I have an oil leak in the left rear wheel. I suspect I will have to replace the seals. This afternoon I removed the wheel and cleaned up the grease. I am now having a hard time removing the axle housing cap. The Ford service manual says to use a screwdriver to pry it free. It will not budge. Any ideas will be appreciated. Thanks to all in advance.
Is it the stock Ford stamped steel cap, or one of the aftermarket aluminum ones?
You might try putting a strap wrench on it and twisting. Tap around the outside of the cap first to loosen up any rust that might have formed between the cap and the rear axle housing.
David, I split the caps with a hammer and chisel. After that you can pull them off with your hand.
If you have to destroy your old caps to get them off, I have a pair of the stock Ford caps that you can have for the price of shipping, just PM me with your shipping address if you are interested.
I find that a good old fashion non-mechanical nail puller works best. Otherwise a large screwdriver or tire iron with a fulcrum placed about an inch away from the cap usually works. Small pry, work your way around the cap slowly.
I use one of these that is 24" long and a block of wood and just work around the cap. They come off pretty good.
Stretch the side with a ball peen hammer to loosen. Pry off and throw away. They have to go on snug to compress the felt and work properly. The caps are only 2 bucks apiece. If oil is coming out you need the inners also.
Leaking oil means bad or no seals. That suggests there could be additional problems farther in. Have the Babbitt thrust washers ever been replaced?
Thanks for all the ideas. Steve, the rear end has a higher gear ratio, maybe 3:1, by the way it drives, so I am guessing it has been redone at some point with modern thrust washers. I have installed AC brakes. I saw your video on removing the rear axle and replacing the bearings and seals. That will be a big help.
Don't count on the thrust washers having been replaced before. It is age as much as anything that has made them unsafe. When I got into this hobby over 40 years ago, many people "rebuilt" the rear end by taking it apart and looking things over. If the washers looked good? Many people used them. New rear gears and all. Thrust washers that may have actually been okay forty or fifty years ago, may or may not be okay today. The nicest, cleanest, shiniest, most perfect looking Babbitt thrust washer I ever saw snapped in my fingers like a Ritz cracker.
The Babbitt washers worked fine (mostly) when the cars were new. But Ford never really expected us to be driving them a hundred years later.
Unfortunately, I have yet to hear of a reliable way of checking them other than taking the rear end partially apart. It may not have to be the very next thing you do? (Then again, maybe it should???) But it should be a high priority to make certain the washers are safe. In my younger days, I used to be able to carefully block a car up on stands (never concrete blocks!), and pull the one housing side to inspect the washers. I have done that in less than two hours. Many people recommend against doing so, saying that if you are going to go that far? You should just pull the rear end and check it all the right way! Often, other developing problems are found, and can be fixed properly at the same time. I cannot say that they are wrong.
Drive carefully, and enjoy, W2
Wayne is exactly right. I've taken apart rear axles that had obviously been "gone through" and still had Babbitt washers in them, and sometimes with head-shaking improvisations.
Thanks Wayne and Steve. I will keep all that in mind. It is always better to be safe. Wayne, how do you block a car up and still pull the one housing to inspect the washers?
Ok guys. Just got the axle housing cap off by using two hammers one with the claw on the cap and tapping it with the other hammer. Thanks Mark for your offer, but the cap I removed is good to go. The axle sleeve is worn, so I will be replacing that along with a neoprene outer grease seal and a neoprene inner oil seal. The bearing looks good. Thanks again for all your help.
David: Most of the time the caps will not stay on after they have been used one time and removed. Also, the early cars have a smaller cap than the later cars. Smaller caps are not being made in the original style. Good luck, Dan.
This is a fine lookinh babbit thrust washer with very little wear that came out of my rear axle on my 26 RPU. If you look close you can see the crack that goes all the way through both sides and within 1/8 of an inch from all the way accross. Only way to know is look at them.
Drive safe and often
Thanks for the information Dan and Dallas.
Regarding Babbitt thrust washers - look at them, then throw them away and replace with bronze.
Since David doesn't need them, I'll extend my offer of the OEM Ford axle end caps for the price of postage to the general forum. I'll also toss in a pair of OEM Ford metal-backed leather inner grease seals. Both the caps and the seals should fit in a small padded envelope, so Priority shipping should be around five dollars.
Just PM me with your shipping address if you're interested, and I'll reply with payment details.
"Most of the time the caps will not stay on after they have been used one time and removed."
In a pinch one time, I hacksawed two cuts in the outer rim of the cap and then used a worm drive hose clamp to hold it in place.