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Restoring The Rear Axle

Module by: Andrew R. Barron. E-mail the author

The rear live axle for the Series 4 Lotus Seven was sourced from the Ford Escort.

Disassembly

As removed from the car (Figure 1), the axle rotates freely, and the hand brake/rear brakes appear to activate easily. However, given the total restoration of the car, it is a chance to rebuild the axle in particular the replacement of the bearings.

Figure 1: The rear axle after removal from the car.
Figure 1 (graphics1.jpg)

The first task is to drain the majority of the oil from the axle. The drain plug is positioned at the rear of the differential housing (Figure 2). Once the majority of the oil is drained the hubs and shafts can be removed. Placing the axle on a suitable bench facilitates work.

Figure 2: The drain plug is on the lower right hand side of the differential housing.
Figure 2 (graphics2.jpg)

Removal of the lug nuts and the retaining screw (Figure 3) allows for the drum to be removed. In the present case dirt and rust meant that the drum had to be loosened using a large screwdriver (Figure 4); however, once loose, the drum is removed by sliding off the studs (Figure 5). The insides of the drum show no significant wear, but a large quantity of brake shoe dust is present, that will need to be cleaned (Figure 6).

Figure 3: Close-up of the right hand drum showing the retaining screw (arrowed).
Figure 3 (graphics3.jpg)
Figure 4: Loosening of the drum.
Figure 4 (graphics4.jpg)
Figure 5: Removal of the drum.
Figure 5 (graphics5.jpg)
Figure 6: Inside of the drum showing the brake surface and the residual brake shoe dust.
Figure 6 (graphics6.jpg)

With the drum removed the state of the brake shoes can be determined, as well as if there are any leaks of the brake slave cylinder (Figure 7 and Figure 8).

Figure 7: Inside of the rear hub showing the brake shoes and the slave cylinder.
Figure 7 (graphics7.jpg)
Figure 8: Inside of the rear hub showing the retaining clips for the brake shoes (A) and access holes to the retaining bolts for the shafts (B).
Figure 8 (graphics8.jpg)

To remove the brake shoes, the pin of the retainer is twisted until it lines up with the slot in the washers (Figure 7 and Figure 8). The outer retaining washer, along with the tensioning spring, and an inner washer are then removed (Figure 9). The brake shoes can then be pulled out of the hub. It is easier to remove both brake shoes along with the tensioning springs (Figure 10 and Figure 11), rather than trying to disengage the springs first. The brake shoes along with the tension springs are shown in Figure 12.

Figure 9: The brake shoe locating pin after removal of the retaining washers and spring.
Figure 9 (graphics9.jpg)
Figure 10: The shorter brake shoe tension spring.
Figure 10 (graphics10.jpg)
Figure 11: The longer brake shoe tension spring shown behind the brake slave cylinder.
Figure 11 (graphics11.jpg)
Figure 12: The two brake shoes with the two tension springs after removal from the drum.
Figure 12 (graphics12.jpg)

The rear brakes are activated both pneumatically (foot brake) and mechanically (hand brake). To remove the brake slave cylinder, first disconnect the pneumatic line, and then the self-tensioner ratchet (Figure 11). With the hand brake lever disconnected (Figure 13) the rubber boot/dust cover is removed from the inboard side of the drum. With the rubber cover removed the two retaining clips (Figure 14) can be slid out of the way and the slave cylinder and its associated lever can be removed.

Figure 13: The hand brake connection to the rear brake slave cylinders.
Figure 13 (graphics14.jpg)
Figure 14: The two retaining clips that hold the slave cylinder into the drum.
Figure 14 (graphics13.jpg)

By rotating the hub, the four retaining bolts for the backing plate can be removed two at a time, by lining up the bolt heads with the holes in the hubs (Figure 8). With the bolts removed, the half shaft may be pulled free. Because the bearings are press fit items this may require the use of a puller (Figure 15). In the present case, the bearings were rusted in place and significant force was needed. The half shafts are 22 spline (Figure 16).

Figure 15: Demonstrating the attachment of a puller to the hub to facilitate removal of the half-shafts.
Figure 15 (graphics15.jpg)
Figure 16: Image of a half-shaft removed from the axle showing the splined end (Copyright: Ivan Samila).
Figure 16 (rear axle image.jpg)

Cleaning, painting, and rebuilding

Replacement hub and nose bearings were obtained from Redline Components (Caterham, UK), while the axle casing was rebuilt by Lucas Racing and Restoration (Houston, TX). The old hub bearings were removed from the axle shafts, and replaced with the new bearings.

Resources

  • Redline Components, Ltd. Timber Hall, 19 Timber Lane, Caterham, Surrey, CR3 6LZ, UK. Tel: +44 (0)1883 346515. www.redlinecomponents.co.uk.
  • Lucas Racing and Restoration, 10030 Talley Lane, Houston, Texas 77041, USA Tel: +1 713 462 006. www.lucasracinginc.com.

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