Dabney & The Doctor Cluster Together
It was a stormy, rainy Sunday outside, so Dabney decided to spend his time working on a project he had put off for several months. It seems his
1954 Mercury convertible was giving him trouble and he didn't quite know where to start.
The trouble was in the rear end. The car ran just fine, but exhibited a funny groaning noise under certain road conditions. The noise was worse when the car turned to the right but it was there all the time regardless. Dabney decided to put the car on the lift and see if he could locate the source of the noise.
As he was raising the Mercury Dabney noticed the Doctor coming in through the garage door. Before the Doctor could ask, he said, "I'm going to find out why this rear end is making noise or have a really good reason why not. Could you grab the stethoscope for me and maybe get in the car and run the engine, Doc.?"
"Sure thing, old Boy," said the Doctor. "And it's a good idea to use the stethoscope to localize the noises." The Doctor sat in the driver's seat while Dabney worked underneath the car, revving up the engine while in gear.
It wasn't long before Dabney discovered the noise was coming from the right outside end of the differential housing. "There it is, Doc, I've pinned down the source of the noise and it's between the brake backing plate and the housing tube.:
After shutting off the engine the Doctor replied, "Well, that pretty much says it's the axle bearing, doesn't it?"
"I suppose it is, but we'll have to take the axle out to know for sure," said Dabney.
They lowered the Mercury far enough to get the wheel, hub and brake parts off, then got ready to remove the axle. Once he had removed the four bolts that held the axle end to the brake backing plate he attempted to pull on the end of the axle to remove it from the housing tube. No go.
"This thing won't slip out," said Dabney. "Shouldn't it just come away with a little pulling or a tap with a rubber hammer?"
"Sometimes they do, but most times they don't," replied the Doctor. "Where's your slide hammer?"
"My what?" said Dabney
"Your slide hammer, like I said," replied the Doctor. "Don't you have one?"
"I don't even know what it is, Doc," replied Dabney, "so I don't think there's much chance of finding it among the tools."
They looked for a while but concluded that there wasn't one in the garage, so the Doctor explained what they needed.
"You see, many axles and other components take a 'set' in place. They need to be driven out but there's no way to hit the other end to do so. Therefore, the slide hammer was invented to do the driving from the outside," he explained.
"How does it do it?" asked Dabney.
"Well, the hammer looks like a gear puller plate, with holes around it that will fit onto three of the wheel lug studs," said the Doctor. "A big rod screws into the center of the plate and on it is a heavy billet that has a hole down the center. The other end of the rod has a nut or built-in shape that stops the movement of the billet. When you grab the billet at the axle end of the tool and slide it hard toward its stop, the hammer-effect forces are taken up by the axle and eventually it comes loose."
"Well, it's Sunday and I don't know where to get one of these," said Dabney.
"I know," said the Doctor, "but maybe we can make one. You have a gear puller plate and a threaded rod over there on the bench, so let's find a weight of some kind that will act as our billet."
They looked around and found an old cluster gear set from a transmission. Its center hole went over the threaded rod diameter, so they put the makeshift slide hammer together and greased the rod to make it easier for the cluster gear to move. In a few "hits" with the cluster gear they successfully removed the axle shaft, verifying that the bearing had worn out.
"You see, dear boy," said the Doctor, "all it takes is a little ingenuity."