May 9, 2017 update to the Ford F-350 Ramp Truck project car

Project Ramp Truck: Installing Overdrive

The Gear Vendors overdrive kit comes complete with everything needed, including great, easy to follow instructions. Budget a day to install it, assuming you don’t have to modify your fuel tank for clearance like we did.
The main controller is mounted under the hood. You can see how well marked and how simple the wiring is.
In our particular application—and certainly not a common one, we had to cut out part of the tank to get everything to fit.
This switch to engage the overdrive is mounted on the dash. You then move the overdrive in or out with a small switch on the shift lever.

While our project ramp truck drove well before we took the engine and transmission out, we were not pleased by how fast the engine had to turn at highway speeds.

While we didn’t need to drive the truck at 80 mph, it would be nice to be able to cruise at 65-70 without the feeling that you constantly needed to shift up a gear.

A final drive change is a compromise: What you gain at highway speed, you lose in acceleration. And to our knowledge, an overdrive, five-speed swap for a heavy-duty truck is difficult—if even possible—to complete.

The one thing you can do is install an overdrive unit. Like the Laycock de Normanville electric overdrives so common in British cars in the 1960s, a company called Gear Vendors has a modern, heavy-duty version of this design.

Other than cutting part of the gas tank apart and rewelding it to clear the overdrive unit, installation is pretty straight forward.

The overdrive unit bolts on the back of the transmission after making a minor modification to your transmission’s tail shaft. Wire it up, mount the control panel on your dash, and fix the switch to the shifter and you are done.

At about $3500, this is not a cheap installation, but just one drive on the highway convinced us it was worth every penny. Our ramp truck now cruises nicely down the highway.

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Comments

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ProDarwin
ProDarwin PowerDork
5/9/17 11:37 a.m.

Wow. Their website is terrible.

jstein77
jstein77 UltraDork
5/9/17 4:00 p.m.

I assume you needed to shorten your driveshaft?

Bobzilla
Bobzilla UltimaDork
5/9/17 4:19 p.m.

It's already got the SM465, right? NV3500. done.

Gearheadotaku
Gearheadotaku PowerDork
5/9/17 10:26 p.m.

I don't think a NV3500 would last too long in the ramp truck. A 4500 however...

Antihero
Antihero Reader
5/10/17 12:47 a.m.

In reply to Bobzilla:

Since it's a Ford I would assume np435 or t18

Recon1342
Recon1342 New Reader
5/10/17 1:10 a.m.

Throw an Allison at it...

Cooter
Cooter HalfDork
5/10/17 6:43 a.m.

I believe it is a NP 435. They had it rebuilt a few months ago.

I agree the NV4500 would have been the best route, and saved a ton of money over a rebuild and a GearVendor. Better shifting trans, as well.

Ian F
Ian F MegaDork
5/10/17 7:17 a.m.

But can a NV4500 easily bolt up to a 390 FE engine?

Tim Suddard
Tim Suddard Publisher
5/10/17 7:50 a.m.

The transmission rebuild was cheap, like $400. Yes we had to shorten the driveshaft. I think that was about $100. I didn't have the time or truck experience to figure out what transmissions would bolt in and work correctly. I also didn't want to be pulling these big heavy transmission in and out of trucks in the junk yard. I also kind of like the old school, notchy way the truck shifts. It brings back memories of growing up in my dad's Ford dealership and delivering trucks with him. Super cool to be driving big trucks at age 16!

I had already spent a million hours on this silly truck. The Gear Vendors set up took about a day to install and has worked flawlessly since.

GTXVette
GTXVette HalfDork
5/11/17 12:22 p.m.

IF Any one wants I just happen to Have a 3 speed w/OD ford toploader tranny they were MFG.in 1967(d7) and installed in Van's and Pu trucks not really up to a ramp truck strength but VERY Useable in a Plethora of Car and truck builds I want 350 But to a GRMer ....................

Bobzilla
Bobzilla MegaDork
5/11/17 12:59 p.m.
Gearheadotaku wrote: I don't think a NV3500 would last too long in the ramp truck. A 4500 however...

I THOUGHT that was what I typed. Apparently not.

curtis73
curtis73 PowerDork
5/11/17 1:22 p.m.

I had a GVOD in my 66 Bonneville. It was an awesome beast. You'll love it.

iceracer
iceracer UltimaDork
5/11/17 5:38 p.m.

Just be aware that the drive shaft will be spinning at the same RPM as when the old one disintegrated, so watch the road speed. OD is nice for the engine and might improve the MPG.

Toyman01
Toyman01 MegaDork
5/11/17 8:04 p.m.

Pretty much nothing with OD, bolts up to a FE block. I wish a Gear Vendors unit would hold up to SanFord, but having a uncle that grenaded several of them in his farm truck, I know better.

I think I'm going to end up with a E4OD in SanFord before it's all said and done. I just need to figure out how to retain the transmission mounted E-brake when I make the swap.

oldopelguy
oldopelguy UltraDork
5/11/17 11:06 p.m.

I have a couple of Brownlippe (sp?) three speed auxiliary transmissions, and one of them has a parking brake on it. They are out there for medium duty trucks, but not easy to find.

stuart in mn
stuart in mn UltimaDork
5/11/17 11:21 p.m.
Toyman01 wrote: I wish a Gear Vendors unit would hold up to SanFord, but having a uncle that grenaded several of them in his farm truck, I know better.

That's interesting - everything I've read about them says they're supposed to be pretty much bulletproof.

Ian F
Ian F MegaDork
5/12/17 6:01 a.m.
Toyman01 wrote: Pretty much nothing with OD, bolts up to a FE block. I wish a Gear Vendors unit would hold up to SanFord, but having a uncle that grenaded several of them in his farm truck, I know better. I think I'm going to end up with a E4OD in SanFord before it's all said and done. I just need to figure out how to retain the transmission mounted E-brake when I make the swap.

If a GV OD wouldn't hold up under SanFord, I'd be very surprised if a E4OD would. While it's a good transmission, I've never heard of them being used for med-duty trucks.

GTXVette
GTXVette HalfDork
5/12/17 6:19 a.m.

You Might Consider a 2 speed rear then, thats what was in our Moving truck converted to Car hauler, it only had a chevy SB but went down the road nicely at 70 but that WAS all it had.Gm 60 or 70 series if I remember right, Old 70's MayFlower Moving truck. yards are full of them

Wall-e
Wall-e MegaDork
5/12/17 6:29 a.m.

In reply to Tim Suddard:

Don't listen to these people and their newfangled five speeds. An old notchy shifter with a button on the side keeps more character in the truck. Our older trucks were generally four speeds with two speed rears and one of these switches clamped to the shifter. I thought they'd look right as the controller for an overdrive as well if I ever got around to one.

Ian F
Ian F MegaDork
5/12/17 6:36 a.m.

One question about the Gear Vendors unit - is it like the Laycock units where it needs a Reverse lock-out in the activation wiring?

Toyman01
Toyman01 MegaDork
5/12/17 7:09 a.m.

In reply to stuart in mn:

They are, until you put 20k pounds on them.

Ian F said:

If a GV OD wouldn't hold up under SanFord, I'd be very surprised if a E4OD would. While it's a good transmission, I've never heard of them being used for med-duty trucks.

The E4OD will handle 20K pounds reasonably well as long as you keep it cool, BTDT. It also has the advantage of being easily repairable if it explodes in Northwest Bumberkeleyastan.

snailmont5oh
snailmont5oh HalfDork
11/29/17 3:18 p.m.
GTXVette said:

IF Any one wants I just happen to Have a 3 speed w/OD ford toploader tranny they were MFG.in 1967(d7) and installed in Van's and Pu trucks not really up to a ramp truck strength but VERY Useable in a Plethora of Car and truck builds I want 350 But to a GRMer ....................

Minor correction; D7 is 77 in Fordpartspeak. 67 is C7. 

Vigo
Vigo UltimaDork
11/29/17 8:57 p.m.

E4ods are plenty strong for non-turbo engines if built well. I agree that keeping the original truck trans keeps more character in the truck. Overdrive on a switch adds more novelty to the experience of driving something that you only drive/built because it was different.  I've only owned one overdrive on a switch (4spd volvo), but it  was more interesting than a regular 5spd would have been. 

 

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