Ford 9″ Center with Pinion Brake

396111114well, i got the opprotunity to go through a ford 9″ center section and install a pinion brake set up this week. this one is from Winslow Custom Shop in Abilene, Kansas.  i will make some comments about the brake later in the article. this center in particular, i used a lightened spool of unknown origin, richmond gear, and a basic run of the mill center section with small bearing caps. 

Now, Ford had a few variations of the 9″ center section over the span of many year. you had what i would call a standard case, a WAR case, and the Nodular iron or”N” case. 396111102 Standard late model case is easily identified by the single front center rib to the case. i have my parts dry’n on my tailgate after cleaning here and you case it pretty clear to the left side of the picture. a Nodular iron case has two ribs on the front of the case and is marked with a big” N” in the casting above the pinion directly on the front. these are the strongest and most desired- and are available aftermarket these days. the WAR case is identical to a nodular “N” case but does not have the big “N” in the casting. these were produced in the 60’s and got the nickname WAR because of the big W-A-R cast into them on the back side of the housing next to the carrier cap. although they look stronger than a standard single rib carrier, they are actually slightly weaker, so basically they aren’t anything special. guys actually took WAR cases and welded an “N” on the front so they could sell them for more money before the aftermarket arrived with new production “N” housings. so  when someone has a factory “N” case, pay close attention to look for this scam.

Another weak point on the Ford 9″ is the pinion and pinion support. under high horsepower, or slam shifting, or both…..the pinion has a bad habit of taking a shit right out of the front of the case. also the pinion has a rather small spline count so it can snap off easier than a GM 8.5  or a beefy Dana gearset.  Here again, the aftermarket comes into play with both heavy duty input housings and larger diameter pinions . all in all, a Ford 9″ is a power eating weak assembly in stock form, but the interchange capability’s at the track AND sturdy housings and axles make it a must for a lot of guys. the aftermarket axles, center sections, custom housings, andstronger internal components make this style set up very durable for most any application. You can basically build an entire new ford style rear axle these days and omit all the factory weaknesses if you have enough money.  There are even custom center sections on the market to put a 12 bolt gm style center into a Ford housing so you get the best of Both worlds. Anyways i digress back to the project…..

In my experience, older housings had a larger LM603049 carrier bearing, later model cases like this one has smaller LM102949 bearings.  larger bearings are more sought after because they can handle more load, but unless you have a stronger case to hold the bearings in, it is a mute point  cause the case will take a shit. in this case ,i got a used spool with large bearings and had to R&R the bearings with smaller ones. most spools for the ford will take either the large or small bearing, but the case is either or you cannot put large bearings in a smaller case or vice-versa. 396111101396111105Another thing that you will run across is when you go to install your ring gear to the spool, the factory replacement bolts are WAY too long and bottom out. in the picture on the left o ran the factory bolts all the way in bottomed in the ring gear to show you how much it is. the picture on the left is the carrier installed using a 3/4″ grade 8 fine thread bolt and red loctite. you should always use new bolts anyways for ring gear installation. i also recommend using good quality bearings like Timken bearings. yeah, you can use cheaper stuff and get away with it usually….i believe the Advance has National as their premier line of bearing along with China made stuff. i have had new National bearings fall apart just trying to press the damn things on the pinion and spool. i have never had issue with Timken and i use them in my entire maintenance fleet here at work as well.

Another Tip for the ford center sections-mark your carrier caps AND adjustment nuts to the side of the carrier you remove them from. this will make aligning everything up a lot easier. very similar to how you would mark your connecting rod and main caps on an engine for rebuild. it is also imperative to clean this part of the housing well for re-assembly. basically you sit the cap down flush to the housing and get your adjustment nuts settled in the thread spinning freely BEFORE you torque you carrier cap bolts. once you fully torque your carrier caps and have your assembly installed, the adjustment nuts should spin without binding and the carrier should spin freely. if it does not, you will not be able to get your backlash and carrier preload right to save your ass.

once you assemble the pinion and have the carrier installed, it is pretty down hill. 396111109you adjust your pinion depth with selective shims beneath the pinion support, and use a spanner wrench to adjust your carrier nuts to achieve backlash, and go by tooth contact pattern. it makes it a lot easier if you omit the support o-ring until final assembly. i outline some of this in a prior blog on rear axle set up. it is fairly easy compared to a Dana or 8.5 GM axle by far. once you get you get it where you want it, you preload your carrier bearings and install the locks and you’re done.

Now with the pinion Brake Kit, basically i got a brake rotor for a 95 escort that was drilled for a yoke, a custom CV style yoke,  a custom bracket to fit the outside of the support housing at the front, and a list of parts i still have to go out and buy. after i got my gearset dialled in, i had to go back and remove the CV yoke to install the bracket, then bobble the pinion, bracket , and 5 bolts into place. it helped to loosen the adjustment nuts on the carrier so i didn’t have to fight the mesh of the gears trying to line up all this bullshit. Then, i discovered the stock bolts were too short and of shitty grade. so i ran out to the hardware store and got some grade 8 bolts about 1 1/4″ long to compensate for the width of the bracket. i had enough room to get the torque wrench in and around to achieve proper torque. i went with a standard torque of 45 ft/lbs. other than not having support bolts provided(which i think should have), everything lined up without issue and looks to be a descent set up. with any aftermarket item for derby use, you have to expect a bit of fabricating. this wasn’t that bad. have fun!

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