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Old 07-19-2014, 11:27 AM   #1
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Tools for a Front End Teardown?

Okay, Act One of my comedic TJ rebuild project is about to get underway.

I have all my parts:

Timken unit bearings (HA597449)
Spicer U joints (5-760X)
Synergy ball joints (PPM-4120-01)
Centric premium rotors
Black Magic pads
LubeLocker D30
Valvoline 80W-90 gear oil

Tools that I currently have:

Tekton 36 mm 1/2" impact drive socket (4396)
Milwaukee 1/2" CORDED, ELECTRIC impact driver
1/2" Husky breaker bar
1/2" Kobalt torque wrench
Lots of other, common wrenches, ratchets and sockets, etc, etc, etc

I have no special tools for this. Also, I am considering getting an air impact driver as I do not know if my electric one will be gutsy enough. (Anyone here use the Milwaukee driver listed above? Is it strong enough?)

I need a dead blow hammer. (Just because.)

I know how to use my big ass bench vice to remove the U joints, but is there a "better" way than this? Will buying/renting a special tool for the U joint removal and install be worth it? I do not own a press to use as a fall back in case my vise and sledge hammer do not work.

I have seen people pull steering knuckles from the ball joints with a pickle fork. Is that the right way, or is there a special separator tool for removing the knuckles from the tapered pins? Or is this a Jerry Bransford Special, here, meaning do I simply need to smack the side of the joint with a 2 or 3 pound sledge to knock these guys free? (If so, I hit the side of the knuckle and not the side of the axle yoke, right?)

In your personal experience, is it easier to pull the unit bearing with the shaft in place on the vehicle or to pull the shaft and pull the bearing and U joint at the same time on the same vise? I am tearing down so much here at once, but it makes sense to me to replace all the suspect, old, worn parts in one go.

I know about the four clips on the U joints. I have only looked at the new Spicer ones in a cursory manner and did not notice whether they came with new clips. Do I need to save the old retainer clips or does the Spicer normally come with new ones? (Stupid, I know. I just need to look. But I am not at home while I am doing this preliminary research. So I am just getting as prepared as I can before disabling my TJ for god knows how long, heh, heh, heh...)

Can you do this without pulling the shafts? If not, what do I need to know about pulling and reinstalling them? I seem to remember that you do not want the splines to scrape inside the axle tube. It this correct? If so, why?

I also plan on pulling the diff cover and replacing the oil with the Valvoline listed above. I will use a new Lube Locker and see if it leaks on me. The current setup with RTV does not leak, but it may have been years since it was drained and refilled. I am sure that the sludge that comes out of that diff will be quite tasty looking.

What advice can you offer me regarding special tools or methods you have used? I am certain that all this stuff will be frozen on badly. I just hope that no bolts snap a head off. That would pretty much suck.

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2003 Shale Green TJ Sport
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The terms "PO" and POS" are interchangeable when referring to the guy who used to own my TJ.
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Old 07-19-2014, 11:43 AM   #2
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I think you have the right ideas for the most part. You will need a press for the ball joints, use a hammer on the steering knuckle to remove it. On stu's site there's a pic showing where to hit it D30 Ball Joint Replacement - 2

Be careful, when I did mine I smashed the hole that bolts on the unit bearing and had to re drill it out. Pretty easy stuff really, just take your time.

Spicer axle joints will have new clips.

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Old 07-19-2014, 12:41 PM   #3
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You will need a 12 point 1/2" or 13mm socket to remove the unit bearing bolts, a standard 6 point 1/2" socket won't fit.

I just completed changing my ball joints has weekend, it's not something I would willingly do again. That's a real PITA job unless you have a good quality complete ball joint removal kit with all of the correct size fittings.

Mine were so hard to get out that I ended up bending the main parts of my Harbor Freight Tools ball joint kit removing the old ball joints. There was a little unseen rust between the ball joints and knuckles so it took the leverage of my 2' breaker bar plus a 3' jack handle placed over that. Plus I needed to go to AutoZone to rent their Dana 44 ball joint adapter kit since my HFT kit didn't have the right sizes. Installing the new ball joints was a piece of cake, getting the old ones out was not.

You'll want a 3 lb. sledge hammer to knock the knuckle off once you get the nuts off. Hit it where it's circled below, I borrowed that circle from Stu's site.

The second photo shows how to separate all of the tapered joints using that 3 lb. sledge hammer. A few good healthy whacks on the SIDE of where the tapered stud passes through pops them apart.

The third photo is just for those who have never seen what the tool looks like for removing/installing new ball joints. I ended up bending both the big 'C' part and the threaded part of the tool. Don't buy HFT's ball joint kit for doing a Jeep's ball joints, it's not up to that big of a ball joint.
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Old 07-19-2014, 01:05 PM   #4
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Can I rent a good ball joint service kit with the correct adaptors from O'Reilly's or AutoZone, or will I have to buy a set? I do not intend to do any ball joints again for some time. I will purchase an OTC Chrysler/Jeep ball joint set (8031) if I have to, but that is a lot of cash for a one-time tool set!
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The terms "PO" and POS" are interchangeable when referring to the guy who used to own my TJ.
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Old 07-19-2014, 01:15 PM   #5
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You can rent the tool from AutoZone, make sure you also rent their Dana 44 Ball Joint Adapter Kit which is a different kit... you need both.
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Old 07-19-2014, 01:28 PM   #6
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For a Dana 30? Or are they the same ball joints so that the Dana 44 kit covers both axles?
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2003 Shale Green TJ Sport
2013 Black JK Sport S

The terms "PO" and POS" are interchangeable when referring to the guy who used to own my TJ.
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Old 07-19-2014, 01:29 PM   #7
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Yep you need the Dana 44 adapter kit, the ball joints are identical for a TJ Dana 30 and TJ Dana 44.
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Old 07-19-2014, 02:10 PM   #8
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Thank you!
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2003 Shale Green TJ Sport
2013 Black JK Sport S

The terms "PO" and POS" are interchangeable when referring to the guy who used to own my TJ.
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Old 07-19-2014, 02:14 PM   #9
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O'Reilly's calls it a 4x4 kit. It was a $185 deposit to rent both and it still didn't have the right stuff. I had to get a little creative with a large socket. Also, on the upper ball joint you will have to shim the adapters so you can press the ball joint in evenly. In this video the guys uses a piece of steel, I used 2 washers.

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