Problem w/ 8.5" C-clip axle - Hot Rod Forum : Hotrodders Bulletin Board
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Old 06-12-2008, 07:13 PM
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Problem w/ 8.5" C-clip axle

I seem to keep finding new and creative problems. The car in question is an 84 Olds Custom Cruiser B-body wagon. The axle is an 8.5" posi. As most know, these C-clip axles require the pinion shaft to be removed so the axle shafts can be pushed inboard to allow removal of the C-clips. This pinion shaft has a machined groove at one end and when it's in place, a 5/16" bolt threads into the carrier and the tip of this bolt fits into the groove in the pinion shaft to lock the shaft in place.

Now the problem. I need to replace the axle seals. I removed the cover. The very clean gear oil drained out. That was my first tipoff that something was amiss. I removed the 5/16" lock bolt. The bolt that came out of the carrier was only about 3/4" long. Second tipoff. The end of the bolt looked like it had fractured. Now I'm worried.

Yes, there's about 1/4" of the tip of the lock bolt still down inside the carrier and of course it's preventing the pinion shaft from coming out.
I suspect that the new-ish gear oil is the result of the previous owner trying to replace the axle seal also. After his mechanic found the broken screw (or somehow actually broke it) he just buttoned the axle back up.

No, there is no way to try and unscrew the remaining part of the bolt. The face is nearly smooth and it almost seems as if it has screwed out past the end of the threads in the carrier, so it's primarily in the groove in the lock pin. Drilling it is virtually impossible. The hole is small, and since the carrier is still installed in the housing (since I can't remove the C-clips to pull the axle shafts) I don't have a straight shot at the remains of the screw. So far I've succeeded only in bunging up the threads in the carrier.

At this point I'm considering three options. First, try to grind out the remains of the screw with a diamond tipped cutter in a Dremmel. Unfortunately, the depth of the hole and lack of access makes me doubt that I can even reach it. Second is to drill out the threads in the carrier that the lock bolt screws into. This should let me pull the remains of the screw out with a magnet, at which point I would need to retap the threads and go with a larger screw or helicoil. Finally, I could grind the end of the pinion shaft until I got down to the groove, then push the shaft out the other side of the carrier. I'd just need to get a new pinion shaft, which shouldn't be a big deal for an 8.5" axle. This seems like the easiest way to go since I have a clear shot at the end of the pinion shaft.

Any thoughts or other options would be appreciated.
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Old 06-12-2008, 08:16 PM
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I have seen this same problem in the past. Use a small diameter flat blade screwdriver, with a strong magnet attached, while rocking the ring and pinion back and forth, to extract the remaining piece out.
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Old 06-12-2008, 09:14 PM
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Good luck with whatever you try the magnet will probably work.If this 8.5 is the G body version of the cutlass(about 58 inches wide) be very careful as these things are going for about a grand apiece. Very hard to find and malibu and monte guys love em and will fight over them.
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Old 06-12-2008, 09:27 PM
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Pull off the carrier bearing cap so you can get a drill in there. Center punch what is left and drill into it just a bit so you can get a broken screw extractor in there...at least that is what I have done before.
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Old 06-12-2008, 09:47 PM
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If you guy's think about it, the last 1/4" of the bolt is round with no threads. There is no way you can drill it out. The only way to get it out is with a strong magnet, and a small punch, or screwdriver.
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Old 06-12-2008, 11:39 PM
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Mine had about 1/2 of a thread left on it.
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Old 06-13-2008, 07:37 AM
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The first lesson learned is don't write a post when you're pi$$ed off and tired.

The second is, I'm amazed others have had this problem. How the heck does this thing break, anyway.

As I should know, the pinion shaft isn't grooved, it has a through hole. The lock bolt actually has a necked down section that fits into this hole. Upon closer inspection, it appears that the broken end still in the pinion shaft has enough of a thread on it that I can't simply pull it out with a small magnet. Drilling the end of the bolt is probably not going to happen due to access problems. I'm probably stuck with drilling into the end of the pinion shaft and replacing both the shaft and the bolt. Fortunately these are not expensive parts and are readily available for the 8.5" axle.
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Old 06-13-2008, 08:13 AM
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It used to be a common problem with any c-clip axle. I have a special drill bushing that screws into the diff case and centers a left-handed drill bit which works sometimes. I have made an electromagnet with a pick tool. You will probably have to grind the end of the pinion shaft as the material is quite hard and difficult to drill.

As the pinion gears rotate on the shaft they cause the shaft to twist against the bolt. Abuse of spinning one tire alot will break it faster but I think the bolts were not ductile enough is the real answer.
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Old 06-13-2008, 12:03 PM
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ARC WELDER! take a piece of rubber tubbing and put it around a rod that will fit into the bolt hole (get the idea) that insulates it on the sides and zap it to the broken off bolt, turn off the machine, and back the broken bolt out. Worth a try.
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Old 06-13-2008, 12:13 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by junior stocker
ARC WELDER! take a piece of rubber tubbing and put it around a rod that will fit into the bolt hole (get the idea) that insulates it on the sides and zap it to the broken off bolt, turn off the machine, and back the broken bolt out. Worth a try.
I actually thought about the arc welder idea, but your use of the rubber tube is brilliant.

By the way, the local dealership had both the bolt and the pinion shaft in stock, which tells you something about how common the problem is. Everyone I spoke to said that this happens all the time (?!) The old guy behind the parts counter said he's been fixing these since the 1960s.
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Old 06-13-2008, 04:01 PM
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Differential Pinion Shaft Lock Bolt Extractor Tool

Dealt with this PITA problem throughout the years.

Here is your best solution without doing any damage.

There are a place or two that offer a kit for just such a problem.

http://www.etoolcart.com/index.asp?P...OD&ProdID=9442

http://www.fabbriassociates.com

Any Matco or Snap-on truck
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Good luck.
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Old 06-14-2008, 05:09 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tommy T
Dealt with this PITA problem throughout the years.

Here is your best solution without doing any damage.

There are a place or two that offer a kit for just such a problem.

http://www.etoolcart.com/index.asp?P...OD&ProdID=9442

http://www.fabbriassociates.com

Any Matco or Snap-on truck
__________________

Good luck.
Yes. That long, small diameter drill bit is EXACTLY what I need (along with the bushings for centering it). Unfortunately I need to get this done this weekend and have already bought the new pinion shaft and lock bolt. I'm about to start drilling into the end of the pinion shaft. I will probably get one of these kits for the next time this happens, however.
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Old 06-14-2008, 05:28 PM
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You still can't get a drill in there even with the bearing cap removed?
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Old 06-14-2008, 06:28 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Triaged
You still can't get a drill in there even with the bearing cap removed?
The bearing cap isn't in the way. The problem is that the screw hole is recessed in a groove in the carrier. In addition, the edge of the housing also gets in the way. The long drill bit allows the drill motor to be outboard of the housing, solving the clearance problem.

It's a moot point, anyway. I just got it out by drilling into the end of the pinion shaft. The drilled holes also went halfway into the screw, which I was then able to rotate with a small screwdriver and back it out. Problem solved, though I will definitely buy one of those extractor tool kits to have in the tool box for the next time.

Assuming that the next time I need it, I remember where the kit is...
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Old 06-14-2008, 06:51 PM
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Seeing the picture of your broken bolt, I now understand why the procedure I recommended would not work. I have yet to see one broken off this way. You must have some very sharp drill bits.
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