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FED's and the family jewels...

Discussion in 'The Hokey Ass Message Board' started by bcarlson, Oct 27, 2006.

  1. bcarlson
    Joined: Jul 21, 2005
    Posts: 935


    So I've wondered about this for a long time. Maybe, hopefully, one of you can answer the question.

    So, your legs are hanging over the rear axle, and the pumpkin is in your crotch in a FED. Isn't there a really good chance that the axle and/or pumpkin will break, hacking up your legs, etc? I would love to drive one, but I have this... oh... attachment to the family jewels... :D

    Anyone know anything about ways to protect from this happening? Do they reinforce the axle? Add plate? I've never seen anything obvious, but I haven't inspected too many either.

  2. H.G. Wells
    Joined: Mar 11, 2006
    Posts: 386

    H.G. Wells

    Very slim chance. My housing is braced, it has extra webbing so if a gear does come lose it probably could not puncture the housing. It has an anti roataion device (mandated by NHRA) incase both axle tubes break to keep the pumpkin from rotating and crushing the goods. I worry more about fire than I do anything else, and it you are really afraid a FED is probably not what you need to be drving anyway. With the safety equipment required now there is very little chance of anything coming apart and tearing off a foot or your jewels.
  3. SinisterCustom
    Joined: Feb 18, 2004
    Posts: 8,265


    HAHAHAHAHA....I was thinking of asking this SAME question the other day!!!! Weird.......
    I LOVE FED's and want to drive one someday.....a dream of mine.....

    I doubt the EARLY FED's that guys were building in their garages in the late 50's had much safety.......GOT BALLS!
  4. Ryan
    Joined: Jan 2, 1995
    Posts: 18,852

    from Austin, TX
    Staff Member

    I drove my first FED at the ripe old age of 15 years old... At that age, all ya think about is your family jewels and let me tell you - It was fucking scary! I've driven a handful of FEDs since that time and it never left my mind the entire time I was driving... Those aren't good vibrations...

    In or around 1996 at Penwell Raceway(out by Midland, TX) a guy lost a leg when the scatter shield failed on his FED... It was one of the worst things I've ever seen, but I guess it was better than grenading his differential...
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  5. HemiRambler
    Joined: Aug 26, 2005
    Posts: 4,140


    Personally I'm done having any more kids......

    Alot of the old cars had "nut plates" welded over the top of the rear cover - maybe 1/8" thick or so. You see alot less of that today - I think because the cars are running WAY better components now-a-days. For instance on mine I added a horizontal web across the stock housing - not exactly a "nut plate" but something extra the ring gear would have to come through just the same. Not only that, but I am using a aftermarket case, Pro Gears utilizing all the bolts (twice as many as origional) I'm runing a spool with 35 spline axles - this thing is WAY better than what guys used to put behind FUEL cars back in the day - cars running way more power to the axle than I could ever imagine with my little motor.
    Just 'cause something looks the same on the outside doesn't necessarily mean it's all the same on the inside. That old don't judge a book by it's cover - analogy.

    Bottom line - build what you're comfortable with (within the rules of course)
  6. steevil
    Joined: Feb 18, 2004
    Posts: 676


    heh, I guess that's why the big names stopped running FEDs. IRC, didn't Don Garlits lose a foot in an FED?
  7. I never gave it much thought. The banjo was covered by an 1/8" plate (the chrome thing) to help keep any shrapnel from doing a sex change procedure on me. The solid torque tube would serve to prevent any chance of the whole rearend from rotating.

    Attached Files:

  8. I think about it every time I wrap my legs around that Dana 44. But really, how often does a rear end come apart and launch the guts out the back? I don't think I've ever seen something like that happen. If it does, that NHRA mandated 1/8" strap of steel isn't going to do a damn thing to save your ass.

    Attached Files:

  9. Blownolds
    Joined: Mar 31, 2001
    Posts: 2,335

    from So Cal

    I've got a dragster rear sitting here, and it has a thick metal strap (curved plate) welded over the ring gear area.
  10. REJ
    Joined: Mar 4, 2004
    Posts: 1,612

    from FLA

    Most of the guys running FED's at the nostalgia races that I have been to, had extra plates, braces on top of the rear.
    In my HA/GR, I AM putting a 1/4" plate over the universal joint at the back of the tranny. That is where my jewels will be in close proximity and that is the one thing I have been thinking about.:eek:
  11. Salty
    Joined: Jul 24, 2006
    Posts: 2,259

    from Florida

    I fabbed a nut plate on mine....didnt have to have it but made me "feel" better....though that said I also recognized four-thirteens above statement as well....
  12. bobw
    Joined: Mar 24, 2006
    Posts: 2,364


    If my memory serves me correctly, in the 60's a FED from Chicago named "The Guzzler" was raced by the team of Bud, Don & John. I had heard the rear end broke loose and caused either Bud, John or John to sustain serious damage in his swimsuit area.
  13. Jack Chrisman stopped driving FEDs after he was injured in one of these crashes...I never met the man, but I guy I know that worked for Mickey Thompson when Jack was MT's driver says he was castrated in the explosion - all of it gone.

    Just want to say - I don't know for sure that this is true, and in no way am I trying to start some kind of shitstorm, but a lot of guys that were around then say it's happened a few times to a few drivers, and Jack Chrisman was the highest-profile "victim" of a rearend accident. It seems to be accepted as fact, but still, could be BS.
  14. Mr T body
    Joined: Nov 2, 2005
    Posts: 2,101

    Mr T body
    Alliance Vendor
    from SoCal

    I was talking with my 15 year old about just this last night. He would just LOVE to drive a FED. I showed him how you sit in it, and what (anatomically speaking) is near what. Shoulda seen his eyes light up when he realized what a clutch or diff malfunction could have done to you!
  15. Bruce Lancaster
    Joined: Oct 9, 2001
    Posts: 21,683

    Bruce Lancaster
    Member Emeritus

    Moon used to sell a shaped shield for QC rears in the early sixties when most dragsters ran them...still seems like a good idea.
    I believe the Surfers car was destroyed and its driver killed when the rear locked up and caused the whole housing to rotate--I'd want some really damn serious measures against rotation...and in an event of that magnitude, who's to say the torque tube wouldn't be rotating WITH the rear? Imagine that throwing your head back to the starting line while the rest of you is frapped...
  16. Ruiner
    Joined: May 17, 2004
    Posts: 4,145


    I've seen photos on one website or another of what a clutch explosion will do to a late 30's car, I think I'm much more scared of that than I am of a rearend explosion...on a related topic, what is used to replace the pinion yoke on the rearend so they don't use u-joints? And where do you get that coupler?
  17. HemiRambler
    Joined: Aug 26, 2005
    Posts: 4,140


    The part is called a "coupler" Mark Williams sells them - so does Strange, but I think they just mark up MW units.

    Here's a pic of mine - kinda hard to see.


    Attached Files:

  18. stan292
    Joined: Dec 6, 2002
    Posts: 857


    FWIW - It was clutch explosions and/or engine fires, not rear end-related accidents that were the major cause of the move to rear-engined dragsters. Injuries related to rear ends spinning or coming apart were pretty rare by the late '60s.

    Unfortunately, drag racers don't have a very good record of adopting safety measures before way too many unnecessary tragedies take place. For instance, dozens of front-engine dragster/funny car drivers were badly burned (or killed) before really effective measures were taken to improve driving gear.

    Burritios -

    What you heard about Jack Chrisman is essentially true. Actually, the injury was even worse - he was very fortunate to have lived. And you're right on the second point too. Jack wasn't the only driver who experience that kind of accident.

    The sanctioning organizations instituted rules early on that pretty much eliminated the possibility of spinning rear ends - but not all tracks were sanctioned back in the day. Virtually every "slingshot" style car used some sort of protective cover to prevent a rear end "explosion" after the very early days, but like always, some guys were more careful than others.

    Steevil -

    Garlits lost his foot in when his two-speed transmission exploded - not a rear end deal.
  19. banjorear
    Joined: Jul 30, 2004
    Posts: 3,778


    My FED has some P.O.S. plate covering the top of the Merc. rear.

    I plan to have my buddy stripe "Ball Buster" on this plate over the Winter.

    No dobut it is some scary shit to have that thing smacked damb against your nut sack.

    Right now, I got two small kids small so my sex life is over for a while anyway. I figure if something should let loose, all the damage will be healed by the time I'm ready to start throwing the old lady some meat again.....
  20. banjorear
    Joined: Jul 30, 2004
    Posts: 3,778


    Did you make that "coupler"? Man, that is a pretty part with the engine turning on it.
  21. My dad was still Fuel racing when Jack got hurt.
    From what he told me,the whole housing rotated 'down there'.
    And yes,he was lucky to live through it.
    Theres some classic shots of Jack in the Lions DVD.
  22. Relic Stew
    Joined: Apr 17, 2005
    Posts: 1,120

    Relic Stew
    from Wisconsin

    I found some pics of the Garlits clutch/trans explosion;

    Attached Files:

  23. CHRIS 57
    Joined: Jun 10, 2005
    Posts: 165

    CHRIS 57
    from Upstate NY

    I think it was a drum in an automatic, at least that is what the sign next to the shrapnel at his (Gartlis') museum said.
  24. rooman
    Joined: Sep 20, 2006
    Posts: 3,840


    Chris 57,
    as pointed out in an earlier post the Garlits deal involved a two speed transmission. The early two speeds were effectively an overdrive with a band to lock up the planetary and the greatest mass of the gear set spun at high speed. The later two speeds use a clutch pack to lock up the planetary and are underdriven in low and locked up in high, less inertia in the parts that are wizzing around internally.
    We have that explosion to than for the current rear motor dragsters and their lack of soul. Nothing looks better than a well proportioned front motor digger. Of course I may be biased as I have a 225" Don Long car with a Hanna body and Tony Nancy upholstery. With an Ed Pink Hemi it was the Cadillac of T/F when it was built in 1969.

    Roo Man

    ps It does not have any form of protection over the back of the 8 3/4 Mopar rear and it had an aluminum clutch can to boot.
  25. hotrods316
    Joined: Apr 2, 2006
    Posts: 73


    rooman is right. our 68 mark williams (hand built by Mark himself has no plate over the 8 3/4. They did not run floors, they used tape to secure their feet. that is real drag racing. that is where it all started. our dragster is as true to nostalgia as a car in 1968 would be. It has the added helmet bars and kidney bars, but is a single bend roll cage. the U just is so terrible and destroys the look of a digger. Our alky injected SBC roars to life. it is the 1968 AHRA Comp Eliminator World Champion motor and the car is certified to 7.50 and for sale. is the link here is a link to some more pics on photobucket. I am not trying to advertise this for sale but i am just trying to show people what the drags were like when we were kids. It is a blast, but i am not a driver I would rather build them. Take care and just pray your jewels dont get taken out.
  26. Haunted Ken
    Joined: May 22, 2005
    Posts: 186

    Haunted Ken

    It takes balls to drive a FED, I don't care about scatter shields, extra webbing or whatever you do..... torque + rpm's + small rotating parts + bigger rotating parts + sticky tires + sticky track, well, something is going to go sooner or later.....
  27. MENACE
    Joined: Apr 7, 2006
    Posts: 255

    from PHOENIX AZ

    I Think It Was The Driver From The Surfers Mike Sorokin That Got Killed But They Bwerent Running Any More I Think He Was Running For Rolend Leong Then There Was A Really Good Article On Them Several Years Ago In Hot Rod
    Joined: Aug 21, 2006
    Posts: 335


    Many Dragster driver's lost there life in Front Motor Dragster's in the early days.

    My first dragster was an old SPE 150 inch wheel base deal.

    People used to ask the ( NUTS ) Question all the time.

    But I have to say, so many things were going on while driving that MF'r - the lost ballz thing never intered my were to bizzy trying to go sort of straight.

    The 8 3/4 Mopar rear was the ONLY THING I never broke on that car.

    I guess for the non drivers that axle position was what looked the scarry-est ....but really, there was a trans next to your feet & a 800 pound mill right before that trans - all loosely attached to a chassis that weigh'd a lot less than that could ( feel ) the car breath, bend, flex & flop.

    If you want to really learn how to drive a dragster - start in a Front Motor car....!
  29. The37Kid
    Joined: Apr 30, 2004
    Posts: 26,408


    My Lyndwood rail was built in 1959 and had a 3/8" thick piece of steel rolled to fit over the early Ford banjo center section.
  30. FACTS from the late 50's and early 60's of FED cars. Hey guys, we were not completely stupid back then. Brave yes, maybe ignorant but stupid no. We knew where the family jewels and the rear end were located in relationship to each other.
    1) As far back as 1956 I never saw a rear end in a FED without a 1/8 to 1/4 inch plate welded on covering the ring gear area or the entire gear box on a QC set up.
    2) I never drove a FED that did not have an anti rotation device as part of the frame. I drove as early as 1959.
    3) I never drove a car without a device for controlling the drive shaft in case the u-joint failed and we laways had some sort of u-joint explosion cover.
    4) I never is many years of driving saw a ring gear explode or break out the rear of the cover. I did strip the teeth off an early chevy rear once, but had no parts leave the rear end.
    5) However,,,LOL,, I did break a QC rearend once and had the entire gear box laying in my lap after the run. Yes, the ring gear was exposed, but caused no issue,,,thank God.

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