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I think it started around the first of the year when my buddy MikeW and I were with some friends. We were starting 2004 out right by hitting some fun trails. We had finished Judgment Day and caught lunch before hitting Predator. MikeW's TJ was sitting on a 4" lift with 33" tires, ARBs front and rear, and a Ford 9" rear axle. That Ford hangs down a bit and he was dragging it bit more than the rest of us did going through Judgment Day. He rode shotgun with me on Predator and while he didn't say too much then, I think the gears were spinning in his head because about a week later, I get a phone call from him. "Stu, I just put 35 inch MT/Rs on the TJ. I have Warn alloy inners on order from 4 Wheelers Supply along with a pair of Ox u-joints. What did I leave out?" That was, in my opinion, great news. We discussed getting his frame up just a bit higher so he picked up a set of 3/4" spacers to add just that little extra. With his RE long arms, he was ready to go. We weren't worried about the shocks and besides that, replacing his Rancho RS-9000s wasn't a cheap option right now. If the parts arrived by the following Saturday, he would be at my house with fresh Krispy Kreme donuts by 9:00 AM and I would have the coffee pot on and ready to go.
Compared to most u-joints, the Ox is a rather interesting gathering of metal parts. The main purpose of this u-joint is a simple one, no-breakage. It is another vendors response to the CTM u-joints that have become the standard for bullet-proof u-joints. I can't say if the Ox joints will fair. MikeW is the first friend that has installed them and I honestly don't know any other local Jeepers that run them. CTMs proved their durability in the competition world. Time will tell how the Ox u-joints hold up.
Unlike a regular u-joint where the cap is the only thing that can be removed, the Ox is a veritable u-joint Chinese puzzle. In the above picture, you can see the access cover in the center of the joint's body. In the center of the access cover is a needle type grease fitting. The other side of the Ox has another access cover and grease fitting as well.
The trunion pins (black things that look like the cap on a regular u-joint) have a hex plug that screws into the end of them. When the trunion pins need to be removed from the axle shaft yoke ears, the plug is removed and an extractor is screwed into the trunion pin. The extractor pulls the pin out of the u-joint body and the yoke ear. Little did we know we would need this to also "adjust" the depth of the pins when assembling the axle shafts and the u-joint. (more on that later)
With an allen wrench in hand, the access cover is removed. Pretty simple up to this point....just gotta have a good sized allen wrench in your tool box.
Beneath the cover is a retainer. The retainer (there is one on the other side of the body too) engages all four of the trunion pins and keeps them secure in the body of the u-joint.
Here is a picture of the retainer. You can see the 4 u-shaped notches in it that fit over the end of the four trunion pins. The Ox folks put a little grease in here just to keep things nicely coated. When the u-joint is assembled and ready to put into service, the entire body is filled with grease through the recessed needle fittings. We tried filling from one and both sides and found that the void in the body can be easily filled as long as you have access to one of the two grease fittings.
Here is a trunion pin, slightly greasy. It has an o-ring that forms a seal between the u-joint body and the pin itself. Note the machined end of the trunion pin. This is where the retainer secures the end of the pin. Without it, the pin would eventually work its way out of the yoke ears. This retaining system serves the same purpose as the c-clips that hold the end cap of a conventional u-joint in place once it is installed.
More Ox U-joint