Purists disregard, but I think there are a lot of Model T's like mine that are pretty nice looking "driver" grade Model T's that have one very ugly area,.....the front axle and front spring,.....especially the spring. Seems like a nice black era Model T could be easily made to look nicer if there was something that could quickly and easily be done to hide or cover up all of the rust that seems to continually ooze out of the front spring and make the spring shakes, spring perches and front axle look really bad. Seems like just before a parade or some such event, a guy could quickly "slop" some kinda' black stuff over the rust and make it look better, Maybe something like thin motor oil or kerosene with black graphite in it or something. Does this make any sense? I really hate that rusty look on a T front end, even a Model T with "patina". Any thoughts,.....???
Ahhhh,....!!! "Front spring shakes"! Of course I meant to say "front spring shackles.
Back in the day they covered leaf springs with leather "spring gaiters" that would keep the grease in and the road grime out.
Sounds like you don't lube the front end.
I can't say if I have never seen a rusty front end as you describe.
Rust is what happens to bare metal when it gets water on it.
If the front end parts are painted only metal dust that wears off the suspension should be getting rusty. And only if it is void of lube.
I would spread the spring leaves apart and lube them with chassis grease or spray them with any kind of oil or penetrant.
There is nothing wrong with covering the spring with leather or vinyl to keep it dry and prevent rust from pouring out.
Hmmm,....yeah, I have seen those Jay. But for some reason, I really don't care for the look of those either. I kinda' like the look of the individual spring leaves and all, that is, if they're not rusty. I guess the leather "spring gaiters" would look better than rust tho',......thanks Jay,......harold
Aaron - We were typing at the same time. Well, you've got a point,.....I probably have not spent much time on "properly" lubricating the front end, and it seems like a lot of work to spread the spring leaves apart and all, but I guess that probably would take care of the problem. It did surprise me to hear you say you've never seen a rusty front end as I described. Maybe that's because everywhere I've lived,.....Chicago, Montana, and the rainy Pacific Northwest there has been a winter of ice, snow, slush, and salt & salt brine, whereas where you live, well, you know, that Southern California you guys are always telling us "northerners" about,......harold
Do you just want to cover up the problem or fix it correctly. If you want to just cover it up get the cheapest black paint and "slop"it on.
On the other hand if you want to fix the problem remove the front spring, take it apart, clean the leaves to bare metal, paint them, apply Sliplate, put the spring back together and install it. Works good and looks good too.
Harold, Snyders sells to Model A owners a set of spring covers (pt. no. A-5310-CO), like Jay mentioned above. They may not be exactly the correct length, but would probably do the job. Catalog description, "An old accessory that make your Ford ride like a Lincoln by oiling the springs. Keeps the dirt out. Covers both the front and rear springs with felt oil strips. This is a quality cover kit with die stamped tabs just like ford supplied. U.S.A. 1928-31 $49.95 set"
Or, do as Charles recommended, except have the individual leaves powder coated. It lasts much better than paint.
Lots of good thoughts and suggestions here,....thanks guys,.....but I guess as much as I hate to admit it, I'm kinda' lazy and was just looking for something "fast n' dirty", because I've got five Model T's and a Model A, and none of them are "show cars" by any means. And I can honestly say that I really can't remember a time when I've actually had them all in good running and roadworthy condition. Seems like there's always something to fix, rebuild, replace, improve, adjust, tighten, paint, polish, etc, etc, etc. I guess if I only had one Model T, I could spend time taking springs out and taking them apart, painting spring leaves, etc, etc, etc. Got one Model T for sale now, but even with four T's and an A,....whew! Our old friend Ralph Ricks (R.I.P.) used to say,...."everything you own owns you", and he was absolutely right!
Fast n' dirty ? How about pouring used motor oil over them and go for a long, bouncy
drive ? Wipe down afterward, if needed. Repeat as necessary.
When I got my 26 roadster the springs were almost frozen stiff with rust. I disassembled the leafs and sanded them to bare metal. Then rustprimer and two coats of black. I then decided to go fore UHMW polyethylene tape from 3M. The tape is pricey but its durable and gives a nice ride. It has held up very well for four years now. No more rust. It takes some work, but I am very pleased with the result.
I have never tried it(rust between the spring leaves is not high on my priority list on my "beater" '25 coupe), but what about squirting some WD 40 between the leaves? Not as a lubricant, which it isn't, but as a water repellent, which it is. Anyone tried that? Just a thought. Dave
Ralph Zajicek used a thin layer of Nylatron GS plastic (molybdeum sulphide impregnated nylon)between the spring leaves.
To take this concept a different direction, beyond always liking pre-30
vehicles, what primarily motivated me to finally own some was the more
"raw" mechanical design of these vehicles and the associated lack of
"concern" for stuff like rusty springs, imperfect paint, chrome, and/or
anything else. A 1957 New Yorker just looks like a beater when you take
the wheelcovers off. A Model T with dents and rusty springs looks like
a terrific Model T ! It's part and parcel with the nature of being a Model T !
On the flip side, I think over polished, over restored trailer queens are
a waste of time and are all too often associated with owners/personalities
of a braggart, "LOOK AT ME !" sort, and frankly, I have about zero use for
being part of that scene. Nothing is quite so repulsive as the pretentious.
I like the modest and humble nature of an old road warrior T, rusty springs
and all. It speaks volumes about the guy behind the wrench/wheel and
is, quite honestly, far more interesting.
Here are 3 options for you:
1. For quick and dirty lazy method, spray can rust converter. Stops rust and leaves a flat black "primer" look. Then follow with a gloss black spray of your choice.
2. Middle of the road choice is to do the spray as above, then jack up the front to unload the spring. Wedge the spring leaves apart gently with a screwdriver or similar tool, spread some grease in between.
3. That said, a nice summer project is to take the spring apart and do it right.
3 options for 3 levels of motivation.
I have no proof, but I bet powder coated leaves wont work as intended. I'm more for a period job, as outlined by Charles W.
I am with Erich on the powder coated leaves, too much resistance between to allow for free sliding same with painting both sides of the leaves. The springs were painted as a pack not individual leaves. The graphite paint/coating was all that was applied between leaves. If you are going to jack the car up to get what ever your choice between the leaves you need to take off the spring clips on each side so the leaves will separate. after driving mine in all kinds of weather and almost 10 years, I have started noticing the rust on the front leaves too.
The front spring on my coupe was starting to get rusty and squeak. I took the spring clamps off and jacked the car up and put jack stands under the frame. Then I spread the leaves with a screwdriver and greased them and sprayed in a little graphite. The spring looks much better now and the car glides over bumpy streets.
Here's the fancy version of Stephen's screwdriver:
I have had good results by spraying with FLUID FILM.
As a Fall project I rebuilt the front suspension of my 25 Tudor. Naturally part of that project was to dismantle, clean and paint the springs. The real surprise came when I removing the front spring, I discovered that the top leaf somewhere along the line had cracked in three places leaving the center 1/3, held in place by the center bolt.... both ends were missing, and so was the "cushioning pad".
Both problems were hidden by the frame and radiator apron, so I doubt I would have found it until it was too late. I had a new leaf made and purchased a new pad from Lang's. Along the way I also found that the right front hub was cracked along with the outer race.
The point I'm trying to make here is this. If you haven't checked some areas out since you've bought the car (baring a full restoration you've done yourself) maybe you should. If the front spring looks like you know what, take the spring off, clean it up, inspect it, lube it and paint it. You and your T will be happier for it.
Lastly I did paint the leafs after smoothing the mating sides with Emery Paper. I also coated all mating sides with Sliplate. The front springs work smoothly and quietly...not a peep.
Mark, I need to get one of those.
What I do.
Paint the springs with black enamel. Spread a little "boat trailer wheel bearing grease" on the underside of the leaves. Assemble. Wipe off the excess with a rag and safely dispose of the rag.
Because the boat trailer wheel bearing grease is water proof? It doesn't wash away easily, and lasts for years. An occasional surface wash may be necessary. Sometimes a quick spray of satin black to touch up.
Cheap and fast. Like me.
Drive carefully, and enjoy the New Year! W2
Mark and Stephen, I've seen those made for using a grease gun to pump grease between the leaves. Never tried one though. Dave