Wednesday, July 28, 2010

rear end & suspension removal

Often when I work on my car I'll get a window of a few hours or so to really get stuck into the project, but just lately I've been working in shorter bursts. For one thing, wire wheeling on the underside of the car is not a task that lends itself to over indulgence: it's hot, dirty, uncomfortable and tiring work. It is also very noisy, so I have been trying to appease my nearest and dearest by applying my father's adage when working with a wood carving chisel, namely "little and often."

Finally by last weekend I had cleaned up most of the floor pan areas and it was time to move on to the transition panel and the underside of the trunk and rear quarters. This area was covered with muck including some sound deadener, although thankfully not as much as under the wheel arches.

In order to get better access to these areas, I had to remove the rear suspension and the rear axle. I had really been putting this off, because the absence of these parts means I won't be moving the car out of the garage any time soon. This shouldn't really be an issue, because the car has barely been out of the garage for more than a few hours at a time since I brought it home from Kansas...but nevertheless it was a milestone in this project. The guys in BAMA have warned me about "keeping the car rolling" for as long as possible, but those days are over for this project now. The car was already on stands, but I raised it just a tiny bit with the floor jack under the differential until I could squeeze an extra set of jack stands under the rear axle.

When I let the car down, the rear axle was fractionally above the blue stands, and the forward stands were taking all the weight of the car. I've never done anything this "big" on a car before, and I was super nervous about hurting myself, or worse - dropping the axle or the drive shaft. So, as another security measure I put the rear wheels back on - this only took a few minutes and now I had a pair of jack stands to catch the axle if I was to fall like an inch to the floor.

Before you disconnect the drive shaft it is a smart move to mark the relationship between the shaft, the yoke, and the differential. The best way to do this is with a punch, because it isn't going to rub off! I am intending to upgrade the rear axle, but I still did my best to mark the set up, just in case...

It is then a simple task to remove the two small u-bolts which hold the drive shaft into the yoke. I was able to get these undone quite easily. 

Of course it is very important not to drop the drive shaft - I rested this one on a special stand (aka a cardboard box) while I  removed the suspension.  

Getting the nuts off the u-bolts which hold the rear axle to the leaf springs was really tough - the thread on the u-bolts was so rusted that the nuts never became loose; I had to crank all eight nuts round and round for eternity. I was so worked up while doing this that I forgot to take my usual photos. Once the u-bolts are out of the way, the rear shackles can be undone. All these fittings will be replaced and I will be getting polyurethane bushings to go with my new suspension. 

I dropped both leaf springs at the rear, and the axle was left resting on the stands. I was actually able to lift it off the stands quite easily and roll it out of the way. Anyone looking for a 4-lug ford rear end? I know where one is, it just needs a bit (a lot!) of cleaning up!

A couple more bolts to undo and then the leaf springs are off and out of the way...well actually they're right in the way - taking up valuable space in my shop! I will probably have to scrap these at some point as I can't envisage being able to sell them. I pulled the drive shaft out and covered over the transmission seal. I was expecting the seal to leak a bit, but it didn't. I don't know if this is good or bad. The transmission and motor are staying in for now as I have nowhere to store them.

The back of my car looks really bare now. At least there is some shinny metal under there...and lots more stuff to grind off. Great. I guess I'd better get back at it.....

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