I am doing a bunch of rear end work on my 1914 runabout (Ruckstell, Sure-Stop brakes, and floating hubs), and everything inside the brake drum hits everything else when putting it back together. My conclusion after much deliberation is that much of the problem is most likely worn wheel hubs. I will be getting new wire wheels with new hubs, but until they are finished, I am planning to use axle shims to take up the slack.
There seems to be some disagreement about axle shims:
1) Are they any good?
2) How many to use to gain a particular amount to spacing?
Your comments appreciated.
Jon -- Shims will work in your situation. Don't use more than one per side. You can make them from lacquer thinner cans (.010") or soup cans (thicker) to get the right thickness. Don't forget to re-torque the axle nuts after a few miles, since the hubs will loosen up as they settle in.
Many use them so they can't be all bad. Be careful when fitting them, though.
You can copy the shape of the vendor's shims on thicker material if you need more spacing. Stacking several shims in one hub is never a good idea.
Recheck tightness of the axle nut after some driving. Then check again until it doesn't move when applying 100 lbft torque.
Get a pack of steel shim stock and tin snips.
Shimming is part of Model T's, but don't try to shim a severely worn hub. Replacement is always best.
Here's two ads from a trade journal of the day for pre-made rear axle shim's. You can still buy these pre-made today from the parts vendors.
I might add that I only plan to use the shims for about a year (maybe 500 miles of driving) - until wire wheels and new hubs arrive.
I have, sitting on the bench, 6 new shims from Lang's. I was planning on stacking maybe two if necessary. One thought (from Don Lang if I can argue from authority!) is to use Loctite (sparingly!). I was thinking of locking the 2 shims together and locking the inside shim on the axle. This would hold them in place and prevent slipping when putting on the cumbersome, heavy wheels. The wheels are now MUCH heavier and cumbersome having Sure-Stop brake drums and floating hubs attached. The floating hub has to be lined up exactly before it will slide into the axle housing. This takes patience and about half an hour of struggling with the wheel before you are lucky enough to get it lined up. So the problem is to prevent scooting the axle shims all over the place while doing this.
Dan and Jay,
Thanks. I did not know that various thicknesses were available. That would definitely be preferable to stacking.
I will check into getting a pack of different thicknesses.
Yes, new hubs are my preference by far over shims. It is just that I am getting new wheels and hubs soon, and so the shims are just a temporary fix. Where can I get the shim material or preferably a shim kit for a Model T with different thicknesses already cut? Is there such a thing?
Here's a link to a recent thread w/a pattern for the shim:
A set of shims are a "must carry" for me in my spare parts kit. A few years ago I had installed some Rocky Mountain brakes on my 1923 Touring before touring in Europe. While on a lonely road in Holland I started to smell wood burning. Thought is was local farmers burning brush. Smell persisted for many KMs so finally pulled off to take a look/smell. Wooden spokes were rubbing against the R/Ms. Well, after much thought and some pils (also a must have in spares kit) pulled the rear wheel, put on a shim (maybe it was 2 - no that was the pils). Saved my cookies. There was not a soul around. Drove another 1000 KMs without a problem.
Get a shim pack from any good nut and bolt supply house, or if you are hampered by buying locally, then order from many sources on-line. A pack of shim stock is necessary in the T garage
A T isn't a T unless its shimed somewhere!
While having perfect original parts would be preferable, a single axle steel shim (in each side if needed) is fine. Do not use brass shims in this location. Brass can work down and make the hub loose (a very bad thing if you are not aware it is loose). Brass can also allow the hub to be over-tightened and nearly impossible to get off (also a bad thing).
You have good shims. Fine. For others that may need some, I make shims out of spray paint can steel. It is thin, tough, and cuts to shape easily. I make a pattern by rolling and hand squeezing a piece of paper around the axle.
Drive carefully, and enjoy, W2
Jon, the difficulty fitting/aligning the floating hubs is all the more reason to use only one shim, of the desired thickness, on each side.
Hope this helps.
Allan from down under.
Getting one or two shims AND the woodruff key properly seated while mounting a wheel can be very difficult. The shims themselves are very thin and will fold and crumple very easily, almost like aluminum foil. Also, the weight of the wheel with a tire mounted makes it very hard to control, so if the tire isn't mounted yet, save that for later.
I found that this stuff: artist's spray-mount, makes a difficult job much easier. In fact, I don't know how I would have done the job without it.
Besides getting the spray can, you also want to order several more shims than you actually plan to use, because if you're like me, you may accidentally crumple up a few. They're not expensive, so get plenty.
Clean the oil and grease off the axle, keyway and the inside of the wheel hub. Place the woodruff key in the axle (right-side-up this time). Hopefully, it fits tightly enough that you need to tap it into place with a wooden drift.
Lightly (lightly!) spray the outside of one shim with spray-mount, let it dry and stick it inside the wheel—and of course, don't let the shim cover any part of the keyway in the wheel hub. The tackiness of the spray mount will help keep it where it belongs.
Carefully fit the wheel to the axle so that the key and keyway lines up. As you do this, check that the shim hasn't shifted in the wheel. If it hasn't, put the castle-nut on and tighten the living daylights out of it so the shim is squeezed hard and becomes firmly glued to the inside of the wheel hub. Give it time for the spray mount to thoroughly adhere and dry.
If you needed a shim in the first place, one probably won't be enough. After having allowed enough time for the spray mount to set, lightly (lightly!) spray the outside of another shim and set it aside to dry. Pull the wheel off. Stick the tacky shim inside the shim that is already glued into the inside of the wheel and make sure it doesn't cover any part of the keyway. The idea is to glue one shim to the other.
Again, carefully fit the wheel to the axle so that the key and keyway lines up. As you do this, check that the shim hasn't shifted in the wheel. If it hasn't, put the castle-nut back on, tighten it down hard and allow sufficient time for the spray mount to thoroughly adhere and dry.
Once you've done that, the shims will have become attached semi-permanently. You can now pull the wheel and the shims will stay exactly where they're supposed to when you remove and remount the wheel to the axle.
By the way, two shims are supposed to be the allowable maximum, but I wouldn't hesitate to "glue in" a third one if needed, because once laminated together, two (or three) become one. HOWEVER, if shims are indeed available in a variety of thicknesses as alleged, it certainly would make a whole lot more sense to use only one shim of the correct thickness.
Artist's spray-mount is flexible and not particularly strong unless it covers a wide enough area, which in this case, it does. You don't have to worry about it shifting for three reasons:
1.) Once the wheel is mounted, the woodruff key is a physical barrier that holds the shims in place.
2.) When you tighten that castle-nut down as hard as you're supposed to, ain't nuthin' gonna move anywhere——spray-mount or not. Remember, the spray-mount is only there to hold things in place while you're mounting the wheel (and for any time in the future that you need to pull and re-mount the wheel).
3.) Even if I'm wrong about reasons 1 and 2 (which I'm not), I've been using this method for years, have pulled the wheels several times to mount tires, and for whatever mysterious reason, absolutely no shifting of shims has ever occurred.
By the way, if, for some reason, you ever do want to remove the shims from the hub (like you no longer need them because you just installed longer axles), you can dissolve the glue by soaking a hunk of rag in rubber cement thinner and stuffing it in the wheel hub. The thinner will soak in through the keyway by capillary action and you can hurry it along with an X-acto knife. Peel the shims out with a pair of long-nose pliers (or use your bare fingers if you happen to enjoy the feel of rubber cement thinner on fresh lacerations). Then all you'll need to do is soak a corner of a rag in rubber cement thinner and wipe the little bit of residual gook out of the hub.
Forget sleeve-adhesive or anything like that. Artist's spray-mount is absolutely the best stuff to use for this job (and this is one of the few times the know-nothing newbie actually knows what he's talking about, having spent 30 years as a commercial artist).
Having said all this, shims are NOT the ideal way of handling a situation better solved by installing a new hub in place of a worn hub, or axles that are 1/8th” longer than Ford’s standard (to accommodate Rocky Mountain Brakes). I’m using shims for now and accepting a certain amount of wheel wobble that may or may not have anything to do with the shims. Hey, I figure all Model T rear wheels wobble at least a little, right?
Jon -- Jay's ad for shims from "back in the day" showed two thicknesses of shims, 5 and 10 thou. There is only one thickness available now, and I believe they must be 5 thou, because they are too thin to do much good. As I mentioned earlier, paint thinner cans are 10 thou; soup cans are more. And at a price even "Mr. Thrifty" can approve.
No sticker shock with shim stock! (Say that 3 times, right?)
I noticed you said that you intend replacing the hubs when you get your wire wheels, but what about the axles?
If the hubs have worn then so have the axles, if the axle is no longer its proper profile mating it with a new hub that is will leave you with a combination that does not have full contact in the length of the taper.
If either hub or axle are worn then you can not get a true tight fit. Adding a shim makes the wheel fit tight without the hub touching things but the amount of contact may be small and even though you have tightened the nut up will not prevent the hub and axle working as the area actually in contact may small, so eventually it becomes loose.
Bailey Rettig's experience shows this. His wheel worked until it began to rub on the RM brakes, so the original fixing of the axle to clear the RM brakes eventually failed.
If you are prepared to spend money on improved brakes and then wire wheels why not go the extra bit and fit hubs and axles which are both in proper condition. Then when they are assembled and tightened it will be impossible for any working to take place between the two parts.
Lang's has new axles for $99.95/ea, part #2505. These are the standard length ones, not the longer ones. Good used axles are nearly non-existent.
Coffee tin lids make great shims. Tastes better than what Steve makes them from. After nearly nine years driving with them, I have bought n.o.s hubs and really good axles, but the shims are fine. Use a new one each time you have the wheel off.
BTW, while searching for the part number for the axles, I noticed that the vendor-supplied axle shims are 5 thou thickness. Being that thin, they really don't do much. Make your own.
If there isn't a lot of wear an overall .010" makes a big difference on a taper.
I have stacked two shims.......no problem.
Jon's Ruckstell is new from U Joint to Axle nuts. New axles, every sleeve, close to NOS inner bearings, new ring and pinion, Fun Projects pinion bearing, etc. The only things used on it are the housings, the driveshaft tube and the radius rods. I did the Ruckstell last December and installed the safety hubs. His issues are with his original 1914 hubs and the disk brakes, not worn axles.
I haven't installed a set of the disk brakes but I believe one of the problems with the installation is that the drums are about 1/4 inch deeper than the originals. The original drums did not cover the backing plates. In order to get the rotors for the disk brakes in as far as possible the new brakes have the brake drum designed to cover the backing plates. Also, the welds to attach the rotor to the drums are not machined so any excess weld tends to rub on the backing plate.
Stan is right. He rebuilt this rear end from front to rear, so I am certain that it is Ok.
The things that I have had trouble with are the floating hubs and Sure-Stop disc brakes. This is not to imply that they are a bad idea. I obviously think they are worth both the money and the trouble (with apologies to the more traditional restorers.) The troubles that I have had are just symptomatic of trying to install several independently produced kits on a 100-year old car. These kits are made by independent individuals rather than an integrated team of engineers. (Score one for the traditional restorers!) So, it should not be surprising when a part from one kit collides with a part from another kit.
My conclusion after much philosophical debate:
If you don't like these kinds of problems, you shouldn't work on old cars!
By-the-way part of the reason that the Sure-Stop drum is hitting the axle housing end plate is that the welds on the inside of Sure Stops are sloppy. Combined with this is the simple fact (which took me a while to see) that the original 1914 brake drum is 1 1/8" deep while the Sure-Stop drum is 1 3/4" deep! That large difference means that the Sure-Stop drum has to fit OVER the axle housing end plate. On the left side of my car this caused the wheel to lock-up completely when the axle nut was tightened down! I think the solution will be to grind off the sloppy welds around the Sure-Stop drum so they do not hit the end plate when sliding over it. I have yet to try this, but I will let you know if it works. I may also grind off the edges of the end plate just a little.
This information is important because it means that worn hubs are not the problem. And shims are unlikely to fix anything.
Under normal drum installation, what is an ideal gap between the brake drum and the axle housing backing plate? Am I assuming correctly that the drum is not intended to overlap this backing plate?
William -- Yes, you are correct, the drum should not overlap the backing plate. The inner edge of the drum should be even with the outer face of the backing plate.