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repo babbitt bushings and axle disc

Posted: Tue Nov 05, 2019 12:15 pm
by donald4ham
Is there a reason that the original bushings and discs fot the drive shaft and the rear axles are not reproduced in babbitt as the original parts were? If the original parts lasted 100 yrs and then started to disintegrate, it seems like it would be good to reproduce them again with new babbitt. The bronze parts have not been around near as long and who knows if they would last as long as the originals. You hear of the bronze reacting with the oils and additives. It would also be closer to the original makeup. Any thoughts?

Re: repo babbitt bushings and axle disc

Posted: Tue Nov 05, 2019 1:02 pm
by Darren J Wallace
It’s been my experience with the thrust washers that out of the dozens and dozens I’ve looked at, none of them were babbitt. They are all zinc die cast. They look like Babbitt but they’re not. If you look at mint condition ones they have the tiny Ford script cast in them. It was a cheap way originally to make a part that would otherwise need multiple operations to complete. The reason why they fail is that powdered lead was used as a mold release. The lead contamination creates inter granular corrosion. This wasn’t solved until the 1920’s roughly. Many products used zinc die cast back in the day: phonographs, Lionel trains, etc.... many of them have the same fate as our thrust washers.

Re: repo babbitt bushings and axle disc

Posted: Tue Nov 05, 2019 1:03 pm
by Darren J Wallace
Also forgot to mention that the zinc die cast alloy made great bearing material in many products.

Re: repo babbitt bushings and axle disc

Posted: Tue Nov 05, 2019 2:09 pm
by Kohnke Rebabbitting
Darren is right, on his information.

Also zinc was also tried in rod, and main bearings, in the war years, at least.

If you mix zinc with Lead, or Tin base babbitt, both are junk after that, as it won''t stick to bearing shells correctly.

I was told by the foundry, that when babbitt price went to 22.00 a pound, some of the industry, went from tin babbit to zinc, as it is cheaper.

To make new babbitt drive shaft bushings with babbitt, is easy, just more labor. But like any babbitt put in a cylinder type object, the best results is done when centrifugally poured, like the hundreds of all types of cam bearings we do a year. It also makes a hard, Dense Babbitt.

Herm.

Re: repo babbitt bushings and axle disc

Posted: Tue Nov 05, 2019 4:26 pm
by Kerry
The thrusts, part # 2528 started out as babbitt, by 1916 Ford lists for a short time as fibre then a change to being called composition, with the final description being metal until the end of production.

Canadian diffs had bronze and still listed until 1917, I've pulled down 16'ns that could be either, bronze or babbitt, later ones had the zinc die cast. I think it was no more than a cost and availability for the change, as far as Canada go's the likes of bronze, brass and lead was required for the war effort.

Also pre T's the thrusts are listed as fibre.

Re: repo babbitt bushings and axle disc

Posted: Tue Nov 05, 2019 6:00 pm
by wayne sheldon
"Babbitt" thrust washers did not last a hundred years and then suddenly begin to disintegrate. Rate of corrosion varied by degree of contamination, ambient weather conditions, humidity etc. My first model T I was working on about 1970, was only a bit more than forty years old at the time. Following good advice I was given, I ordered new bronze washers and replaced the originals. Even then, smart hobbyists were replacing the "Babbitt" washers regardless of how good they looked.
One of the originals was broken, the other appeared intact and was the most beautiful, shiniest, and flawless looking "Babbitt" washer I have ever seen before or since. I went ahead and installed the bronze washers, and as I was cleaning up my work area, walked toward the garage with that nice washer in hand. While walking, I stumbled on a gopher hole and my grip tightened slightly. That "beautiful intact" washer crumbled in my fingers. I did not squeeze hard, afterwards I crumbled more of it in my fingers.
When the cars were new, their life expectancy was only about ten years maximum. At that, washers often failed and required replacement when only a few years old. Brass/bronze replacements were being sold as a "better" alternative before 1920.

In the model T's days, if the washers failed, one would likely be out on a dirt road driving along, alone. Today, with traffic the way it is?
No, making "Babbitt" replacements today would be a VERY bad idea.

Although some lubricants do react to brass/bronze, indications are that the depth of reaction is not enough to compromise the brass/bronze significantly. Perhaps we will need to revisit this question in another hundred years?

Re: repo babbitt bushings and axle disc

Posted: Tue Nov 05, 2019 6:49 pm
by Allan
I have a pair of thrust washers which certainly look like babbit material. They are silver rather than dull grey like the originals. i have been tempted to use them, but have always resisted the urge and gone with bronze replacements. Is there an easy way to identify if they are truly babbit material?

Allan from down under.

Re: repo babbitt bushings and axle disc

Posted: Tue Nov 05, 2019 7:41 pm
by DanTreace
Older post where a bunch of metal Ford thrust washers were melted, most of the residue was just ash.


http://www.mtfca.com/discus/messages/50 ... 1233159025

Re: repo babbitt bushings and axle disc

Posted: Thu Nov 07, 2019 3:20 am
by d stroud
I have believed for many, many years that those "babbitt" washers aren't babbitt at all and have mentioned that on here in the past, but no one seemed to agree with me. It just made sense, I've never seen any kind of babbitt that would crumble or break if it was dropped. Thanks Darren for clearing that up. JMHO Dave

Re: repo babbitt bushings and axle disc

Posted: Thu Nov 07, 2019 5:56 am
by Kerry
David, I think that everyone does agree with you ;) one just has to come agross an unmolested pre great war T to find babbitt ones.

Re: repo babbitt bushings and axle disc

Posted: Thu Nov 07, 2019 7:33 am
by Jeff Perkins
This fall I disassembled and inspected the differential in my 1913 Runabout. This thrust washer was the good one, the other was in very fine crumbs all over inside. I am now a member of the “Loyal Order of the Babbitt”. Oh, well, at least I am not yet a member of the two piece crankshaft club!

Re: repo babbitt bushings and axle disc

Posted: Thu Nov 07, 2019 2:42 pm
by Walter Higgins
It's one small sneeze away from crumbling: