Clean and Paint

A friend came by as I was disassembling the rear end and suggested I take a peek inside the gas tank.  He said I might be surprised at what I find.  We removed the sending unit and he was right.  I couldn’t believe how corroded it was!  In fact, the float had completely dissolved and was nowhere to be seen.  That explains why the fuel gauge always said “E”.

Old sending unit

He suggested I buy a new gas tank rather than just cleaning up the old one.  With water being heavier than gas, any moisture that got into the gas tank over the years would sit on the bottom.  Eventually little pits would form and one day it would spring a leak.  Nothing like finding a giant puddle of gasoline on your garage floor. I took his advice and picked up a new gas tank from Classic Industries.  I painted it along with an assortment of other parts with Eastwood Extreme Chassis Black paint:  Gloss finish.

Painted parts

As I was sanding down the drive shaft, I noticed the word “Detroit” stamped on the end.  Cool!

Driveshaft Detroit

I started giving the driveshaft a fresh coat of Extreme Chassis Black paint as it was suspended from the rafters in the garage with an old coat hanger.  Things were going well until I accidentally bumped the shaft and the hanger gave out.  The shaft fell three feet to the garage floor!  Ugh.  I looked at the eyelets on the end and they were definitely out of round.  No way would I be able to get a new U-Joint to fit in there.  A friend came by and we attempted to heat the metal with a torch and press in an old expendable U-Joint cap to try and reshape it but our efforts failed.  Discouraged, I brought the damaged driveshaft to Driveline Service of San Diego and explained what happened.   I told them I really wanted to preserve the “Detroit” end cap.  They were able to successfully press in the new U-Joint but it was really stiff and they weren’t comfortable it was going to be a good fix.  They did some digging and were able to find another driveshaft with a “Detroit” end cap.  They ended up cutting off the damaged cap and replacing it with the other “Detroit” cap they had in their shop.  Then they pressed in both U-Joints, attached the slip yoke, balanced the shaft and painted it!

Here’s the old end cap:

Old end cap

And here’s the balanced and painted shaft, ready to install!

Refurbished drive shaft

Differential Rebuild

Sticking with my plan of removing parts, cleaning /renewing them then putting them back on (always keeping the car in a drivable state), it was time to rebuild the differential.  I took it to San Diego Gear & Axle.  When they saw that it was a 7 1/4″ rear end (instead of the more popular 8 3/4″ model) they were worried they would not be able to get a new gear set for it.  After they cracked it open they discovered the gears were in great shape so all it needed was new bearings and seals.

I had some help sanding it down…

Dash sanding differential

And here’s the rebuilt and painted rear axle!

Differential rebuilt

Interestingly, the axle shafts ended up getting swapped during the rebuild.  I could tell because the missing wheel stud (originally on the driver’s side) ended up on the passenger side.  I picked up a new wheel stud at O’Reilley’s and tapped it in.  That was easy.  Can’t believe I went all those years without it!