GPW Axle work begins & Halloween Event!
Finally, after nearly 10 months, the 1943 GPW axles I’ve been slowly restoring to replace the CJ axles currently on the Jeep are starting to be put back together! After several weeks of issues getting the ring and pinions set, both axles are finally set! Now to put them together. This week, I started work on the rear axle first, with everything from adding the drum bearings to setting the brakes!
It’s been a long time coming, but so glad that this week the axle work started! Replacing the axles and adding the combat rims/firestone wheels will be one of the last major major projects for the Jeep.
Before we get to the axle work, the Jeep participated in an event this week in Corona, CA! The Corona City Hall hosted a trunk or treat event, and I took the Jeep out to be a part of a WW2 display.
My girlfriend and two friends helped us out to represent a WW2 USO. We had the Jeep, the large 48-star flag, and in the trunk, we had a USO themed setup with a radio playing 1940s swing music, items from the homefront, and more. My friends are wearing US Army Air Force khaki summer uniforms, he’s in an officer’s Summer Class A, she’s in a summer enlisted WAAC uniform. My girlfriend is in a winter enlisted WAAC uniform. All uniforms are original and part of my WW2 collection.
Here’s a rare photo of myself with my girlfriend at the event with the Jeep. I’m wearing an A-2, Crusher Cap, and pinks pants.
Here’s my girlfriend (right, in the winter WAAC uniform), and a friend (left, in the summer WAAC uniform) with the Jeep. We put a sign in the window with the bomb group the Jeep represents. The trunk or treat event was more of a reverse parade, with the public driving past and getting a bag of candy at the very end. There were less people than we expected, but we had several people shout from their cars that they loved our display. I would honk the horn on the Jeep ever so often to get people excited. Fun event overall, and one of the few the Jeep has been to in this year of the pandemic.
On to the axles! So, those who have been following along with this page for the last few months, you can move on ahead as the next few photos are going to be a recap on the axles. So, when I got my Jeep in October 2018, it came with post-war CJ axles (yellow arrows) and post-war Kaiser rims (red arrows). Originally, I wasn’t going to change them out, as they were probably added to the Jeep back with the original owners after the Navy. But, I decided I wanted to make the Jeep stock and correct.
I lucked out, and back in November last year a fellow G503 member posted that he had a pair of MB axles taking up space in his garage just a few miles from me, and he wanted them gone for free. So I went over and picked them up. They were very dirty but looked pretty complete and would need a complete teardown and restoration.
I began that teardown right away, taking apart both axles from December through February. I found out, much to my extreme luck, these weren’t MB axles, but actually GPW axles! And both were pretty complete, which was amazing! The front axle doesn’t appear to have ever been taken apart since WW2, but the rear axle wasn’t so lucky…
I found out that there was a very violent explosion of spider gears in the rear axle. It cracked the axle housing, put debris all over, destroyed both spider gears and damaged the ring, pinion, other gears, and carrier!
I managed to track down another original take-off GPW carrier (top is the original damaged one, the bottom is the replacement). I got lucky with another GPW carrier. It doesn’t matter, really, as no one will see inside these axles once they are sealed.
Not that long ago, I finally tracked down a set of matching NOS ring and pinions still packaged in their original wax paper. And another stroke of luck, they were both GPW! So I’ve had a mix of great luck with getting GPW items with GPW axles, but bad luck with the spider gear explosion causing a lot of headaches trying to replace the inside parts.
New carrier meant new bearings, and a few weeks ago I got a set of Joes Motor Pool bearings for the carrier from Ron Fitzpatrick Jeep Parts . Sadly, it turned out that the JMP bearings are significantly taller than the original Timkens! Another delay!
But, in true amazing customer service, Ron Fitzpatrick Jeep Parts sent me a full set of Timkens as a replacement for my troubles, which I’m very thankful for. The problem was, I needed to get the JMP bearings off. So I had to wait until my friend Tom Read was available again as he has the hydraulic press to get them off.
Finally, that day came and I threw the axles into the car along with the carriers, Timken set, and headed off to Tom’s house.
It wasn’t too difficult to get the Joes Motor Pool bearings off and put the Timkens on in place. Having a press makes that a lot easier! The sad thing is that we had to take the ring off to make it work with the press.
FINALLY, all the TImken bearings are on, the bolts are back in with the rings, and the tabs re-bent back against the bolts to hold them in place. FINALLY! Now to put them in the housings.
The front axle was up first! Here we’ve just set the carrier in. It’s nice and snug, but it’s going in. The Timkens were a perfect fit. After some light tapping with a hammer to seat the cups around the bearings, the carrier was set! We then added the caps (which I forgot to take photos of).
Next up was the rear axle. This one fought us a bit to go in, and we ended up having to take it out, remove the ring again from the carrier, remove one of the Timken bearings, remove one since shim, and put in a shim half as thick as the one we took out, but the bearing back on, put the ring back on, then try it again. Still snug, but it actually went in! We looked at the backlash on both, the rear axle had almost NO backlash. It was perfect (probably due to the NOS ring and pinion). The front axle had minor backlash well within spec.
I didn’t take many photos as Tom’s getting everything set, but that night, once I got home from finishing everything, I went to put the covers on the axles to keep out any dust, debris, insects, etc. I figured it would be a good time to put on the axle ratio tags to see how they fit! I also realized, as I was getting out my bag with the original cover bolts, in that bag was this unidentified piece of something that had broken off long time ago before I owned the Jeep. I realized that it was a remnant of an original axle ratio tag!
Here’s the front axle with all the bolts and the axle ratio tag installed! There are star washers under each bolt. I did research, and I don’t believe my 1944 Jeep would have had F stamped bolts on the cover. It appears pre-1944 might have had them, but these original bolts look like they are original to the Jeep and have unmarked heads.
The rear axle only had 3 original bolts when I got it, so I knew I’d need to get more. Here’s the three with the axle ratio tag. The ratio tag didn’t quite turn in line with the cover, so I had to slightly hammer it over after I shot this photo.
The next day, I went and got a set of 5/16 bolts from Home Depot for the missing cover bolts. I used the belt sander to smooth the heads blank.
I wanted to test the paper gasket I got from Ron Fitzpatrick Jeep Parts , a perfect fit!
I decided to start work the next day on the rear axle first. So I put it on the workbench and got to work. I figured I was done with the inside of the hosing, so I put the cover on, snugged up the bolts (which I know, I’ll need to take 3 out at some point to put the brake line clip and tri-port bracket). I then hit the bolt heads and axle ratio tag with Red Oxide Barrier III spray paint from Ron Fitzpatrick Jeep Parts. I also hit the areas of the axle I hadn’t painted with primer yet.
Looking pretty good! Can’t wait to finish it up so I can get some OD Green on it.
Next up was the drain plug for the axle. I used Permatex non-permanent thread sealer on it to help stop any weepage of oil. I only put it on the last few threads as it will spread over all the threads as it screws in.
I found that a 1/2 drive fits perfectly in the drain plug hole and allowed me to rachet it nice and snug.
All nice and tight! Hopefully no oil weepage once it’s filled!
Now comes the fun part, mounting the brakes! I already put together each of the brake plates several months ago in an update. They’ve been sitting awaiting the axles getting the ring/pinions set.
First, to mount them to the axles, I took the original bolts (which were all F stamped) and painted the heads with red oxide primer.
Then I started putting them in one at a time through the plate and the axle flange.
Here’s a look at the first plate (passenger side) installed on the rear axle! (Note – The axle is pointing skyward, which is why the plate is rotated sideways). Once I put the brake drum on, no one will see this for a very very long time.
Moving on to the other side, I once again painted the original F stamped bolt heads and got them all installed. You can see how I labeled each plate so I knew which went where (RD = Rear Driver).
And here’s a look at the plate on the other side. The plate, bolts, anchor pins, plate, etc are all original that I was abe to reuse. The wheel cylinders, brake pads, and spring are all new (for safety reasons). The brake pads are F stamped repros!
Here’s a look with both brake plates installed! Taking shape for the first time in a long time.
Now on to the drums! I haven’t installed the cups or the bearings, so it was time to get to those!
I got Joes Motor Pool bearings and cups, and I know what you’re thinking, but I got these a long time ago (before I knew about the carrier bearings), and unlike those, these were a PERFECT fit. Here I’ve put the cup in on the outside already, and I’ve started putting the cup in the inner area. They went in nice and snug. I used a rubber hammer to get it started, then I used a punch to slowly hammer it in, moving in a circular motion giving 2-3 taps each time, moving to the left and doing more taps, etc. Basically slowly rocking it down so it’s straight and snug.
You want the cups to be nice and snug on the inner lips. Here’s two shots showing the cups pressed up against the inner lips. Ready for the next step!
I used this grease for the bearings, as you need to pack the bearings when you install them. It’s made for automotive wheel bearings, and is a nice quality grease.
I followed Scott Schiller’s G503 video on youtube about packing bearings, and it worked well. You can see the video here: https://youtu.be/1tykp3AF0xY First, I get a large glob of grease on on my hand…
It’s messy! But a bit of fun. You basically slap the bearing into the grease to get the grease in between the bearing wheels.
You want to slap the bearing down on the side, the larger opening between the bearing and the cage.
What you’re looking for is the grease to ooze out the other side between the wheels. Keep slapping it against the grease until you see it ooze through, that way you know the bearing is nice and packed with grease.
Next step is to put the bearing, now packed with grease, inside the inner cup I had just installed. I made sure to keep track of which bearing went to which cup, as they were paired together. I wiped the top lip of the bearing clean of grease.
Next goes in the oil seal, which is a nice double lipped seal from Ron Fitzpatrick Jeep Parts.
I used a rubber/plastic hammer to carefully hammer the seal in until it was pretty much flush with the outer lip. The seal went in nice and easy with a great snug fit.
One thing I didn’t do at first, was put a small smear of grease on the oil seal rubber since it contacts the axle. When I installed it without grease, it made a squeak when I would spin the drum. So I pulled the drum back out and put a little bit of grease, as seen here, and then it spun much smoother with not a peep of noise.
With the inner bearing and oil seal installed, it was time to put the drum on the axle! Here I’ve put the drum on the axle, and added the other bearing that’s also been packed with grease.
I was able to use the original tabbed washer, shown installed here against the bearing. All four of them (one on each side of each axle) were in great shape.
On the other hand, the large axle nuts were in terrible shape, with people over time using a chisel or screwdriver to get them out. You can see the originals at top, and repros from Ron Fitzpatrick Jeep Parts on bottom.
Instead of a chisel/screwdriver, I had what you should use… an axle socket! Here I’ve put one of the first repro axle nuts on.
/you can use a 1/2 drive on the axle socket and screw in the first nut nice and tight.
Here’s the first nut all nice and tight!
Next up goes the larger tabbed washer and another nut. Here’s the whole group all tightened up. I will eventually peen the large washer you see behind the nut so it locks the large nut behind in from spinning.
I didn’t want to peen that washer as I knew I might have to take things on and off as I work on the axle. But, I wanted to check everything all the way, so I went ahead and put in the long axle shaft and all the original F bolts.
It was time to work on the other side of the axle getting the same cups, bearings, etc all installed. Same method as before with the bearings.
First bearing installed in the drum.
Oil seal in place. A lot easier this time as I knew what I needed to do!
But, I ran into a snag on this side (passenger side)… the repro large nuts would not screw on the axle once I installed the drum. I was having to force them to turn, and I didn’t like that. There was some metal shavings as well, which I think were from the nuts… but I didn’t want to take chances, so I went back to the original nuts for this side (one of them shown here) and tried them, the screwed on super easy. So, I decided I would need to use these originals, but I would clean them up.
It almost looks new, but here’s one of the two originals I cleaned up! I used my belt sander to straightened out the edges and remove any marring from chisels/screwdrivers. Not perfect, but at least nothing is grinding!
On this side, I started to install the axle shaft and I noticed that the bolts were not going in all the way. After investigating, I saw there was some crud lodged in there. These drums are not original to this axle, I had to get new rear drums (which these are original WW2 dated rear drums) since the original ones were way out of spec for the brake walls. So I’m not sure if these hubs were outside collecting debris. So I took some piper cleaners, a small screwdriver, and the 3/8 tap and cleaned each of the holes.
Success, all the bolts went in nice and snug… except one, that just continued to spin. UGH! I thought that might happen with this hole, as the 3/8 tap had almost no resistance. So, next week I’m thinking of doing a helicoil fix. More on that next week!
With the drums now installed on both side, it was time for the real test spinning the yoke in back!
I was rotating the yoke around to check that both drums turned. Success! Nice and smooth too (the brakes adjustments were disengaged, so they were really smooth). But at about every 5th full turn of the yoke, it stopped, caught on something. Oh no.
It felt as if the ring is hitting something. With some force, I can break it free, and then it spins fine until the 5th spin. Since the axles are 4.88, or about 5 spins of the pinion for a full spin of the ring, that means that it’s stopping in the same spot, which means it’s the ring for sure. I don’t see any metal shavings, but my only thought is that it’s possibly striking the rear of the axle housing where that little lip is in the middle of the photo. It seems to get super close to that lip, possibly making contact.
The odd thing is, once I inserted the axle shafts, the stop resistance when turning the yoke every 5th time was a LOT less. It makes no sense, but now I can break free from the resistance with about half the force I had to at first. I’ve had conflicting friends who say I should run it as is, that this is fine and just due to everything being new to the housing, and I’ve had another that feels this isn’t right and something is wrong. It will require more investigation.
Next up was to adjust the brakes! Using the original TM manual comes in handy with instructions on how to adjust the brakes. Also, another video from Scott Schiller and G503 on adjusting the brakes came in really handy! See it here: https://youtu.be/RKlIszhs-gE
I’m going to do a much more in-depth look at how to adjust the brakes in next week’s update, as I ran out of time to take photos and got close to maxing out the amount of photos per post. They are not terribly hard to do, they just take patience and careful turning of wrenches.
There are two main options when it comes to adjusting the brakes… one is the ‘sound and touch’ method (or minor adjustment) where you tighten the various adjustments on the brake plate until the drum makes contact, and slowly let them off until you don’t hear contact. The other way, which is a bit more precise and difficult is using a feeler gauge in the small slit slot shown to the left here on the drums. You adjust the screws/anchors until the brake pads have some resistance on the feeler gauge between the pad and drum. On the top photo, the slot is empty, meaning the pad is too far away from the drum wall. On the bottom photo, you can see I’ve adjusted the brake pad so it’s almost contacting the wall, but there’s only a sliver of space.
Moving on to another aspect of the axles, last week I received this set of brake lines from Kaiser Willys. Unfortunately, the set was made by OMIX. It wasn’t fully steel in the lines (looks like a mix), and they were not bent very well. Furthermore, it came with white loom, which was unacceptable, sadly. I love Kaiser and have bought many items for the Jeep from them, but in this one particular case, I was a bit disappointed. Thankfully, they accepted it back as a return and will be refunding me everything, so another example of great customer service!
I went online and got this MUCH better set from QTM Jeep Parts on eBay! Correct black loom, actual steel lines, and bent much more precisely. Much better product!
Here’s a look at the black asphalt looming.
I dry fitted the two lines for the rear axle to see how it would line up, and I’m happy to see a perfect fit! It’ll be a while still before I get to actually installing the line for good, but it’s near to see it take shape.
As I wrap up this update, I wanted to update on the Firestone F-40 radioactive spark plugs I got a flea market two months ago… I got three for the Jeep, and they work amazingly. I’ve been trying to get another one to complete the set, and I finally made contact with the seller from the flea market. Sadly, he has a lot fewer extras that I thought he had, only 5 to be exact. So he’s sending me all 5 to complete my set and I’ll have a backup set in case any of them fail. So sorry to those who were hoping I’d come out with a ton of extras. I was hoping to get a box full of them!
Along with more axle work, I’m going to push hard this week to recover any original factory numbers from the original GPW hood I’m restoring… then I hope to remove all the paint and begin welding the two areas that need a little fixing. My goal would be to have the hood finished and painted by the end of next week. Might be a little advantageous, especially with all the axle work!
And that’s it for this week! A few setbacks with the axles, but I’m super excited to finally put work into them! It’s the next step to having correct axles and combat rims! Till next week…