-brake that can be sent for mods)
  • Adaptation of Large Desoto driveshaft yoke.
  • All miscellaneous solenoids, wiring, switch, and hardware.

Basically, I need to be able to drive this car into a local shop and switch the transmissions in a single day. I don’t want to tie up my very (read VERY) small city garage for 2 weeks to do it on my back. I did that last summer-fall when I did the engine swap, and it is not fun. Given the $100 hour shop rates around here, I don’t want any surprises once the car hits the local shop. Thanks for taking the time to think this over and respond. All my best to you George and your family in 2007. Thanks, James


George responded that he could deliver and gave me a price. In the end, I had to make all the linkage, his wiring would not work on my car, and he did not pay attention to detail.


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James, I have said this before and will say it again although I'm sure you will call bulls**t as you did with another member. You are trying to make a 60 year old car behave like a 2007 Chrylser. It just ain't going to happen. When you take these cars too far out of what they were, you will have problems. I am not sure why you are not running the fluid drive that came with these cars. I have a friend with a '47 Desoto coupe that he put a 251 CID engine in and a good used fluid drive. This car has done 40,000 plus miles since its restoration and he drives it a good 70+ MPH on the highway. He is an old Chrysler mechanic and claims the Fluid Drive is pretty bullet proof. Not sure what ratio he has in the rear end but his car cruises beautifully on the highway. It also has lots of pulling ability as he has towed his trailer with his John Deere D behind it through all kinds of conditions. I believe the more changes you make on these old cars the more likely you are to run into problems - unless you rod them. I know you don't want to chop your car up but if you want a car with modern driveability go the 350/350 Nova front end route. Otherwise enjoy your old car for what it is- a 60 year old car with technology from the that time. Hell, I am 58 and cannot do what I did when new. All that said, I hope you find a solution to your problems.

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I salute anyone who makes a 60 year old Mopar his daily driver. James deserves credit for besting the hills of San Francisico.

Personally, I can't stand Fluid Drive and understand completely why he would want another drive train.

Robert, I respect your perspective and Tim, your electric expertise. I just think we're getting a little too excited on this thread. James, you have a right to vent, but no right to expect that your car will run any better than ours, pal.

Now that I've got you all straightened out, I think I'll go have some milk and cookies.

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WOW! Talk about timing!

Today I removed the transmission from my original 40 Ply P-9 and just got in from the garage after preparing it for shipment to George for installation of an overdrive to find this discussion. I guess I will wait on shipment to see how this whole thing washes out.

I'm surprised to not see Lou Earle "weigh in" on this issue.

When I talked to George about doing the work, we did not discuss warrenty. I guess we need to.

As a novice on this, how would one engage the OD on my old original car?

I will watch with interest!


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Don, I know absolutely zilch about hooking up an OD unit because I've never tried to do it or even thought about it. However, I totally agree with what RobertKB said. You can't expect a 60 year old car with 60 year old technology to work all that well with todays driving conditions every day. If we want to build a car to handle everyday modern driving conditions, the only way to make it reliable is with a modern drivetrain. That can be with a Chrysler crate engine and transmission or GM, whichever you prefer. Rebuilding something with 60 year old parts does not make it reliable and new, it's still 60 years old.

Like RobertKB, I'm 63 and can't do the things I use to do, especially with my joints being affected by Rheumatoid arthritis. Doctor says he could operate and replace the bad joints (or in short rebuild them). However, he says the fix would not be permanent and the same old problems would come back again. So.........it's the same with these old cars mechanical and electrical parts. Regardless of what we spend on them, the fix isn't permanent.

That said, a lot of times when you buy new electrical parts at an auto parts store they will tell you it's non returnable once it's installed. If you take your modern car into the shop for work (even a transmission rebuild) and the car is out of warranty, the shop will only give you about 90 days or 3,000 miles (whichever comes first) warranty on the repair work. Rebuilding a modern transmission isn't cheap every 90 days either.

This is exactly why if my rebuild 218 engine goes out on me, it'll be replaced with a modern crate engine and transmission so I don't have to mess with it so much anymore. Plus, it'll go down the street 10 times better with the modern drivetrain and be a lot more reliable doing it.

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