On the way home from our recent camping trip the Ruckstell quit working.  It wouldn’t engage – just went to neutral. Ruckstell neutral means no gears and no brakes. Nothing sounded broken so I figured the lock plate must be spinning.  It has been over 15 years since I last opened the pumpkin so the Ruckstell problem gave me an excuse to “have at it.”

IMG_6311One of the challenges in removing the rear end is holding the vehicle up while you slide the axle out from under the car.  This time I decided to use the new trailer hitch I installed this spring.  The tow loop provided an ideal place to attach the chain hoist hook.

I disconnected the drive shaft from the engine while the wheels were still safely on the ground. Three jack stands and dollies were used to support the assembly. The wheels, hubs and brake linkages were then removed and finally the spring shackles.  At this point the only support for RHW_0143the truck was the chain hoist so I was careful not to put myself in a position where the truck could fall on me. Once the axle was rolled out from under the body the truck was lowered until it almost touched the ground.

About 6 weeks ago I attempted to remove the drivers side rear wheel hub but it wouldn’t budge.  I even heated the hub with the rosebud tip on my acetylene torch but the hub stayed put.

This time I hooked up a two jaw puller and tightened the screw as much as I dared. The whole rear end was suspended above the floor.  Whacking the puller screw with a 5 pound hammer had no effect. I then used two hammers, on either side of the snout of the hub.  A 5 lb hammer as an anvil and a three pounder providing swift blows. The problem with beating on the hub this way is that it is possible to bend the axle.  My dad used this procedure often to remove pitman arms from tapered shafts.

It only took a couple of blows and the hub and puller shot across the room.

RHW_0037The chain hoist made removing the spring shackles a simple procedure.  I lifted the truck high enough so that I could slide a couple of 2″ x 2″ blocks under the shackles then I lowered the hoist just enough so that spring tension was minimal.  The left side shackle pushed out with my fingers. The right side required a few taps with a punch and hammer.

When I removed the driver’s side hub it became apparent that gear lube was seeping past the seal in the floating hub.  I later discovered that the bearing in the floating safety hub was a tiny bit loose.

I replaced the seal CR10584 and pulled the bearing (6010 2RS) and reseated it using 680 Loctite. I wonder if these problems were caused by a bent rear wheel I have been running for years. The wheel was repaired this spring. More likely the heat from the acetylene torch caused the loctite to fail. I don’t know why the seal came to pieces.

RHW_0045With the axle out from under the truck the Ruckstell problem was obvious. The top tapered screw that secures the lock plate was missing.  The treads in the Ruckstell housing were stripped.  On closer examination I realized that the hole in the housing had previously been rethreaded from 7/16″ to 1/2″, so this was the second failure.


RHW_0054RHW_0057I removed the housing and clamped it in a vise.  It was late Saturday on Labour Day weekend so I had to improvise. The Stevens Reaming Fixture used to repair the front axle yoke uses a reaming tap to cut threads for a 1/2″ NF ID threaded bushing.  I drilled the housing with a 9/16″ bit and then threaded the hole with the Stevens Tap.  The insert was too long so I left it sticking up, which allowed a few extra threads to hold the tapered lock screw.  I made a new screw by tapering the end of a 1/2″ fine thread bolt on the lathe.



What I could see of the differential looked like new so I let sleeping dogs lie and reassembled the axle.  Before sliding the housing together I installed the shifter and pushed the shift arm toward the back.  I also left the drain plug out as it poked through the housing and looked like it might get hung up on the ring gear.

I didn’t have a paper gasket or black RTV so I used a tube of Ultra Blue as sealant.  The goop was applied sparingly to both halves of the pumpkin and the gap was closed to about 1/16″. After a few hours I tightened all the housing bolts.

Here is a photo of the lock plate with the lock pins in place.



I suspected the thumping sound I could hear in the drive train was coming from a worn U-joint.  The joint didn’t appear to be worn but the rivets were loose so I replaced it with a better joint I had in my parts bin.


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