Friday, February 12, 2010

Replacing U-Joints on Natasha

 The last couple of days, I'd been hearing clunking noises when slowing and accelerating on Natasha, my Ural Sidecar Rig.  I had thought it was loose gear in the sidecar's trunk but removing any possibilities did not eliminate the noise.

Yesterday, I did what I thought was a thorough check of the moving parts on the sidecar's underside.  I found the drive shaft for the sidecar wheel had a bit of a wobble, in that I could move it slightly back and forth!  I could not recall if that was normal or not and I did not spot anything else untoward.

This morning, I went out and did my vehicle pre-ride checks, this time shinning a bright work light at the u-joint assembly next to the sidecar's wheel.  Damn if I didn't see what looked like a damaged cap on the u-joint!  I grasped the sidecar drive shaft and I could see the darn u-joint wiggling free within the yoke!  Aaaarrrgghh!

A quick check of the local auto parts stores located one that had the Precision 341/Neapco 1-0300 u-joint with a grease zerk.  The ones that come from Ural do not have a grease zerk so you have to take them apart to lubricate them!

I jacked up the sidecar wheel, placed the frame on a jack stand and started removing the sidecar wheel, and soon after that, had the sidecar's drive shaft out for inspection.

Oh yeah, it's busted.
I basically followed the procedures outlined in Bill Glaser's outstanding online reference:  The Unofficial Ural 750cc Motorcycle Service Manual.  My little vise was too small to use as a press as Bill Glaser describes so I ended up using the 2x4 Block of Wood method to take apart the old u-joint.  I decided to replace both u-joints even though the one by the final drive side of the drive shaft seemed OK.

Much hammering with the requisite BFH every Ural owner who's worked on his rig owns, I had the first u-joint (the one that was damaged) out:

Note the dry and rusty condition of the old u-joint and its components!  
The seals themselves were toast as well

A while later, with minimal cursing but much hammering I finally got the other u-joint out.  The hardest part really was the stupid snap rings.  The first set from the damaged u-joint broke apart as I pulled them out, causing more work for me.  The snap rings from the second u-joint were easier, either because they'd not been stressed like the other u-joint or I was getting more proficient at it.  What a PITA!

I cleaned up the yokes and started installing the new u-joint, the first axis went fine, minimal hammering and it was snap ringed into place.  The second axis of the u-joint proved to be a bugger!  I could not get the fourth snap ring in place no matter how hard I hit it!  At this point, it was 12:30 PM and I had to get ready for an interview in the afternoon.

Not wanting to damage things by being stupid and stubborn, I wrapped up all the pieces, put them in the cage and after getting dressed for the interview, took them to Andre's mechanic friend Hank.  Hank runs a transmission repair service near the intersection of 6th Avenue and Airport Rd.  I left the parts with him and he said he'd take care of it.

I spent the next hour and a half preparing for and going through my third interview with Sungard Availability Services.  I believe it went well, I hope to hear from their HR folks next week.  Wish me luck!

My loving wife, in the meantime, had gone to Hank's place and picked up the drive shaft assembly, all fitted together except for the grease zerks which I had left at home.  $20 for the work!  Next time, I'll just take the whole drive shaft assembly to Hank and be done in less than one hour!  The problem I'd run into, according to Hank was that one of the needle bearings had fallen down inside the cap and prevented further downward movement!  He replaced the needle bearing with one from his shop.

Once I got home, had some dinner, then resumed working on the drive shaft.  Installing the grease zerks turned out to be another huge PITA!  Note to self, next time take the damn replacement u-joints AND grease zerks to Hank so he puts them in!

The problem was the snap rings for the u-joint end with the grease zerk interfered with the mounting hole for the grease zerk!  I got lucky and somehow managed to get one in but the second one would not go in until I filed down the ends of the snap ring down a bit and removed an obstruction in the grease zerk's mounting hole.  I don't know what it was but I hope it was not one of the needle bearings again.  Something to monitor closely.  Note to self: its the u-joint on the final drive side of the drive shaft.

I injected grease into the new U-Joints until grease came out of the seals.  I cleaned off the excess grease and made ready to put the drive shaft back onto the Ural.


 Here's a couple of views of the new U-Joints, I hope they last a while.  Luckily, they're cheap at $9 each!
Here's a view of the grease zerk, you can see how the snap ring would make installing the zerk a PITA

I re-greased the drive shaft components where they threaded into the sidecar's hub and mated things back together to the final drive.  Once I had her all buttoned up and safety-wired, I took her out for a few miles of test riding in the dark.  No klunking noises and nothing fell off!  I'll be doing some more testing tomorrow to make sure all is as it should be but for now, I'm just glad the repair is done.  

Tired, watching the Winter Olympics Opening Ceremonies in Bobskoot's backyard of Vancouver.  I know how to take u-joints apart and put them back together (kind of).  The task however, is right there with changing out tires, in that its easier and faster to let more proficient folks with power tools do it for me for minimal cost.


Chris said...

Glad you were able to get it fixed. You can't miss the elephant ride.

Good luck with the interview!

Keith - Circle Blue said...

I hope you hear good news on the job front. Good luck!

Jack Riepe said...

Dear Charlie6 (Dom):

Your idea of a relaxing evening and mine are two entirely different things. I'm sure you got a great deal of satisfaction fixing that axle and the u-joints. I would have poured a drink and blown my brains out.

At the current rate, you will have replaced all of the original Russian parts with hardware store shelf stuff in three more months.From what I have read about Ural alternators (and there replacements), you should just market your "Total Loss" replacement systems to anyone with similar problems.

Fondest regards,
Jack • reep • Toad
Twisted Roads
New blog posts every Monday and Thursday

redlegsrides said...

Chris and Keith, thanks re the job front...we'll see.

Jack....I didn't say it was relaxing, just said it involved "minimal cursing" and lots of hammering. Truly is a BFH a required part of a Ural rider's toolkit! I did learn about u-joints though so its all good.

I learned about the TLS from Ural owners before no credit to me there....I wish someone would come up with a reliable alternator though, heated gear saps my TLS capacity fast. Maybe that's Nature's way of telling me I shouldn't be out in sub freezing temps for more than 8 hrs at a time.

Having said that, it'll probably be at least six hours of cold temps tomorrow as I and three other Ural riders and their wives try the Elephant Ride. Should be quite interesting. Stay tuned, 30% chance of snow in the mountains and we're trying for Guanella Pass.