1963-1979 Half-Shaft U-Joint Replacement

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Posted August 16, 2012 by Zip Corvette in Corvette Technical Articles
Half-Shaft-U-Joint-Replacement-lead

It starts out as a slight squeak in the rear when you make a hard turn at slow or moderate speed. You notice it usually makes its presence known when you turn the same direction each time. You know it is something that just needs greased and you’ll get to it. As time goes on you don’t “get to it” and the squeak is now noticeably louder and more frequent. You may also notice a slight vibration when you are driving in a straight line. You still ignore the noise only now it is starting to sound like something is loose. It is a metal to metal noise every time you turn one direction and the vibration is much more noticeable. The next thing you know, you are driving along when you hear this loud bang. Then it sounds like someone is beating on the underside of your Corvette with a hammer. You somehow manage to keep control of your Corvette and you bring it to a stop. You quickly look under the rear end to see what happened. There you see one of your half shafts connected at only one end, if it is even there at all. The damage to the underside is unbelievable. You would be amazed what damage one half shaft connected at only one end can do. Remember, this all started with a slight squeak. The squeak was a dry half shaft u-joint. A Corvette has 4 of them and they should be checked and greased regularly.

We had a slight squeak in the right rear of our 73 Corvette and discovered it was a bad u-joint. We called the good people at Zip Corvette Parts, 8067 Fast Lane, Mechanicsville, VA 23111, (800) 962-9632, and they supplied us with the half shaft u-joints. Follow along and see how we replaced the half shaft u-joint in only a few hours and kept our 73 Corvette on the road.

Click on the images for expanded views – it’s much easier on the eyes. 
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Step 1

01: After you have raised and secured the vehicle, place your hand around the axle drive shaft and try to rotate it back and forth. If there is any play or noise, the u-joint is bad. By doing this you should also be able to tell if it is the inboard or outboard u-joint.
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Step 2

02: Now go to the outboard axle flange. Bend back the bolt locking tabs and remove the outboard flange bolts.
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Step 3

03: Now go to the outboard axle flange. Bend back the bolt locking tabs and remove the outboard flange bolts.
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Step 4

04: Scribe a mark on the camber adjusting cam and also on the mounting bracket so that they can be re-aligned in the same position.
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Step 5

05:Loosen the camber adjusting nut and rotate the cam bolt so that the high point of the cam points inboard. This will push the control arm outward and then provide you with clearance to remove the shaft.
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Step 6

06:Now you can remove the shaft.
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Step 7

07: Experience has taught me to do the u-joints in both axle shafts instead of just one. Here both the right and left shafts are removed and marked. I always put the same shaft and end in the same place upon re-assembly. I never like to mix up shafts or ends.
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Step 8

08: To remove the u-joints from the shafts, start by removing the lock ring.
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Step 9

09: Support the yoke on a 1 1/4″ pipe or 1 1/4″ socket. Then use a 13/16″ socket to press the u-joint cap down far enough to drive the opposite u-joint cap out of the yoke.
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Step 10

10: Now press the opposite cap out by pressing the u-joint against the remaining cap.
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Step 11

11: Here is the worn u-joint with its caps removed and the new greaseable u-joint that we received from Zip Corvette Parts with one cap removed. If you look closely, you will see the worn areas on the old u-joint.
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Step 12

12: You can re-install the u-joints in a vise. Partially install one u-joint cap into the yoke. Install the other u-joint cap and install both caps at the same time. Be careful to keep the u-joint aligned in the caps at all times. If you don’t, a needle bearing may fall across the bottom of the cap and prevent you from fully installing the cap.
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Step 13

13: The u-joint can also be installed by using a press. Follow the same procedure as explained in the vise installation. I showed both methods because everyone does not have a press and both can be used to install or remove the u-joints.
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Step 14

14: After the u-joint caps are fully installed, re-install the retaining lock ring. Be sure it is seated fully in its lock ring groove.
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Step 15

15: Now install the zerk fittings into the u-joints.
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Step 16

16: You may want to put masking tape around the loose caps that are installed into the rear end yokes. This will keep them from accidentally falling off. You don’t want to be looking for needle bearings on the floor, do you?
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Step 17

17: To re-install the axle half shaft, place the inboard u-joint into the rear end side yokes and assemble the u-bolts. Torque to 15 ft. lbs. Now install the outboard drive flange into place. Install the 4 bolts and locks and torque to 75 ft. lbs. Now bend the lock tabs into place. Re-align your scribe mark on the camber adjusting cam to your mark on the bracket and torque to 65 ft. lbs. Grease your new u-joints and put your Corvette back on the road.
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Source: Zip Corvette Parts
8067 Fast Lane | Mechanicsville, VA 23111 | (800) 962-9632


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