PROJECT W-31 DONE

Part 2: Rearend Re­build & Restora­tion

Muscle Car Review - - Contents - By Drew Hardin Pho­tos: Rick Bed­ford & Bruce Ponti

Part 2: Rearend re­build and restora­tion

Last month we in­tro­duced you to the 1970 Olds Cut­lass W-31 that Oldsmo­bile ex­pert Stephen Mi­nore has owned since 1993 (“Part 1: The Olds That Started it All Fi­nally Gets Its Restora­tion,” Oct. 2018). In case you weren’t with us, here’s a re­cap. Af­ter buy­ing the W-31, Mi­nore did the “show and cruise-night thing” for a few years, but got bored with the static na­ture of those ac­tiv­i­ties. He then mod­i­fied the car into a low-12-se­cond street/strip ma­chine and en­joyed rac­ing un­til he got that out of his sys-

tem, as well. In the late 1990s he de­cided to re­turn the car to stock form. But, as we of­ten say in these sto­ries, life happened. The par­tially dis­as­sem­bled car was moved from garage to garage for the bet­ter part of two decades.

In 2017, Mi­nore worked with part­ners Ken Garner and Al­lan Stein­bock of Garner Cus­toms and Restora­tions in Braden­ton, Florida, on the restora­tion of a 1972 W-30 that went on to win ma­jor awards at the Mus­cle Car and Corvette Na­tion­als in Chicago. While work­ing on the W-30, the sub­ject of Mi­nore’s W-31 came up. Garner and Stein­bock of­fered to help him re­al­ize his dream of restor­ing the car. We jumped at the chance to fol­low the process.

For this se­cond in­stall­ment of the W-31’s re­ju­ve­na­tion, Mi­nore com­mis­sioned Florida-area Oldsmo­bile gu­rus Bruce Ponti and Rick Bed­ford to re­build and re­store the car’s orig­i­nal 12-bolt O-type rearend, which is fit­ted with TO-code 3:91 gears and An­tiSpin (Oldsmo­bile’s ver­sion of Posi­trac­tion).

Ponti has been into Oldsmo­biles since his early teen years and through­out his 24 years of ac­tive duty in the Air Force.

His ex­pe­ri­ence with Oldsmo­bile mod­els ranges from A-Body 4-4-2s, G-body 4-4-2s, and Hurst/Olds all the way up to the rare, un­rec­og­nized, late-model 1991 W-41 Quad 4-4-2s, of which he cur­rently owns two. His 1969 Cut­lass convertible was re­cently fea­tured on the TV show All Girls Garage for an in­te­rior up­grade. By Ponti’s own es­ti­ma­tion, he has re­built and re­stored more than a thou­sand rear axle assem­blies and is still count­ing. He loves the chal­lenge of find­ing rare Olds parts.

As for Bed­ford, he started his Olds af­fair with 1966-1967 mod­els in his mid-teens. He cur­rently owns a 1966 F-85, a 1967 4-4-2, and a cool 1967 sta­tion wagon with some punch un­der the hood: a mod­i­fied 425 with mon­ster torque, 200-4R trans­mis­sion, and a 3.91-geared Type O 12-bolt rearend. It’s very fun on the street, and peo­ple love it.

The men met through a mu­tual friend back in 1996 and have been do­ing Oldsmo­bile restora­tions at Bed­ford’s fa­cil­i­ties ever since.

An­other rea­son Mi­nore went to these guys for the rearend resto is that Ponti and

“Bruce Ponti has been into Oldsmo­biles since his early teen years”

his busi­ness part­ner, Tory DiBlasi, re­pro­duce the Olds 12-bolt O-type-only clutches. Orig­i­nally these guys were work­ing on cre­at­ing a car­bon steel clutch pack to re­place the or­ganic ones in 2010 Ca­maros, which had ma­jor trac­tion prob­lems with clutches. As they were work­ing on this project, they no­ticed that the late-model Chevy rear clutches had the same spline pat­tern and count as the older O-type Oldsmo­bile clutches, and at that time the sup­ply of N.O.S. Olds clutches was dwin­dling.

Ponti and DiBlasi part­nered about 10 years ago to launch pro­duc­tion of steel posi clutches for 12-bolt O-type rearends and all 1971 and up GM 8.5 cor­po­rate Sspring po­sis. They have been sup­ply­ing the kits to many of the rearend re­build­ing com­pa­nies in the coun­try ever since.

Ed­i­tor’s note: Garner Cus­toms and Restora­tions is a spon­sor of the W-31 In­vi­ta­tional at this year’s MCACN (Novem­ber 17-18) and will un­veil Mi­nore’s W-31 at the show.

2 The orig­i­nal Olds clutches were bro­ken down, most likely be­cause of poor main­te­nance, age, heat, and ma­jor degra­da­tion due to use—and abuse.

1 Our start­ing point is the W-31’s stock 12-bolt Oldsmo­bile O-type posi (Anti-Spin) car­rier. The 588 cast­ing num­ber de­notes a 1967-1970 car­rier with 28-spline axles and ra­tios rang­ing from 3.42 to 5.00. No­tice only 10 bolts hold the ring gear to it. This is un­like the Chevy 12bolt, which ac­tu­ally has 12 bolts hold­ing the ring gear to the car­rier.

6 Stag­ger the new clutches be­gin­ning with a tab-style clutch disc, fol­lowed by a splined-style disc, and end­ing with a tab-style disc. Each side should have a to­tal of seven clutch discs, four with tabs and three with splines.

7 The new clutches and shims are in­stalled in the car­rier with the axle side gears. Bruce Ponti and Rick Bed­ford rec­om­mend start­ing with a 0.075 clutch shim in each side.

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