Installing new Rear End
and Gas Tank
Work has began on the back end of the truck, first up was
removing the fenders, bumper and bed. Then the complete rear suspension
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The truck has been moved from summer storage back into the
garage and work started for the winter 09 - 10. The plan this year is to
remove the bumper, fenders and bed, all of which will be replaced. A gas
tank will also be installed in the rear for the frame.
The bed came off easily with the use of our engine hoist to
lift it and we ended up using a battery in the rear of the bed to balance it
front to back hanging from the hoist. We got the bed and fenders off as a
unit in about an hour then we spent 3 hours taking it all apart. Used the
cut off wheel a lot cutting rusted bolts.
Next was removal of the axle and springs which was straight
forward with the use of the cut off wheel. There must have been 5 pounds
of caked on grease and dirt on the spring perches that had to be removed with
hammer and chisel. Before the axle was removed, the pinion angle was
measured so the new axle can be set to the same.
A 79- 81 Camaro rear axle with a 3.08 ratio and is 61 1/2
brake drum face to face which is very close to the same as the trucks axle. The
3.08 is the same as what we installed in the Nomad that has worked out well with
the transmission and give us a good engine rpm at speed and the real bonus was
that it is a posi- traction. The
spring perches were cut off which turned out to be difficult using a cut off
wheel, but 7 wheels later, the job was done. A plasma cutter would have
been a much better tool to use, but you use what you have.
Next the new Posies springs were installed then the axle
put into place with new perches. I picked up a set of Posies Super Ride new leaf springs
which will lower the rear about 3" to match the drop in the front end. We
used the same type of springs in the Nomad and have been happy with them.
Once the pinion angle was set the perches were tack welded. I used the
original axle caps and lower shock mounts but the reversed so that the shock
mounts are now in front of the axle.
Also researched replacement gas tanks for something that
could be used in the rear frame and not in the cab like the original. I
came up with a 87 Chevy Blazer tank from Dorman Products (576-321) that should
work well. To make room for the Blazer tank the rear cross members
will need to be relocated. The upper shock mount cross member was removed
and relocated to in front of the axle. I turned the member around
backwards and bolted it to the top frame flange. Then the cross member was
split open on the ends and widened to fit to the lower flange. The rear
cross member was turn around backward and moved to the rear end of the frame
with very little modification needed. By turning the member around so that
the opening was toward the rear will make bolting the tank straps in possible
once the tank is in place.
Using some 1x2" steel tubing three cross members were made.
Two will bolt to the top frame flange for the tank to sit against and one in
front of the tank will bolt to the bottom flange and will be the front attach
point for the tank straps. With the two cross members above the tank under
the frame flange the tank is spaced down by an 1" making room for the filler
neck to clear the bottom of the truck bed and still clear the frame. The
front cross member fits in just behind the rear axle cover so things have worked
The shocks came in this week so I bolted them in place.
Finished the addition of the gas tank by adding a gas
filler door in the left rear fender. I got a Fuel Door assembly from Hagen
Products; I chose a 45° slight curve style
without looking at the fender and it was the wrong one to use, the 45°
flat style would have been better although it wouldn't be a correct fit either.
The fender has a slight concave curve top to bottom with a slight convex curve
front to back. The stock Hagan door has a convex curve top to bottom.
The good thing I did do was to order the door assembly un-welded which means the
box is separate from the face plate and door; this allowed me to re-shape the
face plate and door to fit the shape of the fender. Once the face plate
fit the fender, then I was able to fit to box to the face plate and weld them
I used a 3 1/2" hole saw to cut the hole in the fender for
the filler door. Cutting a hole that large in thin sheet metal can be
difficult not to tear out the pilot hole, so I clamped a pine board to the
fender to work as a guide which worked well. I then bonded the door
assembly to the inside of the fender using some panel adhesive from Eastwood
Products. I bonded the parts together for two reasons, one I wanted to
have a thicker door and hole lip around the door to look and feel better which
was achieved by bonding the two layers together, and second it was much easer
keeping the distortion out of the fender that can happen when welding.
The fill neck extension to connect the tank to the gas door
was made from 1 3/4" exhaust pipe cut and welded on a 45°
angle. I couldn't find any pre-bent tube, the muffler shops were closed on
Sunday and got tired of shopping around for it, so I went with this method.
A vent tube was added by bending up some 3/8" fuel line. The local Napa
dealer had the 1 3/4" gas fill hose used as a connecter. When it gets
installed for good, I'll clamp it to the bottom of the bed for added support.
The last thing done was to remove the original gas filler
from the cab corner and fill in the hole with a patch panel. I used my 3
1/2" hole saw again to cut out the original filler hole flanges. This was
done by welding a 1/4" plate across the hole to give me a point for a pilot
hole. I then made the patch panel using almost all of my sheet metal
tools: multitude of hammers, dollies, shot bag, shrinker, planishing hammer and
band saw. There are a few lumps and bumps, but it is plenty good and can
be made better with a little more hammer work, but I going to stop for now while
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