View Full Version : Rear Axle Seals, etc. on '54 Champion

Blue 15G
10-22-2006, 08:59 PM
I wrote recently about my discovery of a cracked brake drum keyway on my '54 Champion, probably caused by my own mistake some years back.

Now, before replacing the drum, I am in the process of replacing the rear axle seals, and I have some questions.

I took the drivers side apart first. Removed the backing plate from the axle with all brake parts attached and intact per the shop manual, and swung it out of the way. After removing the axle, I replaced what appeared to be the original seal (leather insert), cleaned, inspected and repacked the wheel bearing, and reinstalled the axle. The bearing cup is flush with the surface of the axle tube. I am using National seal 40769S, whch looks just like the original, except for a neoprene insert of course.

At this point I measured the end play with a dial indicator and found it to be within spec at .001. (The drum was already removed from the passenger side, but nothing else.)

Then I moved to the passenger side, and performed the same procedure. But when I put the axle back in and drove the bearing cup in flush with the axle tube, the axle wouldn't turn!

I should point out here that both bearing cups appeared to be flush with the axle tubes before I pulled them out.

I removed the passenger side axle again, and reinserted it. Same thing. (Tight). Then, using the drum as a puller, I just "bumped" the axle out a couple of pulls, and now it turns smoothly. But the bearing cup sticks out just barely from the surface of the axle tube. It's such a slight difference that it's hard to even measure.

I just wondered if this is normal, or am I missing something? I seem to recall reading here once that the bearing cups need not be installed perfectly flush with the axle tubes. (But mine were flush on both sides before I dismantled them!) At this point, I was going to leave the right side bearing positioned as is, reinstall the shim pack that I found on the passenger side, reassemble everything and recheck the end play.

Sorry to go on so long, but it's a big job and I want to be sure I get it right. Any suggestions?

10-23-2006, 12:43 PM

The shim pac allows the axle shaft bearing race to move out further for more end play, by spacing the backing plate further away from the end of the axle tube flange. After I pull the axles, I install the axles so the races are flush, then use a slide hammer to pull outward on both axles. This ensures that both races are against the backing plates so the end play can be accurately measured. If you don't have a slide hammer (mine is homemade), the drum can be used to do this just as you did.

Next, you need to check the endplay by setting up a dial indicator against the end of the passenger side axle, and move the axle in and out by hand to determine the total end play. Add or remove shims and recheck the end play until it is within specs.

I think this answers your question......if not, let me know.


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Blue 15G
10-23-2006, 01:01 PM
Thank you for your help, Paul. I think I know what to do now to finish the job.

10-23-2006, 01:36 PM
Yup, Paul is exactly right. The shims allow the pass. side bearing race to not be perfectly flush with the end of the axle. As an alternative to using a slide hammer, simply bumping each axle shaft with a heavy mallet after installing both backing plates should also seat the races against the backing plates so that end play can be correctly measured.

good luck,


55 Commander Starlight