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.
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...
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.
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.
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
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.