Nuts, I’m Confused
Broke & Bandaged
Q: I knew running 35s on my Jeep TJ would be hard on my stock axles, but I wasn’t quite expecting the dramatic failure I recently experienced when my rear pinion bearing exploded. I read in your magazine about the “TJK” axles, and I always figured that was the route I would go when my stock axles eventually wore out, but they failed more dramatically and sooner than I planned on. So, long story marginally less long, I don’t have the money to buy new axles right now. I need to cobble together the old POS axle.
I’m not going to be able to park the Jeep in the garage until Christmas break, so how much and in what particular manner am I messing up my Jeep by driving it around in front-wheel drive?
When the pinion bearing disintegrated, I pulled the rear driveshaft and pinion in a parking lot and drove it home in four-wheel drive. When I got home, I cut the top off a bottle of brake fluid and RVT’d over the hole where the pinion should be, so I could fill it up with fluid and not fry carrier bearings. I’m not too worried about the rearend, but I’m worried about what I might be doing driving the Jeep in “front-wheel drive” on dry pavement for a month or so. I don’t go on the highway, I’m not going much more than 35-40 mph, and I only drive 50-60 miles a week, but I’m still worried I might be ruining something else in the meantime.
A: Brilliant trail fix. And though we give you props for the patch job, we’re not big fans of your running down the highway for a month with that rear axle. It should be fine as long as you pulled the whole pinion out and sealed it up as you say, but remember, if that rearend locks up you could be making a high-speed U-turn, so keep the speed down.
Next is the transfer case. If you do not have a slip yoke eliminator (SYE) on it you could be pumping gear oil out the tailhousing. Our research shows an SYE kit sells for $200-$300 depending on where you shop. However, if you do not have the SYE installed already you’ll need a different rear driveshaft when you rebuild your rearend because the stock shaft doesn’t work with the SYE. If you can somehow cobble a plug for the back of the transfer case, or check it routinely for leaks and top it off, you may be able to limp it for the next month until you can repair it.
You’re at a turning point between upgrading and repairing, but our advice is to scavenge a seal and bearing and fix your rear axle and get back on the road safely. Then keep saving up for the new parts you want, like the TJK axles and SYE.
Since your repair is great for a trail fix and we like your never-give-up attitude and style, we’re awarding you the Nuts, I’m Confused letter of the month. You’re getting a big box of nuts and bolts. The Copper State Bolt and Nut Company has a great trail box of various fasteners and such all bundled in a small tackle box, perfect for stashing in your Jeep in case more trail carnage strikes. Unfortunately for you, it doesn’t contain a pinion bearing, seal, or slip yoke eliminator kit, but it does have a variety of fasteners and wiring and plumbing tidbits to keep you moving. Copper States offers both metric and inch bolt kits. For more info about these kits call 602.272.2384.
Yes to Big-Blocks
In our Dec. ’11 issue we asked whether you were interested in big-block engines or the price of fuel had you leaning toward smaller-displacement engines. The response was a resounding yes to big-blocks. Here are a few comments we received.
“I love my ’87 GMC 1 ton 4x4 with the TBI 454.” —Peter Bauer
“I have a ’91 7.4L waiting to go into my ’68 Gladiator. Yes, fuel is expensive, but to your point, when you place the skinny pedal on the floor, there is nothing like the feeling of pure horsepower putting you in your seat.” —Mike Parker
“I will never get rid of my big-block.” —David M. Vianu
“People always ask ‘Wow, what does that thing get for mileage?’ I say, ‘Who cares!’” —Derek Hanscom
“I love that Big-Block power! Funny thing is I’m getting the same mileage out of the 460 as I was getting out of the 302, go figure?!” —Matt Campbell
“I use my 2500 big block Avalanche as my tow rig. I have over 30,000 miles towing, all in excess of 10,000 pounds, including one trip of nearly 1000 miles with a 16,000 lb trailer over the biggest passes in Colorado.” —Aaron James
Confused? Email your questions about trucks, 4x4s, and off-roading tech using “Nuts, I’m confused” as the subject and include a picture (if it’s applicable). Digital photos must measure no less than 1600 x 1200 pixels (or two megapixels) and be saved as a TIFF, an EPS, or a maximum-quality JPEG file. Also, I’ll be checking the forums on our website (www.4wheeloffroad.com), and if I see a question that I think more of you might want to have answered, I’ll print that as well. Otherwise drop it old-school style with the envelope addressed to the address below. Letters published in this magazine reflect the opinions of the writers, and we reserve the right to edit letters for clarity, brevity, or other purposes. Write to: Nuts & Bolts, 4-Wheel & Off-Road, 831 S. Douglas St., El Segundo, CA 90245 fax to: 310.531.9368 Email to: firstname.lastname@example.org