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How-To do a Ring and Pinion change

DIY Gear swap
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How-To do a Ring and Pinion change

Postby Bradley21sanders [OP] » Dec 30 2015, 4:07am

Moderator note: Please read through steps several times before attempting this mod. You may want to have a laptop of the workbench and/or a printed copy on the entire process readily available.

Vehicle: 2009 Chevrolet Silverado 5.3l 8.6GM 10 bolt

Gears used: Dana SVL 4.11s

Master Install Kit used: G2 DO NOT RECOMMEND!!! Get a quality kit and you shouldn’t have any problems should pay around $150

Time for install: approximately 2-3 full days depending on access to the tools needed

Difficulty level 1-5: 4 depending on skill level

Price: around $350 plus oil and any tools you do not have

Tools needed:
• 2 flat head screw drivers
• Large pipe wrench or large adjustable wrench
• Cheater pipe that fits on pipe or adjustable wrench
• Metric and standard sockets (most sets that have 10 pcs should have the sizes you need)
• 1 ¼ inch socket to fit on pinion nut (this is what mine was)
• 2 bolts for hubs I think them were around 8 or 10 mm you can take a wheel off and check.
• 3 quarts of diff oil
• Dead blow hammer
• Real hammer
• Punch about 8 inches long
• Roughly 3 cans of parts cleaner (what I used)
• 15lb Sledgehammer (optional)
• Socket for the pinion nut 1 ¼ (this was the size of mine)

Special tools that you have got to have.
• Indicator and base $80 approximately. this would work but you might be able to find a better deal 31947 - BASIC 3 PIECE INDICATOR SET
• Torque wrench that can measure 20-60 in/lbs
• Torque wrench that goes up to at least 100 ft/lbs (can rent from auto zone $107 but you get it all back)
• Bearing puller and bearing press (maybe a local shop would do this?)
• Dremel or small cylinder hone for old pinion bearing
• Calipers to measure shim thicknesses (can get a pair for about $30 or so)
• Marking compound (should come in install kit)
• Small magnet. I got a telescoping one from autozone worked great $9

Reason I do not recommend the install kit I purchased. I used my vin to find my rear end size to get the right kit. The oil seal behind the yolk wasn’t the right size, and neither one of the pinion bearings worked. They fit the pinion but did not fit the differential housing; the bearing and race OD were too small.
Now on to the "How-To" with pictures: it will be as detailed as possible. Please comment on the thread if anything doesn’t make sense or is hard to follow and I will clarify. Your question may be something that someone else is confused about as well.

Tip: if you ride gravel roads often I would recommend removing the spare, taking the truck to a car wash to spray off the diff cover and surrounding areas so that it doesn’t get in your eyes. I wish I had done this.

Step 1: Verify that the install kit looks like it will fit. Check the new pinion bearing in the kit to see if the ID was the same as the pinion OD near the back of the gears. Quality kit should give you no problems.

Step 2: Drain oil from differential while truck is completely flat. I just broke the housing bolts loose and let it drain in this manner since it has to come off anyway.

Step 3: Break lug nuts from wheels loose.

Step 4: Put truck on sturdy jack stands in good locations. I used two six ton jacks.

Step 5: Take rims and tires off.

Step 6: Use two flat head screw drivers and remove clips that are on lug studs. If the drum has never been removed, then there should be 2 on each side.
Drum Clip.JPG


Step 7: Remove pin in the differential. It is held in by 1 bolt. Take out bolt, and then pull the pin out. You will have to reach into the housing and push bottom side a little bit and then pull pin out or spin the carrier around, get the pin started, spin it back around and then pull the pin the rest of the way out. The red is a bolt you have to take out before the pin (in blue will come out).
carrier pin.jpg


Step 8: Use two bolts and thread into holes on hubs. I did a 1/8 to 1/4 turn at a time, back and forth to make sure it came off straight with no problems. I did not have to use excessive force or hammers.
bolts needed to remove drum.JPG


Step 9: Now you will have to push in the axle on one side. (I used the dead blow here) Need to be knocked towards the differential about a quarter inch or so. Just enough to get the axle retaining clip off.
driveshaft clip.JPG


Step 10: Taking off axle retaining clip (horse shoe clip). It is about an 1/8 thick or so washer with one side cut out and it is in a tight location. To get this out without saying a lot of choice words, I would recommend using the small magnet in this situation. Locations of clips are in red; blue arrows point to the clips.
horseshoe clip locations.jpg

magnet.JPG


Step 11: Pull axle all the way out and stand up on the lugs. Shaft where horse shoe clip was should be pointing towards the sky.

Step 12: After step 8 - 11 are done repeat on the other axle

Step 13: Remove drive shaft from the yolk.
driveshaft brackets.JPG


Step 14: The first thing is to measure the backlash in the stock gears to get an idea of what you need to shoot for. Check this video I uploaded for demonstration:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MeZFbB7n ... e=youtu.be

Put the indicator on the flattest part of one of the teeth. Mine checked out to be .015mm which is in the middle of the preferred .013-.018mm per the service manual. You can also check the pattern of the stock gears as well and take some pictures of that. Remember you will be replacing both the ring gear and pinion gear so this will not interfere with set up of the new gears, the marking compound that is.
checking backlash.JPG


Pattern of stock setup.
before pattern.JPG

pattern before.JPG


Step 15: Next, mark the carrier bearing brackets with something to distinguish Left from Right and Top from Bottom. *** I would not recommend relying on your setting them on the ground in a certain way and trying to remember because you could inadvertently kick them or something.***

Step 16: Break ring gear bolts loose. Mine were left handed thread so be careful that you aren’t tightening them.

Step 17: Once all ring gear bolts are broke loose, remove bearing caps after they have been marked and put them aside for later. Your carrier shouldn’t fall out but don’t quote me on that one. Mine I had to make it come out.

Step 18: Now a pen and paper will come in handy. Remove the carrier and shims which are between the carrier bearings and the diff housing. Do not mix them up right now. Measure how thick each side was and record that on paper. You do not want the overall thickness from shim to shim to change.

Step 19: Check to make sure new bearings fit the carrier and the carrier bearing brackets; if the OD is different they will not work.

Step 20: Take old ring gear off and put new one on torque to correct specs. See attached documents.
Rear doc
Front doc

Step 21: Take old bearings off and press new ones on. Set aside.

Step 22: Use large pipe wrench and clamp onto yolk where drive shaft came off of and then break the pinion nut loose. The pinion nut was a 1 ¼ on my truck.
Image

Step 23: Take nut off and pull off yolk. Both are in the picture.
Image

Step 24: Put nut back on and use the sledge hammer to knock the pinion out. Took me two or three good hits on my pinion to knock it out. Make sure to keep the crush spacer because you will need it for test fits.

Step 25: Remove oil seal which is right behind where the yolk was. There is no way to get it off without damaging it so I used a screwdriver and pried on it until it came off.
Image

Step 26: Press off pinion bearing and be careful not to mess up the shims pointed to in red.
Image

Step 27: Hone out both of the old pinion bearings to where it’s a slip fit on and off. You may have to change out shims more than a few times. It was super easy with the Dremel, it took less than 5 minutes
Image

Note: if the old pinion bearings are not OEM and are of a different thickness you will have to account for this in the final shim thickness before installing the new bearing later in this How-To thread.

Step 28: Put the shim or shims from the old pinion onto the new one and butt the old bearing back on (that you have honed out), also put the old crush spacer back on and install back into the housing with the other old bearing, yolk, washer and pinion nut. Only tighten up until there is no slack. You do not want to crush the spacer any further.

Step 29: You are now ready put the carrier back in. Install with the old shims first. The easiest way I found was to put races on the bearings and the spacers on the carrier and hold it all in place and then shove the whole assembly into the housing. You may have to lightly tap it with the dead blow to get it in the housing and may also have to use a punch to get the shims in between the housing and the bearings race. They are pretty hard so you shouldn’t damage them, just take your time. Would help to have a second set of hands for sure.

Step 30: Put the carrier brackets back on the correct side and correct orientation mentioned in step 15. Torque to proper specs.

Step 31: Now you should have the new ring and pinion in the housing. The pinion should have both old bearings honed out to the "slip" fit with the old shim between the bearing and the pinion gear, also the old crush sleeve should be used here. The carrier should have new bearings on and the original shims being used.

Step 32: Use the marking compound (should come in the kit you buy) to mark at least 3 teeth front and back on the ring gear. This is where you need another person. The Backlash mentioned that you checked in step 14 is why you need two people. Backlash is the amount of space in-between one pinion tooth and two ring gear teeth. So that you get the most accurate pattern, spin the part of the ring gear that is marked up to the pinion gear. Hold down (towards the ground) on the ring gear while your buddy spins the yolk, go about 5 or so teeth on either side of the ring gear plus the 3-4 teeth you marked. Do this back and forth while holding down on ring gear to get good markings. Then hold up on the ring gear and do the same. This will give you the best idea of the mesh between your gears. Refer to the document (at step #20) to get the best pattern or simply match the old one from factory.
• Adding a thicker shim to the pinion pushes the pattern to the inside of the ring gear.
• Adding a thinner shim to the pinion moves the pattern towards the outside of the ring gear.
• Adding a thicker shim on the ring gear side of carrier and a thinner shim on the other side means that the ring gear teeth contact patch will be greater ( you want more of a contact patch but make sure back lash is within spec. Too tight and you will wear out the gears quickly)
• Adding a thinner shim on the ring gear side of the carrier and a thicker shim on the other side means that the rings gear teeth contact patch will be less.

Pattern after shims were finalized
Image
Image

Step 33: If you used all old shims and the pattern is clean and looks right, then that is fine. Sometimes you do not have to change the shims at all; depends on the size you are changing to and other things. I think you can actually calculate the proper shims you need but it is just as easy to change shims a few times and get the right pattern.

Step 34: once the proper pattern is achieved, check the backlash to see if it is within specs. Refer to same video at beginning of thread when you check the old setups backlash.
• If backlash is too tight try a little thinner shim on the ring gear side carrier and thicker on opposite
• If backlash is too loose try a little thicker shim on the ring gear side carrier and thinner on opposite

Step 35: Only if the proper pattern and backlash are achieved should you move on.

Step 36: Remove the carrier brackets and then the carrier. Make note of which shim is on which side of the carrier especially if they are two different thicknesses. Next, pull out the pinion again. Pull off the old crush sleeve and the old bearing. Leave the shim on since you now have the correct pattern.

Step 37: If the new bearings for the pinion are not OEM from the dealer, then you will have to knock the old races out using a punch and hammer and install the new ones.

Step 38: Make sure proper shim is on the pinion then press on the new bearing. Put on the new crush sleeve and install the pinion into the diff housing.

Step 39: I heated up my new bearing in a small toaster oven at 200 for 10-15 min, took it out and immediately installed it on the pinion and then let it cool down.

Step 40: After the smaller bearing on the pinion has cooled some (shouldn’t take long, like 5 minutes) install the new oil seal. Get it on there straight and then you can use a small piece of wood to lightly hammer it around the edges until it is seated. I chose a small piece of 2x4 that I had laying around. Oil seal picture.
Image

Step 41: Put the yolk on along with the washer and new pinion nut then tighten down... it will be difficult. I used a deep wall socket and standard ratchet with a 4 ft pipe for a little leverage. Also took a while. You can use an impact if you have one stout enough but be VERY CAREFUL! You do not want to over tighten this! Tighten until there is no slack in the pinion ( Where it will not move back and forth from rear of vehicle to the front of the vehicle). Tighten and check periodically there is no such thing as checking too much especially when you get close. Picture of crush spacer I was talking about.
Image

Step 42: Check to see how many in/lbs it takes to turn the pinion by using the torque wrench. Make sure it is within spec. If it's low, tighten just a little more and by a little I mean one click of the ratchet like 1/16 of a full turn. If you over tighten you will need to buy another crush spacer and try again.

Step 43: When torque for the pinion is within range install the carrier with shims and then carrier brackets.

Step 44: Put axles and horseshoe clips back in. Reinstall pin into carrier that goes between axles.

Step 45: Put drum covers back on.

Step 46: Clean diff cover and housing where they seal use new gasket and reinstall. When tightening the bolts, I would go in a star pattern and not tighten too much at one time so you pull down the cover evenly.

Step 47: Put on tires.

Step 48: Fill with differential oil.

Step 49: Congratulate yourself on saving some money and if you are doing a 4WD congratulate yourself on saving a lot of money.

Conclusion: I am currently running 285/70r17 (roughly 33x11) Toyo Open Country AT3 tires, E load range. I am averaging 16mpg @ 75 (that’s on 2 tanks of gas hand calculated). That’s 90% highway miles. @70mph I am turning 2000-2100 rpms. @80mph its 2300-2400rpms. With the mix of city I will be doing come January, I can give an update on mileage then.
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Re: How-To do a Ring and Pinion change

Postby CrazyQuickDraw » Dec 31 2015, 10:02pm

This is a great guide! For anybody contemplating doing a gear swap, it's really not that hard at all. A few years back my auto teacher made every student do a gear swap, and if a bunch of 15 year olds could do it, so can you.
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Re: How-To do a Ring and Pinion change

Postby 350_Malibu » Dec 31 2015, 10:20pm

Great write up and spot on. I've done this to my 1970 Chevelle twice. I can attest that the pinion bearing honing is a true time saver rather then having to pull/press the pinion bearing when adjusting the shims.

Actually kind of disappointing to see that GM is still using that c-clip design to hold in the axles 50 years later.
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Re: How-To do a Ring and Pinion change

Postby Bradley21sanders [OP] » Dec 31 2015, 11:25pm

thanks, after i received a $900+ quote to have it done just because i was being lazy i couldn't spend that so i did it myself. Hopefully this will help others out too that do not wont to pay twice that for a 4wd.
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Re: How-To do a Ring and Pinion change

Postby semicrazy » Jan 01 2016, 3:56am

Great write up. Nicely done. This will help someone attempting this project.
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Re: How-To do a Ring and Pinion change

Postby Bulldogg220 » Apr 21 2020, 7:02pm

So you didn’t use a torqometer at all you just measured the draw with a torque wrench? And I’m gonna be using the crush sleeve eliminator, will that effect anything else besides the crush sleeve steps?
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Re: How-To do a Ring and Pinion change

Postby Bradley21sanders [OP] » Apr 21 2020, 7:53pm

Nope, I used the click style torque wrench that measured in/lb.. Although its more time consuming its definitely still doable.

It wont effect anything but having to pull the bearing off multiple times to check and recheck the pinion preload and add/subtract shims so I would use the "setup" bearing during this step. Once you have the right shim thickness on the eliminator kit then you can put the new bearing on and recheck after the new bearing just for peace of mind, then continue final assembly.

In my opinion the crush sleeve is quicker as long as you take your time and do not over tighten it.
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Re: How-To do a Ring and Pinion change

Postby Bulldogg220 » Apr 21 2020, 8:38pm

Bradley21sanders wrote:Nope, I used the click style torque wrench that measured in/lb.. Although its more time consuming its definitely still doable.

It wont effect anything but having to pull the bearing off multiple times to check and recheck the pinion preload and add/subtract shims so I would use the "setup" bearing during this step. Once you have the right shim thickness on the eliminator kit then you can put the new bearing on and recheck after the new bearing just for peace of mind, then continue final assembly.

In my opinion the crush sleeve is quicker as long as you take your time and do not over tighten it.


Now the part that confuses me is checking the preload, what exactly is being checked
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Re: How-To do a Ring and Pinion change

Postby Bradley21sanders [OP] » Apr 21 2020, 8:50pm

You are checking that the bearings on the pinion are preloaded.. more specifically the rolling torque/resistance of the bearings. This helps "tighten" the bearing so that while in use you are maintaining the proper gear mesh that you spent a great deal of time fine tuning.
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Re: How-To do a Ring and Pinion change

Postby Bulldogg220 » Apr 21 2020, 11:06pm

Bradley21sanders wrote:You are checking that the bearings on the pinion are preloaded.. more specifically the rolling torque/resistance of the bearings. This helps "tighten" the bearing so that while in use you are maintaining the proper gear mesh that you spent a great deal of time fine tuning.

Gotcha makes more sense now, so my crush sleeve eliminator is basically going to dictate that? Depending on how many shins are needed ?
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