Cooks Machine Works Shop Tour – The Rear End Of A Shop Stop

Since 1975, lowriders, four-wheelers, and hot rodders have been getting their “rears” down to Cooks Machine Works in Los Angeles. Owners Jim McCaslin and Paul Thompson have been dedicated to the craftsmanship they perform on differential repairs, axle reinforcement, axle shortening, rear disc brakes modifications, and driveshafts too. Last but not least, rearends play a major role in your vehicle’s driveline.

If you know how your engine works, then you understand how a car’s power is generated; and if you know how your transmission works then you understand where the power goes next. The rearend or rear axles is where the power, in most cars, makes its last stop before spinning the wheels. The differential also has three jobs: One is to aim the engine’s power at the wheels, two is to act as the final gear reduction in the vehicle, slowing the rotational speed of the transmission one final time before it hits the wheels, and three is to transmit the power to the wheels while allowing them to rotate at different speeds (this is the one that earned the differential its name.)

Our buddies over at Cooks Machine Works mostly straighten and repair rearends that have bent axles caused by heat warping. They also have been servicing the lowrider industry for decades as they specialize in axle sleeve reinforcement, shortening of axles, and the telescope type lengthening of driveshafts. Their main business covers all ’59 through ’64 Impala rearends that perform under hydraulic pressure suspensions. We will start from the “rear end” of their facility so to speak, as we tour a building that hasn’t changed much in 40 years and neither has the good old fashioned craftsmanship.


The machinery here like this axle straightener is also used to shorten axles.


This 1890s driveline machine once had no electric motor and ran on a line shaft.


Driveline axles, spleens, shafts, and years of parts that have accumulated over the years, but will be put to some type of use eventually.


Machines of the trade that just never get old like the automobile’s rearend usage.


Typical Impala rearend housing ready to be built for an easy customer exchange.


This Impala rearend is placed and mounted on the machine’s rack so it could be cut for shortening.


Mr. McCaslin lines up his machine to cut and shorten the rearend axels 1 1/4 inches on each side.


A nice clean cut is performed right here by the master himself.


A pipe sleeve is attached for reinforcement purposes.


On this end of the axle’s opening you can see the sleeve in place.


Paul and Jim both drill through the axle a few times so that the outer housing and inside sleeve can be welded together.


The end of the axle that was cut off also has a groove cut into it so that it will slide in place on the new and shortened axle housing.


Craftsmanship and experience shown here.


Paul places the shortened and reinforced rearend in place on the machine’s track/guide for exact placement before it is welded back together.


Jim handles the welding portion of this section of the job.


After this rearend was completed, 1 1/4 inches as shown on the tape were removed and that’s all it takes to put the skirts on without any rubbing the deep-set rims and tires.


Disc brake setups can also be installed on rearends here at Cooks. All you need is a heavy car like an Impala that needs to stop 20 feet shorter in distance than those old drum style brakes will do. They have a nice bolt-on kit that will work for you just like the one shown here.


They have a nice bolt-on kit that will work for you just like the one shown here.


Gear ratio’s can be assembled for your style and performance needs also. A #336 gear is perfect for smaller type lowrider tires/wheels, while a #350 or #380 gear can handle larger wheels as the right option and application.


Give them a holler and they will be there for you as they have been there for years. They also speak lowrider.


Jerry’s Transmissions

Cooks helped sponsor in Pro Street Car Races & built driveshaft for.


Jim Mc Caslin working on a rear end for Low Rider Magazine.

Cooks Low Rider Magazine job

Jim McCaslin working on a rear end for Low Rider Magazine.

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Cooks Machine Works in the movie

See Cooks Machine Works in the movie “Deuce of Spades” as Johnnys Garage. They filmed on location for 2 days at our shop.


Big Body Axle Shortening – Lowrider Garage – Restoration

“Shorten your axle so you can wear your skirts”
Sometimes getting the right wheel and tire fitment to your dream ride is harder than it looks, and trying to tuck wire wheels into a classic is a prime example. In order to get the look you need, you usually have to shorten the rear end, especially if you are looking to use a 14×7 wire wheel. Those Impala owners out there looking to rock the skirts also need to take this modification into consideration as well. This month, we are going to show you how the axles and housing need to be shortened in order to achieve these looks.
Of course, each vehicle has its own requirements, so there is no set standard on just how much modification you will need. You need to examine the specs of the vehicle you own and figure out the look you are trying to achieve in order to dictate the amount that will need to be trimmed off of the housing. For example, if you want to run skirts on a ‘70-72 Monte Carlo, you will need to knock two inches off of each side. Most of the Impalas need one inch trims off of each side to be able to run skirts, and in this month’s tech, we shortened a big body rear end by trimming it down 1-1/4-inch on each side as we wanted to make sure that our 14×7 reverse wire wheels didn’t get caught up in the skirts.
Many technicians who practice this trade on the west coast have left the area to take their talents overseas, making it harder and harder to find someone reliable and knowledgeable to trust with the task of shortening the rear end on a vehicle. In this month’s tech, we visited Cooks Machine Works, a So Cal company who specializes in differentials and also performs its fair share of drive shaft servicing. Cooks Machine Works has been in the same location for decades, as their business was started in the city of Los Angeles back in 1946. The famous green colored building can be seen off the service road that runs parallel to the 5 freeway, and it has become a haven for many Lowrider builders. In fact, the family-run business has been shortening axles and housing for over 30 years in the Lowrider community, as a Cooks rear end treatment is crucial to tucking in a set of 5.20’s and laying properly on the pavement. We had the pleasure of receiving a demonstration from Jim McCaslin and Paul Thompson of Cooks Machine Works, so follow along as they show us how to shorten the axle and housing on this big body Cadillac.

1. The setup.


2. This big body axle was set up for hydraulics which had a set of CCE hydraulics cups to hold the coils in place.


3. The axle was examined to see how straight the housing was before any work was started on it.


4. The white on the housing shows where the axle was bent from the miles of service on the car.


5. The housing’s tubes were welded in the center, using a traditional stick welding method which is a stronger weld then the now common wire-feed weld.


6. These welds were done continuously and are actually just as clean as a wire-feed welder.


7. The factory spot welds that hold the axle tubes together were also re-welded.


8. Once the axle was straightened out and reinforced, the ends were measured to figure out how much was going to be removed.


9. Using a lathe helped to allow the first cut, which will determine the amount of material that is needed to be removed.


10. A 1-1/4-inch cut was marked on the housing as the starting point of the material that was going to be removed.


11. With the housing still on the lathe, Paul removed the ends by using a hacksaw.


12. Since the majority of the cut was done on the lathe, the only thing that needed to be done was to clean off any metal burrs left on the axle from the hacksaw cut.


13. The prepared end of the axle was ready to be placed back onto the axle.


14. Jim started welding the ends back onto the original housing.


15. The housing end was reassembled and from these type of welds, you know that it will not come loose. The housing was allowed to cool off while the next step was done.


16. Jim made sure that the axles were straight before attempting to do any work on them.


17. Since the axle needed the spline to be bigger, additional material was welded onto the original axle.


18. The hardened axle was treated so it could be reworked; with that said, the welded materials will allow new splines to be cut onto the axle.


19. The axle was cut down.


20. With the welds machined down, the axle was given a face cut to assure that the axle was straight when all the precision cuts were added to it.


21. With the axle all squared up, Jim moved onto the crucial cuts.


22. Since this axle was set up as a c-clip axle, the c-clip needed to be checked for fitment.


23. The final cuts for the c-clip were added to the axle before moving on to the next step.


24. Cooks’ spline cutting machine was used to create the new splines on the axle.


25. This axle was cut to stock specs, as it was also hardened to ensure that the axle wouldn’t fall apart from the torque of the drivetrain.


26. The ABS gears for the axle were heated up to allow them to reattach themselves onto the axle as the heat makes them expand.


27. The ABS gear went on smoothly.


28. Using the stock axles will save you money when shortening the rear end.


29. This Big Body rear end was ready for some skirts.

Rear Wheel

Cooks Sportsman Shootout

Rear end to go with wheel.

The JEGS Cajun NHRA SPORTSnationals at No Problem Raceway, March 22-24 will be the inaugural South Central Division Cooks Sportsman Shootout.The Cooks Sportsman Shootout is unique in that racers from the seven entirely different class structures will be racing each other. Eliminations will be in a dial-in/breakout handicap racing format on the eighth-mile. The Christmas tree will be a full countdown mode with the Cross Talk feature not in use.

A $15,000 cash purse is up for grabs with $5,000 to the winner, $2,000 to the runner-up, $1,000 to each of the semi-finalists, $700 to the quarter-finalists and $400 to each of the remaining event qualifiers.To be eligible for full posted purse qualifier must run the NHRA Cooks Engineering Sportsman program decal and Cooks Engineering axles and display the Cooks Engineering product decal during the Sportsman Shootout Event. Qualifiers not utilizing Cooks Machine Works axles and displaying the Cooks Machine Works Sportsman Shootout program decal and Cooks Machine Works product decal for the duration of the Cooks Sportsman Shootout event will receive 50% of the posted awards. Drivers are not required to have Cooks Machine Works axles to qualify or participate in the program.

Product use and proper decal display from tech inspection to completion of the Shootout by the competitor is required for full payout. The NHRA Certification Team will be responsible for product and decal verification at the Cooks Sportsman Shootout.


Jody Simoneaux Wins Div 4 Cooks Shootout!

BELLE ROSE, La – Jody Simoneaux, Driver for the Cummings family and Bayou Boyz race team took his Cooks Sponsored Firebird to the winners circle Sunday. Jody has started off the season strong and his skill as a driver was showing this weekend with consistent reaction times and a deadly accurate car. The teams use of Cooks axles not only gave him the reliability he needed to make it to the winners circle it also doubled the payout when he won. Congratulations Jody and good luck to the competition the rest of the season when facing Jody “Cool” Simoneauz!