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Rebuilding the intermediate shaft (on 2.2/2.5 turbo cars)

story and photos by ChargedDust (2010)

Forward by Bob O'Neill:

In the mid '80s, Chrysler introduced the turbocharged engine. It was well received, providing a power boost at low cost. The turbocharger provided a way to take the 2.2 liter 4 cylinder engine to a performance level previously unheard of by Chrysler four-cylinder owners, but with this new power came an unexpected drawback.

When the driver put their foot in the accelerator, the car would want to 'steer' to one side. This was due to a phenomenon called 'torque steer.' The additional power was not evenly distributed to the
wheels, due to the unequal length drive shafts. To compensate for
this, the engineers added an intermediate shaft on the passenger side, inserted into the transmission and connected to the now
'equal' length drive shaft on that side. It was attached to the block via a
bracket and a bearing. Between this bearing and the end which was inserted
into the transmission was a standard 'U' joint.

As we all know, nothing lasts forever especially the bearing on the intermediate shaft. This article was written and illustrated by ChargedDust, to explain how to recondition these shafts.
Odds are that if you find yourself in this position not because the bearing itself has gone bad, but you need to remove the CV axle from the intermediate shaft for some reason. That can present its own set of problems; I've had to cut several axles from junkyard shafts or shafts that I bought through the Internet. Forget about the hacksaw, you'll be there forever. I've had success using a chop saw with a composite cut-off wheel. Whatever you find to work for you have at it. Once that is accomplished you can move on to the removing the bearing.

First, find out whether the bearing is worth saving. Grab the mounting plate and wiggle it to see if there is excessive radial play, then try lifting it straight off and pushing it straight down to see if there is excessive axial play.

I haven't found a specification for wear, so you have to have to decide for yourself whether it's excessive. On the lighter side, the shaft runs straight and all the flexing is done by the CV axle, so the bearing is not loaded much in normal operation.

While the outer race of the bearing sometimes separates from the isolating rubber, the bearing itself may still be fine. The bearing will probably feel gritty when you try to turn it; if it doesn't have excessive play, don't mind the grit - that will get cleaned out.

Next, get the outer splash shield off, using two screwdrivers. Get the screwdriver all the way in between the splash shield and the bearing until it touched the intermediate shaft then turn the screwdriver and the splash shield should start to move away slightly. Use two screwdrivers more or less opposed to each other so the shield doesn't get cocked on the shaft and comes off essentially straight.

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Once the splash shield is off, remove the outer dust shield from the bearing to get a better idea of the condition of the bearing.

A small precision screwdriver will do the job here.

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Now, find out whether the bearing has separated from the rubber isolator. This bearing (below) had separated so much that disassembly wasn't even required to see the separation.

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Move on to the press. You need the inner splash shield to be able to pass through base plate while being able to support the bearing. Or you can use some sort of stands to hold the splash shield up above the base of the press; just remember they should be high enough to let the shaft clear the bearing and they need to be sturdy enough for the force involved here.
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I've used two pieces of angle iron wedged in between the bearing and the inner splash shield. The angle iron needs to be in far enough to make contact with the outer race of the bearing, but getting it all the way in under the inner race is preferable.
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Here it is all ready to be pressed with the angle iron in place on both sides of the bearing and in the wide base plate so that the inner splash shield can pass through when the shaft starts to separate from the bearing.
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I ground down the edges of the angle iron slightly to make it a bit easier to get them in between the bearing and the inner splash shield, the gap is very narrow.

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More than once I have damaged the inner dust shield of the bearing from wedging the angle iron in between the splash shield and the bearing. Usually not a big deal, the dust shield can be hammered out straight again, but why do the extra work when a little proper preparation can save you the hassle?
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Once you start pressing, like every step of this process, results will vary. Some shafts will drop out nicely, some will fight you. Go slow and think about what you're about to do before you do it. I've torn up the rubber on at least one good bearing by being too aggressive and impatient with the press.

You can see the results one particularly tough bearing left on the angle iron.

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Then a visit with the wire wheel....
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Remove the inner dust shield from the bearing the same way you removed the outer shield, then get the seals out.

I've never not bent one of the seals getting it out, they're not made to be removed, but then are easily straightened back and reused, just don't chew up the rubber with the tool.

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Another trip back to the parts washer to get the old grease out of the bearing and clean off any remaining dirty parts...
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Now, if you had to cut the end of the CV axle off, this is the time to get the stub out of the intermediate axle. I've had great success with drilling a hole on the stub, threading it and using a slide hammer to pull the stub while heating the shaft with an oxy-acetylene torch. You don't need to get the shaft cherry red, or even so hot as to discolor the metal, but you do need a torch that will put out a lot of heat, because the intermediate shaft will soak up the heat from a smaller torch without expanding the metal enough to get the rusted stub out of the shaft. Again, results will vary.

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Since these bearings are a non-serviceable part, I doubt that a specific call-out for the type of grease can be found, this is up to you - axle grease, wheel bearing grease, moly grease, general purpose grease [Paul Knisely suggested moly grease for its longevity and lubrication] - the choice is yours. From here it's easy, repack the bearing, reinstall the seals, reinstall the dust shields, and reinstall the bearing; don't forget the outer splash shield.

I use a socket and a hammer to drive the bearing back on the shaft. A 1½" socket is just enough to fit over the intermediate shaft, this way the socket is in contact with the inner race of the bearing. The socket I use stops at the step where the splash shield goes, don't try to force it down any further or you'll damage the shaft.

To seat the bearing the rest of the way, I use a pin punch on the inner race of the bearing and gently tap it going around the bearing until it's all the way down. You don't want to press the bearing on with uneven force or with pressure on the isolating rubber or mounting plate.

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Once it's all put back together, apply plenty of grease to the stub shaft of the new CV axle and to the inside of the intermediate shaft.

Here you can see a bearing that had mostly separated from the rubber isolator. I cut it completely free, cleaned off the rubber from the bearing, scuffed the bearing up with a bit of sandpaper and scuffed the inside of the rubber isolator. Then I used some JB weld to reset the bearing in the rubber. I have do idea if it will hold, I haven't used any of the ones that I had to do this way. These will be the last of the bunch to get used if I ever end up going through them all.

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Here you can see how some of the dust shields got bent, just hammer them back into shape, I used a small pin punch to restore the sharp bend and angles. Still, it's better to avoid damaging them in the first place.
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If you want you can remove the U-joint and clean it, regrease it and reuse it - if it's in good condition. Or just get a new one. If you want to go a step further, you can choose to do finish work. I've put several to the wire wheel and then painted them with POR-15. Don't paint inside the bores where the u-joint cups go.

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