war wagon repairs…


so i rescued two damsels in distress on the way to the event last weekend.
then i offered to tow one of them’s mini van back to everett with the war wagon..
(go me!) and stash the minivan at a client of mine’s house.

as i’m towing my castle back to where i keep it (no pun intended) i start hearing this major howl from the van at over 30, off the throttle… sounds just like big mud tires on concrete… so i do some investigation, and i discover the fact that i have a blown set of pinion bearings…

well shit.
so i start making phone calls, and everyone says “it’s going to cost about 800 to fix”


then i call daves automotive in tumwater washington.

“i can fix it for 700, but that would be kinda stupid”

oh really?

so he has me come out to his shop and shows me the rear end under his slammed full size dodge pickup, and says “that’s what you need”, and gives me a list of wrecking yards to find one in. turns out the rear end my van came with is wimpy to say the least…

keep in mind that i’ve done wheel bearings on the very back axle already, and did the front, converting to super duty brakes while i was there….. this is the only axle that hasn’t been touched, and as the rig only has 60k on it, i’m pissed…

cost estimate = 250 for the rear end, 80 for bearings, 750 for a positraction, 160 for labor (cutting the brackets off the axle and welding them on the new one (for the ladder bars that locate the rearmost axle, since the van has duals in the back) i kept having “getting stuck at events” problems, so the posi is a must…

ouch. all right, well, 1200 for something i won’t break again beats the hell out of repairing the one i have every 50,000 miles…

so i start makin phone calls and my friend robert and i start hitting wrecking yards looking for an old dodge van.
i finally find one at this little hole in the wall wrecking yard called “golden pheasant auto wrecking” in shelton..
they had one of the big old dodge camper vans out there, and the tag says it had a big block in it…

i play a hunch and look under it.. 12 bolt cover, paydirt πŸ™‚

so i jack it up, pull the rear end, and head home $175 poorer.

get back to daves shop, we pop the cover…

huzzah! it’s been well maintained, all the parts are in excellent shape… *and* it’s the super heavy duty dodge “nine and a quarter” rear end… with a super heavy duty positraction in it. >:)
whoohoo! πŸ™‚ just save myself 750…

so i go home, jack the van up, and cougar_ml and i pull both the rear axles out, and the trailing arms, etc., and haul all of it over to daves shop. (thanks bro)

dave starts pulling it, and the new axle apart, and we decide we’re going to use the big (super duty) brakes my van came with, on this setup… as we’re checking for fit we discover that the new rear end has the small dodge bolt pattern, my rig uses the big bolt pattern..


adaptors are going to be 120 bucks for the drive axle, and i’ll need spacers for the rearmost tag axle, and those are another 80, so there’s 200 bucks. (shit)

then dave says “opie might have a pair, he’d prolly want 75 for ’em, but with the hauling you do, you don’t want adaptors…” i agree with the “no adaptors” thing, and say “can you just take care of this?” he says sure, and scours the entire country looking for what i need.

and apparently no one makes big bolt pattern axles for this rear end, in this positractions spline pattern, in the right length for a van (van axles are 4″ longer than a trucks)

we call it a day, dave sends a wrecker over to get my van so the cops don’t mess with me over it being out in front of my house with 4 out of 6 axles missing.

the next morning, dave calls a custom axle shop run by a buddy of his in everett, and asks them.
bingo again. apparently a few years ago someone ordered the same thing, and then never showed up to pay for ’em. dave says deliver ’em.

the next day i cruise into daves shop, and he shows ’em to me.
i took one look at these machined super heavy duty drop forged molecularly aligned heat treated axles, and look at him and say “this is going to hurt, isn’t it?”

he says “kinda, but not as bad as you think. normally they’re 1200 bucks a pop”.

i closed my eyes and composed myself as i did the mental math and realized that this was going to hurt a lot… (the van takes 2) but it’s still cheaper than changing the bolt pattern on the other axles on the van, or replacing my wheels…

i open my eyes and looked at him “so what’s the damage?”

200 each.


why so cheap? i ask, “he owed me a few favors,” and then explained the story behind the axles.

ya know, i’m really beginning to like this guy.
(to be honest, i liked him the moment he said “i can fix it for 700, but that would be kinda stupid”. integrity is kinda rare these days).

the clock is ticking on antir west war, so we are hustling to get the van done.

turns out we need a pair of the big super duty c clips that hold the axles in.

we find one in centrailia, and one in spokane. this is wed morning.


then dave calls opie again.
sure enough, he’s got 2, and he’s in everett.
azrayel makes the run to go pick up the parts (thanks luv) as i put the new tv antennas and sun visor on the van, (my sun visor came off on mothers day and wiped out the tv antennas as it parted company with the van) :/ and prep the rig for the new axles, etc.

we put the rear end back together, (using top drawer parts for everything, dave isn’t messing around here) welds on the new brackets for the trailing arms, mods the shock mounts, and we shove the whole assembly back under the van and start putting her all back together.

as he starts on the driveline he looks at me and says “i’m about to ruin your day”


what’s up?

“the driveline isn’t going to work”

you’re kidding right?


and then he explained to me that apparrently my van uses the crappy lightweight u joints, and the new rear end uses the big stuff, so i’m going to need a new rear end yoke. any wrecking yard will have them (but as it’s after 9 pm, all of them are closed…) i asked for suggestions, and made the observationt hat we had cut the driveline on the van we’d pulled the rear end out of, and still had the end piece…. we looked at both of them, we measured them, and both of us went “that’s not a bad idea…”

so he pointed me at capital driveshaft in olympia.
said he thought they opened at 7am.

i thanked him for his time (he had stayed an extra 3 hours helping me get the rear end back in) and showed up at capital drive shaft this morning at 7am.

as i was supposed to leave for antir west war in eugene at 6 am, i’m kinda annoyed and stressed out and not feeling well.

then i find out they open at 8:30.


so the lovely chaneecat and i go to shari’s for breakfast, and then come back.

at 8:00 we’re looking at the honeysuckle and roses, and the dozen or so doves that live on the property, and we’re talking about how interesting the vibes are here…

at 8:15 the owner opens the door and sets the dogs on us…
heh πŸ™‚

3 little white dogs, one that isn’t very friendly, one that barks a lot, and one that’s a lover.

anyway, so i go in to talk to the guy. almost giggled when i saw his name was van…
he had good vibes. nice guy.

we talked for a few minutes, and he said the u joint on the front of the shaft was fine, but didn’t have a zerk fitting to grease it with, and the rear one on mine was shot, but the rear i needed (off of the bit of driveline we had left from the wrecking yard van) was fine, we could use it.

so the plan is to cut the driveline, weld the yoke from the wrecking yard van onto it, and 10,000 rpm spin balance the entire assembly….

then he tells me what it’s going to cost, and i replied with “how much extra to put in new u joints on both ends”, and explained my vehicle. he made me promise to bring it by and show it to him, and said it would be 160 bucks out the door for all the labor, plus the bulletproof u joints.

whew. i remember paying 450 for the driveline in my nitrous injected, supercharged 351 cleveland powered mustang II, so i guess subconsciously i was expecting it to *really* hurt.

so here we are at 10 am. as soon as van calls me back, i’ll go get the driveline, head over to daves, put the driveline in, and hit the road…


I am a maker. My favorite thing is adventure. I am restoring a 1956 greyhound scenicruiser to adventure in. I run the pd-4501 / scenicruiser registry. Stalk me: (Google Plus), (Facebook).

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1 Response

  1. chaneecat says:

    That man at capital drive shaft by the name of Van reminded me of the character “Socrates” from the book Way of The Peaceful Warrior. I liked him.


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