At one time finding the parts to build what is described today as a traditional hot rod was easy enough-early Fords were cheap and plentiful and the junkyards were full of the parts and pieces needed. But things have changed and some components, like early Ford banjo rearends, are getting hard to find. As a result it's often necessary to salvage axle housings that once would have been considered junk.
Ford's banjo rearends were unique in a number of ways, one of the most unusual features about them were the wheel bearings. Rather than the bearings being on the shafts, and the shafts in turn supporting the weight of the car as well as propelling it, Ford's rear wheel bearings were in the hubs and rode on much larger journals that were a part of the axle housing. That meant the weight of the car was carried by the larger axle housing much like heavy-duty truck axles do today.
While this arrangement had advantages from a load carrying standpoint, the drawback was the inner wheel bearing races were part of the axle housings, and that meant if a race became worn the housing had to be replaced.
As we said, at one time finding a good axle housing wasn't an issue, but since it's been over 60 years since they went out of production, they're a little more difficult to find. However, if you have one or a pair that are less than pristine there's a way to make them serviceable once more with repair sleeves installed over the original bearing surfaces.
A service provided by Ken and Nick Smith of the Hot Rod Works, saving these housings requires turning down the ends of the housings and pressing on new sleeves to make them good as new. Follow along to see what's involved in tuning up a Ford banjo.