Need some advice - I've started the process of taking apart my front end in order to rebuilt it, and I need to replace the steering gear caps (they are pretty worn)as well as the radius rod cap. I could either put bronze or steel replacement caps on like the originals, or use an Apco spring loaded type. I see the benefit of using these Apco's - does anyone have any negative comments about them?
No negative comments here! I have the Apco kit on both the wishbone and the drag link. I think they are great and that they work well.
Same here, I put Apco all around my 1919 and love them, Big improvement in handling.
Both the coupe and fordor have Apcos on the wishbone ball and on both ends of the drag link. They really remove a lot of play and make adjustment very easy.
No problems with the APCO caps. I use them on all my cars. I have seen a few installed way back then , that did not have the little cup in it, just the spring. The spring wore a spot on the ball but the APCO cap still functioned well even with parts missing. Just make sure to install the spring and the small cup inside and you will have no problems ....
The Apco ball caps do work well.
An Apco makes it work when the ball isn't round anymore. If your ball end still is round or very close to round you can try shim it first since the spring pressure in the Apco may wear the ball faster than the usual cap with shims?
(..Can't find the cupped shims at the vendors online?)
I've also heard these work well when the balls aren't round anymore. They'll make a worn out drag link work like new again, but the better fix would be to replace the drag link.
Roger, could you make your own shims? I bet a ballpeen hammer, a socket of the right diameter, and some slices of a Coke (or Pepsi, if you prefer) can would get the job done.
Hey Bill - it's not mine but it sure looks like the answer is a resounding "Get the Apco caps!" They're period correct and make a lot of sense. Plus, nobody has had anything bad to say about them.
Yep, the ball together with the cup shape in the drag link makes a tool that can shape any copper coin to work as a shim, it was just for illustration purposes I wanted to link to the already shaped alternatives from the vendors
Here's a link to the shims:
APCO works well. The shims sold by the vendors (shown in the photo above) do work but are very thin which can cause problems if you have a lot of wear; copper coin is a better choice if have no money for an APCO.
Isn't the Ford cap spring loaded as well?
Dan B, no spring in Ford caps...Henry wanted his cars as affordable as possible.
Lots of luck finding a copper penny in your change these days! They've all been sent to China to come back to America as sub-standard Chinese products. Just something to think about the next time your shopping at Harbor Freight!
Thanks, everyone, for all the great advice - sounds like I will be buying Apco caps!
I am using the shims and am pretty happy with the results although they have not been in long.
Interesting...I must have APCO's and didn't even realize it.
1. I love the APCO caps because they work, are period correct, and allow you to add grease and re-tighten the spring pressure just by taking out the single plug, adding fresh grease, fingers over the cotter holes, thread in the plug till tight, new cotter or safety wire.
2. I don't see the need for this device on wishbone ball cap as it is already spring loaded.
Erich. I think there is a difference in the function of the springs. The Ford style cap is meant to fit around the ball and have little to no play in the socket. and little to no gap where the cap and the pan part of the wishbone socket joint is (I forget the name of the part on the pan) The Ford springs are meant to let the cap move a little in case of a hard jolt or twisting. On the Ford style parts the ball and socket need to fit well. The Apco parts are meant to take up the slack of a worn ball in a worn socket. The whole assembly is still protected from hard jolts and twists with the original Ford springs. The Apco parts are meant to stop the ratteling of a worn ball in a worn socket. At least that is my opinion on the function of the Apco parts. If Im wrong feel free to correct me.
Donnie: You've got it right, as far as I've understood
Aahhh, that makes sense. I guess I have not worked with a wishbone socket that is worn to that degree (never had one that rattled).
I have an original on the wishbone, no issues with it. I can't remember without going out to look if I have them on both ends of my drag link. If I do, guess they work so well I haven't even giving them a thought.
Are Apco caps available from vendors ?
There were in back order two weeks ago and for 3 months with my favorite vendor.
I do find it is a good idea to check them at least once a year for tightness. Especially if new cup or other parts are in use as they will tend to "wear in" that first year. As with any moving parts on T suspension, dirt and grit may get into these. What was plenty tight last year, may be a bit loose now. I tend to think these should be run with max spring tension dialed in for flexibility, but no looseness. Plus this gives a good chance to re-grease as I described above.
I started making the reproduction castings as well as the machining for the radius ball cap back in 2005 for Frank Fenton and now Lang's has taken over the business and I still make the part. My late partner also replaced worn radius balls by machining down the old ball and the radius rod which then threaded and then drilled and tapped a steel ball bearing of correct diameter as the original radius ball that was then threaded on and welded at the ends to make them secure. I believe these were done for Bill Barth. Bob
I've had some original balls built up with a wire feed welder and then ground down to the correct size. A large washer with the correct inside diameter was used as a gauge to ensure proper size and uniform roundness during the grinding process - much easier than using a micrometer.