Driveshafts do a big job in our Fords, Mercs, and Lincolns. They take a powertrain's rotary motion and carry it to the differential and drive axles. This is not an easy task. Not only must a driveshaft transmit rotary power without failure, it must articulate with the up-and-down movement of the rear axle as we cruise over highs and lows in the road. Highs and lows range from smooth transitions to really rough ones.
Driveshafts begin as lengths...
Driveshafts begin as lengths of tube stock like this. These aluminum tubes are for driveshafts bound for Mustang Plus.
We visited Inland Empire Driveline (IED) for a closer look at driveshafts, universals joints, and yokes. What we learned from IED applies to every one of our readers out there, so listen up. Even if you're building a restomod with stock driveline components, you need IED to get you on the right track with Spicer universal joints and yokes. This ensures the kind of driveline integrity you need and want for drivers and show cars alike. And when it comes to the driveline, there are no unimportant parts.
If your Ford has a two-piece steel-over-rubber driveshaft, which was popular during the '60s, with automatic applications to absorb vibration, we suggest having a new shaft made. These vibration-absorbing shafts have deteriorated over time to where they're prone to the very thing they were designed to prevent: vibration. IED can make for you a new precision-balanced, one-piece shaft for vibration-free operation.
We're having an aluminum driveshaft made for a '67 Mustang with C4 Cruise-O-Matic and a Gear Vendors (GV) Overdrive unit. This calls for specialized driveshaft fabrication by the experts at IED. Because the Gear Vendors Overdrive unit is 14 inches long, this makes our C4 14 inches longer than it was in stock form. We've measured our application and have concluded our shaft needs to be 37 inches from center to center (universal joints). Pinion angle at the differential will have to change to accommodate the shorter driveshaft. We're going to show you how to do this later in the article.
How A Driveshaft Is Made
The driveshaft is a hollow...
The driveshaft is a hollow tube that transmits an engine's power to the rear axle. Disassembled, it doesn't look like much. Here, we have a hollow aluminum tube, aluminum ends, universal joints, and the transmission yoke. Driveshafts are made from aluminum, steel, or aluminum/composite tube stock. The ends are pressed into the 1026 (steel) or T-6061 (aluminum) tube on a jig, then precision-welded to the tube. As you might expect, the quality from IED is impeccable.
IED has our driveshaft specifications nailed down. We need a shaft that's 37 inches center to center. Tom Aragon of IED is going to custom-make an aluminum driveshaft for us designed for a '67 Mustang with GV Overdrive. We'll then show you how to install and set up the shaft.
The driveshaft tube stock...
The driveshaft tube stock is turned in a lathe to have its ends cleaned up prior to assembly.
Assembly begins with the driveshaft...
Assembly begins with the driveshaft ends and universal joints.
The Spicer rear universal...
The Spicer rear universal joint is pressed into the shaft end as shown. Retainer clips are installed next.
Because our GV Overdrive sports...
Because our GV Overdrive sports a huge Spicer 1350 yoke, we need a universal joint that yields compatibility between the 3-inch shaft and the extra-large yoke.
This Spicer joint is 1350...
This Spicer joint is 1350 at the yoke and 1310 at the shaft. Both ends of the shaft are the same size (Spicer 1310) for simplicity.
The shaft tube is set up in...
The shaft tube is set up in a jig, then the ends are pressed into the shaft as shown. A hammer is used to correct irregularities during the press-in process.
First, push the yoke all the...
First, push the yoke all the way into the transmission and slide it out three quarters of an inch.
Measure from center to center...
Measure from center to center at the universal joints with a tape measure, and be sure it's perfectly straight.
A bow in the tape measure...
A bow in the tape measure can throw you off a considerable amount.
How To Measure For A Custom Driveshaft
When we measure for a custom driveshaft, our measurements must be executed with close attention to detail. It's here that we suggest redundancy, because mistakes can be costly. Few things are more frustrating than having to have an expensive driveshaft made all over again. A shaft that's too long won't clear the differential yoke for installation. What's more, it can bottom out in the transmission, causing internal damage. A shaft that's too short can be hazardous and even pop out. Ideally, the front yoke will slide back and forth one half to three quarters of an inch when properly dimensioned. Remember the old carpenter's axiom: "Measure twice, cut once."
When the ends are pressed...
When the ends are pressed in, Tom checks the shaft for trueness with a runout indicator. The shaft is slowly turned and the needle watched for excessive runout at both ends and in the middle.
Aluminum shafts struggle with...
Aluminum shafts struggle with excessive runout at the middle that cannot be corrected. From .001 to .012 inch is allowable.
Our shaft clocks in around...
Our shaft clocks in around .005-inch maximum runout (distortion). We're very pleased with the result.
The shaft ends are cleaned...
The shaft ends are cleaned up with a wire wheel for a clean weld.
The shaft is checked for correct...
The shaft is checked for correct dimensions before welding. Our shaft is 37 inches, center to center.
The same jig used to press...
The same jig used to press in the shaft ends is also used for welding purposes. With blazing green-hot light and power, Tom welds the shaft ends with a perfect bead.
After checking the runout...
After checking the runout twice at three points, it's time for dynamic balancing. Tom straps a balance weight on each end as shown, then spins the shaft on the balancer. Sometimes, the weight has to be moved around the shaft until all vibration has stopped. Once we have achieved perfect balance, the weight is welded to the tube.
Ever wonder why aluminum driveshafts...
Ever wonder why aluminum driveshafts look so groovy? Tom wraps emery paper around this spinning shaft, which makes the shaft look like spun aluminum. There's a lot of pride going on here in a job well done.
Universal joints are what enable a driveshaft to articulate smoothly with the transmission and rear axle in all kinds of conditions. To function properly, we have to have the right-size universal joint. Here are the most common types. Not shown are U-joints with two different-size widths and caps for special applications. IED can help you there too.
This is a Spicer 1350 with 1 3/16-inch caps.
The 1330 Spicer U-joint has 1 1/16- or 1 1/8-inch caps.
This is the 1330 Spicer with coated 1 1/16-inch caps for aluminum shafts.
The 1310 Spicer U-joint has 1 1/16-inch caps and is common to early Fords.
Spicer transmission yokes from IED come in three basic sizes: 1350, 1330, and 1310. If you're in doubt about the yoke you need, talk with the professionals at IED for fast answers and even faster service.
We measure universal joint size at the points shown in the accompanying illustration. Use these measurements when ordering parts from IED.
Angle of the Dangle
Our completed aluminum driveshaft...
Our completed aluminum driveshaft from Inland Empire Driveline looks sharp and will perform flawlessly.
Whenever we lengthen or shorten a driveshaft, we have to consider driveshaft angle. Driveshaft angle must be the same as the crankshaft and transmission output shaft for proper function. IED sells a special instrument for this purpose called a magnetic protractor. The magnetic protractor mounts on the differential pinion magnetically, which tells us the pinion angle. It also attaches to the transmission tailshaft housing to determine the angle there too. If pinion angle isn't the same as the transmission tailshaft angle, the rear axle must be shimmed fore or aft to correct pinion angle. We change pinion angle by rotating the rear axle fore or aft around the housing's lateral axis (axle flange to axle flange).
Driveshaft Troubleshooting Facts
IED knows Jack when it comes to driveline woes. They're here to help you based on solid tried-and-proven experience in more than 20 years of business. Here are some valid pointers.
- Never overtighten the differential-yoke U-bolts. When you overtighten, the cap may compress the needle bearings, causing friction and premature wear. Proper torque for most U-bolts is 14-17 lb-ft (1 1/16- to 1 1/8-inch caps) and 20 lb-ft for 1 3/16-inch caps. With the naked eye, this is tightening the nut until the lock washer is flat, then giving it one eighth of a turn tighter.
- Make sure you have the right-length shaft. With the vehicle on the ground, the transmission yoke should show three quarters to one inch of polished surface. If you have to jack up the car to install the shaft, the shaft is too long.
- Vibration is caused by several things. With the vehicle on a hoist, check the universal joints for side play. No motion, of course, is good. Side play (joint sliding back and forth in the caps) between .0005 and .0015 inch is normal for greaseable universal joints. Excessive side play can, and does, cause vibration.
- A dent in your driveshaft can cause vibration.
- Driveshaft runout between .000 and .012 inch is acceptable. Anything beyond .012 inch is cause for replacement.
- Whenever vibration sources cannot be determined, remove the driveshaft, run the engine, and put the transmission in gear. If the vibration persists, the cause is not the driveshaft.
- If vibration occurs under hard acceleration only, the pinion angle needs to be adjusted. Move the pinion angle downward one half to one degree, then road-test.
- If vibration occurs during deceleration, move the pinion angle up one half to one degree and road-test the vehicle.
- If you're experiencing driveshaft ringing whenever you're shifting gears or putting an automatic in gear, the shaft can be filled with foam or cardboard by IED which will silence the shaft. Do not attempt to do this yourself.
- If runout is found at either end of the shaft, try rotating the shaft 180 degrees (one-half turn) and road-test the vehicle. It will either get better or grow worse. If it's worse, see IED for help.