After putting the SoT front end on the 65, I convinced myself I couldn’t go cheap and put the original rear back in. Looking for a smoother ride with a bonus of adjustable height, I matched the rear with the front and went to a SoT 9″ rear with 3.50 gears and 12″ disc brakes. Fortunately, parts arrived today, just one day before we go into Covid-19 lockdown.
I started with removing the original rear which I put on just so I could move it around. The new Eaton springs and Bilstein shocks will go under the convertible. I already have the front end done, so that will wrap up the convertible suspension nicely.
The parts pile is considerable. Included is a complete 9″ rear with new axles and a Strange 3.50 carrier with an Eaton traction locker. To mount the rear, I went with the SoT 3 link system. It requires some minor modifications to the body with some structural support and mounting points.
Some assembly required. Not a flying toy.
Step one is to remove the third member bump stop support as it will interfere with the front brace mounting. Since this is a new floor pan, the spot welds are easy to see, so easy to drill out. Fortunately, the car came with a spot weld cutter in one of the boxes of assorted original parts and tools.
Not bad for figuring out how it works and trying not to cut into the floor. I also have the die grinder and a small 40 grit disc to clean up the leftovers. I didn’t paint it because the whole floor needs painting eventually anyhow.
Next comes the front support. There are 3 bolts that go through the floor in the transmission tunnel, with a thick plate that gets welded inside. With no welding gear or experience, I have to leave that one for later when I take it to Randy to paint.
I would have liked if I could get it more snug against the frame rails. Unfortunately, it was slightly too narrow. I am not sure if it is an issue with the reproduction or just normal variances. Having another millimeter on the outside of each would make it fit perfect, and still leave it in good shape for locking down with the mounting hardware. As it is, it is locked in but a bit more of a gap than I would prefer.
I woke up in the middle of the night thinking I wish I had a welder and the skills to use it. I would have cut the outside of the U off, snugged the bracket, and welded it back on. Some day I hope to have those skills, but for this project, it is what it is and I am moving on.
The next step was to mount the rear bracket just in front of the fuel tank lip. To improve quality of life, I used my transmission jack to hold it in place and even push it on a little bit.
I ran into some trouble with the driver side bump stop bracket. It was further back than the passenger side; far enough to get in the way. I also had to laugh a little at the instructions that said I should use a rubber mallet to tap the bracket in place. Maybe it’s my frame, but it took full hammer action to get it in place.
To address the bump stop issue, I use my 4″ radial grinder and started cutting into it and smoothing off the surface of the frame. I didn’t need much space, and I am pretty sure this bracket is not going to be used in the new setup. Fortunately, I didn’t have to go back to the spot weld cutter.
With the bracket held in place by the transmission jack, I was able to follow the previous drilling exercise and get the 4 frame bolts in place. My Harbor Freight drill bits may be done after this project. They seem to be getting pretty dull. I honestly didn’t expect them to last past the first project, so I feel fortunate to get another project out of them.
With the brackets in place, it’s time to start hanging things from them. The front links from the leaf spring mounts, plus the center link get installed at this point. They are hanging there until I get the rear in place to hang from them. I threaded the center link in nearly all the way until I get to the point where I need to set the pinion angle.
The directions didn’t say which of the 3 holes I should use for the front links, so I picked the ones that were easiest at the height it was at. I also had to ream out the top holes on the housing since the tolerance was tight, and the powder coating made it too small to fit the bolt through. After that, I was able to connect it to the center section and have it connected at all 3 points.
Next comes the shocks. After bolting them to the top mount, its just about lifting the housing to the right height to attach them to the mount points. At this point, I could take away the transmission jack and let the rear hang on it’s own.
The last part to attach is the watts link. I didn’t tighten down the passenger side bracket yet since I need to do some fine tuning and this is just the test fitting. I want to be able to disconnect as few points as possible to take it off and put it back on after painting.
From here, the rear is in and I am happy with how it looks. Next is to assemble the housing to get it to the point where I can put the wheels on. That means center section, axles, and brakes. Also known as the rest of the pile from Street or Track.