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  • Rear Axle: axle bearing noise?

    My Wagonaire is a 259, 3 spd O/d, Dana 44 3.73 rear T/T drive train. I've noticed in the last few days if I'm coasting to a stop, or slowly rolling I can hear a tunk tunk tuunk tuunk tuuunk as it slows. Sounds like left rear. axle bearing? Since I am a thousand miles from my repair manual, I wondered what the procedure is for replacement. Hub puller obviously, then I'm assuming the plate around the axle. then will the axle just pull out? I'm assuming both inner and outer bearings should be replaced. How far in is the inner one, and how difficult to remove and replace? I'm assuming it would be stupid to take off on a thousand mile drive home to California without fixing it first... anybody have any good bearing numbers I might possibly obtain locally? There is a bearing wearhouse here in Roswell, NM at least...
    Any tests I should perform before tearing it down?

  • #2
    The inner bearing is part of the differential. Once you get the hub pulled and remove the bolts holding the bearing in, the axle can be pulled using the hub as a slide hammer. Only the outer bearing needs to be changed, if that is indeed the problem.


    But before we get ahead of ourselves, are you sure that it is the axle bearing? Does the noise change when turning left or right? Are the universal joints loose? Is there play in the hub/drum when the car is jacked up?

    Is the tire out of round?
    RadioRoy, specializing in AM/FM conversions with auxiliary inputs for iPod/satellite/CD player. In the old car radio business since 1985.

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    • #3
      I would start by taking a close look at the u-joints. Noises can be hard to locate, but start with the easiest stuff first.
      "In the heart of Arkansas."
      Searcy, Arkansas
      1952 Commander 2 door. Really fine 259.
      1952 2R pickup

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      • #4
        checked lug nut tightness?
        Is the Center hub bolt tight? I do not know the "standard" symptoms of loose hub/cracked hub/cracked axle. I'm guessing there usually is some indication before the wheel passes me.

        If you drag the brakes lightly does the noise change or go away? I'd say usually a dragging brake/oval or off center drum is softer than a "tunk" but your ears may be better than mine.

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        • #5
          Don't automatically conclude that it is a rear bearing. I have always thought I was good at listening and determining where a problem was by having a "good ear" for mechanical defects. That was until several years ago when I made an over six hundred mile trek in my '60 Lark to a Bowl game in Florida. Most of the trip, I thought I detected the faint sound of an outer rear wheel bearing beginning to fail.

          After the trip, I dutifully went thought all the trouble of pulling the hubs, and examining the bearings. First the rear passenger (my original diagnosis) and then the rear driver side. Both bearings and races looked great! Turned out to be the passenger front outer bearing of all things! It is amazing how harmonic vibrations can migrate through a frame and body. That bearing had one roller go bad and it had begun to flake and cause damage to the other rollers. Also, the race had become pitted in some areas with small pieces of roller material embedded in other areas.

          When I reflected on the distance of that trip, and the speeds I maintained on I-95 (where I think most folks seem to think that 95 is the speed limit as well as the highway number)...should that bearing have had a catastrophic failure...it is scary what could have happened to me and my daughter.
          John Clary
          Greer, SC

          SDC member since 1975

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          • #6
            If it has been some time since the bearings were serviced I'd at least inspect and service them prior to a planned trip.
            I'd remove and inspect hubs/brakes paying attention to taper on hub. . Service axle bearings inspect u-joints
            r&r differential fluid and add the correct gear oil additive for the TT

            Originally posted by wagonairedriver View Post
            My Wagonaire is a 259, 3 spd O/d, Dana 44 3.73 rear T/T drive train. I've noticed in the last few days if I'm coasting to a stop, or slowly rolling I can hear a tunk tunk tuunk tuunk tuuunk as it slows. Sounds like left rear. axle bearing? Since I am a thousand miles from my repair manual, I wondered what the procedure is for replacement. Hub puller obviously, then I'm assuming the plate around the axle. then will the axle just pull out? I'm assuming both inner and outer bearings should be replaced. How far in is the inner one, and how difficult to remove and replace? I'm assuming it would be stupid to take off on a thousand mile drive home to California without fixing it first... anybody have any good bearing numbers I might possibly obtain locally? There is a bearing wearhouse here in Roswell, NM at least...
            Any tests I should perform before tearing it down?

            Russ Shop Foreman \"Rusty Nut Garage\"
            53 2R6 289 5SpdOD (driver)
            57 SH (project)
            60 Lark VIII 2dr sd (driver)

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            • #7
              It is not too difficult to remove a tapered rear axle from a Dana 44 with Twin Traction. BUT, look out for the little Thrust Blocks on the inner ends of both axles. They usually end up falling off of the axle and ending up in the axle tube, a real bugger to remove and re-install.
              StudeRich
              Second Generation Stude Driver,
              Proud '54 Starliner Owner

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              • #8
                With a wheel bearing or brake related clunk you will hear it repeat every 7 feet or so. With a driveshaft issue, u-joint or flexing/cracked tube (only ever seen once by myself) it will repeat every couple of feet of more often. Does it change or go away when you accelerate? Possibly u-joint. As noted earlier a bearing usually starts as a low rumbling or growl. I once got 3 separate opinions from professional mechanics about a bearing growl. They all stated it was the left front. Turns out it was the right. Have fun and good luck in getting your clunk solved the first time through...

                As I think about this a bit more it sounds a lot like the brakes on my Cruiser. I never had a chance to pull the drums and look before I sold the car but you might try applying the brake lightly and see if it makes the noise come and go, or at least change in some way... Since the Cruiser I sold is still in my garage I my put it on the hoist and have a look when I return home from San Diego next weekend.
                Last edited by StudeNorm; 02-12-2014, 07:38 AM.

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                • #9
                  Actually I had both outer rear bearings go out in one of my T cabs and before the bouncing up and down started there was a noise just as he is hearing.
                  If you car is ugly then it better be fast.....

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                  45 Agricat
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                  • #10
                    Maybe one other thing to check are the rims. Cracks can form around the lug holes and make really funny noises as the car rolls. That will eventually stop when the center falls out of the rim and you find your car sitting on the ground...

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                    • #11
                      ...and to pick up on Norm and the kid's points: simply loose lug nuts can cause things as above, and even tho the Champ trucks can have zerk fittings, be careful how the grease travels when forced inside too ambitiously....

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                      • #12
                        When I pulled the axels from my 44 TT axel someone had shimmed it wrong and the bearings were riding on the outer edge of the cup on both sides. Never made a sound!

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