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Taylormade

Wayne’s Death Wobble

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Did anyone catch tonight’s “Chasing Classic Cars?”  Wayne was driving a 1932 Packard and in a traveling shot from the camera truck he was tooling down the road when the front driver’s side tire hit a big rut in the road.  The front end immediately went into a classic death wobble as the car drove out of frame.  It looked like he was lucky he didn’t lose control.  They cut away fairly quickly, but the was no doubt the front end was all over the road.

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Benefits of AACA Membership.

Yes, The left front wheel acted like is was bent. Bob 

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The frightening 'Death Wobble' occasionally made a presence when my 1930 Ford pickup passed over a stretch of rough road.

After some poking around, I found that the steering gear box sector shaft bushings were well worn.

I replaced the bushings and installed a near-NOS sector shaft. 

Checked and adjusted the steering box in the usual manner, then reinstalled.

Death Wobble gone.

 

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2 hours ago, Taylormade said:

Did anyone catch tonight’s “Chasing Classic Cars?”  Wayne was driving a 1932 Packard and in a traveling shot from the camera truck he was tooling down the road when the front driver’s side tire hit a big rut in the road.  The front end immediately went into a classic death wobble as the car drove out of frame.  It looked like he was lucky he didn’t lose control.  They cut away fairly quickly, but the was no doubt the front end was all over the road.

 

Yes!   I watched it a few times.  If I recall correctly, it was right after they talked about how the car was so well sorted and drove so well.  ;)

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Yes. I had it recorded and backed it up and watched it a couple of times. Wow. Same thing happened on the Pierce Arrow later in the show when loaded down with all his auction buddies, but you have to look quick.

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Death wobble is common on the Model A, steering box, drag link, king pin, wheel bearing wear, bad/no shocks and a few other areas can all either be the root cause or a contributing factor.  I am replacing steering box which seems to be the main culprit, but when we took front end apart its clear it dhould be done at least every 90 years..

I am sure parts are tougher to find on the big iron and I wonder how many of those have been gone through in that way...  

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Posted (edited)

Often saw the Death Wobble on the Model A's The Walton's had on their weekly show when I was young and dreaming of having a few Model A Fords myself. 

Edited by Dandy Dave (see edit history)
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41 minutes ago, Steve_Mack_CT said:

I wonder how many of those have been gone through in that way... 

 

50/50 chance the next one you see was cleaned and painted. With deep research done on the proper chassis color. I was busy all through the 1990's making freshly restored and original cars steer, start, and stop. Most of the restorations did not do all three.

My first experiences with the wobble were on late '60's GM trucks. The upper inner control arm bushings would cause them to dance all over. You had to bring the truck to a stop and start rolling again.

 

Steering sectors and worm gears are usually hardened on the wear surface. When you see small pits in that area the hardening has worn through and it will wear rapidly. I rebuilt the stock front end on my Buick powered 1960 Ford F-100. The worm gear-steering shaft was worn. When I found an NOS part it turned out to be a little long. The column was the same diameter as exhaust pipe. A short exhaust connector at the base got me going, but I wasn't putting it together knowing it was "good enough for government work".

 

I did watch that TV show last night but didn't see the steering incident. When he walked out of the house and said "We came to an agreement I rolled my eyes and thought "Oh, the secret price again". Green Acres was on the other channel. Mr. Haney handed over a $10 right in front of the camera. I have heard so many people in the car hobby avoid prices, either paid or received in the past 50 years it gets comical about how they evade a straight answer. I think they squirm the most when you ask "About how much would I have to pay to get one like yours?" My kids say I am easy to entertain.

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Having made documentaries all my life, I can tell you people often don’t want personal information made public.  I’m sure some of Wayne’s customers/clients request the details of their transactions not  to be made public on the show.  I, too, find it frustrating, often wondering just what the heck he paid for that car or motorcycle.  He does tell you prices in all the auction segments, which are public anyway, so you get some idea what’s going on.  And speaking of auctions, bidding was pretty flat on last night’s show.  This virus isn’t going to help things, either.

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I'd like to know more about the Mercedes Gull Wing he got a few weeks ago. No owner was shown or mentioned. Car was in a very out of place garage for a car of that caliber. Bob 

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I did see that!  I flashed across the screen right after he said it runs and rides nice. 

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Model A Ford's are no more susceptible to "death wobble" as any other cars with poor alignment and worn out front end parts. 

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I remember being on a Suzuki GT-750 at speed when a wobble started. At least on a bike you can back off the throttle and touch just the rear brake. Helps to 1) Know what is happening as it starts and 2) Have very fast reflexes (necessary to ride a bike in the first place).

 

Interesting thing about these shows is how often I see cars from earlier episodes in the background, looks like he still has the Davis. (record so often watch at 3 am).

 

Really strange thing is that in the Street Outlaw series, several times they mentioned "Traction Control". With that why would any car ever go "up in smoke". Of course the number of times someone just forgets to turn something on is abby-surd.

 

Suspect cable companies might be a good investment.

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Had a heck of a death wobble in one of my 1931 DB coupes. Took it around the block to an alignment guy and he found two wedges on each side between each set of front springs and the axle. One wedge on each side was broken. He took out the broken parts and the wobble magically disappeared.

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First and  second generation Dodge Ram's with 4 WD are notorious for the Death Wobble.  It can be scary at 65 mph pulling a trailer.

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2 hours ago, 46 woodie said:

Model A Ford's are no more susceptible to "death wobble" as any other cars with poor alignment and worn out front end parts. 

 

Exactly right. 

Its just that there are more Model A's out there, so they get more coverage. 

Its human nature to twist perception into reality.

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I saw the show and I believe he was driving his 20’s Pierce-Arrow. He had a car load of passengers.

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Just now, stakeside said:

I saw the show and I believe he was driving his 20’s Pierce-Arrow. He had a car load of passengers.

 

 

 That was right after the Packard tour in question. Bob 

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One of the first times I drove my '21 Chevy,I went over a set of railway tracks and the steering wheel just about jumped out of my hands. It must have looked weird from the outside with the front wheels wobbling like that.

I installed a genuine Hercules shimmy chaser (and tightened the center link cups) which helped considerably., although I still slow down for railway tracks.

IMG_1617.JPG

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10 hours ago, 46 woodie said:

Model A Ford's are no more susceptible to "death wobble" as any other cars with poor alignment and worn out front end parts. 

I don't disagree, and it is likely due to Real Steel's point that large numbers means they get a lot of coverage.  Having said that not a week goes by that I hear of some A owner trying to solve a death wobble issue.  It is indeed among the top 3 or 4 is issues people encounter with a Model A.  My point is usually they are looking for a quick fix and usually the right fix is more involved.  I assume a simillar % of other makes have these issues hence the comment on bigger stuff.  I know its a more expensive prospect to redo the front end on most CCCA type cars than on an A.  We A folk are lucky to be able to get new or rebuilt components which helps..

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12 hours ago, 60FlatTop said:

 

50/50 chance the next one you see was cleaned and painted. With deep research done on the proper chassis color. I was busy all through the 1990's making freshly restored and original cars steer, start, and stop. Most of the restorations did not do all three.

I

I believe a main reason for this is no one seems to have the same idea what a restoration is. There’s no actual definition as far as our car hobby goes. What Joe might think is a full restoration, might be half of what Bob might consider a restoration. I do not understand though how those basic three that you mention, and I’ll add another, safe, aren’t a priority with anyone who restores a vehicle. If anyone looks at my restoration thread, you will see that I go completely through the front axle with all its components making all like brand new. King pins are always fully checked and even if just a tiny bit worn, replaced. Brakes checked adjusted, transmissions fully disassembled and rebuilt along with all the accompanying components, replaced when needed. Motors checked by opening up the pan, compression checks, regasketed, valves adjusted, etc. I also rebuild or replace any questionable wood, check body to frame mounts/bolts , replace gas to safety glass, add third brake lights, wire in directional switches, have headlight reflectors aluminized. Of course I suggest some of these things and  it’s up to the owner what actually gets done. 
     To me a true restoration is everything is touched, everything. Anything less i consider a freshening, repairs, updates, etc. but that’s my idea of a restoration. 

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I agree...and it is why I would rather get a well used and never been apart original car over almost any "restoration." To my mind, paint and upholstery are cosmetic. Making them work as they should is far more important. I'm reminded of Edinmass's comment on this, which if I remember correctly, was that less then 10% of the restored CCCA Classics are mechanically sound.

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9 minutes ago, chistech said:

I believe a main reason for this is no one seems to have the same idea what a restoration is. There’s no actual definition as far as our car hobby goes. What Joe might think is a full restoration, might be half of what Bob might consider a restoration. I do not understand though how those basic three that you mention, and I’ll add another, safe, aren’t a priority with anyone who restores a vehicle. If anyone looks at my restoration thread, you will see that I go completely through the front axle with all its components making all like brand new. King pins are always fully checked and even if just a tiny bit worn, replaced. Brakes checked adjusted, transmissions fully disassembled and rebuilt along with all the accompanying components, replaced when needed. Motors checked by opening up the pan, compression checks, regasketed, valves adjusted, etc. I also rebuild or replace any questionable wood, check body to frame mounts/bolts , replace gas to safety glass, add third brake lights, wire in directional switches, have headlight reflectors aluminized. Of course I suggest some of these things and  it’s up to the owner what actually gets done. 
     To me a true restoration is everything is touched, everything. Anything less i consider a freshening, repairs, updates, etc. but that’s my idea of a restoration. 

 

On the one hand, you're right, it's a terminology problem.

 

But in the real world, the number of shops qualified to actually do what you're calling a "restoration" can probably be counted on two hands. The rest are mostly cleaning and repainting parts. The problem is that most people don't really know the difference.

 

For instance, I had a 1957 Chevy come into my shop a few years ago that was festooned with every award a car can win, including AACA Grand National First Prize. I mean, it was the very definition of "trailer queen." It was certainly lovely. It had a dual quad motor that didn't seem to be as snappy as it should, so we started going through it to see if it was set up correctly. When we checked the timing, we discovered that the harmonic balancer was loose on the crank snout. And not only was it loose, but the shop that did the work KNEW it was loose and instead of fixing it, they just drilled a hole and used a set screw to hold it in place. WTF? Check it out:

 

 

As soon as we found that, we started digging through the rest of the car and discovered that almost nothing had been "rebuilt" or "repaired" or "replaced" or even "adjusted." They simply took the car apart, cleaned and painted/plated every part, then put it back together. Everything we touched, the thing next to it broke, too. The former owner, a fairly knowledgeable Corvette guy, never knew the difference because he never drove it farther than on and off a trailer. He paid six figures for the restoration that could have been done by a high school shop class, and I bet more than a few of you have heard of this shop that did the work.

 

Nobody would have known had I not started driving the car and my butt dyno decided it just wasn't right. I'm guessing that the only reason I noticed is because I'm picky and I drive a lot of cars. An average hobbyist? Meh, obviously not. We ended up spending about $12,000 to fix the important stuff on that car, including a fresh motor (it had some kind of circle track cam in it and the rear carb was disabled--no wonder it ran like crap). I offered to help him sue the restorer, but the guy was dying of cancer or something and my client didn't have the heart to go after him. I suppose there was no punishment we could visit on him that was worse than that.


Anyway, my point is that an experienced car guy paid a reputable shop a lot of money to do a terrible job, and nobody ever noticed. What's worse, I bet the shop that did the work considered themselves restorers, not hacks and certainly not crooks. I bet anyone but me driving it would have thought, "Well, it's old, that's just how they were. And boy, isn't it shiny!" 

 

Wayne Carini surely knows the difference, but he's still subject to the same problem as the rest of us: 98% of old cars are rife with issues so "good" becomes a very relative term. Great cars are rare and they're only great because someone who knew better went through and fixed it (and spent a ton of money they'll never get back doing it). Everyone else seems to not really know or care because there's just no basis for comparison. I have to believe that Wayne fixed that car before passing it on, but maybe not--he probably knows that whomever bought it at the auction is just going to put it in some mega-collection in a warehouse and they'll never have enough seat time to experience the problem. That's probably not a bad gamble at all...

 

So yes, terminology is a problem. But the real problem is that most folks just don't have a frame of reference because, of course, few of us are old enough to have experienced any of these cars when they were new. With that in mind, it shouldn't be a surprise that most old cars drive like crap--because nobody can tell the difference and most cars aren't driven enough to find the flaws. And many of the same guys who own the cars own the shops that restore them--do they know any better or do they just assume good enough is good enough? Is there a degree of difficulty where they just stop (like rebuilding a steering box rather than just filling it with thicker grease)?

 

As with many things in this life, ignorance, willful or otherwise, is the problem.

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Posted (edited)

I can't stand anything with a Mechanical flaw or overlooked part that could be fixed with a little machining, welding, or replacement. I've always been of the school that it needs to be mechanically and electrically correct first and then the cosmetics can come later. After all, Paint doesn't make anything run. But there is a large group out there that believe it's just junk if it does not glimmer and shine. My 1925 White is a perfect example. That thing will run and perform for hours and hours and it has at many shows. It just is not pretty. Oh, but the stuff I found when I went though my shiney 1915 Buick. Shall I list thy faults? Dandy Dave! 

Edited by Dandy Dave (see edit history)

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