Adding a starter to...
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Adding a starter to a 1912 Overland 59T

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Recently I bought a 1912 Overland 59T. It runs well but I would like to add an electric starter if it wouldn't be too obvious. Any suggestions would be appreciated.

Posted : December 29, 2022 9:20 pm
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That should be reasonably easy to do. There are several vendors who can install a flywheel ring gear on your current flywheei, and the Overland has plenty of room for them, and plenty of material to machine to install them.  The clutch is a friction cone, and all of the mechanism on the flywheel is tucked inside the flywheel and to the rear, so there is nothing interfering on the sides of the flywheel. There IS a sheetmetal shield wrapped around the flywheel, to keep oil from being slung out, and keep debris from getting into the clutch cone assembly. Yours may be missing the shield. I have 2 of the Model 59's, and only one has the complete shield set on it.  There is also plenty of frame structure to mount brackets to, in order to hold the starter in position. You may want to discuss this with the same people who install your starter ring gear. Since these are relatively low compression engines, and also low powered, they are pretty easy to start, and you can use a fairly small starter on them. If you have the splash aprons on the sides (which actually run from the BOTTOM surface of the outer chassis frame, down to the running board supports), your starter installation will be pretty much invisible. 

My personal opinion is to make the frame that supports the starter such that it mounts to existing holes in the frame that are used to attach other components. Thus if you ever need to remove the starter and it's supporting brackets, they can be taken off and boxed up for future use, without actually changing any support structure or drilling any extra holes in the main chassis frame. The only evidence that would remain would be the ring gear on the flywheel, and there is nothing you could do about that. But since it is largely hidden by the splash shield around the flywheel, it would not be too noticeable. In any case, no one who looks at the installation would have any knowledge of the difference, unless they ALSO owned a Model 59 and understood the machine. And if they are that much of a smart-ass, I would invite them to do the cranking for the start for you, and save the electric start. 

I was lucky enough to start a Model 59 at the Tulare Swap Meet last year (neither of my Model 59 cars are running) and I was very pleasantly surprised at how easy it was to crank. A moderate 1/4 turn on the crank and it fired right up. (It was also very nice to drive. I was greatly encouraged by how nice this car really was. The Overland engineers were great at their job. Overlands are REALLY GOOD cars!)  The closest comparison I could make was to my 1917 Reo roadster, which also was a very easy starter with the crank. I had electric start on it, but I actually enjoyed using the crank just for fun. The Overland 59 is one of the least likely cars to need an electric starter, unless you have back trouble, poor health, arthritis, or some other problem that suggests against crank starting. (Also, if you tour in all weather without hesitation. An electric starter is nice when it is raining on a tour, especially if your wife is not that cheerful about getting out and cranking for you.)

If you are an Overland Club member (WOKR- google them) it would be great to sign up with the club. They have all the factory blueprints, so that it is possible for you to get the actual factory drawings, and you could take them down to a place that prints blueprints and construction drawings, and have them printed out full size (just for the flywheel/chassis frame area, if you want to save some money) and do some doodling with a pencil to see what fits where. 

It may also be that someone perusing this post has done a starter on their car, or knows someone who has, and will pop up and post their information. They may even be able to tell you the ring gear and starter to use.  I would suggest a Ford Model T starting switch, as they can be mounted with just a small hole in your floorboard, attached to any available bracket under the floorboards, and the power cables go directly to the switch from the battery, and then from the switch to the starter electrical terminal. The Model T starter grounds directly to the frame of the car. So you actually only need ONE cable from the battery to the starter, and nothing else. It doesn't get much simpler than that. I would NOT use a Model T starter. There are many others that are much smaller and easier to mount, and have a Bendix built into them, so there is nothing of advantage in using a huge and clunky Model T starter.  But the "T" starter switch is excellent to use with any starter. 

I just went out and measured my Model 59 flywheel. It is 18" in diameter, and 3" wide. You could actually go slightly inside at the rear of the flywheel, as the cone clutch is tucked withing the outer OD of the flywheel itself.  If you look at your flywheel, you will understand what I am saying. So you basically could install a ring gear on the front face of the flywheel, or you could install a slightly smaller diameter ring gear on the rear face of the flywheel.

I will see if I can find the numbers for the people who can machine a flywheel and install a ring gear, and post them on here. I used to know several, but sometimes these old guys get even older and decide not to do the work anymore. 

Posted : December 29, 2022 10:09 pm
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Just did this process on my 12 Overland. I had the engine out of the car which made the process easier. We put the starter on the front of the flywheel (pointing reward in vehicle). We used a Flex-plate from a small block Chevy and cut the center out. Drilled and tapped the Overland flywheel and used the bolt pattern of the flex plate. We set the Overland Flywheel up in the mill and faced the surface to be sure it was flat.

As for the starter we used again a small block Chevy starter, we made a bracket to hold the starter and drilled and mounted it to the block web on the drivers side of the motor. These were slotted to allow for alignment. 

Kind of a simple explanation and the process was not to bad but again I had the engine on the bench, not working on it in the car. 

Ray Belf

Posted : January 13, 2023 2:59 pm
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06 (1)
Posted : January 13, 2023 3:04 pm
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This was EXACTLY the post I was looking for, and hoping would show up!  Have you considered doing an article for the WOKR newsletter about how you did this?  It is contributions like this that make the HCCA forums so valuable for the early automobile community!

Posted : January 13, 2023 3:59 pm
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Ray, thanks for that explanation. Now, if you can just stop by my garage and put one on my car. 😉 


Posted : January 13, 2023 4:18 pm