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1997 G320, 2001 CL55
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Discussion Starter #1
My driveshaft saga continues. Found out from my mechanic that it was the front driveshaft he send to Atlanta for repairs and not my front axle. Also, it's the u-joints that need to be replaced and not the CV joints as I mentioned in an earlier thread.

I've searched the forum for a source that may can help me find "new" u-joints. The shop in Atlanta can balance my driveshaft, but say u-joints are shot.

This is really startin to suck....

What options do I have?

Anyone know of a source for U-joints? Already been told they can't be replaced...not real excited about buying an entire driveshaft.

ANY and ALL help is greatly appreciated.

Thanks,
Robert
 

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do some searches on the forum... i'm not sure what words to search on, but it think there have been several threads on alternatives found/fabricated to the stock drive shafts that are cheaper.

seems early for a u-joint to die... one more reason to grease those babies every 3k miles... rather than the revised service interval of 10k.

Erik
 

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1985 300GD LWB 5 Speed
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This topics was covered just recently, and I posted the number of a shop in Washington State. Dave also noted a resource in CO, and there are others. If you belong to the MB Club, they have an advert. in the STAR every issue. The drive shaft shop is in Portland, OR, and they seem capable, although I used a local shop instead. Search further here. About one month ago and then over the past couple of years the topic has been eaten and digested several times.

YES, grease those U joints often - frequent light grease and wipe clean = years of service.
 

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Robert:

Sorry to hear about your problems! I had asked a question on your first thread about the drive shaft, similar vibration along with a clicking noise. Read the posts from that thread and decided to pull all three shafts, went to a couple of four wheel drive shops and the local Mercedes dealer, all agreed that the universal joints were ok on the drive shafts, only the Mercedes mechanic from Fife Mercedes felt that the center drive shaft (trans too transfer case) could be the problem. Found a specialty driveline shop (tried Tom Woods, mentioned in the first thread and they would do any work on the G model) and they said they would take a look. Asked Dutch about the rebuild kit for the center drive shaft and found that the shipping of the parts would be two to three weeks regular post and about $225.00/side for the full kit (bearing, boot and seal). Called the driveline shop to let them know I had found parts, but they had already rebuilt both sides! Said that grease in cv joint had hardened and was not lubricating the bearings, they installed new bearings inserted a grease designed to flow for that type of application and sealed the caps with silicon to prevent moisture from entering the bearing. They stand behind their work and guarantee the parts and labor for one year, total cost was $300.00 (both sides) and was done in two days.

Finished the install, went for a drive to Fort Lewis for freeway and some off-road trials and I’m happy to report no vibrations or clicking noise! Was told to grease the u-joints regularly for 250,000 (!!??) mile life using a NPLI 2 grease, cleaned out the shafts and pumped in (two strokes) of grease as per instructions from the first thread.

You may want to have someone with 4X4 experience take a look at your driveline before you get any deeper and do not rule out that center driveshaft. My first impression was that it was alright! Let us know how things work out and good luck.
 

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One option is to use adapter plates available at Six States Distributing in Portland, Oregon. They have them in stock in the driveline shop. They take you from the 8 bolt MB flange to a Ford 4 bolt flange and the you can have driveshafts made locally or Six States driveline shop can make them for you. The plates are around $100.00 each and they can make a standard shaft for around $230.00 or so. With shipping they could solve your problem for under $500.00. This gets you shafts with replaceable Spicer U-Joints that cost around $10.00 and are available at a local parts store. The stock shafts are cool but not $1,200.00 cool. I had them make a couple of sets for me. They are solid, smooth and strong. Another option.

-Dai
 

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Dai,

Good work, that is cheaper than the one I had done in Tacoma, WA (USA). The Tacoma shop made a shaft that turned out very nice. This replacement fixed the only vibrations issues that I had. It was worth ever penny.

BTW, I am heading over to my nephew's place in August (15th or so) for a couple of days. He lives on the coast just west of you. I would like to take the Gwagen, but with wife in tow I will likely take the sedan.

Take care.

Tom
 

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1997 G320, 2001 CL55
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111 Posts
Discussion Starter #9
Dai,

Great solution...Thanks for the details!!

So what's the downside? I have a Ford pickup and would have never dreamed (or had nightmares) of putting the shaft from it into my G.

Do the shafts vibrate anymore than factory parts? Is the four bolt setup as strong as the eight? Any issues with performance? I assume from your comments, you've been pleased with the change and the parts all fit as they should....

Do U-joints break often? I don't do as much off road riding as I would like and wondered if this issue was primarily a result of straining the truck(Haven't found my G to ever strain, so maybe that's the wrong word)....

If I replace the front shaft, Do I need to go ahead and replace the other as well? Just thought this may be preventive medicine...If the front one is shot, don't know how long it will be before the other goes out. Does the front shaft tend to wear out quicker than the other? Any advice?

Who did you deal with at the shop? Just wondering if I should speak with a specific individual who would have a clue what I was referring to...

I have to ask this one last time...Dutch has already told me the answer and I trust him....But one last desperate attempt to find replacement U-joints. I'm still struggling with the fact that the shaft is fine and the damn joints are what don't work! Sorry to vent, just would prefer to stick with factory parts if at all possible and need reaffirmation that going with an alternative setup is the way to go.....

THANKS! I really appreciate the info...Sounds like you've more than done your homework on this topic..Options are good! Thanks for sharing!

Robert[8D]
 

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BenzWorld G Class Host
2002 800RMK
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It isn't so much finding the actual u-joint, though I do not know of anybody that has found them except for very early versions but, the joints are "staked" in, no circlip or easy way to get them out. They must be ground and pressed out, then you have the problem of how to re-stake them. Harald P. was working on a u-joint solution for the G but he must not be finished quite yet.

I personally would be very concerned about going to a four bolt flange with a $10 spicer u-joint. One trip to Moab will give you great concern for the stregnth of "regular" u-joints. There are lots of examples of exploded joints on the obstacles in that area. The massive shafts, joints and 8- bolt flanges are the overkill that separates the G from the Jeeps IMO. Jeep guys carry spare driveshafts and axle shafts with them many times. I have never felt the need to do that with a G-wagen.

I think the shop you are working with is wrong. It is very unlikely that your shafts are all bad, very unlikely.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Thanks...thinkin along the sames lines...I tend to stick with factory parts, but want to explore all available options before droppin the cash on another "rebuilt" factory driveshaft. Don't understand why they can re-build the shaft and joints in Germany and not in the states.....

I have absolutly no intention on drivin around with spare parts in my truck, so that may rule out the more inexpensive solution.

Thinkin about upgrading to a newer G500 or G55, so will probably just buy another factory part so I can sleep at night knowing I did all I could to maintain the integrity of my G for the next owner....

Thanks again...Keep em comin...value and interested in hearing opinions and options.....

Robert
 

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I was trying to solve the extreme angles of the driveshafts in my SWB 460 300GD. I learned of the success of D90 Landrover folks have been getting adapter plates made and then going to a double cardan Spicer on one end of the shaft and a regular U-Joint on the other. I found Six States was willing to help with the R+D and interested in the problem. They work with a CNC shop who is very reasonable and sent them one of my drive shafts to make the adapter pattern. It works perfectly. The four bolt Ford pattern is extremly strong and has the advantage of much easier removal and installation time. The Spicer U-Joints are inexpensive because they are very common sizes not because they are poorly made or flimsey. I use my truck off road daily and would not compromise on strenth or reliability. The shafts for the 463 do not have the steep angles and regular shafts would work fine. Shops can build a drive shaft to much heavier duty rating if you think you want it. The problem with the staked in MB stock shaft is just that. The U-Joint is not easily replaceable. It is possible to do it but not easy at all. U-Joints over time wear even if properly greased and maintained. That is a fact. The seals deteriorate and the needles create a wear pattern in the races. I wanted a solution that allows me to replace the Joints in the future. The shafts Six States were balanced perfectly. The four bolt setup is plenty strong. They perform beautifully. The change to this setup is not permanent. You can remove the shaft and flanges any time and put the stock shaft in. I have done this. If you have a problem with one shaft just do that one. One of my stock shafts had a joint where grease clearly is not coming out of one of the four bearing caps. A sure sign of impending death.
Ken in the driveline shop at Six States is the fellow to talk to. The plates are super strong. Driveshafts can be created to surpass the strenth of the stock units if needed. I won't buy a new MB shaft that will have the same issues down the road. Forget it.

-Dai
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Think I'm startin to get it....

Do you haveto have the four bolt adapter plate to use a shaft other than the stock MB? I figure the original "staked" shaft has lasted 80K miles...don't plan on changing this thing again...guess I'm wondering if I could have a heavy duty custom shaft made that would bolt up to the stock flange...if so, am I going to come out any cheaper thanthe factory part?

I see the benfits of the more standard bolt pattern and part availability, but not sure why I am fixin it in preparation of having to do this over and over...again, I don't get out on the trails much...so...

Whatcha think?

Robert
 

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Adapters

To get out of the MB 8 bolt flange you must use and an adapter plate. Dave G and Thomas have posted sites that can make new drivelines using flanges that bolt to the MB flange. I personally think the 8 bolt flange is a BIG pain because the bolts have to be removed and replaced with open end wrenches one flat at a time. That is how they are attached at the factory. It is a painfully slow process. Those bolts are a superfine thread and the nuts are unavailable except through Europa or Mercedes. They are all metal self lockers that should be replaced at installation. They are expensive little suckers for what they are. I can remove a shaft now in 10 minutes and have it installed in the same amount of time. I know the drive shafts that I had made will work very well and have for 10s of thousands of miles. I want to work on an info page that shows all of the available options but have been to busy at the moment.
Six States number: 503-249-1010 Ask for Ken in the Driveline shop. They build shafts for everything. Check out Thomas's and Dave's sources. You can solve this a number of ways. I'm very satisfied with Six States work but there may be a local shop that can build what you need. The flange adapters are ultrastrong and in stock at Six States.

-Dai
 

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U-joint differences

early 460 drive shafts were very easy to fix (6 bolt flanges) - the U-joint was smaller than the following versions and used a clip to retain the cups.
GKN order # HS188 (D=30/L=81.7) or GWB order # 7 287 10 06 00 400

GWB= GWB Gelenkwellenbau N.A.
Greenville, SC 29607

Starting with the 8 bolt flanges the size increased and the cups were staked. They can be replaced by driveline shops able to think outside the box. No grinding or cutting involved. I have done it in my garage with primitive tools. A staking tool would be best, but is very expensive ($3000). Careful punches will do the trick. Or you can create retainers that would be held be tiny set screws (we had a post some time ago about that)
GKN order # HS300 (D=31/L=88.3)
http://www.rubicon-trail.com/public/F-91880.jpg

Some, if not all 463 drive shafts are even stronger than the 460 and have different U-Joints.
I have no order number and only part of the dimensions: The bearing cap is still 31 mm Ø, but it is 22 mm high instead of the 19.4 mm of the 460 caps.
http://www.rubicon-trail.com/public/F-96584.jpg
Maybe someone with a proper tool can measure the distance from cap to cap. It is 88.3 mm on 460 U-joints. With that measurement we could find the U-joint in the GKN list. Replacement procedure should be fairly easy.

Before diving into replacing the U-joints on a driveshaft (especially the front) the slip joint needs to checked very carefully - if it has any lateral play the entire shaft needs to be replaced. Front slip joint wears out fastest due to lack of maintenance and engine heat.

Harald
 

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Discussion Starter #17
Harald,

The shop in Atlanta said they can blance the shaft and replace the joints...just can't find the replacement parts.

Is the slip joint part of the shaft?? just trying to figure out if the shop with my shaft needs to inspect it or if it is a part of my truck that the guys downtown need to be lookin at before I go any further with the new shaft/parts route.

Why does a bad slip joint cause me to need an entirely new shaft? Again, still don't understand why the shaft can be offered by the factory as a "rebuilt" part over in Germany and we can't do it over here...

THANKS AGAIN,
Robert
 

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2000 G500 NMLE
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Slip Joint

rtgogo - 4/24/2005 8:07 AM


Is the slip joint part of the shaft?? just trying to figure out if the shop with my shaft needs to inspect it or if it is a part of my truck that the guys downtown need to be lookin at before I go any further with the new shaft/parts route.
It's on the shaft in Atlanta, although there will also be one on the rear drive shaft. It's a part of the shaft itself. It slides in and out allowing the shaft to shorten or lengthen as needed to compensate for axle movement.

There have been several pictures on the forum which show it. Do a search of the driveshafts and look for comments about aligning the balancing arrows. Those arrows are on either side of the slip joint; and are intended to ensure proper alignment the shaft when reassembling the slip joint.

If that shop in Atlanta is not familiar with G driveshafts, you might find one that does have a bit. That's not to say that the u-joints aren't indeed shot. If so, there are no replacement parts short of major surgery on the shaft itself.
 

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Robert,

I am certain the shafts can be rebuild - some of our G friends in GB had good success with it. But it requires willing and able shops to do so. The US seems to lack Old World mechanic skills. Parts are available through GKN and others. Mercedes will not sell rebuild kits. They only sell new drive shafts - not even rebuilt shafts.

To determine whether a G shafts is bad or not requires more knowledge than inspecting cheap US stuff.

The slip joint is the connecting part of the two drive shaft sections. US slip joints are a joke compared to the G slip joint. There is a valid reason why the G shafts are expensive. With proper care they will last 500,000 miles.

Even though U joints can be sourced and replaced - slip joints are not available anywhere.

As an alternative you might look into getting a used shaft through German ebay.

Below (image 1)is the difference between a good American slip joint and the G joint.

Second image shows the difference between the G rear axle and the slip joint. The slip joint is bigger and stronger than even the rear axle! Necessary to deal with the tremendous forces that lockers can create. Why do you think US off-road users constanly have to fix broken parts?

Image 3 shows the G slip join exposed and compressed. If intact the slip joint can only be separated after you remove the grease fitting to allow air in. Otherwise the created vacuum is so strong that a separation is impossible. If they separate easyly the slip joint is worn out and has play.

Image 4 shows sign of wear inside the U-joint created by bearing needles without proper lubrication. In this stage wear can not be felt moving the parts by hand. But they are severe enough to create bad vibrations.

Image 5 shows surface discoloration and surface wear plus some weird wear marks at the edge. This joint came out of a shaft that had caused severe vibrations.
 

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Slip Joint Photos

Thanks Harald! Those pics are worth a whole book of words!
 
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