69 Firebird
77 Trans Am
54 Pickup
52 Chieftain
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Restoration: Mechanical
Rear Axle
I took out the rear differential using two sets of jack stands. I put the first set under the front section of the rear frame rails, and then put the second set under the rear axle. I raised the axle just above it's lowest point so that no weight was on the springs. This allowed me to unbolt the leaf springs and remove them without any tension.
Then I simply lowered the rear differential and removed it from under the car.
Well, it seems that the IDIOT mechanic who worked on the rear end when my friend owned the car had NO CLUE how to install gears. The original rear end was a 2.41 posi, and my friend asked the mechanic to convert it to a 3.73. Well, the clueless moron didn't know that there are two carriers for GM 8.5" differentials. He just slapped the 3.73 gears on the 2.41 posi carrier. I think the backlash between the ring and pinion was 3/8", not .008" like it should have been. Needless to say, the gears were trashed and metal filings where all inside the differential. So I had to take it all apart and clean it. Then I re-installed a brand new set of bearings, seals, etc, and then correctly installed a new set of 3.73 gears with the necessary ring gear spacer. I also removed the crummy axle saver bearings the mechanic put in there and swapped in a better set of used axles. What a mess and what a waste of my money that I should NOT have had to spend.
Here is a picture of the completed rear axle after finishing the rebuild.
Using a jack and a small section of 4x6, I held up the front of the body by placing the wood under the front seat support braces. Then I unbolted the subframe from the body...
...and rolled it out. Some of the cage nuts broke, so I had to weld the nuts to the body on two of the four locations. Oh well, this will help me relocate the proper positioning of the body/subframe later on.
The next task was to remove all the dirt and grease on the subframe and give it a thorough cleaning. My secret weapon? Oven cleaner from the dollar store. This stuff is cheap and it takes off all the dirt/grime, but it also tends to takes off paint so keep that in mind.
I have chosen not to include any pictures of the 6-8 hours of cleaning and scrubbing the subframe. I'll just give you the "after cleaning" picture, when it was cleaned down to bare metal, treated with ospho, and ready for paint.
And now I will give away another secret. I don't use that expensive ($11+ a can) "chassis" paint anymore. I have found a better solution. Go to your local home improvement store and buy Rust-o-Leum "Appliance Epoxy". It's pretty darn good paint. It sprays very nice, self-levels with minimal runs, and leaves a very nice, durable finish. It's probably too glossy for some people, but I love it. It looks exactly like powder coat. Cost? About $5 a can. Total cost to clean/repaint subframe? $26.
I took down the old gas tank, cleaned the inside with acetone, and then wire brushed the outside.
After wiping down the outside with lacquer thinner, I painted it with some silver Rust-o-leum Hammered paint. It leaves a cool crackled finish and it also pretty durable. Instead of wasting money buying "anti-squeak strips" for the gas tank, I just took some unused sound deadening material, and cut it into strips and stuck it to the gas tank. Works like a charm. Notice where sometime in the past someone rearended the Trans Am, and whatever it was slid under and crushed in the bottom rear corner of the fuel tank.
I also had to replace the sending unit in the tank.