Preparing To Drop The Rear End

posted Sep 23, 2012, 4:59 PM by Jonathan Imberi
Saturday was rather disappointing. I was hoping to remove everything but the rear end itself before Troy arrived to help. It was one of those days where nothing seemed to go the way I planned. 

I started with attempting to remove the sway bar and link on the driver's side. I really did not want to have to cut the rear end links like I had to on the front because I want to get a measurement off them. I tried everything I could think of to get them loose, including my impact driver. I got them to budge a little but they would not come off. I spent almost an hour trying to remove this one before deciding to move on to something else.


This is a picture of where the rear sway bar bushings are located. 


I moved on to removing the caliper and rotor. Just to make sure I was doing everything properly I referred to the Trans Am service manual.


The first thing the manual described was disconnecting the brake line. Because the fittings on steel brake lines are such a pain to get loose, and since I am replacing the lines anyway, many people on the ThirdGen.org forum recommend just cutting the line and then removing it with a socket afterwards. This is what I decided to do and you can see the brake line is cut below.


The next step in the service manual was to remove the emergency brake assembly. This included disconnecting the cable, removing the spring and then the lever. The next two pictures show both the lever (seen in the top picture) and the cable and spring (seen in the bottom picture).



I successfully removed all of these components! 


This is what happens when you follow the service manual for your specific model and year of car. The instructions for removing the rear calipers specifically say Position C-clamp (30) as 
Shown in B. Tighten C-clamp until piston bottoms in cylinder bore. Remove C-clamp. 


The problem with this, from the information I have been able to gather online, is that the rear calipers use a ratcheting action on the cylinder so as to work with the emergency brake. This means the cylinder requires a special tool and needs to be turned back into place. I am not quite sure how you get the cylinder compressed far enough to remove it from the wheel, as you cannot turn the cylinder to compress it until the brake pads are off. Taking the brake pads off obviously requires the caliper to be removed.

As I did not seem to be getting anywhere with removing the caliper and rotor, I decided to move on to cleaning the plastic shroud that covers the fuel filler neck. I used a little bit of MarineClean and a scrub brush and scrubbed the dirt off. I rinsed it off with water and let it sit in the sun to dry.


Next I decided to remove the rear bumper fascia. 


The bumper fascia is secured by a row of plastic anchors across the top. 


There is also a row of plastic anchors across the bottom and three bolts that run through the fender on either side. The nuts for these bolts are removed from the inside of the trunk. Unfortunately the middle bolt of the three on the passenger side snapped off. The bolts are actually a one piece bracket that sits inside the lip of the bumper fascia. I am not sure yet if I can order a replacement for this bracket.


Here is a picture of the rear bumper once removed from the car.


Here is the inside of the rear bumper with 29 years of dirt and dust.


The safety bumper (5 mile an hour bumper) is even dirtier than the inside of the rear bumper, but is riveted onto the steel bumper. The front safety bumper was bolted on. According to the service manual it should have also been riveted. This confirms my suspicion that the car was in a minor front end collision at some point. It was not significant enough to appear in the car's history report, but it did obviously cause some damage to the frame where the bumper mounts as there were spacers behind the front bumper on the passenger side.


I pulled the bumper and the shroud for the fuel filler neck back inside after the shroud had dried completely. As I pointed out in my last post, the shroud is cracked. I drilled a small hole at the end of the crack to keep it from spreading further and I plan to seal this area with POR-Patch and a piece of PowerMesh. 


I got a call from Troy and he had to reschedule for Sunday morning, so the plan is Sunday morning we will drop the rear end and gas tank. I spent the last hour in the garage just picking up and cleaning the work area.