I was talking to an old plumber friend of mine today and when I got up to leave I mentioned I was going to head to my place to media blast the front oil dam in my crankcase to prepare it for sealing. He asked me what I was going to seal it with and I said I was going to run some solder around it and then finish with JB Weld. Then his next question was what solder I was going to use and I told him a 40/60 or 50/50 or if I got feeling crazy, and for some strange reason got to where I really give a rip about the environment and every bodies health a 95/5. The next question was what steps I was going to use to prepare the surface. I told him I planned on media blast, liquid acid flux, apply heat and melt the solder into the "seam". Then because he felt I was obligated to give him even further details he asked me what I was going to heat with. I said my acetylene torch with a small tip or possibly my MAP gas torch. The conversation went on for a little while longer and then he asked me the one question I really couldn't and didn't want to try to answer. "What did Ford do back in the day?" Well I'd been tapped out by then, he could see sweat forming on my forehead and I was about to start making up a story involving the old furnace heated soldering irons and maybe lead or Babbitt or a blow torch and then rather then open my mouth and remain the expert any longer I looked at him swallowed hard and admitted I didn't know. But I quickly got back my composure and told him I better get going and we could talk about this some other time and look, is that a Rhinoceros in that Northern Minnesota hayfield over there? Before he could ask me "where?" I was out the door. But now, this guy is my neighbor, and I'm going to see him right away tomorrow morning and I know our conversation won't involve African wildlife and he's going to expect me "the expert" to tell him either some made up story like I actually know what I'm doing, or do the wildlife thing again or I could actually tell him "What Ford did" to seal the oil dam in the front of the crankcase in a Model T Ford. Help me please!
The Service book quotes, that the front wall is soldered in, that much you can tell him!
Mike, I'm interested in the correct answer to this, also; just out of curiosity. I can only say that from media blasting a pan, I only saw a lot of brass, and I mean a lot of brass. It looked like Ford hired Laurel and Hardy to do his brazing.
Well geez Frank, I thought I did. As a matter of fact I had just finished looking at the book before posting. The one thing I'm afraid he might ask me is how I'm going to control the heat and not warp the crankcase and have to restraighten it on the jig again and break the solder and have to re solder the dam then warp the crankcase and have to straighten again then... Crap, I just made myself dizzy.
Terry, I know! That's some of the sloppiest braising I've ever seen. I think Stan and Ollie were drunk when they did it.
Best action is to play dumb. Since he is the "expert" plumber, ask him how he would do it. Then sit back and relax. He may have some good pointers. One thing for sure, the dam takes more heat than the pan. Think of the dam as the fitting and pan as the pipe.
Doesn't it seem that Babbitt might've the "sealant" of choice? Though the amount of heat could be prohibitive. I know it's really hard to get solder to stick, but if you can get the steel "tinned" you could be home free. There again controlling the heat and not warping the crankcase can be rough. I wonder though if they held the crankcase in a fixture to restrict warpage from the heat if the manner they used would have made a difference. The crankcase would have to cool afterwards in a restricted state. Okay, I think I can start to put my story together. I need to get some sleep now.
Try silver solder. It flows at a low temp and covers well if you use the tinning juice. I did a ac hose end 2 years ago on a dodge oil burner and its holding so far. Scott
Except for melting out the solder in the dam, when I took off the front support with the rose bud, didn't look to be warped from all that heat and it's brazed on. I would think with soldering you would be using a lot less heat and in a smaller area.
I think he might be messing with me a little. He retired as a master plumber after 52 years in the trades. He's my close friend and he's 74 years old. He retired 3 years ago. And I'm pretty sure he's got some ideas, but he's always curious and truly wants to know how Henry did it. He's an interesting person. He went into the Army on his 17th birthday and became an airborne ranger. He traveled the world and jumped into several hot spots. He talks about being in Nicaragua and the Sinai as well as several other places. He carried a BAR and gets teary-eyed talking about it. He made it to the 9th grade in High School and gave it up. He's very intelligent. When we talk about sports, the military, politics and history his knowledge is astounding. He's very racist and I have to bite my tongue a lot but I'm certain there's no changing that part of him so I try to steer the conversation away from certain "hot" issues. He loves cars from the 40's and 50's and spent a lot of time playing around with custom work involving chopping tops, sectioning and channeling bodies and frenching in headlights and tail lights. He says he was the go to guy for anyone needing lead work done. And I think that's where his curiosity comes into play. He's a walking, talking atlas when it comes to the streets in the Twin Cities. But best of all he makes a good cup of coffee.
I don't really have a problem taking the solder/JB Weld route. As a matter of fact I think it's become the method of choice. I'm actually as curious as he is regarding hoe Henry did it.
Mike, try to soak up all of the knowledge from him that you can. Guys like that are getting harder and harder to find! I missed out on that too many times in the past. Dave
The front dam is sealed with babbitt. Every pan we rebuild, we have redone the babbitt, because they are always cracked a little.
After you melt the old babbitt out, sand blast the front( we do the hole Pan) as nothing sticks to dirt, retin with a liquid tinning fluid called Ruby red, NAPA stores carry it. We also use it in babbitting bearings, as nothing else comes close to working that well.
The brass that is sloped all over the pan, was put on by a big brush about 6 inches wide, dipped in a pot of liquid brass, and the way it looked, the bristles were made of metal.
Then the arms, snout, ect. were put on.
Don't worry about warping the pan, you can't get it that hot with out burning the tinning off.
The book "Ford Method and Ford Shops" has a good description and photos of the brazing work on the Model T engine pan. It shows the brazing process used and helps explain why so much brass is found on the engine pan.
This book can be found in the Model T Encyclopedia.
Ron the Coilman
Thanks Herm and Ron. I always figured they used Babbitt and that's what I'll tell him. I think I've learned how to spell brazing too. My friend mentioned Babbitt yesterday because of it's ability to " adhere" to the steel better. He also told me of an old plumbing practice called lead wiping. It involved my two favorite things; hot lead and asbestos cloth. He said it's nothing they do anymore. He would like to be involved with sealing the solder dam but it's warmed up a lot here in the North country and I don't want to put him in an uncomfortable environment. While I've spent years working with leaded stained glass using lead came and solder I've found working with automotive type soldering has a lot different set of requirements. Leaded windows have to hold out rain and snow at ambient temperatures. But soldering radiators and engine pans involves allowing for hotter applications. He mentioned silver solder too. But only briefly. Thanks for the information Herm. I'm going to bring up Ruby Red to him and see what his reaction is. Why is it all the old guys though treated like they know nothing have so much more good knowledge than the young guns with their college degrees? There no replacement for techniques developed through experience. I'm only 64 years old and retired with a lot of machining and metals knowledge but that seldom helps when it come to answering "How did Henry do it?"
I have never done this or seen it done, but I can imagine it. How about positioning the dam in place and holding it in place with some heat resistant molding clay on the front side, which will also seal the seam from the other side, then you could stand the pan it on its' nose, at a slight angle, heat the dam only at the seam, trying not to heat the pan as much so as not to distort it and flow the silver solder into the seam from the bottom up? Don't forget the flux. As for temperature control, I would keep the pan cooler by occasionally swabbing the outside of it, at the seam, with a wet rag. Jim Patrick
If the dam is tight in the pan, we paint the area with Glyptal. Same for all the rivets on the pan arms and other fittings. No heat involved, no leaks.