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Tech: Shortening an I beam axle

Discussion in 'The Hokey Ass Message Board' started by topcat662, Mar 13, 2007.

  1. topcat662
    Joined: Feb 14, 2006
    Posts: 373

    topcat662
    Member
    from NM

    Here's one that I'm sure I'll catch alot of flack about but what the hell. I learned this one from an old guy who used to build dirt track midget racers. All his cars had shortened I beam axles. He would just cut out the amount he needed and welded them back together. He said he'd been doing it for 20 yrs and never even had an axle crack nevermind break. And to qoute him "those cars to hellish abuse on the dirt tracks"!

    I started thinking about it and did some checking around. Most people came back with "you should'nt weld a cast iron axle". I agree but Ford axles are not cast they're forged. Alignment shops regularly used to heat these axles up enough to bend them if they needed to with no ill effects. Also the coveted original dropped axles were heated to bright red to be able to stretch them.

    So after looking around for a good candidate I came across a 64 ford van. Solid I beam and it even had finned drums and about a 3" drop! $50. drum to drum!

    My old friend said he cut out what he needed to, ground a bevel and just butt welded them. I thought I'd try it but take it one step farther.

    1st picture is the axle before as is. I first cut off the ears that the leaf springs bolted to. Then cleaned up the whole thing.

    Second and third pictures show how I cut the axle so as to get the strongest joint possible. Instead of doing it like my friend did I was able to spread the joint (and the stress) over 9" instead f 2". The edges were beveled so as to provide good penetration.

    This by the way is NOT a project for a 110volt mig welder or anyone who is not VERY sure of their welds. If you're not sure bring it to a welding shop and have them weld it for you!

    Last picture. The axle was then put in a jig to keep everything straight and Tig welded. Holes were then laid out and drilled to accept the spring perches. I also welded 1" dom on both sides of the axle web where the holes were drilled for strength and looks. Clean up the welds and paint.

    The axle doesn't have the bow on the bottom of it like the early '30s Ford axles but looks more original than a tube axle to me. Plus drums, bearings and other parts are all available at any parts store around the country!
     

    Attached Files:

  2. bobw
    Joined: Mar 24, 2006
    Posts: 2,368

    bobw
    Member

    Nice job. I've done 6 of them and they are all on the road with no problems.
     
  3. usedall9
    Joined: Oct 30, 2006
    Posts: 423

    usedall9
    Member

    Intersting......
    What size motor is that supporting?
    Just curious?
    Could you also lengthen the amount of drop this very same way?
     
  4. topcat662
    Joined: Feb 14, 2006
    Posts: 373

    topcat662
    Member
    from NM

    Nice to know I'm not alone!
    Thanks
    Eddie
     

  5. what did you do for the sprig/perches?
     
  6. pasadenahotrod
    Joined: Feb 13, 2007
    Posts: 11,776

    pasadenahotrod
    Member
    from Texas

    Nice work!
    I don't think the ends should be cut and welded though as the last poster asked. A "real" drop job by MorDrop would be appropriate.
     
  7. topcat662
    Joined: Feb 14, 2006
    Posts: 373

    topcat662
    Member
    from NM

    The spring perches are Model a. The motor is a 351. But I have also done this on a car that had a429. As for lenghtening the amount of drop I wouldn't. The middle of the axle has far less stress than the ends.
    Eddie
     
  8. tcoupekyle
    Joined: Mar 6, 2007
    Posts: 859

    tcoupekyle
    Member

    What kind of frontend setup did you run? I'm trying to use the same axle on a T project and I need a little advice. Also what kind of Steering did you use please as much info as you can about it would be very greatly appreciated Thank you
     
  9. topcat662
    Joined: Feb 14, 2006
    Posts: 373

    topcat662
    Member
    from NM

    It's a 64 Ford Falcon van axle. I used model a spring perches and had a local spring shop make me a set of transverse springs. The steering box is a 40' Ford mounted just behind the firewall. Thanks for the reply.
    Eddie
     
  10. el chuco
    Joined: Feb 20, 2006
    Posts: 126

    el chuco
    Member

    My dad and I just narrowed his Chevy truck solid axle for a t-bucket project using this exact method of cutting but we mig welded it. We followed some info from the following threads. Junkyard Dog 32 gives some really good tips on welding reinforcement plates in and Kustombuilder has some good input too in the other post. Check 'em out:
    http://www.jalopyjournal.com/forum/showthread.php?t=4037&highlight=front+axle+narrowing

    http://www.jalopyjournal.com/forum/showthread.php?t=149153&highlight=front+axle+narrowing
     
  11. usedall9
    Joined: Oct 30, 2006
    Posts: 423

    usedall9
    Member


    This reminds me,
    I've been searching for "MorDrop" online and have had no luck....
    Anybody have a link??
     
  12. topcat662
    Joined: Feb 14, 2006
    Posts: 373

    topcat662
    Member
    from NM

    Nice to see that there are many other people out there willing to give things a try!
    Eddie
     
  13. I think I saw a post on dropping Model T axles like that a couple of months ago.
     
  14. McKee
    Joined: Jul 22, 2005
    Posts: 1,193

    McKee

    I know they're in Oakland but I doubt that they have a website,...or a computer,...or a phone!
     
  15. fitzee
    Joined: Feb 26, 2003
    Posts: 2,862

    fitzee
    Member

    Right click! save! I have asked about this before for a Hillman gasser I am building and this is just what I wanted to see, great tech.My qustion is how did you keep the axle square and keep it from not moving when you welded it?
     
  16. tcoupekyle
    Joined: Mar 6, 2007
    Posts: 859

    tcoupekyle
    Member

    What Style setup did you use when you put the axle in your A ie.. spring behind the axle, spring over, spring in front etc... Im interested in how you mounted everything up thanks
     
  17. bobw
    Joined: Mar 24, 2006
    Posts: 2,368

    bobw
    Member

    Here's my round up: '38 Dodge truck, F100 axle, parallel leaf springs under the axle. '35 International pickup, same as above. '27 Chrysler Tub, Chevy Van axle, parallel leaf springs under the axle. '27 Lakes Roadster, Chevy Van axle, quarter elliptics with '35 Ford radius rods. '31 A, Econoline axle, transverse spring in front of axle, hairpin radius rods. '27 Roadster, '39 Chev truck axle, quarter elliptics springs without shackles and equal length parallel locater rods.

    All axles were narrowed to a 46" kingpin centerline. Once you know the kingpin inclination for the specific axle you can clamp it and check with an angle finder to get the camber correct. Axle forgings aren't real straight through the center. Remember it is important to get the axle ends in correct alignment. I've had the parts move a bit when tack welding and had to recut the tacks, reposition and reclamp. If I knew is was going to do more than one axle when I started I would have made a rigid fixture.
     
  18. You know, with that method you could take a pair of 70's Ford Twin-I-Beams and have a nice straight axle with cheap spindles and great brakes.
     
  19. Flathead Youngin'
    Joined: Jan 10, 2005
    Posts: 3,662

    Flathead Youngin'
    Member

    cool....never thought about it like that.....much more surface area to help with strength....

    MUCH better than the guy down the road that cut it straight, used a fish plate, but topped it off bird crap welds......VERY scary stuff
     
  20. topcat662
    Joined: Feb 14, 2006
    Posts: 373

    topcat662
    Member
    from NM

    I built a jig. Next time I do it I'll take pictures of the jig as well!

    Eddie
     
  21. topcat662
    Joined: Feb 14, 2006
    Posts: 373

    topcat662
    Member
    from NM

    Spring over. I just happen to like the way it looks like that, but I would think it would work any way you decided to mount it!

    Eddie
     
  22. topcat662
    Joined: Feb 14, 2006
    Posts: 373

    topcat662
    Member
    from NM

    Probably could as long as you build a jig that would hold the axle by the king pin ends. Bobw was correct in stating that the middle of the axles are not always square. The ends that matter the most are the outside ends of the axle. But please make sure the welds are done right. I believe this is by far the most important aspect of this job!
    Eddei
     
  23. topcat662
    Joined: Feb 14, 2006
    Posts: 373

    topcat662
    Member
    from NM


    Thanks for the compliment! I can't agree more about the weld being done right. Strength is of utmost importance here. If you clamp the axle wrong worst comes to worst you wont be able to align the car...If you weld isn't done right. Aligning the car would be the least of your problems. If you're eben a little unsure of your welding have it done by a pro!

    Eddie

    Eddie
     
  24. tcoupekyle
    Joined: Mar 6, 2007
    Posts: 859

    tcoupekyle
    Member

    Did you drill holes through the axle to mount it and did you use the stock tie rod arms and the stock steering arm
     
  25. jusjunk
    Joined: Dec 3, 2004
    Posts: 3,138

    jusjunk
    BANNED
    from Michigan

    I hope if your welding on that table that the contents of the cans below arent flammable? ....
    Dave
     
  26. topcat662
    Joined: Feb 14, 2006
    Posts: 373

    topcat662
    Member
    from NM

    I drilled through to mount the spring perches. I did use the stock tie rod setup although I did cut off the old pitman arm and make a new one.
    Eddie
     
  27. topcat662
    Joined: Feb 14, 2006
    Posts: 373

    topcat662
    Member
    from NM

    They probably are flammable but the were'nt there when the welding was being done. That's the main work table in my shop and I always seem to have a buddy or two over doing something so it gets cluttered faster than I'd like!
    eddie
     
  28. 55special
    Joined: Feb 19, 2007
    Posts: 17

    55special
    Member
    from NC

    topcat, what are using to locate the axle, split wishbone, hairpins?
     
  29. tcoupekyle
    Joined: Mar 6, 2007
    Posts: 859

    tcoupekyle
    Member

    Why did you have to cut the Pitman Arm? Sorry to be a pest.
     
  30. topcat662
    Joined: Feb 14, 2006
    Posts: 373

    topcat662
    Member
    from NM

    Spit wishbones.
     

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