What to do when you break your drive shaft?

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What to do when you break your drive shaft?

Post by myoung84 » Thu Sep 19, 2013 7:43 am

All this talk about weak drive shafts has me thinking. What do you do when you break your shaft out on the trail? My thoughts were to remove the shaft and limp back in FWD, but without a SYE kit, wouldn't your t-case leak if you remove the shaft? Rather than leaving the truck on the trail and hiking back to civilization, which isn't always feasible, what can be done to limp home?

That now brings up the question, what are some other parts that could break and what's the limp-home-fix for them? I haven't broken anything yet [knocks on wood] but I know a lot of you guys have and sharing stories and ideas would help others not be stranded.

Now the next question, rather than carry your entire tool chest with you, what are some necessary tools that you should keep in the truck or at least take with you when you go wheeling? I really need to put together a truck tool box.
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Re: What to do when you break your drive shaft?

Post by stubiePW » Thu Sep 19, 2013 8:09 am

I wish I had some of these answers, but I am going to watch this one and keep an eye on it. Good thread idea

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Re: What to do when you break your drive shaft?

Post by wingerak92 » Thu Sep 19, 2013 8:21 am

Sub'd.
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Re: What to do when you break your drive shaft?

Post by GunniPWguy » Thu Sep 19, 2013 8:46 am

Bailing wire, Gorilla tape and a BFH will get most of the limp home repairs done IMO. :rockon: I carry that and a giant crescent wrench, channel locks, vise grips, small tool kit with wrenches, sockets, screwdrivers, etc. Got me curious as to what truck parts I should be packin. I am sure there will be some others here with better answers.
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Re: What to do when you break your drive shaft?

Post by Alakablamo » Thu Sep 19, 2013 9:22 am

The rear driveshaft port on the t-case sits up high enough that as long as you stayed relatively horizontal then I don't think it would be a huge problem to limp a short distance with the shaft removed.

Most drive line failures are usually at the u-joint, and many people carry spares of those if that is a concern.

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Re: What to do when you break your drive shaft?

Post by Pit Slave » Thu Sep 19, 2013 9:32 am

With the slip yoke, all you would need is gear oil and a cap plug to seal the end. I'm a little surprised that this method is not talked about.

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Re: What to do when you break your drive shaft?

Post by myoung84 » Thu Sep 19, 2013 9:37 am

It seems a lot of guys have shredded the shaft rather than break u-joints.

Maybe this is a good use of the aforementioned gorilla tape? Pull the shaft and tape up the port so no fluid leaks out and more importantly, no dirt and water gets in.
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Re: What to do when you break your drive shaft?

Post by myoung84 » Thu Sep 19, 2013 9:38 am

Pit Slave wrote:With the slip yoke, all you would need is gear oil and a cap plug to seal the end. I'm a little surprised that this method is not talked about.

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Do you know what size plug to get and where to get it? That would be good to keep a couple of them in the parts kit.
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Re: What to do when you break your drive shaft?

Post by w2dodge » Thu Sep 19, 2013 9:39 am

Had a driveshaft joint go on me...on my 87 bronco...I carried a tool box (ford)..removed the slip yoke from the shaft and placed it in t-c...drove home at a slow speed..using fwd....no leaks..I was fortunate

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Re: What to do when you break your drive shaft?

Post by myoung84 » Thu Sep 19, 2013 9:45 am

What kept the slip yoke from coming out?

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Re: What to do when you break your drive shaft?

Post by w2dodge » Thu Sep 19, 2013 9:48 am

I drove slow and the rubber seal kept it from walking out

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Re: What to do when you break your drive shaft?

Post by Cactus Red » Thu Sep 19, 2013 11:47 am

I spent a lot of time and money in the hard core rock crawling craze of the late 90's, early 2000 time frame. Broke a lot of stuff, bent a lot of stuff, made a lot of field repairs and patches. Some pretty impressive ones along the way, especially on the Hammer trails in Cali. Welding leaf springs together, welding hi-lift handles onto tie rods to keep on going, using starter fluid to re-seat tire beads, using end wrenches welded to pitman arms, and a lot of patching oil and tranny pans and gas tanks.

First off, if you know you're going to play that game on a consistent basis, you need to upgrade the d'shafts to heavy wall steel, 0.188 is about the max you can get a good balance on for street use. Secondly you need to carry spares - u-joints, axle shafts at a minimum. To carry a spare u-joint that is field repairable, the stock u-joints 100% have to be replaced first with a standard c-clip type vs the factory glued in ones. While it might be possible to do a field repair on a factory u-joint, you won't like the time it takes, and the possibility of damaging the yokes. All that requires a full set of tools.

For the type of trail rides I do, some that are 3.5 rated on the 1 to 5 scale, most in the 2.5 to 3 range. On the more difficult ones, I'm extremely conscience of the drive shafts. If I have any question about placement, I'll get out and check if solo, or use a spotter. So far, it's all good, no d'shaft damage, and I hope I haven't just put the whammy on myself.

Duct tape, plastic bags, water bottles or oil bottle cut to fit over holes work very well as a trail repair. Those techniques will work for a slip yoke as well.

Using oil or gas activated epoxy works great if you have the time to let them cure on pans and gas tanks. I always carry break parts cleaner to prep surfaces prior to patching up stuff, but some products don't even require that. I carry a stick of the Permatex 12020 Instant Gas Tank Repair stuff.
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Re: What to do when you break your drive shaft?

Post by bstefanic » Fri Sep 20, 2013 6:33 am

In my honest opinion if tried to plug to the slip yoke to keep oil from coming out if you were on any sort of trail this would be a hard accomplishment at best. I'm just going off of memory here but the tail housing hole is about 2.5 inches in diameter and it would probably be quicker to walk out then the amount of time taken to constantly stop and check if you're leaking oil. There's also the scenario where it breaks going up a steep incline, which is the most likely since that's when one would be applying the most power...the shaft slides out of the tail housing incredibly easy, in this case you might hear a bang get out and your transfer case is already empty. But hey...I'm also pretty biased against SYs
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Re: What to do when you break your drive shaft?

Post by w2dodge » Fri Sep 20, 2013 6:48 am

This happened on the street ..pulling a bmw out of the snow..blocked in a snow bank in front of driveway....like I said I was fortunate...didnt have to drive that far to reach home...

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Re: What to do when you break your drive shaft?

Post by myoung84 » Fri Sep 20, 2013 7:13 am

Lots of good ideas here!

So it looks like the best method is to do the SYE kit and buy a new shaft. Far less likely to break and if it does, just unbolt both ends and you have an instant FWD.

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Re: What to do when you break your drive shaft?

Post by verdesardog » Fri Sep 20, 2013 8:46 am

I had a rear u joint go out on a cj5, had to remove the rear driveline in the dark in the pouring rain. Dove to San Diego from Sacremento with FWD.
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Re: What to do when you break your drive shaft?

Post by Cactus Red » Fri Sep 20, 2013 8:56 am

myoung84 wrote:Lots of good ideas here!

So it looks like the best method is to do the SYE kit and buy a new shaft. Far less likely to break and if it does, just unbolt both ends and you have an instant FWD.

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Re: What to do when you break your drive shaft?

Post by 05PWrockcrawler » Fri Sep 20, 2013 1:15 pm

When mine broke I just drove it back to camp is FWD and it didn't lose hardly any fluid at all.

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Re: What to do when you break your drive shaft?

Post by Cactus Red » Fri Sep 20, 2013 2:18 pm

One of the best reasons to make a temporary seal is to prevent any fluid from leaking at all. Again, coming from the hard core crawling background, fluid spills close trails - I've seen it over and over. The anti-recreationalist environ(mental) whackos were documenting the trails off Table Mesa Road (Upper and Lower Raw Deal, the Terminators, Predator, Judgement Day, Annihilator, Twisted, Anaconda, Armageddon - look'm up, they were the original crawlin' trails in AZ) and using the spills as a reason to close trails. They succeeded in closing several route completely and shortened several others. I don't carry it anymore, but I always kept a USRC spill kit in the SLOYOTA just to contain fluids.
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Re: What to do when you break your drive shaft?

Post by 05PWrockcrawler » Sat Sep 21, 2013 8:56 am

Good idea!

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Re: What to do when you break your drive shaft?

Post by MOPARManiac » Sat Sep 21, 2013 11:22 am

Call Triple A and get towed home.

Cheapest insurance there is.
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Re: What to do when you break your drive shaft?

Post by verdesardog » Sat Sep 21, 2013 11:41 am

MOPARManiac wrote:Call Triple A and get towed home.

Cheapest insurance there is.

I used to drive for a AAA cantract station in San Diego county...I would take my own CJ5 to do off road recoveries. AAA does not cover not normally traveled roads......$$$$ :D

I did do a few not too far off the beaten path with a holmes recker with two big pto winches, I really enjoyed those ocasional fun days.
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Re: What to do when you break your drive shaft?

Post by fbenross » Sat Sep 21, 2013 12:03 pm

Lots of good tips...Just about a year ago I posted about loosing my power steering. I was in the Nevada desert, 100 mi from the nearest town with an auto parts store. Truck only had 30,000 mi-No warning it felt funny for 5 minutes then went out. I muscled it back to town and right then the pump seized and the pulley shattered. So lucky - cuz now no water pump no more driving. Anyway I carry a spare now. Remember you can't (not suppose to) reuse the plastic pulley, and you must draw it on - not press it or beat it on.

You can't get stupid with these big trucks. There HEAVY and long-you have to be able to look at a trail and pick a good line. Go slow, don't hammer the drive train, If in doubt don't do it.

I was wondering if there is other stuff I should be bringing with me..ie alternator-fuel pump, can you even change a fuel pump in the field ? I changed my power steering pump in the parking lot at Wal-Mart. Wal-Mart is great place to break down, you can by foil baking pans to catch oil and kitty litter to clean spilt oil. All the food and booze you could want.

Something else I carry is a roll of aluminum foil. You could take several layers and form it around the TransFerCase tail and duck tape it on. I made a gas cap once till I could get a replacement.
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Re: What to do when you break your drive shaft?

Post by chrisjameswagner » Sun Sep 22, 2013 7:34 pm

Bungee cords. Sheared off a couple bolts on the skid. Strapped it up for the ride home.
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The Poor Man's Slip Yoke Eliminator in a Can.

Post by Retired BLM Rig » Sat Aug 12, 2017 11:26 pm

Pit Slave wrote:With the slip yoke, all you would need is gear oil and a cap plug to seal the end. I'm a little surprised that this method is not talked about.
Reading this old thread got me thinking and this is what I came up with.
The slip yoke on my NP271 measures 2.300". So I started measuring different things around my house and shop.
Slip Yoke Plug - 3.jpg
This can measures 2.311"
Slip Yoke Plug - 4.jpg
I used my pipe cutter to open it up with a clean edge.
Slip Yoke Plug - 5.jpg
I cut it off long at first not knowing how much I would need.
Slip Yoke Plug - 1.jpg
I ended up shortening it to about 2-5/8" and then I rolled the edge in so it wouldn't cut the seal.
Slip Yoke Plug - 6.jpg
The output shaft is recessed inside the seal about 3/4".
Slip Yoke Plug - 2.jpg
With a little wiggle the diameter of the can slips through the seal but bottoms out against the bushing and stops. It fits nice and snug. If I ever need to use it, I'll just secure it with a wrap of tape.
Now I'm a little better prepared if my driveshaft decides to pretzel on me so I can get back home.
And as an added bonus my tool box smells clean and fresh! :patriot:
Last edited by Retired BLM Rig on Mon Aug 14, 2017 7:03 am, edited 1 time in total.

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