"Welding, Panel Fabrication & Replacing A Pinion Seal"

        Work is progressing on our '41 Packard LeBaron.  The entire front end and doors have been removed and the rust repair begins!  With the gas tank out and in the shop for cleaning and sealing, we assessed the rust damage to the trunk.  The front half was found to be solid and the middle, to and including the trunk edge was badly rusted.  A die grinder was used to cut out the rusted floor and inner fender wells in geometric shapes (rectangles and triangles), so the replacement panels would be uniform.  We used 18-gauge steel and cut the new pieces with metal shears.  The old area was cleaned with a die grinder and metal brush, and the new panels were set in place for welding with our MIG welder.  With the pieces now welded in place, a grinder was used to grind down the welds to blend with the old panels.  The hard part was yet to come.  The trunk floor edge was almost gone.  It was carefully removed and a new one made in two pieces:  One piece on top, covering the floor seal and one piece facing the trunk.  Restores Charles Butts made these pieces by putting them in a metal brake, then carefully bending until the corners until they were 90 degrees and round.  The new pieces were then fitted to the closing edge of the trunk and shaped by C-clamping the piece to the trunk and heating it with a propane torch, pulling it by tightening the clamps and hammering to form the curve.  The new trunk edge was now welded in place and the trunk closed to check the fit.  Excellent!  We now have the Eastwood shrinker/stretcher tool for fender radiusing.  We'll show you now this works in future issues.

        We now moved to our next project, replacing the pinion seal in our '78Chevy 3/4 ton pickup.  After chocking the wheels, we removed the pinion nut and washer, exposing the yoke.  Using a puller, the yoke and pinion were removed.  The bearing was removed and checked for pitting and scoring and the compression seal used by GM was inspected for cracks.  They were both ok.  With the bearing back in place, the new pinion seal was installed, using a ball peen hammer and a block of wood.  It went in straight and sealed up tight.  We then re-installed the yoke washer and nut.  The pinion nut should not be over-torqued (which can cause premature bearing wear).  Ours was torqued to 225 ft. lbs.  Then the drive shaft was installed and the rear end grease checked.  We did discover the rear end in our truck was a 1-ton, not a 3/4 ton, proving you can't assume anything when working on an old vehicle.  So, it's always best to take your old part in when buying a replacement for it.

        We are really looking forward to the Holidays this year!  We started things off by getting our '36 Packard Rumble Seat Coupe out at Thanksgiving and riding our nieces and nephews around North Georgia.  Even with a little rain, the kids enjoyed the open-air ride in the old Packard.  We decided on a small tree this year, so we went to the country to cut it down in our '58 Buick.  With the Continental Tire folded down, it made a perfect platform for the tree.  We will be using the old cars throughout the season, sharing them with family & friends, which makes the good times even better!

        To all of our readers and advertisers, we wish you the greatest of Holiday Seasons, hoping that you and your families will be happy, well and prosperous in the New Year!  God bless you.  See you next Millennium!