Having waited so long for the rear uprights to be completed the assembly of the rear end went quickly since everything had been prepared. The trial fit of the rear uprights and wishbones confirmed that the uprights needed a better finish so I eventually decided on white. This smartened them up a lot although I expect white will show up any dirt they collect – but also make them easier to clean!
The lower wishbones with their new polybushes fitted easily into the chassis mounts but the top pivot pins were slightly misaligned with the front pin going in easily but the rear pin proving a bit more difficult. The nearside eventually went in without forcing (just needed to slacken off a few bolts and wiggle it in) but the offside wouldn’t line up even with a fair bit of fiddling. In the end, I decided to remove the pivot rod, fit the pivot pins and then re-fit the pivot rod. This was quite easy in the end so maybe that’s the way they were intended to be fitted!
Next up were the brakes. The backing plates had been powder-coated and I had bought new cylinders and adjusters as well as a new fitting kit. I had tried to buy new brake shoes at the same time as the green stuff front pads but was told that they were no longer available. In the meantime, I haven’t concentrated on sourcing replacements so at this stage I have fitted the original shoes. These have a fair bit of lining still left on them but were dirty and rusty. A quick clean-up with a rotary wire brush showed that they would be servicable but still have it in mind to get new ones at some stage. With all new parts and clean powder coated backing plates, the assembly on the bench was a dream until I got to the final locking plate at the rear of the cylinder. The raised ends of this clip bit into the cylinder making it impossible to drift home so I had to flatten them out a bit so that they didn’t bite. Even so, they needed a fair bit of force to get them home.
With the brake backing plates assembled, they could be fitted to the uprights along with the rear hub assemblies and drive shaft. Having got the near side assembled and the outer drive shaft mated with the inner shaft, I could see that there may be an issue with getting the differential mounted if both drive shafts are fitted first. I therefore decided to fit the differential next.
Before doing this, I fitted the lower brackets to the chassis. I had a couple of spare polybushes and tubes left over from the wishbones so decided to use these. The bush seats in the brackets were quite rusted so needed a fair bit of attention from a small flap-wheel to get a smooth finish but, once cleaned, the bushes went in with minimum fuss.
Lifting it into the frame from the top was a lot easier than getting it out way back in November but getting the frame fitted proved a bit trickier than I expected since the frame does not fit straight down from above as it is wider than the chassis tubes it needs to fit through. This meant it needed to be manoeuvred into place by getting one side below the chassis mounts so that it could then be moved sideways so that the mounts on the other side could be slide back across and up into the chassis mounts. This needed the diff to be as low as possible in the chassis and, since I had supported it with a cross-wise piece of wood, this required some lifting and adjusting to finally get the diff into the right position. The frame was then bolted to the chassis using the original bolts (which had been bright zinc plated) and stainless nylocs. With the frame in position in the chassis, I was then able to manoeuvre the diff into place using a crow bar underneath it so that the top UNC bolts could be started into the diff. When dismantling the diff frame I had noticed that there was a space washer between the frame and diff so I rebuilt it with a similar washer in place. By tightening up the top bolts, the diff was lifted up into the correct position and I was then able to line up the lower bracket against the rear holes in the diff.
This is where it dawned on me that it might have been better to fit the lower bracket to the diff before doing all the other work since the bolts were a very tight fit between the diff and the chassis. Eventually, I was able to juggle the rear nuts into position so that it would tighten up. However, with these bolts in place, the front holes in the bracket were nowhere near aligned with the front hole in the diff. I tried jacking up the brackets but even this couldn’t get them to line up. It was beginning to look as if I needed to start all over again but in a desparate attempt to avoid this, I decided to unbolt the lower brackets from the chassis, fix them to the diff and then try to get them bolted to the chassis. This was also not the easiest task since, although I could now get the front bracket holes aligned with the diff holes, the bolt heads were fouling on the chassis making it difficult to get them started. By moving the diff up with a jack and sideways with a crow bar, I was eventually able to get the bolts in but by now I was wishing that I had known all this before starting!
The final task was to get the bushes aligned with the chassis mounts – but easier said than done. Again, this needed a combination of jack beneath the bushes and crow-bar against the back of the diff as well as slackening off all the mounting bolts in the frame and shock mounts before finally being able to slide the bolts through the bushes. There is undoubtedly an easier way to do this but after a couple of days of blood, sweat and tears the back end was beginning to take shape.
Once the diff was in and the drive shafts connected I could get the handbrake system re-assembled. The original cables looked to be in good condition but needed a good clean up. A combination of wire brush, white spirit and WD40 got rid of most of the crud so that the cables could be greased up and reassembled. It’s a lot easier to set-up and adjust the handbrake when working from above on an open chassis than it is lying underneath a grotty old car!
I had bought some new shocks and springs (AVO adjustable) so they went on next – no dramas. Next step was to fit the original wheels and tyres and roll the chassis out for a photo-shoot.
The eagle-eyed amongst you will have noticed a lack of track rod ends. This is turning into a mini-saga since I had bought some a long time ago that turned out to be the wrong size taper. I eventually sourced a pair with the right taper and fitted them only for them to go rusty. I decided to take them off to paint them but the nut had seized on one of them and in getting it off with a nut splitter I managed to damage the thread. I was in the process of ordering some other bits from David Gerald so added on an order for new track-rod ends – only to get the smaller ones again! They are sending out replacements but not in time for the photo-shoot.
Better news on the drop links as Steve Heath managed to source an alternative rose joint so that they are now the right length.
Next job will be to get the brake and fuel lines made up and fitted to the chassis after which I can concentrate on the body work whilst waiting for the engine to be completed (which is turning into a saga almost equal to the rear uprights but hopefully will appear on the blog in the not too distant future).