Monday, December 13, 2010

Rebuilding the S1 Lotus Esprit U-Joints

The first step in rebuilding the S1 Lotus Esprit u-joints is to remove the entire unit from the car (half shaft with stub axle). It would be nice if this process were easy, but given that the half shafts are heavily stressed, the stub axle usually ends up welded inside the rear wheel bearing, meaning you can’t just slide them out.

After hours of time with a hammer, I realized that the only way to withdraw the stub axle would be to use a press. About 1.5 tons later, they came out of the wheel bearing and now I could start the rebuild process. Removing the old u-joints is easy albeit a messy job. It’s a good idea to keep a few of the old u-joint grease seals if they are in good shape as I ruined a few of the new ones when pressing the bearing back in.

After everything was apart, I opted to have my half shafts powder coated and the stub axle and gearbox connecter zinc plated. Installing the new u-joints took me a full-day and it’s not something I look forward to doing again (although I know I’ll have to after about 20K miles!). The bearings don’t press in easily, it’s hard to make sure none of the rolling pins become un-seated, and it’s easy to destroy the new grease seals. When putting everything back together, you have to be extremely patient.

This was an exciting step in the restoration process because it means I can now mount the rear uprights and suspension and get the Esprit back on four wheels.

The powder coated halfshafts, ready for new u-joints.

the freshly plated stub axles in yellow zinc chromate.

The halfshaft gearbox mountings also received yellow zinc chromate.

Four new sets of ujoints, ready to install.

The completed stub axle assembly.

The completed gearbox mounting assembly.

Jobe done!

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