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Unread 11-12-2013, 01:30 PM   #1
armyRN
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Rebuilding front driveshaft - what a PIA

I'd been hearing intermittant squeeking driving my Jeep (angry sparrows?) for a while, so a while back I ordered the parts to rebuild my 98 TJ's front driveshaft: three Gold Seal U-joints and a new centering ball thing (all parts ordered from Tom Wood). The parts came to about $100.00. I also purchased a U-joint changing tool from Harbor Freight. This weekend I decided to tackle the job after reviewing Stu's site one last time.

http://www.stu-offroad.com/axle/driv...iveshaft-5.htm

Getting the driveshaft out of the Jeep wasn't too bad; just had to drop the skidplate. Fortunately when I did the SYE thing years ago the skidplate bolts came out with no issues, and I was liberal with the anti-seize when putting it back together so there were no issues removing the bolts this time. And having a transmission jack helps greatly to lower the skidplate.

But getting the U-joints out was a major PIA. Don't try this unless you've got a U-joint changing tool. I wonder if they were the original U-joints. But I got them all out eventually.

But the really difficult part was getting the new ones in. The trunions didn't always line up like I wanted them to. And actually, on one I dropped a couple of needle bearings in the cap while getting it lined up, and didn't figure it out until I blew the end out of one of the caps. Yes, I shattered one of the end caps. But I finally got the CV end all put together after hours of messing with it. We're talking hours... don't think you can knock this out quickly if you don't do this on a regular basis.

Of course, now I'm short a U-joint for the axle end. I could put a cheapy Auto Zone U-joint in there, or a "Precision" one from NAPA, but since the Tom Wood's warranty will only cover the driveshaft if all the U-joints are their Gold Seal U-joints, I went ahead and ordered one more. Plus I don't want to do this job again for a long time. So the driveshaft is sitting on the workbench waiting to be finished and re-installed. And of course now I'm paranoid about needle bearings falling down and me crunching another U-joint cap. Well... I guess I do have a couple spare caps from the other U-joint I crunched.

During this ordeal I got to wondering if I wouldn't have been better off just ordering a new front driveshaft from Tom Wood's shop. It doing this sort of thing isn't your cup of tea, or you're not that mechanically inclined, that might actually be your better option (other than farming the job out).

Moral of the story:

1. Don't try this without a U-joint changing tool.

2. Allow plenty of time (it's also a dirty job).

3. Be paranoid about needle bearing staying in place.

But I'll tell ya; it's better to do this as a preventative maintenance thing at home in your own garage at your own pace with the right tools vs. out on some muddy trail when it's cold and wet and all you've got is a socket set, a hammer, and a large rock. ESPECIALLY now that I know what the job entails. If you do break a U-joint on the front driveshaft on the trail, pray that it's at the axle end of the shaft.

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Unread 11-12-2013, 02:28 PM   #2
-jb-
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I just changed mine 3 weeks ago and didn't have near the problems you did.

I rebuilt the front shaft in a 01 TJ. Did not have to drop the skid plate. Took maybe 5mins to get the shaft out. Used an old socked, a bench vice grip, and a mini sledge hammer.

Yes it would be easier with a press, but I don't have one at the moment and haven't had problems with the method above.

Careful pulling the caps off. A little bit of grease will keep the needle bearings in place when putting the new caps on the newly installed ujoint.

Took me roughly 30mins to do the job.

I ordered my parts from dennys drive shaft
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Unread 11-12-2013, 02:50 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by -jb- View Post
I just changed mine 3 weeks ago and didn't have near the problems you did.

I rebuilt the front shaft in a 01 TJ. Did not have to drop the skid plate. Took maybe 5mins to get the shaft out. Used an old socked, a bench vice grip, and a mini sledge hammer.

Yes it would be easier with a press, but I don't have one at the moment and haven't had problems with the method above.

Careful pulling the caps off. A little bit of grease will keep the needle bearings in place when putting the new caps on the newly installed ujoint.

Took me roughly 30mins to do the job.

I ordered my parts from dennys drive shaft
I'm... having a hard time believing you; sorry (except about getting the parts from Denny's Drive Shaft). 30 minutes to do the whole job? No way. Didn't have to drop the skidplate? You must have arms made of rubber that can flex in all sorts of positions.

Either that, or you must be really... really good at what you do.
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Unread 11-12-2013, 02:52 PM   #4
matthew900
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I had a similarly poor experience the first time I replaced U-Joints. I will say it's gotten easier with practice. I second buying the right tool, I picked one up after I also trashed a U-Joint in my first attempt.
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Unread 11-12-2013, 03:01 PM   #5
mitchlandry
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I just went through this for both of my driveshafts. Biggest tip I received for doing the job was to put a glob of grease in the end cap and work around with finger to help keep rollers in place. Don't worry about too much grease as it will be pressed out when pressing the u-joint into place.

I was also able to remove front without removing the skidplate. While uncomfortable to reach in there, it wasn't too bad of a reach.
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Unread 11-12-2013, 03:10 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mitchlandry View Post
I just went through this for both of my driveshafts. Biggest tip I received for doing the job was to put a glob of grease in the end cap and work around with finger to help keep rollers in place. Don't worry about too much grease as it will be pressed out when pressing the u-joint into place.
While I understand frustration of screwing up the needle bearings, doesn't Spicer say not to add any lubrication and that may lead to premature wear? Goes together with not mixing up the bearing caps and journals.
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Unread 11-12-2013, 03:14 PM   #7
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I did my drive shaft once. Then found out that the local drive train place will do the u-joints for $5 +cost of new u-joints when you get it balanced that I decided never again. Axleshafts are a different story.
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Unread 11-12-2013, 03:19 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by armyRN View Post
I'm... having a hard time believing you; sorry (except about getting the parts from Denny's Drive Shaft). 30 minutes to do the whole job? No way. Didn't have to drop the skidplate? You must have arms made of rubber that can flex in all sorts of positions.

Either that, or you must be really... really good at what you do.
this is where having a 1.25" bl is a huge advantage. average time for me is about an hour, never drop the skid, just go over the top of the frame. its much easier if you remove the axle side first, then you can pivot the shaft out of the way some and rotate it to get the most accessible locations on the TC side
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Unread 11-12-2013, 03:45 PM   #9
mitchlandry
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Quote:
Originally Posted by biffgnar View Post
While I understand frustration of screwing up the needle bearings, doesn't Spicer say not to add any lubrication and that may lead to premature wear? Goes together with not mixing up the bearing caps and journals.
I didn't go with Spicer, picked up some precision from Napa and they are the greasable kind with zerks. i also pushed all of the shipping grease out and replaced.
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Unread 11-12-2013, 04:39 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ironhead View Post
this is where having a 1.25" bl is a huge advantage. average time for me is about an hour, never drop the skid, just go over the top of the frame. its much easier if you remove the axle side first, then you can pivot the shaft out of the way some and rotate it to get the most accessible locations on the TC side
this. I do the opposite though. I use a ratcheting wrench and lay parallel to it with my head resting on the rear tire. what I will do is raise the driver side tire and undo the back ones first and rotate the tire with my foot. Usually because the foot is stopping the tire it allows me to get the TC side off without moving my arms once. once the back is undone I then do the axle side. I then reverse the process to put it back in.

first time I did it I used a ratchet with an extension and it sucked big time. the wrench makes all of the difference.
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Unread 11-12-2013, 06:37 PM   #11
05LJTampa
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I had a driveline shop do mine with spicer ujoints & center ball kit last week, parts and labor cost me $120 and a few hours gained back of free time. They only charge $10 per joint.

I Also removed mine in 10min without removing the skid.
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Unread 11-12-2013, 07:08 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by armyRN View Post

I'm... having a hard time believing you; sorry (except about getting the parts from Denny's Drive Shaft). 30 minutes to do the whole job? No way. Didn't have to drop the skidplate? You must have arms made of rubber that can flex in all sorts of positions.

Either that, or you must be really... really good at what you do.
He's not the only one. This doesnt take long at all once you've done it a couple times.

You keep an extra bolt by your sockets so you have the correct socket.

You do the axle side first so you can spin the shaft at the transfer case and don't have to wrench at bad angles.

Use an old pitman arm puller outer and a sledge hammer to remove old joints in one blow.

Fill the new caps with grease to pack the needle bearings.

Use a vise to get the started slowly.

Put a nickel in the ear to get the spacing right.

See? It can be done quickly and I'm not even a car guy. (I do software)
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Unread 11-12-2013, 07:17 PM   #13
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wrong thread.
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Unread 11-12-2013, 09:46 PM   #14
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Lol.... Some of us do cv's on a daily basis. It is not unheard of to complete 3 joints and a center ball in about 40 minutes.

When you leave your skid on, you can set the box end of your 5/16" or 8mm wrench on the fastener, grasp the d shaft with both hands and twist, letting the wrench come against the skid which breaks the fastener loose.

Measure your center pin to make sure it is no less than .498 before putting any further time into insalling new new joints in the H.

Once you have done several it is a very simple job that does not include the use of presses or fancy u-joint tools.
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Unread 11-12-2013, 10:26 PM   #15
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I've only done my drive shafts once, and honestly it only took about 1.5 hours to have the job on both complete. I also didn't have any u joint tools, just a big c-clamp and some sockets. I didn't need to drop my skid plate either.

I really thought it was a rather simple affair, but there have times I've done things that should have been simple, but didn't end up that way.
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