Rear Suspension and Axle Removal

1967 Ford Mustang Fastback rear suspension axle removal
Let me introduce the sickness known as the 'While-we're-at-it-itis'...this is where a job, no matter how simple, quickly escalates into a full-blown multi-day project. From what I gather, this illness affects all Mustang owners at some point. For me, it happens pretty much anytime I stumble into the garage.

For example - we have metal work to do on the floor. And we have to replace the exhaust system. So, after that's out, we might as well replace the rear springs while we're at it ('cause they're shot anyway), and since the rear end has to come out, we might as well spiff up the axle as well...

To be fair, all this stuff is on my list anyway. But it's amazing to me how quickly a simple task becomes a bigger job with a much broader scope. So, consider yourself warned!

The rear suspension on this car is worn-out and needs to be replaced. The bushings are all shot, the springs are showing age at all the connection points, and the shocks are bad news in general. None of the old parts will be reused. There are lots of choices on what to install in its place, but we're going to keep the basic layout the same. I'll get new shocks, springs and hardware to hold them up to the car and connected to the rear axle and detail what I purchase and why a little later on.

Drivers side suspension, complete with homemade traction bars (very non-stock). Notice that hard brake like all bent up? I'm betting it's because that's a '67 brake line on a '58 rear end. But that's another story/post.

Passenger side suspension. And it looks even worse in person.

In order to fully remove the rear suspension, the rear axle needs to come out as well. And once the axle is out, the car is essentially immobilized. So be sure you're ready to commit to this step before you get all 'go-fever' and rip it all apart. Also, Liquid Wrench every bolt and nut before starting. For the truly stubborn nuts, you may need to resort to a propane torch (a.k.a "The blue wrench")

My rear axle, like lots of parts of this car, is also 'special'. It's the storied Ford 9-inch rear end, but it didn't come on this Mustang originally, and this will present some challenges later.

Before lifting the car up, I removed the bottom nut on the shock absorbers and loosened the rear tire lug nuts. Below, you see the rear axle held in place to the car with the leaf springs and the old air shocks. For the record, those air shocks will be the source of a lot of the rework that I'll end up having to do on the rear floorpan area. Air Shocks + Unibody Mustang = Bad idea.

Get the car on jackstands - one set under the axle (unloaded) and another set up under the car near rear torque boxes. Use these to support the car. Disconnect the rear axle hydraulic brake line at the floor pan. Then remove the top nut on the shocks and pull the them out.

Disconnect drive shaft from the yoke on the rear axle. Don't forget to mark the U-joint/yoke orientation before removal.

The drive shaft comes out easily enough. Just pull the U-bolts off each universal joint. A jack will work if your Apprentice has gone missing. Protect the ends and store for a rainy day project.

Disconnect the parking brake cables from the handle/lever assembly points. Here are the cables connected at the joining bracket...[ you'll notice here the engine and drivetrain are missing - be assured that's just your imagination, as that hasn't been posted yet;) ]

...and then  I removed the lever arm (which I'm holding) which allows the cables to go slack....

 for removal at the frame rail connections - there's one for each cable....just pull the clip pin out....

...and pull the cable out towards the center of the car. Coil the cable and set it aside so it won't trip you up when moving the axle around.

Remove the nuts holding the shock plates to the axle U-bolts. This is where I had to make use of the handheld propane torch for the first time. Make sure there's not a lot of upward tension on the axle.

Lift the axle off the leaf springs and support the axles weight on jackstands. You can just see the stand holding the torque box here behind the stand holding the axle. There's also one holding the yoke of the rear end.

Remove the rear shackles holding the leaf springs in place. Respect The Spring: go slow and make sure you know where the tension is. Gently lower the springs to the ground. Then 'just' extricate the rear axle. There's several ways to do this - just be carefull! I used three people and a big furniture dolly. There are many ways to skin this particular cat. My advice here - really think about how this will go before you get under the car. The rear axle assembly (8- or 9-inch) weighs close to 200 pounds without wheels. Be careful!

Remove the front bolt holding each leaf spring in place. This bolt is notorious for being rust-seized in place and needing special persuasion to get out (read: Sawzall and carbide blades). Mine came right out with liquid wrench only. But, what can I say, I lead a charmed life.

(Extra Credit) Design and fabricate a dedicated wheeled stand for the rear end to free up your jack stands. Well done, my young Apprentice! The Force is strong with this one.

And remember, save all your old parts!


Anonymous said…
I continue to be amazed with your patience and detail description on your project. You should publish this for the folks that have never taken on such a complete restoration. I look forward to reading your adventures as they continue.....very very nice work!