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TJ Front Drive Shaft Overhaul
 

I had finished up a week in Moab, wheelin' with some friends, and I noticed that the front drive shaft was squeaking.  It was not constant, but rather an on again, off again kind of thing.  After getting home, I decided it was time to pull the drive shaft and take a look.  I had not felt any vibrations so my thoughts were to pull it as soon as possible and see if it just needed a fresh application of grease.  With luck, nothing would be worn and a good cleaning/greasing would set things right again.  If I got it apart and it was apparent that it had gone bad, I could drop down to the drive shaft shop in Phoenix and get some repair parts.

 

Sorry for the rather dark picture.  This was taken from the back end of the skid plate, driver's side.  You can see two of the bolts that need to be removed in order to pull the drive shaft.  These bolts attach the end of the CV joint to the output flange on the transfer case.  I removed these two bolts, then rolled the Jeep just enough to rotate the front drive shaft a half turn.  This brings the other two bolts into reach.  I used an 8 mm six point socket with a universal and a 6" extension in order to get them out.  

 

For the drive shaft and pinion yoke, the same 8mm socket I used on the t-case end of the drive shaft removed the u-joint straps at this end.

 

I used a strong pair of needle nose pliers to pull the clips from the end of the u-joint.  I started on the differential end of the drive shaft, as shown in this picture.  I had a spare Spicer u-joint in the trail box and decided to use it to replace the factory joint (36K miles on it).  If the factory joint was in good condition, I would clean it up, apply some fresh synthetic grease, and put it back in the trail box for a spare.

 

After the clips are removed, I broke out my Harbor Freight  u-joint tool and proceeded to remove the Spicer factory u-joint.  In this picture, you can see that I have just pushed one of the bearing caps out of the yoke with the press.  Next, I just unscrew the press, flip it over, and push out the other bearing cap.  I've mentioned it before in other write ups, but I'll say it again....this is the handiest little trail tool anyone can own.  I've used it on every u-joint on the TJ, except for the rear drive shaft (its time is coming!).  (Note:  9/15/2002  I finally got around to using it on my buddy's rear CV driveshaft....worked fine there too!)
 

Since the factory u-joint was in pretty good shape, I used a little carb cleaner to clean out the bearing caps and remove the old grease from the u-joint.  I then repacked the cavities in the cross with fresh grease, as well as the bearing caps.  If you plan on keeping the u-joint as a spare, be careful not to lose any of the needle bearings in the caps.  I always do mine over a couple of paper towels so if they fall out, I can usually find them (emphasis on the word "usually").


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