5. This solid steel bar establishes the centerline of the differential side bearings; it will in turn locate the ends of the axle tubes and wheel bearings.
6. The new axle tubes are slipped into the housing and clamped in place. Note the hole in the housing for a rosette weld.
7. With the axle tubes in place, the housing ends are positioned on the alignment bar and clamped in place.
8. Once all the parts of the housing are clamped in place the tubes are tack welded to the center section.
9. If at all possible, it’s best to have Currie weld on any mounting brackets.
10. With all the brackets welded and their location verified, the ends can be installed. This procedure guarantees the housing is perfectly aligned.
11. Assembly of the third member begins with the installation of the pinion shaft, bearings, and pinion support. Setting up a ring and pinion is a procedure best left to the pros at Currie.
12. Yokes are determined by the size, or series, of the universal joint to be used. The retainer nut is tightened to provide the proper bearing pre-load.
13. Here, the differential and side bearings are set in the housing. Note the end of the pinion shaft is visible; it rides in a bearing that adds support to that gear.
14. The bearing caps are installed as well as the threaded adjusters that go against the side bearings.
15. After a generous coating of matching compound, the gears are rotated to establish the contact pattern of the teeth. To achieve the proper pattern, the pinion is moved in or out by adding or subtracting shims between the gear and the support bearing.
16. Another critical adjustment is backlash, or play between the gears—it is established with the threaded adjusters that move the ring gear closer to, or further away from the pinion.
17. This small but important part is a vent, it keeps pressure from building up, which can cause gear oil to leak out of the seals.
18. Here’s a good idea—epoxy a magnet in the bottom of the housing; it will trap the little bits of metallic trash that comes with normal wear keeping it out of the bearings and off the gear faces.
19. With the gear set properly adjusted the assembled third member is dropped in place. A small bead of silicone along with the gasket will prevent gear oil from seeping out of the housing. Copper washers are used on the studs for the same reason.
20. Axles are often drilled with more than one bolt pattern. In this case it will be the 5 on 4¾ Chevy pattern. Here, the retainer is installed (closest to the wheel flange) followed by the outer seal, bearing, and lock ring put in place. A press is used to push the bearing and lock collar in place.
21. The retainers hold the axle assemblies in the housing. If drum brakes were used the backing plate would have been put in place before the axles were installed. Most caliper brackets can be added with the axles in place.