Front Axle Service - Lessons Learned

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Jan 12, 2006
St. Louis, MO
Someone asked about my 'lessons learned' during the front axle service. As I've already written this up when it was fresh(er) in my mind, here is the link. I'll look for the few other posts I made at the time to gather the data in one place for local 'cruiser collaborative' wrenching. If you scroll down through the post, you'll see some really sick photos of my birf-soup and, near the end, a summary of my experience with more photos.

I'm at the same a hundred threads and still not sure which birf grease and how much I should buy......

what did you end up with?
Seriously, don't waste any (more) time debating lubricants. I must have spent a solid week of ~2hrs a day online reading old threads about lubes (for my truck).

In the end, it probably doesn't matter at all for the purposes our trucks see (even for die hard mudders like MoJ ;)).

All the same, I like to prep my truck as if I'm heading to the most remote parts of Alaska next week, then spending the following month underground in a mine in New Zealand, followed by a three-month trek through south Africa. Sadly, I still don't have a ham radio up and running, and my fuel tank would never hold enough to get me to any of these places (and my wallet wouldn't respond well to the fuel prices anyway!).

Soooo, in the end it seems everyone on the board said to use the moly fortified everywhere EXCEPT the wheel bearings (the short story is that the moly will keep the bearings from rolling properly). Note, this is apparently not the case with the trunion bearings b/c of the extreme loads resting on them (plus, they sit in the moly-filled hub and the grease exchange that occurs makes using non-moly nearly pointless - though some non-moly would remain in the bearings).

For the wheel bearings, the choice non-moly lube on the boards is the Mobile 1 red stuff and you won't need all that much as you are just packing the two outer wheel bearings. Using my handy bearing packer gadget (probably not worth your effort or money) I used less than tube/can of the Mobile non-moly red stuff.

As for the birfs and hub, moly is definitely the way to go and the short story is that the petroleum engineers on mud say you need 3% moly or better. The easiest way to source this is from Napa. They stock Valvoline Palladium tubes (and the price happens to be pretty cheap too). Better still, they will let you return whatever you don't need. I stopped by the Napa on Watson in Crestwood (close to your office MoJ) and purchased an entire case of the Palladium. I took back some, but kept two tubes (I dont' recall why). Napa can also order another version of the Valvoline that is 5% moly. I would have used this but it is special order by the case only and no returns on the unused portion. All that would have been fine with me, but it required something like 2 weeks to get it and I was ready to go NOW when I walked into Napa. Moreover, the petroleum experts on mud indicated that even the 3% moly was well above anything needed for what we do in the states and 3% would probably even survive coal mine use (5% would be spec for a rig spending its life in a coal mine).

To sum up, I used something like 3 tubes of Valvoline Palladium in the hub and birf FOR EACH SIDE totaling about 6 tubes combined. I used 1 can/tube of non-moly Mobile red stuff for the wheel bearings. I used about 5 of the large bottles of Mobile 1 synthetic gear lube combined for all three diffs.

I hope this helps, and I highly recommend you stop over-analyzing this issue as no good will come from it.

See you this weekend.
Thanks William.

Joe/William - What's your beverage of choice?
Thanks William.

Joe/William - What's your beverage of choice?

Depends on the time of day.

Iced Tea in the morning.

However, since we're in Rome, I'll grab some Stag and Natty on the way through town.

What time? I'll be up before 6.
Like Joe, it all depends on my mood. I'm a Kettle One vodka sour man, but lately I've been drinking Ultra Amber in an effort to reduce the cruiser's weight to power ratio when my big butt is in the seat :).

Not to worry though, I won't be drinking anything but diet coke this weekend as anything else will interfere with my post-surgery medication and recovery. So it will be a dry weekend for me.

More importantly, I have another event at 9am and I won't be free until about 10:30 a.m. so I will head straight out and see you thereafter. I have the seal seating tool in my cruiser and all my spare lubes and fluids. You'll have a heck of a head-start, but I'll still be there before you need the seal seater.

I'll have to bolt by 3pm to coach a 4:00 softball game (unless it is called for rain - so hope for rain :).
Joe and Jason:

How'd everything go. Did the seal driving tool work as advertised. I'm sorry for making William late. We were supposed to go off at 9:00 and be on the trail for an hour and a half. Turns out, well you know the story I'm sure.

Hope the rebuilt went without a hitch.


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