Fairey Overdrive Overhaul

Annoyingly, the overdrive sprung a leak somewhere, dumping its oil into the transfer box. I suspect it was the smaller seal between the input and output shafts – I didn’t know where to locate it within the output shaft on the initial rebuild at the start of the 109 project as there is no obvious shoulder for it to sit against. This time I drifted it down firmly as far as it would go and found a firm seat, so it should work better.

I have taken a great deal of photos to document the whole strip and rebuild to create this as a “how to” feature – there are a lot of people buying up second hand overdrives from forums, shows and e-bay, so hopefully this will help them refurbish their units cheaply and effectively. It assumes the overdrive is already off the vehicle.


overdrive top cover off The first task is to remove the top panel by removing the four 1/2″ bolts. The panel may be stuck on its cork gasket, so have a replacement ready. Next, remove the selector fork and shaft by taking out the 1/2″ pinch bolt in the fork and undoing the selector shaft detent and retaining grub screws almost entirely. The shaft can be tapped out of the rear of the casing, allowing the fork to be removed. Retain the fork’s brass pads – they’re unlikely to need replacement. The selector shaft front opening’s plate can be removed for O-ring replacement by removing the two small bolts.
Overdrive rear cover off With the fork removed, undo the four 1/2″ nuts on the rear cover. The cover should come off with careful prying. Be careful not to damage the mating faces of the cover or main casing. There is a large O-ring around the rear cover that should be replaced on rebuild. Keep the cover’s nuts and spring washers in the cover during the work.

Now the back end of the input shaft is visible. Use circlip pliers to remove the small circlip. Put this to one side, followed by the washer beneath it. This exposes a second circlip, which must also be removed. Then may follow one or more shims, followed by a three-piece thrust bearing set. Place all these parts in order in a container or tray.input shaft circlips and bearing

With these clips and bearings removed, the input shaft can be removed from the unit. This is the the shaft that can be seen by looking inside the geared output shaft on the front of the overdrive. It can be pushed out from the back. Once the front end emerges from the output shaft, withdraw it completely and put it to one side. There may be a thrust bearing set comprising of a thick washer (with a bevel on the inside edge), a thin washer and the needle roller race near the thick end. Retain these on the shaft. This bearing may have stayed inside the output shaft, in which case you should remove them Input shaft bearings and tubesnow. There will also be a pair of tubular spacers and a roller bearing in the rear gear of the overdrive – remove these and place in the same container as the other input shaft parts.

Next, to get the output shaft and rear units out, you have to free the layshaft (its teeth will interfere on the mainshaft gears’ synchros, causing damage if you try to force them out with the layshaft in place). To do this, lever the rear end of the layshaft out with a screwdriver until there is enough exposed to grab hold with a pair of grips. It can be resistant as a vacuum ban develop in the forward case’s shaft withdrawing layshaftrecess. Rotating as you pull may help. Withdraw it completely and allow the layshaft gear cluster to drop into the corner of the overdrive sump.

Use a soft faced mallet to tap the output shaft aft, drifting out the rear gear and bearing set. It’s very unlikely that the outer ball race bearing will need replacement, so don’t be tempted to remove the big criclip holdin the rear gear in its bearing. Inside the front of the gear you will find a thrust bearing and roller bearing set. remove them and lay soft mallet drifting rear gear outthem in sequence with a container for the whole rear gear assembly.

As you remove the rear gear unit, the synchro hub is likely to drop. This is not a problem, but make sure you retain the spacer ring that sits between the rear gear and the synchro hub with the rear gear. Remove the synchro hub complete with brass rings, and then withdraw the output shaft from the front of the casing. There is a further thrust bearing set between the front face of the synchro hub and the output shaft. Keep these together. Note that the outer part of the synchro and the two brass rings are synchro and adjacent bearingssymmetrical, but the inner hub is not – the nosed side is to the rear, while the flat side for the thrust bearing faces the front on reassembly.

Next, withdraw the output shaft through the front of the casing. If the complete thrust bearing kits came out with the inner input gear and the synchro hub in the earlier stages, there will be no more metal parts on the output gear – the only remaining attached part will be the blue rubber seal inside the front end (quite far in), which should be removed and binned. Make a careful check on the thrust bearing faces at the rear gear bearingsback end and deep inside the front (inside of where the seal was) for thrust bearing washers – you really don’t want to loose those and they do tend to stick with oil vacuum.

Remove the layshaft cluster. There will be two roller bearings and a tubular spacer inside, and a thrust bearing pack for each end (probably still in the casing). These thrust bearings are likely to have matching shims to set the layshaft cluster endfloat. In this case, one shim can be seen next to each output shaftthrush bearing kit.

This should leave the casing with only the front bearing and seal. Lever the seal out, ensuring that the casing is not damage in the process. Clean and inspect the casing and bearing. Again, it’s unlikely that the bearing will need replacement, but if it does, it should be drifter out from behind and a replacement squarely and gently pressed or drifted in from the front. A new seal should be fitted at this point.

INSPECTIONcasing and front bearing

Check each component for wear or damage. Some wear to the splines on the shafts and synchro unit will be evident, and is unserviceable if more than 1mm has been eroded. The bearings are usually OK, but if there is evidence of any scoring, pitting or corrosion, renew them. Polishing of the bearing tracks is acceptable as long as there is no wear ridge.

Close attention should be paid to the condition of the clutch sleeve (the spline part that replaces the gear on the vehicle’s gearbox main shaft and the input shaft – the fine spline wear, and if they wear too much thy’ll strip, leaving the vehicle witlayshaft partshout drive regardless of overdrive or gear selections.

The plastic mesh bush inside the input shaft supports the end of the gearbox mainshaft, substituting the bearing in the standard aluminium housing on the back of the transfer box. If it is damaged, it will cause rapid wear of the gearbox mainshaft’s bearing surface. Damage or wear to the splines or bush require replacement of the complete part.

All seals, O-rings and circlips should be replaced as a matter of course, and are sold in kits. Shim packs are available cheaply. The bigger components are more input shaft splinesexpensive, and some of the bearings are specific to the unit and could be difficult to obtain, but Rovers Down South are now manufacturing the overdrive new and can supply parts direct in the US or via John Craddock in Europe.


In Haynes’ finest tradition, reassembly is the reverse of stripping.

Start with the replacement of the front main bearing if required, and the front main seal. The selector shaft’s frclutch sleeveont O-ring sited inside the lozenge shaped cover on the right hand side of the casing should be renewed now too.

Also fit new O-rings to the rear cover, layshaft and rear end of the selector shaft. Use the input shaft as a drift to set the new inner oil seal in its correct position inside the output shaft.

If the synchro unit came apart during the strip down, or if you find missing or worn out detents, here’s how to rebuild it. First, If you’re going to open it up, lay it on top of a towel, and lay a heavy cloth over it. this will stop the ball bearing shooting across synchro partsthe room and into oblivion as it comes apart. Lift the outer ring and sharply tap the inner hub down. The two should separate, allowing you you with draw the three springs for check or replacement.

all fitted and hub loweredtwo down, one to gofitting ball bearingsleeve and hub

To reassemble the synchro, lay the outer ring flat and hold the inner hub up inside it. Fit the springs and square doughnuts (making sure the curve of the doughnuts matches the curvature of the hub) and allow the inner hub to sink so that it’s sitting on them. Fit the ball bearing to one spring and press it in, forcing the doughnut down as the balls presses in. Push the doloose layshaftughnut down as far as possible so that the ball bearing is retained by the outer sleeve. Repeat for the other two detent balls, then sink the inner hub down fully into the outer sleeve.

Next is to set the end float on the layshaft. Oil and fit the bearings and spacer inside the layshaft gear cluster. Using LM grease, assemble the front end layshaft thrust bearing kit and any shims that were present with it on strip down. Use just enough grease that parts stick together. With the overdrive casing sitting rear end up, fit the front bearing/shim pack to their seat in the casing, then install the cluster. Next assemble the rear thrust bearing/shim pack like the front, and slide them into position. Be very careful to ensure the shims are fitted on the casing side of each bearing pack. Then use a long handled tool down the layshaft aperture to “stir” thlayshaft front thrust bearing e bearing packs and cluster in to alignment and insert the layshaft. The complete layshaft should have a very small amount of endfloat, only just perceptible by hand. If it’s obvious, it excessive and more shims must be inserted. If there is no endfloat, remove a shim (very unlikely). Once the endfloat has been correctly set, remove the layshaft and fit a long narrow tube, bar or screw driver that will allow the cluster to move laterally while holding the bearing packs roughly in place.

inserting input shaftoutput shaft fittedNow fit the output shaft through the front of the casing, oiling the seal and seal land first. Oil the input shaft all over and ensure its thrust bearing (against its wide section) is set the correct way around – thick washer against the shaft’s “cup” end (bevelled edge against the shaft’s radius corner), needle race, then thin washer – and insert it it carefully through the output shaft. Be very careful not to damage the inner seal. Stop with the input shaft’s rear end just protruding from the back of the output shaft by 1/2″.

rear bearing fittedsynchro fittedOil the synchro’s thrust bearing and refit to the rear of the output shaft before fitting the synchro unit, complete with brass rings, behind the output shaft. Next fit the rear gear spacer ring on the synchro hub’s nose, then fit the rear gear unit, complete with its internal thrust and roller bearings, through the rear of the casing. The rear bearing can be tapped into place with a mallet or pressed in using the rear cover as necessary.

alignedstirringNext, “stir” the layshaft cluster and bearing packs again to align them for layshaft insertion. If you have a pool of oil in the bottom of the layshaft aperture, try to remove it by inverting the overdrive or wicking it out with a cloth. This is to make the shaft insertion easier – with the shaft’s locating hole full of oil, the shaft is difficult to press down fully and springs back out. If you can’t get all the oil out and the shaft’s tail is protruding excessively, don’t worry – the next step of fitting the rear cover (after installing the new O-ring on the cover) will draw the shaft down into its proper position. the oil in the aperture will be slowly forced out of the way. Just close down the rear cover squarely and slowly, turning each nut an equal amount in sequence, using a short handled 1/4″ drive socket only – air tools will draw the cover down too quickly, forcing the shaft down faster than the oil can dissipate, likely causing hydraulic cracking of the overdrive casing.

selectror shaft top grub screwselector shaft detent (lower) grubscrewFinish by inserting the selector shaft (with its new O-ring) through from the back of the casing so its end is just showing in side the top hole. Fit the fork and feed the selector shaft through it. Make sure the elector shaft is rotated so that the detent grooves face downwards, the long slot up, parallel to the head of the grub screw, and tap it through until the slot for the fork’s pinch bolt lines up with the fork’s bolt holes. Insert the bolt, but don’t full tighten yet. Titghten the top and bottom grub screws fully and back of 1/2 turn a dab of thread lock is useful). Fit the top cover with a new cork gasket and loosely fit the four corner bolts.

overdrive with lik rodThe final tightening of the fork pinch bolt has to be done once the overdrive is fitted in order to allow the selector shaft to rotate to align with the selector lever link rod – if the pinch bolt has been tightened and the alignment is slightly out, the link rod’s clevis pin will not fit through the hole on the front end of the selector shaft. Once the selector rod and shaft and rod are connected, the overdrive should be selected to neutral. with the shaft held in neutral by the detents, carefully hold the synchro hub in exact centre so that an equal amount of the brass teeth an be seen each side, and tighten the pinch bolt. Smear both sides of the cork gasket heavily in LM grease and fit the top cover tightly. Fill the overdrive unit with the correct amount of EP 90.


  1. Nick

    Great site thanks. Have my Fairey overdrive in bits and getting ready to put back together. Noted your point “The plastic mesh bush inside the input shaft supports the end of the gearbox mainshaft, substituting the bearing in the standard aluminium housing on the back of the transfer box. If it is damaged, it will cause rapid wear of the gearbox mainshaft’s bearing surface. Damage or wear to the splines or bush require replacement of the complete part.”

    Do you mean the whole input shaft? I have got a replacement mesh bush so hope I can swap out. Any clues on how to get the old one out?



  2. I had been told by Superwinch that the bush was not available separately to the input shaft, so if you have managed to get one, well done! As long as the rest of the shaft, including the fine splines, is in good order then you can just replace the bush. You’ll need some sort of drift to press it in very carefully, and I’d suggest warming the shaft to about 80oC and freezing the bush to make them fit more easily.

    There isn’t much rotation between the gear box main shaft and the input shaft – the bush is there more to keep the main shaft from pivoting on the main bearing at the back of the gear box, the front end of the shaft floating in the end of the primary pinion.


  3. Nick

    Thanks for thoughts on getting the new one in. Any ideas on getting the old one out? Looks like it is stuck in pretty tight. Not sure what tool to use to extract once I have applied heat/cold.


  4. Nick.

    Also thought readers might appreciate this excellent guide:



  5. Hi James,

    I would try the techniques used for crank shaft spigot bushes – fill the void with thick grease, partially insert the shaft and then give a sharp blow with a rubber or wooden mallet to hydraulically dive it out from behind. If that doesn’t work, then using a hammer and chisel to cut the bust in to two shells will allow it to drop out. Be careful with the latter method not to score the bore of the shaft itself, but if you do score the bearing seat, then it’s not a problem; just use wet and dry paper on a bar to smooth out any ridge raised along a cut to allow the new bush in without pinching.

  6. I’m wounded that you want people to read another source and at the implication and that mine is lacking! Just kidding – it’s good to share this sort of thing, and at least he copied the original manual (same as my Superwinch one, which has a stripped diagram with part numbers, but no instructions for stripping or building or any specifications, just the installation and servicing instructions which weren’t especially helpful because of ignoring issues like having the wrong castellated lock tab washer, hang-ups on the splines and the trap of fully seating the unit before getting all the nuts on the studs).

  7. Nick

    I have finally got round to fitting and all was going well until presenting the overdrive. It is stopping at about 1 inch clear i.e. before the gears get to mesh and just clear of the bolts. Having measured various parts I think that the new bush might be too small for the main box mainshaft, although a basic measurement of the bearing in the standard housing and the new bush seemed to be about the same. My only other thought is that somehow it is not aligning correctly but this is defined by how the overdrive case fits into the transfer box. Any thoughts on how to solve? Or could it be something else?



  8. Hi James

    With that distance of hang up, I suspect it’s the tab washer for the castellated but on the main shaft – the two unused tabs are about 0.5mm too long and are catching on the inside of the overdrive main shaft. You need to remove the tab washer and trim the tabs with a file before refitting. Make sure you fit it at a slightly different rotation so that you use a different tab to secure the but, or use a new washer – don’t reuse the same tab as it’ll have been weakened by folding, unfolding and folding again.

    Let me know how you get on.

  9. Nick

    Thanks for responding so quickly. I will check in a minute but I had filed down the unused tabs as you had explained in your blog. I also ensured that the used one was pressed down onto the castellated nut. I tried to (but will check) file down so that the unused tabs were below the “teeth” that would engage with the overdrive input shaft.

    I did manage to gently file down the plastic bush and felt that I was getting a few more millimetres of progress although strangely it did feel like it was getting a pretty hard stop and couldn’t be pushed on with some extra force.

  10. You need to file the tabs down so they stick out no further than the spacer washer between the tab washer and gear itself, or level with the outer circumference of the castellated but. Be careful not to remove more than any torn edge of the plastic bush inside the od main shaft – there should be no relative most I on in that shaft, but you will get a little as the splines inside the shaft and on the clutch sleeve wear.

    Don’t forget that the splines may not be in line as you close the od into position, needing the gearbox to be turned to get the splines in line. To do this I put the transfer box in neutral and the gear box in first and then flick the engine over on the starter while gently pushing forward on the overdrive casing. Another way would be to have the gear box in 4th, transfer box in neutral and overdrive selected to “engaged” and then turn the od output shaft over by hand until the splines aligb and the unit will slide into position.

  11. Hi Nick, I’m following your guide trying to strip down an overdrive, and I’ve got to the part where you withdraw the lay shaft. It won’t budge, not one half a nanometer. It is stuck solid. The reason I’m stripping the unit is because the output gear won’t turn. Any ideas?

    Thanks in advance..

  12. Hi Ste,

    The shaft is often sealed in place at the front end by vacuum – the oil prevents air entering the socket that the front end of the shaft sits into. Washing the inside of the unit out with petrol will flush the oil away, which may help. Gently heating that area of the casing may also work, but the trick really is just to use a bolt into the back end of the shaft and pull and rotate the shaft gradually until the vacuum breaks.

    For what it’s worth, the same happens on the transfer box intermediate shaft.

  13. josef freitag says

    hy nick
    i bought a fairey overdrive from uk via ebay for my series III,dismantled and inspected it with the help of your good advice written down here,reassambled and installed it – believe it or not – it works!
    though its never a Job for the unskilled- i think -your great description makes things a lot easier.
    best regards

  14. Robert says

    just pointing out that the http://goodrickgear.co.uk/ are now making RTC7187 and RTC7192 again.
    UK produced in small batches.
    These two are the missing links in being able to totally rebuild the Fairey overdrive.
    Nobby 🙂

  15. Thanks, Nobby, that is very useful. I recently also saw that syncrogearboxes.com (spelt without the “h”) stock a lot of parts for them too.


  16. Hello Nick,
    great post. very helpful!
    I’ve installed a second-hand, non-overhauled fairey overdrive to my series 3.
    it whines a bit, but otherwise works perfectly, so I’m leaving it as is for now.
    the only problem I have is a substantial oil leak at the layshaft-end (next to the rear-cover).
    Can I replace the o-ring without opening up the entire overdrive?
    if not, could there be another solution to fix the problem?
    thx for you feedback. Much appreciated.

  17. Hi Johan,

    If the overdrive is not knocking and turns smoothly by hand without excessive bearing play, then don’t worry about the whine. I usually get quite cross when LR owners comment about an issue “they all do that”, but in the case of Fairey type overdrives, the vast majority do and there is nothing that can be or indeed needs to be done about it. Keep servicing the oil regularly, as you should be anyway, and check for swarf or particles in the oil – it will be grey if the unit is healthy, but shouldn’t be glittery or have bits in it.

    As for the oil leak from the lay shaft, yes you can replace the o-ring without completely stripping down the unit. I think you’d struggle to do it in situ as the lay shaft front bearings may drop as you withdraw the shaft, but it may be possible if you only withdraw it about to expose the o-ring and no further. You could try it, being gentle on reinserting the shaft after o-ring replacement. I suspect, though, that the bearing will drop anyway and that you’ll have to do the job with the overdrive orientated vertically to keep the bearings in place as you refit the shaft. You could try it in situ and if the bearings move, try the “stirring” with a suitable tool first before refitting the shaft – if the bearings then sit still, it’s good to go, but if they drop again, you’ll need to remove the overdrive to work vertically. It’s a long time since I did this work, but I don’t seem to recall any concern over the bearing parts moving further than would allow that method, so I don’t think you’ll be risking having to strip it down completely for a dropped bearing, but removing the unit and working vertically would almost eliminate that risk.

    Let me know how it goes!

  18. johan moors says

    Thx Nick for your swift reply!! 🙂
    So, to be 100% sure… to withdraw the lay shaft, I just clamp the end with a vice and pull a little, ’till the o-ring gets exposed, while taking care the bearings stay in place (if possbile)?
    I’ll let you know if this works…
    Johan from Belgium

  19. Correct, though if you have a drilled and tapped shaft and have a bolt that will fit it, that’d be a better grip than using water pump pliers like I did!

    You’re welcome for the reply – the whole point of the blog is to help others with these problems, and hopefully others will share their lessons and experiences with me too so I can pass them on here.

  20. Michael Stephen says

    Nick – on the subject of replacing the o-ring on the layshaft. I did it this afternoon – with the overdrive off the Land Rover.
    It worked fine, but a few comments:
    Stabilized overdrive in a bucket, with the end of the layshaft pointing to the sky.
    Layshaft tends to be pulled back into the drive due to the suction – second pair of hands would have helped.
    I had to cut the old o-ring as there wasn’t enough access to hook it to remove.
    The new o-ring is tight to get over the end of the layshaft – putting it in a cup of hot water for a few minutes made it flexible enough. Dry before use.
    Heart rate still racing at prospect of shims or bearings going loose, but all worked fine.

  21. Glad it went back together ok!

  22. richard snow says

    Nick, any ideas on getting a decent output gear for my Fairey overdrive?

    Goodrick still have input and lay gear, syncro has clutch, mainshaft and layshaft ! My output gear has marks on it – I can probably run a 58x50x20 drawn cup bearing instead but will need to watch it’s lubrication?

    Great site and rebuild instructions !

  23. Sorry, Richard, I don’t know where you could find that output shaft and gear if Craddock or Syncro can’t supply one.

    It sounds like its the main bearing surface that has marks, rather than the teeth. If so, a decent engineering workshop should be able to turn the surface down and sleeve it for you. It will cost a modest amount, but shouldn’t break the bank.


  24. richard snow says

    Thanks Nick !

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