Rear Axle and Suspension Installation

After priming the engine bay and the bottom of the car, I've finally reached a point where I'm actually able to start >gasp!< putting parts back on the car! The car has been off its wheels for so long I sometimes forget it's a car. Besides, once I get it back on its wheels I can roll it in and out of the garage so maybe some of the messy things like the rest of the sanding and priming on the body could be done outside for a change, thus keeping the mess down in the garage, restoring balance to the Force and peace in the galaxy.

Here, we'll be installing the rear axle and rear suspension. The rear end was actually removed from the car back in February of 2014. Since then, the car has been essentially immobile. (I'm putting the "essentially" in there because when the car was on the frame jig, it could have - theoretically, and with great effort - been rolled out of the garage on its casters in case of fire* or an outbreak of winged black widows**). It'll be nice to get it rolling again.

* A legitimate concern
** Less probable, or so I'm told.

I've had the new leafs springs and attaching hardware for while now - like a dummy, I ordered them as soon as I figured out what I needed, instead of waiting until when I needed them. As a result, they've been stored in the parts shed for the past 2 years. I restored the rear axle and brakes back in October of 2014. The leaf springs are made by Eaton, a well-known manufacturer who builds springs to original Ford specs. I purchased factory GT springs for a '67 Mustang, matching rear shackles and hardware from NPD. I had to get a set of larger U-bolts and special mounting plates from Currie because the rear axle is from a late 50's full size Ford, not a Mustang, so the typical stuff in the Mustang parts catalogs won't fit.

The only special tools used here are a good torque wrench and four extra hands.

The leaf springs were loosely bolted to the forward mounting hole. Then the wheeled axle jig was rolled in place. The jig is built so a floor jack can just reach in and lift the axle up. 

It's a team effort - the rear axle is unstable and heavy enough to need a crew to muscle it into place. 

The rear axle is held up with jack stands (including one under the yoke because it's so nose-heavy) high enough to allow the leaf springs to be pulled up and bolted to the rear of the car.

Once the rear shackles are bolted in (but not torqed! not yet!), the spring plates and U-bolts are are installed around the axle (yes, torque these now!).  The shackles don't get torqued until the car is on the ground, supported by it's own weight. I just have to remember to go back and do it. Those are the new parking brake cables all wound up there just sitting on the ground. 

The rear view of the spring plates and U-bolts. Since it's not a "Mustang" rear axle, the ends of the axle tubes are not tapered down to a smaller size. As a result, I had to get larger 3" U-bolts and matching spring plates. I mention this because one could source a Ford 9-inch rear end from a lot of places, and they're not all the same. The front bolt on each leaf spring is torqued at this step. 

Here's the finished product. The rear wheel wells are still a mess, but I'll get to it. This is the first big assembly back on the car. After I get the front end put back together, and the new fuel and brake lines installed, the car will be upgraded to "rolling shell" status. 

Tips and tricks:
1. Many hands make this easier.
2. A torque wrench good to 100 ft. lbs. is needed to tighten the front leaf spring bolts.
3. In most cases, it's better to order parts just before you're likely to need them, not as soon as you discover a need for them. I'm still storing a lower shifter boot that I'm years away from needing...

And, in case you don't recall...this is where we started.