Chapter 10   <  ^  >

Subject:    Supernatural influences??

Date:         Wednesday, November 15, 2000 8:25 PM


The rain stopped for a few hours today so I got to spend an hour farting around with Rustpuppy.

I was lining up my ducks for the axle removal.   (getting all the needed tools and equipment together)

I need the 7/16 tubing wrench for the brake hose fitting.   I could not find the 7/16-3/8 tubing wrench anywhere..  I have had the set of tubing wrenches for 15 years and they have always been there before..  (I try to put my tools away after using them)

Then I remembered that I had just (about 2 months ago) bought a high zoot set of crowfoot tubing wrenches..  (well mebbe medium zoot as they are the 25 buck NAPA Taiwan jobs)

I got them out and found that the 7/16 one (clearly marked) was actually a 13mm one..  Bigger than the ” job..    What is going on??

And when I was putting the Lakewood bars on my 11/16” deep sixpoint socket turned up missing..  ( I have had that set of sockets without losing one since 1967..)

What is going on?

Is someone trying to tell me something?

Rick Draganowski

(bad weather and bad luck..   bummed out in Oregon)



Subject:    Tubing wrenches and wet traction

Date:         Friday, November 17, 2000 8:13 PM


I took the screwed up set of Taiwanese crowfoot tubing wrenches with the 13mm version of 7/16” back to NAPA yesterday and gave Tracy a hard time about it.  Having to order in the replacement set..

Anyway I bought one of the high zoot NAPA jobs to replace my missing tubing wrench.  It will probably turn up now to restore balance to the universe.  This one little American made wrench cost $11.70..  Them cheap Chinese and Taiwanese tools are distorting my sense of value.

Now I am set for the axle removal on Rustpuppy.

On another subject entirely I took the Suburban to town last Tuesday in the middle of the heavy rains..   I decided to put the stock 235/70-15 size BFGoodwrench Radial T/A Long Trail’s because I wanted better wet traction than the much wider tread General tires I had before..

It really paid off.  The BFG Long Trails have about twice the wet traction.  I did a few test emergency stops to get the feel of them and they are really good wet weather tires.

Worth twice what I paid because of this one feature..

Rick Draganowski

(more sun tomorrow, I hope..)



Subject:    Return of Rustpuppy report 83

Date:         Monday, November 20, 2000 8:24 PM


I still haven’t heard back from my mechanic in North Dakota about the pricing on the 8.5” axle but I have been plugging away a little at a time on getting the 7.5” job out.  In a desperate move to get more room for my fat ol’ bod under Rustpuppy I put the front subframe up on blocks.  Since I was using three stacked short 4x4’s for each block I lined one up to the long axis of Rustpuppy and put the other one at right angles to the long axis.  This prevents the possibility of tipping the narrow blocks over when the heavy tugging starts.  Then I jacked up the rear a bit more and put 1 ” blocks under the jackstands.

Plenty of room for crawling around under there now.

Today we had a break in the weather with reasonable temperature and dry enough (won’t be really dry till next June or so) for some work.  It extended past dark so I was out rolling around under Rustpuppy with the droplight.

First I set up a siphon to start draining the gas tank to get ready for dropping it later. (I got most of it out)  Then I got to try out my new high zoot American made tubing wrench to get the brake hose disconnected.  Wow!  it took about 40 lb ft of torque to break loose the tiny 7/16” fitting.  Never would have gotten it off with vicegrips.  The tubing wrench worked great though.

Then I addressed the emergency brake cables.  It is cool having a car this old and this rusty on top with fully functional factory emergency brakes.  The adjustment nut had to be backed off quite a ways so it was a pretty long session under there with wd40 and oil fighting for each turn.  But persistence paid off and I finally was able to release the couplings on the cables and slide off the neat spring clips which hold the flex cables to the frame bracket.

Then I went through the drill of getting the driveshaft uncoupled from the axle.  Shift to neutral, crawl under, rotate driveshaft to make two bolts accessible, crawl out from under, shift to park, crawl back under, remove two retainer bolts, crawl out from under, shift to neutral, crawl back under, rotate driveshaft 180 degrees, crawl out from under, shift to park, crawl back under, remove the other two bolts and push the driveshaft forward enough to allow it to drop down.   Whew!

I put a ziplock baggie and some big rubberbands on the exposed u-joint to protect it and prevent the cups from falling off.

While I was under fooling with the stuff mentioned above I was thinking of the exact technique I would use to actually remove the axle.  I hit on this idea.

The six smaller bolts holding the front spring retainer plates to the rear subframe are in perfect condition  so I am going to remove them to drop the front of the springs/axle/traction bars assembly.  I replaced the bottom rubber bushings on the rear shackles just 4 or 5 years ago so I know them two bolts are in perfect condition. (didn’t do the top ones since the tank has to come out for them, bummer) So just removing them frees up the whole kit and kaboodle to be dragged out from under as an assembly.

More to come..

Expecting cold front and rain later tonight so it may be a while..

Rick Draganowski

(slow and steady)



Subject:    Return of Rustpuppy report 83 addendum 1

Date:         Tuesday, November 21, 2000 6:17 PM


I snapped these pictures today to go with report 83.  And Chuck, to check the integrity of the jackstands and blocking, I body slammed Rustpuppy both sides front and back (about a 200lb hit) with no effect.


I spent a minute underneath planning my next move.  I am a little discouraged about the way the filler on the gas tank sticks out over part of the subframe to cause the tank to have to be pulled forward and then down.  I am worried that it cannot be done without spilling gasoline on everything including me.  That would be a disaster as I cannot afford to get that contaminated because of my Deloris’s chemical sensitivity.

So I am leaving the tank where it is and just working around it..


Probably just spend a couple of minutes this evening and get the bottom of the shocks free..

The promised cold front and rain for today went south into California, (yay!)  So the weather is still reasonable..

More to come..

Rick Draganowski

(crawling around under rusty old cars and having fun)


Subject:    Return of Rustpuppy report 84

Date:         Thursday, November 23, 2000 6:04 PM


As I mentioned in several letters about my quest for an 8.5” rear axle for Rustpuppy I have decided on an expensive (850 bucks plus) solution.  My only justification is that the axle is not really for the Rustpuppy but for the future.  The 8.5” axle that came stock in Junkyard Dawg is gone with the miserable Ford 8” lurking there so the Dawg will need a proper axle when the time comes.  And since I am planning on a pretty stout 406 motor for the Dawg it better be a reliable one.

When it comes time for the Dawg to get the high zoot axle from Rustpuppy, the stock 2.73 7.5” axle from Yakima Sue will replace it.

So the nice 10bolt 8.5” axle with the Torq-Line Posi and 3.73 Richmond gears is an investment in the future and an affirmation of life..   (pretty windy sentence, heh..)

And dropping that much dough out of the Nova Fund will discourage me from any more Nova purchases for a while..  (have a tendency to rush out in a buying frenzy.. and 3 Novas should be enough for now..)

Back to the business at hand.  Yesterday I removed the 4 nuts holding the rear spring shackles together.  Slow but fun work.   Today I got a short window and started by prying the shackles apart and dropping the rear of the springs.  Then a few moments on the 6 spring retainer bracket bolts and the axle was free.   A few minutes of prying and tugging skidded it out from under Rustpuppy.  (ror84-1.jpg)


Ror 84-2.jpg shows my little assistant Albert.  He was with me all the time I was working today.  You know the giant slug is the official State Animal of Oregon..   Have often dreamed of starting a football franchise here..  The “Oregon Slugs.”  Catchy name, don’t you think?  Albert is just a baby and if he is still around when he grows up I may get a saddle for him and try to tame him enough to use for hunting.  Giant slugs are a lot quieter than horses..

In the closeup of the axle you can see where the pinion snubber was hitting before I put the Lakewood bars on..   It will be interesting to see what exactly went wrong inside..   Sigh.. another autopsy..  I still haven’t got around to opening up Knocker..

This picture is for Alex..   See the perfect 24 year old bolts which were holding the front spring brackets to the subframe..    I recall that Scott Windle had a bit of trouble with these.  I wonder why GM used the cheap clipon nutplates on these high-corrosion area critters?

By the time I took ror84-5.jpg the fog was creeping in and the light was going for the day..

A small step but an important one.  Having things out where you can get to them is good..

More to come..

Rick Draganowski


Subject:    Return of Rustpuppy report 85

Date:         Tuesday, November 28, 2000 9:31 PM


Not a lot of wrenching but a bunch of administrative work.   I got a quote back from Richie Mulligan (the guy who advertises in NNN..  see below..

“RICK...a totally rebuilt unit from my stock with new 3:73’s, clutch pacs, bearings and seals, drum to drum, less brakes+crated and ready to be trucked is $1070.- It’s best to call me for payment & time frame arrangements, credit cards accepted, my number is 973-786-6668.”

Anyway that was lots more than I expected from some of the stories I been hearing.  I got another quote for 1200 bucks plus core and 300 for axles so you see the 850 bucks for a new Torq-Line and the Richmond gears is not out of line.

But it got better, I heard from my mechanic yesterday that he has located an axle with the stock GM posi in good shape and the adjusted price is 700 bucks..   That includes new Richmond 3.73 gears, rebuilding the posi, all new bearings, and new seals...   The backing plates are included so I do not have to recycle the 7.5” jobs..  Pretty cool..  And he sez that the shipping will be about 160 bucks..  I dropped a 250 buck deposit on it in the mail with a note urging him to hurry as Christmas is coming soon..

I managed to find time to skid the little axle completely out from under Rustpuppy and remove the spring mounts and shackles.  I will only scavenge a minimum of bits off of this axle as I find old junk valuable..  Alex’s idea of using it as a dummy axle under the Junkyard Dawg and selling the Ford 8” axle has some merit..

Scott Windle warned me that the axles have a different dimension from the axle centerline to the U-Joint so the driveshaft has to be shortened to allow the bigger one to fit.  He said about 1 inch..  I am a little bummed out about the lack of interchangeability  (they could have used a short U-joint saddle on the big axle and a long one on the little guy..

Because of the kindness of good ol’ Ben Meissner I have a nice set of used 8.5” 3.08 gears and the 7.5” axle is just laying around so I made some crude measurements.  From the axle centerline to the end of the pinion shaft on the 7.5” axle is about 10 ” to 10 5/8”..  (I said crude)  And on the 8.5” gearset from the center of the ring gear to the end of the pinion shaft (when the gears are meshed approximately correctly) is almost exactly 11 ”...

Hmmm..  There is a definite difference..  My crude measurements come up with about 5/8” to ” and that does not predict where the U-Joint will actually be..   I bet it is close to the one inch that Scott warned me about..  (he knows everything..  I am not worthy..)

On another front, Yesterday I “Rushed right out in a buying frenzy!” and called Espo (Springs-N-Things) about an E-Mail quote that Laura sent last week.  Before I could stop myself I ordered new rear springs. (90 bucks plus 10 bucks to push out rubber front bushings plus 25 bucks shipping or so for a total of 125 bucks for the springs)

And I then I got even more crazy and ordered polyurethane front spring bushings, shackle bushings, and those rubber pad thingies which sandwich the spring..  Plus I needed the 3” U-bolts for the big axle.. The grand total came to about 246 bucks..  Oh well, Christmas is coming and I have to put the good axle on somehow..

The spindly little axle uses 2 5/8” axle tubes versus the beefy 3” jobs on the good axle..

I have been starting Goody up and running her up to operating temperature every day.  Sort of a pathetic imitation seat time..   I am hoping to run out all the remaining gasoline from the tank so I can safely drop it for a serious cleaning, painting and sock replacement..  I just love the sound of that eager little motor..

More to come..

Rick Draganowski

(waiting for Christmas..)



Subject:    Thoughts about shiftpoints

Date:         Saturday, December 02, 2000 11:25 PM


While waiting patiently for the new axle to arrive for Rustpuppy I did some calculating and plotting on shiftpoints using the 3.73 ratio..

With the 14” wheels and the 245/60 tires the speeds at the redline of 5700rpm (self imposed based on just feelings so far) come out as below..

First gear------- 0 to about 43mph (2800-5700)

Second gear --  43mph to 71mph (3430-5700)

Third gear ------ 71mph to 109mph(3730-5700)


This seems to make a nice complement to Goody’s torque and horsepower curves..

I pasted together this chart showing an approximation of the combination of all three gears..

Goody comes off the line at about 28-2900rpm due to the stall speed of the Break-A-Way..   After that it looks like she would be pulling hard..

I can hardly wait for the reality..

Rick Draganowski

(waitin for Christmas)



Subject:    Return of Rustpuppy report 86

Date:         Sunday, December 03, 2000 8:58 PM


I pulled off the too-short flex brake hose on the old axle and took it to town last Friday.  Tracy at NAPA researched his books and found a replacement part which is 4 inches longer.  That should take some of the stress off of it..  (the NAPA white shocks seem to be about an inch longer stroke that the stock ones so the hose catches hell)  While I was there the guilt of thinking about recycling the old wheel cylinders and brake shoes out of the little axle into the high zoot one overcame me.  So I plunked down 56 bucks for new wheel cylinders and premium brake shoes..   There is never an end to places to spend money on these wonderful old cars..  (I mean vintage, excuse me)

Ror86-4.jpg shows the condition of the old hardlines on the rear axle..

Still lookin nice and I probably will have to use them on the new axle..

Ror86-1.jpg, ror86-2.jpg, and ror86-3.jpg show the measurement rig I flanged up to get the dimension from the front parting line of the U-Joint yoke to the front of the axle tube.  The dimension seems to be almost exactly 9 7/8”.   The tubes on the 7.5” axle are 2 5/8” diameter.  This works out to 11 3/16” to the centerline of the axles.

Now if I only had access to a 8.5” axle I could compute the exact difference in dimension so I could verify the 1” number from Scott Windle.   I want to get the driveshaft cut and ready to go in when the axle arrives..   Scott was not 100% sure of the one inch number and cautioned me to measure to make sure before cutting the driveshaft.  I cannot just swap in a stock Nova driveshaft made for the big axle as I am using the long tailshaft tranny out of my old truck in Rustpuppy..   Can anyone help?   Just the measurement from the front of the axle tube to the yoke parting line..

More to come..

Rick Draganowski

(little by little.. progress is made..)



Subject:    Second thoughts about shiftpoints

Date:         Sunday, December 03, 2000 8:16 PM


Chuck Butcher responded to my first message on this subject with some good information and a suggestion to use 6200rpm instead of 5700rpm for the shifts.

I worked up the graph and it looks like he is exactly right..

The numbers for 6200rpm are:

First gear ------ 0-47mph  2800-6200rpm

Second gear -47-78mph   3750-6200rpm

Third gear-----78-118mph 4100-6200rpm


Notice the horsepower curve is close to being connected..  Cool..

Rick Draganowski

(having fun with numbers)




From:        “Rick Draganowski” <>

To:             “[NovaList]” <>

Cc:            “[Steve Moore]” <>; “ben meissner” <>

Subject:    Return of Rustpuppy report 87

Date:         Monday, January 22, 2001 5:58 PM


Hoping that getting back into “Return of Rustpuppy” reports will be good therapy.

Going back to when the Rustpuppy was still on the road (before axle disaster) It was very cool having the local rodders showing up in a little crowd each time I stopped for gas.  Rustpuppy may not look like much but has earned a little respect from the locals.  The kids seem really nice and enthusiastic and it is good to be a big frog in a small puddle.

Knowing that I will need one in the future I had my mechanic Wade in North Dakota build up a race TH350 for Rustpuppy for the day (inevitable) when the ol’ truck tranny in her now goes to it’s reward.  Wade sez it is equivalent to the B&M and TCI TH350’s but he only charges 300 bucks..  The shipping to me was another 85 bucks but well worth it.   The “good” tranny is sitting in my shop, just waiting it’s turn.

I leaned on Wade to come up with an axle for the Rustpuppy to get back on the road.  He (after several delays from suppliers and other reasons) built one up with a 2 series rebuilt GM posi and new 3.73 Richmond gears with a spacer..   700 bucks for the axle but the shipping is a killer..   266 bucks delivered.   136 to the terminal at Roseburg and 130 to get it to “The end of the World at Gold Beach”..

So it used up almost 1 large from the Nova fund.  (been saving up for 4 years on the fund..)

Then those most excellent plaques showed up.  I got one aluminum for Rustpuppy and 1 bronze for the shop..   What fun it was to open the package from the foundry..

Ray, out of an excess of competitive spirit decided to get an Autometer shift light..   Naturally I had to get one too..   Then I aggravated Ray lots to get the poop together for an adjustable pill.   Then, as you know, my circumstances changed.  Now it is essential that I devote full technical time to getting my company out of mothballs and back into production.  I realized that I could not afford myself anymore so I aggravated Jeg’s for a proper pill kit. I actually read the Autometer directions and got the part number there. The rpm’s are 5600,5800,6000,6200,6400..   That will cover everything I will ever need..    Now I find that the 5600 kit is listed in the new catalog.  They must have had more complaints than just mine..

I installed the shift light (just some wirenuts onto the Sun Super Tach II wires) and a couple hoseclamps.  It works neato, as advertised.  It is cool that the tach and the shiftlight agree exactly..

I had my mechanic Wade measure the U-joint flange to front of axle tube dimension on the 8.5” axle and report back to me.  It seems the driveshaft has to be shortened 1.3” for it to work with the new axle.   I whined about the driveshaft problems to my NAPA folks and they tipped me off to a automotive machine shop down in Brookings (about 40 miles away).

I took the driveshaft down and left it with Chuck ( a cool guy who builds motors for the local circle track crowd ) and he had it done in a couple days.  I had him straighten and balance it too.   The U-joints on the driveshaft only had about 8k miles so I expected them to be perfect.  Chuck inspected them anyway and found the front joint was rough..   He sez if there is not enough angle in the driveshaft to work the joints that they brinell and turn nasty from operating in the same place too much.   With the sagging rear springs (to be replaced with new stock height jobs I got in from ESPO) the driveshaft angle was non-existent messing up the front u-joint.  The rear joint was ok because of the pinion down-angle working it..   I never knew this detail..

I went ahead with the JCWhitney seat cover (saddle blanket style) installation.  Ol’ Ray sez that you gotta pull the seat to maintain your sanity during installation.  But I got the seat in a modified location (cause of my long legs) and it has to be moved all the way forward to get to some of the bolts.  Anyway the shifter is now in the way and taking it out is no easy task since it was put in before the motor-transmission assy and the nuts are not falling to hand any more..

So today I decided to hog ring the daylights out of it where I can reach and just hope for the best.   Crude but effective like all my stuff..

On another front I ordered the Earls Solo-Bleeds for the new rear wheel cylinders (and a set for the front calipers for the future)  They came today.

The last pent up episode in the story is about the expensive ride my new axle is getting.   It left Velva ND (no wise cracks, it is like the cheese, not the other)  and turned north to Minot..    Then it took a 900 mile detour to Minneapolis..   It hopped a train in Minnesota and headed for Seattle..    Today I found out it is in Portland OR..

So I expect it later this week mebbe..

I am tired of typing..

More to come..

Rick Draganowski

(moping but still going)



Subject:    Return of Rustpuppy report 88

Date:         Friday, January 26, 2001 6:25 PM


Yesterday about noon the far wandering axle showed up at the NAPA in Gold Beach.  (It started in Velva ND and went to Minot ND, Minneapolis MN, Seattle WA, Portland OR, Roseburg OR, and finally here to Gold Beach OR)

My stalwart friend Tracy (cool NAPA counter guy) is self-consiously posed next to the neat crate that Wade made for it.  (ror88-1.jpg)

The box weighs 185 lbs so Tracy popped it into the Suburban in a jiffy.  Then posed again (in the rain) for the final pic of the day..   (ror88-2.jpg and ror88-3.jpg)


Today dawned bright and sunny so I had a chance to mess about with the new axle.  Ror88-5.jpg shows the box in the sun in the Suburban.   Ror88-6.jpg shows the poor overstressed and washed up 7.5” axle waiting for the scrap heap.


I carefully slid the box out and removed the cover.  Looking good! (hope it is worth the one large) Then taking my time I maneuvered it over to the staging area.  (ror88-7.jpg, ror88-8.jpg, and ror88.9.jpg)


Notice the traction bars and springs have been stripped off of the old axle and the new job is sitting up where I can get started on rebuilding the brakes.  (ror88-10.jpg, ror88-11.jpg, and ror88-12.jpg)  Rustpuppy can be seen waiting patiently to get back on the road in ror88-11.jpg..

I found the original Haynes Nova manual I bought back on April of 1993.  (still had the NAPA receipt inside) That is when I first got Rustpuppy and before all the rust showed up..  It has been longer than I thought..

More to come..

Rick Draganowski

(making progress..)



Subject:    Return of Rustpuppy report 89

Date:         Sunday, January 28, 2001 7:49 PM


The day dawned yesterday bright and sunny so I started digging into the brakes on the new axle as soon as I finished my third cup of coffee..

I have forgotten just how much I hated doing brakes but it all came back to me this weekend.  And in the last 8 years since I put new linings on Rustpuppy (last brake work I done) I seem to have forgotten everything I once knew about making the job easier.

I started by stripping down the nasty passenger side brake that Wade put on the axle for free..  It was worth about that much.  (ror89-1.jpg) The bits were kind of eaten up by road salt so I decided to clean up the nasty looking but much nicer salt-free bits from Rustpuppy’s old axle. 

The passenger side wheel cylinder spit up some really nasty stuff on the old axle.  It was past due for replacement..   Real “Exorcist” looking stuff..  (see ror89-2.jpg)

I cleaned and wire brushed the bits from the old axle and the backing plate of the new getting ready for the amazing puzzle which is the reassembly process by an ol’ idiot.

Note that the NAPA folks gave me the wheel cylinder for a late 76 Nova and I needed one for the earlier version.  (ror89-3.jpg)

It was a good thing that it was Saturday as I jumped into the Suburban and raced to town to get the right wheel cylinders.  While I was there I picked up the axle lube and brake fluid as well..    (why is it always this way?)

Amazingly enough I managed to get it together (I hope correctly) and only hurt myself a little bit..    (ror89-4.jpg)

Today (Sunday) it started sunny but the clouds were rolling in by the time I dragged my aching butt out to get the other side done.    I started on stripping down the drivers side of the old axle to salvage the ugly but almost rust free bits I would need.  (ror89-5.jpg)

I cleaned up the brake drum, did the initial adjustment and buttoned up the passengers side of the splendid new 8.5” racing axle..  (ror89-6.jpg)

Ror89-7.jpg and ror89-8.jpg show the drivers side brakes stripped down and the salvaged bits from the old axle (I call her “Whiner”)


It was the work of just a few minutes to clear away the brakes on the new axle driver’s side.  I think I am getting the hang of this crappy job.   (I would hate to do this for a living, as I am too slow to make minimum wage at it..)  (ror89-9.jpg)

After much cleaning up and wire brushing I got the bits and the backing plate looking presentable.  (it takes about 1.5 hours for each cleanup..  Too slooww..)   (ror89-10.jpg..

And finally just at dusk I got the driver’s side together.  A cleanup on the drum and found that the end of the axle was banged up enough to keep it from going on properly.  Several minutes with a strip of 240 grit wetordry paper cleaned the burrs enough to let the drum on.  An adjustment of the brakes (about a turn out from hanging) and the second drum was buttoned up and painted pretty.. (too dark for pics)

I expected rain tonight so hand tightened the brake lines into the cylinders to prevent water from creeping into them and covered the other ends of the brake lines with plastic bags.  The formed lines for the 7.5” axle are not correct but look like they will work with some minor forming..  (old tech word for bending them)

Hope the rain goes away quick as I am getting anxious to get ol’ Rustpuppy on the road..

More to come..


Rick Draganowski

(nice productive weekend, but not as much as I wanted..  Sigh..  I am too old, fat, and crippled..)


Subject:    Return of Rustpuppy report 90

Date:         Monday, January 29, 2001 9:23 PM


Good weather but my old bones were creaking today.  Small victories and some troubling finds.

First I was unhappy with the NAPA emergency brake cables.  There was a big gap at the flangie thing which mated up with the backing plate.  I scrounged up a couple ” ID O-Rings and carefully slid and stretched them over things to get them into place.  Looks like a good seal..   (ror90-1.jpg and ror90-2.jpg)


The old axle (Whiner) is getting ready for a ride on the hand truck.  It will languish in front of the shop till I get around to the failure analysis..  (much later..)  (ror90-3.jpg)

Then something ugly showed up.  I cleaned up the U-joint saddles and bolts from the old axle and wire brushed the paint off of the yoke on the new axle.  Turns out there is a right nasty gnarf in the yoke which prevented the bolt from even starting into the threads.  I was quite disappointed in the quality control by Wade that let this slip by.  I cleaned up the mess as best I could and at least the bolt works and it looks like it can be usable.  But I worry about how much strength was lost by the damage..   Goody will be putting considerable torque through there..   Damn, it is always something..  (ror90-4.jpg and ror90-5.jpg show the damage as found and ror90-6.jpg shows the cleanup)


Moving right along I got out the new rear springs from ESPO and the polyurethane stuff and 3” u-bolts..  200 plus bucks worth of stuff..

I struggled with mounting the spring and traction bar on the passengers side first.  It was a difficult job and much time was wasted.  I had to grind down the spring pads before I could get them to fit up into the spring perches.  Then when I finally got the u-bolt nuts into place I started feeling like something was wrong.

Something was wrong.  The depth of the recess in the spring perches on the new axle was only 1 ” while the old axle had a depth of 2 1/8”..   What the hell??   What is going on?  It looks like the traction bar plate is at least 3/8” from contact with the spring perch flanges..  I do not understand.  I had though that the single leaf spring perch was very shallow.  The perches on my expensive new axle are at some intermediate size??

Was there an intermediate spring with fewer leaves?


The new springs I got from ESPO have 5 active leaves and a short spacer.  (so do the old springs off Rustpuppy) I guess I can take the short spacer out but that still leaves me at least 1/8” from being right..   I picked up extra nuts and internal star washers in town to double nut with lock washer the u-bolts since they cannot be torqued down in a metal to metal situation.  I hope that will work well enough..

It has been a frustrating and difficult day and I am getting a little pissed off..   And creaking like an old gate too..   My old arthritis is really getting to me after the last few days of frantic activity..

See ror90-8.jpg..

Bah, humbug!

I have learned that when the axle is out of the car you_must_turn it completely over to put the springs and traction bars on with any kind of ease..  I struggled with it the other way and wasted half a day today..


Rick Draganowski

(Creeaakk, snap, crackle, groan..)




Subject:    Return of Rustpuppy report 90 Haiku

Date:         Monday, January 29, 2001 9:56 PM


removed hasty paint

ugly sight presents itself

yoke, battered, Oh shit


mounting heavy spring

something is not even close

spring mounts do not match


creaking and groaning

ancient man with ancient bones

gets bad attitude


Rick Draganowski



Subject:    Return of Rustpuppy report 91

Date:         Tuesday, January 30, 2001 6:44 PM


Another fine day for working.  Rain had been predicted for the last three days but they got it wrong as usual..   Nothing but beautiful sunshine..

I stripped off the passengers side spring and traction bar I put on in a half-fast way yesterday and spent the first half hour getting the axle turned completely upside down.   Now that I could see the bottom it was apparent that the paint was sketchy at best and rust was forming all over..  (half-fast paint job by the builder)  I cleaned it up and gave it a nice coat of self-etching primer..  (love that stuff)  You can see the paleness in ror91-1.jpg..

Then a nice coat of cheap black enamel and things are ready for serious assembly. (ror91-2.jpg)

This is the passengers side spring perch with the tough urethane pad in place.  I had to grind almost 0.100 off of the edges to get it into the perch..  (ror91-3.jpg)

The spring followed and you can see that it is sticking up about 1/8” or so..  (the pad will compress if I torque the u-bolts enough..) (ror91-4.jpg)  Then it was fun to finish putting the u-bolts and traction bar on the inverted axle.  (it was a bitch doing it the other way..  really....)  (ror91.5;jpg)


The other pad and spring was next..  Looking good..  (ror91-6.jpg)   The next pic is a close-up showing about 0.080 or so gap left but the nuts have only about 30 lb ft of torque..  I expect if I put 70 or 80 lb ft on them the gap will almost disappear..   See ror91-7. for the gappy stuff..


Ror91-8.jpg shows the results of a fun day..  The springs and traction bars are on and I will do the final torqueing of the u-bolts after the axle is installed.  I bet the springs will not line up with the front spring mounts so they will have to be fooled with..  I plan on double-nutting with a lock washer the axle u-bolts since I may not get metal to metal contact and the urethane will slowly flow to loosen things up..

The final picture ror91-9 shows my notes and measurements which convinced me that things would be just fine..

If the weather holds for just a few more days ol’ Rustpuppy will be on the road!

Rick Draganowski

(sunshine is good)



Subject:    Return of Rustpuppy report 92

Date:         Thursday, February 01, 2001 7:30 PM


After getting the neat new ESPO springs on it was time to flip the axle over..  (easier said than done since the assy weighs over 300 lbs..  ouch!) But I got after it first thing.  (ror92-1.jpg, ror92-2.jpg, and ror92-3.jpg)

I thought that now is the best time to check out the damaged u-joint yoke so I went ahead and installed the driveshaft temporarily.  Everything looked peachy-keen.. (ror92-4.jpg, ror92-5.jpg, ror92-6.jpg and ror92-7.jpg) It is best to find out bad news before putting the axle under the car..



I expect rain almost every night so I was sure to put corks in the wheel cylinders to keep out the water..

It was a short day as I am a bit physically challenged today..

More to come, sooner than you think..

Rick Draganowski

(inspecting stuff is good)





Subject:    Return of Rustpuppy report 93

Date:         Thursday, February 01, 2001 8:31 PM


Another day without rain (except it is raining like mad as I type this at 7:30pm) so I got a lot of little things done on the axle replacement project..  I had cleaned up and painted the brake lines and figured how I was going to mount them.  Then I addressed the Earl’s Solo-Bleeds..  Cool invention and they were easy to install.. (ror93-1.jpg) I also got the ” jobs, that I thought I was going to need, today.  Poop!  It looks like Jeg’s has discontinued the Earl’s Solo-Bleeds and is shipping the Russell SpeedBleeders instead..  Oh, well..  I got the four Earl’s I need for old Rustpuppy.

I got busy on installing the front spring mount brackets and getting the shackles ready.  The, hard as a hockey puck, urethane shackle bushings all had a pretty rough hole drilled in them.  It looks like the cutter they were using was too dull but they kept going anyway.  Anyway all 8 of them had to be drilled out to the proper size with a sharp 9/16” drill bit..  (ror93-2.jpg)  After drilling and with a little oil they worked slick..  (ror93-3.jpg)  (more crappy quality control, it wasn’t like this before the stupid ISO 9000 crap..  all the paperwork in the world don’t make up for a lack of pride in your work)

Ror93-4.jpg shows the spiffy spring bracket.  The other one looks the same except it is left handed..

This next picture is specially for Alex Bilan and Scott Windle.  It shows the drivers side front spring bracket mounting area.  Rustpuppy may be really ugly and rusty topside where everyone can see but she is rust-free and beautiful underneath, where it really counts.   You can see why I love this fugly ol’ car..  (ror93-5.jpg..   see the original paint under there!)

I got the replacement bumpers for the Lakewood traction bars.  It really ticks me off having to strip the excess rubber off the studs..   What ever happened to quality control and pride in manufacturing?  Everything is done on the cheap anymore..  (ror93-6.jpg)

You can see why I needed new ones.  I had to really shorten the original ones cause the rear springs were saggin so much.  They were still gapless too..  I hope the new springs make a difference..  (ror93-7.jpg)

Before I forget and fry my new axle I went ahead and filled it with the proper lube..  (not going to use any posi additive..  You will hear Rustpuppy creaking and popping around the corners..)    The 3/8” drive breaker bar makes a nice plug wrench.  (ror93-8.jpg) 

I tilted the axle up at an angle to make filling easier and put in about 2 quarts of lube..  (ror93-9.jpg)

It would be very bad to have the flex brake line putting bending stresses on the steel brake tubing (fatigue cracks eventually) so I flanged up a secure mount for the axle end of the flex line..  (ror93-10.jpg...   hose clamps is good)

As the working part of the day drew to a close I took the axle down from the hoist and made it all ready to slide under Rustpuppy..   If it ain’t raining tomorrow it will be dirt in the eyes day..  (ror93-11.jpg and ror93-12.jpg)


More to come..

Rick Draganowski

(with the weather change and the rains starting up again I am really creaking and walking funny..)


Subject:    Return of Rustpuppy report 94

Date:         Saturday, February 03, 2001 7:55 PM


After the mild fit I had yesterday the rain stopped for about 2 hours in the late afternoon.  I forced myself to get out and get going on the axle transplant project and stop whining and feeling sorry for myself..

Anyway I was faced with the problem of sliding the 320 lb axle assembly into place under Rustpuppy.  I used levers and patience to skid it along an inch or so at a time.


I crawled under one time to take a picture of the empty space where the axle lives.  GM painted stuff white under there and most of the white paint is still there..  (ror94-2.jpg)

After much levering and fooling around I got the axle close to where it should be.. (ror94.3.jpg, ror94-4.jpg)   I was having trouble standin upright and walking yesterday so I did 90% of this part of the job sitting on the little red stool hunched forward..


I bought a second floor jack from my local Ace hardware store.  It looked pretty but is a malignant ill-conceived POS.  It is one of those instant up one-pump dogs and it is not reliable.  It only works about half the time you want it to and it is probably more than 5 times harder to lift stuff with than the old reliable jack (also bought at Ace but about 6 years ago..) (ror94-5.jpg)

4000 lbs my foot.  It required a down pressure of about 30 lbs to pick up 160 lbs (one of the few times it worked at all) so with that ratio it would require a pump of 750 lbs to lift 4000..  I am taking it back and getting my dough back ASAP..

And it looked so pretty too..  Sigh..  (Chinese engineering at it’s best..)

Ror94-6.jpg and ror94-7.jpg shows the axle waiting for final installation last evening..


Today the weather and my physical challenges took a real turn for the better and about an hour after noon a warm high pressure front came through and the rainy stuff ended by two o-clock..   I dug right in on getting the front spring mounts bolted up loosely and then farted around with the shackles trying to get everything lined up.

What a bummer I found on the top shackle bushings from ESPO.  Ror94-8.jpg shows a stock replacement rubber bushing from NAPA sitting on top of the high zoot ESPO polyurethane job.  It seems the ESPO bushing is exactly 0.025” bigger than the nominal 1.600 diameter of the holes in the frame.  It would take a sledgehammer to get them in and there is about 4” on the outboard side and 1 ” on the gas tank side clearance to work in..  BAH!

Why do these things happen?   I am going to turn the polyurethane bushings

down in my lathe to get them to the proper size but for now I went ahead

with the stock replacement rubber bushings on the top mixed with the hard polyurethane jobs on the bottom..    I bet it will be a while before I get to that project..    Bah again!


Eventually I got everything bolted in loosely and then put some weight on the axle and got the shocks mounted.   Then I lifted the axle almost to the point of pushing Rustpuppy up off the frame jackstands and crawled around tightening everything up.  I will retorque the U-Bolts tomorrow and put the locknuts on them as they are still a tiny bit from metal to metal and the urethane will flow and loosen them up..

Ror94-9.jpg shows the final state at the end of today’s 3 hour struggle..

(I am so slooww!)

Now it is time to hook up the brake flex line, bleed the brakes, install the driveshaft, mount the wheels, and get

Rustpuppy off of those jackstands and ready for a test ride!

And I got to go to town for gasoline.  I drained all of the gas from the tank thinking I was going to drop it for maintenance and changed my mind.  The gas I drained got used up by the riding mower (it didn’t need premium) so a short roadtrip is necessary..  Mebbe tomorrow..

More to come..

Rick Draganowski

(still walking funny but making progress)



Subject:    Return of Rustpuppy report 95

Date:         Sunday, February 04, 2001 10:17 PM


Went to bed early hoping for an extra long sleep but 730am found me wide awake and eager to get back into the Rustpuppy axle project.  I sat and took it easy while drinking my morning coffee and annoying the list with morning messages.  Then the sun came out!   By the time I got out to the project area the sun was beating down.  (Ror95-1.jpg)  It was even shining on the axle a little bit.. (ror95-2.jpg)


I started out by getting down and torquing the daylights out of the axle mount u-bolts.  Came close but still a hair off of metal to metal contact so I put the double nuts plus internal star washers locking devices on.  (ror95-3a.jpg)

I got the flex line hooked up to the hard brake line and then I tried out the neat Earl’s SoloBleed brake bleeders on the rear cylinders.  They worked perfectly!  It was a real pleasure doing the brake bleeding this way.  I monitored the fluid level and made sure it was topped off.  Excellent new adventure!

Then I got the driveshaft ready to install.  I had it shortened 1.3” to compensate for the differences between the 7.5” and 8.5” axles.   It took longer than I expected to install the rascal because of trapped air in the internal spline kept pushing it back out when I got into proper position.  After much struggling I was able to pry the driveshaft forward against the air pressure enough to snap the u-joints into the saddles on the yoke..   I see what the little hole is good for in some of the driveshafts.  Anyway with most of the weight off of the rear wheels there is about 1 ” of clearance for the slipjoint.  Looks the same as what it did before actually..

Took a little break after the driveshaft struggle and you can really see the sun beating down on my work area..  (ror95-4a.jpg)

Then I spent what seems like hours searching for the steel rod thingie which holds the emergency brake cable on the passengers side..  Couldn’t find the damn thing.  I got the emergency brake cables installed into the brackets and hooked up the actuating wire.  Then out of desperation I flanged up a temporary cable hook thingie out of some 1/8” steel rod I found laying around..   I bet the real part shows up in a couple days..

Then it was time to get the rear wheels back on..  At long last!  At first I was fooling with my cross wrench but then the bright idea of getting out the impact wrench saved me from myself..    I got the wheels back on (on the correct sides) in a jiffy and it was getting close to the time of getting Rustpuppy back on the ground.

First I tested everything by starting Rustpuppy up and running forward and reverse while Rustpuppy was securely up on the jackstands.  Too cool!  No whining and the brakes even work!   I ran her up to about 70mph indicated and everything was smooth as silk..   I had the driveshaft straightened and balanced when it was cut and took the tires in for a re-balance during this project..   Everything checked out good.

Next I fooled around for quite a long time getting Rustpuppy down from the high jackstands she had been on so long.  I had to go slow and careful since the stability goes south halfway down and she is on a hill.  She kept wanting to fall off on the downhill side so I took a lot of precautions.

Eventually she was on her own tires..  I noticed the long traction bar bumpers were both touching so I think I will swap back to the cutoff jobs..

Earlier today I popped into town for gasoline so I put 5 gallons of premium in the almost dry tank..

The moment of first movement came!   Yowza!   It felt good..  Here is Rustpuppy posed next to the Suburban and Yakima Sue.  Notice the new stock height springs moved the rear up about 1 ” so Rustpuppy is level fore and aft instead of dragging her tail..

I took Rustpuppy out on the road for just a little bit.  I went just a couple miles.  On the way back I tested the positraction feature of the new axle..

The two wide black stripes in ror95-6a.jpg are a good testimonial..   (about 8” wide by 15 feet long, and there are two of them!  happy happy, joy joy...)

Ror95-7a.jpg shows the new stance that ol’ Rustpuppy has with them spiffy new ESPO springs..

A good day.  But,  (why is there always a but?)

I got sunburned!  In Oregon!  In February!

I can’t believe it..  And it was up to 67 degrees this afternoon..


More to come…


Rick Draganowski

(making Rustpuppy tracks..  nice ones..  but my face feels hot..)



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