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Old 03-12-2005, 10:55 PM
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HELP!!! Differential Repair from Hell! If it can go wrong, it has!

I am in the middle of repairing the 8.5" rear differential in my '99 Suburban. Unfortunately, every day (it's been 3, going on 4 days now) brings a new set of unforeseen problems.

For the most part, the problems have been that I did not expect so much to be wrong:

- Needed spider gears that I didn't have;

- couldn't remove carrier bearing because it had spun/seized on carrier, so IU had to take the carrier to a shop to remove ($40);

- after the carrier bearings came out, I discovered that the carrier was galled beneath the bearings, so a new carrier was in order (which I didn't have). I didn't know if I really needed a new carrier since the bearing is pressed on and does not rotate on the carrier's galled surface, but given the time and $ involved, I'd rather avoid the potential for problems down the road;

- Generally crappy "master rebuild kit" having a poor/limited selection of carrier shims and improper inner diameter of pinion shims (the shims did not account for radius in transition from the pinion shaft to the pinion gear, so they would not sit flush against the gear) (BTW, I bought this Timken bearing kit from Drivetrain Specialists of Las Vegas); and,

- Wrong pinion seal (hole for yoke was too small) also included in the Drivetrain Specialists' master kit.

I have solved all of these problems, however, I'm now having trouble crushing the crush sleeve. I have (what is supposed to be) a beast of an impact gun (IR 2135QTI - the "Q" is for quiet and it really is amazingly quiet) that is supposed to develop 700ft/lbs. Everything I have read implies that the key issue with an impact wrench is avoiding over-tightening the crush sleeve. I had no trouble tightening the pinion nut until "most" of the play was gone, however, the nut is about an 1/8" from bottoming out (i.e I can still slide the pinion in and out about 1/8") and will not turn any further. I thought something was wrong with the wrench, so I bought a 500ft/lb impact wrench from Home Depot, and it wasn't able to budge the nut either, so I am perplexed.

Should the pinion nut turn so slowly that it's movement is imperceptible, or is something else possibly wrong (I ran the impact wrench for at least 30 seconds straight, a few times, and did not detect any movement in the pinion nut)? FWIW, after trial-and-error setting the pinion depth with the original bearings ground out to slide on, I pressed on a new inner bearing, then slid on the crush sleeve, and inserted the pinion and bearing into the housing (with new races already installed). On my first install, I forgot the crush sleeve, and tightened on the outer bearing and yoke, and then removed the yoke and bearing when I realized I did not install the sleeve.

Enough with my blathering, anyone with experience changing gears/setting up differentials please let me know where I am screwing up.


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When all your settings are correct.. Forget the new crush sleeve.. Re-use the old one. But, clean up the pinion and use red locktite on the small pinion bearing surface. Then assemble to the inch lb. preload.

The purpose of the crush sleeve is to prevent the pinion bearing from spinning on the shaft. The red locktite will provide this function. I've been re-using good used sleeves for over thirty years. Never had a failure.
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Old 03-13-2005, 10:13 AM
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Problem solved! (Well, the pinion nut is on at least)

I appreciate the help. I'm not sure if I have the old crush sleeve anymore because I threw it in the trash on Day 1 (I don't know if that was before our last trash pick-up, but I'd have to dig for it in any event).

Fortunately, I was able to tighten the nut with my impact gun after I changed my approach . I re-oiled the pinion washer to assure that it wouldn't bind against the yoke, and ran my impact gun in much shorter bursts, allowing time between each burst to let the compressor catch-up. I have a relatively big compressor (60 gallon, 10.3 cfm @90psi) but it is in my basement, 100ft from my car, and the impact gun uses about 19 or 20 cfm at continuous use, so it lost power after a few seconds (to compound problems, my wife had been doing clothes for hours in the same room as the compressor, which put a lot of water into the air going into the compressor, which overwhelmed my air filter a bit).

At any rate, I appreciate the helpful suggestion. I'm not actually finished yet just taking a breather, so if other problems arise I may be back with more questions.

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