Front Drive Shaft Rebuild

Point Spring and Driveshaft Company

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In the continuing saga of repairing things that died following my wonderful excursion Down the Cheat, we come to the front drive shaft...

I was driving along when I finally got the first round of problems out of the way and I noticed a kind of chirping sound.  It was coming from somewhere up front and I diagnosed it as dry u-joints.  I tried spraying something on them as a temporary measure but of course it didn't help.

I drove the Jeep 10 hours back and forth to Oak Ridge for the Camp Jeep pre-run and it didn't get any better.  It came and went but I knew it was just a matter of time.  By the time I got back from that trip, it was starting to feel a little rough.  By the time I got to it, the front double cardan joint was pretty well toasted.  I made a list and went to get some parts at Napa.

I replaced a tired u-joint in the rear shaft (the joint connected to the pinion shaft) and took it for a ride.  Part way down the hill in my neighborhood I put it in 4-HI and the front shaft sounded like a barrel of rocks rolling down a hill.  I took it out of 4-HI and drove very carefully and slowly back to the house.  We didn't need to do the test drive on the highway because the problem wasn't fixed yet...

I took off the front shaft, took it apart and found what was going on.  The u-joints weren't in very bad shape, but the centering pin on the end of the shaft that goes into the double cardan joint was destroyed and needed to be replaced. 

Centering Pin - Out of Round and Marked
Centering Pin - Out of Round and Marked

Centering Pin - OK
Centering Pin - OKCentering Pin - OKCentering Pin - OKCentering Pin - OK

I contemplated replacing the whole assembly but after pricing it out, did a little more research and came up with a shop, Point Spring & Driveshaft Co. right across the street from where I work!  I had another shaft that had gotten badly dented and I had saved it just in case I needed some parts someday... 

Dented Shaft

I took the parts over there and they quoted me a price that made my eyes water - it was basically lunch money, so I left the parts to be repaired.

The next day I picked up the repaired shaft and the socket yoke assembly I needed to reassemble the shaft. 

grease fittings
double cardan joint rebuilt with new centering yoke and centering ballsocket yoke assembly

Axle-end u-joint

When I got home I reassembled the whole thing starting with the double cardan joint.  I was careful to get the grease fittings oriented so I could get to all of them at once.  I put the front joint on and then installed the whole thing on the Jeep.

Rebuilt drive shaft with u-joints installed

But before I did, I took a look on the transfer case skid plate.  I removed a considerable amount of dried mud that had accumulated.  There was a hefty pile of it right where the driveshaft and cardan joint in particular pass.  I don't think there is any doubt in my mind what happened to the drive shaft.  The mud must have got into the joint and quickly eroded the parts, leading to the failure.

I spent nearly another hour cleaning out the mud while the shaft was out of the way.  I ended up with quite a pile. 

more evidence of the evil

I also flushed the frame rails and reinforcing members on the floor.  When I started I could feel mud or dried dirt inside.  The water ran brown for quite some time before I got it clean.

With more "mementos" of my trip erased from the Jeep, I reinstalled the drive shaft and took a test ride.  The difference was like day and night.  No more rumbling vibrations.  No more "angry sparrows".  And the Jeep seems to be a little more willing to get up and go.


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