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                             JOHN ESPOSITO QUANTUM MECHANICS LTD.

                       315 RIGGS STREET BUILDING A UNIT 3 OXFORD CT. 06478

                                   PHONE 203-463-8299 FAX 203-828-6039  

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                                                     WHO WE ARE:

Quantum Mechanics Ltd. was formally established in 1981 to support a 20-year ongoing racing program that included at that time a Lotus Super 7, a Triumph Spitfire 1300, a TR4 and a 1275 Mini Cooper. We rallied and raced in EMRA, SCCA, local club Gym-khanas, auto-crosses and time trials and other car events (even economy runs!) and in the winter competed in ice-khanas and ice races throughout the Northeast. Although we no longer race ourselves, we currently design and build many racing transmissions for many British cars. Right now our primary focus and work is on production British car transmissions, especially overdrives. We supply anything from a single part to complete rebuilt transmissions, overdrives and differentials. We also provide expert advice to British car and race enthusiasts worldwide. Some British car Marques supported are all Austin Healey, Austin (Mini), English Ford (and derivatives), Morris, MG, Triumph, Jaguar, Morgan, Lotus, Rover and a few other British cars and other cars that use British transmissions (Ferrari, Nash Metropolitan, etc.) We have over 35 years experience in British cars and currently build between 300 and 400 transmissions per year worldwide. We have contracted with parts manufacturers and machine shops in the USA, Australia, New Zealand, Germany, England and Italy that supply us with new, reconditioned or remanufactured parts for these transmissions. We have over 300 core and rebuilt transmissions in stock at any given time as well as thousands of British transmission and overdrive parts. We also do some specialty carburettor work (such as Spitfire 1500 twin 1 ½ inch) and differential work on Triumph TR6, Spitfire, GT6, Big Healeys, Lotus, and MGTD, MGA and MGB. Our goal is to provide high quality parts, services and professional advice to allow enthusiasts to continue to enjoy the British car tradition. We consider ourselves enthusiasts first (We currently own an Austin Mini) as well as a professional business. We support many local clubs and events and wish to help continue the British car motoring tradition. We enjoy the work and look forward to meeting with other enthusiasts. Our hope is to have a positive presence and impact on the overall environment of classic British car ownership.

                      Topic of the Month

             Proper shifting of a Laycock overdrive

   OK everybody, calm down out there. We have received some interesting emails over the last few months asking (and telling) us about the proper way to shift in and out of overdrive on the Laycock deNormanville overdrives as used on the British cars (A, J, LH, D and compact A types). We received some spirited responses – use the clutch, don’t use the clutch, etc. I would like to express our opinion on the proper method to shift in and out of these overdrive units.

    First let me admit that when I had cars with overdrive, especially Big Healeys, I did not shift the recommended way. It is way too cool and impossible to resist the temptation to pull up next to someone at 50 or 60 MPH and, as you shift into overdrive, accelerate away into the great beyond. This usually gets very interesting and surprised looks from the other drivers and passengers and really impresses the people who are with you in the car. What was that, warp drive? Like, you still have another gear? How many gears does his car have???!!!! It is also way too cool to kick down from overdrive at 50 or 60 and watch the expression on the faces of other people as the engine revs on the downshift. This is especially true on the Big Healey, as the 6 cylinder really sounds great at speed. You get the fantasy of what it must feel like downshifting at the end of the straight at LeMans.

     Anyway, back to the proper way to do it. Let’s think for a minute why overdrives were put in cars in the first place. I mean after all, anyone can put in a 5th gear on a transmission, why an overdrive? First of all the British never do anything the way we expect or anyone else does it. This was especially true in the 40’s, 50’s and 60’s and is why we have such interesting cars from that period. Laycock overdrives are really like a manually initiated mini automatic transmission. (I personally think a guy named Rube Goldberg had a major part in their design). The important thing to remember is that it was added as an option on most cars in order to reduce engine RPM (and consequently wear) on the highway and increase fuel mileage. Secondarily it was also used to increase the number of speeds forward, giving a better selection of gear ratios for driving. Given this objective, we can understand that the proper way to shift into overdrive is to reduce the engine RPM’s, not increase the road speed of the vehicle. In fact, it is somewhat damaging to the overdrive clutch to accelerate under power during the shift process. This is akin to slipping the clutch or power shifting during the normal shifting of a regular gear. It can tend to lead to premature overdrive brake ring and clutch wear and failure. You do not need to use the regular clutch pedal at all.

     Get to a reasonable speed, say 45 to 50 MPH. Activate the overdrive switch. As the overdrive engages, feather the throttle so that the road speed of the car remains the same and the engine RPM’s are reduced. Voila, you have shifted the overdrive with minimum stress to it and now are cruising at a lower engine RPM. Objective achieved. Now you can accelerate to any cruising speed you desire as the overdrive is fully engaged. It is not recommended shifting into overdrive at too low a speed as this also can cause stress on the clutch and lugging the engine is not a good practice either. In fact the early overdrives had a mini Lucas centrifugal type regulator on the output shaft of the overdrive that would not allow the overdrive to be engaged below a specified speed. Shifting out of overdrive is the reverse of this process. Turn the overdrive switch to the off position. As the overdrive disengages back to normal drive, push down on the throttle to keep the car’s road speed the same and increase the engine RPM until the overdrive shift is complete. This again minimizes wear to the overdrive clutch and brake ring. You can now decelerate the car as you would normally. Again, you would not want to shift out of overdrive at too high a speed as you could over-rev the engine and cause damage to it as a result.

     As you can see, the basic objective of proper shifting is to reduce the wear on the internal overdrive clutch during the shifting process. This can easily be done with some practice and will significantly increase the life of the overdrive unit. We have determined this shift procedure from observing many overdrive units and the wear on the key overdrive clutch components, as well as just plain common sense.

     We hope this will clear up any questions on the proper way to shift these overdrives to reduce the wear on them and keep them running longer. Most likely we will generate a new set of questions on the procedure, but that is what it is all about! As always, comments and feedback are welcome!

Thanks! John