Sometimes getting the right wheel and tire fitment to your dream ride is harder than it looks, and trying to tuck wire wheels into a classic is a prime example. In order to get the look you need, you usually have to shorten the rear end, especially if you are looking to use a 14x7 wire wheel. Those Impala owners out there looking to rock the skirts also need to take this modification into consideration as well. This month, we are going to show you how the axles and housing need to be shortened in order to achieve these looks.
Of course, each vehicle has its own requirements, so there is no set standard on just how much modification you will need. You need to examine the specs of the vehicle you own and figure out the look you are trying to achieve in order to dictate the amount that will need to be trimmed off of the housing. For example, if you want to run skirts on a ‘70-72 Monte Carlo, you will need to knock two inches off of each side. Most of the Impalas need one inch trims off of each side to be able to run skirts, and in this month’s tech, we shortened a big body rear end by trimming it down 1-1/4-inch on each side as we wanted to make sure that our 14x7 reverse wire wheels didn’t get caught up in the skirts.
Many technicians who practice this trade on the west coast have left the area to take their talents overseas, making it harder and harder to find someone reliable and knowledgeable to trust with the task of shortening the rear end on a vehicle. In this month’s tech, we visited Cooks Machine Works, a So Cal company who specializes in differentials and also performs its fair share of drive shaft servicing. Cooks Machine Works has been in the same location for decades, as their business was started in the city of Los Angeles back in 1946. The famous green colored building can be seen off the service road that runs parallel to the 5 freeway, and it has become a haven for many Lowrider builders. In fact, the family-run business has been shortening axles and housing for over 30 years in the Lowrider community, as a Cooks rear end treatment is crucial to tucking in a set of 5.20’s and laying properly on the pavement. We had the pleasure of receiving a demonstration from Jim McCaslin and Paul Thompson of Cooks Machine Works, so follow along as they show us how to shorten the axle and housing on this big body Cadillac.
1. The setup.
2. This big body axle was set up for hydraulics which had a set of CCE hydraulics cups to hold the coils in place.
3. The axle was examined to see how straight the housing was before any work was started on it.
4. The white on the housing shows where the axle was bent from the miles of service on the car.
5. The housing’s tubes were welded in the center, using a traditional stick welding method which is a stronger weld then the now common wire-feed weld.
6. These welds were done continuously and are actually just as clean as a wire-feed welder.
7. The factory spot welds that hold the axle tubes together were also re-welded.
8. Once the axle was straightened out and reinforced, the ends were measured to figure out how much was going to be removed.
9. Using a lathe helped to allow the first cut, which will determine the amount of material that is needed to be removed.
10. A 1-1/4-inch cut was marked on the housing as the starting point of the material that was going to be removed.