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Thread: Universal joint let go

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  1. #1
    Jedi Hopeful Griz's Avatar
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    Universal joint let go

    IMG_1313.JPGHere's what happens when the front universal joint lets go at 60 mph. Still not sure how that happened, but I suspect that one of the cup spring clips was not properly seated in its groove allowing the bearing cup to be thrown out. Destroyed the fiberglass transmission cover and carpet. It's a little un-nerving to see things disintegrating about 3" from your right hip while you're trying to get stopped! I'm lucky in that I can get a new carpet replacement, and the fiberglass cover is also available for a (large) price, but does anyone happen to have a used spare cover (center shift for a BJ7) that they would part with?

    Thanks,
    Griz

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    Yoda HealeyRick's Avatar
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    Re: Universal joint let go

    That must have been a Code Brown moment! I remember seeing a bugeye where that happened and there was a nice bulge in the steel transmission tunnel about 4" wide.


    Rick

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    Darth Vader Michael Oritt's Avatar
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    Re: Universal joint let go

    Steering columns to spear us in the event of a frontal collision; windshield frames against which we can crack our heads; no crumple zones, no rollover or side-intrusion protection, etc: Things I try not to think about while merrily cruising along!

    There's no question but that our cars are inherently dangerous and little we can do to minimize many risks but it is not difficult to put a protective hoop around the driveshaft under the removable transmission tunnel. These are required in vintage racing and on the Courier I used 1-1/2" x 1/4" steel, bent it into an omega shape (inverted U with big seraphs) to conform to the inner shape of the tunnel and through-bolted it to longitudinal members.

    Best--Michael Oritt
    1954 Austin-Healey 100 Lemans
    1958 Elva Courier (FOR SALE)
    1959 Elva MK IV Sports Racer
    1961 Ginetta G4

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    Yoda
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    Re: Universal joint let go

    Quote Originally Posted by Griz View Post
    ... Still not sure how that happened, but I suspect that one of the cup spring clips was not properly seated in its groove allowing the bearing cup to be thrown out...
    Was the U-joint recently installed? Certainly something to check when replacing them.

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    Jedi Warrior
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    Re: Universal joint let go

    Griz,
    I'm sorry to hear about this. Your brand new, beautiful restoration hurt before it's even broken in. As you know I'm just a few weeks behind you with mine. My first thought was answered by Michael. I'll add an omega to my alpha project.
    Dale
    Dale

    BJ7 frame up restoration of "the car that would not be restored"; began Dec. 2005, est. complete 2023

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    Re: Universal joint let go

    Glad to learn you were not harmed by flying debris. Would it be possible to repair the damaged tunnel? It's fiberglass and could be built out again on a form. The big box stores generally have what's needed to do the job. I recently repaired mine with good results. GONZO

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    Re: Universal joint let go

    Gonzo, that's a great idea. When I rebuilt the deck on my boat I went to a couple of the local boat repair shops. They have the supplies but also have the expertise that they were willing to share. The Corvette guys would be another source. Those old Corvettes often need help. Ebay has used ones.

    AH spares has one for $170
    https://www.ahspares.co.uk/austin-he...ibreglass.aspx
    Dale

    BJ7 frame up restoration of "the car that would not be restored"; began Dec. 2005, est. complete 2023

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    Re: Universal joint let go

    Michael,
    Could the protective hoop be molded into the fiberglass tunnel cover? Or is it best to have a gap between the cover and the hoop? Maybe there are specs already in place for racing?
    Dale

    BJ7 frame up restoration of "the car that would not be restored"; began Dec. 2005, est. complete 2023

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    Darth Vader Michael Oritt's Avatar
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    Re: Universal joint let go

    Dale--

    I don't think any race group specifies how and from what material the hoop is to be made. For example, Vintage Racer Group's says: "3.2.6.6. Drive shaft: It is recommended that all front-engine, rear-wheel-drive cars have a 360o safety hoop enclosing the drive shaft, to protect the driver in the event of u-joint failure."

    If a car's driveshaft has two yokes--as does that in an Austin-Healey--then since either U joint can fail you really would want two hoops as one in the middle might not capture a flailing driveshaft. If a driveshaft connects to the transmission via a sliding yoke--as is the case with the MG transmissions in both the Elvas and the Ford transmission in the Ginetta--one needs only to be concerned with containing it where it couples to the differential.

    Below are pictures showing the hoops I fashioned out of steel strapping for the Courier and the box sections that are parts of the Ginetta's construction. Notwithstanding my statement in the preceding paragraph, in the Courier I put in two hoops with U-shaped strapping above the driveshaft and flat strapping below, all bolted into angles welded up to the fore and aft frame rails, the front one serving to make the sheet metal tunnel stiffer and that is the one pictured. The rear hoop is much the same and captures the driveshaft at the rear cockpit bulkhead, close to its point of attachment to the differential flange. Both setups provide 360o protection.

    Whether you choose to entirely surround the driveshaft 360 degrees or simply have a hoop that goes over the shaft, laminating it into the FG transmission tunnel sounds like an unnecessary complication and, depending upon attachment points in the longitudinal frame members, might make it very difficult if not impossible to pull the tunnel without removing both seats and other interior panels. Rather, I would suggest that you fashion hoops that would fit under and close to the tunnel as I did with the Courier and depending upon how you do things this might make installing/removing the tunnel easier.
    Attached Images Attached Images

    Best--Michael Oritt
    1954 Austin-Healey 100 Lemans
    1958 Elva Courier (FOR SALE)
    1959 Elva MK IV Sports Racer
    1961 Ginetta G4

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    Jedi Warrior
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    Re: Universal joint let go

    Thanks Michael. I have a better understanding now. The potential major damage to the car and risk to the driver is from the drive shaft not necessarily the small bits from the U joint. A guard separate from the tunnel cover makes sense.
    Dale

    BJ7 frame up restoration of "the car that would not be restored"; began Dec. 2005, est. complete 2023

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    Jedi Hopeful Griz's Avatar
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    Re: Universal joint let go

    Fortunately for me the metal portion of the driveshaft tunnel contained the flailing driveshaft and sustained little or no damage. I have a line on a used fiberglass tunnel, but if it doesn't pan out I probably will repair my old one. An added containment loop definitely is a good idea.

    Griz

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    Jedi Hopeful Griz's Avatar
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    Re: Universal joint let go

    Well it ain't pretty, but it will be functional. I've been able to repair my fiberglass transmission cover. One additional modification I will be making is to add a rectangular hole and rubber plug (same size/shape as tranny oil check hole) over the speedometer right angle drive unit. My speedo quit working several weeks ago and I had to remove the drive and make repairs. It was a royal pain in the a** with the transmission cover in place.

    Griz

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    Re: Universal joint let go

    Too ugly for pictures?
    Dale

    BJ7 frame up restoration of "the car that would not be restored"; began Dec. 2005, est. complete 2023

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    Jedi Hopeful Griz's Avatar
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    Re: Universal joint let go

    IMG_2737.jpgAlmost too ugly for pictures! Had to form sheet metal to replace destroyed portions of transmission cover, then I fiberglassed over the metal.

    Griz

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    Re: Universal joint let go

    Great save on the trans cover. Love the patchwork...a perfect Frankenstein. Thanks for sharing. GONZO.

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    Jedi Warrior
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    Re: Universal joint let go

    That looks good. At least as good as the original and much stronger. Carpet pretties everything up anyway.
    Dale

    BJ7 frame up restoration of "the car that would not be restored"; began Dec. 2005, est. complete 2023

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