Rear Axle Disassembly Part 1
First, big thanks to Wayne Murray (he of the always just-in-time advice), a new E-mailer John, and my old pal Nick Seybold for their detailed information on taking the rear end apart. It always lends me a lot of confidence to hear the procedure from others who have done it, some many times before. So, thank you as always gentlemen.
That said, the Buick's axle really is a relatively simple assembly. Since there's no positraction or clutch plates to deal with, everything is very straightforward. In fact, having rebuilt my Mustang's rear (several times), everything was ultimately very familiar. First I removed the set screw, then the spider gear retaining pin and spacer block. With those out of the way, the floating spider gears came out easily.
Then I pushed the axles inward to remove the "C" clips that retain them. Again, this is very much the same as the axles in my Mustang (and most modern live rear axles). I did note that my car must be an early build, as it uses the old style "C" clip that is shaped like a horseshoe. The newer style, introduced sometime in 1941, closes the open end of the clip slightly more, giving it better holding power (I'll try to scan and upload a drawing of the differences). But judging from how the clips are retained inside the side gears, I don't expect that this will be a problem. John, mentioned above, sagely points out that by measuring the grooves in the axles, I'll be able to determine how much wear there is (he says this wear is a prime cause of axle leaks). I don't expect that there will be much wear, since this axle didn't appear to have any leaks or obvious signs of damage.
Once the 'C' clips are removed, the axles just slide out the ends of the housing. If you're not planning on replacing bearings and seals, use extra care to prevent damage. I'll be replacing all the bearings and seals, however, but I was careful just the same.
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