Four Wheel Drive Help

Littlecarpenter

Gear Grinder
Aug 10, 2015
15
Wisconsin
First Name
Scott
Willys Model
Wagon
Willys Year:
1955
You may have seen my pictures of the first ever trip in the 1955 Wagon used only to plow snow. It worked well except the 4 wheel drive doesn't turn the front wheels.

Investigating today and my buddy and I notice that the transfer case seems to function correctly, including locking up the shaft to the front differential but with the transfer case in the "out" position, one front wheel on the ground and the other front wheel off the ground that same shaft spins freely. In other words it has no connection to the front wheels. Our assumption is that the front differential is toast but before I go there I would like to confirm that our assumption is likely correct.

I need this to be available to work all winter and really can't afford to tear the entire front end apart "in season".

If we are correct does anyone have a short list of culprits? My first and worst thought is that a gear is completely broken (or missing). I will pull the cover at some point but even that requires quite a bit of disassembly due to the "custom" nature of the plow attachment - not by me - I bought it this way!

In the meantime I see chains for the rear tires in my near future - all my plowing is done on gravel.

Thanks in advance for any thoughts,

Scott
 

mathman

Well Oiled
Mar 14, 2012
2,911
AR
First Name
David
Willys Model
Pickup, Forward Control
Willys Year:
1950, 1964
'out' takes it out of 4WD and I'd expect the front wheel that is off the ground to spin freely - and be turning the front driveshaft also. Similar result would happen if you have the low-high shifter in neutral.
 

ZACHARYKRO

Sharpest Tool
Jul 14, 2015
200
Cincinnati, OH
First Name
ZACHARY
Willys Model
Pickup
Willys Year:
1954
You may have seen my pictures of the first ever trip in the 1955 Wagon used only to plow snow. It worked well except the 4 wheel drive doesn't turn the front wheels.

Investigating today and my buddy and I notice that the transfer case seems to function correctly, including locking up the shaft to the front differential but with the transfer case in the "out" position, one front wheel on the ground and the other front wheel off the ground that same shaft spins freely. In other words it has no connection to the front wheels. Our assumption is that the front differential is toast but before I go there I would like to confirm that our assumption is likely correct...
You shouldnt fear taking off the front diff cover, its relatively easy maintenance and is exactly the same procedure as is done on any other american made axle including ones still in production. I inspected my front diff after purchasing the truck, before driving it, and found that the ring gear was not tightened to the carrier and more than half the bolts were missing! thank the lord I fixed it before trying 4wd.

In your case it sounds like your front hubs are unlocked or in "free" mode. take a picture of your front wheels if you are unsure of what hub you have
 

Littlecarpenter

Gear Grinder
Aug 10, 2015
15
Wisconsin
First Name
Scott
Willys Model
Wagon
Willys Year:
1955
Thanks for the quick reply. Sounds like you have confirmed my understanding of the situation. in my case both the front wheel off the ground and the shaft turn freely but not together. Spinning the shaft doesn't move the wheel and vice-versa...
 

Littlecarpenter

Gear Grinder
Aug 10, 2015
15
Wisconsin
First Name
Scott
Willys Model
Wagon
Willys Year:
1955
The cover bolts don't scare me - it's all the plow angle iron bolted (rusted) and welded on here and there that will make actually removing the cover a challenge....I'm guessing I'll find a situation like you describe or worse when I do get it off. Which seem inevitable at this point. Maybe snow season is over and I can tear it apart safely now - one and done! LOL
 

Littlecarpenter

Gear Grinder
Aug 10, 2015
15
Wisconsin
First Name
Scott
Willys Model
Wagon
Willys Year:
1955
Unless I'm missing something obvious I don't think this vehicle has hubs that can be locked or unlocked. It would have to be hidden under the wheel bearing cap if it does. Is that even possible?
 

Littlecarpenter

Gear Grinder
Aug 10, 2015
15
Wisconsin
First Name
Scott
Willys Model
Wagon
Willys Year:
1955
I don't have access to the Willys this moment but here is a picture that shows somewhat clearly what I am looking at. Maybe I don't recognize that this thing has locking hubs?
 

Attachments

edudley

Well Oiled
Mar 24, 2011
1,546
Indianapolis
First Name
Eric
Willys Model
Wagon
Willys Year:
1960
If your outer hubs look like the pic then you are correct you do not have unlockable hubs. Jack up both front wheels. Hold the front driveshaft still with a friend and then spin one front wheel. The opposite wheel should spin the other way. If that does not happen then either an axle is broken (could be a front u-joint) or something in the differential is broken and you will have to pull the front cover to look around. Let us know what you find and how we can help.
 

Clyde

Sharpest Tool
Nov 11, 2013
340
Arizona
First Name
Clyde
Willys Model
Pickup
Willys Year:
1959
Firsth thing I would do it remove the cap from your hubs and see if there are even axle shafts in your differential...
 

Littlecarpenter

Gear Grinder
Aug 10, 2015
15
Wisconsin
First Name
Scott
Willys Model
Wagon
Willys Year:
1955
If your outer hubs look like the pic then you are correct you do not have unlockable hubs. Jack up both front wheels. Hold the front driveshaft still with a friend and then spin one front wheel. The opposite wheel should spin the other way. If that does not happen then either an axle is broken (could be a front u-joint) or something in the differential is broken and you will have to pull the front cover to look around. Let us know what you find and how we can help.
Will give this a try - thanks - this picture is of my vehicle - just had to clip a larger picture to focus on the hubs.

We are about to head out for the holiday weekend so won't get back to this until next week - will report back as soon as I know more - thanks to all for the responses!
 

mathman

Well Oiled
Mar 14, 2012
2,911
AR
First Name
David
Willys Model
Pickup, Forward Control
Willys Year:
1950, 1964
Firsth thing I would do it remove the cap from your hubs and see if there are even axle shafts in your differential...
You beat me to it... :)
 

Lookout Ranch

Well Oiled
All-Star
May 9, 2015
4,875
Sierra Foothills
First Name
Carter
Willys Model
Wagon
Willys Year:
1957
Firsth thing I would do it remove the cap from your hubs and see if there are even axle shafts in your differential...
LOL

That's hilarious. It never would have occurred to me to think of it, but it makes perfect sense.
 

Larry Messing

Well Oiled
Apr 5, 2014
2,112
Phoenix AZ
First Name
Larry
Willys Model
Pickup
Willys Year:
1951
Then the other thing you can do as others have done is to pull those 6 bolts holding the grease bearing cap off and install a set of Warn manual locking hubs

some trucks and wagons have them already installed as mine did when i got it but i swapped in chevy axles that have same hubs on them so i dont need to

worry bout that not that i will be using it thta much but nice to know that they are there if and when needed.


Larry
 

Clyde

Sharpest Tool
Nov 11, 2013
340
Arizona
First Name
Clyde
Willys Model
Pickup
Willys Year:
1959
Firsth thing I would do it remove the cap from your hubs and see if there are even axle shafts in your differential...

The reason I mention it is that is an easy way to get back on the road when you do not have locking hubs and break an axle in the middle of nowhere. It has been done more than once and I have personally done it once myself.
 

mathman

Well Oiled
Mar 14, 2012
2,911
AR
First Name
David
Willys Model
Pickup, Forward Control
Willys Year:
1950, 1964
The reason I mention it is that is an easy way to get back on the road when you do not have locking hubs and break an axle in the middle of nowhere. It has been done more than once and I have personally done it once myself.
Same here - dad did it once and I did it once many years later. Snapped the joint. We removed the outer piece but left the inner shaft in the axle - not a good thing, it would slide 'out' and jam the knuckle keeping it from turning. Had to go back in and remove that inner shaft while waiting for the new one to arrive.
 

Littlecarpenter

Gear Grinder
Aug 10, 2015
15
Wisconsin
First Name
Scott
Willys Model
Wagon
Willys Year:
1955
Thanks all for your input, Only had a half hour over lunch today to check it out. Pulled the grease covers - look like axles to me - thankfully I guess. jacked it up with both wheels free the drivers wheel is free spinning and doesn't move the other wheel or the shaft. The passenger wheel turns harder and catches occasionally but the result is the same.

I notice that when I turn the shaft by hand that once in a while the drivers side wheel will move a bit and I feel something like a catch in the shaft when that happens.

I'm going to order a gasket for the differential and when that arrives I'll open it up, have a look and let you all know what I find. If that look good then pulling part both wheels and checking universal joints sounds like the next step?

Scott
 

Garth

Well Oiled
Dec 26, 2014
1,289
Johannesburg, South Africa
First Name
Garth
Willys Model
Wagon
Willys Year:
1960
Scott are there snap rings installed on the ends of both shafts? Although mine has free wheeling warn lock hubs, when I redid the front axle mine were missing off the end of the shafts. You can use RTVgrey gasket maker to seal the differential once you have finished your inspection.
Good luck!
 

Littlecarpenter

Gear Grinder
Aug 10, 2015
15
Wisconsin
First Name
Scott
Willys Model
Wagon
Willys Year:
1955
Scott are there snap rings installed on the ends of both shafts? Although mine has free wheeling warn lock hubs, when I redid the front axle mine were missing off the end of the shafts. You can use RTVgrey gasket maker to seal the differential once you have finished your inspection.
Good luck!
Yep - saw both snap rings. That's a good thought on the gasket since it is a certainty I'll be needing a lot more than a gasket to solve this issue.

Thanks Garth!
 
Top