Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Axle F(ront)- COMPLETED!

Wow, this project has been going on for several weeks and I think it is finally finished!  For awhile, I didn't think the end of it would ever come in sight.  The delays resulted from not once, but twice I failed to order the replacement parts I needed and then the final delay occurred when I couldn't get the steering pivot arms to "pop" off of the tie end rods so the proper preload tension could be set up.  Oh, don't worry, I do not talk like this all of the time.  I only just read the section in the manual that explained it all to my simpleton mind.  But enough of the chit chat, let's figure out how I got from point A to point D.  A is for Arsenal; D is for Democracy.  I have now nicknamed my garage the "Arsenal of Democracy."

The inside of the axle after all of the seals have been replaced.

Recap...I had removed the main gears out of the axle so I could replace the pertinent oil seals for the axle shafts.  The gears were then replaced after installing the new pinion seal.  Then I had to replace the fourupper and lower cones and cups(fancy words for bearings and the saucers they sit in) on the steering knuckles (the large roundish balls at each end of the axle shafts).

The old (on top) and the new (in place on the bottom).

This is how it looks with the new spindle bearing cups.

At this point, I now needed to install both axle shafts and then I could set up the steering pivot arms.  However, this is when I had a devil of a time trying to separate them from the tie end rods.  Several sources say I could beat on them with a BFH and it would "pop" off due to the tapered rod that holds them together.  Well, I beat, and beat, and beat it like it was the neighbor's red-headed step child.  This didn't work.  I even youtubed some videos of this procedure to make sure I was hitting it right.  I was.  Another source offered up a "pickle-fork", but I feared this would have destroyed my useable tie-end rods, so I opted to continue beating the pivot arms.  One day, many days into the beatings, it all of a sudden, quite unexpectedly "popped!"  Boy, was I stunned.  Nonetheless, I could now move forward.

The next, and supposedly very critical step was to set up the pivot arms with the correct amount of shims in order to get the proper bearing preload...whatever the hell all of that means.  The manual said to do it, so I was game.  I greased up the new bearings, taking great care to keep them clean of dirt and crud, and placed them in the new cups on the knuckles, then I placed the spindle housing on the knuckle and lined up the tapered shafts of the pivot arms to hold it all in place.

Basically, the pivot arms that hold the steering rods connect to those cones and races that I replaced earlier.  Depending on how they were manufactured (thickness and height) one needs to either add or subtract shims beneath the pivot arm to set the proper amount of restriction in its movement.  The manual says to start with .048" of shims on the upper and lower pivots for each side of the axle.  Then, one must measure the pounds of pressure needed to make the pivot arm move the steering knuckle.  The idea pressure is no less than 4 pounds and no more than 6.  In order to achieve this specific rating, more or less shims are required.

If you are raising your eyebrows right now (because you understand what I just wrote) I cannot fault you.  I certainly raised mine SEVERAL times.  No way could these little shims make any difference.  At one point, when I couldn't separate the pivot arm from the tie rod end, I thought about skipping this step.

Meauring the thickness of one of the shims. 
Behind, on the work bench, are other shims of various thicknesses.

This size shim ended up being the shim of choice in order to obtain the proper amount of spindle housing tension.  Ironically, it was within .005" of the shims I removed during the teardown.

The shim pack came with multiple shims in 3 or 4 different widths.  I started out with the required combination of .048" thickness, but when I tested the tension, it was practically non-existent.  I was working on the shorter axle side and when I disassembled it all originally, there were no shims present.  I seriously thought again, "Let's skip this nonsense."  However, I tried one more time, reducing the amount of shims upper and lower.  At this point, it was kind of like a trial and error exercise, however, you needed to keep the shims in the same thickness for both the upper and lower sides.  So I loosened the nuts and gently rapped my hammer on the base of the pivot arm and it slowly made its way out.  I reduced the shims and put it all back together and measured.  Sure enough, there was a bit more drag present.  Wow, it was actually working!  This process when on a few more times...too much, too little and so on and so on.  Finally, I got the right combination.  I ended up using one shim for each mount and it was the one pictured above: .0105. 

Ironically, on the long axle shaft side, there originally was a shim in place.  It measured within .005" of the new one I ended up installing to give it the correct tension.  I still have to fill the internals of it all with grease.

Checking the pivot arm tension.  The camera flash was too bright, but it reads 5.5 lbs when the pivot arm began to move.  The manual gives a range of 4-6 pounds, so this is within spec.

With both pivot arms in place and correctly mounted, I could now put on the rest of the steering gear.  Easy peasy.  Lastly, I lubed up the axle cover with some sealer, smeared it on good and messy, placed the gasket on and then sealed up the main pumpkin.  All it needs now is some oil.

Next comes the spindle, which fits tightly into the housing.  When the brake backing plate gets screwed-in, the screws go through the backing plate, through the spindle and tighten into the knuckle housing.  The sneaky part is tapping the spindle into place, yet keeping all of the screw holes lined up.  To do this, I stuck the screw into the spindle, lining them up with the house and turning them in a few twists.  Then I rapped it gently with a hammer to wedge it into its final spot.  The screws were removed and the brake backing plate was then installed with the screws going into their final resting place.
Spindle cap held in place with loose screws.
The brake backing plate in place over the spindle and all screws tightly in place.

Most of the remaining steps are almost identical to what occurred with the rear axle as far as installing the brake shoes, adjusting them to the drums.  Also required are new seals for the drums, and if required, new bearings and grease.
I love "before and after" shots.
Both sets of brakes shoes in place.
 (I cheated,though.  This is the driver's side.) 
With both brake backing plates with brake shoes and wheel cylinders in place, the next step is to install the brake hub.  However, before this could be done, I had two more oil/grease seals to replace on each hub.  Also, there are a pair of wheel bearings inside of each hub.   After popping out the seals, I could then remove the bearings.  I cleaned each bearing up (removing what Jack calls "nasty old grease") and then I could inspect them for over-heating marks and individual worn out bearings.  They appeared satisfactory so I packed them solid with new grease, put them back in place and then "gently persuaded" (with a hammer) the new seals.  Hubs installed!
Both hubs with newly grease-packed bearings and new seals (in the center of these metal donuts). 
The red gunk is the new grease.

These large washers go between the big nuts that keep the outer wheel bearings on the brake hubs in place.  The broken washeron the RIGHT came out of the front axle.  The washer on the LEFT is a replacement washer I pulled from an old, nasty post-war jeep chassis in my yard.  I was saddened that I couldn't use my original "F" marked washer.  However, my Christmas Miracle happened in during the Ides of March...the washer I pulled from the post-war chassis was "F" marked, too...An original WWII Ford part!  It is hard to see, but if you look close enough - like put your nose up to the computer screen close - you can identify both "F" marks at the 12 O'Clock high positions.

Both brake hubs installed.  Two more steps to go.
 After adjusting the brake shoes, the last major project to address is the grease seals that sit behind the steering knuckles.  The new seals are a slightly different set-up than the originals.  Albeit a better set-up, they do look slightly different when installed.  In an effort to take advantage of newer technology, yet keep the 1944 look, I modified the original steel plates (which kind of broke my heart) to retain the right "look."

The newer style pressed steel plate (L), the original unmodified plate (C) and the modified original steel plate (R).  Can't see the modification, can you?   Look closely...there is a pin located at the 12 o'clock, 9 o'clock and 6 o'clock positions that must be ground smooth in order for the plates to fit snug against the felt.  Pins are visible on the center plate and have been removed on the right plate.

The seal all assembled.
The only major difference between this set-up and the original style would have been a second set of gray plates mounted behind this one and they sandwiched together the grease seal.  This style has a rubber seal mounted tightly against the knuckle ball joint, then a piece of thick felt and then the original steel plate holding it all together to the knuckle. 

My inspiring mental moment occurred when I was fitting the seal on the long side of the axle.  I had forgotten that when I removed the original, there were only 7 of the 8 bolts present.  Well, when I discovered that fact, again, I felt a bit of dispair.  "Oh, this sucks...gotta go to Lowes for one lowsy bolt to finish this project."  And then, that energy saving light bulb in my head began to emit light.  The light got brighter and brighter and then I realized I was forming a thought.  "Duh, you've got a junkyard outside.  Go get a nut from one of those buckets of rust!"  And that is what I did.  I pulled the correct sized nut off of the old M38 front axle.  That way I wouldn't have to chase down another nut for the next WWII jeep!  That was totally a two for one thought.

All assembled, front view.

All assembled, side view.
I'd like to claim El Finito at this point, but it is fairly obvious that I still have some painting to do.  Internally, I need to fill the pumpkin with oil and the knuckles need some grease.  The grease zerks on the steering arms need a shot of lube, too.  (That lube is for you, J2).  I still need to tighten the two tie rod end castle nuts and the pinion nut.  And I just remembered that I need to pull both axle flanges off and bend the lip of the outer washers over the edge of the outer nuts.  Yeah, quite the punch list.  I'm done blogging about this beast, though.  Next time you see it, it will be mounted to the frame!

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