Tech & Tools – Final Front Axle Install on the Craigslisticon

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Tech & Tools Final Front Axle Install on the Craigslisticon – with “30Pack” Matt

E21 Front Axle InstallC: Well Matt, what do you have in store for us today as we wrap up working on this part of the Craigslisticon? It’s been quite interesting and entertaining and challenging all at the same time.

M: It has. The biggest challenge was finding time for us to both have a free night or weekend to actually get this thing bolted in. We found some time, got it bolted in, and everything worked out good in the end. But, we had a few things that we did on top of everything else we had already done. Part of that was, Gabe had bought a tapered sleeve adapter for flipping the drag link. He already had a Synergy drag link. We drilled the factory knuckle and installed this tapered adapter. We were able to flip the drag link on top of the factory knuckle and that matches up with our Artec extended height track bar mount that we welded on. It flattens out the steering and the track bar puts everything back in the same geometry, and it also keeps it flatter to the ground which really helps improve the driving, more like a factory vehicle.

C: Wow. That makes a lot of sense. So as you flip it, especially as you get higher, you have to make everything level back out again.

E21 Front Axle InstallM: The factory design is made for factory. We’re not really factory anymore and we knew that when we ordered the Artec kit. We ordered it with the raised track bar bracket. In order to match that we have to flip our drag link on the knuckle. The only real way to do that is with an aftermarket drag link and a sleeve that you drill the taper out. The drag link ends and tie-rod ends fit in a taper, so you drill that factory taper out and the sleeve makes that taper go in on the opposite side. You’re literally able to make the adjuster loose, and flip the tie-rod upside down which raises the track-bar mount.

C: Got it. In addition to that we had the RCV Axles. Once you put it all back together we finally get to do the final install.

M: With the RCV Axles, the boots themselves fit through the knuckles when they’re installed. So, you need to push the boot through the hole in the knuckle and then push the boot onto the RCV joint. After all the fitment, it’s supposed to be tight because they built the biggest joint they could to fit through the hole. You have to pay attention to the order of assembly because if you put it together too early and you try to slide it in, it won’t fit.

C: Right. Then you’re just frustrated trying to take it back apart again. (Laughing) Then, easy enough right? We put the brakes back on, put everything back together, and tighten it up?

M: From the Poly Performance ball joints out, it’s the same as what he had before. And literally, we swapped the axle and didn’t even have to bleed the brakes. We just unbolted them and put them right back on. The Jeep doesn’t know any difference because it’s the same unit bearing, it’s the same brakes, it’s the same lug pattern. The drive shaft even bolted up. So it was a super easy swap with all that, the only thing we had to do is get the vehicle at ride-height and adjust the track bar to center it underneath the vehicle. After that the steering wheel was crooked so we had to center the steering wheel. The axle is centered, so you just have to center the steering wheel so that it’s straight when you are going straight. He was able to drive it home that night.

C: You put Pennzoil fluid in. We also have new gears that we have to pay attention to. What’s the route that you take on that. I know that we have to cycle the fluid.

E21 Front Axle InstallM: With new gears and new bearings, the break in is very important because everything needs to mesh correctly, the bearings need to break in, and it’s all based on heat cycles. So we put in Pennzoil 75/70 Euroil, and it’s only going to be in there for about 500 miles. More importantly are the heat cycles. Drive it 15-20 miles, and then stop and let it cool off because that lets all the bearings and ring and pinion break in, everything wears together. After that’s done, after about 500 miles, you need to change the oil because the oil gets filled up with all the metal particles from the gears and bearings wearing together. After changing the oil it will be good for regular service like a factory vehicle would have.

C: Interesting. Well that makes a lot of sense because all the gears and bearings that went in there and the “this-es” and “that-ses” that went in there are pushing everything together. It’s pretty exciting to see it all together and running and he made it home just fine, and that’s always exciting!

M: He did scare me though. He called me 20 minutes after leaving and my stomach hit the floor. The best thing with a gear job is no news! Hearing anything is like, “oh my gosh he’s broke down on the side of the freeway.” My phone rang and my stomach hit the floor, but luckily it was just him saying everything was good. But it scared me. (Laughing)

C: That’s awesome. The other thing that I think is pretty neat is, we are doing this in not an absolute professional shop. We are in kind of a typical garage. You brought a lot of tools home from the big shop, but we’re not on a lift. There are has its own challenges when you’re doing it at home versus doing it in a shop. So what’s something, a tip or a technique, that you can give someone that’s going to do their gear job in their garage?

M: Definitely have friends there to help you, a lot of this stuff you can’t do by yourself. You’ll need somebody to help lift it or move it, or somebody to hold it steady while you pull the last bolt out and lower the jack. Definitely have some jack stands that are in working order, a floor jack that’s in working order, a block of wood always comes in handy. We’re not lifting a ton of weight, but sometimes you need to lift a little higher than a jack can go. I do this all the time so I have tools that I like to use, I brought them with me, but you can do all this with standard tools and a little bit of elbow grease. Having specialty tools definitely helps.

C: Super excited, we finished the front end of the Craigslisticon! We still have a couple more things coming for it. We still have to hook up the or for the air lockers, we have the rear axle that we found, and I have a secret surprise for Gabe, but I’m not going to tell him what it is yet.

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