Today I tore down the rear suspension and removed the differential and rear axle. Progress!
Here are some pictures of the rear suspension before I began. The rear axle:
And a couple of close-ups of the right rear suspension components from the front and rear:
The suspension is held together largely by a plate that bolts over the axle and through the leaf spring, and also bolts onto the rear shocks. Underneath this plate are the five primary bolts that hold everything together.
The first order of business was to remove the wheels. I broke loose the lug nuts using a breaker bar 19 mm socket with the car resting on the ground. I then jacked-up the car and supported it using my heavy-duty jack stands under the rear part of the frame.
I finished removing the lugs using a socket wrench and the 19 mm socket, then carefully lifted the wheels off the lugs and pulled the wheels.
Here are a couple of shots of the brake drums and rear suspension with the wheels removed.
The weight of the wheel assembly caused it to drop down, stretching and placing tension on the leaf springs. I used the jack to apply upward pressure underneath the suspension plate, and placed another jack stand under the leaf spring to relieve this pressure. I applied enough upward force to raise the wheel assembly but not enough to raise the frame off the larger jack stands placed at the rear. I then jacked-up the differential, but not enough to raise the leaf spring off its jack stand, and placed a final jack stand under the differential. This ensured that no matter what I unbolted, I shouldn’t have anything heavy falling to the ground (or onto my lower extremities). Safety first!
The plate that all of the suspension components bolt to is held to the rear axle by two threaded u-shaped clips that bolt over the axle and through the plate. Four nuts hold these clips in place from underneath the plate. I removed all four of these nuts using a 15 mm socket. I tapped the clips from below using a mallet to get them free.
I removed the clips and then was able to pull the bumpstops off the axle.
Underneath, at the center of the plate is another nut that mounts on a threaded stud that protrudes through a hole in the leaf spring. I began to loosen this nut using a 12 mm socket and before it was off the plate came free and slid down the shock toward the ground.
Next I removed the nuts that secured the top of the shock. The nut was larger than my largest socket, so I used an adjustable wrench. With the nut removed I slid the shock and its bushing off the stud onto which it was mounted.
I then jacked up the differential about a half an inch (actually I just lifted it up using brute strength and raised the height of the jack stand) which raised the axle off the leaf spring.
I was then able to pop off the lower metal piece that bolted the leaf spring to the whole assembly, leaving the leaf spring mounted only to the frame at the front and rear.
At the rear the leaf spring is bolted to the frame by two bolts through a bracket. I unbolted the two nuts from the bolts using an 18 mm socket.
From the inside I then removed the bracket’s cover plate and from the outside I removed the bracket itself.
The leaf spring is the upper loop and is held to the frame by the lower bracket bolt through the lower loop of the scroll.
At the front there was a single bolt through the frame that mounted the leaf spring. I loosened the nut on this bolt using an 18 mm socket and then tapped the bolt out.
That released the leaf spring from the frame. I next removed the scroll-shaped hangers that mount the leaf springs in the rear. There was one bolt on the inside, which I removed using a 15 mm socket.
On the outside of the frame the scrolls were mounted by another bolt. I used a 15 mm ratcheting wrench on the nut and 15 mm wrench to hold the bolt.
On the passenger side only, later roadsters have a torque strut bar that helps to prevent the frame from racking when the car puts power to the wheels. I removed this, which is bolted through a bracket on the rear axel. I used a 19 mm socket and wrench to remove the bolt.
I unbolted the front of the torque strut bar the same way and pulled the bar off.
That concluded the disassembly of the rear suspension and I was able to roll the axle and differential away, leaving the naked frame.