Babbit thrust washer question

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Model T Ford Forum: Forum 2008: Babbit thrust washer question
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Mack Jeffrey Cole on Monday, January 12, 2009 - 11:49 pm:

What prompts the failure of this particular peice of babbit in our T's but the babbit mains and such hold up fine until they wear from use?
Is it the chemicals in the oil used in the rearend?
Is the wear it is exsposed to different than say the mains,and that causes the failure?


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Jim in Indiana on Tuesday, January 13, 2009 - 12:31 am:

Mack-my theory has been that as they wear thin,the end play of the axles and wheels,along with the weight of the car as it turns and leans on high crowned roads hammers them to pieces.A while back I built up a spare rear end using some NOS babbit washers.I have not used this rear end yet,and if I ever do I may pull it apart and replace them.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Warren Mortensen on Tuesday, January 13, 2009 - 07:06 am:

I've never seen the actual specs listed on the material in the babbit washers. Could they be a different material?


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By James A. Golden on Tuesday, January 13, 2009 - 07:58 am:

Someone told me the real problem was that the Babbitt material can absorb moisture and decay or rot, like wood and potmetal.

That appears to be what happened to the right one in my 1926 Roadster, as the whole washer became like coarse gravel. The left one just broke.

The rear end functioned normal under a no load condition, but failed going down hill when I needed the engine braking.

That noise is loud enough and travels up the drive shaft, so you are not sure whether the rear end or transmission needs repair.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Royce Peterson on Tuesday, January 13, 2009 - 08:11 am:

I pulled apart the rear axle on my '15 last week. It had one bronze thrust washer and one babbitt. The babbitt thrust washer looks like brand new. There was no excessive play in the axle assembly. All but one roller bearing was perfect.

I think the babbitt washers disintigrate if they are pounded by excess side play.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Jeff humble on Tuesday, January 13, 2009 - 04:25 pm:

There is more to this babbit thrust washer thing than I can understand. There is babbitt in all 4 main bearings, connecting rods, 2 on the cam shaft, the torque tube at the U-joint, and the 2 thrust washers, but something about the thrust washers or rear end design makes the babbitt thrust washers unsafe. The obvious thing that comes to mind is that if any of the other babbitt bearings fail it is an inconvienence, but if a thrust washer fails the brakes may be lost. Yes this is a question, what makes the babbitt thrust washers an issue?


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Jerry VanOoteghem on Tuesday, January 13, 2009 - 04:48 pm:

Jeff,

I suspect that we call the thrust washers "babbitt" because they have the general appearance of babbitt. My suspicion is that they really aren't babbitt, or at least they're are a different babbitt alloy than what is used in the engine. If you try to scrape one of these washers, as you would scrape a rod bearing, I think you will find them much harder a material.

I believe that the thrust washer material is much closer to pot metal than babbitt. That certainly would explain the crumbling. If you look closely at a crumbling or crumbled thrust washer it looks very much like a piece of crumbling pot metal.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By keith g barrier on Tuesday, January 13, 2009 - 04:51 pm:

Jeff, I am by no means an expert on this but I think it has more to do with the age of the babbitt and the lube it runs in. Probably new babbitt thrust washers would be fine but I don't think they are available. My 24 still had the original ones and they looked great, not crumbley as some have reported, however I did replace them on advice from others. good luck, Keith B


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Darren J Wallace on Tuesday, January 13, 2009 - 05:33 pm:

I think Jerry is 110% correct in his observations. I've examined NOS Ford thrust washers never used ever,and they have the same characteristics as pot metal. Pot metal alloys do make a good bearing material. Lots of small electric motors use a similar material in their bearings.
The material is also injection molded.Ford would have loved it for fast,cheap mass production.
Just like in various antique phonograph parts(Columbia,U.S Evelasting,Bettini for example),early Lionel train wheels and such,pot metal was great when new,but the mistake made using lead as a die release agent was the death knell of these moulded parts.
Just my 2c.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Erik Barrett on Wednesday, January 14, 2009 - 06:34 pm:

I think the sulphur compounds in modern EP gear oils may not be good for the old washers. I never use them- new bronze washers are cheap insurance. I saw at least four T's at the Centenial T party apart for disintegrated Babbit washers. Just some thoughts.
Fordially, Erik


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Mack Jeffrey Cole on Wednesday, January 14, 2009 - 10:22 pm:

Well I am glad my question has made for good conversation.The potmetal theory,makes alot of sense.As my little train set that was only run once when I was a kid has started falling apart.And it looks like the same material,only no oil.I would like to get it repaired but I doubt that is possiable.
Keep up the discusion,this has been a mystery for me for a while now.
I know to use the new bronze washers so you dont have to worry about me on that.
I went to help a couple fellows get a 1912 running last week and I told them about the thrust washers and again,for the umpteenth time,couldnt tell exactly why they fail,but that they do and they need to come out.
It would be nice the next time I help a new member of the T hobby to be able to explain in more detail why they need to tear apart a perfectly working rearend.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Jim on Wednesday, January 14, 2009 - 11:24 pm:

Mack,
According to Bruce's book, The Model T Ford Encyclopedia, the early cars up to 1915 had bronze thrust washers. I have not had one apart, so I can not verify that fact.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Adam Doleshal on Thursday, January 15, 2009 - 12:56 pm:

I had a bunch of babbitt thrust washers saved up a couple years ago to melt down and make into a soft faced hammer. Most of what you get when you try to melt the old used ones is an oxide or ash. I ended up with less than 10 percent melted metal, the rest was ash.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Royce Peterson on Thursday, January 15, 2009 - 01:37 pm:

I was wondering - my '15 had a bronze washer on the thrust side and a babbitt washer on the other side.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Darren J Wallace on Thursday, January 15, 2009 - 05:15 pm:

Adam's efforts to melt the "babbitt" thrust washers,just adds more proof to the pot metal theory. Melting it just destroys it further.Thanks for posting your info!


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Darren J Wallace on Thursday, January 15, 2009 - 05:18 pm:

Hey Mack,check out some of the model train hobby web sites.There are guys reproducing commonly ruined parts in detailed replicas for various model trains like Lionel,Marx,Ives and American Flyer. I'm no expert,but I know there's people out there offering parts and/or repair services.
Don't mean to hi-jack the thread,just want to assist anyone I can.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Mack Jeffrey Cole on Thursday, January 15, 2009 - 09:48 pm:

So It purty well makes sense now.the thrust washers are of a potmetal type mess instead of babbit.
Royce,is the rear axle you mentioned a ruxtel by any chance? Maby they used a bronze washer during the conversion?

thanks darren,I will check into it.Mine is a Varney Ho scale.I dont think the busted parts will keep it from running now that I dug it out of the storage room.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Dexter Doucet on Thursday, January 15, 2009 - 09:56 pm:

Great Thread!!!


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Dan Treace on Thursday, January 15, 2009 - 11:33 pm:

I have always wondered about the babbitt Thrust Washers too. All original axles I have taken apart have that babbitt or 'metal' thrust washer, dark gray, most with Ford script in the oil groove.

But a look at the Parts and Price Lists over the years shows something interesting.

The Dec 1 1911 Price List shows the part
"#2528 Differential Thrust Plate -- 3 3/4" dia. - Babbitt"

Later Price Lists, Mar 1 1920, up to Aug 5, 1928 as:
"#2528 Diff.Thrust Washer 3 3/4" dia - Metal"

Could be the name 'metal' is the composite babbitt or gray metal stuff that comes apart over time?

And did Ford make available a bronze replacement?

I have checked all the Price Lists of Parts for a "#2528 1/2" That is the usual way Ford added another version if engineering didn't rev with "B" or "C" after the part number. Example: the Axle Housing Cap, #2510 was changed in 1919 to be a bit bigger in dia. to fit the newer axle housings, so that cap became "2510 1/2".

But couldn't find a 2528 1/2 in Ford Lists, but did find the below #2528 1/2 from catalog of Ford parts avail from Western Auto, 1924.

Maybe many knew of the composite Metal Thrust Washer as a bad deal, and this is why a Bronze replacement 2528 1/2 was available in the trade?



Note the oz weights too, all the Ford 'metal' old thrust washers I have handled are pretty light compared to the bronze replacements of today.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Jim on Friday, January 16, 2009 - 12:33 am:

Dan, (Reference Dec.1,1911 parts list) Did you notice that the thrust washers are pictured with the "spiral" oil groove instead of straight across like the common babbit washer?
Also, there is only a listing for the 2509 axle sleeve,(RH) and 4 are required. There is no listing for the 2509B, which should be the left side.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Jim in Indiana on Friday, January 16, 2009 - 01:08 pm:

I am pretty sure somewhere around here I have at least one more of the NOS thrust washers.If anyone can analyze this material,I would be happy to contribute.They had Ford script in the straight,not spiral, oil groove.I once had a 6-rivet rear end.It had bronze thrust washers in it.Spiral grooves.Still had non tapered axles,too.....Needs to be a bit warmer than -11 when I go out looking for thrust washers!


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Roger Karlsson on Friday, January 16, 2009 - 01:27 pm:

Here is an older thread on this subject:
http://www.mtfca.com/discus/messages/29/43017.html

I haven't bought the great book "Ford Methods and Ford Shops" since some reviews of the reprints complains on bad quality of the photos, so I wonder if anyone with that book can tell how they described the rear axle assembly process in the mid teens?

I've read elsewhere about the process in the 20's (i think), as the axles were put together in a way that used the soft characteristics of the thrust washers - the washers were made a bit too thick, but the axles were spun while the axle housings were screwed together, so the washers got hot and were squeezed to fit perfect really fast.

If the earlier than '15 cars had brass thrust washers, then this method wouldn't have worked.
Maybe they really had one brass thrust on the important LH side, and a lead/babbitt washer on the other side for a while, just to make the assembly process faster?


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Royce Peterson on Friday, January 16, 2009 - 02:14 pm:

Mack,

No, it is a standard T axle. The bronze washer measures .207" thick. Recent Bronze washers bought from Lang's measure .197" thick.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Kenny Edmondson on Monday, January 19, 2009 - 09:10 pm:

I had recently tore down some rear axles and a few of them still had the thrust washers in them. I picked this one up and bent it to see how britle it was and it broke in two. There appears to be two kinds of metal in the washers. As you can see in the photo there is a core metal then an outer metal of some sort. Just thought I'd pass on the observation. The picture looked good until I had to resize it.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Richard Gould on Monday, January 19, 2009 - 09:30 pm:

I have an original 16, Jan 24, 1916 casting date. The rear end had two brass thrust washers. I reused them with the orignial differential cage when I rebuilt the rear end. Works fine and quiet too.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By jack daron-Indy. on Monday, January 19, 2009 - 09:41 pm:

I had two NOS ones similer to that. The outer layer is now oxidized,but originally resembled a dull lead color. I did the world a favor and deep-sixed them.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Mark Gregush on Monday, January 19, 2009 - 10:04 pm:

I have noted also that there looks to be a center core. Maybe the babbitt would have been too soft without it.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Jim on Monday, January 19, 2009 - 11:49 pm:

In an original Price List of Parts for the Ford Model T booklet, dated April 1,1916, the #2528 differential thrust washers are listed as 3-3/4" bronze. The picture shows the spiral groove. The later issues dated June 1, and Nov. 1, 1916,
describe it as being 3-3/4" metal. They may have been transitioning to "babbit" at that time. The spiral groove is still shown in the 1917 issues of the parts booklets.
I have never seen a babbit washer with the spiral groove.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By jack daron-Indy. on Monday, January 19, 2009 - 11:56 pm:

I have and they are still a piece of c@**!


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Noel Denis Chicoine, MD on Monday, January 26, 2009 - 06:06 pm:

Just like many modern rear ends have a small metal tag indicating ratios or whatever, may I suggest that we place a small metal tag on one of the rear end bolts when we replace that famous thrust washer. I friend gave me this idea so that in the future I'd know the rear was rebuilt. It might save some future t'er from tearing down a perfectly good rear end to check it after purchasing it at our estate sale!
Noel


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Grant Baker on Wednesday, January 28, 2009 - 08:51 am:

Royce,

I just tore down my 15 diff last week. Mine had a bronze one in the driver side and a babbit one in the passenger side...interesting.

One side of mine had worked itself off the allignment pin and most of the outer steel washer was eaten away by the axle rubbing on it. I am leaning toward the new type bearings to replace the bronze thrust washer assy. Any thoughts on this?

While we're on the subject, My diff. is completely dissasembled except for the carrier. Should I tear into it as well? I found the above problem, plus the inner bearings were worn and pitted. What should be checked out inside the carrier and if there is a problem, what could I do about it? I am a young, first time model T restorer and don't want to get in over my head, plus I know the current tally to get the diff and driveshaft back together is around $500 :-(


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Larry Smith on Wednesday, January 28, 2009 - 11:57 am:

I wouldn't pay much attention to that parts book picture. It appears to be an aftermarket parts book.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Jim in Indiana on Wednesday, January 28, 2009 - 12:10 pm:

Grant,Here is one thing to be aware of.If you have a pre'17 rear end the thrust plate pins are just that-straight pins.To use the '17 and later stepped oin p/n2531B you will have to drill out the old pin hole to fit the later pins.I usually do this as the early pin hole has be wallered out.The other option is to make a pin out of drill rod,fitting required.As far as inside the differential goes,there is a[usually red] fiber washer about the size of a quarter,p/n2506,that goes between the axles.This requires complete disassembly. Without actually seeing your bearings,etc,it is tough to determine if you can use what you have.Now to fire up a controversy.My only experience with some sort of ball or radial roller thrust washers is to pull a friend back to his place.This was accomplished by removing both rear wheels,taking out the axle keys,greasing hell out of the axle and putting the wheels back on with no key.Reason for this was dozens of little balls or rollers floating around in the diff case locking everything up.Of course all the gears got chewed up in this process.A very unsuccesful first run.I can still see Ron Knepper in my rear view mirror, cussing,as I pulled him slowly home.


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