Sunday, June 14, 2009

Mechanical Trouble with the 1909 Maxwell DA

Touring with old cars can be a lesson in mechanics; things are bound to break. Below are some of the problems our mechanics have encountered with the Maxwell:

Problem #1: The right rear brake (as there are only two brakes in the Maxwell, they are both rear) was being -- accidentally -- oiled by differential.

Discovery: Tim found that the car's rear end had been assembled with sealed bearings encased in grease. This means you don’t have to oil or grease them on a regular basis, right? When the mechanics assembled them, they thought “sealed” meant the grease could not escape from the bearing, when in fact; they needed another seal to contain the grease.

Combat: The mechanics used felt (3/8” thick) to make a donut, which they slid over the axle. This slowed the oil from dripping onto the brakes. In addition, Tim drilled a small hole in the rear end housing between the inner axle bearing and outer axle bearing. Instead of leaking onto the brakes now, the oil leaks onto the road. Safety first.

Tim mentioned this problem would not have surfaced had the Maxwell been a parade or show car. When it comes to touring hundreds of miles, oil leaks become more important.

Problem #2: Broken spring shackle. The weld broke on top of the u-bolt.

Background: When the rod went out (more about this problem later), Tim performed some routine maintenance including tightening up the axle bolts. During the procedure, a bolt mysteriously broke in his hand. At this point, he realized the items manufactured specifically for this car were surface welded, as opposed to welded all the way through. There are 8 of these springs on the car -- and 16 potential spots -- where the welding could have snapped.

Solution: As to not chase the problem across the country, the mechanics decided to remove all of the spring shackles and have the welding ground down and re-welded with a deep, penetrating weld.

Again Tim mentioned the difference between touring and show cars. The weld looked nice and would have functioned properly in a low-use situation. When it came to high miles and bumpy roads, however, the weld did not hold up.

Problem #3: Lost a rod. Emily heard a knocking in the engine and stopped 30 miles before Cobleskill.

Background: This was a twofold problem:
1. The design of the Maxwell -- poor oil circulation design?
2. Too conservative on the amount of oil they ran through the drip system.

Originally, the mechanics set a target of 1 drop per second. Figuring this was too little, Tim increased it to 3 drips per 2 seconds. As it turns out, it should have dripped much more considering the upstate NY hills.

Solution: New babbitt (mixture of tin and lead) had to be poured. I hear Ziggy from Albany is the only babbitt maker in the state of NY.

Problem 4: Lost rod a second time at Steve Bono's near Bauckville.

More to come! For now, we are up and running in Auburn, OH. Successful, 200 mile day!

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