Putting the rear end back together (temporarily)

It will soon be time to pull the engine.  I’ll need to put the rear end back on temporarily so that I can roll the car far enough out of the garage for the engine hoist to clear the garage door above.  I’ll also need the rear wheels on there when it comes time to tow the car to the body shop.

It’s a good time to try out the new leaf springs I got from JEGS.  The springs come without the rear bushings installed.  I got some new Prothane bushings and the instructions that came with them said to grease up the inside diameter (ID) an outside diameter (OD) of pretty much everything, then gently tap the bushings into place.  This worked well for one of the leaf springs but I was having a heck of a time getting the bushing installed on the other.

I had the bright idea of freezing the sleeve, hopefully shrinking it slightly and then trying to tap it in.  No go.

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I really needed a press to press it into place but without such a tool, I used some ingenuity and used the car itself as a press!  Here I’m carefully pressing the bushing into place on one of the shackle mounts by applying pressure from below with a floor jack.  I did the same with the stubborn leaf spring which was a little tricky because it’s long and heavy and hard to manage while simultaneously operating the floor jack.  I managed to get ‘er done though.

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Here I’ve got one leaf spring nearly installed.  I’m using the floor jack to guide the eye at the rear of the spring until it lines up with the shackle.

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Everything was going swell until I tried to attach the U-Bolts on driver’s side (after having already attached the U-bolts on the passenger side).  I couldn’t get the little nipple on the spring to engage with the hole in the axle mounting plate.  It looks like these new bushings are a hair thicker than the original rubber bushings.  I ended up having to loosen up the front and rear mounts of both leaf springs which gave me enough play to encourage the spring to engage with the axle plate.  I tightened down the U-Bolts on both sides and then tightened up the forward and rear mounts for each spring.  Whew!

Getting the rear wheels put back on was a snap.  I installed the new drums but held off installing any brake hardware for the time being.  I’ll just need to be careful not to let the car roll away on me!

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