Putting a Versailles Rear End in a 65 Mustang

There are a lot of pages on the web on how to put a Versailles in a 65-70 Mustang. However, most of them moan and groan about the obsolete disc brake setup, with some suggesting you look elsewhere for your rearend.
I think you can use this excellent housing and will show you ways to use this housing, regardless of what brakes you use on it.

65-66 9 inch HiPo Axle Housings

The standard 65-66 V-8 housing came in two sizes...8 inch ring gear and 9 inch ring gear. The 9" gear, with its peculiar housing, only came in Shelbys and 271 hp 289s.
Although the 9" is desirable, the housing was so severely necked down to accomodate the 2.5" axle tubes that only 28 spline axles fit into this housing. To the right is a 66 Shelby with this rear axle (note that the custom panhard is not stock to this application).   picture of shelby axle (Click for 164K picture)

Left-below is a picture of the center housing of this HiPo 9"...The HiPo center is very round with the side axle tubes coming straight into the center section without any graduations or additional reinforcement on the side. Compare it to the Versailles picture further down the page and note where the center section gradually melds into the axle tubes. picture of shelby center section (Click for 160K picture)

Using a narrowed housing

Because there is no early stock rear housing (sized for the 65-66 Mustang) that stays at 3" for its entire length, many have decided to custom build a rear end for this application.
Actually this is not a bad idea, in that outer axle ends can be purchased from many different sources. Simply buy an overly wide housing and have it narrowed to suit. However, the housing ends can cost around $80/pair and then there is the cost to have them welded to your housing ($95). It takes some special equipment to do this, so don't let Joe the Welder handle this task. Prices are from Dutchman Motor Sports. You also have to make sure that the point at which you cut the housing is indeed 3" OD.

77-81 Versailles 9" housing

Many have stayed away from the Versailles because it is sometimes pricey and because of its expensive rear disc brakes. Other sites have discussed rebuilding the brakes so that is not mentioned here. However, no one mentions that the axle housing itself -- bare -- is an excellent housing source for the early cars.

So, why not buy just the housing?

Here are it's good points:

picture of versailles housing (Click for 152K picture)

Here are the weak points:

Housing Specs

Here are the specs for the Versailles and stock 65-66 9" axle housings.
The Dimension references are as given by this picture:
picture of axle dimensions

Note: Brake gap is the distance from machined outer housing flange to mating surface where wheel bolts to and includes rotor or drum thickness (Dimension D-E/2). Note that most Fords have a 2.5" brake gap per side; this is noted as the 5" inch D-E below (2.5x2)

Housing ID E D-E Rotor or Drum
thickness (at axle)
D Axle Tube Dia (OD)
65-66 V-8 52.25" 5" .110" 57.25" 2.5"
Versailles - stock 52.5" 5" .315" 58.5 3"
Versailles - modified 52.5" 5" .110" 57.7" 3"

Published specs have the 66 289 rear being 57.25". The only way to get to that distance is to not include brake drum thickness. That is reasonable since the drums are easily removed.
On the Versailles, it is difficult to remove the rotors (one must remove the calipers), so I also suspect that measurement is with the ultra thick rotors. Since the rotors are .630 thick (for 2) and the drums are .220 thick (for 2), this would add up to about a .85 inch difference.
I am basing my observations on what I have in house.

Other Housing Dimensions

Degree measurements are from the front face of housing, where the differential mounts.
Housing ID Centerline top-to-top bolts Centerline top-bottom bolts Bearing OD size Outer housing angle Pad angle
65-66 V-8 3.375" 2" 2.835 0 deg 0 deg
Versailles 3.5" 2.375" 3.15" -19 deg +7 deg

Some picture specs on the two V-8 housing ends:

picture of small ford end picture of large Ford end

Here is a line art picture of the various angles of the mounting pads and outside bearing housings on the Versailles. The left lineart shows the 7 deg upward tilt of the housing face with respect to the mounting pads. Installed this way would result in the pinion being up 7 degreee from horizontal.
In the right lineart, we see the tilt of the outer housing ends. They are down a total of 19 degree from the front face of the housing, but since the picture has the housing tilted back the 7 degrees the pads tilt them back, it only shows as 12 degrees (7+12 = 19 degrees).

lineart of versailles outer housing angle

Here is a picture, although the pads are somewhat obscured. picture of versailles outer housing angle (Click for 180K picture)

Note that in this picture I failed to get the mounting pads level. However, it should give you an overall idea of what the lineart is trying to represent.
Because I paid a whole 5 bucks for the Firestone metal sign at a garage (tag) sale, I thought I would share it. It is a repop.

The Differential

Here is the 3.50 31 spline 4 pinion traction-lok for the Raven. Remember only one thing when you 'talk Ford' differentials to others.
The term 'Posi' or 'Posi-traction' is a registered trademark of General Motors. It denotes the weeny Chevvy locking differential. The correct term for one of Ford's clutch-type locking mechanisms is "Ford Traction-Lok".

Here are a couple of pics of the rebuilt trac-lok:

picture of ford trac-lok diff (Click for 180K picture) picture of ford trac-lok diff (Click for 180K picture)

Status as of today

The axles have arrived and are described in the rear brake section. Why there?
It turns out that brake selection, brake gap and axle length all play together.