I was talking with a fella trying to sell a '26 roadster. The car is need in some restoration.
One thing he mentioned, was that the car had a "kingpin problem." When I asked for more details, he said the car wobbled slightly at higher speeds. He went on to say that if I bought the car, he had a brand new front axle that he would give me.
I have a '25 touring, and rebuilt it's rear-end. I've never done anything major with the front axle, except changing the spindle bolts. I still feel like a Model -T novice.
My question is -- knowing the car's "kingpin" problem, what should I look for when I go to see the car in person?
How should I inspect the front end of the car?
Finally, is changing a front axle as simple as removing the old one, and installing the new one?
Thank you for your kind help!
Kingpins are the same as spindle bolts. As for all the rest, there's nothing terribly complicated or particularly expensive about it that it should keep you from getting the car. Sounds like an honest seller. Get the "new" axle and report back here when you have the car. We'll help you from there.
If he's throwing in a new axle perhaps he thinks or knows the threads in the axle that the kingpin/spindle bolt screws into are bad.
The issues with the front axle spindle bolts fall into two main areas:
1. Spindle bushing wear. If that is all you have to deal with its a simple matter of replacing spindle bushings and reaming them.
2. Axle wear.
2a. The top hole where the bolt goes through.
2b. the bottom hole and threads on the lower side of the axle.
Axle wear requires the installation of bushings to get rid of the slop. Stevens made a tool for that and you can still get bushings for that tool from the vendors. Or you can make your own.
If you do decide to work on the axle in the car the first step is to straighten it. They are often bent in some manner.
Hope this helps. I rebuilt mine with the help of a machinist a couple of years ago. We used a FaroArm to identify where it needed straightening. Then we made bushings to fix both upper and lower holes. It drives totally different after all that.
Well, yes and no! Sometimes the spring hangers don't like to come out of the old axle. Sometimes the "new" axle is bent. So, yes, it can be easy, but No, it probably won't be! That's the fun of a model T. Front axle replacement is much easier than rear axle replacement/rebuild, IMHO. However, now that you brought it up, as him if he knows what thrust washers are in the rear axle. You may want to put Bronze ones in, if they aren't already.
Guy sounds like he's shooting straight, so your call! Having a touring and a roadster can be fun--one to tool around in, one to take folks on a ride. Kinda like having a sports car and a station wagon!
Got it--sounds not so bad.. I hope.
It's very common for the bottom spindle bolt holes to be "wallered out" so much that the threads are gone or almost gone. At an auction last week I saw five front axles, all with the threads worn out. So you do want that new axle.
It's also not unusual for front end bushings to be worn out. Fortunately it's not complicated to replace them. It's also not terribly expensive even if you use the bronze ones.
The top and bottom inside edges of the axle should be smooth and perpendicular to the spindle bolts. That is the first thing to repair if necessary. Also check the threads at the bottom. I have sucessfully used helicoils to repair the threads. When you put everything together it is very important to tighten up the jam nuts so that the spindle bolts will not turn with the spindles. There is a tool with a kit which can be used to place cone shaped inserts into the ends of the axles. I have seen one but don't know where to find one if needed. For the top hole in the axle, a piece of shim wrapped around the top of the spindle bolt will keep it from wobbling. Since the bolt when properly tightened doesn't turn, the shim will stay in place. The bushings go in the spindles. There is also a tool made to fit the inside of the bushing while it also trims the flat surface. There is a member in San Diego who has that tool. A good machinist should have the tools to ream the bushings and flat surfaces. When done it should be a snug fit but not so tight that interfers with steering.
Davey the best and quickest way to check a T front end is to jack it up so both wheels are off the ground. You could take along a small jack with you and jack the car up.
When it off the ground slowly turn the steering or better yet move a front wheel from side to side.
You may be surprised what you will see as far a wobble and looseness goes.
While you have it off the ground I'd go one step further. Grab each front wheel and give it a good shake. Pay close attention to what moves. As John says, you may find some things that need attention.
Norm: Go look on the classified page. I have an original one for sale there. Dan
"It's very common for the bottom spindle bolt holes to be "wallered out" so much that the threads are gone or almost gone"
Anyway to fix this? Have one side of an axle I picked up with this problem.
If you rebuilt the rear axle the front will be easy. Tim
Dave: Sounds like a job for "STEVENS FRONT AXLE TOOL". You can fix it on the car. If anyone wants to see a video of the Stevens Tool in action, PM me. Dan