Universal Joint

We had some more nice weather and I had the opportunity to do a little more work on the car.  There isn’t really a whole lot to say about the work I did, so this post will be fairly short.  My time to work on the car is limited for several reasons so I’m only attempting to tackle small jobs each opportunity I get to work on the car.  Once Spring is here in full and I get past some other pressing issues the work should move a lot faster.

My goal for this session was to replace the rear universal joint.  I knew the one currently in the car was bad since I’m the one who got the needle bearings out of place when I last installed the driveshaft 15 years ago.  I thought I had gotten everything correctly in place, but there was a vibration when I drove the car.  I had a new part in my parts inventory so I was ready to go with the replacement.

I placed wheel chocks in front of and behind the front wheels, raised the rear of the car, and put jack stands under the rear differential.  With the car safely supported I slid myself underneath, tools in hand.  I thought this job would give me a good chance to use my ratcheting box end wrench set.  Unfortunately there wasn’t enough clearance around the universal joint retainers to use the wrench.  I used an open end wrench to loosen and remove the retainers.  That permitted me to remove the rear universal joint and slide the driveshaft out of the transmission tail housing.

With the driveshaft out of the car I removed the clips holding the universal joint in place.  Then I took a pair of sockets and used my bench vise to push the u-joint end caps out of the driveshaft.  I took my new u-joint, removed the bearing caps, positioned it in the driveshaft, and pressed the bearing caps into place.  Then I installed the new clips to hold the bearing caps in pace.  Everything moved freely, so I cleaned off the transmission yoke end of the driveshaft and slid it back into the transmission tail housing.  Using my new retainers, I installed the rear u-joint into the rear differential and bolted everything into place.  Since the car has no gas tank I couldn’t take it for a test drive to make sure the installation was completely successful.

That probably sounds too easy, and if you thought that you are correct.  The driveshaft install went fine and I would be done except for the fact that the rear end had fluid dripping from it.  That means there is a leak and it needs to at a minimum have the seals replaced.  In order to do that, the driveshaft will have to come out once again.  Not a big deal job to remove it again, but nobody really likes doing a job twice.

As to the fluid leak, I was actually already planning to have the rear differential rebuilt.  It hasn’t been touched since I bought the car in 1974.  I’m betting that whatever fluid is left inside it has been there untouched since the car was manufactured in 1967.  I also know that this car was originally equipped with a “traction lock” differential, which is Ford’s trade name for a limited slip.  On some occasions the limited slip would work.  On others it would behave as if I had an open differential.  I would be ecstatic to have it work as expected, but that repair is beyond my abilities.  So this job will have to wait until the car is towed to the shop and I can have it professionally rebuilt.  I’m hoping that will start sometime in April, but I never really know for sure what kind of stuff will happen to delay that shop visit once again.

Between now and then I plan to work on some fairly easy cosmetic stuff.  The weather is turning cold again and the weather service is predicting some more snow.  So it may be a few days to a week before I get much more accomplished.