Passers-by warned me of impending disaster several times while looking at my rusty Coupe front spring shackles.
A real mechanic will keep every part in top condition. He will chase down and fix every squeak, rattle and suspect part. I have been an armature mechanic for 50 some years and tend to be more distracted by the way these old cars look and imagine what it was like driving and working on them back in the day. However, after procuring some new bushings and some shackles with less wear I attacked the problem.
It was a relatively cool morning and I envisioned it to be a simple task to change bushings. My homemade bushing driver popped the first 3 bushings out like greased lightning. Then Murphy's law kicked in. The 4th one would not move. The driver kept mushrooming and reshaping several times was required. Finally brute force broke the bushing loose.
The new bushings slid in easily and all seemed well until I tried to install the proper u-shaped shackles. Somehow the bushings were not parallel. Twisting things and changing the weight of the car on the jacks didn't seem to help. By now my mood was changing and the temperature in the garage had risen substantial. Again, brute force overcame common sense and the shackles found their home. Not at my best anymore I began to put the end plates and nuts on the shackles. It would have been smart to determine where the cotter pin holes were before putting the nuts on. Why did Ford put the nuts on the backside? Trying to see what is going on and bumping my head on the fender several times took some of the fun out of this. Also, one shackle had the cotter pin holes going in line with each other and one had parallel holes.
It was time to sit and think about the progress. What could have made this job so difficult. Wait, Could that axle be backwards? After checking the other cars and some pictures on the forum, "Yes, It was backwards." I hadn't noticed that the wishbone was mounted backwards when I installed this axle some years ago.
By now the sun was creeping in the doorway and the temperature was in the 90's. It was a dry heat. I found the strength to remove the king pins and turn the axle around. Now I had a car that resembled the picture we all enjoyed on the forum a few weeks ago.
At this point I remembered I had put this axle in temporarily and planned to build a better front end later. Now the shackles should fit perfectly. Friends, I'm afraid not. They were even more out of line. Another struggle ensued to get the shackles in. This time one of the shackles had spread enough that the link plate would not go on. An hour or so of trying to pinch them together gave me reason to wonder why these fun little project turn into monstrous marathons. Why do we keep struggling as if the project will go away if we stop?
The next step was to put the wishbone nuts on. The first one spun of easily. The second one fought getting started. Then half way on it would not turn any more. I know these threads were alike in 1922, but being married to each other for 94 years had given them their own dispositions. Trading one for the other solved the problem.
I managed to get one wheel back on and quit for the day. The next day everything seemed better and the other wheel went back on. I hope these parts will work in and all will be well. If not I will attack the problem again. I'm sure we all get frustrated with these cars from time to time but that is part of the fun of it. It's nice to be able to come here and Rant.
I guess a bigger hammer doesn't always fix anything.
"I managed to get one wheel back on and quit for the day. The next day everything seemed better and the other wheel went back on.
And that folks is the key takeaway. I am still learning, but taking a break with a clear head, when you're in over your head, always seems to be the best solution.
Great post, Richard.
Thank You for humbly sharing good lessons learned. I'll probably forget it all until I've made another mistake, but maybe it will help me understand my mistake better.
It almost looks as if that spring perch is worn beyond putting a new bushing in it.
I did some of this same work a couple of weeks ago. My bushings came out fine, it was getting the new ones in that caused my frustration. I ended up mushrooming a couple of them. Good thing I ordered more than one set. I honed out the perch a little, then the bushings went in tight without destroying the bushing. The use of a wooden block between the spring and axle helps a lot while trying to get the shackle back in. Just remember that the boss on the perch goes toward the back
That perch IS worn beyond putting a new bushing in it. See the old bushing? 2/3 of it is worn clean through, which means the old shackle was wearing a trough in the perch.
A new bushing in the old perch is better than what you had before, but a complete fix would include an unworn perch. My two cents.
Cement blocks!!!? NO no no NO NO! They can shatter without any warning whatsoever and drop whatever is on them onto whomever is below it!
Do be careful!
And my warped sense of humor catching a linguistic Faux Pas.
You must be tightly wound and spinning in little circles? An "armature mechanic"?
Sorry about that.
Work carefully, and do enjoy! W2
Mark, that is what I would have thought before I got it apart. There was only a few thousandths wear at the outer ends of the perch. The new bushings fit nice and tight and will be alright. I agree the best fix is a better perch but this car gets little mileage and at low speeds. Thanks for the comment. Safety First.
One thing I realized is we don't learn as much when things go well as when they don't.
You lucked out, glad you were able to use your existing perch.
Be sure to post some pics when you get it all back together and out on the road!
Thanks Wayne. Proof reading gets tedious for me. I do use creative spelling from time to time. I have heard the horrors of using cement blocks and should not have shown them here. Luckily I was never under the car. I confess I have also run with scissors but not the good scissors.
I don't know about your bushings, but a few years ago a manufacturer made some bushings which were next to impossible to install. They were rolled and I don't think any attempt to fit the outside of the bushing to the hole in the perch.
I took mine to Lee Pierce (now deceased) who threw them away and installed a good set.
I have installed other bushings which I purchased at a different time and they fit right in. Just a snug fit. Better than using a hammer would be a hydraulic press. They should be manufactured to be a snug fit without any problem.
These were just purchased from one of the vendors and fit well. I used 1/2" threaded rod, washers and nuts to install them. They were rolled also. We do owe our vendors a lot of thanks for making these things available and at reasonable prices.
Richard, your comment about the "proper U shaped shackles" piqued my interest. The L shaped shackles were most common on our Canadian sourced cars, the U shaped ones only arriving on later cars. They were certainly the 'correct' ones on low radiator cars like yours. They also mean you have more monkey motion available when fitting them, so a little mis-alignment can be overcome more easily.
Don't toss the old L shaped shackles. They can be rebuilt and turned down, unlike the U shaped ones.
Allan from down under.
While working full time, I think my front axle rebuild took a month and a half (it was a total rebuild from spring to spindles). Of course a lot of time I spent waiting for parts that I did not intend to have to order or bushings I screwed up on install and had to reorder. I learned a lot, and having some patients was key---and members here and locally to lean on for advice.
Wayne: The smart thing would be to pour cement into the openings of the cement blocks to make them solid, they may weigh more but they will be solid
Just my two bits worth
I am right in the middle of trying to install new bushings on the front of my 26 touring. I have already ruined two of the four that I have...
I used heat to warm up the (brand new) spring perch, and I placed the bushing in the freezer to cool it down. It is still an extremely tight fit. I have mushroomed two of them out and only got them less than half way in....
Anyone have ideas on what to do? I would walk away and hope it goes better tomorrow, but I just started this job 20 minutes ago so I should be losing my patience yet....
Bill D, Actually, since I do like to "mouth off" with snide remarks from time to time? Maybe an even better idea would be to put that cement in my mouth?
I just hope nobody is ever offended by my off comments from time to time. Often, they are just a result of my warped sense of humor. The similarity between the words "armature" and "amateur", along with wound tight and spinning was just to good to pass up! And I do like safety reminders, whether I make them or someone else does.
Actually, filling in the blocks with good cement would help a lot. However, I still don't think I could recommend it on general principles.
Richard E, "Creative spelling", I like that! As a long-time fan of Walt Kelly and the Pogo comic strip, I often to this day use "creative mispronunciations", sometimes called "Pogo-isms".
Thank you Richard for the coupe tales!
Drive carefully,,and enjoy, W2
Michael, I just put new bushings in new perches. I used all thread, grade 8 washers, and anti seize. I always chamfer the od of the bushing with a file before installing so the I can start the bushing with a dead blow. They were tight a smidgen tighter than I wanted. I only ended up with small burr that I cleaned up with a rat tail file. If you need spindle bushing reamer, remover, and alignment tool, I have them. I also have steering arm bushing driver.
Michael, are you using the brass or steel bushings? I highly recommend the brass ones. The wear rate is easier on the shackles, they are easier to install, and with a slight reaming can be brought to correct inside diameter. I switched out all my bushings to brass/bronze ones.
I was actually able to use my 6" vice to press the bushings into the perches and like David said, chamfer the end of the bushings going into the perch.
I used steel bushings because I didn't see any bronze ones as an option from Lang's.
I went back out and used my Dremel tool to slightly (very slightly)take a "smidge" (technical term) of metal off the inside of the perch. I also chamfered the end of the bushing slightly to allow it to start easier. I was then able to use my vise to squeeze the new bushings into place.
Now I just need to prime and paint the last few pieces and I should be in good shape to assemble the rest of the chassis.
I'll post pics when I get the chassis rolling...
Please don't take offense at what I'm about to say. I respect all the people on this forum and think the advice given here is priceless. But please hang with me here for a minute.
When I was very young I saw a car being held up with cement blocks come down and crush my older cousins husband. Though I can barely remember the excitement around the car that day and the sadness in our family at the funeral, it made an impression on me.
I also remember my Dad working hard to find safe ways to work on his cars and assure his own safety. It taught me well.
Richard, I know you're a pretty darn intelligent person and I hope you're not too offended when I say that the problem wasn't showing the concrete blocks in your photo but having the blocks there to begin with. You started your post talking about "impending disaster". And you continue on by explaining the steps you're taking to correct the problem. Please for the next little kid that might be hanging around, change those cement blocks to something a little more substantial.
Okay, enough said.
Allen, my vendor catalog shows the U-shaped shackles are for '22 to '27. As my coupe is a '22 I thought the U-shape to be correct. I think the L-shaped ones "Monkey Motion" may have led to the perches and spring ends becoming out of line with each other. I did build up a set of the L-shaped ones when I rebuilt the front end on my 1914. I also recycled old brass king pin bushings for the shackle bushings in it. They were a bit short so I made some short pieces to make up the difference. The '14 is not a proper restoration either so I have taken some liberties with it.
I did take the coupe for a test drive and the front end feels very solid. I suspect the caster is out so I plan to do some bending. There is some shimmy I have to steer out of when I hit bumps at low speeds.
Thanks for the comments and the SAFETY reminders.
Rich (armature speller and mechanic)
Michael Warren - here they are: https://www.modeltford.com/item/3820BR.aspx
Another option that saves wear on shackles and oil is to make the bushings out of delrin or teflon - I found a set someone had made up on a lathe and I'm very pleased.
Richard that shimmy at low speed may be caused from loose spindle bolts. See if you can snug them up a bit.
Also check for loose front wheel bearings and slop at the drag link and tie rod ends.