1981 CJ7 Restoration - 2018.12.23

I haven't done anything with the Jeep for almost 2 months due to, well, just due to me LOL. Between end of year work shit, getting sick again, lots of home repair stuff going on, and messing around with the Ducati, I've neglected the Jeep. 

Anyway, as I wait for my suspension components to be manufactured, I decided to get back on the axles and tended to the rear axle again. After seeing all the milky, rusty, dirty gear oil in the pumpkin, I decided that I had better remove the differential and give the axle tubes a cleaning. Wow! I am both glad and disappointed that I took this on. Glad because there was so much crap in the tubes that they surely would've caused issues down the road, and disappointed to discover the condition of the inside of the axle tubes.

I first removed the differential carrier, carefully noting the orientation of the bearing caps and any shims that were placed to the sides of the differential bearings.

AMC 20 Trac Lok differential and bearing caps.

The next order of business was to get the inner axle seals out of the tubes. Now the name "inner axle seal" might make you think that they would be located close to the differential, but they are actually at the outer ends of the tubes, set in about 2" from the drum brake backing plate flange. I first tried using a seal puller, but I could not get them to budge. Also, as I was levering against the end of the axle tube for leverage, I noticed the puller was marring the outer hole, so I stopped that nonsense.

I ended up using a 1-1/4" 1/2" drive socket with an extension attached, and put that into a 3' long steel pipe, then pushed that from one end to the other, then used another 3' steel pipe to push it. I hammered from the far end and got the seals to pop out. It took some strong hammer strikes to get them to pop out, but they eventually flew out of there.

One of the inner axle seals on the ground along with the 1-1/4" socket that all came flying out the other end.

With the differential carrier and inner axle seals out, I now had full access to the axle tubes to clean them out. One may think that they could spray a bunch of brake cleaner in there and shove some balled up paper towels through to swab out the tubes, and I did try this, but they needed much more attention to get them remotely clean.

I ordered some cylindrical steel brushes from Eastwood and the ends can be forced into certain sockets, which then fit on the end of a 3/8" drive extension, which can then be driven by a power drill.

I was blown away by how much rusty, dirty, nasty, smelly gunk was caked on to the inside of the axle tubes.

Some of the crap that was coming out of the axle tubes. The pan on the right is nothing, that was one pass with the brush.

After some patience and persistence, things were starting to look a bit better. I mean, I at least felt better that a 1/4" of sludge wasn't stuck to the insides of the axle tubes anymore. I don't think I got everything out, but things were starting to look clean. There are definitely some spots where the rust has pitted through the iron and will remain, but I'm hoping a regular oil bath will keep the rust in check. It's like looking down the barrel of a rifle that has some pitting. I've owned rifles with pitted barrels, but still shot with dead nuts accuracy - I hope the same holds true forJeep axles. There are also some spots near the ends of the tubes that I'll need to sand down, but I'll address that later.

Much cleaner. Not perfect, but I doubt it ever will be. Hope this is good enough.

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