I have a 1914 Touring that was nicely restored by someone else in the 1990's. I do not know if the person that did the restoration replaced the babbitt thrust washers with brass ones or not, and am a little paranoid that they did not. (Occasionally I hear noises, but I never know what is and isn't right for a T)
The axle is all pretty and finished and I hate to take it apart and scratch it all up if there was another way.
Is there a way to check without removing the rear axle and opening it up? Would a borescope through the plug be able to do it? Anyone have a borescope that is heading to OCF? If I just pull the prop without pulling the whole axle, can I see far enough in?
Joe, considering the location of the thrust washers, I don't think a flexible scope would be able to get to them. Short of an oil sample to detect babbit you will need to separate the halves to see what you have.
Previous discussions have generally concluded that there is really no good way to know without removing at least part of the rear end. I once commented that I had seen a Babbitt thrust washer that had some sort of brassy colorization to it (I have no idea why it was that way). Someone else (I don't recall offhand who) chimed in that they had also seen some like that.
Using a scope like you suggest MIGHT be able to tell you that the washers are in fact Babbitt, and may even tell you that they are ready to fail dangerously. A scope really cannot tell you for any certainty that they are bronze/brass and safe to use.
It is possible to remove the left side (USA driver's) housing while leaving most of the rear end in place, being able to inspect the washers under the car. A couple of points about this:
One, many people don't like the idea. It is believed that one should go just a bit further and inspect and adjust the pinion gear and bearings properly while you are at it. I have done this, and would seriously consider doing it again. That said, I also see their point, and it is a good one.
Two, if your '14 has the correct axle housings and bearings? Any correct pre-1920 rear end is considerably more tricky (read that as difficult) than its post 1919 counterpart. It has to do with how the pinion bearing is assembled onto the main housings.
Most important!!!! Safety! However you tackle the job? Under the car or clear out? BE SURE you have the chassis well blocked, supported, and stabilized! Nothing can ruin your day quite like yanking on a wrench and having the car slip and land on you!
Another point suggested by many. Once the task is done, and proper bronze washers safely fit and in place? Put a little brass tag on one of the pumpkin bolts with the message stamped onto it that the "washers are bronze", and maybe the date. It has been suggested to make it out of a model T coil point half (brass upper bridge). It is just the right size, and so is the hole in the long end. That could save someone else down the road tearing the thing apart again.
Drive carefully, and enjoy, W2
Thanks for the advice. The axle is the correct one for 1914, so I will have to do some reading on the tips and tricks.
At low speed, high load, I sometimes hear what I consider strange noises.
When backing up into my barn I go slow, but there is a threshold that I have to drive over. I sometimes hear an odd noise if I am stopped right at the threshold, then try to go over it.
Last night when loading in the trailer, I stalled on the ramp, and the car started to roll backwards so I put my foot on the brake with engine off and there was a clicking noise as the car came to a stop.
Jack up the rear end, put it on axle stands w/the wheels off the ground, try pulling the wheels in and out. If the wheels will move in and out any appreciable amount then it's time to disassemble the axle assembly for further investigation and/or repair.
Joe -- I think it's important to check it out, since you're hearing "strange noises" from that area. The consequences of a problem in the rear end are too severe to risk driving it until you know everything is OK back there.
Don't worry about scratching the paint on the rear end; paint is cheap and easy to apply.
If you have the original babbitt thrust washers and one comes apart as is a common thing, you will not have any brakes. The drive shaft will be disconnected from the rear axle, which will then freewheel. I am assuming you may not have aux brakes. Better be safe than sorry, the rear axle is not that big a deal to rebuild, then you will not worry about running into something and damaging that $1000 radiator or worse.
Might try scope it but then I doughty one can
But if they fail you got babbitt if not there brass
"If the wheels will move in and out any appreciable amount"
Ken, can you put a number on that amount?
My axle end play is about 0.010 to 0.015. Is that too much?
Don't make the decision based on end play!
When I pulled the rear end apart I found that pieces of the babbit had broken off and only about 1/3 was left.
I was minutes - hours- days from a complete failure.
Heed the warnings - better safe than sorry!
"My axle end play is about 0.010 to 0.015. Is that too much?"
If you're unfamiliar with the inards of that axle, I would say YES that's too much.
No end play at all is too much if you don't know what's in there.
Your cheapest thing is to pull the rear end and bite the bullet and split the rear end and hope someone before you changed them. That ounce of prevention is worth more and any pound of cure. So it cost's a few bucks, but in the long run it will be worth a heck of a lot more. Having to be hauled or or what ever else might happen. One supplier says $47.95 and a few gaskets and oil and time(labor of Love) and the improving the safety of the "T".
Just do it and you will be a "Happy Person".
clicking when using the brake rolling back could be the brake band bouncing on its spring. But having lost the brake many years ago due to original babbit washers, I would take it apart
If you remove the filler plug and look inside very carefully, towards the right side thrust washer, you can just see the edge of the washer. You can usually see if it's shiny brass/bronze or dull babbitt. BUT, there's no way to know what is on the left side, which is the most important, without disassembly.
Approx costs of rebuilding differential: Prices are from one or two year old catalogs.
I am finally on my computer instead of the iPad so I can post a picture of a "perfectly good" thrust washer showing minimum end play that was ready to kill me.
If in doubt - take it apart.
Obviously, the safest thing to do is some exploratory surgery. _Now, there are guys and gals on this forum who do their own babbitting and use things like turret-lathes, milling machines, welding outfits, riveting equipment, hydraulic presses, magnifluxers, etc., but I'm just a guy with an attached garage and a tool-box with a carry-handle. _Dismounting the rear leaf-spring and rear axle are jobs beyond my capability, so if it were me, I'd handle the problem two ways:
1.) Take an oil sample from the rear end and bring it to the local airport and have an aviation mechanic send it out for analysis. _If it comes back with a report that says there's no Babbitt in the oil, I'd take maybe one more sample the following year and, assuming the same result, forget about the whole thing. _If it came back with a report that said there was babbitt in the oil, I'd consider that inconclusive because engine oil can migrate down the drive-shaft housing to the differential, so I'd still have an unresolved problem to solve.
2.) If I had Rocky Mountain Brakes or some other kind of seriously effective wheel-mounted brakes, I'd be sorely tempted to take it on faith that the previous owner who restored the car had the good sense to use bronze instead of babbitt.
Now, I know this isn't really the correct way of looking at things, but it's probably the route I'd take.
Bob, you are underestimating yourself. I was able to drop my rear axle to check just using a piece of 2x4 wood, a floor jack, a couple of jack stands and a few hand tools that are most likely already in your toolbox and was able to do it in an afternoon and I am no great mechanic.
I don't want to hijack the thread, but I'm very interested in how you did that, so would you please describe the procedure of opening the differential in a new thread? I think this information would be valuable to everybody.
Don is correct Bob. That's all it takes.
Bob ; Here are some pictures, maybe these can help you.
It is a lot easier to work on when it out of the car but I did mine with it in place.
I just split the pumpkin and pulled the left side off.
Someone provided instructions and pictures a few years ago, but I can't find it just now.