In the fall of 1997, I was bouncing down some pretty rocky roads in the Four Peaks area. We had a good ride, but when we got back to town, I found I couldn't turn very sharp. The steering would actually catch, and refuse to turn any farther. I somehow managed to make it through 25 miles of city traffic to home.
When I pulled the left front hub and wheel, I found the axle joint had come apart. This joint is not the Spicer Cardon cross. Nor is it the Rzeppa joint with the six balls in the ring cage either. This joint is not in the service manual.
As you can see in the picture, this joint has a cup on each shaft that holds five balls between the two shafts. Four are on the outside in contact with the cups and the fifth is pegged in the center to hold the others in place. The cups are shaped so the four balls are in contact with both cups at all times. Rotation of one axle shaft tranfers force through the balls to the other axle shaft. The shafts are held in place by the housing, and there is no connection between the two shafts except the balls.
On my axle, the edge of one of the cups was chipped, which allowed the balls to fall out. The balls were getting jammed between the housing and the cup, which was preventing the free articulation of the joint.
After calling around, I discovered this joint was made by Bendix. This type of joint was only used in the early years, and I'm not sure if it was used in all the Willys. I could not find any axles to replace my damaged one. I drove for a few months with the damaged axle. It only dropped the balls when turning to the maximum. After it dropped the balls again, I removed the axle and drove without it. Of course, I couldn't use the front axle drive, so no four wheeling. I eventually repaced the axle with a Cardon cross type axle. I now have a Spicer left axle and a Bendix right axle.
|© Richard B. Grover 1997 to 2006.||Last updated: Thursday, March 1, 2001|