Getting my Ford Model A running and driving was an afternoon affair, but bringing it up to safe operation is a significantly larger task. I decided to start at the front and cure one of the more terrifying problems that popped up from my short drives around the block—the death wobble.
The steering and suspension of pre-war cars can leave a lot to be desired, even when functioning at their best. And my Model A was not functioning at its best. Even at low speeds, the front tires would occasionally get to wobbling in a manner typically reserved for young folks on a dance floor. Luckily, the cure for this frightful boogie is pretty simple. Simple parts replacement.
I figured the parts that needed replacing were the kingpins and the corresponding bushing in the spindles. The beam axle on the Model A is a straightforward design, and tearing it down was intuitive enough, and despite already having new parts I grabbed the calipers and began checking measurements to see just what had worn out.
Interestingly enough, the kingpins were within serviceable spec, measuring 0.810 inches with no wear or taper where they sat in the spindle bushings. Those bushings though, were pretty knackered. I shouldn’t have been surprised, as the fix-it kits available from the Model A parts houses start with just a bushing kit, and that seems to be the most popular option. The axle showed no wear, just needed a bit of cleaning.
The real fun was finding that the new-old-stock spindles I scored from the family storage garage were already fitted with bushings and reamed to size. The reamer for Model A spindles is a special piece of kit and I don’t have one. I wouldn’t be any too excited about purchasing one either, as I don’t expect to do the kingpins on this car for another decade or so. It meant I could start assembly—as soon as the grease fittings were in place. Retrofitting the spindles with modern zerk fittings is featured in the next episode, and if you want to be notified when that comes out next Friday, be sure to subscribe to Hagerty’s YouTube channel.