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Rear Subframe Rebuild

Rear Subframe Rebuild

Larry Thackston

I just completed the overhaul of my '84 XJ6's rear end. Thought I'd pass on a few observations:

  1. Dropping and rebuilding the rear end is a big job, requiring a pretty extensive tool collection and above-average mechanical ability.
  2. Output shaft bearings and oil seals - as previously reported, torquing the collapsible spacer was the only job I chickened out on, paying a local independent Jag garage $65 to set them up. I flattened a few collapsible spacers in my press and vice before throwing in the towel.
  3. Rebuilt the rear calipers. After 13 years, the bores and pistons were in good shape; I attribute this to flushing the fluid completely every year or two. The rotors were good, so I left them alone; I don't much believe in turning them for no good reason.
  4. Parking brake mechanism - this is a real crappy design. Anyway, I disassembled and lubed it and replaced the pads. Follow the instructions in the manual carefully when reinstalling; even with the subframe on the floor, it's hard to get the fork in the holes and everything bolted up so that it comes out with the right clearance.
  5. U-joints on the half shafts - I can confirm that Spicer/Dana/Perfect Circle 160 is the proper u-joint. I found mine at CarQuest; Pep Boys did not have them.
  6. Inner wishbone fulcrum bolts - even with safety wiring, mine had loosened and the shims were nearly falling out. When reassembling, I added a little gasket sealer on the edges of the shims and put lock-tite on the bolts before torquing and safety wiring.
  7. Outer wishbone bearings - this was the most frustrating of all of the parts of this overhaul ! I had a hell of a time getting the proper bearing preload, using the shims. First, the description in the manuals is pretty obtuse; then, every time I would torque the thing to 95 ft./lbs, to measure end play, I would discover that the thinnest shims (.004") had been crushed and torn to shreds. I finally got it all together, but my confidence level on this task is not high. At least it's easy to take the hub carriers off, if I have to re-do them.
  8. Pinion seal - I messed around with various ways of measuring before- and-after torque needed to turn the flange (not having torque screwdrivers). Best thing I came up with was bolting a lever on to the flange and hanging a small pot off of it. Then, seeing how many ball bearings (from my pachinko machine!) it took to start the flange moving. I also carefully marked the nut and shaft before removing the nut. Upon reassembly, I ended up with the mark just slightly past the original mark. Feels o.k. to me; we'll see.
  9. New shocks - Boges. A generic spring compressor worked fine.
  10. Radius arm bearings - small ends aren't hard to press, but the big ends make it worthwhile to take to your machine shop.
  11. Subframe "v" mounts - easy bolt-on, but don't overtorque the nuts.

The only thing I didn't do was the hub bearings, which feel fine and do run in a pot of grease all the time.

I spread this overhaul over several weeks, but estimate 40-50 hours of actual work time. I could cut that to maybe 30 hours if I were to do it again. It is a nasty job - by all means, try to degrease the unit before tearing in to it.

Finally - safety wiring is easy and fun. Definitely get the $14 tool from Harbor Freight. Use 18 gauge stainless or galvanized wire.

Took the car on the road for the first time today; feels good and nothing fell off. Cheers.


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