A not so much fun couple of months playing auto mechanic…


I finally finished all of the repairs and updates to both my 1939 Ford and my 1956 Dodge Sierra Station Wagon. Since getting the Ford on the road way back in the fall of 2002 we have logged over 85K miles on the old girl.  The transmission had several leaks, the king pin bushings were worn, it had a vibration at 50mph etc etc – one big greasy mess.  As I was pulling the transmission I noticed that my new exhaust headers had moved the head pipes in closer to the transmission, so I 1st had to pulled the head pipes off.  Then I found that the transmission had never come out from the bottom before.  So I had to relieve part of the bottom of the frame to get it out. After I reinstalled the transmission I welded in some bracing that can be easily removed with a cut off wheel. Filled the tranny with $64 worth of Dextron only to find out that the chrome pan leaked.  So I drained the tranny and got a stock non chrome pan and a new thick rubber gasket which I glued in with high temp RTV.

Instead of using bronze bushings in the king pins, I ordered a new set of king pins that came with needle bearings! No more bushing wear or having to ream them.  With all the changes and upgrades that I have made in the last year the old girl runs and drives like new car!

The Dodge has already got over 25K miles on her and I have had continual problems with Chinese bearing failures. Earlier it was the axle bearings, on the way back from one of our California trips earlier this year we started hearing bearing howl again. This time it was on the passenger side rear axle. I gotta tell you I am getting fast at R&R my rear axles. Anyway I now have Koyo ball bearings on both rear axles, and I am hoping that I won’t have any more issues.  We took the wagon on a short trip just to make sure everything was okay before going to Silver City next month… sure enough after about 75 miles I heard that damn bearing howl again… this time it was the driven side carrier bearing in the 9″. I had had it rebuilt back when I was building the wagon and the shop used Timkin Bearings and sure enough the bearing was galled just like the axle bearings have been. I took the third member over to Performance 4×4 hear in Show Low and had Toby rebuild it with Koyo bearings as well. Luckily all the gears were still in great shape! I also had Toby put in a limited slip differential. In heavy rain I have had traction problems with the open rear end.

Anyway, we now have two roadworthy restomods to take us on our travels while I am working on the ’40!

All this greasy old car repair reminded my why I didnt choose a career in auto mechanics. I building them and tuning them but maintaining them is a PITA! 🙁



A not so much fun couple of months playing auto mechanic… — 2 Comments

  1. Hi, I live in New Zealand & have imported a 1956 Dodge Sierra S/wagon (4 door, 2 seat). It is a project in that it needs engine work, some body (rust) repairs, a paint job & interior re-upholstering. I’m excited about it and in for the long haul. I am fairly confident that it is the only one in New Zealand. I have recently scored on ebay missing items namely a front hood crest, a right hand wing mirror, a replacement ‘Sierra’ script, a pair of back seat grab handles & hope to get an AM period correct radio and dome light lens. Having found your blog, although I don’t know if you had to replace your window rubber, wondered if you could give me a lead in that regard as I need it pretty much for all the windows? Any guidance would be much appreciated. Regards, A.Paul Cantwell

    • Hi Paul! sorry about the long response time…I have been very busy with family matters. I got all my rubber from Steele Rubber. There are two different windshield gaskets for 1956 Dodges. Steele kindly sent me both so I could pick the one that fit the best. In actuality the 1956 Dodge Sierra body was the same as the 1955. That is why it has bolt on chrome fins.

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