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Old 08-02-2011, 04:16 PM   #1
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Not fun

Been a while since I posted, but I figured this may be useful information for some. We still travel in our van, though with the two toddlers running about we rarely get the energy up to document our travels.



Anyway...

Had our most 'exciting' trip in our van last weekend when the rear axle broke while traveling down the freeway at about 75mph. Right rear wheel came loose, held to the van just by the stub of axle-shaft remaining and the brake caliper.

The wobbling broken wheel kept the brakes from doing much good, and steering was extremely erratic as the back end wanted to go all over the place. Luckily there was a break in traffic and we could get to the shoulder as we coasted to a stop.

Lots of foul smoke as the gear-oil dumped onto the (glowing) rotor and caliper that had luckily held the wheel with us.

We have the stock Ford Dana 60-1U semi-floating axle from the early/mid 00's. Prior to this trip I had replaced the outer axle bearings and seals as the bearing, on the side that failed, had started to break up. The axle-shafts *looked" fine, but I did not have them magnafluxed or anything as this seemed regular routine maintenance. I do not know if the degrading bearing damaged the shaft, or if some extra-ordinary flexing of the breaking shaft damaged the bearing, or if there was some other common cause.

We had been planning to upgrade to a full-floating axle as soon as time permitted, especially given the posting here: http://www.sportsmobileforum.com/vie...hp?f=39&t=5105. Sportsmobile West did not offer (or at least we were never informed of it) the full-float Dynatrac rear axle when we purchased.

Unfortunately I put it off too long and now have a memorable experience instead.

I have picked up a full-floating Dana 60 rear from a 2000 E350 which I will move our ARB differential over into, get some 1.5" axle shafts (full-floater uses 32spline 1.37", semi-floater uses 35spline 1.5"), and get us rolling in a couple weeks as time permits.

I will try to document & photo the process for those interested.

Factors of note:
-Mileage ~45k
-Rear axle weight 5-6k lbs depending on how much gear (fuel, water, motorcycle on back). Max ever recorded was just under 6k at a truck scale, even between left and right.
-We are running the wheel spacers which push our tire center-line out about 1.5-2" and thus add some bending moment to the axle-shaft
-Moderate off-road usage, though I would expect slamming into pot-holes on the interstate is probably a lot harder on the axle than low speed rock-crawling.

-e

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Old 08-02-2011, 04:38 PM   #2
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Re: Not fun

Yikes.

A full floater was one of my criteria when buying the rig. I've been thinking about upgrading the rear axles to chromoly units and carrying one of the old ones as a spare. Even an HP Dana 60 is going to be stressed on a 10k lb rig.

Scary.
Z
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Old 08-02-2011, 05:31 PM   #3
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Re: Not fun

Zeta - I think you would be better off sending the money on a used full floater.

FWIW - my 2000 E350 wagon came with the Dana 70 full floater, but it had the D60 differential. I upgraded the internals to the D70 differential. The Ford specs indicate the extended wagons all got the D70 (7800#) through 2002, while the short vans got the D60.
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Old 08-02-2011, 05:38 PM   #4
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Re: Not fun

I have a full floater. But one can still break an axle.

Z
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Old 08-02-2011, 06:43 PM   #5
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Not fun

Wow! Thanks for the post.

I bet that got your attention. Nice work getting it over to the side without a disaster. I'm sure that required a steady hand.

Probably not so steady after the danger passed...
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Old 08-02-2011, 07:44 PM   #6
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Re: Not fun

Quote:
Originally Posted by Zeta
I have a full floater. But one can still break an axle.

Z
Yeah, but if you break an axle the wheel will stay in place and rotate normally.

Since this is the 2nd time I've heard about a D60 semi-floater breaking an axle, I'm really glad I got a D70 full floater for my van. $1500 is cheap insurance considering what could have happened.

Mike
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Old 08-02-2011, 07:53 PM   #7
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Re: Not fun

Quote:
Originally Posted by Zeta
I have a full floater. But one can still break an axle.

Z
When full-float breaks an axle, you lose power one side. It will still drive normally otherwise, except the wheel won't be getting power. Which kinda means you're stuck if you have 2WD and no locker. An Atlas T-case can be put in Front wheel drive, and drive home like that. A regular T-case may be able limp home in 4WD, but still powering the rear axle could cause the broken axle ends to grind against each-other and send debris throughout the axle.

It's called a full-float because the spindle support the full weight of the vehicle. All the axle shaft does is "float" inside of the spindle, and spin the wheels.

Also, because the axle shafts on a FF are only loaded torsionally, and never in bending like a SF axle, they are much less likely to break in in the first place.

I have seen an E450 with a bent spindle, but it was involved in a freeway-speed crash. It was still driven for months afterwards, and the owner didn't notice until the uneven tire wear became apparent.
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Old 08-02-2011, 09:29 PM   #8
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Re: Not fun

Quadvan got me a full floater that they pulled from a wrecked Harley Davidson F350. It had 10,000 miles on it, but looked new when they installed it.
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Old 08-03-2011, 09:41 AM   #9
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Re: Not fun

Quote:
Originally Posted by Nomadcat
Quadvan got me a full floater that they pulled from a wrecked Harley Davidson F350. It had 10,000 miles on it, but looked new when they installed it.
That only works if you are using the F-Series bolt pattern. The pickup axle is wider and will replace a van axle that has adapters to the pickup bolt pattern.

For most van owners, an E-350 SRW Cutaway axle will work better.

Mike
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Old 08-03-2011, 10:09 AM   #10
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Re: Not fun

~e,

If I remember right your wife was on line several months ago looking for options in child seat restraints. Kind of ties in w this problem. What did you come up with to hold the kids safely??
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