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Old 03-01-2002, 12:53 PM
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Question narrowed rear end

I would like to narrow the rear end (a nova unit) in my 35 ford. The purpose is to allow for wider tires. Also appears i would need to narrow frame to make room and install tubs. I can handle the frame and tubbing, but don't know what's involved in narrowing a rear. Is this strictly something reserved for machine shops or something I can do. Would like some input from someone thats been there, done that.


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Old 03-04-2002, 06:15 AM
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Unless you are a rearend man or a machinest do not atempt this at home. You can take it too a machine shop and have it done or a shop that just builds rearends. Either way you will need to tell them how much yo wand it narowed. Providing the rearend fits with the current wheels and tires, measure from th outside of the wheel to the outside of the other wheel. Then you Get the wheels and tires you want to use and bolt them too the rearend. Take the measurement again and subtract the first one from the second. Divide that by 2 and that tells you how much you need to remove from each side.

Good Luck
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Old 03-25-2002, 01:21 AM
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Having been there and done that and also a machinist, there are some things you can do if you have access to a lathe.

The axle housing is actually quite easy with a few simple tools that you will have to make. After you figure out how much you need off each end you need to find a straight length of ground shafting, I use Superior shafting instead of cold rolled mild steel. Make sure the shafting is at least 1 1/2" in diameter.

Disassemble the axle and remove the spring perches by grinding them off etc. WRITE DOWN WHERE THESE ARE IN RELATION TO THE FLANGES!!!

Next you need to make some bushings the same OD as your axle bearings, make them longer than the bearing is wide for better shaft support. Make them a light press fit in your flange ends

Bore the bushings for a snug slip fit (0.005" clearance) on your shafting, this will be the alignment tool to get the flange ends on straight.

Scribe some lines on the housing tubing the amount you need removed, use a vernier to be exact. WRITE THESE EXACT MEASUREMENTS DOWN AND KNOW WHICH IS LEFT AND RIGHT!!! Make your marks where the axle tubing is the same diameter for the entire length of your removed section, this makes it easy to weld later. Not too close to the flange ends either, leave an inch or so. Also make a scribe mark down the entire horizontal axis of each tube, this will make sure you don't get the flanges misaligned when you are ready to weld.

Cut the axle tubes inside your lines, you can hacksaw or use a band saw it does not matter. Just make sure you don't cut them too crooked or too close to the lines. Grind or file the excess off on the axle tube up to your lines using a good quality square to get your length with nice square ends. Do the same to your flange ends, if you have a lathe do them on it. Make sure you mark everything so you don't mix them up.

After that is accomplished you can slide your shafting through the housing. Put your bushings in the flange ends and slide every thing together, your are now ready to weld it back up assuming your ends were square. Use a good MIG welder or stick to get a good weld. Support the housing along your cut lines on Vee blocks and tack weld the ends on first before completing a full weld, make sure you can still rotate your alignment shafting. If it does, this means the ends are tacked straight.

Weld on your old spring perches back where they belong in relation to your flanges, if you are tubbing the vehicle then now is a good time to figure out how much backspacing your rims will have so they don't rub your springs. Move your perches accordingly and remember to leave at LEAST an inch for tire movement etc.

As for the axles I recommend having any quality axle maker like Mark Williams <a href="" target="_blank"></a> or other manufacturer make you a custom axle, I have resplined axles in the past with so so results. It will cost you almost as much to respline as buy custom, and with custom you get a warranty and some seriously heavy duty shafts with the proper heat treating and they will never twist on you unless you race AA fuelers. When you order remember to subtract your previous measurements (you did write that down right!) from your factory axle lengths, axles are measured from bearing seat to spline tip.

You can also relocate the center section where you need it when doing this, I'll leave it up to you to do the math.
“She may not look like much, but she's got it where it counts, kid. I've made a lot of special modifications myself.”

— Han Solo
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Old 03-25-2002, 01:24 PM
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Great ideas on how to narrow rears. But one other thing if your takin the time to make a Jig . I do all the above but also make a bushings for the carrier bearing to support the shaft(now you have 4 bushings).Now the carrier is dead nuts straight with the axles shafts .I also leave the jig in place while welding any kind of perches or pads. Just a small weld the size of a dime can warp a housing 1/4 of and inch(thats a lot) Sometimes when you are done you will have to heat and cool some quarter shaped spots to get the housing straight. Have fixed a lot of rears that were ruined by the owners welding the perches on(they allways blame the guy cuttin the rear)The perches dont need to be completely welded unless you running 1000 HP.Small good welds work better than burning it in to the housing,Take your time and let it cool between welds. If you use just 2 bushing(on the axle bearing ends) you can still have a bent housing,it will just have straight flanges.
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Old 03-25-2002, 02:50 PM
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Measure twice then measure again. It can be done at home but is a job better given to a shop setup for this kind of work. I have seen move rear housings trashed that successfully cut and welded at home.
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Old 04-02-2002, 02:08 PM
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First, if you decide to do the job yourself, do not take the brake backing plate off the axle tubes. Determine how much narrower you want and take a section out of the middle of the tube. Rent an BIG pipe cutter from the rental shop and you will get a nice straight cut and beveled ends suitable for welding. If you box the axle tube with 3 pieces of 1" angle iron it will self align. Tack it, check it and then weld it final. You won't have to mess with bearing surfaces or even have to remove your bearings if you keep it clean. I have done it several times. I buy Moser axles (great company). But be careful to carefully measure, re-measure etc. There are no returns on axles!
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