Birfield repack info

Mar 27, 2003

Here is the info to replace that which has escaped into the interweb...

Birfield Repack, Wheel / Knuckle Bearing Repack/ Replacement, Rotor Replacement etc

Much of this information is thanks to Beowulf in to 80s section who patiently guided me through completing this job in spring 2003 when I drove an 80 series. As this has recently become a topic in the 60s section, I have borrowed from the collective wisdom of the 60s group and added suggestions and information to my original write up.

'Doing the front axle' is a messy and time consuming job that can be done by the home mechanic with the right information, tools, parts and frame of mind.

How will I know when I need to do my front axle?

The cause of most front axle problems is the inner axle seal. This tends to need replacing every 60,000 to 100,000 miles. Your inner axle seal prevents the diff oil and knuckle grease from mixing with each other. Once your inner axle seal fails, the diff oil and Moly (knuckle) grease will start to mix. Over time, you will end up with grease in the diff oil and diff oil in the knuckle. This is a bad thing.

You may notice that there is oil dripping from your knuckle, you may hear a clicking sound when you turn the front wheels - or, you may change your diff oil and find that it is thick, cloudy and grey instead of bright and honey coloured. You may not have any of these symptoms but decide to take preventative measures before problems occur.

Changing the inner oil seal. Birfield Repack, Wheel / Knuckle Bearing Repack/ Replacement, Rotor Replacement etc

If you are about to replace the inner axles seal, you should also consider replacing the knuckle/trunion bearings and wheel bearings whilst you're in there as these are considered by many as a routine maintenance items.

For starters, take a look at some photos and descriptions of the procedure as described by Landcruiser Gods, to whom I am a mere disciple:

First thing you will have noticed is this is a dirty, messy job. Get yourself some latex gloves and at least 6 rolls of paper towels, rags and a big dust bin to throw them in as you move through the job.

This was my shopping list:

MP grease - 1 cartridge of Amsoil (GLC)

Moly grease - 2 tubs. In the UK they come in 500g, I believe that less progressive countries still use pounds. Either way, buy 4 tubs.

Anti-seize compound

Brake Cleaner - I went through about 4 cans. It's really effective when cleaning the Birfield for blasting the old grease away.

Solvent/degreaser to clean everything


Torque wrench.........Up to 100 ft/lb
Brass drift...........6" long, 1/2" bar or brass hammer. Used to loosen cone washers.
Hub socket............2-1/8" socket or 54mm if you can find one
Seal puller...........T-type
Snap Ring pliers......Get the pliers with a flat surface.
Spring Scale for setting wheel bearing preload. I got mine from a fishing tackle shop.

knuckle bearings (qty 4), wheel bearings(qty 4), front wheel seals (qty 2), birfield seals (qty 2), lock tab washers (qty 2), gaskets, shims, & felts

In addition to your local Toyota dealer, there are other sources which can provide kits which include all the above at good prices. These include: (ask for Dan)


Remove the wheel.

Please take all necessary safety precautions. Place jack stands under the axle and also consider secondary safety measures. Whilst I will be very sorry if you have an accident, I will not be held responsible.

Remove the caliper & hang on spring. (If your caliper is riveted to the dust shield then remove the caliper by disconnecting the brake fluid pipe. It is not hard to bleed the brakes when reassembling)

Remove the free wheel hub cover. Set the control handle to free. Remove the cover mounting bolts and pull off the cover. Pay careful attention to the way the cover orientates, it will only go back with everything lined up.

Remove the snap ring using pliers

Remove Free Wheel Hub body. Remove the nuts, flat washers & cone washers from flange (brass bar used to loosen cone washers, nuts) If you've never done this, have a good look at George's page again. If the first one you whack doesn't come loose move on to the next. Once one pops, the others are easy.

Unfold the two tabs bent down over the large nuts

Remove outer nut, tab washer, inner nut and plate washer

Pull off hub assembly & rotor.
(Outer bearing likely to fall out. If it hits concrete you're likely to need a new one)

Remove inner hub grease seal

Clean both wheel bearings and repack with MP grease.
Put the bearings in a plastic sandwich bag to pack or use a bearing packer if you have one.

If you intend to replace the rotors, pound out the wheel studs. If you intend to reuse the studs (not recommended) loosely screw the nuts on to protect the threads and then use a brass drift or copper hammer. Fitting the replacement is the opposite procedure - a bit of pounding on the wheel studs and you're done.

You are nearly into the knuckle assembly. You just need to remove the 8 bolts that hold the dust shields and the stub axle in place.

Once the dust shield and stub axle are removed you finally have access to the axle itself.

Remove the knuckle spindle. Using a brass drift, tap the knuckle spindle off the steering knuckle.

Remove the axle shaft. Note, the steering MUST be in the straight ahead position and the flats on the Birfield must be in the vertical plane. Stick your finger in the grease and feel for the flat bit. If you jack the other tyre just off the ground, you can rotate the axle until it is in the right position to pull it out. You might find it's easier to get someone else to turn the opposite wheel (slowly, without ripping your finger off) until you feel the flat at the top.

Put a bucket under the hub because once you take the axle out there is going to be an oil spill….. See what I mean. Now get those rags and paper towels in there and get it cleaned out! The Birfield joint may appear to be discolored with a bluish tint in several places. This is normal and part of the factory heat treating process

FSM: Disconnect tie rod from Knuckle arm. Personal experience suggests that this is not necessary. Remove knuckle arm and bearing cap. Remove the knuckle arm and bearing cap mounting nuts. Using a brass bar, tap the cone washers and remove them from the knuckle arm.

Using a screw driver, gently prise knuckle arm upwards and remove steering knuckle and bearing.. Note: keep the removed adjusting shims and bearings together in a labeled plastic bag so as to enable reassembling them in their proper positions. (same for lower bearings (except there are no cone washers))

Remove oil seal (inner axle seal) This is the reason you have come so far!
Prior to removing the oil seal, reach in with your finger tip and pull out the spring that is on inside rear of the inner lip - to prevent the possibility of it falling into the axle tube. Now remove the oil seal. I bought the T type seal puller. It's not difficult to prise it out. Now put the new seal in. you can use a piece of metal tubing which is the right diameter. Or, buy an inexpensive seal driver set and just tap it into place.

Now get to work cleaning the Birfield. Get a bucket, some solvent and a paint brush (careful none of the bristles come off) Give it a soak and than blast it with some brake cleaner. You'll note that I didn't disassemble the Birfield to clean it. Some do, but you can get by without. If you do, then refer to FSM

Now pack the Birfield with grease. Take a look at those web sites again to get an idea how much grease to pack in there.

Install Oil Set Seals. Install the parts in the following order: Felt seal, Rubber seal, Steel ring.

Install steering knuckle with freshly greased (molly grease) bearings.
Install the knuckle arm over the shims that were originally used or were selected in the adjustment operations (FSM) Using a hammer, tap the knuckle arm into the bearing inner race. Install the cone washers and torque the nuts (71ft Lbs)

Install the oil set to the knuckle (felt, rubber & Steel ring)

Pack Moly grease into the knuckle (about three fourths of the knuckle)

Install knuckle spindle & dust cover (with new gaskets and dust seal. Torque the mounting bolts (34ft Lbs)

Now back to the wheel bearings & axle hub…

Install inner wheel bearing
Coat inside of hub with MP grease
Install inner hub seal

Install axle hub

Install outer bearing, thrust washer, and inner adjusting nut (54mm)
Follow *instructions below (or FSM) to set preload on inner nut
Install lock washer w/tabs
Install out adjusting nut (54mm)
Generous coat of MP grease on outer axle splines and flange.

Install free wheel hub body. Place the gasket in position on the front axle hub. Install the free wheel hub body with six cone washers and nuts. Tighten the nuts (23ft lbs)

Install snap ring (8mm bolt to grab & pull the axle shaft out)

Install free wheel hub cover. Apply grease to the inner hub splines. Install new gasket. Set control handle to free. Tighten the cover mounting bolts (7ft-Lbs)

Reinstall caliper - install the brake caliper to the steering knuckle. Torque the mounting bolts (65ft lbs)

Clean everything w/brake cleaner

Bleed brake line.

Reinstall wheel. Apply light coating of anti-seize on threads, not between washer and wheel.

Check brake fluid level & brake operation before putting in gear.

*To set the bearing pre-load:
Torque inner nut to 43 ft/lbs
Turn rotor 5 times, left & right
Torque inner nut to 43 ft/lbs
Loosen inner nut until it can be turned by hand
Torque inner nut 3 ft/lbs (48 in/lbs!)
Check that bearing has no play
Measure preload w/tension spring (6-12 lb)
Install lock washer & lock nut
Torque outer lock nut (47 ft/lb)
Check that the axle hub turns smoothly and that the bearing has no play.
Measure preload w/tension spring (6-12 lb)
(Repeat, starting w/inner nut if not within range)
Secure the lock nut by bending one of the lock washer teeth inward and the other lock washer teeth outward

Good luck. Much of this is taken from Beowulf's descriptions. Some from George, some from Norm. Hope it's useful to have it all in one place.

Mike S

Aug 19, 2003

Thanks for your excellent work on this... the repost has been 're-inFAQted'.

Mike S


Jan 14, 2005
holy out of date batman, but is this last part correct? you only tighten the inner nut to 43# move the hub around, then to 43 again,, then to 3?? before being done? is this a misprint?


Jan 5, 2005
Rogersville, Mo.
its correct. Just did mine. Use the spring tension to 6-12 inch pounds. very important numbers to stick too.


Nov 26, 2004
Question- I just finished the PS knuckle on my cruiser for the first time. I bought a new kit from someone here on mud- all the parts were from SOR except I bought Marlin seals from cruiseroutfitters. Everything went reasonably well, except I didn't keep good enough track of which seals went where, and it's really not pictured or explained very well in the FSM.

In the kit, I had 4 of the seals that go between the inner bearing race and the spindle. I thought I only needed one per side (see the picture).

Also, where was the blue gasket and the metallic finished gasket supposed to go?

I will apparently be going back in when I do the other side soon. Fun times!
These were the 3 things I had left over:

Feb 7, 2005
holy out of date batman, but is this last part correct? you only tighten the inner nut to 43# move the hub around, then to 43 again,, then to 3?? before being done? is this a misprint?
It's correct, but remember to properly torque the locking nut that holds it in place.

hank14 said:
In the kit, I had 4 of the seals that go between the inner bearing race and the spindle. I thought I only needed one per side (see the picture).

Also, where was the blue gasket and the metallic finished gasket supposed to go?

I will apparently be going back in when I do the other side soon. Fun times!
These were the 3 things I had left over:
You got 2 extra rear hub seals.


Ramble Tamble
Staff member
May 18, 2007
My $0.02: I used half a box of surgical gloves. They're great for keeping your hands clean. And definitely lots of rags. Yeesh, this is a greasy, messy job!
Nov 18, 2010
37° 39' N / 77° 30' W
If I may add something to this.... I would suggest that you drain your diff oil before taking the hub and and axle out. IMHO it makes it easier/cleaner than letting it drain out when you take your axle out. I also should emphasize a couple of things here 1) make sure and make sure and make sure you properly set your bearings (ask me what happens if you don't) 2) when you install the snap ring again make sure, make sure, make sure it is set in the groove properly.

One other note get some clean card board for the project. It will serve as a clean surface to lay you axles on when you pull them.

Just my .02 It is a messy job but take your time and follow directions. It is worth the time spent. Easily a 6-8 job

Happy :wrench:ing
Dec 11, 2008
Whidbey Island, WA
Torque for the caliper is wrong by the way. The older FSM lists 73-105 ft lbs and my FSM for 62's both an 89 and 90 manual lists 90 ft lbs for the caliper. And I noticed that the original write up says your caliper might be riveted to the dust shield, huh? Needs some editing for accuracy

And that blue gasket in post 5 fits the full float axle in an 80, I think it also fits the front of an 80. Used one on my full float in my 60 when it was all I could get, didn't leak.

While I am all for write ups, this is pretty much verbatim from the FSM with some minor errors. Post the helpful hints and what you found that makes the job easier but be careful with a technical write up. The FSM is your friend.

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