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#3309779 - 03/12/14 07:07 PM How can a driveshaft become unbalanced?
Vstrom Offline


Registered: 09/03/04
Posts: 287
Loc: SC
Just went through a real trial with fixing a vibration that turned out to be the driveshaft on a 96 F350 long bed crew cab so it is a 2 piece shaft.

Vibration had been getting worse for some time...changed the center support, no difference. Replaced the U-joints, no difference. Spline joint good.
Took it to one driveshaft shop that was stumped...told me I just needed to replace the whole thing.
Took it to another one- they took off most of the factory weights, took off the rubber damped heavy steel ring on the pinion end and welded on a washer for a balancing weight on the front shaft.
Smooth as can be now..just can't understand how it can get unbalanced in the first place!

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#3309789 - 03/12/14 07:20 PM Re: How can a driveshaft become unbalanced? [Re: Vstrom]
ZeeOSix Offline


Registered: 07/22/10
Posts: 7418
Loc: PNW
Good question. Maybe some factory balance weights flew off at one time? In order for the balance to change, the mass distribution needs to change.
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#3309793 - 03/12/14 07:22 PM Re: How can a driveshaft become unbalanced? [Re: Vstrom]
turtlevette Offline


Registered: 12/24/13
Posts: 685
Loc: Massachusetts
did they check it for straightness? If it got slightly bent it'd be off then a rebalance would compensate.

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#3309809 - 03/12/14 07:41 PM Re: How can a driveshaft become unbalanced? [Re: Vstrom]
lomez Offline


Registered: 04/14/11
Posts: 103
Loc: California
damaged/worn u-joints....but then you said you replaced them.
Have no clue then.


Edited by lomez (03/12/14 07:44 PM)
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#3309812 - 03/12/14 07:41 PM Re: How can a driveshaft become unbalanced? [Re: Vstrom]
GreeCguy Offline


Registered: 03/21/05
Posts: 2335
Loc: Elderly County, Florida
Back in the day I had a '67 Chevy half ton truck that did the same thing. The two piece drive shaft had a support bearing in the middle and the rubber bushing that held the bearing in place finally wore out and fell out which caused the shaft to "sag" in the middle. I bought a used one at a junkyard for 30 dollars - popped it in and no more problem.
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#3309894 - 03/12/14 08:49 PM Re: How can a driveshaft become unbalanced? [Re: Vstrom]
Chris142 Offline


Registered: 06/05/03
Posts: 11455
Loc: apple valley, ca
Usually they get bent. Maybe that rubber balancer they removed got a heavy spot or off center?
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#3309921 - 03/12/14 09:14 PM Re: How can a driveshaft become unbalanced? [Re: Chris142]
Kira Offline


Registered: 08/19/10
Posts: 1101
Loc: Champlain/Hudson Valley
Your 18 year old, two-piece shaft and center bearing needed some TLC. What was the total?

There's a shaft shop near me and anytime you need to remove ANY shaft and bring it to them for service-it's a joy.
You know smoothness is in your future.

Glad you got it sorted. Kira

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#3310124 - 03/13/14 02:21 AM Re: How can a driveshaft become unbalanced? [Re: Vstrom]
Vstrom Offline


Registered: 09/03/04
Posts: 287
Loc: SC
The first shop told me I used [censored] U-joints, they were the best Moog offers. They also told me the center bearing, an Anchor brand, was [censored] and I HAD to use the OEM Ford bearing that costs 6x as much.
OK....the vib was the same before and after the U-joints and center bearing replacement. Beside that the OEM bearing is discontinued and no longer available from Ford. The original U-joints appeared perfect when removed and had no play in them.
I did replace the center bearing again with a Timken branded one that made no difference whatsoever.
No factory weights were missing. There was no visible damage to the shaft or any components. The truck has never been in an accident.

The shop that got it right said it was severely out of balance and really had no definitive answer as to why it was. They said a lot of towing caused it....huh?
Total at the shop was $250 to fix, that didn't include the $45 I spent on Moog U-joints and one $20 center bearing followed by another $45 center bearing. This was with the shaft removed and carried to them.
There is 200,000 miles on the truck and I am the original owner. There was a TSB shortly before my truck was built in the fall of 95 adding the vibration damper ring to the rear of the back shaft to stop a "moaning" noise some trucks had. So now mine is gone-
I may be hearing a little different noise but the truck is "noisy" anyway with the diesel and stiff suspension so it is hard to tell. The vibration is gone, which was at 35 and 65 MPH.
I'm happy but puzzled.

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#3310132 - 03/13/14 03:11 AM Re: How can a driveshaft become unbalanced? [Re: Vstrom]
paulo57509 Offline


Registered: 07/13/03
Posts: 1822
Loc: Tracy, CA
My GMC van has a one-piece drive shaft and the R&R instructions in the FSM state to mark the drive shaft and companion flange before separating the two so that the drive shaft is replaced in the same orientation because the drive shaft and differential were balanced as an assembly.

I'm going to guess that the same might be true of your two-piece drive shaft. They might not be balanced with the differential, but their relationship and balance with each other was lost when the center support was replaced.


Edited by paulo57509 (03/13/14 03:13 AM)
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#3310190 - 03/13/14 07:01 AM Re: How can a driveshaft become unbalanced? [Re: Vstrom]
Trav Offline


Registered: 11/20/06
Posts: 9959
Loc: MA, Mittelfranken.de
In the salt belt a lot of drive shafts have severe rust and large rusty scales.
Its common they go out of balance, i always attributed it to that but who knows.

I have a local metal company steel shot blast them, then etching primer and paint, new joints and have them balanced by a reputable drive shaft company.
Cost is about $70 for the balance, $10 to blast them and whatever the paint and joints cost.
I usually have about $150- $180 into a totally rebuilt and balanced shaft.

The etching primer and high quality paint pays back in spades! One has been 7 yrs in the salt belt doing plow duty and still looks like new.
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#3310219 - 03/13/14 07:30 AM Re: How can a driveshaft become unbalanced? [Re: Trav]
rockydee Offline


Registered: 03/09/14
Posts: 151
Loc: VA
Originally Posted By: Trav
In the salt belt a lot of drive shafts have severe rust and large rusty scales.
Its common they go out of balance, i always attributed it to that but who knows.

I have a local metal company steel shot blast them, then etching primer and paint, new joints and have them balanced by a reputable drive shaft company.
Cost is about $70 for the balance, $10 to blast them and whatever the paint and joints cost.
I usually have about $150- $180 into a totally rebuilt and balanced shaft.

The etching primer and high quality paint pays back in spades! One has been 7 yrs in the salt belt doing plow duty and still looks like new.


That's a good idea. Can you pull the drive-shafts on a new rwd vehicle, mask off the joints and spray them with spray bomb primer and paint? Then chuck it all back together again. I'd rather do it before rust attacks rather than after if I can.

I like reading your posts, you are quite in the know when it comes to anything automotive. I've read your posts for a long time now, I figured it was about time to say thanks for what I learned from you.

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#3310243 - 03/13/14 07:50 AM Re: How can a driveshaft become unbalanced? [Re: rockydee]
Trav Offline


Registered: 11/20/06
Posts: 9959
Loc: MA, Mittelfranken.de
I wouldn't do it. It doesn't take much to put it out of balance and there is no way to guarantee the thickness of the paint film is the same over the whole shaft.
You can use something like 389 rust blocker or Bullfrog before winter then drive the car, it wont throw it out of balance.

http://www.theruststore.com/Cortec-ECOSp...pYrAXhs1UVcYuSU

http://www.theruststore.com/Bull-Frog-Ru...pYrAXhs1UVcYuSU
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#3310258 - 03/13/14 08:06 AM Re: How can a driveshaft become unbalanced? [Re: Vstrom]
rockydee Offline


Registered: 03/09/14
Posts: 151
Loc: VA
Good point. I didn't think a spray bomb might be able to throw a DS out of balance.

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#3310285 - 03/13/14 08:23 AM Re: How can a driveshaft become unbalanced? [Re: rockydee]
Trav Offline


Registered: 11/20/06
Posts: 9959
Loc: MA, Mittelfranken.de
Figure there is about 8oz of product in the spray can that actually ends up on the piece, prime and paint could be almost a pound of material.
Half an ounce out of balance can be noticeable.

http://www.rldial.com/Ultra%20High%20Speed%20Driveshaft%20Balancing.html
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#3310368 - 03/13/14 09:36 AM Re: How can a driveshaft become unbalanced? [Re: Vstrom]
zzyzzx Offline


Registered: 05/18/12
Posts: 1702
Loc: Baltimore, Maryland, USA
I would think that things like dirt or rust could throw it off balance.

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