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Old 04-14-2014, 07:21 PM   #1
Don/WI
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Default Front Axle - Repair old or look for replacement?

A fellow Model "A"er is looking to repair or replace his front axle. He brought his old axle to me and asked me for my opinion on repairing it. One of the kingpin holes is worn and the kingpin moves side to side about 0.030". He asked if I thought it could be drilled/bored out and a sleeve/bushing pressed in to repair it. While I feel that it could be done, I don't think I would install a repaired one for myself. I guess I'm asking for opinions on whether it can/should be done.

He called me to see what I thought and also if I had a spare axle. I happen to have one that I purchased at one time with some other "A" stuff. The axle has no rust, just a thin layer of black paint. It looks to be used but not abused. The holes are not worn. What is a fair price for this item? Don/WI
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Old 04-14-2014, 07:37 PM   #2
Joe K
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Default Re: Front Axle - Repair old or look for replacement?

The old axle can be repaired, but it will take someone with a bridgeport (and a 7 degree angle measure) to do it right. He will machine the hole and then bush the hole to bring it to the correct size.

Around here, an axle minus the brake parts but with steering linkage will go for around $75. Maybe 50 if you don't mind a little dirt and a little uncertainty.

Sometimes you see them barn fresh at Amherst with brake drums for $50 or even less - but they're snapped up fast at that price.

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Old 04-14-2014, 08:37 PM   #3
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Default Re: Front Axle - Repair old or look for replacement?

I just went through the same axle situation. My axle kingpin holes were very sloppy. After talking with several model A club members they recommended beating the ends of the axle with a shop hammer to slightly tighten the holes. They had seen this numerous times and this process worked. The model A axel is very tough and this was not an easy job. You have to hit the axel on the ends and keep testing to avoid going too far. You will find the metal in these axles have a memory and will relax back toward original shape, hence you can't be in a hurry. It might take several days and multiple sessions until it will stabilize. My kingpin holes came out just right with no slop. Two schools of thought on beating on the axle. If you beat on the top and bottom bosses as opposed to just between the bosses they will peen vertically and you will need to file that small vertical component down flush for proper spindle spacing. If you beat on just the space between the bosses the metal is thinner and is easier to overdo it. I beat on both surfaces. This is better done with the axle on the car. My front end is back together and the brakes and alignment came out fine. Most of the slop I had turned out to be the axle holes and this process eliminated it.
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Old 04-15-2014, 06:39 PM   #4
Don/WI
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Default Re: Front Axle - Repair old or look for replacement?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Joe K View Post
The old axle can be repaired, but it will take someone with a bridgeport (and a 7 degree angle measure) to do it right. He will machine the hole and then bush the hole to bring it to the correct size.

Around here, an axle minus the brake parts but with steering linkage will go for around $75. Maybe 50 if you don't mind a little dirt and a little uncertainty.

Sometimes you see them barn fresh at Amherst with brake drums for $50 or even less - but they're snapped up fast at that price.

Joe K
Any idea on the maximum outside diameter for a bushing to repair the kingpin hole? Any info is appreciated. I am not too keen on using a hammer to make the hole smaller. I don't see how the 7 degree angle could be maintained using that method. Thanks for the suggestion anyway. Don/WI
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Old 04-15-2014, 07:12 PM   #5
Joe K
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Default Re: Front Axle - Repair old or look for replacement?

My machinist friend here locally I remember "cleaned them up" the minimum necessary to achieve a full clear diameter. The sleeve he used some diameter thick wall tubing which he turned the exterior to match and be interference with the new enlarged hole. I'm thinking the tubing was 1" OD before but whatever after he turned it down.

This he pressed into the housing using loctite & etc.

He then machined the interior using the bridgeport.

He commented that he wondered how much the loctite did because the sleeve naturally gets hot during machining - but he was sure he would have to machine out the sleeve to get it out - and it doesn't seem to break the bond or turn as he is machining.

With the sleeve done he has to machine the lock pin hole - which is a straight diameter on most axles. (Some early ones might be "different" IIRC - not part of the discussion with him)

We talked some about reduction in strength of the axle.

"Severely overdesigned" he said. "The roads ARE a lot better now than they were then."

Well, maybe down south. Here in Cow Hampshire frost heaves are not a lifestyle choice. And roads haven't changed THAT much since 1929.

I watched him on the setup. He had some right angle plates that he fussed around on the table of the bridgeport. And the axle clamped to these. His table was NOT quite long enough to do the axle in one setting - but he was meticulous in establishing the axle "level and square" to assure that 7 degrees required.

It took four setups/breakdowns to do one axle both ends. He didn't press the sleeve in in place but used the remote press (requiring re-placement) He indicated he preferred this over doing one end since it's hard to establish true axis on the "good" side and use that to set up for the "bad" side. He preferred to simply place the axle. Go for level and square. And machine both without removing the angle plates from the axle.

He also indicated that he can straighten an axle - but preferred to work straight ones - but that there were not many left that were still straight.

"How may do you think are straight?" I asked.

"Of hundred I've done, I've seen two" he says.

I think he was trying to tell me something about his interest level.

He claims to be retired now - but he hasn't sold off his bridgeport or lathe - last I knew.

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Old 04-15-2014, 08:19 PM   #6
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Default Re: Front Axle - Repair old or look for replacement?

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My camber came out on the money. I did have the same concern about the 7 degree camber using the hammer method. I was careful to beat an equal amount on the top and bottom bosses. The small amount of actual movement to tighten the holes makes it unlikely you would have a significant change in camber. I know this method sounds crude and brutal but after trying it I have to say I would do it again before I would change an axle. I was not able to find a replacement axle that was even as good as the one on my car so I decided stick with it.
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Old 04-15-2014, 08:44 PM   #7
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Default Re: Front Axle - Repair old or look for replacement?

I am curious HOW that hole can get worn. The spindle bolt is held tight in that hole by the bolt thru the axle. The only way that hole can wear if that thru bolt is loose. The hole in the axle for the spindle bolt is not even machined in an original axle. It is just cast in the casting.

How does that hole wear?
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Old 04-15-2014, 09:03 PM   #8
Tom Wesenberg
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Default Re: Front Axle - Repair old or look for replacement?

I was wondering the same thing as Steve?

I have a 1928 axle with original second style lock bolts and I can't get the bolts loose to even try to get the kingpins loose.
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Old 04-15-2014, 10:04 PM   #9
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Default Re: Front Axle - Repair old or look for replacement?

Concerning how the kingpin holes can get enlarged: It can start to happen after kingpin spindle jobs when the taper pin is inserted and tightened with a wrench instead of hammered in and then tightened. This can cause a loose fit between the kingpin and axle. After a while the kingpin will rock in the vertical plane and any space will only get worse. The taper pin should be retightened after the car is driven a few hundred miles. A lot of axles have endured a lot of abuse over the years. Probably one of the worst cases happens when the front spring sags and the shackles rest on the axle. Can you imagine the pounding out on the end of the axle. Not to mention the roads back in the day!
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Old 04-15-2014, 10:05 PM   #10
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Default Re: Front Axle - Repair old or look for replacement?

A quick search on the HAMB will reveal some great techniques for this fix and I think I've tried them all. I've not been able to shrink .030". but I've shrunk .018 to .020" by heating and peening the end of the axle much like shrinking sheet metal by heating and hammering. I've also had limited success simply by arc welding the end of the axle and letting it shrink the hole diameter by cooling and then reaming the hole. this is of course followed by grinding the welded bead off the axle. I've seen that sometimes the hole is elongated in the castor plane rather than the camber plane. I figure this is caused by the loosening of the locking bolt and the braking/acceleration action of the wheel. I have sleeved the perch holes with great success by boring out the hole and pressing a sleeve and hand reaming to size.
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Old 04-15-2014, 10:48 PM   #11
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Default Re: Front Axle - Repair old or look for replacement?

As to wondering how the axle hole gets enlarged watch some of the goofs who with a torch and gigantic hammer remove tight king pins. After swelling the diameter at the bottom of the king pin which is hollow to start they manage to swell the king pin diameter and then drive it thru the axle also enlarging it.
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