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Mismatched Front Axles

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LUGNUT View Drop Down
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    Posted: 13 May 2022 at 9:58pm
I recently started back on my CJ2A Build, I tore down my front axle. The pass side is a rzeppa, and the driver is spicer, they seem in good condition. Is there any reason to change one to match? Or keep it as is. Evidently it worked previously, I just don’t want to get back in here in the future. Also my diff and pinion gears are in good condition except for some beginnings of rust on a few of the teeth on both,..I believe I can clean them up good, but will probaobly have some roughness or pitting on some of the teeth surfaces, would this be fine or does it call for replacement.
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Ron D View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Ron D Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 13 May 2022 at 10:09pm
Hi LugNut,
Pretty sure each type axle has a different turn angle range (to set the turn stops).
Don't know for sure, but it seems to me that a mismatched pair could be fighting each other in turns?
Probably not a good thing.

Check your Willys Service Manual for details.


Edited by Ron D - 13 May 2022 at 10:12pm
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oldtime View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote oldtime Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 13 May 2022 at 10:43pm
No reason you cannot run with mixed type axle shafts. There are pluses and minuses to every type effecting various things such as maximum allowable turn angle for each design of joint. However the maximum turn angle is commonly limited by tire diameter and width.
So what size tire are you using ? Spicer joints can handle max turn on 6.50 x 16” and taller at 27-1/2 degrees.
Rzeppas can handle maximum turn on all the smaller 16” tires at 29 degrees.
Axle type also effects proper lubricant selection. Spicer axle shafts need 140 wt gear oil. Rzeppa’s can do well if simply packed with thick bearing grease. King pin bearing lubricants is a different and potentially separate concern.
Show us a pic of your worst ring/ pinion teeth.
Currently building my final F-134 powered 3B .
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Ron D Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 13 May 2022 at 10:59pm
I couldn't find anything about using mixed axle types in the Service Manual. Maybe I missed it.
I guess Willys didn't mismatch them on the assembly line and didn't considered it would happen in service.

If the manual doesn't say you can't do it then I guess it's ok. LOL


Edited by Ron D - 13 May 2022 at 11:04pm
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote cpt logger Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 14 May 2022 at 3:53am
Ron, I would guess with Willys systematic use of different venders to supply the same parts, that they did indeed use different axle types in the front axle. If they had more Rzeppa left axles than Spicer left axles & a fairly unlimited supply of Spicer right axles, then some CJs went out the door with one Spicer axle & one Rzeppa axle. Now this is just a guess on my part, but it does follow with Willys practices back in the day.

Just a FYI, My '48 Willys pickup had one Spicer axle and one Rzeppa axle when I got it. My uncle, who bought it new & kept very complete maintenance logs, had no record of an axle replacement in the 50 years he owned it. None of his kids would admit to replacing a front axle on it when questioned about it. Of course, who knows what happened when. IIRC, It was still that way when I sold it "back" to my cousin.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote SE Kansas 46 CJ-2A Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 14 May 2022 at 9:21am
While it is true that Dana/Spicer did supply axles to Willys-Overland, they left the Dana/Spicer factory as a complete front or rear axle assembly. Willys-Overland did not assemble the axles at their assembly plant. Dana/Spicer assembled the axle assemblies using the parts from other vendors at times. Some were from Rzeppa and were so marked and some were from Bendix. Recall that there were supply problems for various components of axle assemblies immediately after WWII with labor strikes happening to interrupt production. Dana/Spicer used what they could come up with at the moment to be able to keep Willys-Overland supplied with front and rear axles. Thus some front axles were shipped from Dana/Spicer with Rzeppa axle joints and others were shipped with Bendix axle joints. What ever design of axle shaft in the axle assembly that was was shipped from Dana/Spicer was shipped with one design only; either Rzeppa or Bendix but not a mixture.

To alleviate the supply problems of different vendors, Dana came up with the Cardan/Spicer style axle shaft and started production of them at their own facilities. Later production axle assemblies were almost always the Spicer design, which was cheaper to produce.

To repeat, Willys-Overland did not assemble front or rear axles in their plant. They relied on Dana to supply complete front and rear axles. Dana/Spicer also supplied driveshafts and transfer cases to Willy-Overland.

Although the Cardan/Spicer style axle shaft is cheaper to manufacture, it is not a constant velocity style axle shaft like the Rzeppa or Bendix versions. The tendency of the Spicer style axle shaft to produce "romp" in the steering on extreme turns while in four wheel drive can be quite evident. The Rzeppa and Bendix style axle shafts do not "romp" nearly as much under the same circumstances.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote LUGNUT Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 14 May 2022 at 11:26am
Thanks for the help,..I forgot to mention that both knuckles had the Bendix tags on them. From the looks of the hammer marks on the axle nuts, it’s clear someone was in there at one point. Also on the spindles, one has a flanged bushing on the spicer side, the rzeppa side is non flagged bushing, I think I recall the non flagged is for the bendix. But the spicer and rzeppa should have the flanged.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote oldtime Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 14 May 2022 at 12:00pm
Also the Spicer cardan cross type axle joints were not used prior to the 1955 model year.
Rzeppa is easily the best axle joint and the Spicer type is a very good runner up.


Edited by oldtime - 14 May 2022 at 12:02pm
Currently building my final F-134 powered 3B .
T98-A Rock Crawler using exclusive factory parts and Approved Special Equipment from the Willys Motors era (1953-1963)
Zero aftermarket parts

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote SE Kansas 46 CJ-2A Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 14 May 2022 at 12:59pm
Originally posted by oldtime oldtime wrote:

Also the Spicer cardan cross type axle joints were not used prior to the 1955 model year.
Rzeppa is easily the best axle joint and the Spicer type is a very good runner up.


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46 CJ-2A #64462 "Ol' Red" (purchased April 1969) (second owner)

U.S. Coast Guard Chief Petty Officer (ret.)
U.S. Army Vietnam veteran and damned proud of it.



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