2-Big Broncos 4x4 Technical White Papers

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Removal of third-member in front Dana-44

    As far as removing the third member, it takes about three or four solid
hours but isn't overly difficult.  Here are the steps (as best as memory
serves, may want to double check with your shop manual. I'm trying to recall
all these steps from my mind, as I'm in New York at college and my
Bronco and manual are in Colorado). My Bronco is also an 88', but I
assume these steps are about the same for all TTB trucks.
    Step 1: Jack up front end and block tires and all that good stuff.
Remove tires and pull off the one piece hubs. Then remove the brake
calipers (mine are held in with two pins, some I believe are bolted in)
and use scrap wire or twine to tie them out of the way so that they are
not hanging by the brake lines.
    Step 2: Use the special Ford hub socket to remove the lock ring that
holds the bearings between the brake rotors and the spindle. After
making certain that you have all the lock rings and bearings off, slide
the rotor assembly off of the spindle. 
    Step 3: Remove the nuts that hold the spindle onto the traction beam
(there are six of them - 1/2 socket) and pull the spindle off. This may take
a lot of effort as mine were fairly well stuck/rust-welded to the axle
housing. I used a few choice words and the prying action of a big
screwdriver to get them off. There is a pressed in set of roller
bearings on the inside of the spindle that you'll have to slide off of
the axle shaft, so take care when pulling the spindle off.
    Step 4: Unbolt the front of the front drive-shaft from the pinion yoke of
the third member. Then secure the drive-shaft out of the way by tying it
to the frame rail or something. 
    Step 5: Unscrew the fill plug on the front of the differential housing
and try to get as much of the gear oil out as possible. A hand held oil
pump works the best, but no matter how hard you try, you'll not be able
to get it all. The more you get now the less messy it'll be when you
crack the seal of the third member and the housing. 
    Step 6: Now pull the DRIVER SIDE axle shaft straight out of the
traction beam (axle housing). It shouldn't be too hard to pull out, but
beware that it is a tight fit trying to get the U-joint out of the
knuckle area of the axle housing. The axle shaft will pull all the way
out of the housing. Do not attempt to pull the passenger side axle shaft
out in the same manner, as it is held into the third member with a
    Step 7: Locate the rubber boot that covers the slip joint on the
passenger side axle shaft. Use a pair of pliers to remove the steel
clamp that holds the rubber boot onto the axle. (I think at this point
it would be easier to just remove the clamp closest to the passenger
tire, but eventually you'll probably have to remove both.) I was able to
reuse the steel clamps, so if you can try to not destroy them when
taking them off, but I suppose hose clamps could replace these.
    Step 8: Slide the half of the passenger side axle shaft that is closest
to the tire out of the slip joint and through the axle housing hole just
like you did with the driver side. It may take a little effort to get
the slip joint to separate, but it'll come eventually. At this point,
you'll have all of the axle shafts lying on the ground next to you
except for a short section that is held into the passenger side of the
third member with a C-clip. 
    Step 9: Locate and unbolt the bolts (three I believe) that are
in the rear section of the third member. These bolts run parallel to the
axle shafts and the heads are towards the passenger side. 
    Step 10: From the very front of the differential housing, unbolt all the
bolts that hold the third member to the housing. Leave the top bolt
about halfway in, so there is no chance that the third member could fall
(though just the seal alone on mine held it up there). Now here comes
the fun part. Somehow you have to get under the third member so as to be
able to break the seal and man-handle it out from under the truck. I got
into position as best as possible, took the final bolt all the way out
and then wiggled the third member to crack the seal. At this point, it
drops about two inches and is held in place by the lip of the housing.
(very scary when you're not expecting it) But all the gear lube that is left
in after step five drains all over you. You might be able to place an
oil pan on your chest so the oil doesn't drain onto you, or I suppose even
a transmission jack could be used to hold up the third member. But not
having a transmission jack, I didn't have that option. But at this
point, you have the third member out of the truck and ready for the
Lock-Right. It weighs, my best guess, around sixty pounds so it gets fun
trying to crawl from under your truck with the third member sitting on
your chest, but it does build character.
    Installation is basically the same procedure, just in reverse. I used
Permatex Ultra-Grey gasket maker to mate the third member to the housing
when I put it all back together and no leaks yet. Also, this is a good
time to change any seals or bearings in the front end.
Miscellaneous Information
    One thing that I think is really neat that was showed to me by the shop
that installed the locker is how to eliminate the C-clip that holds
the passenger side axle shaft stub into the third member. They installed
the locker without the C-clip and told me to simply take a used Chevy
valve spring and slide it into the slip joint of the passenger side axle
shaft.  The pre-sprung tention is approximately 1/4" on the spindle measured
just before bolting it down using the six 1/2 nuts. 
    The compression of the spring holds the axle stub into the third
member and facilitates easier removal of the axle stub in case you need
to change U-joints in years to come. I cut about forty percent of the of
the spring off and threw it in the slip joint and haven't had any
problems yet. 

March 1999
Chris Gzybowski - gzyboc@rpi.edu
1988 XLT Bronco
Kurt Hartsig Recommendations... 1. To have the slip yoke "end cap" tack welded in place preventing its removal by the valve spring and spring pressure if used in place of the stock "C" clip on the passenger axle. 2. Use a heavy weight gear lube for replacement in the carrier - something like 95w140 weight gear lube.

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