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With the rotor removed, it was time to remove the four (4) axle retainer nuts. There is a hole in the flange that allows you to reach the nuts with a socket. Remove a nut, the rotate the flange around until the hole aligns with the next nut, remove it, repeat two more times. I set the nuts aside as they are used to hold the new shafts in place.
When you have removed all four nuts, grab the flange and pull straight towards you. It will come out....it may be a little stubborn, but it will come out. Worst case, you could attach a slide hammer to "pop" it out of the axle tube. But honestly, there should be no reason for it not to come out....I hit mine with the rubber ended hammer I used on the rotors and out it came. Note that you may have some gear lube in the axle tube (this is normal). It may dribble out of the end of the tube when you slide the shaft out and the oil seal unseats itself. I usually have a couple of paper towels handy....one on the floor to catch the drips and another one or two to stuff into the axle tube to stop it from dripping.
The bearing race will probably stay in the end of the axle tube. It needs to be removed. The race is the outer shell of the bearing. Sometimes they can be rather cranky to get out but mine slid out without too much trouble....I just wiggled them a little bit, side to side....slowly working them out of the axle tube. They make a puller that grabs the inside lip of the race and extracts it....in fact, I think it goes on the end of a slide hammer.
With the stock axle shaft now removed from the tube, it was time to assemble the new Alloy USA shaft using the parts supplied and the retainers I got from the dealership. First thing on the list was to clean the lube from the flange and the wheel studs. I assume Alloy USA puts this on to prevent any rusting, etc. Since I was going to use a thread locker compound on the studs, I didn't want oil in the threads. A can of brake cleaner does a pretty good job for flushing out the oil. I thoroughly sprayed the flange area (specifically the threads) and the wheel studs.
Next on the list was to pack a bit of grease into the bearings. The D44 axle shaft bearings get their lubrication from the diff's lube oil. However, I prefer to pack the bearings with grease so that the bearings have lube while they wait for the diff lube to get them all nice and slippery.
I also apply a thin film of grease on the inside surface of the oil seal (that part that makes contact with the axle shaft as well on the axle shaft where the oil seal rides. OK....so maybe this is all overkill (at least to some folks no doubt) but then again, I've yet to assemble a D44 shaft and have them leak....and that is after multiple years of their going round and round. As long as I keep getting this kind of performance, I'll keep doing it just like I've done it in the past.
Time to put all the parts together. Slip the axle retainer plate over the shaft. Remember that the lip on the plate goes up (it pushes against the back side of the seal) as shown in the above pic. Then the oil seal is slid into position. The open end faces up, just like in the pic. The bearing is next to go on. Make sure you slide it on the correct way.....you don't want to mount it backwards. If you don't know which way it goes on (and maybe even if you do), look at the shaft you just removed and position it in the same manner. The ring you see at the bottom of the above pic is the bearing retainer. That does not go on until the bearing has been seated into its proper position.
OK....time to go over to the hydraulic press.
If you don't have a hydraulic press, you'll need to find a buddy with one or perhaps a machine shop in your local area. In the pic above, everything is ready for pushing the bearing onto the axle shaft. I used a thick aluminum plate between the ram and the axle shaft. It helps to distribute the pressure over the entire end of the axle shaft rather than concentrating it just in the contact area. The bearing goes on pretty easy. Carefully push the bearing onto the shaft. You will see where it mates up against a machined shoulder on the shaft. Stop when you get to that point.
With the bearing firmly seated, I released the pressure on the press and removed the shaft. The bearing retainer was then slid over the axle shaft and everything was set up again as in the above pic, except this time the bearing retainer was waiting to be pressed into position. The retainer takes a fair amount more pressure in order to properly seat it up against the bearing. Sometimes the pressure builds up a bit and then releases, causing the bearing retainer to "jump" along the shaft, so to speak. Continue applying pressure to the bearing retainer until it comes in contact with the bearing.
In this pic, you can see the bearing retainer in position adjacent to the bearing. I always put a thin film of RTV sealant on the outer surface of the oil seal. This prevents any leaks that might occur from imperfections at the end of the axle tube.
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