Rebuild front axle Part 2 (renamed) was "Cleaning" thread

Vintage Don

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#1
This is kind of related to my "Front Axle Rebuild" string postings of the last couple days. Today I decided to clean out the axle housings. That's the only thing I haven't gotten sparkling clean on this front axle rebuild yet. I pondered how to go about this little bit of unpleasantness, and finally decided to take a 3 foot piece of 1/2" pipe, wrap the end with a paper towel securely taped down (it would NOT be cool if it came loose way back in there! I'd never get it out). And I soaked gasoline into the paper towel as a solvent. Then I played "clean the cannon barrel with the ram rod" for about 40 minutes. I spent most of that time changing out the paper towel, because it quickly got gummed up. There is a lot of old goo in there.

(Of course, it would probably be a lot easier if I removed the ring and pinion and innards - but I am hoping to avoid that, since everything is nice and tight and clean, no metal chips in the oil or anything. And it turns silky smooth, no slop, gears are good. I'm thinking it might be the only significant component on the whole vehicle that I might actually get away with not rebuilding.... oh, I'm sure the seals are going to leak, but I'm OK with that for now. You should see the rest of the truck!)

After that 40 minute exercise, I shined the flashlight in there - and it looked pretty much the same as it did when I started.....

So then I started asking myself - why am I even doing this? Is there any good reason that it should be clean inside the axle housing? It's just that - a housing. The axle doesn't actually touch it anywhere, and you can't see it when it's together. What do you think? Worth doing?

And if you think it IS worth doing - do you have any ideas on how to do it BETTER? It seems like I need something spinning, like a little wire brush with a 3 foot long handle, and stick it in my drill......

Just for your enjoyment, here's a couple photos of my "ram rod" effort. (Scramboleer, there's that other soup can in use, too!)



 

matty49

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#2
This is kind of related to my "Front Axle Rebuild" string postings of the last couple days. Today I decided to clean out the axle housings. That's the only thing I haven't gotten sparkling clean on this front axle rebuild yet. I pondered how to go about this little bit of unpleasantness, and finally decided to take a 3 foot piece of 1/2" pipe, wrap the end with a paper towel securely taped down (it would NOT be cool if it came loose way back in there! I'd never get it out). And I soaked gasoline into the paper towel as a solvent. Then I played "clean the cannon barrel with the ram rod" for about 40 minutes. I spent most of that time changing out the paper towel, because it quickly got gummed up. There is a lot of old goo in there.

(Of course, it would probably be a lot easier if I removed the ring and pinion and innards - but I am hoping to avoid that, since everything is nice and tight and clean, no metal chips in the oil or anything. And it turns silky smooth, no slop, gears are good. I'm thinking it might be the only significant component on the whole vehicle that I might actually get away with not rebuilding.... oh, I'm sure the seals are going to leak, but I'm OK with that for now. You should see the rest of the truck!)

After that 40 minute exercise, I shined the flashlight in there - and it looked pretty much the same as it did when I started.....

So then I started asking myself - why am I even doing this? Is there any good reason that it should be clean inside the axle housing? It's just that - a housing. The axle doesn't actually touch it anywhere, and you can't see it when it's together. What do you think? Worth doing?

And if you think it IS worth doing - do you have any ideas on how to do it BETTER? It seems like I need something spinning, like a little wire brush with a 3 foot long handle, and stick it in my drill......

Just for your enjoyment, here's a couple photos of my "ram rod" effort. (Scramboleer, there's that other soup can in use, too!)



When l was trying to find info on the timkin rearend l read a few posts where guys were scrubblng their rear ends ( no pun intended ) l think just to remove contaminates. The one l remember was using a toilet brush with solvent on a pipe. I'm not sure a toilet brush would fit in that small front housing tho. Matt

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Vintage Don

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#5
So, Carter - when you pulled the diff - did you just leave the pinion alone, and pretty much leave it all together and then just go back together after changing those inner axle seals, with the same bearings and races? I've watched several videos on playing with the diffs, and basically it scares the hell out of me! Cause right now, it's pretty right, looks like. But start getting into setting rotational torque on the pinion, setting the depth, the tooth pattern and lash, and I get all nervous that it would end up worse not better....
 

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#6
So, Carter - when you pulled the diff - did you just leave the pinion alone, and pretty much leave it all together and then just go back together after changing those inner axle seals, with the same bearings and races? I've watched several videos on playing with the diffs, and basically it scares the hell out of me! Cause right now, it's pretty right, looks like. But start getting into setting rotational torque on the pinion, setting the depth, the tooth pattern and lash, and I get all nervous that it would end up worse not better....
Yes, I pulled the diff and left the pinion and shimming alone. It is a bit intimidating, and you may decide you want to change the carrier bearings and races after you've pulled the caps off and pulled them out. You can change those without changing the shim settings.

I found it harder to get the differential unit out than to put it back in. I'd feared the reinstallation, but it was actually easier than I thought it would be.

The problem is, if you don't change the seals, your front axle is almost certainly going to leak gear oil from the knuckles. And, if you're going to do it, you want to do it while the housing is out of the vehicle.

Note, there are differential/axle specialty shops that will reinstall the differential unit for you with new bearings, seals, and proper shimming. Not sure what it would cost, but it is an option.
 
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Vintage Don

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#7
Alright, Carter, you have about talked me into it. So now, share The Secret. How do you get the rascal out of there? I pulled the bearing caps, but nothing moves at all....
 

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#8
Alright, Carter, you have about talked me into it. So now, share The Secret. How do you get the rascal out of there? I pulled the bearing caps, but nothing moves at all....
I supported the unit on two sawhorses over soft ground with the open differential facing down and an old blanket under it. I looped nylon webbing around the differential unit and, at the other end of the webbing the head of a sledgehammer, which I used to jerk downward on the webbing until the unit fell out onto the ground. Sort of an improvised slide hammer. Like I said, it went back in a lot easier, with a few taps of a rubber mallet.
 

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#9
Alternatively, you can use the webbing loop around the differential unit to suspend the whole axle housing a little off the ground, and, with someone at each end of the housing, lift a little and drop it, using the weight of the housing to your advantage. Thinking back, this may have been the method that worked for me.

I think I suspended it from a length of pipe across the sawhorses.
 

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#11
Thanks, Carter and Paul! Yep, I've been sitting here watching a bunch of Metalshaper videos on my phone. I wonder if he'd like to move in with me for a few months (and bring his tools!).... he doesn't like the "Housing Stretcher," which is fine with me, I don't have one anyway. So he just likes the 2 pry bar method. Carter, I do like the engineering of your method better. I think tomorrow I'll try the pry bar method and if I get lucky and it will pop out, great. If not, I'll break out the webbing straps. So you guys are pretty sure that I can do this in-and-out, change seals, and it won't screw up my backlash and clearances, right? Many thanks for sharing your experience!!!
 
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#12
Nothing should change on your backlash or clearances as long as everything goes back in just like it was, and you've really got no choice but to go forward with the project if you want to change the seals.

The truth is, on the front axles, if your rig as operable hubs, the carrier and pinion bearings usually have relatively little wear because they are used much less than the rear axles -- unless your rig has been used exclusively as a plow or in constant mud and snow conditions. The seals only need changing due to age, they usually haven't had much wear because the axles haven't turned much.
 

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#13
OK, with any luck, she'll be coming out tomorrow then.

Carter, I would mention one point - the '48 has full time hubs, so when the wheels are turning, the axles are turning, and the seals are getting wear. The ring and pinion look really good, no slop. They would be turning on the "coasting" side, not driven side, except of course when shifted into 4 WD.

 

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#14
While we're on the subject, I don't mean to hijack Dons post but, l had my front diff. cover off for the first time and to my untrained eye, all looks good. Question is how much slack in ring gear is acceptable. Mine moves maybe 1/16 of an inch if you move it back and forth. Also what gear lube do you use, and is there suppose to be a gasket on the housing cover. Matty49 thanks


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matty49

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#15
While we're on the subject, I don't mean to hijack Dons post but, l had my front diff. cover off for the first time and to my untrained eye, all looks good. Question is how much slack in ring gear is acceptable. Mine moves maybe 1/16 of an inch if you move it back and forth. Also what gear lube do you use, and is there suppose to be a gasket on the housing cover. Matty49 thanks


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Don, how did you flush out the gear housing. Mine has about half inch of black pudding in the bottom.

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#16
Hi, Matty - Yes, it wants a gasket. Make the gasket out of a manila folder, they're just right for diff covers.

As for flushing, I just use a throw-away paint brush and a small can of gasoline (and throw-away vinyl gloves), keep swishing it around in there. Mine was surprisingly nice inside. Maybe a small screwdriver to scrape here and there. And a rag. When I'm close to clean, I switch over and do my final few times with WD-40 and paper towels. That's my way anyway, good therapy.

A 1/16" sounds like a lot of movement to me, but I'll let somebody that's wiser answer that - and the gear lube recommendations. I was planning to use modern 85-140, or whatever.
 

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You're correct. Backlash should be marked on the ring gear and sometimes on the bottom of the pinion gear. You need to check it with a dial indicator as it’s pretty hard to judge with just your eye.
 

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#20
OK, I had a little time available just before lunch, so decided to go ahead and try to get the diff gear set out. I set it up like in Metalshaper's video - pushed down twice on the big screwdrivers, and it popped right out. Took about 10 seconds once I was set up. Then I pried out the old seals. Looks like replacing them might be a good idea! Driver's side clearly took some damage when that Bendix axle joint let go many years ago. I'm happy, and thanks again for all the good advice!



 
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