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Just arrived in Austin for the winter from Connecticut and attended my first "cars and coffee" of the season. All great - lots of old friends and great cars. Then we set off for some great tex-mex for lunch. Well, it seems my Super can't even get out of the parking lot! I start to go up the exit ramp of the coffee shop then suddenly roll backward with a clunking sound coming from the rear end. Fortunately I'm surrounded by Alfisti and some Alfa mechanics too! A look underneath tells us nothing as all looks fine. The driveshaft is rotating into the rear end but just making a clunk sound. Retired Alfa shop owner/mechanic Bob Fernald tells me to have the car towed over to his house and he'll take a look at it. No wonder why Bob is so revered among the Austin area Alfisti.

After several guesses at what the problem could be it's decided, no matter how unlikely or how rare - its probably a broken axle. Well, as the photos below show - that is correct.

I've never raced or even beat on this Super and the rear end was completely restored along with the rest of the car several years ago. I have driven it cross country (NY-CA) three times.. but how on earth does such a thing occur?

Fortunately Bob's vast collection of parts included a replacement axel and an original seal!


 

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They call it metal fatigue.

A friend of mine drove his 1930 Model A Ford convertible in the 2013 Peking to Paris event.

It was well prepared, and it took a beating. Rear-end failed in Europe. Gary said that he was pushing it too hard on pavement on the hairpins.

Talked to Ron who has a large shop looking after a lot of older American cars. He has had a 1929 Model A Coupe for 20 years. A couple of years ago when driving in town the ring gear failed.

Metal fatigue.

Gary sent the engine to Texas for a performance build. From 40 hp to 80!
 

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Fred didn't mention to me that he was heading up and then rolling back down the parking lot exit hill toward me who was pinned in. :0 Load + vibration = fatigue. Wonder how all those heavily loaded cross country trips contributed to this. A pretty rare occurrence in Alfadom. You'll be back on the road in no time. Speaking of hospitality, at least you made the Thursday event. ;)
 

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Blob,

I'm guessing the model A engine was done by Dennis Piranio? Amazing engine skills.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Bruce, I was not expecting to roll backwards. Thanks again for hosting the party!
 

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Glad you are up and running again. Quick work!
 

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Bob is pretty much the Mac around Austin. I've bought everything from Bob from door handles to whole cars over the last 40 years. And he's a super nice guy. I miss all you guys. Maybe I can get with y'all later this month when we're back in the Republic to visit the folks.
 

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Maybe I can get with y'all later this month when we're back in the Republic to visit the folks.
[/QUOTE]


That'll be great. La Feria's migas con chorizo and bathtub sized Margaritas beckon . . .
 

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Yeah those "Austin Texas Migas" at Shaggy's in Huntsville, served with biscuits and gravy of all things (this is Alabama, after all) are plenty good, but Austin they ain't.
 

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I've never read of this type of failure before--Alfas or any other beam axle car. Could strapping a car down and trailering while in gear be a contributing factor? One of several reasons why one should transport, strapped down, in neutral.
 

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Latent defect, microscopic crack, or impurity. Probably been there since it was new. It just took that long to finally give up and snap.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
I've never read of this type of failure before--Alfas or any other beam axle car. Could strapping a car down and trailering while in gear be a contributing factor? One of several reasons why one should transport, strapped down, in neutral.
I thought the same thing at first before we discovered it was the axle.
The car was transported on the trailer front wheels strapped tight, in gear with the hand-break on.

Latent defect, microscopic crack, or impurity. Probably been there since it was new. It just took that long to finally give up and snap.
Yes, this seems to be the consensus among the Alfa mechanics I've spoken to. Most of them have heard of broken axles (on race cars) but few have actually seen them.
 

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Never seen that before. One would expect it fails close to machined shoulders from inner or outer end, but this gave up from untouchable raw-cast area :confused1:
 

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Tie straps bear 100% of the force required to secure a car on a trailer--by design. The e-brake and engine compression (via in gear) are wet noodles by comparison. The same way your arms are wet noodles when bracing for a crash; the seatbelt carries the load. Leaving it in gear only risks rocking the engine backwards and inducing other strains on the driveline. Same logic not to leave auto trannies in park ... too much strain on parking pawl.
 

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^Not that uncommon.
Tie straps bear 100% of the force required to secure a car on a trailer--by design. The e-brake and engine compression (via in gear) are wet noodles by comparison. The same way your arms are wet noodles when bracing for a crash; the seatbelt carries the load. Leaving it in gear only risks rocking the engine backwards and inducing other strains on the driveline. Same logic not to leave auto trannies in park ... too much strain on parking pawl.
Yes, there can be forces that you can't expect at first glance. Good solution for towing might be transmission on N, handbrake off and wheel straps..
 

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Back in about 1980 a customers 74 spider was towed in with a "bad clutch", which we quickly repaired. All back together and no motive power. 6 year old street car had a snapped axle which we also quickly repaired.
Creative descriptions of clutch pieces "soon to fail" were developed.
 
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