This is, I am sure, very much a beginners question - please bear with me.
Following a complete engine rebuild, I figured it would be a good idea to consider the drivetrain and differential of my '26 Coupe before getting on the road. I did a superficial, initial investigation today - in which I jacked up one rear wheel and engaged the clutch. I found that I could rotate said rear wheel completely freely through an arc of around 5-10 degrees before, at each limit of the rotation, the wheel eventually engaged with the drivetrain.
I assume this means serious potential problems with the rear end, and that I should undertake (or commission) a thorough investigation and probably a full rebuild before attempting to drive this thing?
The car hasn't been on the road since I was a teenager 40 years ago - when I happily tore around town oblivious to mechanical safety. I guess I am getting more cautious.
Tom, that is completely normal. There is a lot of play in the differential spider gears. I would take the axle out and rebuild it anyway. They are more often than not worn out and if pretty much any part of the assembly fails your transmission brake will not work anymore. It's not difficult just a little time and money consuming.
Tom, there aren't many things on this forum that people here can agree on with 100% unity, but i think i can safely say that making sure your rear-end is up to date with the proper thrust washers is one of them. Considering it sat for 40 years, you will have more peace of mind knowing all is well inside and that it safe when you drive it. Best of luck, and let us know how you make out.
Bear with you? Bah, we've all been there (sounding like the crotchety sob that I am) and there will be play in the rear end.
Phooey, I'm just a newbie too. ;-).
I'm glad you asked this question.
Yup, get that rear axle up to date.
I have one of those old T's and it has never let me down and still is a good'un. He needs a rear axle rebuild so !BAD! and a prayer said that I've been so lucky. Been driving it around here for 20 years.
My new T Runabout crapped out a Babbitt rear axle thrust washer after about 5 miles last year. Still lucky.
Yup, get that rear axle up to date.
One thing we all agree on is the rear axle and your safety.
Since most of us are the 3rd or 4th "custodians" of these cars it probably pays to just assume that key components need maintenance of some sort or another. In my case, I found out the hard way that one of the "restorers" of my car sometime long previous to my ownership assembled the front end with some incorrect components. Unbeknownst to me, it had two right hand spindles on it. I found out the hard way when sailing down the road at a pretty good clip here a few weeks ago and the left front wheel bearing seized in the hub. Just about flipped the car into the opposite ditch of the road. I was lucky to get out of it with only a trashed hub, bent wire wheel rim, and some slightly damp shorts. From now on I am not trusting that things were done correctly and safely. I am going to tear into it to make darn sure.
I'm working on a lapsed project that I inherited. All the mechanicals done ,I was assured, but being a pessimist I pulled the back axle apart to check. The right axle had an original babbit thrust washer and the retaining pins for the thrust plates were pretty well non-existent and the washer was held in place with silastic. The left axle has an after market thrust bearing set up. SIGH.. do yourself a favour and drop the back axle out and have a look.
I tore mine apart last week, found a horrid excuse of lock wire and loose ring gear bolts. A bit of time muscling it apart and back together and a crisis averted.