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Mini-tech - E-Z rear end narrowing

Discussion in 'The Hokey Ass Message Board' started by stan292, Aug 4, 2006.

  1. stan292
    Joined: Dec 6, 2002
    Posts: 857

    stan292
    Member

    Gang -

    My oldest kid recently helped me narrow a 9" Ford housing (Okay - he did the whole thing himself, while I drank coffee and snapped a few photos - LOL).

    I've seen a few threads here about narrowing rear end housings, and it always looked like a major undertaking. I understand that someone doing this for a living would probably be able to justify a jig, etc,. But I thought this method was a pretty slick deal for a once-in-a-while thing.

    It only took about forty-five minutes, and everything came out straight as a string. Absolutely no warpage. I guess sometimes it pays not to over-think things.

    Once the pieces were cut to length, he used a scrap piece of angle and chain clamps to quickly get perfect alignment, then tacked it in four places as shown.

    Next, I used the edge of an abrasive wheel to "vee" the gaps between the spot welds to assure good weld penetration.

    Then came the really cool part. He simply tacked four scrap pieces across the gap to keep things steady. They may not look very heavy-duty, but there was really no place for the housing to move, and it worked like a charm. Once the main welds were made and had cooled down, I knocked the plates off and welded in the small remaining gaps.

    After that, it was just a matter of smoothing things off with a grinder. Like I said, quick and easy.

    We then inserted the axles, and clamped the ends together inside the empty housing (again using a piece of angle and the chain clamps) to assure they were in alignment. That made it easy to install the brake hats and rotors, then position the calipers over the rotors (with their mounting brackets bolted onto them in advance) and tack them in place on the housing. Again, everything came out square and straight with no hassle.

    The chain clamps were extra convenient, but most any type clamp would work. The key was using the chunk of angle for alignment.
     
  2. stan292
    Joined: Dec 6, 2002
    Posts: 857

    stan292
    Member

    Duh! Screwed my first tech post up, of course.

    Here are the photos.
     

    Attached Files:

  3. Flathead Youngin'
    Joined: Jan 10, 2005
    Posts: 3,661

    Flathead Youngin'
    Member

    Hmmm.....cool...

    I cut my torque tube and drive shaft down and wondered it it was a similar process on, say, a 9" housing.....

    thanks!

    edit: sorry for the dumb question....so you then just ordered the right length axles?
     
  4. Bugman
    Joined: Nov 17, 2001
    Posts: 3,483

    Bugman
    Member

    That's pretty slick. I've been contemplating attempting my own axle narrowing when the time comes, but didnt want to deal with a one time use jig. Seeing this method, I'm no longer questioning if I should try it, now I know I'm gonna :D
     

  5. HotRodHon
    Joined: Jun 29, 2004
    Posts: 1,424

    HotRodHon
    Member

    Be carefull with a drive shaft. They need a lot tighter balance than a rear end housing.

    Craig:cool:
     
  6. Johnny1290
    Joined: Apr 20, 2006
    Posts: 2,834

    Johnny1290
    Member

    So you took an abrasive wheel and basically knockeed down the sharp outside edges so the two halves of the axle formed a V inbetween the spot welds? How crazy did you get with it, or did you just give it the once over?

    This tech is great! I couldn't picture it in my head, but a photo is worth 1,000 words! Nice work!
     
  7. ford.slaughter
    Joined: Jan 11, 2006
    Posts: 24

    ford.slaughter
    Member

    great tip. thanks.
     
  8. GTS225
    Joined: Jul 2, 2006
    Posts: 1,175

    GTS225
    Member

    Wingnutz......HotRodHon is right.
    I did a drive shaft using the same technique. Three chunks of angle hose-clamped around the tubes for alignment. Butt-welded together. It works, to a point. I do detect a bit of high speed vibration, though. I'll admit, I eyeballed the knuckle alignment, and haven't had it balanced. I figured, if nothing else, it gives me a shaft to take to a driveline shop, rather than having to take the whole car.

    Roger
     
  9. Dirty2
    Joined: Jun 13, 2004
    Posts: 8,903

    Dirty2
    Member

  10. Ed ke6bnl
    Joined: Apr 15, 2001
    Posts: 181

    Ed ke6bnl
    Member

    I have to agree all the work was in the photography? Dad gets all the points. My boy doesn't give me a chance to weld anything anymore he just jumps in and since his eye sight is better and well now he is a better welder I let him do it. good boy you got dad. Ed ke6bnl my boy tig weld in my mustang II suspension and that was 5 years ago he was 15. Since been certified in mig and arc.


     
  11. bamabob
    Joined: Apr 6, 2005
    Posts: 153

    bamabob
    Member

    Seriously, did you butt weld a driveshaft tube together or weld a shortened tube to the yoke? I can't imagine getting lucky enough for a butt welded tube to be balanced.
    Bob
     
    Atwater Mike likes this.
  12. fab32
    Joined: May 14, 2002
    Posts: 13,985

    fab32
    Member Emeritus

    Not to rain on your parade but what you've done is a decent job of cutting down the housing tubes and welding them back together in a straight line. What if the housing was warped before you started or the centerline of the 4 points (left wheel bearing, left carrier bearing, right carrier bearing, and right wheel bearing) were out of alignment? Your method would result in a shorter housing with the centerline of these points still out of alignment. This would make wheel bearing life short and the rearend prone to run hot in use.
    I'm afraid a proper alignment bar and proper sized donut spacers is THE only way to insure the entire housing is straight.
    After doing this for over 20 years I've NEVER found a straight housing right out of a doner car. You would never know if it were straight or not without a fixture. Some of them are so far out of alignment that the ends wont mate back together without the ends mismatched the thickness of the tubes or worse. Remember most of these came out of wrecked cars and who knows what the history of use and abuse was before that.
    Just another segment of car crafting that a lot of people "get away with" and think they've really acomplished something when in reality it's just a cobble job waiting to bite you in the ass. There is a right and wrong way of doing everything, your call.

    Frank
     
  13. Dirk35
    Joined: Mar 8, 2001
    Posts: 2,033

    Dirk35
    Member

    I did basically the same method, but I put the rear end housing in the mill to ensure prefectly square cut off of the tubes, and the "bearing cups" (the outter peice you cut off and welded back on) in the lathe and I used the lathe to cut a deep , really deep "V" groove to lay weld into as I knew I was going to totally smooth my welds over.

    I used an Alignemnt Bar:
    Then, instead of the peices of flat plate detemining straightness of my axel housing, I took a peice of Solid Steel Rod with outside diamater a little bigger than the bearing, and I used the lathe to cut down to where it fit perfectly into the bearigns on each end (similar to a solid axle straight through) and bolts to the where the third member bearings bolt to....... Basically, a one-time application-specific Alignment bar.

    Put the Alignemnt bar in. Put the "Bearing Cups" back on, Put the bearings on my alignment bar, clocked the Backing plate brackets to stock location. I did this as I figured Ford did enough research to wether the brakes need to go on top or bottom, so; why mess up a good thing?. Then welded on high heat as possible in little short welds. High heat to get good penetration on the parent material, and short welds to minimize warpage when cooling.

    Then, I just beat the Alignemt bar out from one side, thus destorying the old bearings.....which was intential, cause they only cost $12-14 for a set and the bearing seals.

    I sent my axels off to Moser Engineering, Moser, IA for shortening and Re-splining. They only needed how much to take off them, and a check to cover shipping back to me. It took less than two weeks to not just get the Axels there, but to get them shortened, and re-spined, and shipped back to me!!!! If you use anyone but these guys,...... well, I hope they are you friend in real life! These guys Rock! He called me on the phone to make sure what I wanted, and said they would go out the same day he called! Kudos to Moser Engineering! A+ Service and work!

    I still plan to take it to the local Drive Line Specialities (shop does Big Rig and Indistrual Axels and Drives shafts) to get re-squared and aligned.

    Other than that, you got the housing down. I hope you didnt smooth your welds.
     
  14. scottybaccus
    Joined: Mar 13, 2006
    Posts: 4,109

    scottybaccus
    Member

    I like the method you used because it makes for a clean finish in the end. That said, I really doubt how true the housing is from one end to the other. We narrow customer housings routinely using the commercial mandrel bar and dies. It is really common for there to be 1/4 to 3/8 inch misalignment on just one side of the tube. The benefit of using the mandrel is that you align the outer bearings with the carrier bearings to ensure no undue strain on the axle shafts. Now, with your method, you get a really good alignment on the tube, but it will still need to be straightened. The easiest we've done that without a mandrel is to stand the housing on end on a level surface and measure the top end with a digital level. Use heat to tweak the housing until the ends are paralel and perpendicular to the carrier face. It will take some heat applied to both tubes to cause enough shrinkage to make it move, but patience will pay off. Nice work. I gotta get some of those chain clamps.
     
  15. alteredimage
    Joined: Oct 5, 2005
    Posts: 202

    alteredimage
    Member

    I had some dummy bearings made up for every rear I do. eventually I will have them all. But I insert the dummy bearings slide my 1.5" cold rolled bar in and use that to align everything. Like mentioned above we have narrowed quite a few axles on brand new trucks and they are off , sometimes the thickness of the tube.
     
  16. GTS225
    Joined: Jul 2, 2006
    Posts: 1,175

    GTS225
    Member

    *********************************************************
    Seriously, Bob Short story, as this is in a late-model Mitsu/Dodge vehicle, which makes it off topic.
    Went with an American engine/trans, used the stock Mitsu rear, (metric). Had to fab a driveshaft from a front 1/2 American to rear half metric. Used about 18" of metric shaft and rear knuckle, and the rest forward American. Hacked it off square, hose-clamped three pieces of 1.5" angle spaced around the shaft. (Two clamps on each side of weld.) Eyeballed the alignment of the knuckles. (Musta spent a half hour checking and re-checking.) Burned it together between the angles, let it cool, unclamped and burned the rest.
    Gotta be honest, though.....I expected it to about shake the car apart during the first drag pass.

    Like I said initially...it's a good way to hack a shaft together to move the car at low speeds, and gives a "real" sample to a decent driveline shop to build off of. (Yes, I do intend to have a decent shaft made.)

    Roger
     
  17. Just curious, whats it cost to have a rear end housing narrowed at a professional shop? Then how much are narrowed axles? Is it better to buy new axles or narrow the old ones?

    I've never done any of this before but will have to on the next project.

    JH
     
  18. Bugman
    Joined: Nov 17, 2001
    Posts: 3,483

    Bugman
    Member

    Last I checked, Moser wanted $75 to narrow the housing and $75 to narrow the axles. New custom axles were around $150 each.
     
  19. bulletproof1
    Joined: Feb 23, 2004
    Posts: 2,080

    bulletproof1
    Member
    from tulsa okla

    9' are one of the worst for warping or being bent.everyone that ive narrowed was way off .the dana 60 has the same prob ,most of them were used in trucks that carried way to much weight..see can see how bad some of the later 9's where from the factory..
     
  20. bulletproof1
    Joined: Feb 23, 2004
    Posts: 2,080

    bulletproof1
    Member
    from tulsa okla

    im not a big fan of resplining axles.allot of people do it and it works well, but your using old cast axles ,its not much more cash to get new chromalloy shafts.think of it this way after you ship them ,pay to have the resplined,then ship them back .your close to a good pair of NEW shafts!
     
  21. Larry T
    Joined: Nov 24, 2004
    Posts: 7,660

    Larry T
    Member

    I've got agree with the folks that say a bar is the way to go. I usually cut the housing, weld on ALL of the suspension brackets and then weld the ends on. You would be amazed how much a housing moves around when you're welding on 4 link or ladderbar brackets, shock mounts or even just spring pads. The ends should go on last.
    I have straightened old housings by heating and shrinking them if they're not to far out of spec. And I have a friend that works in a machine shop that straightened his on a BIG press.
     
  22. scottybaccus
    Joined: Mar 13, 2006
    Posts: 4,109

    scottybaccus
    Member

    $75 would be reasonable to narrow a bare housing that has no brackets on it. Like most things, You have to take the whole job into account.

    Remove old bracketry and clean housing, maybe $50
    Shorten housing, $75 to $125 depending on how crooked it is.
    Add $75 to $100 if you want new ends, say to convert a GM to large Ford housing ends or small Ford to Large.
    Axles are anywhere from about $150 to $250 per pair depending on how tough you want them. If you are just centering the pumpkin on a 9", you may only need to cut one side of the housing and replace 1 axle. This will be about 2/3 the cost. Old brackets still usually need to be replaced with new in the right place.
    Leaf spring perches installed for $30 to $60,maybe.
    4 Link and other complicated suspensions run anything from about $100 to $300. You can usually buy a production line housing cheaper than you can customize an old housing, But then you have to buy all the internals. The beauty of building a custom from an old 9" is in getting all the small parts in the deal. Your individual situation will dictate if new bearings and seals are needed or if you need to set up a set of gears, blah, blah.
     
  23. stan292
    Joined: Dec 6, 2002
    Posts: 857

    stan292
    Member

    Frank -

    A couple quick comments.

    We took pains to make sure our housing was in good shape before we began - including checking the end plates to ensure they were parallel (and of course, we did this again after the welding was completed), as well as some other measurements. Like any job, it's not gonna turn out any better than the degree of forethought and preparation that went into it.

    I mentioned early in the post that this wasn't something that was going to forever eliminate use of alignment bars, etc. If we were gonna go into the rear-end narrowing business, this wouldn't be the way to go for sure.

    Our rear-end is going in a nostalgia drag car that will see a handful of quarter-mile passes throughout the year. If I were building a Bonneville racer, I'm sure I'd want more precise alignment. As it is, we got just what we wanted. I'm confident we'll get by just fine - and frankly, I'd feel perfectly comfortable using this same technique for a street-driven car.

    Here's the bottom line. This deal worked well for us - in our particular situation. Everyone needs to use common sense and good judgement. Like most of the tech posts here, this is a "for-what-its-worth tip. If its "wrong" for you, so be it.

    If a better method redily available, by all means, take advantage of it. If this (or any) technique looks shaky - or if you're uncertain of your ability - have the job done by a pro. Those considerations are no-brainers.

    BTW - I thought your points were well taken until the last paragraph. I have to say I thought your comments there were unecessary. My intent was to pass on a couple tips that might be of help to someone. I've already responded to a couple of guys by e-mail with some additional information and photos - and will be glad to do so for anyone else who might have questions.

    In any case, I don't think any of the info in my post deserves to be put in the "cobble job" category.

    Take care -
     
  24. Johnny1290
    Joined: Apr 20, 2006
    Posts: 2,834

    Johnny1290
    Member

    Wow Frank that's pretty f-ing rude. This guy went to a lot of trouble to take pictures and post a tech article that was informative and funny; it was what it was, he never said it was the 'right' way to do anything. You're entitled to express your opinion, but why did you have to kick him in the balls like that? It was uncalled for.

    That said, thanks Stan32 for the pic of the Ving the ends of the tubes that I'd asked you about. It was cool of you to go outta your way to help me learn something. That's why I love the HAMB and the people here. I uploaded the pic so everybody can see.

    [​IMG]
     
  25. arkracing
    Joined: Feb 7, 2005
    Posts: 891

    arkracing
    Member

    Got a picture of this in working mode????

    I assume the bearings just go into the housing and the pipe slides through the entire housing to keep both bearings on the same plane????
     
  26. fab32
    Joined: May 14, 2002
    Posts: 13,985

    fab32
    Member Emeritus

    Johnny 1290, Sorry if I ruffled your feathers but there is just something about going to the cemetary and visiting two of your friends that both are there due to stupidity (one by his own hand the other the innocent victim of incompetence) , That and the continual observation of cars and trucks that shouldn't be let out of the driveway and are the object of adoration here and on the street has given me the balls to call them like I see them. It also helps when you can look back on over 40 years of car building (including the manufacture of components for one of the leading stock car builders in the country) and take comfort in the fact that no one to my knowledge has ever been killed of seriously hurt in anything I've had a hand in. This isn't bragging, and it shouldn't be, just an old car guy passing on what he believes to be fact, take it or leave it.
    In the old days when you made a mistake you were chastized for it. Today your turned over to the notion that it couldn't possibly be your fault and the search starts for "true" culprit.
    Hope you never have to attend a funeral where a critical word or act could have changed the outcome, it's a real eye opener.

    Frank
     
  27. To start with Stan you done good my friend, if its straight and you can slide axles in it when your done then all is jam up. I've done 'em that way before, its not the way I do 'em today but its doable that way for sure.
    As for driveshafs I can't suggest that you cut and splice in the middle, remove the yolk cut the shaft and plug the yolk back in.

    No as for someone getting thier feelings hurt, I've seen a lot of really crappy things done to cars over the years. Some done by crap machanics and other done in innocence by folks who didn't know any better. Like frank I've burried too damned many myself.

    If an old fart points out something that he doesn't think will work just take it under advisement, and go on with life. Not worth getting upset about, you rolls the dice and you gets what ever comes up. Sometimes its box cars others it snake eyes. life's a crap shoot after all.
     
  28. therecruiter
    Joined: Jul 26, 2009
    Posts: 3

    therecruiter
    Member
    from FORT POLK

    Hey FRANK
    Are YOU STILL OUT THERE?..... There are choices in live. This is my Call; This is how I'm going to do it ... Stan292 way.

    Thanks to you stan292 and your son for the good info :D
     
  29. Retro Jim
    Joined: May 27, 2007
    Posts: 3,859

    Retro Jim
    Member


    Well if that is all they would charge or even $100 to cut and shorten a housing , then it really isn't worth doing it yourself , is it ? I mean at least you know the housing is true and square !
    As for the axles , if I was going to use just on the street I would use the old ones and have them cut them down , BUT if I was going to be using a high HP engine in a drag car , I would want NEW ones !
    Now as for cuttting drive shafts , I will leave that one to the pro's ! I have had drive shafts let loose before while racing down the road and that is real nasty !
    Just my 2 cents worth !
     
  30. Dale Fairfax
    Joined: Jan 10, 2006
    Posts: 2,585

    Dale Fairfax
    Member Emeritus

    I think it's quite obvious that you and your son are NOT "cobblers". Even the so called "pros" are still going to end up with a butt welded joint just as you did. If the welding is right I can't see where the risk to life and limb is. As far as misalignment of bearings due to a previously abused axle housing, I wonder how many unmodified abused 9" axles are out there running day after day? Do any of your detractors realize that for many years Winston Cup cars ran with purposely bent right side axle tubes in order to induce camber on the right rear wheel. 500 miles at 180 M.P.H. with unGodly side forces and insignificant bearung failure!! ???



     

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