Replacing the 445 volvo axel – rear end with a 544 PV.
Right up front: It was a dumb thing to do. Not check the rear end fluid level. Duh. (Click on any image for a larger version.)
I thought it was noisy, but I had too many other things on my mind. And I can procrastinate with the best of them. I wouldn’t feel as bad if it hadn’t gone through my mind at least two distinct times to check it – once while doing the rear brakes and while working on the emergency brake cable. Looked right at the pumpkin and said – “I should do that”, then the guy on my other shoulder said – “But not now”.
So I’m driving down the roard at about 45-50, a slight clunk, and then someone just slammed the rear wheels to a dead stop. I skidded over to the side of the road. Looked back at about 50 feet of black tire lines. At least I must have adjusted the brakes properly, they were straight as an arrow. Did the tow truck thing and Whoops, missing a few teeth. Once I pulled the cover off it was obvious that there hadn’t been any oil in there for years. I didn’t even have that rear end oil smell, and everything was dried out. The gears were like razors. I think when it was electric and only had an 8 hourspower motor, there wasn’t that much strain on the rear end, I put the B-20 in it, and 2 days of driving did it in. So I did blow it, but overall it was good to find this out now.
I looked around the net for a 445 rear end, but didn’t find anything on the east coast. An ad came up for a 544, went to look at that but it was too nice to destroy for parts and I’m not ready to start my old volvo collection just yet. I then found one available that was ready to be parted out at Joe Ottatis in Burdett, NY. Great guy to deal with. He’s got stuff on the lots that aren’t listed on the web site. We worked our butts off getting that car out. I went down with a U-haul 4 wheel trailer. It was burried in the mud up to the rims, 1 tire held air. He pulled it out with his 4 wheeler, then dragged it down the hill and we pushed, pulled and finally got it on the trailer.
Whomever had the 544 had also done the disc brake conversion on the front end, so as a bonus I’ve now got the parts to put discs on my 445.
The change went pretty smooth, no surprises. Pull the tires off, the brake drums off, then there are 4 bolts holding on the back plate to the axel. Just remove the 4 bolts and you can move the whole brake assembly out of the way. When you put it back together you just bolt them back on. Going from the 544 to the 445 is the easy direction, going the other way would be a pain. Here’s the 544 as it sits originally: The 544 has coil springs, the 445 leaf springs. (544 in front, 445 in back) As you can see, the 544 had a panhard rod and also a heavy rubber bracket on the top of it. The only things on the 445 where the cradles. I ground those off, cut the pan hard rod off (Yes, the idea of putting it on the 445 went through my head, but fortunatly didn’t stop there.) I did leave the pan hard rod mount on just in case I wanted it later. There is a stud sticking up through the 445 leaf spring That’s what the cradle goes on. I put the rear end in the car with the cradles, Dan welded it in I bolted the shock mounts and U bolts back in, hooked the drive shaft back on, put the brake plates back on and that’s it: Much, much quieter.