Gas Tank and Rear Suspension Installation

Before getting the car off the rotisserie I took the opportunity to get a good coat of epoxy primer on the entire body, inside and out to protect the metal and give the finish bodywork a good base to work with.

There is still a lot of bodywork to be done and I'll get to that probably in the spring sometime, but for now the body is well protected and I won't have to worry about surface rust.

Here is a shot showing the fuel tank and rear springs installed. The tank was completely boiled out, sanded and painted with POR-15 and a new sending unit was installed. The pad between the tank and the body was shot so it was replaced with two layers of 15 lb. roofing felt.. which is pretty much what the original pad was made of anyway.

This shot shows some of the fuel line installation. You can see I used new 3/8" aluminum fuel line instead of the stock stuff. This was done for one simple reason... I had enough left over from building the deuce so I just used it. You can also see a section of the rear brake line. The brake line was in pretty good shape so I reused it, however I did clean it and make sure it was clear with no kinks or damage. The rubber line is new.

Here you can see the air lines for the shocks. I'm using separate lines for each shock so I can fine tune the stance. The lines were run between the tank and the trunk floor in a channel which will keep them from kinking or chafing.

And here is the other end of the air lines. I will mount the valves in the license plate recess so they will be easily accessed just by flipping the plate down.

This shows a little more detail of the fuel line routing. It goes through the frame rail using grommets of course and from there follows the stock routing to the front of the car. If you look closely where the line exits the tank you an see some zip ties. These hold the ground wire to the line till it terminates at the clamp. Mopars require the fuel sending unit to be grounded. If it isn't, it just won't work.

Here is another view of where the fuel line goes through the frame rail.

With the suspension, fuel and brake lines done its time to get the diff ready to go back in. The entire unit was disassembled, cleaned and here you see the bare housing after a coat of jet black paint.

The chunk has a sure grip unit of unknown age so after inspection I decided to replace the clutches. Here is a new set ready to go in. Care must be used because there is a specific sequence for these and if they aren't in correctly the unit will probably not function well or for long.

While the sure grip unit was out of the chunk I replaced the thrust button. This is a two part piece that rides against the axles and help provides the proper axle end play. If you look down in the center of the unit you can see it in place before it was removed.

Its a little fuzzy but here is what the thrust button looks like removed. These typically brake the rolled pin that holds them together and this one is no exception. It will be replaced with a new one before the sure grip unit goes back in the chunk.

Here is the chunk reassembled and ready to go back in the housing. The entire unit will be mocked up including the axles so that proper axle end play can be set. More on that in a minute.

This is a tapered axle differential. Before 1965 all 8 3/4 rear ends were like this. Here you can see the axles with the characteristic taper and large bolt on the end which holds the hubs in place. The keys locate the hubs and keep them from turning on the axles. Simple design but a maintenance nightmare. See the link on how to upgrade these units to modern brake drums for further detail. These units will have the bearings replaced before reassembly.

One unique thing about the 8 3/4 rear ends was that the wheel bearings are not lubricated by the rear end gear oil. They are packed with grease just like front wheel bearings would be and are lubricated that way. Inner grease seals are used to insure no gear oil contaminates the greased bearings and outer seals are used to keep the grease from leaking onto the brakes. It is important to replace these seals anytime the bearings are replaced or repacked.

Here is the chunk reassembled and ready to go back in the housing. The entire unit will be mocked up including the axles so that proper axle end play can be set.

A note on axle end play. These old tapered axle rears use shims to set axle end play. No one makes these shims anymore so you are stuck either making your own or using more than one gasket to ensure you have the correct end play. That said, if when you measure end play you don't have enough you can, as an alternative, remove some metal from the thrust button. This in essence does exactly the same thing as adding shims to set end play. This is what I did with this unit. I removed .140 from the thrust button to wind up with a total of .012 end play. Recommended end play is between .008 and .015.

The rear has now been mounted back in the chassis. Looks like a lot going on in this pic but all that you see is just brake lines, air lines and emergency brake cables. This unit has slip on drums. If you would like more info on that just click on the Modern Drums for Tappered Axle Rear Ends link.

Here's a better look at the hydraulic brake lines. These are all stock and have not been modified. No reason to change what works.

Another look at the cleaned stock brake lines.

This shot shows the air shocks pretty well. Remember, if you are going to install air shocks on a Mopar of this vintage, you need to reinforce the upper shock mounting crossmember. The stock crossmember is just sheet steel and isn't really strong enough to handle the extra stress from air shocks.

A closer look at the air lines for the shocks. It's important to keep them away from heat and from anything that could chafe or damage them.

And a quick shot of the emergency brake mount and the new "U" bolts. The original bolts had to be cut off but even if they didn't its always a good idea to replace them when you R&R the rear end.

Next I'll be mounting the new tires and getting the car off the rotisserie. First I'll need to sand and prime the new wheels which may take a little time since you can't paint in cold temperatures.

That's it for this month....check back often for more updates...

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