The tie rod specifically.
Tim Moore's "Coast to Coast IV" thread has drifted a bit due to his breaking of the tire rod. I questioned and postulated a bit (Who? Me?), which has lead to a few more questions. I suggested starting a new thread rather than corrupt Tim's thread further.
At this point, we may never know why Tim's tie rod broke. It has been professionally welded, and for the time being, is expected to continue being used.
Tim's tie rod apparently is one of the typical '20s style, adjusts on the ball end, and has an open (unwelded) seam running lengthwise on the bottom of the tubing.
His tie rod broke near (at?) the center, which in my experience is unusual for that type tie rod. If somehow damaged (corrosion, worn by anti-rattle springs, many other things can cause a fracture point), they can break at or near the damage point, wherever it is (inside or outside). However, most model T tie rods I have seen break (other than visually damaged elsewhere), broke at the threads near the adjusting end with the ball on it.
Later this past afternoon, I went out and looked into my junk pile. Unfortunately, I couldn't get to the broken bits and pieces of tie rod parts I know I have. (I think they are under that fender back there behind the Metz parts.) I did find three complete marginally decent looking later style tie rods. Two of them are the typical unwelded open seam tubing I mentioned. The third one appears to be "seamless" tubing. What I noticed about this one, was that it did not have the vent hole I have seen on several "seamless" tubing tie rods I have had or seen. I have over the years had, and used, one like this, but with a very small vent hole, right in the middle, on the bottom, of the tie rod. I have seen several others that had the vent hole. And I think among my broken bits, are the remains of one with a vent hole, that broke right at the vent hole. I also one day saw one rather spectacularly break at that hole.
The vent hole does serve a purpose. However, it may also do more harm than good.
In theory, the "seamless" tie rod is capped on both ends, and should be pretty well closed off from the rest of the world. However, the caps used on both ends were not welded air tight. An empty air space will "breath" with temperature and humidity changes. The reason is a bit difficult to explain, but moisture goes in better than it goes back out. In theory, the vent hole is there to allow the moisture to drain and blow out on a warm day. Unfortunately, in practice, the vent hole also allows moisture to more easily collect around the inside of the vent hole itself, allowing corrosion to form in the worst possible vibration point of the tie rod. That corrosion is inside where it cannot be seen, and eats into the metal creating a possible fracture point.
The unwelded open seam tubing tie rods appear, from what I have noticed, to be much more common. The seam is at the bottom of the tie rod, nearly full length. This allows better drainage, as well as better venting and drying. They seem to be much less likely to break near the midpoint. Either type can break at the threaded end due to vibration, damage, or other stresses.
A couple questions.
Does anybody know the timelines of these?
When were the "seamless" tie rods used?
What years were the open seam tie rods used?
And are the "seamless" tie rods truly seamless? Could they be welded seam tubing? Or extruded tubing? (Truly seamless.) That was one of the things I was hoping to figure out from my bits and pieces junk, but couldn't reach it.
All that, and I haven't even touched on the early tie rods. Quite different in every detail.
I believe this is more commonly referred to as a "drag link". Mine is brazed a few inches at the ends, but not in the middle. A solid one would not be that hard to make using the stock ends, but I'm not sure that would be necessary. However if I was doing a long distance cross country trip I would sure think about it.
I don't mean to start a p.....ing contest but I've always heard of a tie rod as being the connection that "ties" the two front wheels together. The drag link makes the connection between the steering gear and the spindle (model A) or right side end of the tie rod (model T).
On cars with SLA (short/long arm) independent suspension you of course have two tie rods which attach to the drag link which is connected to the steering gear on one end and an idler arm on the other. Sort of definitionally mushy but still more or less consistent with my first paragraph.
So for me, calling the part in question here a tie rod is the more technically correct term, though if it were more commonly called a drag link, it would not be the first time that common usage missed the mark.
No Kevin, it's not the drag link, it's the tie rod.
Thanks for the correction guys. My mistake!
"At this point, we may never know why Tim's tie rod broke."
It broke because the steering stabilizer clamps created a concentrated stress point. Either the added weight of the stabilizer caused vibration and fatigue that was concentrated at the clamping point, or the clamps were way too tight, adding stress to that specific area, or both.
Tim confirmed that the break was exactly at the stabilizer clamp. I've seen that happen before. Each time, guardian angels were watching and it happened at a non-critical moment, but each time WHILE DRIVING.
Hmmm, One of those stabilizers is on my '24 touring. I thought it was a good thing....maybe not?
Wayne - Thanks for this thread. I had no idea that there was anything but a solid rod or bar used for tie rods!
Have one of those stabilizers on my '27 and like it for helping control steering wheel jump when you hit big holes or rail road track crossings at too much speed. Works well.
The flat clamps go over and under the tie rod. Could see where this clamp compromise a worn Ford original. What you can't see in the photo is the tie rod I have mounted is a solid rod, that was sold years ago by James Golding. The rod is solid steel, with Ford yoke pinned and brazed to one end, and the other end threaded for drag link ball yoke assembly.
Jerry V O, So it was one of those "steering stabilizers". I have never had one, don't like messing with what is original and works well. So far, I have never had a T that had serious steering issues after a little work was done. I like them without all the modern gewgaws.
Dan T, A very good friend of mine had a well made solid steel tie rod on his speedster many many years ago. It broke on an Endurance Run, and he took out a small section of a barb wire fence. He used a bit of the barb wire to wire tie together the broken tie rod onto the drag link and continued the run. No serious damage was done to the car (although he ruined both front tires). About fifty miles later, a friend that had thrown a rod insisted he use the tie rod off his car, so they bent it to fit, and finished the Run with the borrowed tie rod. Forty years since, he is still running an original Ford tubing tie rod after many tens of thousands of miles on the same car. Oh, and he got the Breakdown Award for that Run, complete with the broken end of his tie rod that someone scrounged when he wasn't looking.
And thanks all that have commented so far.
I would like to get the whole world back to "language needs to mean something". I was brought up around this stuff a lot, and the tie rod was always the rod that tied the two wheels together. The drag link went from the pitman arm to the tie rod and dragged the tie rod back and forth.
Unfortunately, Ford isn't helping. I just looked in my reproduction 1928 parts book. Ford calls both the tie rod and the drag link "connecting rods". The pitman arm is called a "steering gear ball arm" in that Ford book.
No wonder we have so much difficulty with these words. People have been redefining them for more than a hundred years! Probably since the beginning of language, which is thought to be about 100,000 years ago.
Google and Wikipedia do a marginally decent job of defining them however.
Most people will never drive where a steering stabilizer is needed if the steering system is in good repair, but I have noticed that is deep soft sand or loose dirt, the T tends to dart around a bit due to the change in caster caused by the change of the pressure point of the front tires. The same thing con happen if the car is driven off a paved surface into loose gravel or dirt on the shoulder.
I've been a proponent of stabilizers on T's. The subject has been brought up before, but for the benefit of those who know little about them, I feel this is important to revisit it. I've driven T's since 1976, driving many more miles than normal. In my opinion the steering is the weakest link driving a T. Under the right conditions if you hit a rough edge or shoulder of a road the wheels can flip instantly, and results can be deadly. In all my thousands of miles of driving a T, it has happened to me three different times. The car has almost flipped over each time. I was lucky! There have been a few fatality's in the past few years that I believe this played a part in. The stabilizer keeps this from happening. This is not a cover-up for a faulty front end. I put one of these on my wife's T, she didn't realize it until after I told her. She noticed no difference in driving it.
I was very concerned when I read about Tim's recent post regarding his tie rod breaking, with the stabilizer being a possible cause. I took the stabilizer off my 14 as I drive this one the most, and examined the tie rod. This was a new old stock tie rod when I rebuilt the front end 15,000+ miles ago. It is a seam welded rod. There appears to be no damage to it, but it got me thinking. I reinstalled it, but used a window channel material between the clamp and rod. I also installed hose clamps on each side of this in case it loosened for any reason. I also used it on the axle clamp. The axle clamp has been the only issue I have had with this set up. It did loosen up once and affected the steering by not turning a sharp left. The instructions warn you to check this. I have these on three of my T's I drive the most. I will be checking the others also. Another benefit is you can back up the car safely without the wheels flopping back-and-forth.
In the past this is been a hotly contested subject. I feel this information is a safety issue that needs to be shared. This will be my only post about the pros and cons. I will answer questions, but I will not argue about it, as I said in the beginning of the post this is my opinion.
Thank you Dan K! I think it is important that people be aware of certain options. I will not argue with you about it, and as presented, I would certainly hope nobody else would either.
Drive and enjoy your Ts!
I am still hoping for some historic clarification as to when each type of tie rod was used?
Dan, I believe you make some good points regarding the steering stabilizer. It appears that the stabilizer is like a lot of things in life, a mixed blessing.
The stabilizer certainly does fill a need in the T, preventing dangerous inputs to the steering system from being fed back up through the gear box and into the driver's hands.
But this useful damping effect puts forces on the tie rod for which it was not designed. The stabilizer is capable of putting much higher forces into the system than can be done by the driver's hands. Not only are the forces higher, but they have become a combined axial and bending combination.
Eventually the tie rod seems to fatigue and break at the stabilizer attach point. As originally designed, the tie rod takes direct tension and compression loads. But now we're asking it to take much higher tension/compression loads, and some bending loads to boot.
Installing a stabilizer in the steering system is a lot like souping up the motor. Something downstream usually breaks. As originally built, the T is a marvelously designed system - no part too large or too small for its intended purpose.
Great comment Dan, looking at the bracket that attaches the stabilizer to the tie rod, would it not be better if that bracket was shorter and wider. The fabric should help reduce the concentration of force to a point in the tie rod, but if the end of the stabilizer was connected closer to the rod, it would have less leverage on the rod. This should be an easy modification, you could even move the connection to one of the bolts that fixes the bracket to the rod.
I agree that there have been fatalities that could have been prevented with a stabilizer, the most notable was a younger driver pulling off the road to allow traffic to pass and having the car flip.
Gustaf, That doesn't sound like a bad idea. The problem is you would have to move the cylinder closer to the tie-rod also. Otherwise you would be pushing in on the tie-rod. The cylinder itself exerts very little pressure. I'm surprised it actually does work. I think what I will do is periodically check it to make sure no damage is being done to the tie-rod. Thanks for responding.
Wouldn't these steering stabilizers make more sense if they mounted closer to the end of the tie rod? Seems to me like it would take away at least a little bit of flex in the system.
Hey Dan, I think the cylinders are designed to have very little resistance when moved slowly, but when a quick movement happens, there is a valve that creates resistance. With that in mind, the bracket should not be doing any damage during highway use. With that in mind, it might be such a thing that a car that never leaves the pavement would be the best candidate for a stabilizer, as a driver who is unfamiliar with the car's reaction to soft surfaces is the most likely to be one who would loose control.