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1936 century rear end in a special


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An auction on ebay has me thinking about swapping the rear end in my 1936 special with a 1936 century rear end. Unfortunately the shipping costs look like they would be in excess of $600 and with the price of the part itself that makes it a bit unattractive.

So that leads me to two questions:

1) Does anybody know of a way to ship about 300 pounds (best guess) from CA to MN for about $200 or less?

2) Alternatively, would it be possible to just swap the pinion and ring gear from a century for the pinion and ring gear that are in my special? It seems like I should be able to get a pinion and ring gear shipped for less than a whole rear end.

Alright... one more question. Am I nuts or is this really the best way to get better highway speeds while keeping the engine RPM down?

Thanks,

Jeff

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I don't have the answers to your question but I was watching the auction but didn't catch it was out of a Century.

Maybe you could send it Greyhound, I don't know the weight and size limit. Check their web site.

I would think you could just swap out gears, don't know for sure, but you'd have to be sure the seller knows what he's doing and I would also think you'd have to throw a few extra bucks to him for his time in pulling the gears. Watch the auction, I'd bet he'll repost it at a lower price.

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I recently shipped a complete engine for a 1930 Buick from Maine to North Carolina for $225. The seller was kind enough to strap it to a pallet (for a small fee) and I went through uship. That included delivery to my home in a truck with a liftgate. If you haven't used uship before that is probably going to be your best bet in terms of obtaining the biggest shipping bang for your buck.

Thanks,

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An auction on ebay has me thinking about swapping the rear end in my 1936 special with a 1936 century rear end.

Alright... one more question. Am I nuts or is this really the best way to get better highway speeds while keeping the engine RPM down?

Thanks,

Jeff

Jeff,

There is a misconception that the 1936 Century was a Special with a little extra wheelbase to accomodate the 320 cu in motor of the Roadmaster.

In reality the Century is more like a short wheel base Roadmaster, all mechanicals are larger/heaver than the Special and most interchange with the larger series cars, not the 40 Series. The Century body from the firewall back was of similar size to the Special.

So the problem is that a Century rear end is larger, heavier and runs larger brakes than the Special and also runs 15" wheels which don't interchange with Special wheels ( wheel stud centres are larger than Special wheel studs ).

To install a complete rear end at the very least the torque tube and propeller shafts would have to be altered to fit the Special gearbox.

Looking at various dimensions of the ring gear and pinion I can't see them bolting straight into a 40 Series housing. For instance the Ring gear diameter for the 40 Series is only 9 3/8" while the Century is 10".

Have a look at the Detailed Specifications in your 1936 Shop Manual and you will see comparisons between the Series including dimesions/sizes for all mechanical components.

Like you I've heard stories of Century rear ends being fitted to Specials but I can't see it being done without a lot of fairly expensive machine work.

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Thanks for all the input. The auction passed but I suspect it will get relisted.

I did look at my manual last night and what Stuart says seems to make a lot of sense. Namely, the rear end of the century is slightly different then the special and swapping just the gears doesn't look like an obviously easy thing to do. Swapping the whole rear end seemed like a good idea because of all the other stories I've heard but the 15" wheels do seem like they would be a problem. There are other incidentals like speedometer gears and possibly clearance issues with the diff housing as well.

I've seen another thread that talks about getting custom gears made and that would be less invasive then cutting off and adapting torque tube and propeller shafts to get the century rear end to fit but it seems that the cost of both approaches is going to get to be significant enough that I'll probably just stay with the back roads and going a bit slower.

Jeff

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My 1938 Special came to me with 215-85/16 radials, the equivalent of 7.00/16's. I recall calculating the the reduction in engine speed to be about the same as putting something like a 4.10:1 rear end in the car. Not as good as a 3.9 Century rear end, but not bad. I'm not sure if I would've made the tire size switch myself, as it does change the look and the tires scrub on the front fenders if the steering wheel is turned all the way in one direction, but it is a cheap way to get rpm's down.

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  • 3 years later...
My 1938 Special came to me with 215-85/16 radials, the equivalent of 7.00/16's. I recall calculating the the reduction in engine speed to be about the same as putting something like a 4.10:1 rear end in the car. Not as good as a 3.9 Century rear end, but not bad. I'm not sure if I would've made the tire size switch myself, as it does change the look and the tires scrub on the front fenders if the steering wheel is turned all the way in one direction, but it is a cheap way to get rpm's down.

This is an old thread, so perhaps this has all been beaten to death, but. . .

Has anyone tried to mount an overdrive right into the torque tube? Mitchell makes an overdrive which Model A Fords use that way --- they just weld it into the torque tube. Even Ford V8's. GearVendors makes another which you could use.

I've never seen these things up close but figure they could be done for Buicks as well. Would make Special into a pretty nifty highway car.

--Scott

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Yes, Lloyd Young in Canal-Winchester, Ohio does modify the torque tube and installs a Borg-Warner Overdrive which will drop your engine revs by 30%. When you are doing 60moh your engine id doing the equivalent of 42mph. He does excellent work, and is highly regarded. This is a southeast suburb of Columbus. Phone 614-837-7832

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