Looking for a diff guru / advice (Dana)

Reprise

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Ok. I'll try and keep this in bullet points, and wait for follow-up questions.

Basically, I've started the work, and after doing some more research (mostly on YT), wondering if I'm getting in over my head.
I thought I could make the repair w/o having to remove the carrier / pinion, but we'll see what your opinions are

'03 Sierra with Dana 60 / 4.10 - Quadrasteer axle
- I want to keep this system intact (a big reason why I bought it), but am willing to make the move to a Corporate 14-bolt, if price for this repair gets excessive (> $1000, let's say).

- Outside of the pinion bearing, the system works perfectly - both electronics & mechanicals

- The internals of the diff are 'standard Dana'

On that pinion bearing...
Truck will make a howling noise from the rear on coast decel, at the right speed. Goes away under re-accel / steady state cruise.

With the driveshaft off, and moving the yoke, I've got roughly an inch or more of backlash, which I think is excessive. I can also hear a bit of a clunk at the end of the free travel. There's no lateral / up & down movement of the yoke, and no leakage from the seal.

At first, I thought I was going to simply remove pinion nut, slinger, replace bearing race.
However, I'm guessing that I may have to replace the bearing - and that's a 2pc affair, requiring removal of the carrier / pinion (axle tubes have to come out, and room is tight in my garage, to be frank).

The other thing that worries me is reassembly, since the carrier / ring / pinion will have been removed. Specifically:

- Mating of the ring / pinion surfaces (hoping this will be minimal as long as I keep any shims in proper places)

- Crush bearing sleeve on the pinion (guessing I need to replace).
Apparently, 'crush bearing eliminator' kits are available?​

- Setting the preload (described as a 2-man job), which looks like it would be required on a complete carrier disassembly.


So...those are my general concerns, along with an apprehension about being able to find a local resource to work on this (and what they'd charge).

Looking for members who've done diff work before, to chat them up. If you have experience with Dana / Spicer, and especially the 60-series, you're my new BFF :biggrin:

(for the uninitiated: While GM stopped using Dana axles some time ago, many Dodge / Jeep products have them (and some Fords))
 

m.mcmillen

Gold Supporter
I don't think I've ever been into a Dana 60 but I'll try and help.

I think the best thing to do would be to just rebuild the whole thing. You're going to wind up taking the whole thing apart anyway. Before you get started, you need to know that you will need a press to press the carrier bearings off and on and also the inside pinion bearing.

I would also recommend buying a dial type torque wrench that will read inch pounds. You will need it to set the preload of the carrier bearing.

For the crush sleeve, you don't really need two people. I use a good stout impact and tighten the pinion nut in small increments and then check the preload after each increment (this is where the inch pound torque wrench comes into play). A click style wrench won't do. You will need to turn the pinion several times while watching the dial on the torque wrench. Make sure you lube the bearings up really good before you put them in so you can get an accurate reading.

For the backlash, you will need a dial indicator to check the backlash of the ring pinion. What I have found is that once you change all of the bearings that most of the specs come back to what they're supposed to be. You need to be sure that you pay special attention to the shims that you take out and that they go back in the same place they came from.
 
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Reprise

Reprise

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Thanks for responding (I have notifications set on this thread; thus the quick reply).

Sounds like you're saying "don't worry...you can do it" (but, yeah, you have to take the entire thing apart). We'll see...

I did purchase an inch-pound beam wrench, having read that it could be substituted for the dial type. Only about $30 delivered, so I'm not 'out' that much, just yet. And I do have impact / air capability.

Re: pressing bearings. I know I could take them to a shop and have that done; it'll cost a little bit, but it looks to be a straightforward job, and I don't have room for / don't want to incur the expense for a suitable press.

I think I'm going to see what a couple of local places will tell me (knowing that they're probably going to come in about $1000 or so). And talk to the mechanic I've used in the past. There's also a place I can take the truck to to rent a hoist, but that gets pretty expensive, at the speed at which I work. And I'd want to get all of the parts beforehand (inner / outer bearings & races, axle seals ('cos those'll get destroyed taking out the axles), etc., etc.)

Assuming I had everything needed from that standpoint (and a shop was available for the press work), would it be possible to get all of this done in a day or two, using a lift?
 

northcreek

Well-Known Member
I don't believe that it was mentioned but, you will need a housing spreader to remove/install the carrier assembly. I show how I made one in an earlier post, when I was doing a Dana 44.
 
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Reprise

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Oh, yeah...I know about the case spreader...unique to Dana.

Didn't mention earlier, trying to keep from writing a book... :eek: but I had earlier come across a blog site that a guy w/ same truck posted to. In his case, he stated 'no spreader needed', b/c the carrier 'fell out' after he removed the carrier bolts / shims. It would be fair to say I'm hoping not to have to engage a spreader.

Pretty funny how Dana wants you to use a case spreader, and then says not to exceed 0.015 in. on the spreading (per GM manual). Anywho...

Here's the latest...

I rigged up the inch-pound wrench with a couple of adapters (it's 1/4 drive, as most are, and the socket is 1/2 drive)...
While I couldn't get a 360 degree pull, it seems to take approx 28 in/lb to move the pinion (after the free play has been exhausted). That is consistent, in both directions, turning 120-160 degrees or so (you can round to 180 / half-turn, if you like). But it is consistent.

Because the preload spec is different for...
  • new vs. old bearings,
  • ring & carrier in vs out,
  • GM service manual vs. other sources
  • something else I don't remember or haven't found yet
... I'm not going to say right now that 28 is definitively 'in' or 'out' of spec. But from what I can tell, it's on the smaller end of 'in'.

Although I mentioned that I have no lateral or vertical play on the yoke, sources suggest that doesn't mean the pinion bearing isn't bad. So the lack of play could be 'good', or it could mean nothing at all.


Moving on...I also removed the fill plug, to check the fluid level (spec is right at the fill hole). As soon as the plug came out, fluid was coming out at a good clip (vehicle is pitched forward, so it's not overfull)
Put the plug right back in and cleaned everything off.

What that tells me is that none of the seals (pinion, axle - ?) are leaking. (I had mentioned earlier that the pinion oil seal looked clean).

From what I can tell, this axle is untouched from factory. Oh, and total miles is about 230K.
More background info...while I see no evidence of a 5th wheel / gooseneck hitch or ball ever being mounted, this truck does have the 'helper bags' on the rear axle, and perhaps an added leaf, as well. Couple that with a 4.10 gear, and it's practically a given that this truck was pulling something during its life (it's rated for 10,000 on the bumper, per the 'old' specs, so it makes you wonder just why the supplemental bags were needed (no WDH, perhaps?)

Now...here's something else I've been considering as the source of the noise... wheel or axle bearings.
Supposedly, wheel bearings aren't supposed to 'howl'. But it's easier to check on these (IMO) than to rip apart an entire diff and set it back up correctly. And this truck does have rear hub assemblies, similar to the front steer axle on a 4x4 truck. The howling does kind of have the same pitch as a bad front hub (but it's louder, IMO)

Also, when I've heard this noise, it seems to be coming more from the RH (pass) side, rather than from the 'center' (or left). That's not 'scientific' (especially with my ears / at my age)


So...here's my 'new' plan... I'll start taking apart things at the passenger wheel end, and put in new hubs / bearings, where applicable. Hopefully, I find something 'obvious'. While I'm in there, I suppose new inner / outer tie rods would be good, since I'll be disconnecting them.

After that, I'll get the truck back out on the road and test.
If the noise doesn't go away...then I'll go back to the diff (I'll probably drain the fluid and pull the cover (which is more involved, as the actuator / motor assy is actually molded into the cover (!)

With the cover off, I can inspect the ring / spider gears, and see if anything looks bad there. It'll also allow me to pull the axle clips, b/c that'll need to be done to pull the axles / remove the carrier.

And with that...it's on to the Rock parts catalog for some (different) parts...
 

northcreek

Well-Known Member
If properly shimmed, the carrier should not fall out...that "case squeeze" is the preload on the bearings. There should be no perceivable play side to side when the carrier is in place.
The best way I found to remove the carrier is to put some tension on the spreader and have the carrier facing down with some protection on the ground, boxes,blankets,etc. then whack the case with a dead blow hammer and it should fall out easily, if not spread a little more. It is difficult to just try and lift it out because it's heavy, slippery and you are fighting some close tolerances.
 
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Reprise

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If properly shimmed, the carrier should not fall out...that "case squeeze" is the preload on the bearings. There should be no perceivable play side to side when the carrier is in place.
Understood...just relaying what he wrote, which can be found HERE if you're interested (about mid-page for the reference - he surmised that he lost the shims via bearing failure, but I doubt they'd disappear w/o a trace.

Ordered some rear hubs from Rock. There aren't any other bearings on the wheel side to replace, per the parts diagram. And since the seals are intact (see my post last night re: fluid level 'ok'), I'll hold off on those for now. Those'll get here on Friday; that gives me a couple of days to get the old ones off and ready for the new.

I also found an entire replacement axle w/ same 4.10 gear on the Bay (junkyard; 184K miles). Listed for $775 plus shipping; seller agreed to waive the fee if I picked it up (in MO; not that far away for me). So that's an option.

Only issue there (besides not knowing condition of the internals) is that it's from an extended cab (6-lug) - but with this axle, I'm pretty sure I could swap the hubs and be in business. They're all Dana 60s, and I see no variance listed for any of the other parts on that axle for HD crew vs. other models, other than the hubs. Width s/b the same, too (all models have the bulging wheelwells & marker lights (DOT requirement for track > 80 in.) And before you ask, there was no DRW option - these were never on 3500s.

I had gone to one garage yesterday, explained the situation, and instead of anything resembling a price estimate, heard "bring it in so we can diagnose it". Will talk to my 'trusted' mech today (yeah, those quotes are in there for a purpose, but he's all I've got besides myself (and sometimes I don't trust me )) :dunce:

More to come...and I've been taking pics, so maybe I'll update this post with appropriate ones, as this progresses. Those overalls I picked up have a handy front pocket where I've been storing my paint pen & phone.
 

littleblazer

Gold Supporter
I've only ever seen one 60 blow up ever... and he did it 3 times. Otherwise they're pretty good. Hence I've never really torn one down.
 
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Reprise

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I've only ever seen one 60 blow up ever... and he did it 3 times. Otherwise they're pretty good.
Yeah...supposed to be damn near 'stuff of legend'.

You wouldn't happen to know what the failure point(s) were, would you? Just curious (and I don't know what would be worse...hearing the same thing failed, or that three different things failed...lol)
 

littleblazer

Gold Supporter
Yeah...supposed to be damn near 'stuff of legend'.

You wouldn't happen to know what the failure point(s) were, would you? Just curious (and I don't know what would be worse...hearing the same thing failed, or that three different things failed...lol)
Let's see, it went a few thousand miles with leaking seals, then a few thousand with no fluid... they guy that we found to rebuild it never had rebuilt one and got it right enough on the third try. It was mainly negligence running it for a year with no fluid. He said you used to go around turns and watch what was left spray out the rims....
 
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Started another thread in the 'towing' thread b/c I thought I might need a new ring / pinion, and a direct replacement wasn't available (or, at least I thought it wasn't, when I created that thread.)

After cleaning / inspecting the innards, I can see that the gears are fine. Not a tooth chipped or broken, anywhere. Appears to be a bit of pattern wear on some of the teeth (just an outline that you can see when you clean it off to bare metal. Not perfectly 'centered', like you're supposed to try and shoot for, but if it made it 230K with this small amount of wear, I'm not too worried.

The issue is with the carrier bearings (left side sheared off the bearing / cup; I can see & touch the race / cone. All of the shards remained on that side. The RH side looks ok, and still has a shim on that side, as well.

I looked at the Pirate 4x4 site for what's involved in replacing them; personally, I don't think I can do it (31 pages devoted to gear setup for the Dana 60; not that it's substantially more difficult than any other axle, I suppose).

Called up another shop and explained my options (them repairing vs. me replacing the axle); they're going to call me back with an estimate.

I'd love to be able to do the repair, but it might take me six months to 'get it right', and an investment in tools I don't see me using again. May as well let an experienced pro handle it (or replace the axle.) I'll have my garage back and can focus on other things demanding my attention right now. And then I can come back to my intended cam / intake project, after the dust settles.

Will use this thread going forward, and ask that the other one be closed, since that question is resolved.
 
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Called the shop back. They had been waiting on GM parts source to supply listing of needed parts, but they were at least able to estimate 8hr labor @ $105/per.

Told them I thought that was the better option, vs. putting in a JY axle of unknown status (I'm sure it works, but for how long?)

Also told them I'd source the parts, if they continued to have trouble, and I'd make sure they were good quality; they agreed on that as an option. So I'm doing that now. A master rebuild kit from Yukon Gear containing Timken bearings, etc., should take care of most of it (sourcing at about $225).

A new diff cover gasket will run about $40, shipped (it's unique, so I can't use a regular 10- or 12-bolt gasket.) Although the old one is reusable, there's a thin rubber gasket liner on the interior edge that separated a bit on removal, so I may as well spring for the new gasket - I don't want the rubber portion from the old one being drawn into the diff (although it would probably be crushed to nothing by the force of the gears, tbh).

Will go over the parts listing with the shop before I bring it in, so that there's agreement that 'everything' is there, and the truck isn't sitting on the rack for days waiting for more parts to be sourced / shipped.

I know there will be those of you who will say... "gee...$1000+... I woulda done it myself or gotten rid of the system" Call me nuts, but I think I could build an engine from freshly machined parts, or rebuild a transmission before I could correctly set up a diff & gears, by myself. That's just the way I feel about it. If this goes south again, maybe my opinion will change - but once this is rebuilt, I expect it to last a long time. Fingers crossed.

Also, as I mentioned...I like the idea of having something 'rare'. The electronics work, and that's the hard part of the system to find anymore. That, plus the benefits that the system delivers, and I say... "what the hell?" Or, if you prefer... "what's the diff?" (pun intended!)
 
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