31 July, 2013

This car doesn't always like 'simple'

Why is it that summer always seems to fly by?  Here we are, cruising along and enjoying life, and July is over.  August, that month that inevitably offers a dichotomy of joy and sorrow, that month that sees the state fair while also begrudgingly ushering the return of school, is a month I love, but I also despise it.

Despite the time flying, I have not sat idly by and let the days go past.  Instead I've made wonderful progress on the Maxwell, far beyond what I thought I would accomplish in three short months (my God, it will have been three months since school ended...).  I won't go step-by-step, but I do want to chronicle my progress.

With the cowl and firewall gone, it's a much different car.
When we last spoke, I had just restored the radiator fan and reattached it to the cooling inlet pipe on the top of the engine.  If you saw the car now, though, you might notice a few more things have changed.  For one, I completely removed the firewall and the cowl over the engine.  I unbolted it from the frame and set it aside for later.  This gifted me better access to the reclusive corners of the engine, which has since allowed me to progress greatly on my cleaning.

Undoing five bolts on the right side frame rail, I delicately removed the steering column and steering mechanism, careful not to rip out the oil lines that snake from the oil pump to each of the cylinder bases.  What faced me was a dark, slightly rusted contraption that somehow translated a turn of the steering wheel into organized movements of the front tires.

This is the housing as seen from the front right.  Resting on its side,
the floor board can be seen with linkages still attached.
As with most parts of this car, after staring at it for quite some time, I formulated a process that I hoped would allow me to disassemble the entire thing.  The problem was, I wasn't sure how the steering wheel was held onto the steering column, and I didn't know how to disassemble little brass rods and lever arms that control throttle and spark advance.

A large nut was first removed from the swing arm that has a ball joint on the end of it.  This held a square peg that passed through the metal housing, held in place with a bolt that passed through a groove cut in the corner of the square.  In theory I should have been able to pull the whole thing free, but this car doesn't always like 'simple.'

What ensued was a titanic, two-hour-long battle that involved me hitting the thing with every hammer I could, heating it with a blowtorch, spraying it with every penetrating fluid I could find, then eventually deciding I didn't need to get the damn thing apart in the first place.  I figured I could smooth and prime it the way it was, so I found it prudent to reassemble it.  The only problem was, the threads on that main lever arm were warped from my incessant pounding.

It took me a little bit to stare and process what just happened, but an overwhelming disappointment dawned on me after realizing I had made such a rookie mistake.  I tried to re-thread the nut back onto the arm but was unsuccessful.  Of course we didn't have a die that was big enough to recut the threads, so I found several small screwdrivers and chiseled the bent ones back into place one thread at a time.

About half an hour into my repair I realized that if this didn't work, I would need to take the whole thing apart anyway to go get it fixed by someone with a big enough die.  Ironically, I had to press on after trying, failing, deciding to backtrack and failing again.  I employed a new method using a few increasingly larger chisels, also getting help from the blowtorch.  Amazingly, after quite some time I noticed the arm had moved ever so slightly, backing its way out of the housing.  I continued hammering at odd angles and prying, turning the arm every chance I got.  Somehow, in the end, I got it free of the housing and everything else came apart.
The arm is now free!  That was way more work than it should
have been, but now it works very well.

After an hour or so of sculpting the bent sections, the nut took to the threads almost as easily as before, and we were back in business.  Another bolt sat perpendicular to the steering column, and this helped hold the column casing into the aforementioned housing.  With this removed the column (and thus the gear on its end that turned the tires) slid free.

Eventually learning that the steering wheel was held on with a taper pin, I figured out which end to hit, but of course we didn't have an adequate size of drift punch to remove it.  Add in the fact that the opposite head had mushroomed over the edges of the hold, and I had to get the Dremel tool and a cutting wheel to smooth it and cut it back to size.

After using (and bending) a selection of bolts and drill bits and nails, the pin dropped out of the column and the steering wheel was free.  This allowed me to remove the inner rod and gear from the metal column casing, which I then took out and smoothed and primed.  In the meantime I took to the spark advance arms and rods.  Thankfully these were held in place by straight pins, but as before, I lacked a correct drift punch.  I looked in every drawer of our tool boxes, but I found nothing.  I decided to wait until my father came home from work to see if he knew where one could be found.

Oddly, he walked over to the drawer (which I had just emptied), opened it, and there lay a drift punch exactly the size I needed.  I have no idea...

With everything apart, I began to soak the brass parts in carb cleaner while taking everything else to the wire wheel.  After this, I smoothed and primed every piece, and I put the housing back together sans the steering column.  This will be much easier to maneuver into the frame rails; I can always put the steering column on later.

This was originally a 1910-1920s Ford wheel, but it's the right size!
On that same front, during some of my explorations recently I uncovered several wooden steering wheels.  As you may have noticed from the pictures here, the Maxwell has the arms to hold a wooden wheel, but there is none on the car.  This could have rotted away whilst the car sat pinned under the barn, or it could have been broken in the collapse.  Either way, all I have are the brass arms.  Interestingly, one of the wheels I uncovered should fit the Maxwell, so today I repaired a crack, sanded it down, and have the wheel ready to stain mahogany (which, from what I understand, is what Maxwell used as a color).

The problem is, the barn collapse bent the brass arms, so they don't line up with the holes on the wooden wheel.  With my father's engineer mind, he and I started a long process of hitting the arms and squeezing them between blocks on the vice, and slowly we're getting it back into shape.  At the end of the working day up in The Garage, he and I had the holes much closer to perfect than they were, but we still have a long way to go.  If I have to drill new holes, I will, too.

Here's the wheel after some initial sanding.
Also over the past few days I took the oil pump off the car---held in place by three bolts that hold a metal plate to the gearbox case.  With these removed, the oil pump slides forward and un-meshes with a gear that is attached to the exhaust gear.  From here, I removed the eight flathead screws on the front of the pump, which gave me access to its (wonderfully simple) interior.

I found out that there are two compartments with gears in the oil pump, each one of which has a solid gear that rotates with a hole in its metal.  This hole periodically lines up with holes that lead to the oil lines as the gear spins, thus distributing oil to wherever the car needs.  The middle wall of the oil pump sits between two gears that are attached to each other.  The posterior one turns from a gear that is attached to the gear that meshes with the one inside the gearbox (I know this is sounding rather abstract; I'll stop).  In all, it's a brilliant system, and the inside of the pump was incredibly shiny.

Piece by piece I disassembled the entire pump, periodically soaking parts in carb cleaner or running them under the wire brush.  Making sure not to damage the gaskets (which were very thin and plasticky), I discovered the last piece to remove was the gear that meshed with the exhaust gear.  This was held in place by a tight fit on a square peg that turned the first gear inside the pump.  Using a punch, this came out and revealed four flathead screw heads (which held the pump to the three-holed plate).  With these removed, the pump was now completely disassembled.

This is the pump when I took it off the car.
As of right now the pump is back together, spinning so much better than when I first tackled it.  It's back on the car, and it looks fantastic (even catching the eye of Steve Matchett the other day on Twitter!).
This is the oil pump completely disassembled and cleaned.
But this post is long enough.  In the next installment I'll go over my process for freeing up the engine, finding several new parts, thoughts on making a body and more.  Onward!
And the finished oil pump!

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