Speedometer cable assembly - its easy right?

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Model T Ford Forum: Forum 2014: Speedometer cable assembly - its easy right?
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Royce in Dallas TX on Wednesday, January 01, 2014 - 07:49 pm:

Well not exactly.

I've done this a number of times and decided to try to capture the process so others can benefit from my experience.

I bought the kit from Langs, but all the vendors carry the same items so don't make this seem to be about Langs or anyone in particular. The kit costs about $150 plus shipping. You buy a cable housing which is brass, and the cable kit which is basically a bicycle speedometer cable with ends that fit Model T speedometers and speedometer swivels. In theory.

I ordered the "Ford Special" kits in 60" length. I planned to cut the cable to the appropriate length, because from my experience the proper cable for a Ford Special is longer than 48" and shorter than 60".

The first thing I did was install the cable and mark where it needed to be cut. I ended up cutting 10" off.

Cable connected at top:


Marking the cable at the bottom with a grease pencil:


Cutting off the cable with an abrasive wheel in the high speed die grinder:


After that you need to heat up the end of the cable that connects to the speedo drive using a torch and pull it off the cut cable. Unfortunately the vendor had installed the wrong nut on that end, it was the wrong size for a Ford Special drive, so I had to cut off the flared end of the cable to remove the incorrect nut.

I had a speedometer cable from a 1928 Model A / AR laying around. The nut on the speedometer end fit the T special drive, so I cannibalized it and threw the rest away. The nut had to be reamed to fit the repro speedo drive housing. Then I swaged a new flare on the end of the cable end using a ball peen hammer to form the flare:





When you solder brass you need utter perfection in the cleanliness department. I used my belt sander to remove all traces of polish from the cable housing:


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Royce in Dallas TX on Wednesday, January 01, 2014 - 07:56 pm:

Then the inside of the cable end needed to be ground with a rotary file to remove excess solder and make a perfectly clean surface.


All surfaces that solder is to adhere to must be sanded or filed, then coated with flux. Solder will only stick to surfaces that are properly prepared and fluxed:


The housing is tinned with solder:


Then it is cooled in a bucket of water, sanded, and coated with flux again before inserting it in the end fitting. Heating the end fitting melts the solder to attache the two parts:


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Royce in Dallas TX on Wednesday, January 01, 2014 - 08:09 pm:

The inner cable has a bushing that gets soldered into the top cable end fitting. Here's a picture of the bushing showing how the cable end rides in the bushing. The bushing needs to be soldered into the cable fitting so that the end is supported securely at the speedometer connection. Sorry pictures of it being soldered in place were not worth posting:


The cable is soaked in oil, then inserted. Grease the fitting at the top before installation:


I reinstalled the cable housing to the car for final fitting of the core housing. After marking the core housing it is cut off with an abrasive wheel in the high speed grinder. Note - pull out the cable before cutting:


The assembly is fitted one last time to get a proper length for the core cable:


The core cable is cut to the mark using the high speed grinder and abrasive wheel:


The end of the core is crimped in place using the vice:


The cable is installed for the last time. Note the awesome Russ Furstnow restored Ford Special Standard Thermometer brand speedometer:



Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Jack Daron - Brownsburg IN on Wednesday, January 01, 2014 - 09:10 pm:

Good post Royce,I have one to do also.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Royce in Dallas TX on Thursday, January 02, 2014 - 09:42 am:

This is the second time I have bought the "T Special" cable and received a housing with one end having a Ford Special upper nut and the other being a Stewart upper nut, a combination that won't work on anything. If anyone plans to do this be sure you have time to re - order to get the right stuff.

I may just order the uninstalled ends and the bulk cable housing next time in hopes that I might get the right things.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Bill Gall on Thursday, January 02, 2014 - 10:44 am:

Awesome post Royce, thanks!


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Steve Tomaso - Milton,WA on Thursday, January 02, 2014 - 12:55 pm:

Great tutorial, Royce - getting up there with Steve J. !


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Val Soupios on Thursday, January 02, 2014 - 06:02 pm:

The Stewart chain system has a clutch set up that I assume deals with the issue of the cable when baking up. What keeps the cable from getting kinked when you are backing up on your set up and the repro set up the dealers sell for the Stewart housing?


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Royce in Dallas TX on Thursday, January 02, 2014 - 06:44 pm:

Val,

I guess I don't know. I use the original chain links for Stewart speedometers. I don't know of any clutch setup in the chain drive system - maybe it is inside the Stewart speedometer head? I've never had much luck using this sort of speedometer cable with a Stewart speedometer using the 2 1/2 to one drive swivel.

This is a Standard speedometer. The drive is a Johns Manville, it has JM Co cast into the bracket. There were Stewart "Ford Special" speedometers too but I've never tried using one.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Clayton Swanson on Thursday, January 02, 2014 - 08:23 pm:

i will be shopping for a speedo for my 14 sometime soon, i see in bruces book many brands of ford specials, and perhaps others i forget, but is there any to stay away from, or any that have better chance of working?


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Val Soupios on Thursday, January 02, 2014 - 08:55 pm:

Royce, On the Stewart set up the last piece on the chain at the bottom of the cable that makes contact with the swivel slides up and down and I think it is there to take up the slack in the chain when backing up. There is no comparable piece on the repro Steward cable and housing and it looks like there is nothing like it on the set up you are using. It may be that it is not necessary because the cable has no slack when it changes direction but I am still trying to find out what happens in the speedometer head when the cable reverses. For what it's worth I have been lucky so far with the chain set ups on all my T's with Stewart set ups.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Mike Walker, NW AR on Friday, January 03, 2014 - 10:56 am:

Clayton -- Russ Furstnow, the speedometer guy, told me that the Jones brand of Ford Special speedometer was much better-made than the others. Russ' speedo book it worth the price if you want to study up on them. And it shows all the parts you'll need to acquire in order to assemble a complete speedo setup. A complete restored setup was out of my price range, but by using Russ' book I was able to find all the parts to put one together.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Larry Smith on Friday, January 03, 2014 - 11:29 am:

I admire the job you did Royce, but I'm surprised you didn't use an original speedometer cable, which is steel. I agree with what Mike says above, that the Jones is the best, although I ran a Johns Manville for years, and never had any problems with it. As far as a standard Stewart chain link system goes, they are perfect. I have them in all three of my T's, but you have to have all the correct parts, in the proper order.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Royce in Dallas TX on Friday, January 03, 2014 - 02:12 pm:

Larry,

As soon as I find an original Ford Special speedometer cable I will use it. I find that original stuff always works better than reproduction stuff.

I have Sears Cross, Johns Manville, and a couple of the Standard Thermometer speedometers to choose from. I think the Sears Cross is the easiest to read with its white face and long sweep. All of them seem to work great when Russ fixes them.


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