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Rear end narrowing - quality??

Discussion in 'The Hokey Ass Message Board' started by 53 effie, Sep 15, 2013.

  1. 53 effie
    Joined: Oct 21, 2004
    Posts: 237

    53 effie
    Member

    Sorry for the length.. I've been gathering parts for my first build, a T roadster. I plan to use a Model A frame with a '33-36 dropped axle up front. For the rear I have a Ford 9" from a 1970 F-100 and bought a pair of early Bronco axles off ebay.

    The 9" was missing one backing plate and I found one at a local swap meet this summer. It turned out that the guy I got it from is an instructor at a trade school (school name withheld on purpose - easy to figure out if you know the area). I told him what my project was and he offered to narrow my 9" for a decent price. Being I don't have the proper tools for making a nice clean cut and have never done one before I took him up on it. I delivered the housing, axles and 3rd member a week ago Friday and he called Tuesday or Wednesday and said it was done and ready to pick up. I picked up the narrowed 9" on Friday. The instructor had a student to the narrowing and said he did a great job.

    I'm looking at rear yesterday and I'm thinking I've made a big mistake. I assumed (I know, I know) an instructor of this school would do a good job overseeing the student and I'd have it done at a good price. I look at it and it doesn't look like the cut ends were welded back on squarely. I laid a straight edge on it and in places, it's off nearly 1/16" or more in places. To top it off, they ground the sh** out of the weld, so much there's an obvious bevel in the axle tube.

    When I dropped off the housing, I left the original pickup mounting brackets on. Like I mentioned, I'd told the instructor of my intended usage on a Model A frame. I figured the well equipped school would have a plasma cutter or at least a torch to remove the spring mounting pads if they were in the way at all. At drop-off, the instructor asked about the brackets again and I said take them off if they're in the way or I'll get them later if they weren't.

    These are my concerns:
    1. The axle tubes aren't square as described above. The existing brackets should not have been an excuse as I mentioned.
    2. The welds are ground down so far the integrity of the axle tubes are now in question. I think it was done in attempt to cover up that the tubes weren't lined up properly. In my mind, the weld should only be ground to the original level of the surrounding metal. If they beveled the ends as they should have, the weld should have penetrated sufficiently to be strong.
    3. This school is trying to build a national reputation for what they do and I would think they'd want to teach the students to turn out good work. It doesn't look to me like either the student had adequate supervision or worst case - they don't care to put out a good product.

    What do you guys think?
     

    Attached Files:

  2. aaggie
    Joined: Nov 21, 2009
    Posts: 2,531

    aaggie
    ALLIANCE MEMBER

    The pics don't look square to me. Normally they put a long straight rod through the housing and put a round plug the same size as the wheel bearing in the axle ends and lock it all together. This allows any misalignment to be squared up before welding the ends back on. I don't know how much you paid but around Houston shops charge $175, the welds on mine looked like they were done by a machine and I didn't grind them.
     
  3. Belchfire8
    Joined: Sep 18, 2005
    Posts: 1,541

    Belchfire8
    Member

    That looks bad to me. I'd take it back and point out what you don't like to the instructor. If they won't fix it do it yourself or get it done right, I wouldn't run that.
     
  4. Heo2
    Joined: Aug 9, 2011
    Posts: 661

    Heo2
    Member

    And why cut it there? much better to cut the
    weld at the other end of the axletube where
    it is pressed in to the banjo. take out the tube
    cut it and press it in to the banjo again
     

  5. saltflats
    Joined: Aug 14, 2007
    Posts: 10,829

    saltflats
    Member
    from Missouri

    I would install the diff and see how the axle fits first if the axle don't fit I would take it back and give them a chance to make it right.
     
  6. Hotrodbuilderny
    Joined: Mar 20, 2009
    Posts: 1,646

    Hotrodbuilderny
    Member

    I narrow rears all the time,, I also spline axles, that end sure looks crooked short of some trick photography.On the smaller tube housings I skin the weld and remove the end shorten the housing turn down the bearing end so it will fit back in the housing I have a center section with bushings in it and a 1 11/2 in true bar stock that goes through it and I have ends that fit in the bearing end,on the large tube housings I do it on the pumpkin end. I would never do it thereon a 9 inch.
     
  7. duke460
    Joined: Jan 7, 2009
    Posts: 192

    duke460
    Member
    from Wisconsin

    From the pictures they do not look square. It will tear itself apart rear quick if you can every get the axles in. To narrow it properly you need an alignment bar that runs through both ends to square them up. You are not doomed. Currie makes tubes and bearing end caps so it can be fixed. Look at the Currie web site.
     
  8. 53 effie
    Joined: Oct 21, 2004
    Posts: 237

    53 effie
    Member

    They had it all together when I got there to pick it up. One axle came out easy but they had to whack the other one pretty good to get it out. I didn't put it back together yet and see how the axles turn.
     
  9. saltflats
    Joined: Aug 14, 2007
    Posts: 10,829

    saltflats
    Member
    from Missouri

    That don't sound good.
    You may want to get your brackets welded on before the ends are rewelded because welding the brackets on can make the axle tubes bend.
     
  10. That looks like shit, I always use a jig when im shortening mine, its the only way to go as it keeps everything square and true. A bent housing will cause you a lot of grief, I suggest you hit them up and see if they can right their wrongs..
     
  11. boutlaw
    Joined: Apr 30, 2010
    Posts: 1,231

    boutlaw
    Member

    Definitely slide your diff in and check if the axles will insert easily before making any final decisions. And, just like Saltflats said, weld any brackets FIRST, as the axle tubes can move a lot with the heat. If the axles slide in easily now, they may not after you weld any bracketry to the housing, so you need to check it first. I work with a machinest every day and most of what we do is shorten rearends and spline axles. Its amazing how much the tubes will pull when brackets and reinforcement structure is welded to the housing. There is not much you can do to check it without a bar and the proper bearing plugs to fit the carrier bearings and the axle housing end bearing, but you can place a metal straight edge across each end and measure front and back to see if the measurements are equal. That does not guarantee straightness but if the measurements are not equal from front and back you know the axle bearing ends are not parallel.
     
  12. Drive Em
    Joined: Aug 25, 2006
    Posts: 1,748

    Drive Em
    Member

    If the housing was bent (and I'm sure at least one tube was) and not straightened before welding the housing ends on, the rear end will appear that way. As long as the housing jig was used to center the housing ends on, you will be fine, it just won't look good. I always straighten the housings before I weld the ends back on so that everything looks good. I have narrowed hundreds of housings by cutting the housing ends off, there is no advantage to narrowing them at the pumpkin. PM me if you want more information.
     
  13. Hotrodbuilderny
    Joined: Mar 20, 2009
    Posts: 1,646

    Hotrodbuilderny
    Member

    If that were true and the housing was bent, and they ran an alignment bar through there would be a big step where the tubes met
     
  14. Drive Em
    Joined: Aug 25, 2006
    Posts: 1,748

    Drive Em
    Member

    That is true, but if the housing were bent 1/16", that is how much mis-alignment would show when it was welded back together which is what appears in the pictures. A mis-aligned housing other than an eyesore is not that big of a deal on a four bar, four link or ladder bar car as the wheelbase can be corrected, but it will change the wheelbase on a leaf spring car where there is no adjustment.
     
  15. gary terhaar
    Joined: Jul 23, 2007
    Posts: 656

    gary terhaar
    Member
    from oakdale ny

    Your not going to do much with the tubes you have now. The damage is done,get some 3 in seamless tubing and have someone replace the tubes who has experience at it.
    Otherwise it's a whore in a prom dress.
     
  16. 53 effie
    Joined: Oct 21, 2004
    Posts: 237

    53 effie
    Member

    You are confirming my thoughts.. The over grinding of the welds can't be undone.
     
  17. Drive Em
    Joined: Aug 25, 2006
    Posts: 1,748

    Drive Em
    Member

    The axle tubes are pretty thick walled tubes on the pickup rear ends so I would not worry too much about the material that was lost grinding the welds down. I never grind the welds down on the housings I do and I am sure that the grinding was done to hide crappy looking welds. I would talk to the person who did the work and ask him if an alignment jig was used when it was welded back together and if it was used, I would run it.
     
  18. Marty Strode
    Joined: Apr 28, 2011
    Posts: 5,938

    Marty Strode
    Member

    As others have said, unless it was done with a line-up bar and mandrels as pictured, you will not truly know, if it is straight. This was only a straighten job for a friend, notice the before and after. He had the brackets welded on this housing and had been driving it for 10 years. He was on his second set of axles and bearings, and brought it to me to check it for straightness. When narrowing one, I normally cut the housing down, re-machine the ends, or install new ones, and only tack weld ends back on. Whether I install the new brackets(fully welded), or the customer does, I always re-check it, straighten if needed, and weld the ends last. It has been working quite well for almost 40 years.
     

    Attached Files:

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

    Drive Em
    Member

    Nice work Marty. I used to use a chain to straighten the rear end housings that I work on until I had a chain link snap and go flying across the shop embedding itself in the wall. I now use straps made from 1/2" thick steel.
     
  20. Fenders
    Joined: Sep 8, 2007
    Posts: 3,922

    Fenders
    Member

    instructor at a trade school...
    Is this a demonstration of the saying "Those who can, do.... those who can't, teach" ?
     
  21. TERPU
    Joined: Jan 2, 2004
    Posts: 2,273

    TERPU
    Member


    That is the only way to get a 9" straight.

    People learn new stuff everyday, maybe he just needs a lesson in a positive objective format. I'm sure he knows it isn't Kosher, give him an easy out and let him fix it right. But running that is not going to work long term.

    All the best,

    Tim
     
  22. GearheadsQCE
    Joined: Mar 23, 2011
    Posts: 2,761

    GearheadsQCE
    Alliance Vendor

    Whoa there Big Boy.
     
  23. Pretty simple, take the housing back and have him set up in the jig. That will show you instantly if its true or not.
     
  24. lostone
    Joined: Oct 13, 2013
    Posts: 1,713

    lostone
    Member
    from kansas

    Set the housing on jack stands. Face the housing pumping facing forward. With a friend take 2 yard sticks. U take 1 & your friend take the other. Hold the tard stick against the flange on the axle on each side. Center the yard sticks on the flanges facing front to rear. Measure tje back of the yard sticks side to side then measure between the yards sticks in the front any more than an 1/8 inch is going to be a problem. Now face the pumpkin down and measure again. No more than an 1/8 here too. This will show u both camber & caster. We always narrow by cutting off the flanges. Square the cuts. Take new flanges & machine a counterbore the same size as the tube. Then machine a bevel in the flange where it meets the tube to allow for a welding bead. Tap the flanges into place install a bar thru the housing and flanges pull it up tight & then use the yard stick trick to make sure its square. After we weld up the flanges we again check for squareness.
     
  25. HemiRambler
    Joined: Aug 26, 2005
    Posts: 4,208

    HemiRambler
    Member

    How easy the axles turn is not so great of a way to check it out. As suggested a line up bar is best, but short of that you can use the axle itself to show you if it's in the ball park. Slide the axle in just short of seating the bearing - now move the axle left/right up/down - it should move the same amount (compared to the bearing end)in all directions - if it doesn't - then rotate the axle 180 degrees - the results should be the same. SAME results mean the axle itself is straight - DIFFERENT results mean the axle itself is bad. You need to check your line up bars too. I've seen those bent as well. So if the results are different no matter which way the axle is inserted - then the housing is definitely suspect - time to find someone with a line up bar!
    BTW - I've also used a torch to "bend" a housing back to where it should be - heat warped it- heat can un-warp it too.
     
  26. woodiewagon46
    Joined: Mar 14, 2013
    Posts: 1,895

    woodiewagon46
    Member
    from New York

    I learned this lesson the hard way, and had a guy in PA build and narrow a 9" for my '46 woodie for me. First mistake was to let him talk me into the small bearing ends second mistake was letting him do the job at all. At 12,000 miles I was stranded in western West Virginia with a toasted wheel bearing. Go with Currie or some other major rear end rebuilder. Your axle ends look terrible and are a bearing failure waiting to happen!
     
  27. brucer
    Joined: Jun 5, 2008
    Posts: 332

    brucer
    Member
    from western ky

    The old Bronco housing suck for narrowing, they are thnner tubing, the tubes do not slip and plug weld into the center section, the tubes are just buttwelded onto the center housing..

    So if he cut the housing ends, and used a jig, the tube ends might not be straight with the bearing ends, but the ends are still welded on using the jig, so the bearing ends are square with the bolt-in center section..

    The old Bronco 9" smooth housing are notorious for being bent pretty bad, I've seen them bent more than 3/8".

    I would suggest renarrowing and welding on new tubes using new 3/16 wall tubing.. cut the old tubes off completely, machine the new tubes so they will slip into the old center section, then go from there.
     
    Last edited: Nov 29, 2013
  28. This is why to TURN the bar by hand as I remove it from the collets. Most guys remove the collet on the end first, and you are correct, if your bar is bent, your housing is too. If you SPIN the bar with the collets still bolted down, that bar wont come out if the bar is even slightly bent.
     
  29. lostone
    Joined: Oct 13, 2013
    Posts: 1,713

    lostone
    Member
    from kansas

    U can go to hollandalignment dot com & under photos see 1 of the axles i have done along with some of my other work
     

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