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Old 08-23-2015, 08:59 PM   #1
P.S.
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Default Babbitus fragmentus!

The all original 29 Fordor was running super sweet. On the way home from the club breakfast last weekend, it suddenly developed a vibration that got worse very quickly (it normally is as smooth as a 2015 Ford). I shut it down and pulled over. Came home on the metallic magic carpet. Pulled the motor today. See attached.

Center main babbit is completely gone from the cap. Everything else looks perfect inside. No damage to crank, miraculously. Other mains look perfect.

Not sure what caused this in a factory stock motor. It was sure sudden.

The oil looks dirtier in the photo than it actually is.
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Last edited by P.S.; 08-25-2015 at 04:11 PM.
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Old 08-23-2015, 09:32 PM   #2
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Default Re: Go ahead and give this thread a one-star rating. Babbitus fragmentus!

Well I mean, it is 86 years old...
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Old 08-23-2015, 09:48 PM   #3
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Default Re: Go ahead and give this thread a one-star rating. Babbitus fragmentus!

At what speed do you travel? I shudder at the clams by many on this site that they can cruise all day at 55 mph in their stock Model A. This is what happens when you flog the engine like that. I'm not saying that is what you do/did but the middle main is notoriously weak and won't take that sort of abuse.
A Model A engine will go for a long time if driven within its limits. Too many these days expect modern car performance/life out of a nearly 90 years old design.
IMHO, keep a model A under about 42 mph (with 3.78 diff ratio) or risk walking home. I know I'm going to get some telling me I'm wrong but I have seen it happen too many times to listen to fools.
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Old 08-23-2015, 10:14 PM   #4
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Default Re: Go ahead and give this thread a one-star rating. Babbitus fragmentus!

I didn't post this to complain, just to show what can happen, and how quickly it can happen.

I was going about 45 mph, as usual. This is an original car (original paint, interior, etc.) and mostly a preservation car, not a touring car. I have NEVER driven this car 55 mph, it's a 45 mph cruiser all day though. I never lugged it, always kept clean oil in it, you name it.

With the disclaimer out of the way now, perhaps we can proceed.

Synchro- I mostly agree with you, but that sure wasn't the case here. I think about 50 mph seems to be the consensus for a stock Model A.
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Old 08-23-2015, 10:39 PM   #5
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Default Re: Go ahead and give this thread a one-star rating. Babbitus fragmentus!

Hi P.S.,

Sad to hear; but thanks for taking time to share with photos.

Roughly how many miles were on your engine since last center main bearing adjustment?
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Old 08-23-2015, 10:49 PM   #6
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Default Re: Go ahead and give this thread a one-star rating. Babbitus fragmentus!

Hi H.L.

I don't know. However, the motor was so smooth, quiet (couldn't tell it was running when at idle) and was so strong, I never checked them myself. Now that the motor is out and on the stand, I can certainly check.

I have only driven this Model A about 300 miles. Like I said, it is a preservation car. Just never got around to dropping the pan and checking the clearances. Based on how it ran, it wasn't a priority.
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Old 08-23-2015, 11:15 PM   #7
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Default Re: Go ahead and give this thread a one-star rating. Babbitus fragmentus!

Quote:
Originally Posted by P.S. View Post
I didn't post this to complain, just to show what can happen, and how quickly it can happen.

I was going about 45 mph, as usual. This is an original car (original paint, interior, etc.) and mostly a preservation car, not a touring car. I have NEVER driven this car 55 mph, it's a 45 mph cruiser all day though. I never lugged it, always kept clean oil in it, you name it.

With the disclaimer out of the way now, perhaps we can proceed.

Synchro- I mostly agree with you, but that sure wasn't the case here. I think about 50 mph seems to be the consensus for a stock Model A.
PS,
If this is a preservation car, the bearings are probably quite old. I'm told they deteriorate just standing there so they won't have been at their best. Yes, failure can go from bad to downright ugly very quickly. As soon as the clearance gets too wide, crankshaft starts to pound the metal in the bearing "squishing" it (don't you love these technical terms?) out of the cap. The clearance get even wider and it's all down hill from there.
You might consider inserts as replacements and if you go that way, I'd recommend an oil filter be fitted.
Good luck with it whatever you do.
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Old 08-24-2015, 12:47 AM   #8
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Default Re: Go ahead and give this thread a one-star rating. Babbitus fragmentus!

Hi P.S.,

Thanks for explanation & details in addition to photos.

Great commendable wisdom in choosing to come home on the metallic magic carpet; hence, you stopped in time and saved the crankshaft.

I knew many in the past who would have come home at 45 m.p.h. sounding like a noisy Blacksmith's shop located immediately adjacent to a church with open windows ....... they would have had a whipping crankshaft beating out the front & rear Babbitt like a 40 H. P. gas powered Roto-Rooter.

Please let us what else you may find.

Last edited by H. L. Chauvin; 08-24-2015 at 12:49 AM. Reason: typo
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Old 08-24-2015, 10:20 AM   #9
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Default Re: Go ahead and give this thread a one-star rating. Babbitus fragmentus!

Hey P.S..
Bummer , indeed !
I've often wondered how long original poured Henry Ford Babbitt would last in an engine that is driven regularly ? And, I've asked here priorly about what Synchro mentioned, i.e.- does poured Babbitt degrade/deterioriate over time, just because of AGE , whether used or not ?
The 'silver' lining' here, IMO, is that you live near a real good engine guy (Joe) in Turlock !
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Old 08-24-2015, 10:37 AM   #10
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Default Re: Go ahead and give this thread a one-star rating. Babbitus fragmentus!

Yup seen that before. Had a similar experience with my car. Front and rear main looked great but middle main was shot.
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Old 08-24-2015, 10:50 AM   #11
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Default Re: Go ahead and give this thread a one-star rating. Babbitus fragmentus!

Quote:
does poured Babbitt degrade/deteriorate over time, just because of AGE , whether used or not ?
The babbitt thrust washers in Model T rear ends deteriorate w/age. I don't know it they used the same formula babbitt in the thrust washers as is used in engines or not. Anyone know?
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Old 08-24-2015, 11:07 AM   #12
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Default Re: Go ahead and give this thread a one-star rating. Babbitus fragmentus!

Try a presurized center main. Dennis Pirano in Tx has a kit, cheap and easy to install. Its a simple installation.
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Old 08-24-2015, 11:07 AM   #13
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Default Re: Go ahead and give this thread a one-star rating. Babbitus fragmentus!

I've pulled apart many tractors that sat parked for years or decades and the babbit has come off the rods/mains in chunks when disassembled. These were engines that were parked for reasons other than oil or bearing issues and had oil in them. It seems the worst were the ones sitting the longest, like the ancient oil weakend the babbit.
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Old 08-24-2015, 01:38 PM   #14
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Default Re: Go ahead and give this thread a one-star rating. Babbitus fragmentus!

Quote:
Originally Posted by hardtimes View Post
Hey P.S..
Bummer , indeed !
I've often wondered how long original poured Henry Ford Babbitt would last in an engine that is driven regularly ? And, I've asked here priorly about what Synchro mentioned, i.e.- does poured Babbitt degrade/deterioriate over time, just because of AGE , whether used or not ?
The 'silver' lining' here, IMO, is that you live near a real good engine guy (Joe) in Turlock !
I had a 1930 Town sedan It had 85,000 miles on a original engine that had never been rebuilt. Standard bore. I adjusted the bearings and ground the valves. Ran great.
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Old 08-24-2015, 04:29 PM   #15
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Default Re: Go ahead and give this thread a one-star rating. Babbitus fragmentus!

I haven't seen it mentioned (maybe I missed it), but there might have been oil starvation at the center bearing.

Have you checked the oil passage for this bearing from the valve galley?
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Old 08-24-2015, 04:43 PM   #16
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Default Re: Go ahead and give this thread a one-star rating. Babbitus fragmentus!

Hi PS, Sorry to hear about your engine. As Synchro909 indicated above, and what is not widely known or appreciated, is the fact that certain alloys crystallize and/or "break down" over time. White metal, pot metal, brass, and no doubt a catalogue of other alloys or "mixes" can expand, deform, crystallize, and disintegrate and otherwise become useless after a certain period of years.
I am going to bet here that you did nothing to "deserve" what happened to your center main, and that what happened to that bearing is probably going to happen very soon to your other bearings as well. Since you have an "all original" Model A, find yourself someone who can do a 100% authentic poured babbitt job on your motor, and keep it as original as possible. Good Luck!
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Old 08-24-2015, 07:14 PM   #17
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Default Re: Go ahead and give this thread a one-star rating. Babbitus fragmentus!

P.S., Sorry for your misfortune. Did the motor make any noise before or after this happened?
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Old 08-24-2015, 07:14 PM   #18
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Default Re: Go ahead and give this thread a one-star rating. Babbitus fragmentus!

And don't have the crankshaft reground unless absolutely necessary! They'll mess it up most likely.
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Old 08-24-2015, 09:13 PM   #19
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Default Re: Go ahead and give this thread a one-star rating. Babbitus fragmentus!

Hardtimes- There is just over 68K on the odometer. However, after tearing the engine down fully, my expert friend Bob and I have come to the conclusion that someone has worked on this motor, it is not Henry Ford original. So, I don't know if the babbit is original or not.

PC- Good suggestion. We are going to go inserts and take your suggestion.

Ron- That does not appear to be the case. The babbit in the block still looks OK, but the babbit in the cap is just gone.

Chris- Please see above. Not exactly Henry Ford original as previously lead to believe. It has adjustable lifters in it- dead giveaway. However, it still has the Ford script valves. Surprisingly, no detectable wear to the cylinder walls, no ridge at the top.

Harley- Not really. It just started to vibrate. It didn't make any noise until just before I shut it down. The noise was a vibration type rattle. Not very loud.

40- I know what you mean.

So, after tearing it down, my expert friend Bob started assembling parts so we can go with full inserts. He thinks he will have it put together by the weekend. No big hurry or anything, just him working at his pace.

Honestly, I like the idea of going with insert bearings. Turlock Machine built the motor in my Tudor with full inserts, and it's a runner!
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Old 08-24-2015, 09:42 PM   #20
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Default Re: Go ahead and give this thread a one-star rating. Babbitus fragmentus!

The best thing you can do for the life of the main bearings is use a COUNTERWEIGHTED crankshaft.
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