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Help Narrowing a 9" Ford

Discussion in 'The Hokey Ass Message Board' started by 57chevywagonman, Sep 21, 2011.

  1. Hi,

    I am in the beginning stages of narrowing a 9" ford rear end for a 1930 Model A sedan project. after checking the front ends width I have determined the rear end from a 1988 Ford F 150 needs to be hacked about 8" overall. So far I have discovered the axle bearings are tapered. Someone told me these are junk and I should replace them for a different style. Is this true? Also can I chop the origonal axles myself using an abrasive saw? I plan to send them to Mosier for spinning and heat treating. However I want to reinstall them in the housing for mockup purposes.

    Also where is a good place to purchase the center less ground bar?


  2. 383 240z
    Joined: Oct 28, 2007
    Posts: 429

    383 240z

    Hey man if your intersted I can get you a name/number of a guy on Rochester who cuts 9's. He is a pretty cool guy who runs a tranny shop over there. He will answer your questions and help you find the tools you need. Keith
  3. carcrazyjohn
    Joined: Apr 16, 2008
    Posts: 4,844

    from trevose pa

    Its easy as pie ,cut four inches with a chop saw using a carbide blade and when welding make 4 short angle iron peices out of bed frame material and hose clamp around tube fitting peices together and tack weld all the way around,,,,,,,, Angle will hold it straight
  4. 117harv
    Joined: Nov 12, 2009
    Posts: 6,590


    The splined area is the only heat treated area, and as you stated you will have them re-heat treated. Some times the axles are too small behind the splines to re-spline, are yours of big enough? After market axles are reasonable and would save you shipping one way. Narrowing the housing is pretty straight forward, and i think the best way is to cut off the the bearing ends and turn out the old axle tubes and weld on a lathe. Cut the tubes to the required length and insert the tubes into the end and weld. This method is better than a but weld in the middle of the tube and doesn't require a jig...imo

    I had some Dutchman axles and they had tapered bearings.

  5. Drive Em
    Joined: Aug 25, 2006
    Posts: 1,748

    Drive Em

    This method will only be as straight as the axle tubes are, and 9 out of 10 rear ends that come through my shop will need at least one axle tube straightened.
  6. brigrat
    Joined: Nov 9, 2007
    Posts: 5,364

    from Wa.St.

  7. kkustomz
    Joined: Jul 4, 2007
    Posts: 342

    from Texas

    If there was ever a incorrect method to narrow a 9" its the above post

    Here is a a good preview of how to get started, there are better fixtures than what he uses for aligning the housing ends thou.
  8. kkustomz
    Joined: Jul 4, 2007
    Posts: 342

    from Texas

    This is just as bad
  9. Da Tinman
    Joined: Dec 29, 2005
    Posts: 4,226

    Da Tinman

    like the other guys have said every housing will have one tube or another out of whack and will have to be pulled square so butting/clamping/stumpfucking the ends back on isnt a good idea. use a jig or have it done by someone thats got one.
  10. gimpyshotrods
    Joined: May 20, 2009
    Posts: 18,032


    Jig, or don't bother. You are 99.999% guaranteed to get housing that is not straight without one. Even with one, you still have to fit and weld properly, or you still wont get a straight housing.
  11. I believe Ford stopped producing the 9" in 1986. Also you cannot narrow a tapered axle rearend.
  12. Larry T
    Joined: Nov 24, 2004
    Posts: 7,661

    Larry T

    Nuther vote for use a fixture, because I've never seen a stock rearend that was dead on.

    If you cut your axles, you lose the center (for machining) that is in the end of the axle and the axle is basically junk. If you send axles for shortening, they do all the machine work to the axle first then cut off the end.

    I like sealed ballbearing style axle bearings, but there are millions of the tapered bearings in working pickups that last forever.
    Larry T
  13. I have a fixture that I made out of an old chuck and a piece of round meralloy. I turned some plugs to fit with either the large or small bearing depending on what rear I am building. I have been known to cut the end off the axle tube then turn the bearing cup out of the cut off piece but I prefer to replace the axle tube with a piece of 3" mechanical tubing. It is a little heavier but stouter than the stock sheet metal tubes.

    As for axles and bearings I don't particularly care for the taperd bearing but you will find little difference in how your rear works with them. Getting resplined depends on how much you cut off the axle and what axle you have. Ford axles are not rapered like a GM axle they are just rough cut to allow for the size of the spline and more often than not you can get them shortened no problem. I have seen some that were cut too far but it is pretty rare.

    If I am not buying new axles I have had good luck with dutchman axles for resplining.

    I have used Strange axles a bunch for new axles with good success as well. Unless you are building a dedicated race car you want the street strip axles from them and not the competition axles. The competition axles don't like going around corners too well.
  14. Willy301
    Joined: Nov 16, 2007
    Posts: 1,426


    I have NEVER seen a 9" with tapered bearings. If yours truly has them then you might check to see what rear you really have. For the length issue, have you considered an 8.8 out of a mid 90's V-8 Explorer? The 8.8 is plenty strong and is widely used and already has disc brakes...if you were wanting your case, that might be a drawback... Might be the right length already.
  15. Drive Em
    Joined: Aug 25, 2006
    Posts: 1,748

    Drive Em

    Tapered roller bearings were quite common in the late 70's and early 80's. They are the strongest bearings to use, and I use them whenever I build a road race or circle track 9" housing for a customer.
  16. 117harv
    Joined: Nov 12, 2009
    Posts: 6,590


    The OP wants to respline his origonal axles, so i thought he was wanting to do this on a budget. I stand by my earlier statement for narrowing a housing, and have done a this before with sucess. As always, using a jig is the prefered method, if you don't have one sending the housing off to have narrowed is more $$$ than probably just ordering one to your specs. If you may want to do some more in the future buying the bar and slugs to do them, or making your own may be worth the $$$.
  17. the offroad folks swear by the bar and plug method to narrow a housing. i used to have broken axles fixed all the time by a local jeep builder/racer that stood behind his work that the axle he welded was not going to break. we used to watch him narrow axles by cutting behind the splines and rewelding them and these were going in racing jeeps and if a axle ever broke it wasn't anywhere close to where the repair was.
  18. bulletproof1
    Joined: Feb 23, 2004
    Posts: 2,080

    from tulsa okla

    ive been narrowing axles for close to 20 years at a offroad shop..never heard of anyone welding the shafts.....i would never narrow a axle with out a centering bar...if its not bolted into the housing where the carrier bearings ride there is no way to insure it will be for bearings if it came out of a 86 ford truck it will be a set 20 bearing,,pretty good bearing.. they have a big outer seal,when installed correctly they seal up nice..,, they use axle grease for should have 4 3/8s studs that hold the axle into housing.... with this you can use the ford motorsports explorer disc brake set up.. very clean and work great.....
  19. wildearp
    Joined: Oct 24, 2007
    Posts: 522

    from tucson, az

    Strange can probably sell you brand new axles for about the same money as shipping yours to Moser and all the labor. It will be much quicker too, maybe less than a week. If you need a bolt pattern change and/or a registration center change, this really makes it cost effective.
  20. dawford
    Joined: Apr 25, 2010
    Posts: 498


    The 83 to 92 8.8 Ranger out of the V6 rangers are often posi tractions.

    I payed $147.00 each for the 2 that I got at a pick your own yard.

    For a light weight Model A unless you are running 400+ hp the 8.8 with the 28 spline axles will work fine.

    8.8 Ford rear ends that have Posi units are cheap to rebuild with clutch kits that are available on ebay.

    I have set them up with wheel lug adapters and spoked wheel adapters that add a total of about 2 5/8" to the width.

    Still however even with 16X4 1/2 Kelsey Hayes wheels and P215/75R16 Good Years tires they measure 64" outside of tread to tread.

    Yes I scored two 4 1/2" Kelsey Hayes 16" Wheels and I am using them on the rear of my first roadster. I have been told that they were originally used on some Chryslers.

    With 16X4 wheels I would suspect that they would measure about 63 1/2" wide.

    Anyway they will fit under full fenders.

    I am using a 46" drop axle in the front with f-1 spindles and drums with 1 1/4" spacers to achieve the same 63 1/2" total track width and I have 5 on 5 1/2 lug pattern all of the way around.

    I like the 35 Ford or Kelsey Hayes spoked 16" wheels on my Model A's.

    Dick :) :) :)

    Attached Files:

    Last edited: Sep 22, 2011
  21. davecervone
    Joined: Jun 11, 2011
    Posts: 7

    from PA

    Who is the guy in rochester? Does he respline axles too?
  22. Never2old
    Joined: Oct 14, 2010
    Posts: 711

    from so cal

    I bought a complete narrowed 9 inch rearend from Currie. Put the axles in without the pumpkin and one of them was out of line by over an inch. How long would that bearing have lasted? I straightened it myself. I'm just sayin', inspect what you get from whoever.
  23. Ricks57
    Joined: Feb 11, 2006
    Posts: 76

    from San Diego

  24. Yukon make 9" axles with a shit load of spline that you cut to length, used them heaps and they are as strong as and pretty competitivley priced. Having also re splined a few sets of axles myself these are by far a cheaper and stronger alternitive.
  25. Thanks for all the responses. First off I have a back ground in machine work and welding. I have no intentions of doing this without a fixture. I already have an empty center section and I am looking for a piece of center-less ground bar, I will turn out a set of bushings on my lathe to finish out the set. I am still not sure what I am going to do about my axles. No way I would ever dream of cutting and welding them. That just sounds like a billy move to me (hill billy). If the housing needs straightened , do you do it in a press or is there some other trick? Please remember I am using the 9" for a number of reasons. Cheap ($75.00) , Correct bolt pattern (5 on 5 1/2), Tough as snot, and can easily be modified. I am building a traditional car so all drum brakes.

  26. I bought my 1 1/2 inch bar from McMaster. The proceedure I used was to use the bar and bushings to check the alignment, not to try to hold it in place while welding. I built a fixture then used a 2 ton hyd jack, a piece of chain and a rosebud to align.

  27. pq55
    Joined: Jul 5, 2005
    Posts: 89


    Mike, you have a truck or pickup rear and with tapered bearing probably 31 spline axle.they usually have an offset pinion,so check your centerline and you might have to shorten only one side and by scrouging around you could find a short side axle from an another rear that will fit without resplining.I have done it couple time but it depend on what length you have.That's why bronco rear are so popular (short and offset).
  28. Pops1532
    Joined: Jun 19, 2011
    Posts: 544

    from Illinois

    Back in the 60's and 70's it was a fairly common practice for circle track racers to cut and weld the shafts.

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