After removing both axles from the axlehousing, Brian chucks up the axles in his metal lathe. While some people might not think about it, Brian knew that the brake register (hole in the middle of the wheel) of the GM rally wheels I planned to use would not fit over the hub end of the existing axleshaft. After measuring the wheel, he first turned down this end of the axle to the appropriate size. He also used fine emery cloth to lightly polish the portion of the axle that rides in the bearing located at each end of the rearend housing. Now it was time to locate the new holes for the wheel mounting studs. When going from one five-bolt pattern to another five-bolt pattern the process is pretty simple. However, since we're changing from six-lug to five-lug, it requires more steps. To ensure there were no weak spots caused by new holes being located too close to existing holes, he welded up one existing hole in each axle. This necessitates that the axles go back onto the lathe for a few cleanup passes to ensure no welding slag remains to interfere with the new mounting studs. With that completed, the new holes could be drilled. Brian feels that his drill fixture is proprietary to his business and asked that I not take photos or discuss that portion of the process. I respectfully obliged. For my specific vehicle, the holes are drilled to 1/2-inch diameter and then reamed to 0.515 inch. The wheels studs are then press fit at 0.530 inch.
Brian recommends replacing the bearings located at each end of the axlehousing and insists on replacing the oil seal whenever an axle is modified or replaced. The relative low cost of these two items makes this sensible when compared to the expense of having a damaged rearend repaired. Insert each rear axle, then slip a C-clip into the groove at the inner end of each axle, then slide each axle outward. Now push the cross-shaft into place and secure with the cross-shaft retaining bolt. Install a new cover gasket, reinstall the rearend cover, and secure with the bolts. Now refill the rearend with gear lube and reinstall the wheels and tires.
With the new disc brakes installed on the front and a matching five-lug bolt pattern front and back, the large-diameter, six-lug wheels that came with the truck must be replaced. Since my plans for this truck are more along the lines of a daily driver shop truck/parts chaser/magazine test mule, I plan to keep the expenses down and the reliability up by installing a simple set of GM rally wheels shod with some BFGoodrich T/A radial tires. I also have a fair amount of bodywork slated for this truck, so I don't want to install something flashy that will be covered with sanding dust and other bodywork grunge.