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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Well, in an effort to help some of you out there who are looking at spending $250+ for a new double cardan driveshaft, I've created this thread to show you how you can build your own for around $30, in less than an hour!

I have personally built somewhere around 10 shafts in the following manner, and have yet to have an issue with any of them. As a few people can testify, these shafts are just as good as any others.

I know of one person in particular, who just drove his TJ all the way from Colorado to Iowa & back on one of these shafts with no issues whatsoever.

First off, where to get the driveshaft in question:
  • Late 80's XJ front driveshaft (beware the constant velocity front shafts-you don't want these)
  • Early 80's full size Wagoneers
  • Early 80's full size J trucks
  • AMC Eagle AWD wagons
  • 90's Ford Explorer's
All the aforementioned vehicles came factory with a double cardan, 1310 u-joint front driveshaft, and are perfect candidates for shortening. On the Explorers, note that the few I've come across have Torx bolts retaining the u-joint straps at the pinion. I typically pickup my driveshafts at the local u-pull-it junkyard for $30, including a core charge.

Second, the tools you'll need to perform the shortening:
  • A 4 1/2" grinder with cutoff wheel, & grinding wheel
  • A 220v welder
  • Die grinder
  • two pieces (@36" long) of 2" wide metal (I use 1" x 2" rectangular tubing, but heavy flatbar works as well
  • 6" C-clamps
  • Rubber mallet
First step: clean off the driveshaft. No doubt it will be covered in grease & grime from whatever vehicle you picked it from.

Step One The cleaned up, ready to work on, shaft:


Step two:
You're going to make a cut in the weld at the CV end of the spline section. In the picture below, it's the weld at the very right side of the picture.

DO NOT CUT ALL THE WAY THROUGH! You only need to cut approximately 1/8" to 3/16" in to the weld, enough to weaken the connection between the driveshaft tube and the forged spline section itself:

Here is the area to make the cut:


And about how deep to cut: (note I made this cut slightly too deep)


Step Three:
Tap the section you just cut with the rubber mallet in order to work the spline section out of the tube. It does not take Conan force to do this - a few taps working your way around the tube is usually enough to begin it seperating. If it's working, you should begin to see this:


Once removed, this is what the end of the spline piece of driveshaft will look like:


You will now have two pieces:


Step Four:
Using either the 4 1/2" cutoff wheel on the grinder, or a bandsaw (my preference) or even a chopsaw, shorten the tube on the CV side of the drive shaft to the appropriate length, as determined by measuring the distance between yokes on your axle & transfer case. Be sure to take driveshaft & suspension travel when making your measurements!

Once you've cut a section of tube off, use the die grinder to grind down the weld seam inside the tube on the CV end of the driveshaft. It also helps to grind down the entire inner circumference of the tube to aid in mating the two pieces back together. I also like to run the die grinder around the spline section to clean off any rust that may have built up. You can test fit the two pieces together - you want them tight, but not tight to the point where you'll need a press to get them back together. I usually grind to the point where it takes a few taps on the mallet to mate them together.

Grinding the on the inside of the tube:


And on the spline portion:


Step Five:
Now that the two pieces are 'clearanced', you can push them together. Like I mentioned earlier, it needs to be a snug fit, but not overly tight. I like to leave the bolts in the CV flange in order to provide a stable base so that when I stand the shaft up on end to tap on it, it doesn't wobble all over the place. Make sure the yokes are in phase!!
 

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Discussion Starter #2
Step Six:
Using the flatbar or rectangular tubing & the c-clamps, clamp the driveshaft together. Lay the flat edge of the metal across the outside 'flat' area where the u-joints go. On the CV end, use the flats closest to the spline end to clamp to - the 'cage' around the CV won't provide a flat area to keep the ends true.


Using the straight edges of the metal as a guide, eyeball the straightness of the two sections. Take your time here - get it as straight as possible. Once the two sections are as true as possible, tack them together in a few places. Don't put too much weld in one area - the heat of welding will draw the shaft in one direction or the other, causing it to come out of alignment. Once you have it sufficiently tacked so it won't move, go ahead and remove the driveshaft from the 'jig' to complete the weld all the way around the joint.



When done, you should have something like this:


Step Seven:
Since welding will inevitably leave some areas higher than others, now is the time to put the grinding wheel on the grinder & grind the weld area down smooth. Normally in welding you wouldn't do this as it could weaken the weld, but balance is important in this case, and high spots can throw the shaft off. I like to finish up with a 60 grit flapper wheel on the grinder to clean it up, but it's not really necessary. This is what you should have once done:



And there you have it! Throw on a coat of your favorite spray paint, and you've got yourself a nice double cardan shaft for the fraction of the cost of new!



Now, though I have never had to have one of the shafts built this way balanced by a professional driveline shop, it's probably not a bad idea. My advice: install the shaft, and see how it is. As long as it's straight & true, you shouldn't have any issues. If it's out of alignment though, it will need balancing to prevent bearing damage in your axle or transfer case.

If you don't trust your welds, don't run this shaft on a street vehicle! If the weld fails, you could spit out metal chunks at vehicles around you, causing a real safety hazard. If you have ANY doubts, please do NOT run this shaft on the street!

Happy shortening!! :beer: :beer: :beer:
 

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Great write up.

Only problem I see is that youre stuck with a 1/2 ton driveshaft. IMO, not a good thing to have in the rear of a wheelin' rig.

I wouldn't run a shaft that I could destroy with torque. As long as your shafts are strong enough, they will never break unless they bind or are worn out, or destroyed by a foreign object. Every 1/2 ton rig I see has u joint failure on a regular basis from torque.

Of course it depends on other factors...like if you're running an axle that will fail prior to a 1310 u joint.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Not intended to be for 1 ton or comp rigs.

But I dare say there is a lot more YJ's, TJ's & XJ's out there running Dana 44's or less on smaller than 35" tires than there are rigs running 1 ton drivetrain.
 

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Don't you have to weld it going in a certain direction too?
I'm no driveshaft expert but I thought you had to take-care in welding driveshafts a special way?? Or maybe that was making sure the yokes were aligned properly... ? Whic has to do with tube placement when welding?

I know there's something here.... :confused:

And for the record I've seen 1310 u-joints in many 4x4 rigs, driveshafts still normaly are what break or twist first, or axle shafts or axle u-joints (before a axleshaft u-joint). It also depends on auto or manual too. The cryo'd 1310 are not bad either.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
I've never bothered welding them in any special way or direction, just a normal weld. I DO make sure that the yokes are properly aligned though - clamping the flats of the yokes helps to align the ends with each other.

That doesn't mean that you're not supposed to weld them a certain way, but this is what has worked for me, and there have been no vibration issues up to 85mph with them.
 

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like said good right up, but the 1310 CV wont hold up under a 1 ton, watched a good buddy go through 3 rear shafts this weekend due to the CV exploding, 1310's, SBC, 39's dont go together well.
 

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nice write up. i have made several toyota shafts in a similar manner, but i found a pipe size that fits perfect inside of the factory toy d-shaft tube, so all you have to do to shorten or legnthen it is cut it in half, add a section of the new tube, chech straightness and weld it. i even made one in camp at tellico and drove 8 hours back to raleigh with it. only vibed at 55 and stopped above that. all i had to check straight was a 6x6 landscaping timber.
 

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Excellent ideas. I have always made my own shafts from day one. Your ideas are much better than my butch way of rolling them accross the bench.

As for 1/2 ton shafts, I run whatever I can find. So when you say 1/2 ton are you talking 1310 joints? I have been running 1310s in the front of my 1 ton 4runner and my old blazer for years and the only failures have been from loose straps, denting the shaft, or from forgetting to clearance the yokes. I also ran a 1310 on the rear tranfer case side for years. No problems. And all that was with a 5000+ lbs rig with 44" boggers, sbc 350, t350, and 203/205 doubler.
 

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One other thing I learned from watching a driveline shop do is to use a torch and blow the welds off and not use a cutoff wheel. If you dont get it too hot you can blow the weld right off and never even scar the yoke.
 

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Great write-up, and very helpful! For the 1 ton crowd, you could pretty much replicate this with Chevy 1 ton shafts. Not sure on the years, but have seen Chevy stock fronts that are perfect for this ;)
 

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onetoncv said:
It actually would be better to bolt the shaft into the vehicle and use the yokes on the rig to staigten it - Jess
We do just that, and hang a plumb to use as a redneck runout checker.
 

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Discussion Starter #15
geberhard said:
Great write-up, and very helpful! For the 1 ton crowd, you could pretty much replicate this with Chevy 1 ton shafts. Not sure on the years, but have seen Chevy stock fronts that are perfect for this ;)
Exactly right. My intentions here aren't to imply that you can only do this on 1310 CV driveshafts. The same basic theory works on ALL driveshafts-doesn't matter if they are flanged yokes, plain yoke, or double cardan joints. Maybe now people have an idea of what's involved in the process. My junk runs all 1310 (that's all I have room for in the front anyways), so that's what I did the write up on.
 

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onetoncv said:
It actually would be better to bolt the shaft into the vehicle and use the yokes on the rig to staigten it - Jess
I've made a couple this way.... bolt it in and use a mag-mount base & dial indicator to check/adjust the runout before welding it up. Once it's welded up.... it's already installed!!!!
 

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masonmachines said:
where can 1350 double cardon driveshafts be found?
I have seen some on pick and pull on chevys. I think some military trucks and rigs also have 1350, and some 1410's if I am not mistaken. Someone posted around here what years to look for, gotta find that thread...
 

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geberhard said:
I have seen some on pick and pull on chevys. I think some military trucks and rigs also have 1350, and some 1410's if I am not mistaken. Someone posted around here what years to look for, gotta find that thread...
That would be great if you could find it.
 

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you know what works fawkin great to cut the tube?

a big pipe cutter. it makes a PERFECTLY straight cut, everytime, with no guesswork. then you can just take a file or a de-bur tool to the inside of the tube and you're done.
 
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