1981 CJ7 Restoration - 2020.01.04

Today's goal was to get the front axle shafts put together. They're a little awkward to maneuver on the press, but I got one side done with little fuss. The other side was a different story. These U-joints are designed in a way that the opposing ends need to be pressed in far enough to clear a channel for a retaining clip that goes inside the U-joint. I got one pair of caps on without an issue, but the other was driving me crazy. No matter what I did, I could not get one side to go in far enough to install the retaining clip. I would press it, then the other side would pop out about 1mm.

If you look closely, you can see that the U-joint for the longer (upper) axle shaft assembly is missing an end cap.

Remember how I mentioned that the other end would pop out about 1mm? Along the way, a needle bearing or two fell over and got caught between the end of the U-joint post and the cap, and it's about - yep you guessed it - 1mm in diameter.

A couple needle bearings fell over and got crushed.

Well, that put an end to the axle assembly for the day. I ordered a new Spicer U-joint for this axle setup and will have to wait until it gets here. The good news is that it will give me 4 caps to play with!

With the axle shaft assembly delayed, I decided to make use of the rest of the day to make some progress on the steering knuckles. I pressed in the spindle studs then attempted to install the ball joints.

Six spindle studs went in without much issue.

I managed to press in the lower ball joints using a large socket, but it was a sketchy operation. I'm not sure how to do the upper ball joints, so I'll step away for now.

Lower ball joint installed.


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