Jan 22 2012

Bendix and Spicer and Grease, Oh My!

My goal this weekend was to get both of the knuckles disassembled and all the parts inspected. All I can say is GREASE SUCKS.

As with other little thing I learned because I over-research all of this stuff, both knuckles were assembled incorrectly. Aside from straight grease being used in both instead of “knuckle pudding” shims and snap rings were missing or installed on the wrong sides. Luckily, it doesn’t appear that it caused any lasting damage.

I began with the passenger side knuckle, and was somewhat disappointed that I had a Bendix style joint that uses ball bearings to articulate. One of the biggest disadvantages of this joint is that repairing the joint requires that the axle shafts be replaced since the major wear points are on the shafts themselves. However, the later (and current) Spicer joints use a Spicer universal joint for articulation. This joint uses a relatively inexpensive (and replaceable) inner cross.

After the interesting find on the passenger side, I started work on the driver’s side. This went far faster after I realized that paper towels seemed to be better at wiping away grease than shop rags. Who knew?

Fortunately, the driver’s side has Spicer style joints instead of Bendix. After cleaning all of the grease off (or as much as I could) I tired to disassemble the joint. After removing the snap rings, I tried pushing the caps out and was unsuccessful. Either things are really stuck in there, or I was using the wrong approach, so I backed off and decided to try again next week. I really didn’t want to end up having to buy a set of axle shafts if I bend the hell out of the shaft ends.

And now, lots of pictures…


Jan 17 2012

They Grow Up So Fast

It seems like only yesterday I pulled Ike into the garage under his own power for the last time before the rebuild. Yesterday morning, I reached a major milestone in taking the frame to the sand blasters for cleaning. While my months of working on the rear axle and finishing that was incredibly fulfilling, sending the frame off to get sand blasted is the first major piece that requires something more than what I can do at home.

To prepare the frame for sandblasting, I had to get a few things taken off to prepare. Last week I removed the front bumper and the outrigger that had the damaged rivet. After the joy of breaking as many drillbits as I did, it also hit me that the thing that kept slowing me down was the air cut off tool. It just took too long between uses to keep the compressor up to pressure, so I did what I should have done long ago which was to purchase a 4.5″ electric grinder to make removing the rear abominations a bit easier. Boy did it make a difference.

I had already cut off the “wings” of the rear cross member essentially making it almost flush with the frame. However, at some point in the past a previous owner added a “support” behind the cross member, essentially a large piece of rectangular tubing. Where it’s located, I can only imagine the goal was to strengthen the frame where the shackles connect the rear end of the springs to the frame, but the tubing didn’t actually fill the full gap between the top and bottom of the rails, so at most it would just minimize the amount of movement if something catastrophic where to happen. Needless to say, that was removed. After a few hours of grinding, cutting, and cussing, the last bits of the riveted (and tack welded) rear cross member were eventually removed, bit by painstaking bit. Luckily, I only went a little too deep in two small areas, only one of which will need to be filled with weld and ground down.

Since I had the cross member off, I took the opportunity to test fit the new one that I got for Christmas in 2010. It fit (and looked) perfect, but I’ll have to drill a few holes before it can be mounted properly. Nothing too major. The front bumper was also give a test fit, and it looks exactly perfect. Now I just need to locate the rear tie-in plate in my pile of parts so when I get the frame back and eventually over to a painter, I can have it painted as well.

After all the prep work I needed to do to get the frame ready, I didn’t have a whole lot of energy left to continue working on the front axle. I did, however, get the spindle nuts removed, and one hub slid off the spindle. The spindle cleaned up nicely, but has some wear patterns that I’m going to check out. They aren’t too deep, so it’s probably fine, but I’ll double check it with the other side before final re-assembly. I also need to figure out how best to remove the bearings and bearing cups from inside the hub. The inner oil seal is keeping the inner bearing in place, and although the outside bearing slid right out after the hub was removed, the outer cup is also stuck. Another adventure for next week I suppose.

Jan 9 2012

Bumpers and Knuckle Hubs

If I were to ask you how many titanium drill bits and 3″ grinding wheels it would take to remove a front bumper and a single out rigger, how many would you guess?

If you guessed I’d go through 7 bits and 2 grinding wheels, you’d be right.

Apparently, Willys-Overland Motors never intended a front bumper, no matter how mangled and cut to hell, to come off of the frame after 61 years, or at least not very easily. The biggest problem was how to get through hardened rivet after a titanium drill bit broke off in the middle of it. The answer is apparently a lot of cussing, some creative engineering, and a few more bits.

Once the front bumper was off, I went to work on the outrigger that had a damaged rivet. After breaking another drill bit off, the outrigger eventually came off. What was interesting this time, though, was that with all the beating on the frame with the air hammer to get the rivets out, a small thing fell out from between the frame rails in an area that is boxed in near the engine bay. Apparently, Ike was a home to many creatures during its lifetime, including a nest of hornets.

Since I was finally getting the hang of removing these rivets, I attempted to remove the rivets holding the the pedal bracket from the frame. I removed the two rivets, but apparently this part was also spot welded on. I’ll grind down the welds next weekend when I finish the frame for sand blasting. I’m debating if I hate myself enough to remove the other outriggers, or if I should just leave them alone. I’m leaning towards leaving them alone.

Since I was completely exhausted from working on the frame rivets, I turned my attention to the front axle that had been up on my bench for a week now. I got far enough to remove the hub cover to find that I don’t have the right sized socket to remove the spindle nut. Such is my luck. I ordered one online last night, so hopefully it will be here in time for the weekend work. It looks like the last time this hub was looked at, and the spindle nut removed, someone just went in with who knows what kind of tool to remove it. It’s pretty banged up, and even the washer behind it is all bent out of shape. Both will be replaced when everything goes back together.


Dec 31 2011

Finishing out the year

I hadn’t realized it the other day, but I recently hit the one year mark on my restoration. It’s been a pretty crazy year. Over the last 12 months, I have completely dismantled Ike down to a bare frame, broke an awful lot of old parts, and completely restored my first big piece. Over the next 12 months, I hope that I will have something that will actually start resembling a Jeep again. I’d love to be putting the finishing touches on a complete rolling chassis this time next year.

To that end, I finally put the finishing touch on the rear axle. I cleaned up the newly turned rear drums, put on a coat of paint, and used some new dust caps obtained as a Christmas present. The driver’s side brake line was also re-run (again). Once all that was done, I got the differential filled with new oil.

With new oil in the case, and luckily a seal that was holding, I lifted the axle off of the work bench, and attached the wheels to roll it into storage in the garage. To help make room, I moved the frame and set it on its side. I’ll hopefully be taking that to a sandblaster in the next week or so. Getting the wheels and tires back on the rear axle sure made it look small again.

With the workbench cleared, it was time to get the front axle up on the bench. The Dana 25 is rather spindly compared to the still small Dana 41 rear axle. Once I got it up on the bench, I started to empty the differential oil. Much like the rear axle, the oil was exceptionally dark, rather thick, and gave off the wonderful old differential oil smell. I did happen to notice once I got the cover off that there was quite a bit of sediment on the cover and the inside of the case.

Luckily the ring gear, spider gears, etc. all look fantastic. I’ll let it drain at least overnight before I call it good. The next steps will be to start pulling apart the knuckles. I’m sure that will be all kinds of fun going through all that knuckle pudding.

On a lighter note, I still get a kick out of the fact that the imprinted the front axle with a tag that says “FRONT AXLE” on it. As if the steering linkages didn’t give it away already.

Nov 13 2011

In the rear with the gear (take 2)

The only thing greater than a 3 day weekend, is a 4 day weekend. And the only thing better than a 4 day weekend is a 4 day weekend I get to work hours on end on Ike.

After getting the backing plates blasted last weekend, I was all set to paint those and the grease retainers. Unlike the rest of the axle, I went with engine enamel for the plates and grease retainers. I don’t think there would be enough heat generated by the drums to cause a problem with the standard POR 15, but since the backing plate and retainer sits up against the grease seal, I figured I could take advantage of the heat resistance, oil resistance, and durability of the engine enamel. I like the way it turned out.

Once paint was dry, it was time to start putting the brakes back together. I loaded the shims, grease retainer, backing plate, and additional grease retainers on the inside, all held together with grade 8 bolts. Next came the eccentrics, wheel cylinder, and then mounting the shoes to the lower anchors and cams. After the spring was pulled tight, a quick adjustment of the eccentrics, and it was time to move to the other side. The other side was considerably easier after doing the first side.

With all the brake hardware in place, I finally got to do the brake lines on the rear axle. I had become pretty good at getting very good double flares at the end of the brake lines a few months ago when I first bought the tools. However, it apparently isn’t like riding a bike. After making a half dozen or so mistakes, I got back into the groove and was able to create good flares. Using my forming tool, I got fairly close to the original bend pattern. I don’t have any welting to place in-between the line and the differential clip, so for now it’s just going to sit there. Eventually I’d like to replace the clip and add some welting to match the original.

So now, after weeks of work, the only thing remaining to finish the axle is to get the drums turned, hubs/drums remounted, and then fill it with differential oil. I’m hoping once the drums are turned it will be easy enough to get a nice coat of paint on the outside. I can’t tell you how much I’m looking forward to getting the rear axle off of the workbench so I can get started on the front axle. I’m fairly concerned that the front axle is going to need an axle shop to fix a pinion seal that has started leaking after I cleaned everything up. Since I don’t have the tools to remove the yoke, I’ll probably have to take it in to get it replaced. If that ends up being the case, I might get a bit more done while I have it there.

Nov 6 2011

Prepping for completion

Since I don’t have all my parts yet (should be here tomorrow), I had to just do some last minute prep work to get ready to finish the rear axle. After talking with a few people online, I decided to just use some spray on engine enamel for the backing plates. Cheaper (since I already have the paint) than powder coating, and I don’t have to take it somewhere and wait for it to get completed.

To get the backing plates, and the grease retainer, ready for paint I had to fire up the sandblaster. I was hoping that there was enough grease and brake dust on the plates that a quick cleaning would get me to a point where I could do a lithe scraping and get some paint on them. Naturally I wasn’t anywhere near that lucky. The only nice part was that the two backing plates and two small retainers didn’t take that long to blast. I’m hoping I can spray a quick couple of coats after school this week to be ready to go with assembly on the long weekend. Only problem might be the dropping temperatures as we get into winter.

After getting the backing plates blasted, I finished up the paint on the U-bolts and they look ready to attach. Last pieces to get paint will probably be the rear shock plates. The rear shock plates were the only ones that don’t need work before I can put them on. The front ones, not so much. Haven’t decided yet if I want to replace the front ones, or just fix em. There isn’t much metal left on the rods, but there may be enough that a quick braze and some grinding can bring them back up to the right sizes. We’ll see when I get to that point.

Oct 31 2011

In the rear with the gear

With the rear axle differential finally buttoned up, it’s time to turn my attention to getting it completed. I’ve decided to keep my 9″ brakes rather than upgrading to 11″ drums. While the white parts Jeep already has the 11’s on there, it looks to require a bit more re-engineering than what I’d like to go through at this point. I can always go back later and do a swap if it hits me as something I want to do. With how infrequently this vehicle will be driven, and at the speeds it is capable of, I don’t think upgrading to larger brakes is an immediate goal of mine. I also spent some time giving the rear U-bolts a quick coat of paint. Hanging them up in the garage to dry made them look like a really stupid Christmas ornament.

So with the brake decision out of the way, I placed an order for new brake hardware for the rear axle. Soon Ike will be donning powder coated backing plates, new shoes, new shoe springs and mounting/adjusting hardware, and freshly turned drums. Once the brakes are re-built, I’ll start running the brake lines. After I get the rear axle off of my bench, it’ll be time to start on the front axle, which should prove to be quite a bit more complicated than the rear axle. I have a feeling that those knuckles are going to prove to be a formidable adversary to deal with, but I may be pleasantly surprised. I’m really hoping that I don’t have to replace much other than seals and retaining rings on it, except for the pinion seal which happens to be leaking again. If the pinion seal on the front is damaged, then I’ll have to take it in to get replaced. I don’t have the tools or the knowledge to properly remove the pinon nut and yoke and put it all back together the way it should be.

Oct 23 2011

Getting back to it

After spending the last few weeks hemming and hawing about the brakes, I had finally decided to just stick with the original style 9 inchers. All the reasons I had decided to stick with the original brakes are still there, but after the suggestion of a coworker, I decided to check the parts Jeep and see what it had on it. The previous owners of the parts Jeep had done various upgrades and changes to it for wheeling out in the desert. Everything from the engine, to the tires and wheels, to the locking hubs had been changed. Come to find out, all these weeks trying to find a source (and the funds), were essentially wasted because the parts Jeep had already been upgrade.

That being said, I still have to get the brakes off of the parts Jeep, and figure out what they came from. After the discovery today that I had already bought 11″ brakes, I realized that I forgot to take a snapshot of them. Interestingly enough, the hubs on the front wheel were on the outside of the drum, not unlike what I have on the rear. They also didn’t appear to be 2″ wide, though that may just be due to the curve of the drums. As long as this setup doesn’t require much re-engineering to get things to work, I think I’ll be off to a good start.

Once I got home, I got anxious to get back to work. After running a tap through the differential cover holes to dig out all the crap (which seemed to take WAY too long), I cleaned off the differential cover gasket, and put on a new Permatex seal. After mounting the cover, the brake line bracket, and the ratio tag, I snugged down the bolts with a torque wrench. Hopefully before next weekend I’ll be able to figure out a little more about my new-found brakes.

Sep 11 2011

Starting the front axle

I know I said that the front axle was done with paint, but I decided to give it a shot of semi gloss and now it looks much better. I also removed the zerks for the axle bearings and found that they are mostly clean. I’ll have to push some grease through them to make sure no paint got in there. Looks like my putting the nails into the holes to keep paint out worked well.

While I was waiting for the paint to dry I decided to roll out the front axle and start cleaning. After scraping off about three pounds of grease and dirt, I started with the wire wheel. After obliterating the grime around the brake lines I tried to remove them from the axle. One side came right off where the steel line meets the flexible hose for the steering knuckles. The passenger side of the Jeep has always been a bit more difficult to work on, especially up front there the battery had overflowed a time or two spreading corrosive battery acid all over that side. After making the flare nut look more like a shiny super thick round washer, I ended up just cutting the line to remove the majority of it. I’ll have to see if I can get the clip free with some penetrating oil and some banging and prying. Hopefully it will come loose.

The trouble I’m having now is if I should sand blast the axle as it is now to keep any possible sand from getting into it, or if I should start to brake down the knuckles to make it easier to work with. At this point I’m leaning towards blasting as is and then pulling the knuckles apart and blasting those separately.

Since I’m getting to the point where I have to start putting things together, I’m going to have to place an order or two. I’m going to need my differential gaskets, knuckle seals, grease retainers, grease (!), and oh yeah, I still need to order brakes. I’ve got two suppliers right now that I’m trying to evaluate. One is great over email, and the other prefers the phone, so comparing information and products is slow. The other problem is finding the money for the parts purchases. So far I’ve only had to purchase a few small things to get to this point. Moving from 9″ brakes to 11″ brakes is surprisingly not going to cost me much more than replacing the 9″ brakes sans the backing plate.

In any event, I’ll hopefully have an idea of what I need to order next week after tearing down the knuckles and seeing what needs to be replaced. I’m hoping I’ll be pleasantly surprised.

Sep 5 2011

Last bit of paint on the rear axle

The rear axle is all but finished as far as painting goes. After putting the second coat on the differential cover, it’s just about time to button it all up. I’ll be putting in an order for a differential cover gasket, I’ve already purchased new fastening hardware, and the only thing I’ll need after that is some differential oil.

While I’m happy to be nearing completion on the finishing of the axle, I’m slightly less happy with the way the semi-gloss POR15 dried. When I chose to purchase the semi-gloss over the gloss, I was hoping for a finish similar to some of the other paint I have used. When the POR15 first went on the axle, it was rather glossy. I took comfort in knowing that it would dry and dull slightly. However, it appears that like all things dealing with paint, the amount of gloss left behind is all subjective. I would call the finish matte black rather than semi-gloss, but that’s just me. I could only imagine what matte black would be to this company.

In order to combat that I decided that I’m going to give the parts a quick shot of semi-gloss spray paint. I’ve used it before on other parts and it’s rather resilient, plus with the POR15 underneath it should give me the best of both worlds. While putting the second coat on the differential cover this afternoon, I gave it a quick spray to see what the results are using both POR15 and some good rattle can paint.

I was also finally able to talk to a few parts suppliers about upgraded brakes. It seems the piece that is the hardest to find and get ahold of is the backing plate and core hardware. As drums, especially drums intended for this type of installation, have fallen in popularity in favor of disc brakes, no new backing plate hardware is being produced. I’ve put in emails to two suppliers that specifically sell the conversion kits, and another two that don’t have them listed on their site. We’ll see what happens there.

I also put in my order for the brake forming and flaring tools. Once I get those, I’ll go and get the brake line stock and start a few practice flares and forms before I go to work on the axle. I think I’m also getting to the point where I have to stop putting off getting my frame sand blasted and prepped and need to start figuring out what I’m going to do there.