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Thread: Universal Joints = replacement parts do not work

  1. #1
    Junior Member
    Join Date
    Dec 2022

    Universal Joints = replacement parts do not work

    Restoring 1956 Willys Wagon
    I am restoring a 1956 Willys Wagon. I have run into a problem with the universal joints. My Willys Wagon has the lock strap and bolt style joint. Apparently that
    style is not made any more. The replacement universal joint takes the retaining clips on the
    inside of the caps. They go one the inside of the yoke. My yokes are tapered on the inside and the clips won't go on.
    In order to use the replacement joints, I would have to grind a taper to a flat surface in order to put the clips on. I am hoping someone has already solved by problem.
    Everyone says I have the right replacement, but I don't think I should have to modify anything in order to use them.
    Last edited by Willys56; 02-03-2023 at 05:23 PM. Reason: Add additional info

  2. #2
    Super Moderator gmwillys's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2017
    Welcome Willys56,

    Sounds like your wagon is a 2 wheel drive model? If so, you might have a Cleveland style of U-joint. Bmorgil will be by in a little while, and he will have a lot more driveline knowledge than most anyone else I've run across.

  3. #3
    Senior Member TJones's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2018
    Akron, Ohio
    Welcome aboard Willys56!!!

    Like gm said bmorgil is our in house Dr Dana I’m sure he’ll have a solution to your dilemma. Do you or can you find a part number off the old u-joints? There is a place here in Akron that has all the hard to find seals and bearings, they’ve been around for 60 some years and probably either have it stuffed away in the back or know where to find them.

  4. #4
    Junior Member
    Join Date
    Dec 2022
    No, it's a 4 WD model. I do have the old universals with the #'s but no one seems to cross reference them.

  5. #5
    Super Moderator bmorgil's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2018
    Northwestern Ohio
    Hello Willys56, As gm said you have the "Cleveland Style" Drive line. At this point you are really going to have a tough time if you want to go original. I wouldn't recommend trying to make it work. I have said it too many times but, a driveshaft exiting a vehicle at speed is just not good.

    Here is your best bet. LarrBeard has a similar dilemma with his truck. He has the Detroit style driveshaft but the problem is the same. Parts just aren't available anymore.

    There is a shop in Fort Wayne Indiana that can fix you right up with a "Spicer Style" driveshaft conversion. Your only other option is to take it to a machine shop and see what they can do. You are not the first to run into this. The Cleveland and Detroit style U-joints were around for a decade or two. The design was quickly outdated and the Spicer type took over the market. The Spicer style was available at the same time and did appear on many vehicles, including Willys. For this reason if you have Spicer Universal Style Joints, it is still period correct. Many Willys vehicles had the Spicer Style in lieu of the Cleveland or Detroit, depending on what was available during assembly.

    I would give Ft Wayne Drive line a call or try Roberts Motor Parts A local drive line shop in your area also might be able to help. You will probably need to have a shop make up an adapter, or get the correct yokes so you can use Spicer Yokes and Spicer U-Joints. By far that is the best solution. I would remove the drive line end yokes and all, and ship it or take it to a good drive line shop.

    Here is the Cleveland Style Joint.

    You might give these guy's a call. They might have the Spicer end yokes for your axle. That would enable you to bolt in a Spicer style drive Shaft.
    Last edited by bmorgil; 02-04-2023 at 08:47 AM.

  6. #6
    Super Moderator LarrBeard's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2014
    Ft. Wayne, IN

    Detroit U-joints

    "Here is your best bet. LarrBeard has a similar dilemma with his truck. He has the Detroit style driveshaft but the problem is the same. Parts just aren't available anymore.

    There is a shop in Fort Wayne Indiana that can fix you right up with a "Spicer Style" driveshaft conversion. "

    Well, my ears were burning, so I'll drop into the conversation.

    My 2WD '48 truck uses the Detroit style U-Joints, Since it is a 2WD, there isn't a transfer case and the drive shaft is a longer two piece shaft, supported in the middle with a jackshaft bearing. Chrysler used that style joint in a lot of their cars, so we were able to find replacements through one of the old Mopar specialty shops when we rebuilt the truck.

    BUT, knowing what I know now, I would have made a Spicer style replacement. BMorgil actually did the measurements for a one-piece setup right in the exhibition hall at JeepFest, but I decided not to take it back apart to do that since the two-piece shaft was working OK. (You could have sold tickets to watch two old coots roll around under that truck, then try to stand up again…).

    I have had driveline work done by Ft. Wayne Clutch - they figured out how to balance the shaft with that bearing assembly in the middle. I am in Ft. Wayne - and they do good work, as reasonable as anyone, and they do it fairly quickly since they are a large shop with good assets available to them.

    Get a new Dana drive shaft, it will eliminate a lot of problems down the road. We have found over and over that Willys used whatever they could get their hands on to build vehicles. Every book may well say the original drive shaft and U-joints were Detroit, but there was a high probability that some ’56 wagons had Dana drivelines just because they were available or someone found a pile of them in a stockroom somewhere.

    You’re into the Rules of Jeep here:

    Rule 1. What you see is what you have.

    Rule 2. Trust nothing you read, or what you are told until you verify it with your own eyes (see Rule 1).

    Rule 3. Never say “Willys-Overland would never have ______________________”.
    (Fill in the blank). If they could have, they probably did.

    Post us some pictures of the project - we like pictures! And, good luck.
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    Last edited by LarrBeard; 02-04-2023 at 08:53 AM.

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