U-Joint Delima? Qick/good answer needed... | Ford Explorer Forums - Serious Explorations

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U-Joint Delima? Qick/good answer needed...

4X50 Exploder

Well-Known Member
December 3, 2009
Reaction score
City, State
Spokane, WA
Year, Model & Trim Level
92XLT W/'50 Ford F-1 Body
U-Joints , no problem to replace, right? Well I've never seen this one...

I was expecting to find snap rings like every other one I have ever seen... Instead, I find what appears to be very sturdy metal caps of some sort.

I tried, very briefly, to pop them off with a chisel but they didn't seem to budge. I thought I better post here to make sure there is not some trick to removing them other than the BFH... Are they somehow removed with a press?

I don't want to damage them if they are suposed to be reused! The new U-Joints did not come with this sort of cap so I assume I will have to reuse them or buy new ones if I bugger them up...

The second pic below looks like someone tried to get one out and tore things up pretty good or else the U-Joint beat the heck out of it when it failed.

Yea, I know I am asking for two mutually exclusive answers but.. Please let me know if you have done these before and what you found to work best...

PS: Qick = Quick around here when your'e stressed.


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theyre retained by open snap rings on the inside of the yolk, you can get em right off with a punch or chisel

in the area the arrows point to there should be a circlip inside next to the bearing cup , take it out, and they should press out,, , press the one side in till it gives, once it moves you will get the idea,
make sure you take out all 4 of them ,


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Thanks for the inputs. I thought I would try starting with the one end that was all messed up already.

Whatever was supposed to be retaining rings were so beat-up I could not recognize them but I did cut what was left out with a chisel before using the C-Style press. Pushing on the end where the cap was already missing, it shot the center of the opposite cap across the shop like a bullet!

No telling where the projectile ended up so I can’t see what the answer to my next question is… Are you saying that once the clips are removed, the entire cap should press through toward the center of the yoke or is the cap supposed to be removable at that point?

In the photo below, that’s not paint around the rim. It’s fresh metal where the cap separated leaving a fairly thick layer of material around the entire surface of the inside of the yoke. There is enough of that material sticking out inside of the yoke that I still can’t get the bearing to clear and come out.

It’s already pretty messed up but I thought I better re-post for additional info before I try taking a chisel to the inside material to see if I can get the bearing to clear.


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Ok, It's driving me nuts! Should be so simple... I decided to take the sandblaster to them and get a clear view of what I am missing here...

Turns out these are not as comlicated as I was making them, Just 400K of crap covering them up. They are just like any other U-Joint only the clips are on the inside of the yoke... After cleaning, I was able to find the Clips you guys were telling me about. (or should I say parts of the clips That were left)

Just because I found the remaining clips, dosn't meen they come out easy! Only one of them came out in one piece. The others were allready in fragments. Looks like the PO started this and gave up because I can't imagine them fragmenting by them selves...

Looks like my biggest issue will be how to get the right sized punch that I can use to press the broken caps out of the assembly... I'm thinking I am going to soak the crap out of them with PB Blaster and heat the yoke while trying to press them out.

Please let me know if you have any better ideas!


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i usually use a vise and a socket to push the u joints thru, put a socket on the one side that is just a bit smaller than the cap on 1 side and 1 that is bigger over the other side, and close the vise till the cap goes inside,
#1 is the same size, ,,,, #2 is the bigger size, ,


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just don't hammer on them as hard as he does,,

Yea, I think I got a bad case of tunnel vision when I didn’t see a snap ring on the outside like I am used to. That got me locked into thinking there was some sort of protective dust caps on the outside… The fact that it was all caked up and rusted over with 400K miles of crap made it A LOT harder too.

This is one of those times you wish you had an extra pair of hands or access to a machine shop worth of tools! I got through it with my Ghetto shopping cart/tool cart, an $18 ball joint press from Harbor Freight, a ¾” impact socket my torch and help from you guys.

People will badmouth Harbor Freight quality but for less than the rental cost, I got a press that paid for its-self today and I still have the tool for all the other joints in the rig. If I did this for a living or had the funds, sure, I’d buy top of the line… My X sold every tool I owned so I have stocked my garage with tools like this from them and pawn shops, as I find the ones that won’t hold up to my occasional use, I’ll replace them with top shelf stuff…

The bench vice just would not cut it! I could not get it lined up and tighten it down at the same time without a second person. Once I did manage to get it lined up, I could not get enough force applied to break the rusted POS loose.

Dropping the axle through the hole in my cart let me lay the press and impact wrench flat and get things in alignment a lot easier. Even though I was heating up the yoke while trying to press them out, one end was stuck so bad that it shot the top of another bearing cap across the garage again!

Anyone else trying this: Suit up in full safety gear and keep everyone out of the path that that thing will take if it pops off on you too!
When pressing out the broken caps, a ¾” or 19mm socket is undersized just enough to allow for a little misalignment caused by the rough surface of the broken bearing caps. A 20mm socket seems to be a perfect fit if you don’t have a press or broken caps…

Thanks again for all the input and patience. Hopefully this can help someone else down the road…


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Thanks, 4x4junkie

Yea, those are what Napa carries as their premium brand now... For some reason they have dropped Spicer. I wish I had started this thread and seen your reply months ago. I don't know if I can return them after having them on hand for so long... If I can return them I’ll go with the Spicer, 5-760X’s like you recommend. If I am stuck with these three, I’ll go with the Spicers everywhere else. Got to start looking for a local supplier now…

Your post was just in the nick of time for me! I am going to follow your write up on the snap ring and Center Slip Shaft modifications. Do you use that mod on every U-Joint?

Are you an advocate for shortening the bolts that attach your Radius Arms to the Axle Arms so they do not extend so far past the inside collar? I can't remember where I read that they may hit and cause a failure too but I was thinking of doing that while I have this all torn apart...

After I get the front end back together, I am going to start SOA conversion in the back. Have you got any links to more GREAT TIPS about that? I am seriously thinking about converting to Disk Brakes but don't know if it's worth it...

This rig won’t see the use that yours do but I love this kind of feedback so that I have a chance to do things right the first time! My plans for this rig will be moderate off-roading with mostly serious winter use and eventually pulling a replica Chris Craft that I plan to build after this money pit is filled in…

Do you use that mod on every U-Joint?

Only on u-joints with c-clips inside the yoke (this would be just the front axleshaft joints).

If you don't use the Spicer joints, it might not be worth bothering with the snapring mod (perhaps i should ask, which joint shown in that link do your Napa joints resemble? If they have circular forgings on the centers like the Spicer, then they may infact be reboxed Spicers (Napa does this frequently). If they are more like the old joint pictured next to the Spicer (smooth), then they won't be as strong and it may be worth seeking out actual Spicers)

On those bolts, if you're building the suspension for lots of travel, you will need to trim them, yes (you will also need to widen up the window where the passengerside axle shaft passes through the beam). If you're just going for the typical bolt-on lift build (such as with the Superlift kit you mentioned having in another post), then it shouldn't be necessary.

Disc brakes are a great upgrade. There's not a whole lot to that one though, just bolt 'em up and bleed 'em (some will say you'll need the disc master cyl, which may be true on the Ex, I don't know, although on my BII I did not when I swapped discs onto it).

Well, as always, I learn something from your posts! They are made by Federal-Mogul and do not look like the new Spicer. I checked yesterday, none of our local parts stores carry or will special order the Spicer. I really do try to buy local first, guess I’ll try some of the driveline shops next. This quarter's budget is 100% exhausted so if Napa won't let me return them ($28ea.) I'm stuck for now. Regardless, I'm gonna modify the front for the full snap ring and go with the Spicer’s when my next funding comes through in April.

The down side to your reply? Now I need to see what I have to do to get additional travel out of the rig. That was part of what I thought I would get with this package and I have a bad feeling that I am about to learn the hard way!

My intent on this build is not to just have a pretty, lifted, Mall Crawler. I want to see the look on the other guys face when he finds a 1950 truck has made it to the top before them… I want as much go as show! That’s why I’m bugging the crap out of you guys with these posts, I’m trying to get it right the first time…

Would you mind pointing me in the right direction to get schooled in travel vs. lift? I have the SuperLift 5.5", Supper Runner Package, on hand for the front. All I have for the rear is a set of the perches from Tuff Stuff. I hope there is some way to get some additional travel without scraping everything I have! It doesn’t have to be an awesome amount; this won’t see extreme use…

Maybe the saving grace is that I have nothing on hand for the rear and was pretty much planning on needing to re-spring it anyway once I have the F-1 bed roughed on... Will additional travel hurt my towing capacity? If so, this is a moot point and I’ll shelve the idea until I rebuild my Jeep.

I'm not too terribly happy with this new revelation of "Travel vs. Lift" but hopefully my pain will help the next guy avoid this surprise...

By the way, is it OK to Hi-Jack my own post or should I start a new thread?
Thanks, Jay


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Insanity? How hard can it be?

Just because I have never attempted a project like this, does not mean it can't be done!

It's all about attitude and drive!


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Spicer having problems?

Checking with the local drive line shops in town, they all speak poorly of Spicer products lately. They say that the quality has gone steadily downhill and that Spicer is heading into bankruptcy court again. The reps for the Spicer, big truck repair dealer, have been telling them that they are expecting Spicer to close their doors soon...

I'm not saying this is all fact, just what I heard on my quest to find parts locally!

They did speak favorably about the 5-760X and referred me to the one place in town that carries them. I'll swing by there today and see if I can get a fair price and not have to buy online...

I heard something about Dana filing bankruptcy a couple years back, but I haven't heard anything myself of their products going downhill... :dunno: I bought some balljoints made by them recently and they look just as good quality as always... Guess I'll know in a year or two after I put them in (FWIW, I bought them under the Raybestos label, which Dana appears to be selling many items under now. Not sure if the 760x u-joint is one of them though).

On your suspension, what I would do is just put your Superlift kit on and see how it performs (fix the steering link so it lines up correctly though). If you find yourself lifting tires too often on the trails, then think about changing things to get more travel. You already have what you have now anyway, so might as well use it and see if it actually works for you. ;)

I picked up the set of three Spicer 5-760X's yesterday and they are still packaged by Spicer. Forgot to ask that shop about their take... One of the things said the other day is that spicer will not sell direct to the little guy, you have to do $10K worth of orders a year through them...

Yea, you’re right about the front lift. Nothing I am able to do at this point unless there are some cost effective options to gain some travel without wasting the parts on hand.

I need to see what I can do in the rear though. Other than the spring perches for the SOA, I have no plan of attack yet. Can you point me to any links that talk about getting additional flex and lift at the same time?

Hopefully next quarter's budget will be enough to have the suspension and brakes done and I can start roughing the body on to determine tire size... It will most likely be the fall quarter when I can purchase the gears and locker. I have started pricing my gear sets and an E-Locker for the rear... The local shop wants $1700 to re-gear and install the E-Locker in just the rear. Seems high to me but it is the first estimate. Not sure if I am up to doing the work myself...

Ya know, at this rate, I am going to have to paint a credit line on my bumper for you and the others that have done so much to help with this build...

I would think very few companies sell direct to consumers, which is why you have to find a dealer for said product. What I'm finding though is that Spicer dealers nowadays are no longer big store chains like Napa, Autozone, etc., you have to find the littler guys (often independents or guys on eBay). Many places do carry Raybestos though (Napa reboxes a lot of Dana Spicer components too), so if you know what to look for, you can often score some Spicer parts this way if all else fails.

Getting flex from the rear suspension generally isn't that difficult. The SOA on stock springs should get you some pretty good flex. Turning the overload leaves upside down can gain you another inch or two uptravel though (they are close to but not quite flat). Just make sure your shocks are long enough so that they don't restrict the suspension's movement.

Yea, I didn't mean to imply you can buy direct from Spicer as a customer. The feedback that the local driveline shops gave me was that they can't buy Spicer direct because of the minimum yearly $$ amount imposed by Spicer. I found a 4x4 shop that stocks them at the same prices I found over the internet.

When I went looking for the snap rings to do your mod, I found an industrial bearing supplier that carries Spicer at an even better price. (And they have a much nicer attitude!) The nonames cost me $92 at Napa. I got the three Spicers and snap rings for $69. I asked the guy at the bearing supplier and he has heard nothing about Spicer having issues. I have a feeling it's just the little shops are disgruntled about min. purchase requirements or the profit they can turn using other brands...

After this weekend, I'll be jumping into the research of the rear suspension. I'm gonna be setting it up with new shocks no matter what I do so when I come up with the plan for the new shock mounts I will keep length in mind...

Thanks, Jay

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That certainly may be... Although I've seen Spicer recently turning out some lower-grade junk too (case in point: balljoints that they don't even make themselves). Wouldn't be surprised if this is the source of at least some "spicer is junk" comments. Dana really needs to stick to making their own high-end OE quality stuff, that crap just drags their name through the dirt.