Headed out this AM on errands in the 24 Speedster and as I threw the hand lever forward and pressed down the low pedal to pull away from a light, there was a faint clunk felt and heard and all of a sudden no connection between the engine and rear wheels — like I had broken an axle or driveshaft. No grinding noises or any bad mechanical sounds, just no connection (except in reverse I could hear the gears whirring but still no movement of the car).
A passerby and I pushed the car into an alley and I called the auto club.
Whilst waiting on the tow truck I wanted to do a bit of diagnosis and exploration. The hand lever was forward when I started the engine — which should have made no difference — and the car jerked! Started it with the hand lever pulled back and was astonished to all normal pedal functions had returned.
Everything seemed fine, but since the tow truck was on its way and wouldn't cost me anything I had him tow me home so I could try and sort out the problem here. There was no trouble backing it up the mild incline into the garage.
Will be looking at it later today, wondering if any one here has had a similar problem or a suggestion about what the problem was/is.
check the rear end.
If a thrust washer is toast the axle may have moved and allowed the Pinion to become disengaged.
In moving the vehicle you may have moved the axle back into position and temporality re-engaged the pinion.
Do you have an auxiliary transmission with a neutral? The engine should not start with the hand lever forward unless you push start the car in high gear. But if you have an auxiliary with neutral, I would suspect that the problem might be in that area.
Parts in the standard T equipment which could cause the indicated problem would be end play in the rear axle which would disengage the ring and pinion gear. Moving the car could have caused the axle to slip toward the pinion gear which would cause the gears to work.
You need to check for endplay in the rear axle, because if this is the cause of the problem it won't be long before it recurs and could cause an accident and further damage to the parts.
Been there - done that. Your pinion is broken into two parts.
Feel lucky it did not happen when you needed the brakes.....
Thanks for the comments. This rear end (and I should have mentioned this earlier) was rebuilt a couple years ago and has bronze thrust washers. Also, there is no auxiliary transmission, just Ford high and low.
Thinking back, I believe I did shear a pinion key several years ago, and maybe it was on this car and maybe this could be related to Michael's prediction. Although why it should start to behave again remains a mystery.
Off to the workshop...
Sheared pinion key, sheared axle key, sheared wheel hub key. If you are lucky it will be the last one. Good luck.
Someone mentioned the repro woodruff keys are too tall and keep the pinion from seating on the taper. That would lead to a sheared key. I suppose it is possible your clutch discs hung up on their keys if the keys are chewed up after 90 years of use and give you the same symptom. Since a tow is free you might just drive it and see what happens.
"Since a tow is free you might just drive it and see what happens"
NO!!! Please don't do that. "What happens" might be no brakes when you need them most. It did it once, it will do it again. Take the rear end apart.
There was zero detectable end play in the rear wheels and I know this rear end has bronze washers. Hub nuts and cotter pins looked fine, no sign the hubs were turning on the axles.
I wanted to have it fail again before I started dissassembly in the hope that more clues and maybe less tearing apart would result. I eased the front wheels up against an immovable object and gave it gas and revs in low and high until the engine stalled — the driveline remained as tight as can be, no problem.
Next was a road test up and down the back alley (Jerry, the car has AC rear brakes and hydraulic fronts). On my third panic stop I finally broke whatever it was free and was rewarded by having to push the car a block home and up a slight incline into the garage.
Cutting to the chase, I found a missing pinion cotter pin (and I KNOW there was one when assembled, I believe in TIGHT pinion nuts), finger loose pinion nut, and a sheared pinion key.
Could be worse, this happened about 30 miles after we returned from a 2,500+ mile road trip to the US!
And I suspect that rascally T has been getting ideas from his stablemate the 1912 KisselKar in the first picture below — three years ago, that car carried us faithfully on a 900+ mile tour through the Rocky Mountains only to shear its pinion shaft less than 3 miles after returning home.
Still shaking my head that even with the loose pinion nut and sheared key I could put such a load on the driveline before finally breaking it free for the second time.
Rascally T and bad influence KisselKar
Disappeared cotter pin and loose nut
OT but related — the sheared KisselKar pinion shaft from thee years ago.
Lucky it was the key and not one of the bad repro pinions that bust apart. You must be doing too much green-light dragging!
Do you remember if the failed pinion key was a repro?
Then it may have been too high, preventing a full taper contact between shaft and pinion?
Roger, I don't specifically remember if the failed key was a repro, but probably not since I think that would throw the pinion off concentric and the mesh was smooth and even last time.
This time around the key is definitely not too high.
My bet is that the taper on the drive shaft is not smooth and thus is not really doing its job of handling the torque load. I would put some "blue" on the drive shaft taper, remove the spool completely and then install the gear without the key and turn it and check the contact surface area. In the picture it appears there are some visible ridges in the taper but camera angles can play tricks. Without full contact the taper does not work and the key alone will quickly shear off again.
Maybe the taper between axle and pinion can be lapped in with valve grinding compound or green label Timesaver? I try to do that with rear hubs.
Something is amis with the bearing assembly it appears to be protruding out too far and therefore would not allow the pinion gear to fully engage the taper. It appears to have been riding on the key from the get-go. It would appear the pinion gear has been moving back and forth on the key and in doing so it turned the nut enough to shear the cotter pin. When the nut is fully tight there should beat least 3 or 4 threads showing. The thrust washer should be as large as the bearing outer race, the one in the picture appears to be substantially smaller. It would run a long time on the key but eventually will cut it in half.
Thank you John and Roger. I had dressed the taper by hand and eye, and had the rear end buttoned up and ready to install, but your comments — and the notion of another key failure hundreds of miles from home — encouraged me to take it apart and do it better. Two hours well invested. I finished the surface with Timesaver but I have only the yellow stuff so it probably didn't do anything much other than grey things up a bit further.
David, the thrust bearing had drifted out of the housing a ways in that photo and made things look wacky. Note the location of the cotter pin hole on my repro driveshaft — if there were three or four threads showing, it would be impossible to engage the castles.
I also took the advice of someone on the forum and made up a brass tag for the differential confirming the babbitt thrust washers had been replaced.
Very good. I love it about making the long trip and it breaks only a few miles later! I usually do it the other way around. Something totally unexpected will break the day before I leave. I missed an Endurance Run one year for my sheared pinion key because I wisely chose to go back through the rear end properly rather than a marathon repair patch to make the run.
I really like what I see of that Kissel! If you are really tired of the bad influence it makes on your speedster? I suppose I could move something out of my garage for it? Oh well, I am not buying anything these days. But how about some more pictures of it?
Glad you re back on the road!
Drive carefully, and enjoy, W2
Wayne — thanks for your very kind offer, but I'm willing to put up with the Kissel for a while longer. Here are the pictures you asked for...
1912 KisselKar 4-50, WW2 tractor conversion from a 7-passenger touring, as found and purchased in 1993. My original plan was to build a kick-butt speedster.
Then a fellow Kissel owner in NY faxed me this illustration from Kissel's 1913 truck catalog, showing some of the custom work the company had done the previous year. Hey — Edmonton's my home town! My plans changed in a hurry.
This was the best of a dozen period photos we found of Chief Tommy Lauder's '12 KisselKar 4-50. We worked from photos and inspection of similar cars to recreate Lauder's rig. BTW, mine is not the same actual car — the steering column angle is different and there are other minor differences.But they are both 1912 50-HP KisselKars on a 124" wheelbase.
Essentially complete in summer 2001 following an eight-year restoration. Its a fun car to drive and fairly relaxed on the open road with the 37x5" tires and the factory 4-speed 25% overdrive. It's run hundreds or thousands of miles every year including a fair bit of winter driving. Currently on the third pair of rear tires and second pair up front.
Very very nice. Built just a couple of towns away from me originally.