Ring & Pinion How-To

crazy4offroad

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Once you do one you'll have the fundamental knowledge to do any. The internet is an invaluable resource for information and can help you with things that may be different from axle to axle.

This write-up will be about the GM 14-bolt full-floater rear axle, found under 3/4 ton and 1 ton trucks and vans.

First thing is disassembly. Any one of us can take something apart, but like an engine there are some things you have to take note of first. Mainly, the carrier bearing caps and their position/sides of their pre-disassembly location. Also take note of the pinion housing assemebly. It's bolt pattern is 6 non-symmetrical bolt holes and it can only go on one way. Otherwise, just standard sorting of bolts for where they go.

Some specialty tools you will need to complete this job:
SAFETY GLASSES!
4" bearing seperator.
Hydraulic press (can be bought cheap at harbor freight, or home made if you're creative).
Air impact capable of 450 ft/lbs of torque. I got mine at NAPA for $125.
Large pipe wrench.
2-arm puller.
Dial indicator micrometer with a clamp-on mount.
Caliper micrometer (can also be found at Harbor Freight cheap, and digital).
Torque wrench.
Rubber mallet, 2 lb hammer.
Several various blocks and pieces of heavy steel.
A variety of large sockets, including 1 1/2".
Punches, drifts, etc.
Taps and dies would be nice, for chasing threads.


After you have it took apart, you need to press the old bearings off the carrier.
Here's the borrowed home made press I used:
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And here's my bearing seperator:
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It is IMPORTANT to wear your SAFETY GLASSES when operating a hydraulic press! I would also not recommend smiling, since flying metal is tougher than teeth. I also cover the family jewels when possible! I had to split my carrier by removing the ring gear to fit it in my press. Using various chunks of steel, washers and a socket I pressed the carrier bearings off, as well as the old bearings off the old pinion. Unfortunately I didnt get pics, as I do not posess 3 arms. Then I pressed the new bearing on the new pinion and carrier, and used a 1" round drift bar to knock the bearing races out of the pinion housing and installed the new ones.

Next was one of the hardest, suckiest parts of the process: installing the pinion into the housing and setting pinion bearing preload! I installed the pinion into the housing, dropped in the crush collar, dropped the smaller pinion bearing into the top and used the press and the old bearing to press it up on the pinion. Then I started the pinion yoke on, used the old washer and nut, and using my impact on the highest setting I began running down the pinion yoke against the crush collar. It is a long process of short blasts, with the socket only turning about 1/16" at times, until there is only about 1/16" or less play up and down:
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Next I ran the old pinion nut off and installed the seal. Grease the rubber seal surface:
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...and then put some black silicone on the outer rim of the seal:
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...then used the rubber mallet to get it started:
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Smacked it the rest of the way down with the 2#:
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...then rolled the edge down with the rubber mallet:
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Might as well take the time to clean up the pinion yoke where the seal rides with the wire wheel...
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Grease it up...
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and smack it in place:
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Next shoot some WD-40 on the washer and put some high-strength thread locker on the pinion threads:



Then you finish off the pinion bearing preload. You want about 25-35 inch-pounds of rotational torque. WD-40 the bearings when you're trying to get the preload right. You could try setting your ft/lb torque wrench to 2 pounds but I doubt you'll get the right amount of torque since they arent designed to go that low. Best way I can describe it is tighten it until it feels right. It will be just a little hard to turn but you should be able to spin it with 2 fingers and when you let go it stops. Used bearings require much less preload, more like a front wheel bearing has.


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crazy4offroad

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Next comes the actual setup in the axle housing. First you have to knock out the old pinion pilot bearing:



Watch out for sharp edges!


Next mic your old pinion shim. It looks like a metal gasket between the pinion housing and the axle housing:



Then find a new shim that matches the old one's thickness (they are all different):



Install the pinion housing in the axle housing, make sure you have your shim on right, and make sure you have the alignment right:



Run 3 bolts in just to hold it down, incase you need to add or remove shim. Then put your bearing races on the carrier and drop it in place. This is usually easier said than done. Add your bearing caps, remembering their orientation. Snug them down, but just tight enough that when you turn the adjuster spanners on the sides the carrier can still move. Adjust the spanners till you get the carrier close to the pinion, but not too close. when you turn the carrier back and forth you should hear a very slight "clunk".

Now you can set up your dial indicator micrometer. Run a cover bolt in and use the clamp, rod and adapter. Set it up so it is close to the outside edge of the ring gear teeth:



Wiggle the carrier till you can figure out which way to zero the dial. The bearing preload should be enough to prevent it from moving. If not, brace it with a ratchet or pipe wrench:



I had .003" first try, I needed .005" - .008"...



So I adjusted the spanners a little (it took me 3 tries to get it right):



...till I nailed it at .005":



Then comes checking the mesh pattern. This is what drives a bunch of people crazy. This is why I always mic the old shim and try to match it! Sometimes you get lucky. My kit came with marking paint and a brush, you just brush it on several teeth, both sides, and turn the pinion forward and back at least 6 complete revolutions. You should be able to get a good pattern showing tooth contact on both the power (forward) side, and the coast (reverse) side:





As you can see the semi-bare spot is nice and centered in the face of the gear, front and back! Home run! All you have to do is torque your bearing caps, install the spanner lockers:



...torque your pinion housing bolts, then re-check your backlash. If you still have what you had before, you're good to go! All that's left is install the axleshafts and your cover and it's ready to roll!



When doing other axles, like 1/2 tons, the pinion shim actually goes behind the pinion bearing, which makes them significantly harder to do. Also most carriers you have to use shims on either side of the carrier, instead of spanners, another issue that makes them a little more difficult. But as long as you keep track of the old shims and which side they're on, you still might get lucky, or really close to where it needs to go when the final mesh pattern check gets done.

Hope this helps someone when setting up their own ring and pinion gears! If anyone sees anything I missed post up and I'll make corrections.
 
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Manbearpig

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THANKYOU For this

I need to do a carrier/gear swap sometime
 

Irishman999

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Awesome info job! I remember my dad trying to explain how to do this, you made it nice and straight forward with the pictures.
 

The88

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For a bonus on the half tons if you take your old pinion bearing and grind out the inner section so it slides on and off the pinion with ease you can trial and error shims much easier.
 

Jacob Baughman

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I have a 12 bolt truck axle with a 3 series carrier. I'm going from 3.08 to 410 and i discovered my cross pin bolt to be broke and I cannot find a replacement. Ordered several and they all fall through the threads. I. (of course) lost the old bolt I extracted and have no idea what size it even is. Does any one know what I need?

I'm sorry for taking over the post but I don't know how to make my own, as you can see I'm a new member.
 

Honky Kong jr

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Best thing I could recommend is go to a yard there should be plenty of 12 bolts there to get one. I have **** loads of cross pin bolts from 10 bolts but only 1 12 bolt that's in my truck. I know the head size is the same but not sure of the rest of it. Also welcome to the site.
 

Clang16

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Is there a speedi sleeve to go one the front pinion shaft I swapped out the old seal and it wore a groove into the pinion shaft
 

SquareRoot

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Is there a speedi sleeve to go one the front pinion shaft I swapped out the old seal and it wore a groove into the pinion shaft
Yes
 

Ricko1966

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K. Not going to read everything,but when I do rear and bearings I freeze appropriate parts in the freezer heat other's in the oven or with a propane torch slipping a warmed brg onto a cooled pinion or carrier is night a and day differenc
 

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