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Old 01-23-2016, 11:17 PM   #1
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U-Joint symptoms

Some people post questions, get lots of good answers and we never hear from them again.
I'm not posting a question, but instead an experience.
I was on the road visiting family and had noticed along the way that when accelerating from a stop, there was a little jerkiness to the first 1-5 mph or so. We made it to our destination with no symptoms except for the low speed jerkiness, but when leaving, the slight jerking was there then turned into vibration at higher speeds, especially when in the throttle. I suspected a driveshaft universal joint so I got off the interstate at the next exit and crawled underneath the MH. Sure enough the joint at the axle end of the driveshaft was hot to touch.
I was able to find both u-joints locally and replace them myself. I replaced both because I didn't want to do it again anytime soon.
I won't go into details on how I replaced them unless anyone is interested.
I mainly wanted to post the symptoms to maybe help someone on the road diagnose a similar problem.
This is a 1994 Spartan Chassis with Cummins 6CTA/Allison MD3060 combo and the part# I bought were Spicer 5-674X and 5-279X cross referenced from Rockwell numbers I got from Spartan.
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Old 01-24-2016, 06:15 AM   #2
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Thanks for the info.
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Old 01-24-2016, 07:04 AM   #3
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Freightliner recommends to grease the drive line every 6K miles.
What does the Spartan manual say?

Not many do that. When some oil changes are up to 15,000 miles or once a year.
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Old 01-24-2016, 07:07 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Triker56 View Post
Freightliner recommends to grease the drive line every 6K miles.
What does the Spartan manual say?

Not many do that. When some oil changes are up to 15,000 miles or once a year.
In my manual, every 5k
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Old 01-24-2016, 07:29 AM   #5
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Thanks for the info GA Navigator. Did you replace them at the on the side of the road at that exit, or did you get home and then replace them?
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Old 01-24-2016, 11:22 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Triker56 View Post
Freightliner recommends to grease the drive line every 6K miles.
What does the Spartan manual say?

Not many do that. When some oil changes are up to 15,000 miles or once a year.
My chassis manual recommends 5,000 miles but I'll admit that I haven't greased them that often. According to my records it had been 8,000 and 6,000 before that. Who knows what the previous owner did.
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Old 01-24-2016, 11:40 AM   #7
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Thanks for the info GA Navigator. Did you replace them at the on the side of the road at that exit, or did you get home and then replace them?
We had only gone maybe 10 miles. I went back to where we had parked for a couple of days on private property. This joint would likely not have made it home.

There is a thread on here somewhere about being sure that grease purges from all four bearings. I will make sure of this in the future.

The job took me about 5 hours including going to two different businesses to buy the joints. The first place only had one of them.

Only basic tools were required. End wrenches, pipe wrench, screwdriver, hammer, grease gun, and a large vocabulary of curse words.

If you are wondering about the pipe wrench, I used it to break the old bearings loose from the yoke by rotating the end plates. A couple of the plates broke off from the bearing cups which made the job more difficult. The bearing cups are not pressed into the yoke but do fit snug.
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Old 01-24-2016, 12:00 PM   #8
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A trick to pushing out the caps is to place a small bottle jack on a 4X4 on end.

We used a porta power, but who carries that ?

Place the jack under the shaft near the joint and push the shaft up. The cap slips right out.

You do need to be able to turn the shaft for the other side.

A big bottle jack under 1 wheel and brakes off for that, or pull an axle.
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Old 01-24-2016, 12:00 PM   #9
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"large vocabulary of curse words."

Yep, I can relate! This is a great post/thread. I've done a ton of the maintenance, alterations, repairs, changes, and more on our coach, an '04 Itasca Horizon, 36GD with the C-7 330HP CAT. Some of which has been a bear to do. I figured someday, I too will have to replace the U-joints on ours.
As far as frequency of lubing our U-joints, they get done about 3-4 times a year, along with each and every other zerk on this coach. I figure GREASE IS FREE, all the parts that need lubing, AREN'T!!!! So, with that kind of thought process, I might just get away with not ever having to replace my u-joints. But, if I have to, it's nice to know that someone like yourself has done it without too much stress.

I've replaced u-joints on many types of vehicles, including several of our Jeeps. Normally, they're not too difficult. You just have to make sure things are aligned properly before pressing or, HAMMERING the new ones into position. But, if as you say, the ones in the coach are not as tight in the sockets, that makes the job considerably easier. Thanks for the tips and the writeup, and especially the pictures. I like pictures.
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Old 01-24-2016, 12:01 PM   #10
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5 hours is pretty darn good! Takes me that long to just get my tools out and psych myself up enough to tackle a job like that.

Quote:
...and a large vocabulary of curse words
As you age, and as you work on these coaches, the list of 4 letter words gets longer and longer. The only thing is I keep forgetting them and have to come up with new ones!

Yes on grease coming out of all the joints. Does your new joints have two Zerk fittings each? I use a air powered grease gun and I mark any caps that don't ooze grease readily with a permanent marker. Then the next time I grease the joints I pay attention to that cap and usually it is flowing but another one is flow challenged. Must be the position they are in. I don't have the guts to lift the rear wheels off the ground, release the parking brake, and turn the tire to reposition the joint. They say a cat has 9 lives, and if humans have that many, then at my age I'm sure I have used up many of those lives. I don't take chances nearly as much anymore.

Anyway good job and you sure sound like you are talented.
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Old 01-24-2016, 06:19 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by twinboat View Post
A trick to pushing out the caps is to place a small bottle jack on a 4X4 on end.

We used a porta power, but who carries that ?

Place the jack under the shaft near the joint and push the shaft up. The cap slips right out.

You do need to be able to turn the shaft for the other side.

A big bottle jack under 1 wheel and brakes off for that, or pull an axle.
Now that is an awesome idea! You always have the best answers. The next time I have problems, I'm just going read through all your posts.

If I had known this trick, I'm thinking it would have cut the time in half.

As for rotating the shaft, I think I'd use the 4x4 or something under the leveling jack to get a rear wheel off the ground enough to rotate it. Or just park on a slight incline before starting the job. Brake off and let it roll. That might take a few tries to get it right though.
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Old 01-24-2016, 06:40 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by GA Navigator View Post
Now that is an awesome idea! You always have the best answers. The next time I have problems, I'm just going read through all your posts.

If I had known this trick, I'm thinking it would have cut the time in half.

As for rotating the shaft, I think I'd use the 4x4 or something under the leveling jack to get a rear wheel off the ground enough to rotate it. Or just park on a slight incline before starting the job. Brake off and let it roll. That might take a few tries to get it right though.
Thanks, 34 years of trying to make hard jobs easy.
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