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1929 Dodge DA Phaeton Fan Disaster

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The Great 1929 Dodge DA Phaeton Fan Disaster

 

Here's a vacation ender for you...

 

My Dad took our  ’29 Dodge Phaeton on a car tour near Los Angeles (110 miles each-way).  He was on the return leg of a fun 2 day tour when suddenly he heard a loud bang coming from under the hood.  With the engine still running, he pulls over and lifts the hood. Holy Sxxx!! There’s a gaping hole in the side of the hood and the left fender! One of the radiator fan blades launched  through the hood of the car and penetrated through about 80% of the fender. The blade sliced through that tough Dodge steel like a hot knife through butter.

 

Of course,  once the first blade flew off, the three remaining blades went spinning wildly out of balance. The chain reaction snapped off the water pump housing, while burying the fan blades into what was a nearly perfect original honeycomb radiator.

 

The pump, the fan, and the radiator: All destroyed. The hood and fender required major body work. The body shop removed the entire front clip and refinished it. 

The hood and fender look good. The color was well matched. The Brass Works reproduced the new honeycomb radiator. They do some pretty awesome radiator work! The water pump was rebuilt at Romar’s in New York.  (See my other thread RE: My Romar experience).

 

See the pics. If anyone was standing near that car when that blade let loose, it would have cut them in half. Fortunately no one was injured. All told, this disaster amounted to over $12K in damages!

 

Moral:  Dodge Brothers Radiator Fan Blades from this era should be discarded and substituted with a safer version.  Every fan blade from this era that I have checked has cracks in it. I was aware of this and had my fan blades reinforced, but they still broke.  The cracks may be subtle and hard to see, but I promise you, they are there. I modified a fan blade from a 1950 Chrysler. It looks like a 98% perfect match and 3000 times safer. Don’t let it happen! It’s not a matter of “if” it will break; it is a matter of “when”. Getting cut in half with a fan blade is guaranteed to be a bad day.

1929 DODGE DA PHAETON FAN & WATER PUMP DAMAGE DSCN8911.JPG

1929 DODGE DA PHAETON FAN BLADE AND WATER PUMP DESTROYED DSCN8883.JPG

1929 DODGE DA PHAETON FAN BLADE AND WATER PUMP DESTROYED DSCN8885.JPG

1929 DODGE DA PHAETON FAN BLADE AND WATER PUMP DESTROYED DSCN8888.JPG

1929 DODGE DA PHAETON FAN BLADE AND WATER PUMP DESTROYED DSCN8889.JPG

1929 DODGE DA PHAETON FAN BLADE AND WATER PUMP DESTROYED DSCN9096.JPG

1929 DODGE DA PHAETON FAN BLADE AND WATER PUMP DESTROYED RADIATOR DAMAGE DSCN9041.JPG

1929 DODGE DA PHAETON FAN BLADE NEARLY PENETRATES LEFT FRONT FENDER DSCN8903.JPG

1929 DODGE DA PHAETON LEFT SIDE OF HOOD PENETRATED BY FAN BLADE DSCN8902.JPG

1929 DODGE DA PHAETON-BEFORE THE FAN BLADE INCIDENT DSC_0178.JPG

  • Sad 3

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So sorry to hear...glad you got the damage repaired. When I got my DA there was a good sized dent in my hood from a thrown fan blade. Back in the 70s my waterpump had gone bad, so my dad machined a replacement w/ a 6 blade fan attached.....not original, but keeps things cool.

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OUCH! That is very upsetting. Glad nobody was injured.

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10 hours ago, idrjoe_sandiego said:

Moral:  Dodge Brothers Radiator Fan Blades from this era should be discarded and substituted with a safer version.  Every fan blade from this era that I have checked has cracks in it. I was aware of this and had my fan blades reinforced, but they still broke.  The cracks may be subtle and hard to see, but I promise you, they are there. I modified a fan blade from a 1950 Chrysler. It looks like a 98% perfect match and 3000 times safer. Don’t let it happen! It’s not a matter of “if” it will break; it is a matter of “when”. Getting cut in half with a fan blade is guaranteed to be a bad day.

Not only Dodge but all pre war car fan blades.  My Pontiac threw a blade 35 years ago but only bent radiator fins.  A pinto fan fit perfect just needed to have two holes drilled to match the three bolt hub.  This should be posted somewhere so all pre war drivers will know to check their fans.

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That’s nasty!! I’ll be checking both mine today. When you think about it a fan blade would be pivoting at the base there ever so Slightly everytime you rev the engine. 

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Posted (edited)

Well, that’s an eye opener. I’m sorry you had to be witness to that terrible accident, and I am greatful you weren’t harmed. 

 

Anyone have advice on what blade would be a good replacement for my 1926 Dodge Brothers? 

Edited by DB26 (see edit history)

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4 hours ago, Mattml430 said:

That’s nasty!! I’ll be checking both mine today. When you think about it a fan blade would be pivoting at the base there ever so Slightly everytime you rev the engine. 

 

I think this is exactly what happens. For those unfamiliar with this setup, the fan consists of a set of two identical individual pieces of stamped steel that are mounted 90º apart on the water pump hub with 4 bolts . Close examination of several sets of these blades reveals the small gap left between the two blades (maybe 60 thou). This gap leaves each blade essentially unsupported at this point.                     (Warning...pure speculation ahead!)  

For every mile driven, the gap allows thousands of micro-flexures along this junction and eventually the metal fails. 

 

Of course, using the fan blades to turn over the engine by hand doesn't help either.  

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Posted (edited)

Dang, you would think it would slowly crack and the the oldest crack would show some rust as it progressed across the blade but that looks like a clean break right across the blade.  Yikes ,very difficult to even inspect for. 

Edited by Kenendcindyc
misspelling (see edit history)

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That fan consists of two crossed blades plus an (elliptical?) washer or plate under the bolts. I think the crack may have started behind the "washer" due to the odd shaped fatigue load on that blade. The curved end of the washer would concentrate bending in one place behind it, probably initiating the crack there. The Dodge 8 fan does not have the washer, but it still cracks, from the edge where it is visible. I had mine repaired.

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Thank you, thank you ,thank you idrjoe_sandiego.  I just checked the fan on my 28 Std Six check out these pics. 

B81ECF2B-E9CE-491A-8E2C-827A7E67A4D8.jpeg

AE8C0475-2829-4972-BEFB-D0807F4F20E4.jpeg

049E5935-CC57-4D5B-BB60-00DCB2C79932.jpeg

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I guess I will be checking my 1931 DB fans.

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Wow, Dr Joe, what a catastrophe!  Like others reading your story, I too will be checking my DA fan blades ASAP.   I think you might consider submitting your experience and story to the DB Club Newsletter, because not all Dodge Club members review this AACA Dodge forum.  Take care, Howard.

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HI from Aus  just about all these fan blades from 27-29 on victory standard senior and da will have fatigue cracks ,Ihave a standard 6 and a senior 6 both of which had blade failure

Glen Smiths da and victory 6 also .We have changed the faulty fan blades with an early model valiant fan ,only minor modification required.  

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15 hours ago, Kenendcindyc said:

I was planning on stripping the paint and magnaflux dye checking them but dang there all most 75% broken. Yikes 

Wow Ken - good find! No magnaflux needed here. Better to find the cracks now, rather than finding new louvers in your hood.

 

When checking fan blades, don't just give them a casual glance. Some of the cracks are hard to see. Best to pull them off and examine them on the bench with a good magnifier. Better yet, sandblast or wire wheel the paint off before checking. Your fan probably could use fresh coat of paint, anyway.  If it still looks good after stripping the paint, do a  magnaflux test as Ken suggested.  If it passes ALL the tests, congratulations, you have a hen's tooth.

 

I will post my "new" fan  replacement for the '29. It is likely to work for any model DB 28-31. If anyone has done some kind of replacement, post the photos and save a Dodge (or even a Pontiac) That reminds me, I also have a '29 Pontiac I need to check. Thanks Tinindian!

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I’ve just bought one of these fans. Hopefully it will be a little quieter and hopefully look ok. It’s a little unorthodox looking but rather that, then watching it fly through the bonnet. Maybe up sizing the top pulley would cut a bit of noise out. It looks like it’s about 3:1 on mine any wonder it’s noisey. 

https://rover.ebay.com/rover/0/0/0?mpre=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.ebay.com.au%2Fulk%2Fitm%2F182474802300

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