Longfield front axle shaft / birfield won't come out

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May 18, 2010
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I have the driver front on a '78 FJ40 front axle tore down to the inner knuckle. I am unable to get the Longfield axle out. I've lined up the flat spots and everything but the trunion races have been removed, but it won't come out. It looks and feels as it's getting stuck in the inner knuckle at the flat spots. At this point it has only moved out a very small amount. If I yank on it then the flat spots become stuck in the inner knuckle and I have to knock it back in. It seems as if the inner knuckle has collapsed a bit shrinking the opening. I've heard a bent axle will cause an issue with getting it out, but it really seems to be stuck at the flat spots. Now I've never done this by myself before so that could be a chunk of the problem as well. I'm rebuilding the knuckle and would like to upgrade the axle seal, but at the moment it's not happening. Any advice? Thank you
 

pjohnson

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Is it possible that your housing is bent? Do you wheel hard? Been dune jumping lately?

That's a lot more plausible than the knuckle ball collapsing.
 

offrd63

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Try taking the knuckle off first then try pulling, A lot of the older housings had to be clearanced [with a grinder] just to get the long's to go in. I did it to mine. I had one that I didn't quite take enough material off and when tightened my bearings down it changed things just enough to bind the Longfield up. I got tired of it after my first field birf replacement so I sanded the inside of the ball down a little bit more. Problem solved, maybe you'll get lucky and your axle isn't bent
 
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It's used mostly for hard rock crawling and is pushed pretty hard. I do already have the outer knuckle off so nothing else is in the way. Everything axle wise has been working fine. I'm doing the rebuild due to stripped knuckle studs and thought I'd go ahead and rebuild it all while I was in there. I'm not sure if the inner knuckle was ground down a bit as I had someone else install them years ago. I'm just not sure how to open it up enough to get them out.
 

spotcruiser

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I've had the same issue as offrd63. The flats on the knuckle need a little more grinding. Use a slide-hammer to remove the birf and then do a little more grinding before reinstallation.
 
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I'm not familiar with a slide hammer. Can I just pick up one at an auto parts store? Anything specific type or size?
 
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I'm looking at slide hammers online and trying to understand their uses. Could you explain how to use one to remove the axle / birfield from inside the inner knuckle. I'm not following how to get a grip on or behind some part of it to pull it out.
Thanks
 

pjohnson

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I think a slide hammer will require a threaded hole in the end of the birfield.
 

spotcruiser

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Myself, I just worked it out by hand with the help of a dead-blow hammer. Up a little, down a little, up a little, down a little, until I got it out. It really only took a few minutes to work it out.

If that doesn't work for you, places like Autozone and Oreillys will loan you a slide hammer and an axle flange adapter. You do need a way to attach the slide hammer to the birf. A bolt hole in the end of the birf (like OEM) is the easiest attachment. The Longfield has a snap-ring groove, doesn't it?

There are probably a bunch of ways to do it, but you could make a simple steel plate with a hole sized to go over the birf shaft but small enough that the snap-ring will captivate it. Then drill the plate to bolt to an axle adapter and go to town with the slide hammer.


 
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spotcruiser

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Honestly, I'd be surprised if there wasn't enough room to just do a little hand filing on the top and bottom flats inside the knuckle ball to get that birf out. You have the whole knuckle out of the way and you're not worried about filings since you're going to clean, repack, and reseal the whole thing. Shove the birf in all the way and take a small, sharp hand file to it.
 
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I did hear In a lowrange off-road knuckle rebuilding vid that some aftermarket heavy duty axles need to get the kuckle removed in order to get the axle out
 
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I'll try these methods and see what happens. I'll let you know the outcome. Thanks a bunch for the input.
 
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The very same. I found a used knuckle and decided to rebuild the whole thing while it was apart. Can never be that easy. I have 1 week to have it done and be in Saint George, UT for a week of rocks.
 
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Grinding a little on the inner aspect of the flat spot on the inner knuckle (while birfield is pushed in and out the way; sort of) worked to get the axle out. I started with a small file and moved to a dremel with a small grinding tip. It still took some effort to get it out, but it worked. After the birfield and axle were removed I put a towel in the inner axle seal and then cleaned up the grinding and smoothed things out to hopefully keep things functioning well and make it easier next time. Thanks for all the suggestions and tips.
 
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