I recently replaced my rear axle seals with the newer neoprene seals. I know I followed the directions, but one of them still leaked. I took it off, cleaned it, and reinstalled it. We will see if it works better now.
I placed the key on the axle as shown with the tapered end facing the axle housing and the outer end even with the end of the turned part of the axle. I was wondering if placement of the key will affect how far the hub can go on the axle. If the hub ends up too far out on the axle, would it then not press tight against the axle seal, and this might be why it was leaking?
The hub must fit tight on the axle, with that type of seal if the hub is going on the axle to far, you have two choices, 1, fit a shim, available from vendors, 2, remove the hub from the wheel and have the inner lip that held the old felt seal turned off.
It looks like the key is upside down.
The curved end goes down and fits in the groove near the seal.
If there is up and down play in the axle bearing it will leak.
Your key is upside down. The hub should not ride against the seal or seal housing. Is it leaking oil or grease? If it's grease your putting too much in and has to go someplace, if it's oil then the rear end is over filled. If the hub is touching the seal housing, try a shim. If using a shim as supplied still has the hub too close, make a thicker one don't stack them.
Getting a couple of shims AND the woodruff key properly seated when you mount the wheel can be very difficult. The shims themselves are very thin and will fold and crumple very easily, almost like aluminum foil. Also, the weight of the wheel with a tire mounted makes it very hard to control, so if the tire isn't mounted yet, save that for later.
I found that this stuff: artist's spray-mount, makes a difficult job much easier. In fact, I don't know how I would have done the job without it.
Besides getting the spray can, you also want to order several more shims than you actually plan to use, because if you're like me, you may accidentally crumple up a few. They're not expensive, so get plenty.
Clean the oil and grease off the axle, keyway and the inside of the wheel. Place the woodruff key in the axle (right-side-up this time). Hopefully, it fits tightly enough that you need to tap it into place with a wooden drift.
Lightly (lightly!) spray the outside of one shim with spray-mount, let it dry and stick it inside the wheel—and of course, don't let the shim cover any part of the keyway in the wheel. The tackiness of the spray mount will help keep it where it belongs.
Carefully fit the wheel to the axle so that the key and keyway lines up. As you do this, check that the shim hasn't shifted in the wheel. If it hasn't, put the castle-nut on and tighten the living daylights out of it so the shim is squeezed hard and becomes firmly glued to the inside of the wheel. Give it time for the spray mount to thoroughly adhere and dry.
If you needed a shim in the first place, one probably won't be enough. After having allowed enough time for the spray mount to set, lightly (lightly!) spray the outside of another shim and set it aside to dry. Pull the wheel off. Stick the tacky shim inside the shim that is already glued into the inside of the wheel and make sure it doesn't cover any part of the keyway. The idea is to glue one shim to the other.
Again, carefully fit the wheel to the axle so that the key and keyway lines up. As you do this, check that the shim hasn't shifted in the wheel. If it hasn't, put the castle-nut back on, tighten it down hard and allow sufficient time for the spray mount to thoroughly adhere and dry.
Once you've done that, the shims will have become attached semi-permanently. You can now pull the wheel and the shims will stay exactly where they're supposed to when you remount the wheel to the axle.
By the way, two shims is supposed to be the allowable maximum, but I wouldn't hesitate to "glue in" a third one if needed.
I am currently mounting some rear wheels also, and am using some older Watts seals similar to Dave's. One thing I notice is that the keyway on the axle extends into the area where the seal seats on the axle, and so grease can work its way out. Wondered if all axles are like this? I haven't looked at the other side yet. Dave, does your keyway extend under the seal? The one on my axle extends almost to where the bearing rolls.
I also need to use a shim, which I need to make or get. It sounds like I'll need more than one so I was thinking of making one that is a little thicker than what is available, and this will make it less prone to crumple up when installing. Bob, I like your idea but I have a question about using the spray adhesive. Isn't this adhesive something like contact cement? If so it does not dry hard but stays a bit flexible. It seems like using an adhesive like this introduces a layer that could make the wheel hub shift slightly easier around the axle, and extra shims would mean more layers. Other than having worked with spray contact cement a lot, I'm no expert on this. Would there be anything else to use instead that might be better, like some kind of sleeve adhesive?
Ray, I think you are correct in wanting to use one thicker him rather than two thinner ones. There is less chance for the components to wear on one another the fewer there are.
A farmer friend of mine introduce me to Loctite Quikmetal as a product to use when seating worn parts. He uses it extensively when assembling various components on all sorts of agricultural machinery. He had me instal his worn rear wheel hubs on a rear axle assembly I rebuilt for him, and it did an excellent job. You do need to use a modicum of heat to break the joint for disassembly, but on a rear wheel, that heat was not enough to discolour the paint on the hub.
I am a convert to its use, and it has saved a heap of down time on our own farm machinery.
Hope this helps.
Allan from down under.
Artist's spray-mount is flexible and not particularly strong unless it covers a wide enough area, which in this case, it does. You don't have to worry about it shifting for three reasons:
1.) Once the wheel is mounted, the woodruff key is a physical barrier that holds the shims in place.
2.) When you tighten that castle-nut down as hard as you're supposed to, ain't nuthin' gonna move anywhere——spray-mount or not. Remember, the spray-mount is only there to hold things in place while you're mounting the wheel (and for any time in the future that you need to pull and re-mount the wheel).
3.) Even if I'm wrong about reasons 1 and 2 (which I'm not), I've been using this method for years, have pulled the wheels several times to mount tires, and for whatever mysterious reason, absolutely no shifting of shims has ever occurred.
By the way, if, for some reason, you ever do want to remove the shims from the hub (like you no longer need them because you just installed longer axles), you can dissolve the glue by soaking a hunk of rag in rubber cement thinner and stuffing it in the wheel hub. The thinner will soak in through the keyway by capillary action and you can hurry it along with an X-acto knife. Peel the shims out with a long-nose pliers (or use your bare fingers if you happen to like the feel of rubber cement thinner on fresh lacerations). Then all you'll need to do is soak a corner of a rag in rubber cement thinner and wipe the little bit of residual gook out of the hub.
Forget sleeve-adhesive or anything like that. Artist's spray-mount is absolutely the best stuff to use for this job (and this is one of the few times the know-nothing newbie actually knows what he's talking about, having spent 30 years as a commercial artist).
Dave -- As Mark said, if you need more than one of the very thin shims, make a thicker one rather than stacking them. If you use more than one, they will delf-destruct in short order. A rectangular thinner can is .010", a soup can is thicker. Make ones of different thicknesses to see which one works best. When you have the inner edge of the brake drum flush with the outer edge of the backing plate (on a pre-'26 T), it's just right.
Ray -- A while back, someone was producing repro axles with the key slot too far into the axle, as you described. They've since been corrected, but maybe you have one of those. Perhaps you could use some JB Weld or Devcon to fill up the inner part of the slot, so the seal would have something to ride on.
A couple of other thoughts on the subject:
When I put the key in the keyway, I take a center punch and make a dimple on either side of it, which keeps it from sliding farther into the axle when installing the hub. (And the others are correct about the key in the pic being upside-down.)
When I use a shim, I spread it out and push it into the hub, rather than putting it on the axle, for the same reason.
Bob,having wrestled with shims and keys and hubs I think your idea sounds great.Where can I buy it ? Is it just in artist supply stores?
As others have said, your key is upside down. It will not allow the hub to slide on far enough for the taper to seat correctly. It will also cause the key to ride up and into your seal when you slide the hub on, thereby destroying the seal.
If you have trouble yet with the hub rubbing on the seal, after the key is correctly positioned, it means you have a worn out hub and/or axle shaft. Replace one or both for a correct & safe fit. All the shims, glues & loc-tite products suggested above are recipes for trouble later on and delay your eventually having to do it right anyway. (This where folks will say I'm all wet)
If you do decide to use a shim, install it as Mike Walker suggests above and check the axle nut regularly for tightness. In the meanwhile look for better parts.
Sears carries 3M artist's spray mount.
Bob,much thanks,I think I will order some to have on hand,seems like a useful tool.
The keyway extends a little under the seal, but there is no leak there.
As many have said, I need to turn the key over. Looking at the picture, is the key in the right place as far as the outer edge of the axle is concerned. No one has answered that question.
I also should have been more clear that my leak was not on the seal. The leak was behind the seal, so I am wondering how well the o-rings built into the aluminum are sealing against the axle housing. The seal popped on the axle housing pretty easily. Not a loose fit, but not a real tight fit either. I do have the felt insert in the wheel hub that presses against the axle seal. I also did not add extra grease after the whole thing was put back together.
Dave -- Yes, flush with the end of the axle is correct. And the curved part of the key goes toward the middle of the car, except down into the keyway. If you'll look at the keyway, you'll see that same curve on the inner end of it.
The older Watts type seals I have also have o-rings built into the aluminum like yours, and they too slid on easily. I bought some silicone type gasket sealer and and wiped some around the axle housing so it would seal up to about where the first o-ring is.
The earlier Ford axle housings,up to about 1915 (?), are slightly smaller in diameter and so these seals are made for early or late axles. If you have an early car the later seals would be a loose fit, but from your description of your fit I think you probably have the right ones.
And Bob, thanks for telling us more about the 3M spray mount. I see where a light coat of it would be OK.
As to the keyway extending under the seals and the fear of a leak after all that work...I'll share a practice that we used in high speed paper-mill equipment once the concept of 'seals' came along and the 'lost lube' concept had to go bye-bye. (Old bugger, eh?)
Some think that 'sled' keys were just a cheaper and faster way to make a Woodruff key slot (the half-Woodruff). The real design answer for selecting a sled runner key was for highly stressed applications where the stress riser at a 'cut' blind edge could/would turn around and bite you in the butt later. The 'sled' part allows all that stress to 'walk' out as opposed to being a 'riser'. FWIW.
You need a key that is tight against the sides of the keyway to begin with as that is just the basic need. We would set 'sled-keys' into the keyway and then LEAD them in! The lead filling any end gaps, or even the other end gap. It kept the key from walking on mounting, and it was real easy to form in the open sled end as to OD with just a little 'shoe shine' with emery to give it true form.
JB is probably OK, but it is an epoxy base and that might just make it difficult for the next time. With pure lead, it just takes a torch to free up a key mounted this way.
The "correct" position for the key is, not in so far that it rides up in the keyway at the back end & not out so far that it will hit the nut when you when you tighten things up. Anything in between is fine.