(Let me mention here that when I finished off the engine I believed that I would begin to see less and less of Brutus' handiwork. I assumed (hoped!) that he had just rebuilt the engine and maybe done some maintenance here and there. Nope! His unmistakable fingerprints are embedded everywhere!)
My first "Brutus was here!" clue was that there were two different nuts on the ends of the axles, and one had the cotter pin while the other did not.
I think both Brutus and Washington state need to share the blame for how hard the nuts were to remove, but it became a team effort. First I tried a 1/2-inch-drive socket and 14-inch breaker bar. When that failed, I added a two-foot extension to the breaker. Eventually I had a FIVE-foot extension on the breaker, but at that point, the entire axle lifted off the floor and still the nuts would not budge. Enter new son-in-law Noah.
While Noah stood on the axle to hold it down, I leaned on the extension with virtually all of my weight. In the photo you can see him shielding his face against the very real possibility of the socket exploding. The bar was bending, but the nut refused to move. Next, I heated the nut with my propane torch, but still nothing. Finally, I hauled out the big guns and blasted the nut with my acetylene torch until it was almost glowing. That did the trick, but it still took a fair amount of effort on the five-foot bar to break the nut free.
With a wire brush and a triangular file I was able to clean up the axle threads, and I bought two new (matching!) nuts.
|Rear axle assembly ready for disassembly.|
|Not enough torque with a breaker bar.|
|Still not enough torque with a five-foot extension.|
|The "big gun" acetylene torch.|
|Old and new nuts.|