This uses a technique
that Scotty taught me many moons ago ....
First some background:
The inside of the swivel ball is almost half filled with 90 wt
gear oil. This oil is not under pressure. The purpose of the seal
is to keep that pool of 90 wt from leaking out the bottom half
of the swivel when the front axles are not turning and for the
top to serve as a splash shield when the front axles are turning.
Only the bottom two thirds or so of the seal works to keep the
pooled oil in.
The purpose of that smooth clean swivel ball is to give the seal
a smooth surface to ride on so the seal lip seals and is not damaged
by rough edges.
The purpose of optional swivel boot is to keep dirt off the swivel
ball surface so that a particle does not destroy a part of the
lip or get lodged in the seal lip. A problem with a boot is that
they can trap moisture inside and accelerate swivel ball rusting.
This can be a real problem if you wade your Land Rover frequently,
or you live in a place where salty water can get splashed up from
the road. Many people forgo the boot and make cleaning the swivel
ball area a part of their regular after trip maintenance.
Now for the fix:
The very first thing that you need to do is thoroughly clean the
swivel ball and seal area then examine the swivel ball itself.
If your swivel balls are in good condition (smooth without pitting)
you can just replace the seal.
If your swivel ball is pitted, you need to get out the workshop
manual and disassemble the whole thing to repair or replace the
swivel ball. This would also be a good time to renew the railko
bushings too. Since you will have the tie rod disconnected, you
might as well check the tie rod ends and replace them too if needed. If
you do decide to remove the swivel ball, the bolts holding the
ball to the end of the axle housing are whitworth. I replaced
mine with Grade 8 fine thread bolts.
Since the goal is a smooth surface for the seal to ride on, the
ball can be repaired with a good body or epoxy filler. If you make
this kind of repair, you need to be absolutely sure that the surface
is very smooth and you keep the contours correct. Just the tiniest
edge from your repair can damage the seal's lip. The ball can also
be repaired by having it hard chromed. Alternatively, you can just
purchase new swivel balls.
Assuming that your swivel balls are in good condition, you can
replace the seal without disassembling the swivels.
First, drain the swivel, remove the seal retaining plate
and pry out the old seal. Cut the old seal off and discard. Clean
the area around the seal and the exposed swivel ball taking care
not to get dirt into the swivel housing (Do as much cleaning before
removing the seal as possible).
The new seal has a spring that needs to be removed
The spring appears to be a ring but it is a straight
spring with one end tapered. The tapered end is screwed
into the non tapered end. You can unscrew the spring then
screw it back together around the small end of the swivel ball.
Next make a thin cut through the swivel seal. You
want this as thin as you can make it. A thin saw blade
is good, a cut off wheel or file is bad.
This is the direction that you open the seal
to keep it from distorting. Open it just wide enough to
snake it around the narrowest part of the swivel ball (which
seems really wide as you do it).
Sorry for the poor focus
Once the swivel seal is
on the swivel ball, replace the spring into the back of
the seal. The cut gap will close when you put the seal
in place (assuming you didn't make too wide a cut)
Apply a good quality RTV between the edges of the cut. This
is to fill any gap. Form a gasket would be good here.
Set the seal in place with the cut section at the top. Add
a little more RTV along the outside of the cut, fit
the retaining ring and tighten carefully. If you over
tighten the ring, you will distort the seal and cause it to
leak. Wipe any RTV off the swivel ball and let the
RTV fully cure before turning the wheel or adding oil.
Refill the swivel ball and you are done.
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