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Discussion Starter #1
Been having some issues with the rear end in my 1973 LTD Country Squire. I realize it's not quite a Galaxie, but this is the closest forum I could find. The car is stock and has the conventional 2.75 rear end, C6 Auto Trans, and 460 Engine. The car is well maintained and in good mechanical condition, besides the current problem I'm having. I'm currently on a road trip and the car made it the first day (400 miles) without problems.

When we left the following morning, and got out onto the highway, I started to experience an inconsistent clunking, and what felt like a slight drag from the rear end. After about a quarter mile, it became much worse and started screeching, and I think locking up the left rear wheel intermittently. I pulled over immediately, and noticed what smelled like burning brakes from the left rear wheel. Got under the car and actually saw a few embers coming out of the brake drum! :eek: I had just done some brake work and adjusted the brakes before we left, so I assumed that perhaps the brake was just dragging.

I backed off the adjuster significantly, let the brake cool down for a while, and got back on the road, same problem. Jacked the car up, took the drum off and inspected everything. Everything seemed normal, shoes were fine, no glazing on the drum. So I had the car towed to a friend's house nearby, where I've been trying to diagnose the problem for the past few days. We thought perhaps the wheel cylinder was not releasing pressure. Took everything apart, replaced the wheel cylinder, replaced all the springs and hardware for good measure. Bled all 4 brakes. Same problem. Checked the driveshaft and U-joints, everything seemed fine there.

Jacked up the rear end and had my friend sit in the driver's seat. Started the car and shifted to drive. At medium speeds there is a noticeable clunk and left-downward movement in the left rear wheel somewhat inconsistently, but seemingly every 3 or 4 revolutions. Right side wheel is smooth with no problems. Could there be a chipped tooth in the differential? Wheel bearing problems? I have a shop, lift, etc. at my house 400 miles away. If only I could get the car there somehow...

Not really sure what to check next, I can't afford to take the car to a local mechanic to have them take the axle apart. I could easily see that costing thousands of dollars. Any help would be greatly appreciated.
 

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Before I read your post completely I would have assumed the brake material had come loose from the shoe and wedged between the drum and shoe. But, if you inspected everything and the friction material looks good, I guess you could rule that out. A relatively inexpensive and quick attempt might be to have the drums turned to be sure they are running true, round, and are balanced. Aside from that or a leaking wheel cylinder, I can't imagine what the problem could be. The symptoms you describe sound more like a problem on the end of the axle rather than a differential problem.
 

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OK, so no signs of distress on the brake material? Yet the embers were from outboard near the brakes? Likely a bearing issue. The gasket may been smoldering. Spin it up again for a few moments, then stop it and feel for the heat. There's your problem. Assuming it's outboard and not related to brakes, it's likely a seizing bearing, and if it hasn't welded itself to the axle, is a short trip to the shop to have it (and the other one) replaced.

They are simple to remove. There is a hole in the axle flange for a socket to fit through. Rotate it to line-up with each of the 4 retaining nuts to remove them. Pull the axle out. If it's cooked in there, you can try using the drum on backwards with the nuts on loosely like a slide hammer. Do NOT bang on the flange! If no joy, hit the parts store to borrow their axle puller, or there are other techniques if you search on here.

If it is the bearings, you'll need new seals and flange gaskets also. Good luck!

David
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Sorry I haven't had Internet access for the past few days. Thanks for the detailed responses. It turned out to be the wheel bearing wheel bearing was ugly when we got it out of there. Had a new bearing, seal, etc pressed on and the problem is solved. Didn't have enough time or money to do the bearing on the other side, but its working fine for now. Probably will do so when I get back to my shop, lift, etc. for preventative maintenance. Thanks again for the advice.
 

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Cool! Nice to be back on the road, eh? I agree, you should do the other side at the earliest opportunity, as it's on borrowed time.

David
 

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I'll also add that doing the other side should be done sooner rather than later. When I was a wee lad we went on a road trip to Disney Land at Christmas, in 1970. We were on the way home and on the interstate, south of Sacremento somewhere, one rear wheel bearing caught fire on our 65 Country Squire. We were lucky the car did not burn to the ground and thanks to the semi drive who was heading the other direction and crossed the median ditch to our side and used his fire extinguisher to put out the flames, we were OK. We had to spend the night in the next little town because it was new years eve and they had to wait for the parts store to open in another town before it could get fixed. A few days latter, still about four, or five hours from home, the other bearing went, but Dad got stopped before it caught fire again. Like brakes, replacing bearings in pairs seems like a good practice.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
So the beast wagon made it the rest of the trip (1,900 miles) without any additional problems. Cooling system was working great. I was generally running at 195-200. I didn't get past 210 degrees once even driving in 90 degree heat. It consumed 1 quart of oil over the 1,900 miles. Not bad I would say. I didn't have to add any transmission or power steering fluid for the trip. All in all the car is running great.

I will be replacing the wheel bearing on the other side soon for preventative maintenance. I don't drive the car that much normally, so I'm not in a rush to do it.

I averaged about 13.9 MPG for the trip. Not bad for a stock 460 pushing a 5,200+ lb car loaded down with a ton of extra camping stuff and instruments, and a roof cargo carrier increasing the drag. I was doing everything I could to increase the milage, i.e. shifting to neutral as much as possible. The comfort and nostalgia of traveling in an early 70s station wagon were well worth the extra gas expense.
 
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