Greasing Birfs temporarily (1 Viewer)

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Dec 22, 2010
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We recently acquired our 1997 80 series and I am unsure of the birfields grease condition/amount. It drives fine but does get light clicking when accelerating from a stop WHILE turning sharply (both directions), otherwise they are silent.

My wife wants to take the Cruiser on a 700 miles RT to see some friends but I am questioning the front axle history. The wheel bearings are tight with zero play. The diff oil is dark (greyish) but full, so I suspect some grease in it.

I don't have time to do a full rebuild before the trip so should I; 1. Pump a tube of valvoline palladium grease into the view hole on each side and call it good until this summer? 2. Pull the hubs apart and grease them manually? 3. Tell her to drive my truck?
 
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I've been filling grease through the inspection hole on my '97 'til I have time to do a rebuild and that's what I'd suggest.:)
 
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If you don't have time to tear it all down before she goes - then...

Shine a strong light into the knuckle cavity thru the fill hole - if it looks fairly empty, then put 1/2 tube in per side. I usually put in about 60 pumps per side (of a normal cheap grease gun) as a maintenance effort. (I'm mostly saying that if they look particularly empty, put extra in)
 
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Mine clicks from a stop while turning one way and has been since I got it at 100k miles.. now 114k. I did rebuild the front but didn't get the time to swap birfs. They do have fresh grease and oil in the diff since I did the front end.

If your front diff oil isn't totally green/grey and super sludgy coming out of the drain plug then I'd say check with light and grease a half tube to full tube depending into the knuckle and call it a day.

I actually drove the first 3-4k miles with my inner axle seals leaking and the super green sludge in my front diff and didn't experience anything crazy and didn't break anything.
 
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I have used 1 toothpaste style tube of moly (cv joint grease) per side twice now, through the inspection hole, but I didn't have any clicking, just birf soup
 
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Hey guys having same issue here and I am new to all this. What type of grease and is it in a tube or should I get a gun? Thanks for the help.
 
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Hey guys having same issue here and I am new to all this. What type of grease and is it in a tube or should I get a gun? Thanks for the help.
Your going to need a pump style grease gun and moly fortified grease for the knuckles.
 
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Tacoma4life: What does this refer to? "The oil is dark but (maybe grease in it) but full". Are you saying that you looked into the inspection hole of the knuckles (where Moly grease goes), or the front differential (where gear oil goes)?

What others have said; clicking indicates worn and/or dry birfield CV joints; adding extra grease into the inspection port can buy you time. My birfs clicked for quite some time (months) before I figured it out and added extra grease into the inspection port, after that the clicking went away. If the knuckles are low on grease the spindle bushing will also be dry which can cause rumbling from the front end. Many mudders use Valvoline Palladium available at NAPA stores but any Moly fortified grease will be better than none. If it were me I would add a 14 ounce tube of grease to each knuckle if it will fit and drive it planning on doing the front axle service sometime soon IHMO. You could also check the gear oil in the front differential and drain and fill if it looks bad (frothy green/black) from grease that pushes by the axle seals. How many miles on your rig? Got photos of the front axle/knuckles?
 
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Kernal, The DIFF oil is dark/greyish, but it's not goupy. I haven't looked in the knuckle inspection holes yet, hopefully I don't have birf soup in there.

We have 146,xxx miles. I can get pictures of the knuckles, but they look good, the wipers are pretty clean, and there are no leaks what-so-ever (gear lube or grease).

Maybe I'll just do a drain and fill on the front diff and add 1/2 to 1 tube of valvoline palladium to each knuckle via the inspection hole. Then rebuild this summer.
 
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Drain diff, refill diff
Fill knuckles with grease
All is good till you can rebuild later.
No worries.
Kiss wife good bye and say have a safe drive.:cheers:
 
Joined
Jan 9, 2011
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Drain diff, refill diff
Fill knuckles with grease
All is good till you can rebuild later.
No worries.
Kiss wife good bye and say have a safe drive.:cheers:
+1

did this last weekend when me and my wife drove to the beach, drain and fill and pumped the birf full just before departure. i got a inner axle seal leak but the weather is rather unpermitting along with my current schedule
 
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Is this the inspection port being mentioned above? I will draining my diffs this weekend and I know I am leaking grease around the knuckles, so I want to check my grease level as mentioned. Thanks much!
Knuckle Drawing.jpg
 
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Your going to need a pump style grease gun and moly fortified grease for the knuckles.

I used the tubes of CV moly becuase at the time it was recomended to me by Beowulf, and it was easy to carry around in the truck. It held up fine for 20k. When I did my axle service I used the NAPA moly grease in the gun
 
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Knuckle grease level and front diff lube is one of the most overlooked maintenance items on the '80. Most "new" rigs that I see are low/empty on knuckle grease and have thick gear oil. The axle seals normally weep some grease into the diff, so syn oil is a waste, best to use the cheap stuff and change it more often.

The knuckle grease level needs to be maintained over half full, but needs airspace, not packed full, so between 1/2 & 3/4 works. The red lines on the drawing is the range that works. Running them low on grease will wear birfs.

The second pic shows one quick way to tell grease level and that one is basically empty. If you look at the ball, most of the grease will be wiped at the level of the grease in the knuckle. In the pic it is at about the red line, it should be at least 1/2 way up the ball.

The third pic is the inspection/fill port, with the plug removed. If the steering is turned fully towards the side that is being worked on, using a flashlight can get an indication of grease level. If little/no grease can be seen, it needs some.

It is normal for some grease to be lost. I add ~1/4 tube a couple of times a year to maintain the proper level.
grease_level_1.jpg
grease_level.jpg
fill_plug.jpg
 
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This is the beginning of birf soup. That mess was wiped off and came back in a few days. As long as grease and gear oil levels are maintained it can be temporally driven without damage. The inner axle seal is failing, allowing excessive gear oil to mix with the grease. It will get worse until it is slinging grease allover the tire/rig. I don't see the point of doing an axle reseal until one of the seal starts leaking. As long as gear oil and knuckle grease levels can be maintained at a stable level, it is good to go.

The other key is making sure the knuckle studs are properly torqued. Close examination will show only three studs on the pictured knuckle. This one was wheeled with the nuts loose, torqued them, refilled grease and changed gear oil. Over the next year the grease in that knuckle got progressively thinner, so the seal was damaged in the incident. Every time nut torque was checked, that stud was loose, so it was also damaged. In the inspection before hitting the trail that day, the broken/missing stud was noticed, once it was home the birf soup was evident, so was time to reseal with all new studs.
birf_soup.jpg
 
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Wow, excellent and very informative posts tools r us. Thank you.

Perhaps I don't need a rebuild yet, just a diff drain/fill and some grease in the knuckles.

What about the front wheel bearings? There is no play, so do I just assume they have adequate grease? And for the rear wheel bearings, I read an old thread in which you said that when the seals go bad and let gear lube into the bearings it does no harm. So if there is no play in those bearings they are good to go as well?
 
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Wow, this is interesting stuff, I appreciate the information. I've been planning on putting new seals up front, I have the gray grease flinging around a bit, I am worried I have the birf soup you're talking about...my question would be, if that is the case, is there going to be damage and if so what should I look for or replace? I am hearing some clicking, but only under quick accelleration and with the wheel turned tight to either side...when I hear it I ease off the throttle and it doesn't make any noise. I have only put about 15K miles on the truck since I have had it...205K on it now and would guess maintenance was not done correctly. Time has kept me from taking care of things as quickly as I would like to, but spring is here and I can get some things done.

Any suggestions on what to look for and what to have on hand would be great when I dealve into this thing. Contemplating letting a garage do this but I think I should be able to handle it...just need to do it in one weekend or I will have transportation issues. Do I need to get axles or something more significant that might be damaged? I briefly looked over some extensive threads that had good photography included...I think that should get me through this.

For the immediate time being maybe I should inspect the grease and make certain it isn't dry...I wonder how long it takes to do the damage when it is dry or low?
 

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