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Monte Carlo Rearend - Got My Nine
We Build An Indestructible Street/Strip Rear For Project True Sstreet With Goodies From Chris Alston's Chassisworks And Strange Engineering
Jun 1, 2008
Morton Grove, IL 60053
Chris Alston's Chassisworks
Sacramento, CA 95828
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Monte Carlo Rearend - Got My Nine
Before beginning to assemble our Chassisworks FAB9 rear, it had to receive a protective coating of either the bare minimum paint or (better yet) powdercoating. We opted to call upon the professionals at Johnson's Powder Coating in Burlington, N.J. The crew wasted no time and began taping off the important machined portions of our rear before media blasting could commence.
Beyond that, the entire unit is mediablasted to ensure the powdercoating will adhere for years of service and unparalleled good looks.
Beyond the blasting procedure, all the portions that will retain bare metal stature are taped off with this high-temperature film that can handle approximately 400 degrees F.
Next, Bob Patrick handles the coating duties by applying a consistent coat of gloss black, which has a baby powder consistency and a magnetic-like charge. A ground strap is attached to the rear to complete the circuit of the charge, which comes from the spray nozzle, aiding in the attraction of the powder to the rear.
Once proper coverage is achieved, the unit is rolled into the oven for a good half hour or so. Johnson's oven is preheated to approximately 400 degrees F throughout the day.
Beyond completion of the cycle, the rear is removed, and voil!, we have our rear. It's gloss black and virtually numb to the elements. To have your rear coated, pricing generally starts at around $185. A special thanks to Chris Johnson and his crew for promptly handling our powdercoating needs.
Meanwhile, back at the bat cave, our '87 Monte Carlo is jacked and ready for the removal of the 10-bolt, which served it well up to this point. But before we begin, we'll outfit our FAB9 with all the bulletproof goodies from Strange Engineering and Chris Alston's Chassisworks.
We opted for Strange's 3.812-inch-bore Aluminum Ultra case assembled with a lightweight 40-spline spool and a billet aluminum pinion support as well as 3.70 Pro Gears. While the nodular iron center section would have worked just fine, we opted for the aluminum version for its weight savings (10 pounds). This creates less rotating mass and puts additional power to the pavement.
We chose Strange's Pro Race (Hy-Tuf) lightweight 40-spline gun-drilled axles. Once again, we wanted bulletproof, and we got it. While this is one tough unit, it is not suggested for daily street driving due to the axleshaft's thickness. Plus, a thinner axle bearing is utilized and is not sufficient for the extreme side loads applied during the vigors of street driving. Since our Monte will see limited street time, we didn't figure this was an issue (remember give and take?).
We had to press the bearings onto the shaft via this hydraulic press, but not before first sliding on the caliper bracket/bearing retainer for the Strange brakes, which will be installed at a later date.
Before we can install the axles into the FAB9 housing, it must be outfitted with the necessary hardware supplied by Chassisworks in its housing hardware kit. First, we installed the spherical bearings for the upper control arms. The bearings installed with ease due to the mounting point's precision machining.
Beyond that, the lock ring and the spacers were installed per the instructions. Next, we installed the 10 3/8-24 12-point flange screws (for the third member)-as always, Loctite was applied to deter loosening of the fasteners. Finally, a liberal amount of Permatex Ultra Grey silicone sealer was applied before installing the third member (silicone sealer or a gasket may be used).
Once the sealer set up, we carefully placed the third member into its new home and tightened all the fasteners. The axles can now be brought into the equation, having been sidelined for a bit.
According to the Strange instructions, axle spline engagement should be at least one inch. In order to check for this, we loaded the splines with grease and slid them into place momentarily. We then removed the axle and measured spline engagement. While it's hard to see in this photo, we achieved approximately 1 1.2 inches of spline engagement, which was more than optimal.
Beyond the final installation of the axles, the four axle retention plate bolts were given a generous amount of Loctite and tightened evenly to ensure proper seating/sealing of the axle bearing.
Next, we installed the massive 5.8-inch wheel studs, which screw into the axle flange and are locked securely via the locknuts on the flange's back half. We'll install Strange stoppers in a later installment.
Now that our FAB9 is built and ready for duty, we needed to vacate the space in which it will reside. Working on your back in sub 30-degree temperatures with the flu isn't fun, but we hung in there. After removing the wheels, we removed the brake fluid line, the shocks and sway bar, cut the brake cables with a cutoff tool (as they wouldn't be needed), and dropped the driveshaft by removing the four fasteners attaching it to the pinion yoke.
Beyond removing the upper and lower control arms, our old rear would be ready for removal. We simply placed a floor jack under the rear.
After a little thought (because that's all our tiny brains can handle), we decided to pull the fuel tank, as it would have to be sumped at a later date anyway. This created a little more room to work (play).
It was now time to roll our FAB9 over and mate it to our G-body for the first time. It is advisable to perform such a job on a lift of some sort; however, if you don't mind crawling around the floor, it isn't the end of the world.
After a brief discussion with Chris Alston, we opted for Chassisworks' race-ready, adjustable-length upper...
...and lower control arms for our G-body.
Both feature quality 4130 spherical bearing rod ends and 4130 chrome-moly lower arms for total control of rearend housing movement, especially in high-horsepower applications, which ours will be.
Once all was in place, our FAB9 was hoisted in and mated with the upper and lower control arms that were previously installed. We set the upper and lower control arms to stock length for now, as adjustments will be eminent once we hit the track.
In an upcoming issue we will install the Chris Alston's Chassisworks integrated antiroll bar (aiding in level/sedate launches) and coilover conversion kit, which contains double-adjustable VariShocks for ultimate dampening control both on and off the track.
Until next time...
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