Thrust washer question

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Model T Ford Forum: Forum 2015: Thrust washer question
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By John Mays on Friday, November 06, 2015 - 07:23 pm:

We recently had the thrust washers upgraded in our '14 T. Do all Model T Fords need to have the thrust washers checked or is it just earlier years? Was the metal in the thrust washers improved at some point prior to 1927? Thanks


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By John T. Tannehill III, Hot Coffee, MS on Friday, November 06, 2015 - 07:53 pm:

Let me start by saying I'm no expert. I believe the early cars had bronze thrust washers then Babbitt was used however it really doesn't matter you should check to be sure. Over the years some one may have replaced the thrust washers, with what, you don't know unless you actually saw it or did the replacing. Your life or your passengers lives depends on it. A penny's worth of prevention is worth a ......well you know the rest.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Royce in Georgetown TX on Friday, November 06, 2015 - 08:59 pm:

This is not true. The 1909 Ford parts catalog shows babbitt thrust washers. I disassembled the rear axle of 904 last month and it still had its original - and perfect- babbitt thrust washers. The car now has bronze thrust washers for the first time.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By John T. Tannehill III, Hot Coffee, MS on Friday, November 06, 2015 - 09:29 pm:

Royce wasn't there a thread that spoke to this? I believe I remember reading something concerning that, thus my answer. Thanks for setting me straight.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Fred Dimock, Newfields NH, USA on Friday, November 06, 2015 - 09:31 pm:

I am some what with John on this.
I don't care what rear end you have.
If you don't know what is in there you need to look -period!

My 19 was within a few hours, minutes, weeks, months of failure.
If you have any sense MAKE SURE!


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Jack Daron - Brownsburg IN on Friday, November 06, 2015 - 09:40 pm:

At some point in the past,Ford must have supplied bronze washers,because I have found a couple while tearing down old rear ends. They could be Ford,or aftermarket,but they were there. They were not made of as good a material as the new ones today,because they are worn badly. I would tear down any rear end I was planning on surviving a ride in.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By John T. Tannehill III, Hot Coffee, MS on Friday, November 06, 2015 - 10:06 pm:

I knew I read this somewhere, it was in a thread from 2009.
"According to Bruce's book, The Model T Ford Encyclopedia, the early cars up to 1915 had bronze thrust washers." I still stand corrected but like others I have disassembled early rear axles that have the bronze/ brass thrust washers with a spiral cut oil slot, these were in a 12 rivet clamshell. So I wonder if at some point they were used as a substitute if they ran out of Babbitt ones or perhaps more probable replaced in the day during a repair assuming, and I do, Royce is totally correct.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Charles Weisgerber on Friday, November 06, 2015 - 10:07 pm:

Were the babbitt thrust washers as problematic say 40 years ago as they are today, or has the march of time finally caught up with original examples and they now just crumble because they no longer can take take any pressure due to the structure of the metal itself. No argument that they need to be changed out...just asking for my own knowledge. Has anyone seen any NOS examples? If the are crumbled in the box then we have our answer I guess.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Royce in Georgetown TX on Friday, November 06, 2015 - 10:22 pm:

There are errors in Bruce's work. This is one of them.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Wayne Sheldon, Grass Valley, CA on Saturday, November 07, 2015 - 01:12 am:

Charles W, Yes, the march of time has caught up with the Babbitt thrust washers. Forty or fifty years ago, it was more problematic.
I have been a long time pusher of "replace all Babbitt thrust washers!" The reason for that, is that I was told early on with my first model T (over 45 years ago) that it would be a "good idea". So, I ordered the new brass washers. I took the rear end out, I tore the rear end down, and found one washer in fair condition. The other looked like it was brand new! Perfect! But, since I had already bought the new washers, I put them in the rear end, and reassembled the car. I figured the one washer looked SO NICE that I would hang it on a nail in the garage, and walked toward it with the washer in my hand. While walking, I stumbled on a gopher hole (believe it or don't), squeezed my hand slightly and broke that perfect looking washer into several pieces.

Moment of dumbfounded silence.

I don't care how nice they look. Do not trust Babbitt thrust washers in the model T rear end.

A bit of physics/chemistry. (No, I am not a chemist. But forty years working as a field technician did teach me a few things.) Water ingress, mixing with oil, forms acid. Thermal variation alone over many years caused air to suck in and blow out of even small air spaces. It may be counter-intuitive, but the water goes into those air spaces much better than it goes out of them. Therefore, the water builds up inside (many years of field technician work says so!). That small amount of water (condensation from the air) contaminates the rear end grease which didn't get changed for decades. That acid eats at the weakest metal it can find. The Babbitt. It was a problem when the cars were forty years old. As they reach closer to a hundred years? It is a much more serious consideration.
FYI, the same thing does happen with the Babbitt bearings in the engine. EXCEPT that when an engine runs for more than a few minutes, it gets hot enough to boil the water out of the oil. So the water and acid contamination never builds up as high. The rear end never gets hot enough to boil the water out.
I do sometimes use original Babbitt bushings in model T drive shafts (provided they check out okay). They are less prone to acid contamination because through their normal running are flushed with engine oil (which has been heated enough to remove the water).

Acid contamination began the first cool night after the car left the factory. And unless the grease was changed often ever since? It is simply time.
Drive carefully, and enjoy, W2


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By keith g barrier Savannah Tn. on Saturday, November 07, 2015 - 03:08 am:

I am with Fred on this, all T rear ends are a pig in a poke till they are torn down and gone through unless you have seen the previous owner replace them or trust him enough to bet your life on his word. KGB


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Roger Karlsson, southern Sweden on Saturday, November 07, 2015 - 03:31 am:

Wayne's theory about different temperatures in the engine and rear axle causing different environmental factors for babbitt is intriguing, but I still think more points towards a different babbitt composition used in the rear end compared to the 86% tin, 7% copper and 7% antimony used in the engine. Many engines has been unused for most of their years, been lying in unheated sheds since before the war - still it's rare to see cracking babbitt in the mains or the rods if the babbitt hasn't been abused by running for some time with a knock. Rear axle babbitt thrusts on the other hand breaks all the time without any knocks fatiguing them. I suspect lead in the thrust washer babbitt, but I'm no metallurgist - George?


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By John Mays on Saturday, November 07, 2015 - 02:37 pm:

If a Model T has a Ruckstell installed does that rear end have the same type thrust washers or does that imply they have been changed or is that an entirely different situation? Thanks again,
Hey I'm new at this.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Richard Gould, Folsom, CA on Saturday, November 07, 2015 - 02:47 pm:

Ruckstell has same type of thrust washers on the passenger side. The drivers side has a large ball bearing.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Mark Strange - Hillsboro, MO on Saturday, November 07, 2015 - 03:46 pm:

The "rebuilt" Ruckstell that I bought on Ebay a couple of months ago had a babbitt thrust washer on the passenger side, so I rebuilt the unit again with a bronze washer. It may be hard to see in the picture, but the babbitt washer was already starting to crumble on the edges. :-)

washer


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Roger Karlsson, southern Sweden on Saturday, November 07, 2015 - 03:59 pm:

Thrust loss on the RH side shouldn't cause sudden loss of brakes fortunately, but it would reduce the life of the gears and should of course be corrected as fast as possible.


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