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Old 01-02-2019, 08:17 PM   #1
Zundfolge
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Default Replacing differential bearings - pinion and carrier

Over the course of about a month the van ('06 2500 267K) had developed a droning/gear sound that was present at all speeds and directly related to vehicle speed. I could more or less rule out wheel bearings because for one, it was a very distinctly gear sounding noise, and the sound did not change while turning vs. going straight. At low speeds it was a "wub-wub-wub-wub-wub" like a Jetsons spaceship, and at higher speeds a very loud droning whine.

Thread: https://sprinter-source.com/forum/sh...ad.php?t=71144

I had initially (and as it turned out erroneously) attributed it to a recent gear oil change I had done with Mobil 1 75W-90 Synthetic LS lube because it seemed to follow shortly thereafter, but what I found inside was definitely not due to the oil type - and there are reportedly many people on here running that stuff with seemingly no ill effect. So at first I changed out the oil again with the Titan 80W-90 from europarts, and in my rush had forgotten to check the state of that drained oil, which would have shown me a lot of metal shavings. 1 month after the fresh fresh lube I drained it again, and it was full of metal. I ordered a differential rebuild kit from europarts ($300) which includes pinion bearings, diff carrier bearings, shims, new pinion seal, gear marking paint, pinion nut, and ring gear bolts <(not needed in my case).

When I pulled the cover I didn't see anything wrong other than the metal in the oil, no visible carnage, so I pulled it all apart. Below I'll document this process in a way that someone could use it as a step by step guide should you need to do this - and I really hope you don't because this job is a bear!

Tools you'll need aside from the basics:
-Shop Press (used a harbor freight 12T)
-Bearing puller
-Seal/race drivers
-Dial indicator w magnetic base holder
-Beam style in. ib. wrench with increments of 1 in. lb. AND adapters to adapt your 1/4" drive wrench to your likely 1/2" drive (but could be 3/4" drive) 32mm 12pt. socket.
-BFH's
-Beer, time, and tenacity

Carefully watch this video:



Allow at least 2 full days, you may not need them both but in case you do...

1) With the van recently driven for better fluid draining, jack van up off all 4 (but I really just hope you have a lift) and support very well with jackstands and whatever safety redundancies you employ - it's good practice to not rely only on jackstands. Stacked wood blocks, leaving the jack in place (as long as it's not in the way) etc. are all practices I tend to follow.

2) Drain diff - 14mm hex at bottom pass. side of van

3)At this point you'll want to switch to removing the axle half shafts from the diff, as to get the carrier and pinion out the half shafts must be removed. Remove the rear tires, remove brake calipers (two 18 mm hex bolts) and set calipers up on leaf springs. Wire into place so they don't come crashing down.

4)Remove rotor - T50 torx is that rotor retaining bolt. If they don't come off easily use a RUBBER mallet to the back of the rotor.

5) Remove parking brake shoes - this is tricky stuff. Almost the worst part of the job IMO. Start by removing the retaining springs in the middle of each shoe (somewhere around 11 and 5 or so? Maybe 1 and 7 on the other side?) I used a 7/16" socket with a little bit of shop towel pressed into it on the end of a 6" extension. The little piece of shop towel pressed into the socket allows for some grip against the spring to turn it. Line up one of the 3 large access holes in the hub over those springs, and use the socket shop towel extension thing to push the spring (hard), and on the backside you will see the other end of that spring is a hook that goes through a slot, you need to twist that spring so that the hook passes through the slot and releases the parking brake shoe. Do both shoes. Adjust starwheel adjuster all the way closed. Separate shoes enough to remove starwheel adjuster. work magic to remove springs that pull shoes together. I found that a very strong dental pick can be used to pull the spring down from behind enough to release it from the slot in the shoe. Remove the little articulating pivot-majigger from the parking brake cable as it pokes through into hub area by just popping out the pin holding the end of the cable and the pivot-majigger together. Set all parking brake components on a piece of cardboard in the order and orientation they came out!!! And take pictures of it all, you do not want to be guessing at how it all goes back!

IMG_1355 by Nicholas Tavasieff, on Flickr

One of the springs that holds brake shoes onto axle tube end:

IMG_1353 by Nicholas Tavasieff, on Flickr

6) There are now 6 (IIRC) 13mm (IIRC) bolts holding the hub the the axle ends. Poke your socket with extension through those access holes and zip those bolts out. A few zip ties will need to be cut around the axle tube to free the wheel speed sensor enough length to pull the axles out. No need to cut speed sensor wire. The axles should now pull right out, but get creative with mallets and wood blocks if you need to. You only need to pull the axles out about 3 or so inches to clear the splined ends out of the differential carrier. Repeat for the other side (duh).

7) Onto the driveshaft - remove the four 13mm bolts holding the driveshaft to the yoke, set driveshaft end off to the side on some cardboard.

8)The pinion nut now exposed has a deformed lip to keep it from loosening, use a punch/chisel to re-form it for removal. It's a 32mm 12pt. socket. Quick impact wrench oughta do the trick.

9) Remove the differential cover.
What I found:
IMG_1334 by Nicholas Tavasieff, on Flickr

10) The sway bar will be in the way of pulling out the carrier, remove the two links where they attach to the chassis - 19mm bolt and nut. Remove the two long bolts from each side where the sway bar bushing housing attaches into the axle. Don't remove the two shorter bolts directly below the sway bar at those bushings, only the long ones that attach the bushing housing.

11) You'll see four bolts facing you, two each holding the bearing retainers. They absolutely must go back in exactly the same way! I marked mine to make sure. Then remove them.

12) The carrier can now be pulled out. It can be leveraged out with a bar, just take great care to pull it straight out, not at an angle. I rigged a ratchet strap around the carrier to my receiver hitch and gave it a couple of ratchets to free it out. MOST IMPORTANTLY PULL THE CARRIER OUT KEEPING THE SHIMS ON THEIR SIDES. There will be a shim (maybe more than one) on either side of the carrier bearings that MUST go back in exactly as it came out. I pulled mine out, wiped them off, and sharpied which side they go on. If you are not replacing the carrier bearings keep the same races with the same bearings too.

Your carrier may come out easily, I needed to nudge mine just a little, my method:
IMG_1342 by Nicholas Tavasieff, on Flickr
Strap method shown with wheels still on FYI,


13) Remove the pinion - from the driveshaft side replace the old 32mm nut on a few threads to be able to use it to drive the pinion out, or use a solid piece of wood as a beater against the pinion shaft to beat the pinion out. Either have someone on the other side to exert some pressure and catch it or pad the inside of the case very well so no damage is done to the pinion when you bang it out, it's heavy and can chip if it falls into the case.

14) Remove old pinion seal from diff housing, being careful not to scratch the machined surface of the diff housing.

15) Drive the races out from both sides - check that video for details.

16) When you drive the larger race out (closer to inside of diff) there will be a shim behind the race. This shim MUST GO BACK IN THE SAME PLACE WHEN YOU DRIVE THE NEW RACE IN!!! (by now you're probably sensing some kind of pattern here).

***note: it's also possible that the bearing will be shimmed between the pinon gear and the bearing cup, so in theory there could not be a shim there, but mine had one behind the race, and NOT under the pinion shaft bearing.

17) Clean out diff with brake cleaner etc.

18) Press inner bearing off of pinion with shop press and bearing puller.

IMG_1362 by Nicholas Tavasieff, on Flickr

19) Press bearings off of carrier.

This side of the diff is easy to get the bearing puller behind to press off:

IMG_1365 by Nicholas Tavasieff, on Flickr

The other side there is no room for the puller to sit, the ring gear bolts get in the way of the puller sitting behind the bearing cup. Destroy the outer part of the bearing by clipping the cage apart and prying it off, along with all of the bearings of course, and you'll then be able to get the puller to grip the lip at the top of the bearing cup, and press off:

IMG_1370 by Nicholas Tavasieff, on Flickr

20) Inspect pinion gear, ring gear, spider gears, all surfaces etc. for unusual wear before reassembly.

What I found:

IMG_1357 by Nicholas Tavasieff, on Flickr

IMG_1358 by Nicholas Tavasieff, on Flickr

***note: before you get to reassembly, put the 2 pinion races in the freezer for a few hours to shrink them a little, this will help them drive into the diff housing a little easier.
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Last edited by Zundfolge; 01-02-2019 at 08:22 PM.
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Old 01-02-2019, 08:17 PM   #2
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Default Re: Replacing differential bearings - pinion and carrier

21) Press all new bearings onto carrier. Press ONLY THE LARGE INNER BEARING onto pinion. I heated the bearings with a heat gun before installing, this expands the metal and lets them slide on easier.

***Note my mistake here: I used a piece of 2"x3" steel tubing I had laying around to press the new large bearing onto the pinion shaft. That tubing rested on the bearing's cage rather than on the inside bearing cup, making 4 little indentations on the cage. It was inconsequential thankfully, but you want to be exerting the pressing force onto the cup, so find yourself the appropriate diameter of pipe for this purpose:

IMG_1364 by Nicholas Tavasieff, on Flickr

22) Use appropriately sized race drivers to install pinion races. I bought a Harbor Freight seal/race driving kit that worked surprisingly well. Remember, when you install the larger pinion race you must install the shim behind it!!! And you must drive it all the way in, be sure of that. You will hear the sound change from the shim being loose to making no noise at all as it gets sandwiched between the race and diff housing.

IMG_1373 by Nicholas Tavasieff, on Flickr

23) Install the new crush sleeve onto pinion shaft. MAKE SURE that new crush sleeve is on that shaft before you start driving that bearing on!

Now, here's what I did since I had no one to help me with any of this: When you install the pinion you will need to drive the smaller bearing on a little way (~1/4" or so) from the driveshaft side of things, before you can use the nut and yoke to press the bearing on the rest of the way. I cut a 2x4 to wedge one end against the pinion gear and the other against my receiver hitch (42 1/2" with a 5 miter in my case) to hold it fast in place while I drove the bearing on the other side. I slid the yoke on and used a beater block of wood against it to get the bearing started.

IMG_1381 by Nicholas Tavasieff, on Flickr

Once there are 5-7 threads showing past the yoke you have enough to be able to use the nut to keep pressing the bearing, so at that point take the yoke back off, and install the seal. I didn't have anything round that would work as a seal driver so I used a 5" chunk of 2x4 on end to VERY VERY carefully drive the seal into the diff housing back and forth side to side real easy until I got it nice and flush to the diff housing.

FOLLOW THE ABOVE DIRECTIONS CAREFULLY.

24) Pressing the pinion in and setting preload - here's where stuff gets finicky. I watched a lot of videos and I'll link them all here. The crush sleeve is what sets the preload against the bearings, as you drive the yoke deeper pressing the bearing cup into the crush sleeve the sleeve exerts pressure against the bearing from the wider part of the pinion shaft. That is preload. It is extremely important to get right and part of the reason that you don't want to do this job unless you can pay attention to these kinds of details. You only get one shot at this, if you go too far you have to disassemble and use a new crush sleeve, and you only have one in a rebuild kit. To remove it you'd also have to destroy the new seal, and you also only have one of those. Please don't ask me how I know about those above two details :/

Preload is measured in in. lbs., and you need a beam style in. lb. wrench (NOT click style) that uses increments of 1 in. lb. You also need to adapt up from 1/4" to 1/2" drive (presuming your in. lb. wrench is 1/4" drive; and your 32mm socket is 1/2" drive).

Measuring preload:

Quote:
Originally Posted by Altered Sprinter View Post
halexh your question is fair however Sprinters are not so simple,as to which model varinat and final axle ratio? the latter is NAFTA has a very small variation as to the rest of our globe trotting Sprinters.
However in Metric,as in English as to specifications.

Axle Pre-load and backlash specification.
Backlash 0.08-0 25 mm
0.003-0.010 in

Backlash Preferred
0.13-0.18 mm
0.005-0.007 in

Pinion bearing preload.New bearings
1.7-3.4 N m
15-30 lb in

Pinion bearing preload.Used bearings
1.1-2.3 N m

Pinion and Differential Case preload.New bearings
3.4-6.2 N m
30-55 lb in

Pinion and Differential Case Bearing preload Used bearings
2.8-5.1 N m
25-45 lb in

Back lash is normal to an extent, dependent on transmission and final axle ratios. look at shim wear, and or replace if required, also refereed to as spacers.


Do not attempt to use an impact wrench to achieve correct preload. I saw that done in a video and I tried it, which was one of the reasons I made a huge mistake and had to disassemble, order a new crush sleeve and seal, and do it again. Cost me three days time.

I used an impact wrench just until I got all of the axial play out of the pinion, then switched to a socket driver with a breaker bar (in my case I used a rebar hickey, fit perfect over my 1/2" socket wrench) to begin the final adjustments. You have to be very careful because one you start acting on the crush sleeve and getting preload set, it can go very fast. 1 degree or so of rotation is a noticeable increase in preload resistance. So it's back and forth between tightening, and checking how many in. lbs. it takes to rotate the pinion using the in. lb. wrench. Spec for a T1N pinion preload is 15-30 in. lbs. I hit 22 and left it at that, did not want to chance going over. (from 15-22 happened with maybe a degree of rotation!)

You have to lock the yoke into place when tightening the nut, which I accomplished by putting the bolts back in the yoke, and wedging a piece of angle iron (about 20" long or so) in them and up against the van body.

Checking distance marked on Pinion gear, I did check this with a digital caliper and a piece of flat stock. Probably unnecessary since nothing was changing except bearings but I was doing my due dilligence:

IMG_1378 by Nicholas Tavasieff, on Flickr

^more info on checking distance towards end of video linked at top.

25) Once pinion is set, you can install carrier. Make sure those shims are on the correct sides. It's really just a game getting in back in. More hands would help. Rubber mallet is your friend. So just get it in, re-install those bearing retainers on the same side they came out of, and then you're going to check preload with the carrier installed. 30-55 in. lbs. is what you're going for. I hit like 32, which I wished would have been a little higher but didn't want to mess with anything since it was technically in spec.

26) Unless you've changed shimming you probably shouldn't need to check backlash but I did just for........fun? It was already getting late and dark and wet, so I don't know if it was fun but I'm pretty anal about everything so there's that. Anyway, backlash .005". Perfect.

27) I painted the ring gear teeth to check the wear pattern as well, which also shouldn't have any problems since nothing is really changing but I at least confirmed that too, pattern was good.

IMG_1393 by Nicholas Tavasieff, on Flickr

28) Now it's all more or less reverse of removal, install diff cover with new gasket. REFILL WITH NEW FLUID! Remember this step, otherwise kiss all of you work goodbye. Reattach sway bar. Reattach driveshaft - though if I had had more time I would have taken the center support bearing out and packed it with fresh grease. Reinstall hubs, make sure those mating surfaces are clean and clear, and that rubber gasket on the wheel bearing is still in good shape. If not it needs to be replaced. Check condition of wheel bearings too.

29) Clean the tone ring gaps and everything really well, pick in between slots if need be, brake cleaner, whatever you need to do. The speed sensor air gap is set automatically by driving, what you do need to do is use a piece of wood to hit it gently into contact with the tone ring, and during normal driving it will appropriately gap itself.

30) Reinstall parking brake (good luck). Rotors. Calipers. Wheels.

31) You will now need to set up your parking brake. I realized after some fuss on mine that the cables had become disconnected at the splitter up above the driveshaft. So, make sure that's all good there first. Then with the wheels on and one lug nut removed (van still in the air), you can pass a flathead through the lug nut hole and move the starwheel. Parking brake must be disengaged! Tighten starwheel all the way until the wheel won't move by had, then back off two clicks. Repeat other side. Check brake by pulling handle, should feel perfect.

32) Lower 'er down and enjoy the thrill of a repair that just makes the van feel exactly normal again.

Thanks to Midwestdrifter, Aqua Puttana and all others who helped me on my thread
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Old 01-02-2019, 09:01 PM   #3
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Default Re: Replacing differential bearings - pinion and carrier

Good job. In your case you had an obviously defective bearing. Had you caught it earlier, I would have been tempted to leave the carrier bearings alone.

I have seen rear end shops do a pinion and carrier bearing replacement for $7-900 plus parts. So that may be a good route for those in need.


Thanks for the detailed writeup. I have saved it to my personal collection. I have attached a PDF with the photos in case Flickr goes belly up.
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Old 01-03-2019, 05:25 AM   #4
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Default Re: Replacing differential bearings - pinion and carrier

Zund.
Good write up but you sure did it the hard way. Taking the axle out and working on a bench is a lot easier. It is easy to make up a clamp to push the housing slightly out of round so you can pull the carrier in and out as required. Also you should have measured the pinion height before pulling it in case it needed adjustment. Eric.
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Old 01-03-2019, 11:39 AM   #5
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Default Re: Replacing differential bearings - pinion and carrier

Quote:
Originally Posted by Eric Experience View Post
Zund.
Good write up but you sure did it the hard way. Taking the axle out and working on a bench is a lot easier. It is easy to make up a clamp to push the housing slightly out of round so you can pull the carrier in and out as required. Also you should have measured the pinion height before pulling it in case it needed adjustment. Eric.
Could you describe the clamp that spreads the carrier?

tx
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Old 01-03-2019, 11:45 AM   #6
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Default Re: Replacing differential bearings - pinion and carrier

If doing this job in the vehicle, is there enough room to turn the dial indicator torque wrench to get a reading or will the torque wrench hit the surrounding body?
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Old 01-03-2019, 05:39 PM   #7
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Default Re: Replacing differential bearings - pinion and carrier

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dougflas View Post
Could you describe the clamp that spreads the carrier?

tx
The 'Official' way is to 'Stretch' the case by using the holes either side of the rear cover bolt holes.

spread_tool.jpg

Here is a video showing a DIY approach:



The 'Unofficial' way is to 'Squash' the casing in the opposite direction to the above, possibly using your floor standing hydraulic press. You only need to open the space between by the bearings by a few thou to make removal easier.

Keith.
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Old 01-04-2019, 04:49 AM   #8
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Default Re: Replacing differential bearings - pinion and carrier

Zund.
The tools shown in the images above do the job nicely but they do not have to be that complicated. I use two lengths of 50x50x 6 tube about 600 long and two lengths of all thread about 400 long. The tube is placed above and bellow the housing and the all thread pulls them together, it is only necessary to compress the housing .1 or less. Eric.
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Old 01-04-2019, 05:17 PM   #9
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Default Re: Replacing differential bearings - pinion and carrier

Quote:
Originally Posted by Eric Experience View Post
Zund.
Good write up but you sure did it the hard way. Taking the axle out and working on a bench is a lot easier. It is easy to make up a clamp to push the housing slightly out of round so you can pull the carrier in and out as required. Also you should have measured the pinion height before pulling it in case it needed adjustment. Eric.
Yeah good idea, didn't think of measuring before, but I did figure that since the checking distance was marked on the end of the gear I would be safe. In hindsight yes, I probably should have taken the damn thing out, in my head (a strange strange place) I was thinking that would only make more work for me. Doing it alone with the axle still in is a helluva pain, I can tell you now. So perhaps if you're doing it alone taking the axle out might be worth it, but it still seems like more work than it's worth. Having done it once I could do it again so so much much faster, though I do quite honestly hope I never do this again.

Making a case spreader would have been a lot more work too than just using the ratchet strap to start it loose. Once it started coming out it pulled out "easily," though that may not be everyone's experience, some will be tighter, some looser.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dougflas View Post
If doing this job in the vehicle, is there enough room to turn the dial indicator torque wrench to get a reading or will the torque wrench hit the surrounding body?
Wrench hits the body, I think under ideal conditions you are able to spin the wrench 2-3 rotations before you start looking at the readings, to overcome any bearing resistance resulting from turning back and forth. I didn't have that option so I just turned it back and forth. Guess time will tell but ~2000 mi. + and so far so good!

Thanks for the feedback everyone.
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Old 01-14-2019, 06:54 PM   #10
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Default Re: Replacing differential bearings - pinion and carrier

Zund:
Great post. Thanks!!!!
Over Christmas I replaced the rear-end for my 2004, 201K miles with a used 2006 with 88k miles.
I had the same noise and chose to buy a quiet used one. I agree the parking brakes are tricky.

Took me three days to remove the 2004 unit, because of the corrosion due to road salt, 3 hours to install the replacement. I had to replace one of the speed sensors as it was so corroded. I set the gap to the tone wheels to .012 inch after cleaning the tone wheels.

I now have a very quiet and smooth running T1N. I had been having ABS, wheel, and RSN problems. Now it runs like new. I will clean the tone wheels and respective sensors every brake job.

I probably will rebuild the 201K unit using your write-up, so thanks again.
Stan
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