I have been dealing with a noisy drivetrain for some time. I recently pulled the engine and dealt with some third and fourth main clearance issues. The engine is now operating perfectly but, there was still noise coming from the transmission. All was well during idle and cruise. Some noise under load but, especially a bit of a banging noise while braking. Today, my wife noticed I was about to miss a stop sign at a minor intersection. I jumped on the low gear and brake pedal and something let go resulting with a very loud banging noise. I only had two blocks to go to make it home and I made it but again, there was some banging under load and it was terrible during braking. I removed the inspection cover and saw nothing amiss. I jacked up the rear wheels, started the engine and tried it in low and high gear. Everything worked fine but, I could hear the gear slop when I turned the key off and on.
I'm guessing that the triple gear bushings are gone at the very least. Am I right that I will have to pull the engine right out of the car again? I am not looking for a high tech, expensive solution that results in perfection. I just want to get the car running decently as it was before as quickly and easily as possible. I will have to do all the work myself. Where do I start? Thanks.
Unless you have gone thru the rear axle, unjoint ie the drive line then probably the noise and banging is in The ring and pinion gears, busted thrust washers or other. Check that out first prior to pulling the engine.
Have you not replaced the ORIGINAL babbit thrust washers in the rearend with bronze?
No, I haven't done anything about the thrust washers yet. I keep hearing that it is very important to do so and am willing to start on it right away if that's what you think it is. I hope you guys are right as it sounds a lot cheaper and easier than dealing with the transmission. The rear end has always seemed perfectly smooth. I replaced the axle seals and fluid but, that's it. I just now did a test. With the rear jacked up, I rotated a wheel and the other side rotated the other direction as normal but, I didn't see any parts moving in the transmission even while in high gear. Is it a big job to open up the rear end? Except for a ring and pinion gear, I don't know my way around in there and at this point, I know nothing about this babbitt thrust washer. I'm not afraid to tackle it, I've rebuilt numerous engines in my time including my T. Any special tools needed? I do have a wheel puller. I assume I have to unbolt the universal ball cap and pull the entire rear end off the car? What about the leaf spring? Does it have to be removed? Any danger or hassle there? Do I simply unbolt the spring perches with the car jacked up? I already know how to unhook the brake rods. I have the Ford manual to help with any details. I just need some starting direction. Thanks so much for any help.
Here is helpful older post
Dave, rebuilding the rear axle is not a big deal. Once you it get it apart it will be very obvious how everything works and goes together, but be prepared to replace more than the thrust washers. Most model T rear axles are completely shot. On each side of the differential are 3 plates. Two made of steel which are held in place with pins to the inside of the rear axle housing and the other to the differential carrier. In between these steel washers is a babbit washer which takes the side thrust of the differential. With age these babbit washers get brittle and break apart. This allows the differential to move to the side which causes the ring and pinion to no longer mesh. When you get ready to remove the rear axle remove the 4 universal ball joint bolts and disconnect the brake rods. Then remove the rear wheels and partially run off the rear spring perch nuts on both sides. Now take off the shackle nuts and the plates and remove the shackles.
Simple test for bad thrust washers as you have the rear jacked up both rear wheels off the ground. Push hard then pull hard on the drivers rear wheel, if you feel lateral movement in-out, that is bad thrust washers that are allowing the ring and pinion mesh to be lost, skipping teeth will cause your driveline noise and symptoms.
Dave, also make sure that when you re-assemble the rear axle that the ring gear is inside the housing WITHOUT the oil hole. If it is put together backwards you will have two speeds reverse and one speed forward.
The easiest way I know of the remove the spring from the rear axle is as follows;
1. Support the back of the car with jack stands by the rear running board arms (if your car has the forged running board arms the tie bar at the bottom must be in place on these arms).
2. Support the rear axle so the spring shackles are about level.
3. Remove both rear wheels
4. Pull the cotter pins and loosen and back off the shackle nuts about evenly on both sides. It is very important to do both sides equally (kind of). As both nuts reach the end of their perch all the tension should be removed. It can help to place a suitable piece of wood between the end of the spring and the rear axle tube to keep everything nice and horizontal.
5. Assuming you have disconnected the brake rods and have a floor jack under the centre of the differential you can now roll it out from under the car once you disconnect the U joint. A second pair of hands can be useful!!
Re-installation; The trickiest part is getting the U joint back into the engine. Keep your FINGERS out of there. A long pointed pair of "vise grips" or a piece of haywire or perhaps needle nose pliers or even good strong string. It really helps to have a helper for this job (one that listens to you so maybe not your wife)!!!
Thanks for all the great responses. I may be the happiest person ever to have to do this job as I really dreaded the thought of having to remove the engine or transmission again. I did find some old postings on this subject and am now convinced my thrust bearing washer let go. It all makes sense especially considering how suddenly it happened. I jacked up the drivers wheel and was able to pull the wheel in and out about 1/8 inch. I might as well go in there and look for this washer anyway as it needs to be checked. Even if it was a transmission problem, I figure my season would be done anyway. Thanks again and I will be sure to post what I find.
You might want to thank your guardian angel who kept you safe while you drove a car with bad Babbitt bushings. Yes, it's that important.