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Chevrolet Rear Axle Code Identification and Decoding
Identification of your Camaros rear axle or rear end can be important for a number of factors. If it is original to the car and matches original paperwork like your vehicles protect-o-plate it adds value to the car. If it is a specialty axle like the ones built for the 1969 COPO (Central Office Production Order) 427 Camaros it can be worth a great deal of money. Regardless of your motives for identifying the rear end in your car the process is the same.
There are several identifying marks on Chevrolet rear ends. There is the casting date, casting number of the axle housing or pumpkin and the assembly code that is stamped into it to identify its gear ratio to name a few. When looking for these numbers the first two will be pretty easy to find in most cases. If your axle is very dirty or covered with large amounts of grease it may be more difficult and require cleaning. To find the axles casting date (figure 3) look at the top left flange of the axle, figure 1. There you will see a four digit code. The code can be broken down into three parts. The first part is a letter indication the month that it was cast with A being January and so on, the second part will consist of two numbers, this is the day of the month that the axle is cast with 11 being the 11th day of the month and the last part is a single number which indicates the year, a 9 for example would be 1969. The next identifying mark that you are looking for is the casting number (figure 4). The casting number will be located on the lower drivers side flange when you are looking towards the rear bumper. This should be one of two numbers in first generation Camaros either 3894859 for a 10 bolt axle or 3894860 for a 12 bolt axle. 10 bolt and 12 bolt refers to the number of retaining bolts used for the differential cover. If your code says that it should be a 10 bolt but you see 12 holding the cover on try removing it. Several companies over the years created adapters that made less valuable 10 bolt rear ends look like 12 bolts when they were not.
The final and probably the most important set of numbers to find is the axles assembly code. This is set of numbers that are hand stamped into the passenger side axle tube during assembly at the manufacturers plant. This number can be difficult to find as it can be pretty much anywhere on the passenger side axle tube. More often than not the stamp will be located towards the top of the tube on the side facing the front of the car. If you were looking at the rear brakes like a clock it normally will be located at about the 1:00 position but again can be anywhere on the axle tube. Many times thi8s number is difficult to read due to wither surface rust, dirt and grease or poor lighting. Like engine assembly stamps it is recommended that you do not use anything abrasive to clean the area as this can damage the stamp, instead try going over the stamp with either chalk or a grease pen and then removing the excess with a towel sot he number can be seen easier as seen in figure 2. This number breaks down like the casting date into several parts. The first consisting of 2 letters in 1969 and earlier cars and three letters in late 1969 and alter cars is the code that identifies the gears. The next part is a two digit number indicating the month of assembly followed by two more numbers indicating the day of the month it was assembled. After these numbers there will sometimes be another letter followed by another number like G1 this refers to the assembly plant and the shift it was assembled on. So as an example BE0601G1 would refer to an axle with the COPO Camaro 4.10 gear set assembled the 1st day of June at the Detroit Gear & Axle assembly plant during the first shift.
The axle code for your car is located on the passenger side axle tube. According to GM documents the code was intended to be stamped on the axle 3 inches from the axle housing on top of the axle tube. This though is not always the case, axle codes from our observations have always been found to be located on the passenger side axle but they can be located at any rotation on the tube and at any distance along its length between the housing and the drum.