A box full of grease

After another very productive weekend of work on Ike, I’m just about ready to assemble the front axle. Nearly all of the parts are here, and everything I have has been blasted and painted. The last few things I need are the spindles that I had previously had but put on the parts Jeep thinking they had the wrong bushings (turns out I had the right ones from the beginning) and the brake lines for the front axle that will be easier to install before it’s hanging from the frame. Unfortunately, I ordered the brake lines late, so hopefully they’ll be here in time for the axle to be completed this coming weekend, otherwise it will be another week before I can put everything together.

One of the things I needed to resolve last time was the Rzeppa joints for the single Rzeppa shaft that I was reusing on the passenger side of the front axle. I found a seller that had a rebuild kit for a Rzeppa front axle (2 full joints) and it was on sale for 50% off ($30 plus shipping). After being told by many online that a rebuild kit was likely too expensive or difficult to find for the joints, I figured I’d make a $30 gamble to see if I could save myself from buying a new shaft for $125. Now, I’m happy I did. What came in the mail was not only far better than the cheap Chinese knockoff parts I was expecting, but actual NOS parts from decades ago when this stuff was not only made in the USA, but still made all together. The box was wrapped in some sort of waxy grease paper, and inside was a bundled paper ball with grease packed parts. A LOT of grease with some parts mixed in. I felt like a kid on Christmas getting that one toy that had been sold out all over the place that I knew all my friends wouldn’t have been able to get. The only down side: cleaning. This grease was thick and really stuck to everything. After about 2 hours and 2 cycles of cleaning with Simple Green, the parts were nice and shiny again. Only thing left to do with them is clean out the screw holes, oil them up, and build the joint again.

After spending all that time cleaning greasy old metal (that looks nearly new), I moved my attention to all the other little parts that I had that needed additional coats of paint. I also (finally) remembered to get the lower shock plates prepped and painted after neglecting to do them last week. Kind of an important part if I plan on hanging these axles any time soon. Of course they were turned into a sort of ornament while hanging to dry.

With most of the small parts wet with paint, I started pulling the masking tape off of the knuckle spheres and the various small parts that had all their requisite painting done and dry. There really is nothing like pulling back tape to reveal sharp paint lines, clean metal, and crisp black paint on a part that only a few weeks ago looked like it was pulled up from the bottom of a greasy swamp.

Once the masking tape was removed from the knuckle spheres I was able to get the brand new bearing cones pressed in. And by pressed, I mean more of banged. However it happened, they are in and aren’t damaged. They also look WAY better than the worn ones I removed.

 

So next week is the big reassembly of the front axle. Assuming, that is, that I have brake lines, can swap out these spindles, actually purchased all the parts I need, painted everything I needed, and didn’t lose anything in the process. I’m also really hoping that all these new parts go together tight enough that the suggested 600 W oil I purchased for the knuckle lubricant will stay firmly where it’s supposed to and not leak out all over my garage. I think I may put some drip pans below the knuckles while filling just in case 🙂

 


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