Chapter 11: Driveshafts and Rust

So this week I took 3 days off work while the kids were in day care. 3 glorious days of uninterrupted Val work. First on the list was replacing the old battery tray with the new reproduction from Pentastar parts (man I visit that site a lot. If I had a dollar for every time I clicked on that bookmark I could have enough cash to restore the val twice). The old battery tray had long ago completely rotted away. It looks like a battery leaked into the engine bay pretty severely once upon a time and messed it up pretty badly

When batteries go pop. One rusty fender apron.

When batteries go pop. One rusty fender apron.

After removing the old tray by angle grinding off the old rusted bolts, I removed the support struts so I could sand down the rusty inner fender to clean metal. Thankfully apart from a small pinprick the rust was just a thin surface coat and there was plenty of meat left in the metal. I decided to grab some POR 15 paint I have heard others rave about when doing restos to keep the rust at bay. POR stands for paint over rust, and I figure there is a fair bit of that to be done on this old girl. It’s pretty amazing stuff, you just get rid of as much loose rust as you can, degrease and spray rust converter on the metal surface, and brush the POR on. Its epoxy based paint and dries like ceramic, effectively sealing off the metal from any air preventing further rusting. It’s hard as buggery, and won’t ever chip or crack. It’s pretty bloody expensive, but a little bit goes a long long way. I’m sold on it. Its self-levelling too so a brushed finish comes up like a spray painted coat. It can be easily primered over and painted with top coat. That’ll happen…one day. Anyway, the area looks a lot less nasty now, and the battery tray is one less thing the licencing people can pick up.

Freshly cleaned and POR15'd

Freshly cleaned and POR15’d

Battery and Tray in Place (hold down bolt needs a trim)

Battery and Tray in Place (hold down bolt needs a trim)

I wanted to get really stuck into the mechanicals, and figured the prop shaft was a good a place as any to move onto next. The front end is the old school ball and trunnion setup, which was the most common method of allowing the driveshaft to lengthen as the suspension moved before slip yokes became common. Its pretty simple, the end of the driveshaft has a T shaped pin driven through it, with a ball on each end running on needle rollers inside a cast channel. They are apparently strong as buggery and rarely fail, but they still need regreasing and that is a fair job requiring disassembly. I popped the rear end of the diff pinion (that’s a standard cross and roller setup) and took the ball and trunnion of the tranny flange. Those bolts were almost welded on with rust, but some cheater bar action sorted them out, and out came the shaft.

I chucked the whole thing in my old mans ute and headed off to his place. His shed has more room, and more tools than mine. I started by pulling apart the ball and trunnion. It has a rubber boot at the back, which was toast, it had half disintegrated and I expected to see some messed up rusty internals. Thankfully the boot had an inner sleeve that kept things more or less sealed up, and the insides still carried plenty of grease. The T pin, ball, rollers and slip channel all looked factory new! They sell a rebuild package for these things but I have decided to not bother given it looks in good nick., I’ll just clean it up, slip in some clean grease, add a new rubber boot and call it done.

Ye Olde Ball and Trunnion Universal Joint

Ye Olde Ball and Trunnion Universal Joint

Ball and Trunnion T Pin looking nice and shiny

Ball and Trunnion T Pin looking nice and shiny

Onto the rear end of the shaft and you find a standard cross and roller setup, still in use today. The shaft and rollers for the pinion looked great, but the ones pressed into the yoke were very gravelly. Given I didn’t have a press on hand, I used the old mans bench vice, and some carefully selected sockets to press out the old cross from the yoke. And yep…toast. Ah well, it’s a cheap fix with new ones being about 20 bucks. Something else to order from pentastar. In the meantime, I cleaned up the surface rust on the shaft and gave it a dose of the POR15 as well.

Pressing the cross and roller from the yoke

Pressing the cross and roller from the yoke

Toast

Toast

While getting off the prop shaft, I noticed how badly the 3 speed manual trannie was leaking fluid since I topped it up a few months back. The unit is a top loader, and that’s where most of the fluid seems to be coming from so it could just be the top cover gasket. Given the prop shaft is already off, I figure I may as well drop the trans off while I’m there and have a look. If the cover appears to be the only source of the leak I may just swap it out for a 10 buck fix, otherwise I may just rebuild the whole thing given it’s age. An overhaul kit is pretty cheap, and a trans rebuild does sound like a good project to expand my skills.

My fuel pump also came in so I slipped that in as well. Pretty simple job, the worst part was the cramped quarters (its squished up against the inner fender on the side the slant 6 leans over to) and the fact the whole side of the motor is covered in goop from the leaky valve cover gasket. After some degreasing and fiddling the old one was off and the newy in. I had a bit of trouble getting it to seat, but if you bump the starter you can get the cam eccentric to sit in a position that makes installation a bit easier.

New fuel pump

New fuel pump

I’ll dump the old oil out this weekend and put some fresh, uncontaminated stuff in. Then I can set the valve lash.

Next job…pulling the trans.

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