Date registered: Nov 2002
Vehicle: 1980 LWB 280GE
Location: Bailey, CO, USA
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pix - VG080 transfer case run in 2wd without front driveshaft
If you really want to look (it's not for the mechanically feint of heart), This is what I found inside of mine. I had run it about 250 miles without the front shaft. The actual large scale damage happened about 1,000 miles after I put the shaft back in, if I remember right. This case was rendered useless by the fact that the LR input gear needed replacing and it's mate on the output shaft was NLA. Extrordinary measures like spray deposition on the ID to recover the gear could be done, but I was able to source a good used box for less, so this one is relegated to the parts bin. Anyhoo, here you go. The SW here doesn;t let me intersperse text with pix, so here are the words that describe what you're looking at:
Had to tear the case down this far to find the problem. Scary already, huh?
Wish this was sharper, but you can just make out pieces of needle bearing where they shouldn't be - in the space between the gear and the shaft
The needles are supposed to ride between the surfaces marked A. When they disintegrated, they wedged between the surfaces marked B, destroying those surfaces as well.
Surface marked B in previous picture is now facing downward. Bearing bits wedged against surface B forced the gear rearward on the shaft, and drove surface C on the gear against the adjacent surface, also C, on the synchro hub.
D=Large amount of debris found under the speedometer drive output cover. Remove cover beneath speedo drive, not just the drive itself. Debris reaching D is also reaching E, and getting into input shaft oiling passages. If those passages get blocked, then no oil comes out the spigot F, into the input shaft. Low range gear bearing is starved for oil. At your next service, pull speedo drive cover. If debris is found, pull rear t-case cover to investigate..