Several months ago, I was lucky enough to have an out-of-town Model T expert visit and help me repack my front bearings (Yes, I know I must sound like a real know-nothing to need help with something as simple as that, but that's sort of the point). While we had the car up on jack stands, he noticed enough play in the spindles to warrant new kingpins and bushings. Well, that wasn't real good news because my understanding is that there is one right way to do the job and several wrong ways, especially where a Model T newbie is concerned.
I was hoping to find a local mechanic to do the installation, but I get the feeling that there may be some arcane knowledge required that modern mechanics may not have.
In any case, I knew that the first order of business was to buy the parts, which I did.
Well, before I start thinking about driving the car some distance to a place that can do the job, I was wondering whether installing this stuff is really beyond the skills of a guy like me, who has no experience and little more than a set of socket wrenches. Who has done this job, what's involved, and is it better for a newbie like me to just farm it out?
The down side to replacing the bushings is that once the new bushings are in place they must be line reamed. Even if you get a good mechanic to press them out and in, he or she will probably not have the proper reamer to do the job right. It's not a hard job but you got to have a reamer with the guide.
You can do it. Give it a try, but get the tools for the job. A pilot reamer and facing reamer, costs some $ but as Henry Ford said “One of the greatest discoveries a man makes, one of his greatest surprises, is to find he can do what he was afraid he couldn’t”
Here are a few pics.
The job is shown in the Service Manual. Use a tap and drive it into the old kingpin bushing, and with a drift, drive it out. A press makes the insertion easy, but you can use a bushing driver tool, (cheap sets can be found) and hammer in the bushing.
This all assumes you have a work bench and a vice and hand tools
Fit the new bushings, then align ream the bushing with the reamer, take slow cuts. I use a cutting fluid for good work. Clean the flutes of the reamer as you go. Test fit each king pin bolt, add oil, test again, you want the action snug but free to turn, no wobble.
Then the fitting to the axle yoke is done with the face reamer. Remove material from the top and bottom bushings. The axle yoke steel faces should be smoothed, sometimes with a draw file. You don't want burrs or anything there on the steel faces that prevent the brass bushing face from fitting well.
With the face reamer, take a little off at a time, test fit, ream again, don't hurry, take a little off, as you can't replace the cut brass if you take off too much. Your goal is a snug if not a bit tight fit for the bushings. No wobble that way.
Should you mess up, just order more brass bushings and try again Before long you will be a shade tree Model T mechanic !
Bob, you need several different tools to rebuild the spindles. It is an easy job and can be done by anyone. Here's what you need:
Unfortunately the tools will run around $200. As with most T work, they make an otherwise impossible job easy. If you have a lathe I can provide the specs to turn the removal and installation tools but you would still need a large tap and the reamers.
Line ream or float in epoxy is your choice. As with all technicques, each has its advocates. There have been a number of threads discussing the issue.
The difficulty with line reaming is getting the reamed holes to line up perfectly. Those disparaging the epoxy method worry the epoxy won't hold up.
I have done both and I favor using epoxy. If you want to try it, give me a private email.
If you smooth the surfaces on the axle first and get a decent measurement you can face the bushing/bushings first to get a fit. If worst comes to worst you can always shim, on the bottom, with steel washers and forget about a facing reamer. You could even use a disc grinder if you have a good eye. I'd remove material from the bottom bushing only as that one is just taking up space anyway.
Any automotive shop, especially one that works on diesel engines, should have a reamer for the bushings.
There's no need to buy expensive tools you'll use only once.......
Bob -- Some of us buy the tools to do these tasks because we will be doing them over again on another car before long. If you're not in that camp, you can still do this job without buying a bunch of special tools. The split-end bushing driver sold by the vendors is great, but you can get them out by using a hacksaw to cut through the wall of the bushings and drive them out with a drift. You can take the spindles to someone who has a press to install the new ones, or you can tap them in with a hammer and block of wood, or use a large vise to squeeze them in. They will need to be reamed, so you can buy a reamer or borrow one, or take them to another T guy who has one, or to a machine shop. If you take them to a machine shop, take a new spindle bolt with you.
When sizing up the facing of the new bushings, first check to see that the top of the axle isn't hollowed out by wear. If it is, you can file it flat. It must be done perpendicular to the spindle bolt. Then see how the spindle with its new bushings fits into that opening. If it's too big, file the bottom face, as recommended above. If it's too small, add a washer(s) to the bottom to take up the slack. Check the threads on the bottom of the axle to see whether they're in good shape. If they're not, it might require the installation of a Heli-Coil. You might want to tackle that yourself, or maybe enlist the help of someone more experienced.
There are those who will say that you can't get all those faces right by hand-filing them, without a machine shop full of expensive equipment to do the job "right". But Model T's were repaired the way I've just described for many decades. It's not rocket science, it's a Model T.
Not sure if anyone pointed out that the bushings should not be excessively tight fit in the spindles or the spindles might crack. If they take huge huge amounts of effort to press in then they are possibly a tiny bit large.
Haven't run across too big an OD on bushings that would split the forged Ford spindle body....but anything could happen.
The bushing needs to be real tight.
On my last repair, had to replace "needle bearings" that were installed to "modernize" the Ford way...oh those old fashioned brass bushings...there has to be a better way....modern hardened needle bearings!
Ugh.....don't go for it.
Note the busted and worn needle bearings used in this spindle body.
The needle bearing had worn the kingpin shaft...hard to believe, but it did. And wobble developed leading to that fun old Ford Shimmy too!
Note how the king pin bolt is scored on the surface.
The steel facing washers used to gain the fit were worn down too. When the needle bearings are installed, the spindle body has to be shortened, or cut off some, so you get a loss in the overall height of the spindle body.
Fortunately the new bushings are oversize in height, so there was lots of brass left to allow a good fit in the to the axle yoke. Note the tiny amount of steel forging at the ends of the spindle body, but still good brass bushing flange at the top, where the load is carried.
But there was some wear to the bore of the spindle body, and the new bushings fit just a tad loose, so I used some Locktite there and a bit steel shim stock. Seems to be working.
But if shimmy comes back, will have to replace the entire spindle body, or spend some $$ at a shop to weld up the spindle bore up top and re drill. A replacement used spindle body is much cheaper.
Moral of this all.....don't modify Ford parts to install "modern marvels" of funky bearings....you just will end up with junk and more work.
Stick with the Ford way.....15 million T's have made that journey with Ford Parts
Dan, sometimes I wonder if the ones that didn't make it were scrapped because they had aftermarket junk installed and they wore out prematurely.
I've said many times that if all we had to get around today was Model T's, we'd get along just fine.
Bob, if you have a local chapther you could use them. We have done several of them on our Sunday mornings git together. The Longbeach club put's on - we call it the model T garage. We have done atleast four of em I think. That gave me the incentive to do mine. Plus they will probably have the tools needed. The Long Beach chapther even has tools for its members to use. Good luck with yours.
If you don't have a shop press or a big enough vise, you can squeeze in the new bushings with a piece of all thread. Run it through the bushings and the spindle, put washers and nuts on both ends, and as you tighten the nuts the bushings are pressed in.
If you don't plan to do this job again, I wouldn't spend a hundred bucks for a reamer. Just take the spindles and the new bolts to a good machine shop and let them do the reaming for a lot less.
Even if you do plan to do this again, it might be a good idea to let a machine shop do the reaming on this one, then haunt farm auctions and estate sales. You might get lucky and find a deal on some Ford reamers.
I have run into many bushings that were too big to press in, and had to turn them down. They WILL crack spindles--especially the early ones without the "bulge" on the ends (probably put there to reinforce this area because of splitting). A shop with a Sunnen honing machine should be able to do the bushing "reaming" and it'll be a really precise fit too.