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Tom Wood Front Drive Shaft
 

Two years ago, when the Toys by Troy Alumi-flex lift went on the TJ, I installed a Tom Wood rear drive shaft.  My old double cardan drive shaft that was originally cut for a 4" RE lift had survived for several years on my 6" short arm lift.  However, I wasn't putting it on a taller long arm lift....I just won't push my luck that far.  Tom put together one of his top quality rear drive shafts and got it to me quickly.  It's seen a few road trips to visit friends, two trips to Moab for the annual JeepsUnlimited Moab Run (#5 was this past spring), and countless trails and rock crawls here in Arizona.  It continues to feed power to the D44 axle, existing entirely on on a diet of Mobil 1 grease (low carbs).  I am very satisfied with the service it has given me.

Two years since the rear shaft was installed, it was finally time to address the front drive shaft.  It was still the stock drive shaft except for a re-tube by the local drive shaft shop (which I'll never use again!).  It had took a hit doing a Martinez Canyon run with some friends and the drive home at highway speed confirmed it.  In a recent conversation with Troy (Toys by Troy), we were talking about some front drive shaft vibes he had seen on a few new installs.  It seems that the spline engagement on the slip yoke was minimal and resulted in highway speed vibes.   Although I run the Warn hubs up front and do not worry about a rotating drive shaft on the highway, I still thought it wise to get a longer drive shaft as an engagement problem could show up on the trail too. 

I got in touch with Tom at Tom Wood's Custom Drive Shaft.  It was a pretty painless process.....get Tom the necessary length measurement, give him a day or two to build the drive shaft, and then wait by the door for it to be delivered.  That was my plan and I was sticking to it....and it worked!  I got him the numbers about noon on Monday and the UPS driver was ringing my door bell late Friday afternoon.   I hadn't opened the package and I was already satisfied.


But the package didn't stay unopened very long.  Out came one drive shaft with associated paperwork, wrapped in that plastic pallet wrap film (I'm sure there is a name for it but that's what I call it).  Nice touch....keeps any of the excess lube from soaking through the shipping box.  Now in my garage, that would not be much of an issue....sitting in the living room on the carpet....yeah, my wife would mind.


The drive shaft is built with Tom's Gold Seal universal joints.  I've not followed this joint very closely but I know that it's been available for a couple of years now.   I'll be reporting back here from time to time as to how the joints hold up.  Based on the info at Tom's site, I expect them to last quite a while.

I also noticed that these drive shaft uses a forged steel yoke.  I asked Tom about this and he stated that some of the shops building drive shafts use ductile cast yokes.  Forged sounds like a lot better idea to me.  The last thing I want to do on the trail is deal with a broken driveshaft.  Wrenchin' is done at home, the trail is for wheelin'.
 


My old drive shaft is in the lower half of the above pic.  From the last re-tube, you can see the black tie-wraps holding on the slip yoke boot.  I had already replaced the plastic straps twice.  I was glad to see metal straps on my new shaft.   To say the paint job was a level better in quality would not be doing it justice.  My re-tubed shaft was rattle canned by the folks that did the work.  Yeah, I know it is going to get scrubbed some by the rocks on the trail and such but I still like to start out with a nice paint job.  Tom's looked first rate.  See that nice weld blob on my old shaft?  I gave Tom's a good going over and the welds looked great.



Tom balances each shaft before it is prepped for paint.  You can see a balancing weight welded in place in the above pic.  The run out tolerances on the tube are kept to a maximum of .004".  This ensures a smooth spinning drive shaft on the highway, an important factor for those folks running stock unit bearings in their TJ. 



Have you ever disassembled your stock drive shaft to get rid of the "angry sparrows" in the double cardan joint?  Not any more.....the grease fittings will allow you to regularly service your drive shaft without having to disassemble the double cardan joint (been there, done that, got the t-shirt, don't want a repeat).  Wondering about the grease needed for your new u-joints?  Check this out.  

I believe Tom has addressed the issues (shortcomings?) of my previous drive shaft in this replacement shaft.  I look forward to a lot of miles with it turning the front 35" tires on the trail and rocks.  Nice job Tom! 


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