BEST PRACTICE: Removing the front/rear solid axle housing completely off the FZJ80 (1 Viewer)

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Mar 31, 2012
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EDIT: updating this first post as I progress. Decision was the front first. GOAL: Remove the least amount of parts to get the axle down onto a pair of roller dollys. Also, thread will be useful for someone who either has wrecked their truck and is finding themself wanting to keep their axles and swap them out. The thread comments may seem out of order since I’ve updated it as I went through this process. Follow this main post as the comments throughout were to help hone this procedure in.

Special thanks go out to:
  • @Broski for FaceTiming me and stopping me before I hurt myself and walking me through this.
  • @OTRAMM for his videos on suspension.
  • @NLXTACY for assistance on this.
Hi everyone, so I have a task at hand which requires me to remove the axle off of my 94 FZJ80. Looking at the 1994 FSM, it has lists out the key parts of the 3 link suspension and of course how to remove each part (shocks/suspension, pan hard bar, control arms, even the drive shaft) but it doesn’t list the order or steps to removing this entire housing. Maybe I missed something or I am over analyzing this as the 80 is designed to be straightforward. Re-installation would be going in reverse naturally.

So here are my thoughts, and I’m hoping a subject matter expect who has either done this job can confirm or help me clean up the list below and help someone else out who may be in the same boat as me.
  1. Remove wheels and raise the truck up and support the frame 6 ton jack stands preferably (Done 2/16/2020 - shopping list was pair 3 ton jack stand, 6 ton jack stand, pair of wheel chocked, 3 ton jack and a lot of penetrating oil. Start soaking bolts. Remove both tires. Time 45 mins)
  2. Support the differential with the pair of 3 ton jacks and have 2 dollies (rated at 1000 pound) on the ends of the axle to receive the axle once lowered. I have some sturdy 1 foot by 6 inch by 6 inch solid wood cut to make a small box I’ll craft and screw together to reach it)
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  3. Remove the (front/rear) sway bar (2/16/2021- the front sway bar bolts had soaked for 30 mins and was able to come out easily with a 12mm and 1/2 socket for the body side. Use (2) 14mm box wrenches for the other end which connected to the axle so you can get in there, as it is really tight. You may have to remove 1-2 bolts (12mm) to slip the axle side bolts out.) NOTE: If you have factory lockers, there are 2 brackets holding the locker harness onto the sway bar by the passenger side. 2x 10mm bolts you can zip off before you drop the front sway bar. 4 bolts to the body and 2 bolts to the front. You can take this off easily. It’s heavy so be careful when you take it off.
  4. Remove the front drive shaft (or rear) 14 mm bolts, sprayed with penetrating oil for 1-2 days, marked with a paint pen for phasing. You can get 3 of the 14mm bolts out using a 3/8 ratchet, and a quality 6 point socket. Mine was Milwaukee 14mm. Set the transfer case to neutral so you can spin it counter clockwise to remove the last 4th bolt. Go back into the truck and put the transfer case back in HIGH so it doesn’t spin on you and gives resistance to loosen the last bolt.
    A440F367-6255-42B1-B250-BC1FCA28AA75.jpeg
  5. Remove the pan hard bar bolt, it is a 22mm bolt (the axle side only should be sufficient, and get a new bolt PN# 90119-16003. The FSM says it cannot be reused) needs to be torqued up to 127 ft pounds on the reinstall. This should be okay to remove as the axle is supported evenly with the 3 ton pair of jacks on each side. For me, it slipped off easily. [Tools used were 22mm short socket and 24 inch Pittsburgh Harbor Freight Breaker Bar and John Deere penetration oil]
  6. Remove the front steering arms to the knuckle (front). This was easily done with a 19mm socket to get a total of 3 castle nuts off [2 on passenger side and 1 on driver side] and then using the ball joint separator to pop it off. I put an old towel over the joint so it doesn’t fly off all crazy since it does pop off with force. [Breaker Bar, 19mm 6 point short socket & automotive ball joint separator.]
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  7. Brakes lines and ABS lines. Most of the lines are connected between 12mm and 14mm bolts. Soak them in penetration oil and you can loosen with simple 6 point swivel sockets (12mm & 14mm) and a good 3/8 wrench. The passenger side has around 4-6 and the driver side had 2 bolts, with the 14mm bolt almost in the center on top of the axle. Once all of the brake lines are loosened, you can begin to plan for the brake caliper (17mm) and then the ABS sensor (12mm). For me, those are not hard, as I just loosened them when I was doing my knuckle rebuild. At this point, once you disconnect the brake calipers and the abs sensors, you are on the home stretch. Get either some rope or 2 5-gallon tubs and turn them over to support the caliper and not compress brake lines. Add the ABS sensors also as you will need to find a place to tuck them so they are not dangling all crazy. My recommendation is to thread the bolts back into the holes, so you do not loose anything and everything goes back where it came from. Organization is key.
  8. Loosen and stage the removal of the shocks. So you can go 2 ways here. Replace the shocks while your here ($$) or keep what you have. I’m keeping what I have for now so just remove the 2 19mm nuts at the bottom after a good 7 day pre-soak with PB Blaster and use a quality 19mm wrench to hold the shock (my Rancho shocks have the slot for a wrench) while removing the nut to prevent the shock tube from spinning. Soak the 4x 22mm bolts on the control arm also at this time. If your shock does not have the slot for the 19 mm open wrench, use either channel locks or a good pipe wrench with the strap. (24 inch breaker bar, 19mm 6 point deep socket, 19mm box wrench. 18 inch pipe.)
  9. This is the step you must focus on, removing the springs. You will have to get creative in this step. It really is an art on raising and lowering the axle with the floor jack on each side like a seesaw. Just know, the stock spring is around 21 inches high, which means the axle needs to be lowered 21 inches in order to release the tension and prevent a very volatile and violent situation. If you skip this step, the axle will essentially “roll forward” on the spring and add additional fatigue on the springs, making this very dangerous. Leaving the control arms on the bottom prevents the axle from “rolling forward” on you and adding the fatigue on the springs. Complete this step before going to step 9.
  10. The next step is removing the 4x 22mm bolts which hold the lower control arm to the axle. These bolts are big and chances are rusted, so soak liberally for 7 days and then break the lock with a 24 inch breaker bar and 22mm 6 point socket and then finish up with your favorite 1/2 inch impact gun. Pic below shows lower shock bolt undone and the control arm 22mm bolts are all off. Removal of the 4 bolts on the control arms (2 on each side and the loosen from the bolt side as the nut bites into the axle frame), which should allow the axle to fully droop. PN 90119-16003 and also torques back to 127 ft pounds when on the ground. Hand tighten per FSM. once you have the bolts removed, raise the axle back up with the jack.
  11. AA446ABF-FBF6-4FCB-A95B-9A851BDC9ABD.jpeg
  12. Double check your jack and positioning it to support the differential. Also, make sure you can support each side to dock with the dollies. I may get a third for the third member.
  13. Lower the axle.
  14. D0942206-7AA3-45C5-B293-12F67B531AB6.jpeg
The search on this topic yielded only the inner axles themselves but not the entire housing. I hope this will help other mud guys out if they need to, or are considering removing their axles off of their rig.
 
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Joined
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sounds about right, breathers if they have been extended need to come off, you can probably get away with leaving the steering arms on the front and take them off when the axle is out. i would put the wheels back on to make it easier to roll the axle out

for the rear i would drop the spare so you have more room under the truck and consider taking the parking brake cables out with the axle
 
Joined
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Why not leave the tires, brake calipers on and only release one brake line instead of three?
Drop it down and roll away on its tires?
Depends on how high you can get the truck I guess.

It kind of depends on your goal. Speed of change, one person only doing the work, removing and replacing due to a bent housing vs removing to clean, sandblast, rebuild, and reinstall. This sets the eventual level of disassembly and can dictate what you leave attached to the truck.

Maybe install a set of 30" tires so it's lower to roll out.

Many options here, but you.shoild be able to have it out with one person in under two hours.

Do you pull the entire shock or just the bottom?
 
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Forgetting to list LSPV bracket and e-brake cable maybe (mines a 92).

I’d unbolt shocks before control arms so your not twisting the shocks, and not sure why your pulling calipers, the brake line is on the axle? Mine is, maybe different for you with ABS, but mine has a line that comes down to a tee fitting, had to spin the brake line off at the fitting from either side as you can spin the double flare fittings but the brake line won’t rotate the same for the soft line off the frame.

Edit: was thinking rear axle
 
Joined
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I should clarify that the purpose is to have the axle de-greased, cleaned and re-painted. I previously mentioned I have some surface rust on my axle and wish to have the rust properly removed and then paint the axle(s) evenly with some John Deere blitz black. My intention is to have these axles last past my ownership.
 
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Joined
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Flexible Brake line from Chassis hard line is something not on your original list, but is mentioned by the experts above. Will need a 10mm flare wrench and some penetrant sprayed on the fitting the night before. Both flexible lines are screwed into the axel fitting, so the flair nut on the chassis side needs to be at least loose to allow it to rotate, or removed and plugged.
Rear axel would have the Levelling Proportioning valve bar to be removed as well.
I have just replaced all my flexible lines so spent quite a bit of time lying on my back looking up at both axels.
 
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Will need a 10mm flare wrench and some penetrant sprayed on the fitting the night before. Both flexible lines are screwed into the axel fitting, so the flair nut on the chassis side needs to be at least loose to allow it to rotate, or removed and plugged.

get a good flare nut wrench, this is one of those times to skip horrible freight and go for something name brand, cheap wrenches can flex a little bit when turning and start to round the nut off. for the cost unless they were replaced recently i would think about just changing the lines while the axle is out, and if your replacing the lines who cares if a union nut is seized you can cut the line and get at it with a a socket to get it apart
 
Joined
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Gotha, Florida (near the dog)
get a good flare nut wrench, this is one of those times to skip horrible freight and go for something name brand, cheap wrenches can flex a little bit when turning and start to round the nut off. for the cost unless they were replaced recently i would think about just changing the lines while the axle is out, and if your replacing the lines who cares if a union nut is seized you can cut the line and get at it with a a socket to get it apart

It’s pouring hard outside, so I can’t get any work done. I do agree with quality tools for some jobs. My flare nut set is from snap-on. Appreciate all of the feedback. Please keep it coming.

To add further clarification, the idea and plan to leave the brake lines in tact is to prevent the side job of bleeding brakes in addition to the task at hand on dropping and re-installing the axle after a proper cleaning and painting. Also, this is intended for the guy at home with no access to a 2 or 4 post lift and no one to count on except himself and his wits since he is at, wait for it, wits end.

I plan to post my progress on this very thread to document it and give back to the mud community. I also have many videos of the recent work I’ve been doing and will update my build thread at some point. Thanks
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Why not leave the tires, brake calipers on and only release one brake line instead of three?
Drop it down and roll away on its tires?
Depends on how high you can get the truck I guess.

It kind of depends on your goal. Speed of change, one person only doing the work, removing and replacing due to a bent housing vs removing to clean, sandblast, rebuild, and reinstall. This sets the eventual level of disassembly and can dictate what you leave attached to the truck.

Maybe install a set of 30" tires so it's lower to roll out.
what he said, done it dozens of times, only change is I use rims with no tires on them.
 
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Basic Brake bleed is only an hour or so for all four wheels and the proportioning valve, I just finished flushing my brake lines as part of baselining. I changed the flexible hoses as well, and it is amazing how much junk came out of the lines. So much so, I probably need to rebuild my calipers.
While you are doing the axels - which I also need to do, be sure to post some photos as you progress.
This morning in South Texas (Sugar Land) 29F (-2C) all day and tomorrow, for most of you, normal, but not for this part of Texas.

Monday Morning.jpg
 

cruisermatt

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I usually just unbolt everything and roll it out unless it's rusty and then I cut some stuff and roll it out
 
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For sure @Paydday - I did the knuckle rebuild first before to:
  1. Get comfortable on wrenching
  2. Spray penetration oil on all of the break points.
I do have some photos but there is a really good video by a guy named @OTRAMM and he literally is the king of making FZJ80 tune up/maintenance content on YouTube
 

geologic

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I’ve enjoyed your post. I rebuilt a set of locked axles with my son. I’m planning on finding a high mile 80 with a good body but mechanical needs to put them in. Also bought a new 1FZ-FE short block and head casting that’s been built up to a full head now. I would encourage you to go ahead and flush out all old brake fluid and replace your soft brake lines. Also replace the stock diff vent lines with ones that are located higher. I’m interested in your choice of John Deere black paint. I used an Industrial Krylon that has an excellent finish after fully stripping the axle housing to metal. As I cleaned and assembled, I learned that the Krylon didn’t hold up to brake fluid or brake clean spray. I swapped over to a grill paint for those areas affected but it’s not a texture match. I’d like to hear how the HD paint holds up to these elements.
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