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Restoration of the Driveline

Updated: Jul 19, 2022

The restoration of the driveline assembly and front and rear universal joints proved to be a major undertaking!

Even with the help of our original owner's manual and parts book we were challenged just to disassemble and remove it. First we disconnected the speedometer cable and drive. Next we unscrewed the front universal joint threaded aluminum housing cover.


Front universal joint threaded aluminum housing cover and speedometer gear

Front universal joint and driveline before disassembly


Next we removed the eight castellated nuts and the bearing retainers. We were surprised when loose roller bearings fell away from the two bearing cups which were attached to the brake drum assembly.

After we removed the front bearing retainer assembly we began the disassembly of the rear universal joint. First we unfastened the aluminum universal joint cover and slid it out of the way. Next we drove the bearing retainer sleeve away from the body of the heavy machined steel sliding universal joint.


Aluminum rear universal joint cover and retainer sleeve

Retainer sleeve in place enclosing the rear driveline bearing housing


After removing the retainer sleeve and cleaning the assembly we were able to rotate the differential and slide the rear end of the driveline and bearings out and away from the sliding joint. This enabled us to remove the complete driveline assembly.


Complete driveline assembly after removal and before restoration

Rear sliding universal joint bearing housing after cleaning

The four precision machined slides attached to the rear universal joint bearing housing


After the driveline was removed from the vehicle we needed to complete the removal of the front half of the universal joint bearing retainer. Before the front half of the bearing retainer could be removed both bearing axles bolted onto the cast iron brake drum had to be removed. Before the axles could be removed we had to remove the eight nuts which held the service brake assembly / universal joint housing to the transmission output flange. Accessing and removing those nuts was a lengthy frustrating ordeal due to a bare minimum of clearance!


Service brake assembly and front universal joint housing

Here you can see the eight nuts that needed to be removed in the inner dark area

transmission output flange which attached to the service brake assembly


The Simplex, Crane model 5 included a sophisticated vibration dampener which was located inside of the service brake drum, just ahead of the front half of the universal joint bearing cup retainer.


Vibration dampener


All four of the front bearings needed replacement. This was a complicated, delicate process. The original, old roller bearings were discarded. After much thought we decided to use Torrington needle roller bearings for replacement. All four original bearing caps were retained and their inner races were ground to a true, round, and slightly larger diameter. The axle was removed from the driveline and turned on the lathe to a true, round and slightly smaller diameter to match the ID of the new replacement roller bearings.


Driving front driveline axle retaining pin out

Driving bearing cup retainer pin out

Front bearing cup loose roller bearings and retainer washer

Front end of driveline before axle removal

Front end of driveline after disassembly


The rear end of the driveline assembly also utilized loose roller bearings held into the two bearing cups by a double ended capped retainer which passed through the center of the axle. Once again, after careful consideration, we decided to substitute the original bearings with new sealed roller bearings with integral inner and outer races. After removing the old bearings the axle was removed from the driveline and machined round, true, and to a slightly smaller diameter to match the new bearings. All four hardened steel slides were removed from the rear universal joint housing and machined on a magnetic surface grinder. The newly machined surface was flat, true, and fitted to the OD of the new sealed needle roller bearings.

After the front universal joint was fully restored other work had to be completed before the driveline could be reinstalled. The top portion of the picture below shows one of the two bearing cup tapered axles. Both tapered axles need to be bolted into the service brake drum casting with the front half of the universal joint bearing cap retainer in place. After those two axles were bolted in place, the service brake drum could then be fastened to the transmission output shaft flange.


Rear end of driveline after modification and installation of new sealed roller bearings

Front universal joint threaded aluminum housing cover after cleaning and bead blasting

Restored driveline ready for installation

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