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Thread: Drive Axle Removal and Overhaul

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jan 2018
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    Near Stuttgart, Germany
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    Lightbulb Drive Axle Removal and Overhaul

    During this year's oil change I made an unpleasant observation, grease leaking from the (gear-box side) boots of both drive shafts.

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    The coffee like colour is caused by the grease inside the joint chemically breaking down. As all grease is technically saponified oil it either dries into a more and more dense substance or liquifies back into oil (which is the case here). Kaz provides an excellent write-up on how to open the joints (including inside the rollers) and replace the old grease.

    In my case all boots still looked OK but I was not able to obtain the correct (yellow) Honda grease for a simple exchange. Sending the drive axles to AS Motorsports failed due to the tremendous shipping and insurance costs. Replacement axles were unavailable and/or expensive/unreliable.

    An order for four rebuild-kits with the part number 42017-SL0-000 was made and arrived safely after some shipping issues. Not exactly a cheap option (59 Euro each) but surely the safest road to take. Every pack comes with the following parts:
    • One boot
    • Two double-loop boot bands
    • ~280 g of CV joint grease
    • Two set rings for the tripod
    • One set ring for the drive axle
    • One central wheel locking nut


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    Getting the drive shafts out of the car was not as easy as anticipated with the first hurdle being the central wheel nut. A friend of a friend (owner of an S2000) was aware of the problem and provided me with a 3/4" tool and a two-meter extension. All other options had not worked for him.

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    After jacking up the car, un-staking the nut and attaching the tool it opened with surprising little effort (on the left side, that is).
    The right side needed myself standing on the extension to make it move but finally opened, too (with a loud knocking sound).

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    Afterwards, instead of using a puller (which I did not have access to) the nut was re-attached upside down and a hammer used to get the drive shaft moving inside the wheel bearing (which did not need much force).

    Further removal of the axles is described in the repair manual but be aware that the procedure changed. Initially the lower arm was separated at the ball joint. This is no longer recommended and the lower arm is now detached from the other end by removal of the camber adjustment bolt (carefully mark it's setting unless you plan to have your suspension adjusted) and the second bolt at the chassis.

    According to NSX Prime, the upper arm may not be detached from the wheel bearing as it seems to be spring loaded and extremely difficult to re-attach.

    My personal preferred order of removal is as follows:
    • U-shaped bar under the engine
    • Damper bolt
    • Stabilizer connection
    • Lower arm (gearbox side)
    • Tied rod (gearbox side)


    Now the axle can be pulled out of the wheel bearing by lifting the bearing upwards and simultaneously pulling the axle. A job best done with two people but I was missing that luxury. Note that the axle's length is spring loaded so try to keep it compressed with working.

    The worst part is yet to come which is the removal of the axle from the gear box. As this is an AT vehicle, the ATF needs to be drained before as it gets messy otherwise. Reason for the upcoming trouble is the set ring on the axle. It's there to avoid horizontal movement of the axle while driving. Pulling the axle out of the gearbox is the ultimate horizontal movement and it's resisting it quite well.

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    According to NSX Prime the way to go is using a pry-bar and rotating the axle in case it's not moving. The target is to get the set ring to settle evenly on the axle which reduces the force necessary to push the axle out. I can confirm that once the sweet spot is found the axle drops out with "almost ridiculous low effort". Note that the set ring on the right hand side is not located on the axle but on the intermediate shaft towards the gear box.

    Next step is to service the drive axles themselves. It's highly recommended to have a vice available as most of the work is done with the drive shaft upright.
    At first remove the boot bands and slide the boot down the drive shaft. Depending on the remaining viscosity of the grease this can be a messy thing to do.
    The wheel-side axle cup is spring loaded and secured by a large metal ring, typically hidden in the grease:

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    The grease was not yet degraded to the point where is runs away on its own and still stayed at it's place. Therefore I decided to keep the roller bearings closed which saves a lot of effort compared to rebuilding them.
    Before removing the axle cup, each roller's position needs to be marked, which was done using an oil resistant marker (lacquer-based):

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    After lifting the axle cup, each roller is marked (don't mix up top and bottom) by cleaning the marking area with parts cleaner (just wipe the grease of, do not contaminate the bearings with parts cleaner). The marker needs time to dry and the remaining grease is removed at a later time.

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    Corresponding marks are needed on the Tripod as well as where the tripod connects to the drive shaft. If these marks are forgotten it's not that much of a deal as all that's necessary is a 60 offset between the two spiders. This can be accomplished by putting one spider on the shaft and resting two of it's fingers on the work table. Now the second spider's single finger needs to point 90 towards the table and we are fine.

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    The tripod is held in place by two set rings who need to be removed. A special set of pliers (Knipex 45 21 200) can be helpful to accomplish this task. Bot set rings are replaced upon re-assembly.
    Wiping and removing all the grease is quite a task. I guess 2-3 rolls of toilet paper were used overall. Just remember not to soak in or spray the roller bearings with parts cleaner as it would void the lubrication inside (by removing the grease) and cause damage later.

    After everything is clean, new grease is added to the axle cups according to the service manual (~175 g at the wheel and ~125 g at the gear box side):

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    Now we cover the end of the drive shaft with PVC tape and slide the new boots over. Next we need to attach the bottom set ring of the spider, put the spider on (note the 60 offset between the two spiders on the shaft as mentioned above) and put the second set ring on. In case of my drive shafts the spiders went on and off without any other tools (but no extensive play) but your mileage might vary.

    -- to be continued on the next reply (due to picture limit) --
    Last edited by Heineken; 28-07-2019 at 08:11 AM. Reason: Typos
    1997 JDM AT VIN 1400005 - Stock

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 2018
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    Near Stuttgart, Germany
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    After greasing and attaching the rollers to the spider the axle cup can be put on. Don't push it all the way down yet (as the grease would squirt out), just enough to re-attach the large clip securing the rollers inside the cup. Now the boot is pulled up and attached to the axle cup.

    The double loop band is wound around twice, every time through the locking section. To secure it, a special tool is needed (for example Laser Tools 2916).
    The tool is used to tighten the band just as far as to remove any slack. Now mark the position with a felt pen and tighten it a further 10-14 mm.

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    Now the tool is bend to the side and the band cut. The remaining slack is trimmed back to ~10 mm. The secure latch is treated with a punch and hammer before the remainder of the band is folding back onto the secure latch. Finalize it by using a small hammer (to flatten everything).

    After these steps are done on both ends, the length of the drive axles need to be adjusted (according to the service manual) and the boots vented. This tasks needs a surprising amount of force (as we are compressing the spring in the wheel-side axle cup) and is probably performed best using a self-built wooden frame (or similar). After setting the correct length and purging all air from the boot the inner band is attached, the same way as the outer one.

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    Don't forget to attach the new set ring to the left side drive axle and on the right side intermediate shaft before heading to the next step.

    Re-installing the drive axles into the vehicle was more difficult than initially thought. As a first step they are installed at the wheel side and secured with the new central wheel nut (just hand-tight). Then the wheel bearing is lifted up to slide the other end into the gear box. Unfortunately, as the axles are spring loaded, I was constantly struggling between these two objectives but somehow managed it without a second person's help.
    Pushing the axle past the set ring is quite easy though, just push at the wheel bearing and everything locks into place.

    Now all suspension parts need to be re-assembled.
    From my experience, the following order worked best:

    • Damper
    • Lower arm
    • Tie rod
    • Stabilizer bar connection
    • U-shaped bar under the engine


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    Please ensure the camber adjustment bolt is set according to the marks put before disassembly.

    Note that all rubber bushing suspension bolts have to be tightened while the car is resting on its wheels. If they would be tightened while the car is on the lift, the rubber would be twisted when off the lift and their lifetime unnecessarily shortened. My approach to this was not the best so it's not mentioned but I'm explaining how it should be done: Lower the car onto a set of spare tires on all four wheels and then tighten the bolts

    Now the the central nut needs to be tightened to 330 Nm and staked to ensure it won't get loose. Next re-fill the transmission and we are ready to go.
    The quick check after a short test drive did not show any issues or leaks so hopefully everything is fine for the next 22 years to come.

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    Last edited by Heineken; 28-07-2019 at 08:16 AM. Reason: Typos
    1997 JDM AT VIN 1400005 - Stock

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
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    Essex, Colchester
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    Great write up...looks like a lot of work if steps are not followed.

    Cheers

    SS
    Range Rover Evoque luxury family mover...my first diesel car!!
    Porsche 996 911Turbo.......New Daily run around with 4 seats ...2 for kids...
    Black/black 95 NSX NA with mk1 Ary exhaust....Now sold
    Red/Black 91 NSX treasure.....FI No more NA
    Silver/Pearl White/Black 1993 NSX 3.0 5 MT NSX ZAZ R-GT Twin Scroll Turbo

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jan 2018
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    Thank you very much
    It took about four weeks from spotting the problem to being back on the road again. Hopefully only one such issue comes up every year ..
    1997 JDM AT VIN 1400005 - Stock

  5. 27-07-2019, 08:00 PM

    Reason
    cofrection

  6. #5
    Join Date
    Mar 2013
    Location
    Crawley
    Posts
    1,810

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    Drive Axle Removal and Overhaul

    During this year's oil change I made an unpleasant observation, grease leaking from the (gear-box side) boots of both drive shafts.


    Ive noticed this on my car for a good few years now but each year I just give it a good old wipe down with a old rag and then enjoy my ride for another year. 😂 Cant be doing with all that. 😉

    Well done though Heineken on such a detailed write up. 👍
    You deserve a good drink after that. 🍺
    Pride.

    1992 My beloved Red/Black manual NA1.😎
    1992 Chevy Lumina apv Rockford Fosgate sound system demo van.🙉
    2003 Hartge Mini Cooper S (2 x UK & 1 x European sound quality finals winner) 🏆 

    "The NSX's greatest victory was to WIN the 1995 Le Mans 24hr GT2 Class"
    ..............and guess what, it was a RED one but of course.  

  7. #6
    Join Date
    Jul 2008
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    Nr Watford, Hertfordshire
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    I'm not sure if Carlsberg did axle overhaul write-ups they'd be the best in the world ��? Great write up Heineken.. Good work on your car..

  8. #7
    Join Date
    Jan 2018
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    Near Stuttgart, Germany
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    Quote Originally Posted by Pride View Post
    Drive Axle Removal and Overhaul


    During this year's oil change I made an unpleasant observation, grease leaking from the (gear-box side) boots of both drive shafts.”


    I’ve noticed this on my car for a good few years now but each year I just give it a good old wipe down with a old rag and then enjoy my ride for another year.  Can’t be doing with all that. 

    Well done though Heineken on such a detailed write up. 
    You deserve a good drink after that. 
    Thanks again. It seems I simply enjoy writing these.
    If it's helping anybody out there I'm more than happy
    1997 JDM AT VIN 1400005 - Stock

  9. #8
    Join Date
    Jan 2018
    Location
    Near Stuttgart, Germany
    Posts
    77

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    Quote Originally Posted by Hagasan View Post
    I'm not sure if Carlsberg did axle overhaul write-ups they'd be the best in the world ��? Great write up Heineken.. Good work on your car..
    Thanks for the positive feedback.
    Since I'm not a big fan of beer myself it's hard to tell but maybe we just have wait for an owner with a matching family name to come and accept the challenge .. ?
    1997 JDM AT VIN 1400005 - Stock

  10. #9

    Default

    It was just like reading Kaz's stuff!

    well done taking it on ... thnakfully Kaz done the needful on mine during his refresh on mine
    "The value of life can be measured by how many times you soul has been deeply stirred" - Soichiro Honda

  11. Default

    My experience is 1-2 out of 6 bearings have wear. When I overhaul axles, I always disamble the bearings like I saw on KAZ posts a few years back. The surface area is rough on some spots, like 80 degrees from 360 degrees. The oem grease is known not to be the best, so I use a better brand.



    Largest stocking of used NSX parts in Europe & many service parts in stock. parts inquiry: office@atr-racing.com / phone +43 676 5458032

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