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Technical Why Are Tube Front Axles So Common on T's?

Discussion in 'The Hokey Ass Message Board' started by Blues4U, Jul 14, 2018.

  1. Blues4U
    Joined: Oct 1, 2015
    Posts: 3,701

    from So Cal

    It seems like Model T hot rods are more likely than not to have a tube front axle, something that is rare on a Model A or 32-34. So why are they so popular on T's? This seems to be so especially on T buckets, and especially Fad T's, but also on Track T's. Seeing as a tube axle has issues with hairpin mounts due to the lack of twist in a tube axle, yet this is the typical setup. What's up with that? Just curious why this is so common on T's, is there a historical context I'm unaware of.

    Some examples:

  2. LM14
    Joined: Dec 18, 2009
    Posts: 1,679

    from Iowa

    Lighter looking, cleaner looking when that much is exposed, racier looking
    . Simple to chrome. Laziness....that's why I did it when I started the build on mine years ago. Sold it before it was finished, it's still running around.

    TrackT1.jpg . Simple to chrome. Laziness....that's why I did it when I started the build on mine years ago. Sold it before it was finished, it's still running around.
    OFT, catdad49 and Hnstray like this.
  3. Factory T axle wasn't a good choice.
  4. Blues4U
    Joined: Oct 1, 2015
    Posts: 3,701

    from So Cal

    I get that, but plenty of I-beam axles around to use.
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  5. Hnstray
    Joined: Aug 23, 2009
    Posts: 10,584

    from Quincy, IL

    I think LM14 covered it pretty well. The tube, I think, looks better to most eyes. Smoother, cleaner, "less industrial" than an I beam. None of that is to say the I beam doesn't have merit, it does, and is a proven part. But if there is one thing that is an almost universal truth, it is Looks or Cool beats 'better choice' every time if looks are a factor.

    Last edited: Sep 9, 2019
  6. 49ratfink
    Joined: Feb 8, 2004
    Posts: 17,302

    from California

    many T buckets are built from "kits" or at least an assembled frame that comes with a tube axle. most old cars are built from old cars that came with an I beam.

    two of your examples are V8 60 axles from Ford.
    metlmunchr, RICH B, bct and 3 others like this.
  7. Tim
    Joined: Mar 2, 2001
    Posts: 9,790

    from Raytown Mo

    ^ what he said

    The track t’s are likely using v860 axles which... maybe weigh less?
  8. I would thing T bucket axles have the hairpin brackets welded to them,a large majority of T's that are on the road were offered as kits back in the 6o's and the tube axles are made in house along with all the suspension parts. HRP
    49ratfink and Blues4U like this.
  9. mkubacak
    Joined: Jun 20, 2005
    Posts: 75


    Look at the photos above. To my eye the most pleasing axles are the V8 60 axles.

    Also, look at Tommy Ivo's car and the Kookie Kar. They both are sporting V8 60 axles.
    LOU WELLS, Just Gary and 49ratfink like this.
  10. Tim_with_a_T
    Joined: Apr 30, 2011
    Posts: 992


    The way I see it, two of the first, and arguably most famous, T buckets ever built were V8-60 tube axles. That look is what many people are after. Then, along comes the "kit" T buckets... Tube axles are much easier and far less costly than a forged i beam to produce, so that's what's sold with the kit. There's nothing wrong with using an i beam on a T, but it's quite uncommon to find one in "kit" form. The Tribute T from Speedway is an exception. I prefer an i beam, but I believe I am in the minority when I say that as far as buckets go....
    Deescott, AndersF, Blues4U and 2 others like this.
  11. Jmountainjr
    Joined: Dec 29, 2006
    Posts: 839


    Cost and reduces a bunch of unsprung weight on a very light car.
    gnichols and Blues4U like this.
  12. oj
    Joined: Jul 27, 2008
    Posts: 6,105


    I'd say the tube axle on the kit cars were dirt cheap to make, 2 bends and a couple welds? a production shop would have a stack of them made in a day.
    Blues4U likes this.
  13. fiftyv8
    Joined: Mar 11, 2007
    Posts: 4,728

    from CO & WA

    I believe it was because:
    1. it was a follow over of building T buckets which wanted wider tracks.
    2. tube was a new style.
    3. a carry over from speedway dirt track racing.
    4. greater drops in axle height could be achieved.
    5. just to be different.
    6. and it all started with T's so era correct...
    patmanta, Ned Ludd and Blues4U like this.
  14. Cause they are purty....
    Al's.C.D.T and Blues4U like this.
    Joined: Jan 13, 2004
    Posts: 2,732


    after spending a couple of hrs getting the bolts out of the bones, blasting and grinding rust for another couple hrs , yep and tube axle looks better all the time.
    The37Kid likes this.
  16. Jim Bouchard
    Joined: Mar 2, 2011
    Posts: 533

    Jim Bouchard

    ^^^^ This is the reason ^^^^

    Sent from my iPhone using The H.A.M.B. mobile app
    Tim_with_a_T likes this.
  17. tubman
    Joined: May 16, 2007
    Posts: 4,300


    Because I found an unused one at a swap meet for $10.:D
    Hnstray likes this.
  18. a boner
    Joined: Dec 25, 2004
    Posts: 5,116

    a boner

    Cheaper to manufacture for a T bucket kit......don't have to heat and bend steering arms like with old Ford beam axles. Lots of T bucket kits during their hay day = monkey see monkey do, becomes part of the fad in fad T's. Doesn't hurt that they are simple/smooth looking.....and V8-60 axles are very slick!
  19. gnichols
    Joined: Mar 6, 2008
    Posts: 10,460

    from Tampa, FL

    Looks, easy to fab, looks, light, looks... Gary
    dana barlow likes this.
  20. Ned Ludd
    Joined: May 15, 2009
    Posts: 3,851

    Ned Ludd

    I believe the Fad T was definitive a good decade before they could be had as a "kit".

    A tube axle has a more delicate look, which ties into the Fad T idea of near-humorous ironic inversion of "antiqueness"; making a (arguably) fast car out of the most unlikely raw material. Hence emphasizing the brass-era spindliness which the Hallcraft wires also pick up. The tube axle also allows for the sort of proportional shenanigans which went along with all this; most often in the form of a wider track.

    A tube axle is easier to make, not so much in the sense of easier to productionize for a kit manufacturer as easier to make up one-off for a hot rod builder. I did some illustration work many years ago for a build series in a local magazine. One issue contained a full how-to on building your own tube axle. As I remember it didn't have welded-on batwings, but round-bar bosses for various functions. The location was by four-bars and Panhard bar, with spherical rod-ends bolted directly to the axle bosses.
    Hnstray likes this.
  21. jnaki
    Joined: Jan 1, 2015
    Posts: 3,547


    A great photo shot by C. Ryan Mac on Shelter Island, San Diego Bay, facing the downtown as background. Thanks Jim Reid, Prowlers of San Diego for the photo.

    Hey B,

    The round axles were used for some resemblance of streamlining over the curved surfaces. But, there were a lot of I beam axles around with set ups already in place for roadsters and Ts. Just buy, clean up, paint, and bolt on...that was the set up to get your hot rod, up and running. There were a ton of variations of each, with the addition of holes to lighten the front end of any of the cars. Strength? It was hit or miss with intelligent drilling without going overboard.
    But, in the 60s, the parts were there, complete or otherwise. In the 70s, it exploded, up to today’s modern chassis companies offering all sorts of choices.



    But to throw a wrench into the matter, here is a photo from a HAMB reader from Ohio with an unusual axle.
    Ron Funkhouser and Blues4U like this.
  22. Atwater Mike
    Joined: May 31, 2002
    Posts: 9,689

    Atwater Mike

    ^^^That axle gives me the 'Willys'! Oh, that's probably 'cuz it IS a Willys...
    dana barlow likes this.
  23. I used a tube on my Center Door


    On the Coupe I built I used an I beam.
  24. Bruce Lancaster
    Joined: Oct 9, 2001
    Posts: 21,681

    Bruce Lancaster

    History of the early influential/famous cars AND because most t-buckets had a suicide front end allowing any degree of lowering desired without dropping the axle...most 28-34 Fords come out too high with undropped tube, and dropping a Ford tube is not an easy problem.
  25. Loose Ctrl
    Joined: Dec 21, 2014
    Posts: 43

    Loose Ctrl
    from Upstate,SC

    Pretty much cause they're cheap, easy, and look good most of the time. If I was building a steel car, P/U, or RPU it would have an old I beam axle. I prefer them. I like the way they look.
  26. Marty Strode
    Joined: Apr 28, 2011
    Posts: 4,008

    Marty Strode

    I like them with tube axles in the rear as well. IMG_2602.JPG
    dana barlow, rooman, RICH B and 4 others like this.
  27. Budget36
    Joined: Nov 29, 2014
    Posts: 2,218


    I always figured it flowed well with the exhaust, sorta tying things together.
  28. Loose Ctrl
    Joined: Dec 21, 2014
    Posts: 43

    Loose Ctrl
    from Upstate,SC

    That is one spartan looking rear. I do like that torsion bar set up and those brackets for the pins. At least those look like hairpins.
  29. clem
    Joined: Dec 20, 2006
    Posts: 2,397


    I always thought that the T’s had a narrower track width so the later Ford’s looked too wide, hence the manufactured tube axle.
    Interesting comments above, nice to hear the more likely reasons behind this.
  30. Marty Strode
    Joined: Apr 28, 2011
    Posts: 4,008

    Marty Strode

    They are hairpins, this is what the front looks like. IMG_2617.JPG
    Loose Ctrl and clem like this.

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