What's New at ProShaft

Building the Japanese-spec Toyota Tacoma Front Drive Shaft

Proshaft recently got a call from a customer in Ft. Lauderdale with a pretty unique request: they wanted us to build a front drive shaft for a Toyota Tacoma. What made this one different is that they wanted to use the Japanese style setup complete with Matsuba/Matsui u-joints. This would also include the enclosed style slip yoke and spline set up. We knew that the weld-in components would more than likely be metric. Since we didn't have easy access to metric tubing, some machining to our SAE-spec tubing would be required to fit the metric components. After a little research, we decided to move forward with the project and make it happen!

It should be noted that a great quality front drive shaft can actually be made for most Toyota vehicles using American components with 1310 or 1330 series adapter flanges. With those flanges in place, it allows us to use standard Spicer-style components for everything else. I'll admit though, this was a really cool job due to the (mostly) authentic end product. 

 

Toyota Tacoma Front Drive Shaft Manufacturing Components

Here we have all the necessary components to complete the Tacoma front drive shaft build. In the top left we have the weld (tube) yoke for the Matsui/Matsuba universal joints. We can also see the enclose slip and spline set up prior to being fitted to the tubing. 

 

One of the cool things about a lot of Japanese-style Toyota drive shafts is the use of the enclosed slip and spline. In theory, I can see how this design might do a better job at keeping out dirt and grime in an off-road vehicle. Instead of using a pressed or threaded on dust cap, it uses a shroud with a rubber gasket in the end to seal off the spline from the elements. 

 

Ft. Lauderdale Toyota Tacoma Front Drive Shaft Spline and Slip Components

The original Tacoma front drive shaft uses a really cool slip and spline setup pictured above. The slip is basically enclosed in a shroud with a rubber gasket in the end. This means that any dirt or grime would first have to pass the rubber gasket and make its way all the way down and inside the spline to ever affect the function of the part.

 

After examining and measuring our components. The next step to completing our Tacoma front shaft build was to machine the SAE-spec tubing to fit the metric components. As can be seen in the photo above, the weld butt on the slip setup is a little bit longer than the one on the weld yoke. So for one end of the tubing we machined it back just a bit further to accommodate this. The original tubing in the actual OEM drive shaft is tapered at both ends. To make sure our Tacoma front drive shaft was sufficiently strong, we opted to use DOM tubing with .083" wall thickness. This would leave enough steel for us to machine as well as provide plenty of strength so the shaft wouldn't twist under stress. 

 

Toyota Tacoma Front Drive Shaft Tubing Machining

This is the rough cut tubing before machining.

 

Chamfer and Debur Toyota Tacoma Drive Shaft Tubing

Here, we're doing a nice chamfer and debur before machining the inside of the tubing for the metric components. 

 

Tube Machining to Fit Metric Toyota Drive Shaft Components

Machining the ID of our SAE-spec tubing to accept metric Toyota drive shaft components.

 

Machined Tube for Toyota Tacoma Front Drive Shaft

This is our SAE-spec tube machined to accept the Toyota weld yoke. The other end of the tubing was machined just like this (but a bit further back) to accept the spline's weld butt.

 

With our tubing machined and ready to go, it was time to fir the weld-in components for our Tacoma front drive shaft. With everything machined properly, this went off without a hitch. 

 

Installing Toyota Weld-in Components for Toyota Tacoma Front Drive Shaft

This is our Toyota Tacoma front drive shaft prior to installing the universal joints or welding.

 

For the next step of the build, we decided to go ahead and get the u-joints installed in both the weld yoke and the slip yoke. We've found that this can be pretty tricky with aftermarket universal joints for Toyota aplications. However, the Matsui/Matsuba joints went in smoothly and easily. The trick here is to basically get the bearing caps tapped in place nicely before attempting to press them in all the way. The angled nature of Toyota drive shaft components makes it a little difficult since the underside of the component isn't machined flat. This can cause the part to move around making the use of an arbor press difficult. Having said that, the OEM u-joints pressed into place pretty drama-free.

 

Matsui/Matuba U-joint Installation for Toyota Tacoma Front Drive Shaft

We installed our Matsui/Matsuba u-joints in the flanges first since it would be easier to ensure that the snap rings were fully seated into their grooves.

 

Toyota Tacoma Front Drive Shaft Universal Joint Installation

Installing the Matsui/Matsuba u-joints into the weld yoke of our Japanese-spec Toyota Tacoma front drive shaft. The reliefs in the edges of the flanges allowed to use to make sure our inside snap rings were fully seated in the weld (tube) yoke.

 

Toyota Tacoma Front Drive Shaft Fully Assembled Pre-weld

This is our Japanese-spec Toyota Tacoma front drive shaft prior to having the components welded into place. Looking great!

 

Now that the metric parts were fitted and universal joints installed, we were ready to weld this baby up. This job was actually made easier due to the fact that we had machined the tube for the Toyota-spec parts. The reason for this is that we dial in the the tube in an independent four jaw chuck prior to machining. Once machined, the outside and inside diameters of the drive shaft tube are perfectly parallel (around .001" to .002) to each other. 

 

Toyota Tacoma Front Drive Shaft Welding Front

In this photo, we've got our "high" spot marked in red where we'll begin welding on the front part of our drive shaft.

 

Miami Toyota Tundra Front Drive Shaft Welded Front

Front section welded up nicely.

 

Toyota Tacoma Front Drive Shaft Slip Yoke Welding

Just before welding in our spline. Again, we've got the "high" spot marked in red where we'll begin our weld.

 

Miami Toyota Tacoma Front Drive Shaft Welded Spline

Here we have our spline welded in nicely.

 

Now that the u-joints were installed and the components welded in nice and straight, it was time to balance and paint our Japanese-spec Toyota Tacoma front drive shaft. To do the balancing, we used our 46mm Toyota drive shaft adapters for the balancer. A week or so prior to this build, a customer brought in the complete rear drive shaft for a Tundra. Prior to that, we didn't have the adapters so we machined a pair ourselves. If you read the article about the Tundra drive shaft, you'll have seen that we machined these from aluminum. Since this build worked out nicely, we're going to machine a pair of adapters from cold rolled steel for longer durability.

 

Toyota Tacoma Front Drive Shaft Balancing Calibration

Tacoma front drive shaft secured to the balancer.

 

Toyota Tacoma Front Drive Shaft Balancing

Let's balance this thing!

 

With the Matsui/Matsuba u-joints in this shaft, it was simply a treat to balance. Now that we had it all balanced nicely, it was time to paint our completed Japanese-spec Toyota Tacoma front shaft and put the phasing arrows on. 

 

Front Section Complete Toyota Tacoma Front Drive Shaft

Weld yoke end of our Toyota Tacoma front drive shaft.

 

Painted Slip Yoke Toyota Tacoma Front Drive Shaft

Slip yoke end of our Tacoma front shaft.

 

Ft. Lauderdale Toyota Tacoma Front Drive Shaft Phasing Arrows.

We apply these phasing arrows so that the customer can remove and reinstall the slip yoke if need be and realign the drive shaft the way it was balanced.

 

Overview Painted Toyota Tacoma Front Drive Shaft

Here is our Toyota Tacoma front shaft fully balanced and painted, ready to deliver to the customer.

 

This was a really cool project and we had a ton of fun doing it. Other than the tapered tubing in the OEM drive shaft, this one is true to the original. One thing that surprised us was just how nice the Matsui/Matsuba u-joints felt. I've bragged a lot about Spicer products in many other articles but these joints really give them a run for their money in overall feel and smoothness. Thanks for reading our article and we hope to hear from you soon!

 

 

Toyota Tundra Drive Shaft Balancing

Proshaft cured the vibration in the rear drive shaft of a Toyota Tundra. See what went into this job by reading our blog post!

1964 Impala Drive Shaft Lengthening

A couple of weeks ago, a customer from Miami called that had done a transmission swap in his 1964 Chevrolet Impala. The transmission that he installed was a few inches shorter than the original and he needed his drive shaft lengthened to account for the displacement. The 1964 Impala drive shaft was a two-piece unit with a carrier/center support bearing. Since the transmission swap was the only modification, this meant that the carrier bearing and rear section of the driveline would stay the same. We'd just need to lengthen the front half of the drive shaft and balance everything up nicely. The only small challenge to lengthening the shaft involved the weld yoke size and the old tubing. Once we'd machined the yokes out of the old drive shaft, we found out that the machined parts of the yoke were too small for 2"X.083" tubing as well as too large for 2"X.120" tubing. Our solution was to go ahead with the 2"X.120" tubing and bore the inside of the tube to accommodate the yokes for a nice, machined fit.

 

1964 Chevrolet Impala Drive Shaft Lengthening and Balancing Weld

In the above photo, we can see the new tubing and one of the welds where we lengthened the drive shaft for the 1964 Impala.

 

Our '64 Impala drive shaft presented a second challenge: the shape of the carrier/center support bearing. Modern carrier bearings typically have bolt holes that are spaced side to side. The Impala drive shaft, however, used holes that were front to back. Additionally, the shape of the center support's bracket would require some innovation in order to get it mounted to the drive shaft balancer securely. Our solution was to mount a plate on the bottom using one of the tapped bolt holes. This would provide a nice surface for us to clamp to.

 

1964 Chevy Impala Carrier Bearing Drive Shaft Balancing

Here, we've mounted a plate to the bottom of our Impala center support bracket using a 3/8" bolt and jam nut. This plate allowed us to securely clamp the driveline to the carrier bearing support column on our balancer.

 

With the '64 Impala drive shaft connected securely to our computerized balancer, it was time to balance it up!

 

1964 Impala Drive Shaft Balancing

 

We were actually able to get the drive shaft a little straighter than it came from the factory. When this is achieved, balancing goes very smoothly and this case was no exception. With the drive shaft fully balanced, we called the customer to give him the good news. Thank you for reading!

 

Italian Lancia Delta Drive Shaft Balancing

Drive shaft customers here in the Miami/Ft. Lauderdale area definitely have a lot of interesting cars. Sometimes, you get a call from a customer asking you to do something you've never done before. In this case, the customer had a 1992 Italian Lancia Delta. He'd called several driveline service shops and no one would agree to take on the job. When he called us, admittedly, it was a maybe. The drive shaft the customer brought to us ended up using a Rezeppa style constant velocity unit on one end and a normal universal joint flange on the other. 

After determining the size of the Rezeppa CV and the flange pilot, I knew we'd have to machine a pair of custom fixtures for our drive shaft balancer. This would involve quite a bit more time than the average balance job. The customer, however, was eager to get the vibration out of his drive shaft and quickly agreed. In order to save the customer time and money, we opted to machine the balancing adapters out of aluminum. Since we would only be using these for one balance, aluminum is fine. Of course we can always make new adapters from cold rolled steel if we start seeing more of this shafts that need servicing.

Italian Lancia Delta Drive Shaft Balance Fixture Machining

In the above photo, we're machining the adapter for the Rezeppa CV. It needed to match the outside diameter of the constant velocity unit as well as provide relief inside for the raised portion at the front of the assembly.

 

Once we got the "deep dish" adapter machined for the drive shaft balancer, it was time to make a simple flat adapter for the differential. The pictures of the adapter didn't turn out too well but below is an example of another one we'd machined before. 

 

Italian Lancia Delta Drive Shaft Balancing Adapter

The above photo shows an example of the type of adapter we custom machined for the Lancia Delta drive shaft. This particular drive shaft balancing fixture is made of steel. The one we made for the Lancia was made from aluminum since we were only using it one time.

 

With both adapters made, it was time to attach the Lancia Delta driveline to the balancer. When balancing a drive shaft, it is important that the shaft run concentrically during the entire process. This means that the adapters had to be machined to tight tolerance to fit both the bearing plates as well as the drive shaft when affixed to the balancer. Since this drive shaft was a two-piece with a center support/carrier bearing, we also needed to make sure said bearing was elevated with shims to keep everything nice and level. 

Italian Lancia Delta Drive Shaft Mounted in Balancer

In this picture, we've got the drive shaft mounted in the computerized drive shaft balancer and ready to be balanced. We've attached the Rezeppa CV end nearest the drive motor and the flange/differential end on the opposite pedestal. It's a little difficult to see in the photo, but we've shimmed the carrier bearing so that the driveline will run level during the balancing process. 

 

The Lancia drive shaft, like all two piece drive shafts, is balanced using sensors at three different mounting points. These points include the transmission connection point, the center support/carrier bearing, and the end of the drive shaft where the flange connects to the rear differential. With everything mounted securely and level, we calibrated the balancer to the drive shaft and balanced it. In this case, achieving complete balance required only 20 grams of weight on the differential end of the drive shaft. The customer called once the shaft was balanced to tell us that all was well and his drive shaft was now running smoothly. At Proshaft, we enjoy challenges like this and welcome any inquiries you might have if you're having trouble finding a drive shaft service to handle something out of the ordinary. Thank you for reading!

 

 

Nissan to Ford Conversion Drive Shaft

Here at Proshaft, we're starting to become known in the South Florida area for doing drive shaft conversions. It's not that we set out to do anything special. It all started when one customer came to us for help and we agreed to do our best.

When this job came in, we weren't exactly sure how to go about it at first. Our customer from here in Ft. Lauderdale had installed a Ford 9 inch rear differential in his Nissan. Apparently, the Ford was a wrecked donor truck and he just so happened to have the drive shaft left over from it as well. Knowing the 9 inch rear accepted the flange from the driveshaft, he brought us both the drive shaft from his Nissan and the one left over from the Ford. Since he kept the original engine and transmission in the Nissan, the drive shaft would stay the same from the transmission to at least the carrier bearing.

 

Nissan and Ford Driveshaft Conversion

The driveshaft from the Nissan is on the left. The shaft for the Ford with the 2" female flange pilot is on the right. 

 

We tossed around a couple of ideas as far as getting this conversion done. A one piece steel replacement drive shaft was out of the question since the distance from the transmission output shaft to the rear differential was too long. It would probably have been possible to build him a large diameter aluminum drive shaft but we still don't have the aluminum spool gun for our welder. A third option we considered was to build a replacement rear section for the driveshaft with the proper u-joint to connect to the Ford pinion flange. This would have been extremely difficult due to the difference in the original tubing and the parts we had available to us. After some consideration, we settled on a fourth option: to replace the rear weld yoke with one that could attach to the proper flange. 

There was just one problem, the tubing diameter from his stock drive shaft was roughly 2.25" outer diameter by .093" wall thickness. The closest component we had on hand was a 1310 weld yoke made for 2" outer diameter by .083" wall thickness tube. There was going to be some machining involved to pull this off and get the drive shaft built properly for the customer. 

The first step in the process involved removing the rear drive shaft section from the front section. Many American driveshafts have a handy splined slip yoke that allow you to simply slide the front section away from the rear section. This shaft was semi permanently attached with a u-joint at the midship yoke where the carrier bearing is installed. So, we had to disassemble the front and rear halves by removing the u-joint from the midship yoke. 

 

Nissan to Ford Conversion Shaft Midship Yoke

Here is the front section of the Nissan drive shaft separated from the rear section. Notice that we've got a timing arrow marked on the front section. We marked a similar arrow on the rear section. Even though we're going to be cutting and welding on the rear section, reassembling the drive shaft with the same timing can still help with the balancing process. 

 

With the front driveshaft section separated from the rear, we set the front aside to get to work on the rear. We machined out the old weld yoke and flange in the lathe. It's important in this case to try and leave as much of the original surface of the machined butt intact as possible so that we can take a direct measurement from it. In the case that the machined butt was destroyed during machining, we could always just measure the inner diameter of the original tube. 

 

Nissan to Ford Driveshaft Conversion Rear Yoke Cutout

Here is a picture of the original weld yoke machined out of the Nissan drive shaft. Luckily, this yoke has a straight machined butt that we can measure and then duplicate on the weld yoke that we're modifying. 

 

With the rear weld yoke removed from the Nissan shaft, we could then determine what the diameter of the machined butt of the 1310 weld yoke needed to be. Depending on the style of machined butt, there are two ways to do this. Some weld yokes use a sort of tapered machine butt that is difficult to get an exact measurement from (many old GM, Oldsmobile, and Pontiac yokes are like this). If the yoke is the tapered style, it's best to measure the inside diameter of the drive shaft tubing and machine the new weld yoke butt to be about .010" larger so we still get a nice press fit in the tubing. In our case (as can be seen by the picture above), the machined butt is straight and easy to get a measurement from. 

 

Nissan Driveshaft Tubing

This is a picture of the Nissan driveshaft tubing after the rear weld yoke has been removed. 

 

As mentioned earlier, the weld yoke that we went with was for a 1310 Spicer type u-joint and designed for 2"X.083" tubing. The machined butt diameter was only 1.844" originally. On the original Nissan yoke, we got a measurement of 2.130". This left us with a difference of .286", or more than 1/4"! How would we get the extra material on the new yoke to fill in the difference?

After some thought, we had a plan. We decided to go ahead and weld the new yoke into the original intended tubing size (2"X.083" drive shaft tubing). This would not only help fill some of the gap between the new yoke and original tube, but it would also give us a nice clean surface to build enough weld on to machine down to the proper dimension. We made sure to weld the yoke into the 2" tubing as straight as possible so our new weld surface would be true. Then, we built up a series of welds that were +.300" or so above the tube diameter. The reason for this is that not only would we be machining a new butt on the yoke but we also needed a nice flat surface to weld onto that was 2.250" to match the tubing in the Nissan drive shaft. 

 

Nissan to Ford Driveshaft Conversion Custom Yoke

In this picture we can see where we're both machining the butt diameter to proper size as well as machining a nice 2.25" surface to match our tubing. This 2.25" surface ensures that the weld burns in nice and even with the tubing that it is mating up against. 

 

Once we'd machined the proper dimensions onto our new weld yoke, we simply parted it off from the tubing in the lathe. 

 

Nissan to Ford Drive Shaft Conversion Custom Weld Yoke Finished

Here's the completed, custom 1310 weld yoke ready to be installed and welded into our Nissan drive shaft.

 

With our new yoke complete, we welded it in nice and straight just as we would any other drive shaft. We used a 1310 to 1330 crossover u-joint (Spicer 5-134X) to mate the Ford yoke onto our Nissan drive shaft. Then, we used the original u-joint from the middle to reattach our front and rear sections of the shaft. With all that done, it was time to put it in our computerized drive shaft balancer.

 

Nissan to Ford Conversion Driveshaft Balancing

Here is our Nissan to Ford conversion drive shaft mounted in the balancer. Notice we've cleaned off sections of the old paint in the middle of the rear section so that we can get a good ground with our welder. Additionally, you'll notice the shims under the carrier bearing. These are important during balancing because we don't want our driveline sagging in the middle. This can cause the shaft to run at too high of an angle putting stress on the joints and leading to unnecessary vibration. 

Note about drive shaft balancing:

Our computerized driveshaft balancer can balance either one piece or two piece drive shafts. In the picture above, you can see the vibration sensor installed on the carrier bearing support pedestal. If you've seen our other blog articles, you may notice that we don't have the sensor attached to the pedestal when we're balancing a one piece driveline. The reason for this is, with this particular balancer, we program the computer to balance with either two or three balance planes. In the two plane mode, it only reads off of balance plane number one and number two. In three plane mode, it reads off balance planes one, two, and three. So, when we balance a two piece shaft, balance sensor number two moves to the carrier bearing support pedestal and a third sensor is plugged in and attached to the rearmost bearing in the balancer. 

 

The driveshaft balanced nicely without much trouble. Then, it was time to tack weld the balance weights and take the driveline to the paint booth. Below are a couple of pictures of the finished product. 

 

Nissan to Ford Complete Conversion Shaft Transmission Yoke

This picture is of the front section of our Nissan to Ford conversion driveline with the transmission yoke installed. 

 

Nissan to Ford Conversion Driveline Differential Flange

This is a picture of the rear of the driveline with the 2" pilot Ford flange installed.

 

Final thoughts:

This conversion shaft turned out great for the customer. We were able to save him a ton of money over building a completely new drive shaft that would probably be extremely expensive. You'll notice that we didn't alter the length of the shaft whatsoever. This was at the customer's request. Normally, when swapping transmissions or rear differentials, a different length is required. The customer got back to us a couple of days later and told us that the custom unit bolted right in place and is running as smooth as a factory original! If you have an idea for a custom driveshaft of your own, our contact information is below. We'd love to hear from you. Thanks for reading!

 

Phone: (954) 939-4415

E-mail: sales@proshaftllc.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1994 Ford F-150 Drive Shaft Repair

A great customer of ours that owns a bunch of business rental properties in Deerfield Beach, Florida called us a couple of weeks ago with an emergency. The driveshaft in his 1994 Ford F-150 broke the u-joint yoke at the rear differential. Luckily, he was only traveling at slow sleep while this happened. Had he been driving on the freeway, he may have been looking at either a totally new drive shaft or at the very least, a new tube, u-joints, and balance.

1994 F-150 Broken Drive Shaft Yoke

We can see in the picture that the u-joint hole on his driveshaft yoke is completely busted out. At this point, we've got the yoke machined out and ready to replace with a brand new one. 

 

Since there wasn't any serious visible damage to the tube, the first step was to cut the broken weld yoke out on the lathe. This is a pretty simple process that just involved cutting all the way through the weld to the machined butt of the yoke. In this case, we aren't worried about preserving the yoke but we want to minimize the amount of tubing lost so that the driveshaft doesn't end up too short once we're done. 

 

1994 F-150 Drive Shaft in Lathe

This is a pretty long drive shaft. Luckily we have a large bore lathe to put the shaft all the way through. This makes driveshaft work much faster and easier. 

 

1994 Ford F-150 Driveshaft Tubing Profile in Lathe

Once the yoke is fully cut out, we then profile the tubing. This cleans up the place where the yoke was previously welded in and also give us a nice chamfer to help with welding in the replacement yoke. You'll also notice we deburr the inside of the tubing so the new yoke slides in easier. 

 

It's extremely important when we're either building a new driveshaft or rebuilding an existing one that we assemble everything straight. This includes checking the shaft for straightness after it's been welded. Sometimes the welding process can cause the drive shaft to warp slightly and we use heat and water to draw the steel back into spec. Part of getting the parts to go back together straight includes putting a nice profile on the tube in the lathe. This squares everything up so that the machined surface on the drive shaft weld yoke mates up nicely with the end of the tube. 

 

 

1994 Ford F-150 New Weld Yoke

Here, we have the new weld yoke prepped and ready to go into the tube.

 

1994 Ford F-150 1330 Welding Complete

In this picture, we've got the new weld yoke nicely welded in place. 

 

With the new weld yoke welded into place in the drive shaft, we check the middle of the tubing and both ends for straightness. If a driveshaft isn't within tolerance, it will both be very difficult to balance (if it can be balanced at all) and it simply won't run properly in the vehicle. This can lead to all sorts of problems like damage to the transmission output shaft and even gear and pinion problems in the rear differential. 

Once we've ensured that the shaft is straight, it's time to put in the other new u-joint and get it mounted in the balancer. 

 

Ford F-150 Driveshaft U-joint Installation

This picture came out a little fuzzy but here, we're installing the new 1330 series u-joint in the new weld yoke. 

 

1994 Ford F-150 Drive Shaft Balancing

Here's our F-150 drive shaft mounted up in the balancer.

 

The last step is to get the drive shaft balanced. This ensures that any variations in the metallurgy of the parts don't cause the shaft to vibrate as the vehicle is travelling down the road. Once it's balanced, we paint it for the customer and that's it. Thank you for reading!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Range Rover and Land Rover Driveshaft Offerings

For several years now, we've been manufacturing upgraded front drive shafts for the Land Rover Discovery Series II. Through careful parts sourcing, we've found flanges that allow us to use larger, American style 1310 universal joints to build some of the best aftermarket Land Rover driveshafts on the market today. 

Throughout this time, we've occasionally had customers ask for other parts for their Rovers: everything from transmissions to side mirrors. Unfortunately, we don't offer those products but there are a lot of aftermarket Land Rover suppliers around the web that do. Sometimes though, customers would call looking for replacement front or rear driveshafts for their Land Rover Discovery I, Land Rover Discovery II, Land Rover Defender, and even Range Rovers. 

Today, we're proud to announce that we've finally got the page up for the 2006-2012 Range Rover rear drive shafts. In a day or two, we'll be adding the product pages for the Range Rover front drive shafts. As we mentioned before, these driveshafts will be built using 1310 u-joints. There are going to be at least two different sizes so make sure to double check your front driveshaft measurement on your Rover before ordering. 

700R Conversion Drive Shaft with 1350 U-joints

When it comes to classic car restoration, we never cease to be amazed at our customers' imaginations. Sometimes we'll see people adding Ford rear differentials to classic Chevy trucks and vice versa. Occasionally, a customer will even add so much horsepower to their classic that they need a drive shaft with upgraded u-joints. 

Luckily at ProShaft, we offer a 700R/Turbo 350 transmission yoke that uses 1350 u-joints. This yoke, combined with a standard, one piece drive shaft built with 1350 u-joints is a nice upgrade if you'd like the added assurance of 1350 universal joints over standard 1310 or 1330 series. Keep in mind that you'll at least have to swap your rear differential pinion yoke to accommodate the larger u-joints. 

A couple of days ago, one of our customers in Louisiana called and requested that we build such a drive shaft for him. He's got classic 70's Chevy pickup that he's put a more modern Ford rear differential in and the pinion yoke is already set up for 1350 joints. Since he went with a new crate motor and a 700R4 transmission, one of these drive shafts was the natural choice for him. 

1350 Custom Drive Shaft Transmission Yoke

Here in this picture we can see the transmission (front) side of the drive shaft. Notice how the u-joint caps are wide but the ground hub of the transmission yoke is pretty thin? That's because this is a standard 27-spline yoke that's built to accept 1350 u-joints. 

 

Shortly, we're going to add a product page for custom 1350 drive shafts. We'll leave it up to you guys whether you want to go with a 27 spline transmission yoke or a 32 spline yoke. Of course this will depend on if you opt for a Turbo 350/700R transmission or something in the Turbo 400/4L80E family. Thanks for reading!

Can My Drive Shaft Be Repaired?

Almost every day we get phone calls from customers with a simple question, "can my drive shaft be repaired?". There are a lot of variables that go into answering that questions. Yesterday, a customer from Homestead, FL came in with a drive shaft out of his 2001 single cab Dodge Ram 1500. He had already swapped his u-joints but as it would turn out, it was too little too late. 

The first thing we noticed was on the front (transmission) side of the driveshaft: the universal joint caps were spinning inside of the yoke holes. The caps should be a press fit into these holes and you're sure to experience a vibration in the drive shaft if the holes are so worn that the caps spin.

Dodge Ram 1500 Slip Yoke and U-joint

Although the u-joint on this end of the customer's drive shaft was relatively new, we discovered that the caps were spinning in the holes. Right off the bat, we knew that this weld yoke would need to be replaced.

 

Alright, so we discovered the problems with the front side of the drive shaft. But then we need to check to see what the middle of the tubing looks like. As it would turn out, there was a questionable dent in this one. Sometimes a drive shaft can still be balanced with a dent, sometimes not. Of course that's always a question of the severity of the damage. 

Moving on to the rear section of the driveshaft, we found out that it had the same problem as the front. The u-joint caps were rotating inside the holes. When both sides of a one piece drive shaft need to be replaced like this one, it's time for a new drive shaft. Why is this? Well, to replace the weld yoke in a drive shaft we first need to cut the bad yoke out on a lathe. When we do this, we also lose somewhere around 1/4" of the driveshaft tubing. If we were to cut both ends of the shaft out, then that would be a total of 1/2" of tubing that we would lose in our shaft. This would make the drive shaft too short for reinstallation.

Dodge Ram 1500 Drive Shaft Repair Rear Flange

This pic turned out a little blurry but this is the rear flange of the drive shaft. The u-joint caps were spinning in the holes of both the weld yoke and flange. 

The basic rule of thumb when trying to decide if it's time to repair or replace your drive shaft is whether or not pieces of it need to be cut out. If more than one side of the drive shaft needs to be cut out, it's time for a new shaft. Thanks for reading!

 

Spicer Non-greasable U-joints Are Best

Uh oh! Did he say it? Yes, he did. Before I continue, let me start this off by saying that we're not yet a Spicer dealer and they didn't pay us to say this at all. In fact, I still have to buy Spicer u-joints from a Spicer dealer before I can offer them to install in drive shafts. It's why ProShaft doesn't currently advertise Spicer joints in any of our drive shafts available for sale (though we will install Spicer joints for an upcharge on any shaft). 

Most of our drive shaft customers at least want greasable u-joints on their drive shaft. This is true for customers both buying new or just wanting a drive shaft rebuild. I completely understand wanting to be hands-on with your drivetrain maintenance. This is especially true in a climate like Miami/South Florida. Summertime heat can definitely cause grease to thin and wreak havoc on on all of your vehicle's components, especially the driveline. However, my opinion is that the absolute best universal joint you can install is the Spicer Life series. 

My opinion is based on several years of seeing just what type of u-joint lasts in vehicles and which do not. Any u-joint from a reputable brand such as Spicer, Neapco, or Meritor will give you a long service life if a regular maintenance schedule is followed. However, I've literally seen Spicer non-greasable u-joints show absolutely no wear on the journals (the shiny part that the u-joint cap rides on) after 200K plus miles on GM trucks. Sometimes, the old drive shafts would show up to the shop rusted beyond belief only to remove the u-joints to see that they were still in perfectly good shape to continue running.

Why is this you ask? I'm not 100% sure. However, I've noticed that when installing these u-jonts, the cap-to-journal fitment just feels far more precise. The caps also include a plastic thrust washer which also helps to reduce friction as the u-joint does its job. These u-joints also seem to "lock in" the lubrication when they are installed. Not to say other high quality u-joints feel cheap when installing them, but Spicer Life series are definitely a cut above anything else going in. 

If you're one of the customers who is die hard about greasing your u-joints, don't fret. This is a great practice that will definitely keep you from having to spend too much money at the driveshaft shop. However, there is great and there is best. And in my opinion, Spicer non-greasable u-joints represent the best. 

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