Fixing a Rear Axle Leak

While checking the air in my rear tires I noticed that the inside of the left rear wheel was getting oily. The last few times that I had driven the car I had the feeling that the rear brakes felt like they were not doing much. I decided that to take them apart and have a look. I raised the rear of the car and placed it on stands then removed the left side brake drum. The bad news was that everything inside the drum was drenched in gear oil, no wonder the rear brakes were not doing their part.


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After checking the banjo vent to make sure it was clear, I completed the disassembly. After inspecting the seal and the portion of the stub axle where the seal rides, everything looked ok. The axle was smooth but not glass like. I recalled that when I installed this banjo that I had used an electric wire wheel to clean up the axle surface and on closer inspection I could see the fine scratches left by the wire wheel. Maybe I had used too coarse of a wheel and should have polished it more.

Installing The Sleeve

I attacked the axle with a very fine wire wheel then used emery paper to polish it up pretty good. Rather than take the chance of having to do it again I ordered a sleeve to place over the axle to help insure that it would not leak.

Chicago Rawhide makes four different widths for their 1.750" diameter sleeve and I used  #99174 which is widest at .563 in width.

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I used a 1 1/2" plastic pipe connector to drive the seal on the axle. The inside diameter is just an RCH too big but it works ok as long as you keep it centered on the sleeve flange. After the sleeve is in place, use a pair of pointed cutters to cut a notch in the lip of installation flange, grab this edge with a pair of pliers and pull it off.

Installing The Brakes

Installing the brakes with the hub removed is a piece of cake compared to installation when the hub is in place.

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Installing The Halfshafts

There are many "methods" of installing the halfshafts on a Sprite. Some methods use the O-ring and dry paper gasket and nothing else. Other's use their favorite "goop" and leave out both the O-ring and the paper gasket. Still others use the O-ring but replace the paper gasket with silicone.

My Method

I start by doing a trial fit of the halfshaft so that I know what position it will be in and that it goes in without any excess effort. This way I don't get caught with sealer on the paper gasket and a balky halfshaft. I then perform the following steps:

1. I Clean the hub and halfshaft flanges as clean as I can get them. After first removing any oil and old gasket residue I use a very soft wire wheel and then emery paper followed by brake cleaner. Needless to say I do this before installing the seal and bearing in the hub.

2. Install the seal and bearing in the hub using your favorite method and install the hub on the stub axle of the banjo. Make sure you clean the mating surface of the hub again at this point using some brake cleaner on a rag.

3. Coat the paper gasket with just a very thin layer of blue silicone sealer on both sides.

At this point things need to move along smartly. You don't want the silicone to setup before you get it all assembled and torqued down.

4. Install the paper gasket on the hub.

5. Install the O-ring.

6. Install the halfshaft.

Note: The bevel head screws do little more than keep things snug when a wheel is removed from the car. The lug nuts really hold everything together.

7. Install the single bevel head screw to hold the shaft in place.

8. Install the brake drum with a non-beveled hole placed over the head of the screw holding the halfshaft in place so that it may be accessed with a screwdriver. Make sure that you do this correctly so that you can do steps #9 and #10.

9. Install the two bevel head screws that holds the drum to the halfshaft.

10. Alternately tighten the screws in the drum and the screw in the halfshaft. Do this until they are as tight as they will go.

If the car is going to be driven right away

11. I install the road wheels and make sure to torque the lug nuts evenly.

If the car is not going to be driven right away.

11. I just install the lug nuts, torque them down evenly and let them sit that way overnight. After torquing the lugs you can also tweak the beveled screws again. I prefer this method.

Using this method I have never had the halfshaft/hub interface leak, the seal maybe, but not the halfshaft.



I pulled the rear drums last night for an inspection and I'm happy to report that all is well and that the brakes have remained dry after a couple of hundred miles.