Timken axle rebuild - '47 Willys Truck


Bigger Hammer
Apr 13, 2022
First Name
Willys Model
  1. Pickup
Willys Year:
  1. 1947
Guys, just wanted to make a quick post on the rear axle from my '47 truck.

Discovered Austin's (@Dual48s) amazing post (Ole & Lena... A Love Story) on this subject and wanted to share my experience.

I took Austin's advice and made a puller for the pinion. My first attempt using a bearing splitter + heat proved insufficient. I made it from 1/2" steel plate and grade 8 3/8"-24 all-thread. This thing worked like a charm, no stripped threads and no bent plate. If anyone else decides to take on this challenge, I highly recommend building something similar (or contact me if you want to use mine). Here are some pictures.





I've also ordered all of the parts Austin calls out (this research and documentation is simply amazing).

More to come as I progress through this rebuild.

Yep exactly. I don’t know why I had an extra nut on the thread, you only need two. One to lock it to the flange and one to push the plate
I rebuilt my Timken using vintage dons and
Ole&lena love story experience and it went well. I also built the same puller. There is an amazing amount of knowledge on the forum to guide us through our projects.
Successfully removed carrier bearing cups today using Don's technique. Tried the slide hammer first, but not enough meat on the edge of the race (due to shoulder).

Attempt #1


Welded on a piece of bar stock. First time using small tacks which promptly broke when hit with pipe from end of axle tube.


Try again...




Now time to clean this thing up for new parts.
What do you plan on using for a gasket for the clamshell? I went to Napa and they had different thickness gasket material
Per the parts list in

I ordered a really old gasket on eBay. Expecting it to be in rough shape, but may tell me the right thickness.

Still debating how to seal this up. I’ve been very happy with Permatex and would hate to rely only on a gasket, but with the thickness aspect here I’m not sure.
I ordered two of them from eBay, same part number as you did and they were both just to small. I sealed mine up not once but twice. The first time the gasket alone leaked a little after a few days. The second time with another gasket that I cut out of gasket material, I put some gasket sealer on it and haven’t had any leaks.


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If you would have run a bead of weld all the way around that race and let it cool, it would have fell out by tapping the trumpet on the floor. Welding causes the hard metal bearing race to shrink up.
Thanks Chris. I've heard of this technique but never tried it. Next time I have something similar i'll do it.

New bearings are starting to show up...still waiting on the wheel bearings with tapered bores and the pinion end bearing. Curious to see what shows up and if they match originals. Will post info when they arrive.
Ok, got the 61-4035 gasket (ES-4273) in the mail yesterday. Really cool old packaging.



Gasket itself appears to be smaller diameter than axle flange (same experience as Kevin).


Most importantly, gasket appears to be 0.005" thick.


So now the question remains, what to use? I'm leaning towards a custom paper gasket + sealer. Anyone know what the "cured" thickness of gasket sealer is? Thinking I should target 0.005".

Why not put as thin a layer of the thinest gasket sealer (copper coat?) you can find on both sides of that gasket?

BTW, I kept the same wrapper from a GPW head gasket (different shape obviously) just because of the cool factor. I used it in the background of photos of small parts I was selling.
On machine tools, we'd just grease the gaskets. ( next time you pulled the covers or the assembly apart, the gasket wouldn't stick so you wouldn't need to make a new one)
Just soak that gasket in water (serious). It has shrunk from age.
Ok, so I've made quite a bit of progress on the axle.

After new carrier bearings were installed, I mated the halves together to determine the flange gap.


So, with no shims anywhere in the assembly, I'm left with this gap -> 0.025". I measured the mostly disintegrated gasket from when I took it apart and it measured 0.025" as well. This got me thinking that maybe they used different gasket thicknesses for different assemblies.

I looked at the other axle I got from VintageDon. It measured 0.009". Then I started looking around for any markings.

I found these cast-in numbers. Seems strange to have these cast into the housings if they relate to machine tolerances, just a co-incidence?



I know carrier bearings are supposed to have some pre-load, but clamping 0.025" seemed quite excessive.

I picked up some 1/32" gasket material at Napa (Fel-Pro).


Then I assembled the halves again, but this time without the differential installed and a partial gasket (so I could measure compressed gap). When I did this I got 0.024" That would give me 0.001" compression on the carrier bearings. Good enough for me.

Time to assemble....but I found something else
At some point in the history of this rear end it appears the pinion adjusting nuts came loose and allowed the pinion to slide back and impact the differential assembly.


Notice the "groove" in the side of the differential. This exactly lines up with the end of the pinion shaft.

Additionally, there was visible damage to the "nose" bearing support in the casting.


Taking all this into consideration, it seemed strange though. When I took it apart, the adjusting nuts were properly installed and the whole assembly spun smoothly. Discussing with my Dad, he has no memory of anyone ever working on this rear end.

The best we can figure is this axle had some sort of failure early in its life which was repaired and put back in service. We decided to do the same.

Here I cleaned up the ragged edge of the carrier housing.


Then time for new nose bearing and capture plate. (Yes, I found a new one of these bearings per list above, but I did re-use the inner race pressed to the shaft. Inner race didn't come with the bearing and was in excellent shape).


Then time for pinion (with new inner bearing) and double race.


Finally, the last bearing, nuts, washers, and set the pre-load to 16 in-lb.


Final mate of the halves.


Dad and I debated replacing the damaged housing and differential, but in the end we both liked the idea of this beast of a rear end continuing its life with a fresh set of rollers, just like the last time it was torn apart.

Thanks again for all the help everyone.

Nice job making it good again!

I worked on an old Worthington air compressor where the headspace was controlled by the thickness of the head gasket. The guys laughed at me when I ordered them by thickness until I showed them the manual (you'd be amazed at how many problems could be prevented if people would just refer to the manual!)