I had driven about 130 miles and was on my way home. I hear this strange clinking sound and slowed down to try and figure out what it was. I looked around and noticed the front spring clamp on the drivers side was rattling next to the perch and it looked like the spring was loose. A bit later on I hear a loud ring so I stopped the car. I removed the clamp and pulled out half a spring. I also notice the motometer was tilted to the left. I then drove slowly to see if I could drive because I was about 25 miles away from home. Then the short top spring falls on the roadway. It also was in 2 pieces.
AAA to the rescue. The tow truck driver was so excited. He had to take numerous pictures and he just said 'WOW' when I turned the crank to start the car. I guess they have a contest at work to see who gets to tow the best car. He thinks the Speedster is 10X better than his Dad's Stingray.
Now in the garage and need to start taking the front end apart. Bummer.
The good thing is you and your speedster made it safely home.
Dave Pic are to be posted later? LOL
It turns out the first three springs on top all broke in half. I guess I was going too fast over the bumpy highways. Gotta learn to slow down.
Seems strange that 3 wood break.
Wow, that must have been some pothole! That repair won't keep you off the road very long if you have another spring handy.
With the light weight of the speedster, I am surprised that three of the spring leaves broke all in the same trip. I suspect that the cracks had been growing over time and were out of sight and the results showed up during the single return trip.
If you have a chance please post some photos showing the cracks. I had the left front bumper iron on my 1931 Model A Ford break and the left side of the bumper dragged the ground. I was just driving normally on a paved two lane road at the time. I didn’t hit a pot hole etc. it just failed. But a quick look at the crack revealed it had been growing for a long time. I could see where the initial crack had started and then rusted, and you could see were it kept growing over time and rusting. It looked like little waves kept growing and then rusting until the final 1/2 inch or so was bright metal and failed all at the same time. That last failure was when it reached the critical crack length and it was still being subjected to stress (primarily a combination of the vibration from the engine running and also the car driving).
Do you remember if you took the spring apart and cleaned it up and examined the individual leaves? Or if it was already assembled and you installed it without the benefit of looking at the individual cleaned leaves for cracks etc?
And did they all break in the same spot and if so where -- the bolt hole or other?
As you repair the car, please let us know what you find. I.e. were any of the spring shackles frozen etc. Was the pad between the front spring and the frame installed and still in good shape? Were any of the failed spring leaves Ford script? Do you know if the spring was original Ford or after market (most of us would not unless the leaves were stamped with Ford. We would guess they were original – but we probably wouldn’t know unless they were a shape Ford did not use etc.)
Did the car have any squirrely steering issues?
I’m glad you made it home safely and hope you get the car back on the road to enjoy the rest of the good weather before the snow etc. starts.
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Nothing quite like good old metal fatigue to ruin your day. Glad it didn't turn out something far more serious and no one ended up injured.
Good job Dave. I have seen many serious accidents resulting from people not paying attention to uncommon noises coming from their car!
I look at the way it is mounted on every speedster I always use the doublextra u bolt on the front spring
Please share a few pictures glad your safe
Jerry, I forgot you need visuals. I should have remembered that from this summer.
I took this spring apart this last winter. Cleaned off all the grease etc and repainted it with Slip paint. I never looked for cracks. I did 2 springs, so I do not remember if all the leaves were Ford leaves. I would hazard to guess that they were.
The pad is still in place. The shackles are free and loose. Steering was not a problem even after I lost half a leaf.
In the picture of the leaves, the two top leaves are from spring #3. The third leaf is spring #2, and the fourth leaf is spring #1. I assume spring #1 failed due to the stress put on it after the two springs below it failed.
Those of you with metal experience, feel free to chime in on the breaks.
Apparently it was "on the way out" looking at the 3 with partial rust.
Thank you for posting the photos. Would you please confirm (or correct if I misunderstood) that I have the spring leaves that you are holding labeled correctly.
Also please confirm which side of the spring in the photo below is the upper surface of the spring leaves. I would guess the clean recent break is on top – but I don’t want to guess wrong when you can look at the leaf and say “sure that’s right” or “no, that’s wrong.”
If the new break is at the top of the spring (I would guess it is) then I would suspect that you would not have seen the crack unless you flexed the spring some after you cleaned it up. I.e. the spring held the crack together when it was not supporting the weight of the car etc. And perhaps it only was visible when it hit a bump etc.?
Have many other folks have found similar cracking on the front spring leaves – across the bolt hole?
Thanks for any clarification or help you can provide. I’m trying to figure out if that is an area we should look at a little more closely when we are rebuilding the springs etc. Clearly leaf 2 & 3 had been cracked for a while -- long enough for some rust etc. and the crack was growing over time as shown by the different colors on what I believe is your leaf 2 below:
Looks like you are well on the way to having it repaired/replaced.
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I say it was already cracked
You are correct -- the spring leaves with the rust areas showing were cracked long enough for some good rust to develop. I think in some cases, like my Model A -- the crack had been rusting for years. In the photos above you can see the different color metal. The really bright metal was the last crack -- it failed at that time. But the darker but still metallic color was another crack propagation and the still darker would have been the one before that. Not years earlier or there would have most likely been rust -- but earlier enough that it wasn't the same color as the last break.
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Why is your drag link bent? Is it a result of the spring letting go? If that's a stock model T drag link and is bent like that, please don't reuse it without straightening and checking for cracks.
Yes Hap. You are correct on all counts. The top half of the springs was fine and the rust is on the bottom. And you have the springs in the correct order.
Thank you for clarifying that. And if others have seen similar cracks/failures in the front springs please let us know.
And is there an easy way to check for the cracks?
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As Hap mentioned, you need one of these if you do not have one.
Often overlooked and the biggest cause of a broken top leaf.
I prefer the rubber pad as if the leather get wet it helps the rust to start
I have removed a few leaves to lower and lighten speedster and worried I might be stressing the spring but seems be ok I'm worried my Tt has a 6 leaf from spring but fits the channel so I left it in for now
The story / repair continues at: http://www.mtfca.com/discus/messages/506218/569188.html?1441719779
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Hap, a simple "old school" test for cracks in about anything, is to clean it very well with wire brush or laquer thinner or glass bead the part. Try to get it clean to bare metal and as grease free as possible. Then spray or soak the part with diesel fuel in any areas you suspect cracks or are just wanting to check. Let it soak at least 5 to 10 minutes. Then take a clean rag soaked in laquer thinner and wipe the part clean. Do not use a dripping wet rag, just a wet/damp rag. The object is to get the surface of the metal clean again, but not "wash" anything from a crack.. As soon as the part is dry from the damp rag cleaning, dust it with flour. After dusting it, lightly blow the flower away, using your mouth to blow it away or a very light air hose pressure. The part should still have a very light dusting of flour on it when done. Then let it "develop". The oil will creep" out of any crack and the flour dust will show it. That is the 'old school" way of doing a "dye test" You can buy a kit of cleaner, penetrant, and developer in spray cans but the old school way will also work ... If you put red food coloring in the diesel, it will be easier to see the crack ... We used dye check on most of our welds while I was a Boilermaker to check for cracks, pin holes, ect. Donnie Brown ...
Or use dye penetrant like the welding houses sell. It's a 3 step process and very easy to do.
I'm still wondering if others have seen or have had similar spring failures. I have not, but I have only seen a very few front springs. (And for that matter -- most of the springs I have seen are still together so there is a good chance that a crack like the one Dave's spring had would not be visible unless I took the spring apart.)
Donnie -- that is a good alternative if the other is not readily available.
Michael -- it was nice when I was in school and we could bring things in and use the school's shop to sand blast and use their dye penetrant to "show and tell" for a class etc. on a part you wanted to check.
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About 30 years ago I worked for the Owatonna Tool Company. I was lucky enough to spend a week in Chicago on their dime at the Magna-flux corporate classroom learning Magnetic Particle Inspection (both dry and wet method) and Dye Penetrant Inspection. After returning to Owatonna I spent a couple years working with the Quality Assurance Department verifying the quality of the materials they brought in. That in turn brought me into the heat treating area and the metallurgy lab. Though I'd never be foolish enough to claim to be a metals or materials expert, I have to admit it's served me well through my life. It's just an opinion but I believe anyone who works with metals and might have concerns about the integrity or soundness of the materials they're working with could really benefit by learning some nondestructive testing methods such as Dye Penetrant. It's not that difficult to do and can save you from a lot of grief. I'm really impressed with Donnie's description for a home recipe for doing it. I'll be giving it a try on a couple old model t heads I've got laying around.
In my experience, with dealing with many types of vehicles over the last fifty years, when a spring breaks in the center hole, it is USUALLY, but not always, caused by the spring clamps being loose. Other factors, such as rust, age, and overloading can also contribute to a failure. JMHO Dave
I have, and have used, dye penetrant testing, as well as mag light and particle tests for years. It is really nice to be able to test things you suspect a crack in. The store bought dye test kits can be bought on e-bay, or online welding supplies, or even local welding supplies. It is very simple to do, and is relatively cheap, and would be a very good item for most of the T restorers to have in the shop. The old school test I mentioned was taught to me by my Dad. He was also a old Boilermaker. That is the way they did it before the modern fancy aerosol cans of cleaner/penetrant/developer came on the market. There have been a few times on a repair outage at some power plant or paper mill that we needed to test something and we could not get a NDE test (non destructive evaluation) because it was a holiday. The plants usually had a cafeteria. We had diesel, the plant usually had laquer thinner, and we would "borrow" a cup of flour from the cafeteria. It would work and we had "our test" and the management of the plant (usually younger than us) would brag and marvel at the "tricks" of the old dinasaures....