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Old 11-17-2009, 04:36 PM   #1 (permalink)
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JBR2 FAQ ---Doing your own gears

Topic: Doing Your Own Gears
Written by: _peteyg

__________________________________________________ __________________________

Lots of people ask, "How do I re-gear my vehicle? Can I do it myself? Is it easy?"

The answers are:
First, read THIS

Second, yes, you can do it.

And Third, no it is not easy. You should have some working knowledge of how gears work, and what is needed to set them up. Refer to answer #1. If you are comfortable with what you learned in the Gear Bible, then read on. Otherwise, TAKE IT TO A SHOP!!!!! If you set your gears up wrong, they will wear out very fast and leave you stranded.
While there is lots of great tech in the gear bible, I do find that I do some things differently, and there are some basic tools that you must have before you start:
  • Hammer
  • Air Tools
  • Dial Indicator
  • Some sort of mounting point for the Dial Indicator (I use a magnetic base)
  • 1 1/8" socket (used on Dana 30, 35, 44, and Ford 8.8 axles).
  • Large good quality breaker bar and a 3' cheater.
  • Housing spreaders are overrated. There are several different techniques to pulling a carrier out that are just as effective. I personally use a Snap-On Slide Hammer and it does a great job of getting stubborn carriers out.
  • Pipe Wrench
  • Small punch
  • Large bearing separator
  • Digital calipers
  • Torque wrenches (both ft. lb. AND in. lb.)

Once you have your tools ready, dive in. First you need to take the old gears out.

Step One: Remove the axles
There are several different axle types that you could encounter when doing your gears. In the rear, you will almost always encounter either flanged, c-clip, or full float axles. Each has a different method for being pulled. The only real one that takes special knowledge are c-clip axles (such as a Ford 8.8 or Dana 35). If you are removing c-clip axles, you first have to pull the diff cover and remove the pinion shaft by removing the pinion shaft lock bolt. This bolt uses factory loc-tite, and can be a real PITA. On the Ford and Dana axles, it is a 5/16th 12-point head, and you must use a 12-point socket. I keep a set of small 12-point sockets just for this. Do not use too much force on this bolt. If it breaks, many hours of frustration and heartache will ensue. I find that a small propane torch does the trick to release the loc-tite of I can't get the bolt loose.

Once the axle shafts are out, inspect the splines for unusual wear or twisting.
Step Two: Remove the carrier
In order to remove the carrier, you will need to remove the carrier bearing caps. Before you do this, use the hammer and punch to mark the bearing caps in such a way that you can put them back on the same side and in the same orientation as they came off. I always put one dot at the top of the right side cap and a corresponding dot next to it on the housing, and two dots on the left. Simple and effective.

Once the bearing caps are marked and removed, remove the carrier. In many cases, the carrier will be very tight in the housing, and will require some persuasion. I use a Snap-On slide hammer to pull the carrier out. There are other methods that also work very well, such as using a hammer handle and pry bar to lever the carrier out by prying on a ring gear bolt, or wedging the carrier so it won't move and turning the pinion yoke.
NOTE: Watch for shims. You will want to use the stock shims as a starting point for your gear setup. Be sure to note which side they came out of. If you are gearing a Dana 30 or 44, don't worry about it; the shims are under the bearings. You will have to retrieve them later.

Step 3: Remove the Pinion Gear

Use the pipe wrench to hang onto the pinion yoke and take the pinion nut off. You can use an impact wrench to remove the pinion nut, but not to install one. You may have to persuade the yoke off the pinion gear. Use the hammer. If you are going to save the gears, do not hit the pinion with the hammer to remove it. First thread the old pinion nut back onto the pinion and THEN hit it to remove it from the housing. This will save the threads. Used gears are worth money, so it's a good idea to try to save them.
Step 4: Put the new gears together
4a. Assemble the carrier

If you are re-using the old carrier, first inspect it for damage, cracks, etc. Then inspect the carrier bearings and races for wear. If they seem to be in reasonably good shape (no pits or marring of the bearing surfaces or race surface; slight discoloration is ok as long as it's smooth), then skip taking the bearings off the carrier. Some people who do this a lot make setup bearings that make it easy to change out shims, but I find that I can go pretty quick with just the bearing separator.

Next, remove the old ring gear from the carrier. At this point, I should strongly recommend that you do NOT reuse the original ring gear bolts. These are designed to stretch when torqued, and are not safe for re-use. Sure lots of people do it, and you'll get away with it sometimes, but the first time you eat a differential because a used ring gear bolt came loose and took out your brand new $200 gears, that will be the last time you use used bolts. Been there, got the hat. Besides, you did remember to buy a master install kit with your new gears, right?

Once the old ring gear is off, use brake cleaner and get the carrier nice and clean. If you are installing used gears, also ensure that the ring gear bolt holes are clean and oil free. Then put the new ring gear on. USE RED LOC-TITE. LOTS OF IT. Do not use an impact wrench to torque down the bolts. The gear bible has a link to all of the torque specification for the various axles we generally use. Follow that chart. Use a torque wrench!

Did I mention that you cannot use enough loc-tite? Refer back to the destroyed differential note.
4b. Assemble the pinion gear

Inspect the old pinion gear. If there is a shim under the gear, you will need to retrieve it. Dana 44 REAR pinions do not have a shim under the main bearing; It is behind the bearing race in the housing. Save the small shims! Dana 44 FRONT pinions may or may not have a shim under the bearing, and may or may not have an oil slinger. If it does have a slinger or shim, you must retrieve the old slinger and put it or an exact replacement on the new pinion gear.

Once you have the shims worked out, drive the main bearing onto the pinion gear. If you're careful, you can get away with using a piece of tube and a hammer to drive the bearing onto the gear. Otherwise, this is one point where it will be worth the time and effort to take it to a machine shop and have them press it on for you.
Step 5: Install the new gears in the housing
5a: Install the pinion gear

Many axles use a crush sleeve design for pinion bearing pre-load. These include Ford 8.8 and 9", some Dana 30's, all Dana 35's, some Dana 60's, and the Corporate 14-Bolt. There are delete kits available for some applications. You will have to look for them. The master install kit will include a new crush sleeve. If it's a Yukon install kit, it will usually contain 2 (they assume you will get it wrong the first time...smart folks over there at Randy's). If the pinion does not use a crush sleeve, then make sure you saved the small pinion shims from the original gears. This will be your starting point for setting up the backlash.

When installing a crush sleeved pinion into the housing, DO NOT use an impact wrench to tighten the pinion nut! I use a 2' breaker bar with a 4' cheater. To secure the pinion yoke, I use a pipe wrench with a 3' cheater attached to wedge it against the frame. I then crank the pinion nut snug until there is just barely no play in the pinion gear. This is the critical point. You only want to put about 15 - 25 in. lb. (that's INCH pounds) of pre-load on the bearings. Most people don't have an in. lb. torque wrench laying around. After you've done this for a while, you get a "feel" for the correct pre-load, but until then, it is wise to either buy, rent, or borrow an in. lb. torque wrench for this job. Ok, now it's time. Start cranking down on the pinion nut about 1/8 turn at a time until you hit your pre-load. DON'T OVERTIGHTEN THE NUT. If you get it too tight on the first try, you will have to start over with a new crush sleeve. Remember the nut on the threads trick to save the pinion gear threads.
5b. Install the carrier and ring gear.

Now you can install the carrier in the housing. Did you remember where the carrier shims went? Put them back in exactly where they came from. Did you remember to buy a dial indicator and a magnetic base? You'll need this to check the backlash. Set the dial indicator up so that the shaft is perpendicular to one of the gear teeth. Then check the backlash. You're shooting for between .006" and .010" Try really hard for .008 and you'll be ok. If you're replacing the carrier bearings as well as the pinion bearings, try for .006". If the bearings are brand new, it's ok if it's a little tight, but if they are old, keep the backlash around .010".

Now check your pattern using the pattern guide in the gear bible. If it's close you're good to go. Don't spend a hole lot of time trying to make it "perfect". The Yukon Gear installation guide that comes with every set of Yukon gears has some great advice:

"Reading the contact pattern is easy as long as I am not misled or sidetracked. The only part of the pattern that helps me set the pinion depth correctly is the contact position with regards to the face and flank of the teeth. If the contact pattern appears to be towards the heel or the toe of the ring gear teeth I pay no attention and look only at the pattern position from face to flank. The pattern will also change from heel to toe but in most cases an ideal heel to toe pattern can not be achieved. Trying to obtain a
pattern that is centered from heel to toe will usually lead to frustration and a noisy gear set. Even if it does not seem intuitive or reasonable, I am only concerned with the position of the pattern from face to flank. I have found that housing alignment and the position of the pinion bearing bore in the housing affects the pattern from heel to toe and can not be corrected without machine work. A contact pattern that is centered from face to flank always indicates correct pinion depth even if a pattern that is centered from heel to toe can not be obtained.

If the contact pattern is towards the face of the ring gear teeth then the pinion is too far away from the ring gear. To correct the pattern the pinion needs to be moved towards the ring gear so that it is positioned closer to the ring gear centerline. If the contact pattern is towards the flank of the ring gear teeth then the pinion is too close to the ring gear. To correct the pattern the pinion needs to be moved away from the ring gear so that it is positioned farther away from the ring gear centerline."

Step 6: Re-assemble the axle

Now that your gears are set and you've set your contact pattern, it's time to reassemble the axle. Pull the pinion nut off, douse the yoke threads with red loc-tite, and run the nut back to to 150 ft. lb. Then reinstall the axles, put the wheels on, fill the differential with gear oil (don't forget friction modifier if you're using a limited slip), and go wheeling!
ok, guys...pick away! Lets make this a great gear write-up.

If you disagree with a method or have a better way to do something, let me know and I'll adjust the write up accordingly. Remember, this is targeted at the shadetree mechanic, not a gear pro.

Last edited by IndyCJ; 11-17-2009 at 05:53 PM.
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Old 11-17-2009, 04:56 PM   #2 (permalink)
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I like to make set up bearings out of the old ones. Just grind a little out of the ID and take a little off the pinon race. Also I don't put the crush sleeve in until the very end, just snug the pinion nut for set up. Also another great trick is I cut a small piece of tube and use it in place of the yoke so you don't have to beat the yoke on and off. Just one mans thoughts. Great thread.
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Old 11-17-2009, 05:09 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Don't you want to use new bearings for set ups? The old wore ones will mess up your readings
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Old 11-17-2009, 07:37 PM   #4 (permalink)
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ok, I'll bite:

I ended up using a steering wheel puller to pull off the yoke from the pinion Gear. Worked like a charm and very smooth. No wacking or bangin needed when setup properly. I used the used pinion nut for setting up the gears. When all was set up, and ready for final install, thats when I used the brand new pinion nut with ALOT of threadlock.

Take the time to convert your used bearings to set ups. Trust me, it really helps in time and less aggrivation when your on your umpteenth attempt pass at hoping to get that good set up.

Setting up used gears is a royal PITA!!! Not reccomended, especially when attempting your first gear change

A chunk of 2"x4" wood will do wonders when installing the inner pinion race on a D60. Brass drifts for all other works when driving races in.

Keep your area clean and tidy when doing this type of work. Its like performing surgery, the cleaner/organized you are, the easier it is to pay attention and not get lost.

I measered each individual shim and used a marker to write on that shim the thickness of it. Then I made individual stacks of each size. So when came time to adjust, I could make up a thickness stack of choice and continue on. This made the adjustment process easier and quicker.

Use baby oil to thin down the gear marking compound and almost doubling your marking compound supply. It also makes it easier to read.
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Old 11-18-2009, 06:50 AM   #5 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by tmaddox4x4 View Post
I like to make set up bearings out of the old ones. Just grind a little out of the ID and take a little off the pinon race. Also I don't put the crush sleeve in until the very end, just snug the pinion nut for set up. Also another great trick is I cut a small piece of tube and use it in place of the yoke so you don't have to beat the yoke on and off. Just one mans thoughts. Great thread.
I do the same thing except I pony up an extra set of new bearings and use a dremel tool with a sanding drum.I sand a little at a time until it slides on with a little resistance.I didn't think the sanding drum would work but it does a great job.
Also, great thread.Nice Job!

Last edited by BossBuilt; 11-18-2009 at 06:51 AM.
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Old 11-18-2009, 07:01 AM   #6 (permalink)
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Before starting verify you have to proper gears (standard cut/reverse cut, thick/thin, ratio). MAKE SURE YOU HAVE A MATCHING SET! This in itself can save you a ton of time, TRUST ME!

Most pinion nuts are distorted thread top lock nuts, always use the old one. Using the new one on intial set-ups can distroy the pinion threads. What I like to do is grind off the top of the OLD nut and put a dab of gear oil on the threads, verify the nut screws on pinion easily prior to installation.

Diluting marking compound is an excellent way to get a good reading, it also is a good idea to wedge in a chunk of wood in between the ring gear and housing. Turn by sliding in a shaft and turn with that.

If the carrier is stuck, one way to get it out is to put a boxed in wrench on a ring gear bolt that is at the bottom of the housing pointing down, and put a wrench on one of the top bolts and turn the top wrench clockwise prying the lower wrench agaisnt the housing. Hope that makes sense!

Once proper pinion pre-load is acheived, I like to tap both sides of the pinion with a brass draft to verify it's fully seated. Then double check pre-load.

Always lube all bearings with gear oil prior to installation.

I personally check B/L and pattern in ~4 DIFFERENT places.

If a crush sleeve is giving you a hard time, eg won't crush with 550 lb/ft, you can start it on a press. Just be careful not to overcrush it!

Using set-up bearings can throw off the final pattern, in my experience ones that are in good shape usually don't. Just make sure to use the finial race's and you should be alright. If you don't have pinion set-up bearings, insteed of beating on the pinion to get it out you can hit the back with a air chisel.

As with everything, the proper tools make a huge difference. Case spreader, clamshell bearing puller, in/lb dial indicator torque wrench, etc.

Be patient, be clean, be neat.

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Last edited by cavaliers1323@aol.co; 11-18-2009 at 07:53 AM.
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Old 02-02-2010, 09:08 AM   #7 (permalink)
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Sorry for bringin back an old thread, but just wanted to say that theses are excellent tips for a newby to gear setup. Does anyone have a preferance on the make of the tool's like the Dial indicator, in lbs torque wrench, digital calipers? ( AKA: Snap On, Mac....ect perferably a cheaper tool than these as I can't afford most of the name brand tools. Thanks Gents.
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