Lighting the Shop and Overhauling the Differential (pt. 1)

Lighting the Shop

I have done a lot to get the garage ready for this car project (and future projects, fingers crossed) but one that I had been putting off was installing lighting in the rest of the garage. Thanks to summer time, I could do most of my work with the sun up and just a shop light over my work bench. Shorter days have meant I didn’t have enough light to do any work, especially in the evenings, so I bit the bullet and installed some lights.

I located some used fluorescent four-bulb fixtures from a bank remodel. The ballasts were bad, but the frames were good. I installed new ballasts and, with help from a friend, got them installed. That was way more work than I expected. There was still some old wiring in the rafters of the garage, so I had to rip that out and run all new wiring for the lights. There is not a single strand of old wiring in that garage anymore, and hopefully that is the last side project I have for a long time.

I wish I had all those lights installed when I sealed the frame. I had no idea how much light I was missing in the garage, which is bright enough now that anymore light would be too much. Having that much light showed all the little areas that did not get a second coat and look dull instead of shiny. This may result in a complete second coating of the frame next spring. It also means I can work any time of day and have more than enough light to see what I am doing.

Disassembling the Differential

A couple months ago I took apart the differential to get an idea of what needed to be done. It was clear I would need a bearing splitter and a shop press to remove and install the six different bearings and multiple seals. I bought a bearing splitter set but left that project where it was, in the basement, until I could afford a shop press. I am glad I waited, because I found a 20-ton shop press for under $150. With those tools, I got started with pulling all the bearings and seals.

It was clear that the differential had never been overhauled. Most of the bearings had “Stanpart” and “Made in England” stamped on them. Interestingly, the differential carrier bearings showed “Made in USA”, so those may have been replaced. It was also clear that the seals were originals. It made me very glad to have gone through all that extra effort because when the differential is done it will be essentially brand new and hopefully not need to be touched again for another 50 years.

Most of the bearings came off fairly easily, but the inner axle shaft bearing were on so tight that they nearly broke the bearing splitter. I bent the bolts of the bearing splitter and stripped the threads of one, the bearings were stuck so tight. I replaced the original splitter bolts with Grade 8 hardware and cranked down hard, and they eventually gave. I could not believe they could be on so tight.

I got all the bearings and seals freed up, and the last step was driving out the old mounting bushings on the differential case. Like most of the bearings, the bushings were clearly originals and were dry, cracked and in there tight. It took me almost two hours to drive out the bushings. There was no way I could press them out, so I had to use multiple cold chisels and even a reciprocating saw. It did almost no damage to the differential case, other than a very small cut line from the saw. That was one of the most frustrating part of getting the differential ready for rebuild, and if I had to drive out old bushings like that every day for a living, I would lose my mind.

I did some looking online and I can get all the new parts for around $200, including all new bearings, bushings and seals. A rebuilt differential costs between $1,000 and $1,200, so it is clearly worth all the time this is taking, along with the cost of tools. But this is no small undertaking: I laid out all the parts for a picture, and counted 86 different pieces. I couldn’t fit all the parts into one picture, so here is a panoramic:


It’s kind of amazing that the differential, which is about the size of a volleyball, could have so much going on inside. I am going to finalize my parts list and place an order so I can get this finished and installed back on the frame.


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