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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Recently I’ve noticed some rubber band effect when getting on and off the throttle, not enough for anyone else to notice but enough for me. So, with 168k miles of NY winters, I figured it’s time to drop the shaft to replace the giubo and have a look at the carrier bearing and u joints too.

The bolts/nuts on the giubo are 18mm. I removed the heat shroud before removing the exhaust, but after looking at the shafts, figured I’d undo the exhaust at the down pipe. Easiest thing to do was snap those bolts with 1200 ft lbs of pneumatic impact. I’ll replace with stainless hardware when I put it back together. I left the exhaust hanging at the suitcase.

After removing the bolts that secure the u-joint to the diff input flange, the shaft required some serious persuasion to separate from the flange due to rust build up. Copious nickel antiseize will be used on all fasteners upon reassembly. I left the carrier support nuts threaded a couple turns and hung the giubo flange from the giubo with wire until I got the shaft removed. On the LCI 2008 at least, the splined shaft is freely collapsible, there is no lock collar. Yes, it seems the transfer case output seal has a slight weep to it, but not enough for me to care about yet. It looks much worse in the flash than it actually is.

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On the bench, I tested the carrier bearing and the rear u joint.



I may replace the carrier, I may not. It still sounds good: nice, quiet and smooth. I did decide to replace the u joint; it likely, had tens of thousands of miles left, but project creep got the better of me. I didn’t like the fine play on it. So, I removed it.

I used a die grinder to cut out the stakes.
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I used a press to push the trunnion far to one side in both planes.
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I then used a 4.5” cutoff wheel to cut the two exposed bearing shafts. After that, I pressed the joint the opposite direction and back a few times until the trunnion fell out. I then pressed the bearing caps out, and cleaned up the bores.

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Next up: finding a serviceable joint to replace it with so I never have to do this again.

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Deja vu. I did the same job not too long ago on my e83 not too long ago. CSB, guibo, and ujoint. The hardest part of the job was finding the. right u joint size and figuring out how the hell to keep it centered. I can send you the link to the u-joint i finally settled on after 4 days of searching online. It was $17 on amazon and seemed to be really good quality. I then used 8 quarters, two in each hole, and clamped them with large C clamps to center the yokes. I then tacked them in with the welder.
Before the CCA members have my head, It’s held up with 0 noticeable vibrations so far. fingers crossed


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I don't remember where I read it, but people have used GMB U-Joints with good success.
GMB U-Joint is made in Japan.

Maybe google "E36 driveshaft U-joints GMB".
Perhaps E36 and E83 DS uses the same U-joint.
 

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Discussion Starter #4 (Edited)
I did a bit of research today, but couldn't find any comparative dimensions for BMW u-joint part numbers to cross-shop models' joints, or dimensions to accomplish the same. I contacted Rockford Drivelines, and they do have a u-joint for 2004-2006 E83s, but not the LCI model. Not only did they not think their u-joint would work in my '08, they said they'd be hesitant to even sell me one, lest the standard u-joint failure-driven catastrophe ensue. The pre-LCI u-joint they offer has retaining clips that sit inside yoke, securing the bearing cups and centering the u-joint. Here's why it won't work on the LCI:

2004-2006 u-joint
Bearing cups: 0.947" diameter
Yoke-yoke distance (across the trunnion): 1.641". The yoke must be square.

2007-2010 u-joint
Bearing cups: 0.947" diameter
Yoke-yoke distance (across the trunnion) on the shaft: 1.412"-1.474". The yoke is NOT square; the yoke ears splay.
Yoke-Yoke distance (across the trunnion) on the differential-side flange yoke: 1.350"-1.446". It too isn't square.

The bores in the diff-side yoke measure 0.928".
The bores in the shaft-side yoke measure 0.945".

The u-joint would physically press in the bores, but the retaining clips couldn't be used without machining both yokes. Once that starts being needed, then the time and labor involved may become cost-prohibitive. If this was a knock-around car that I really didn't care if the joint failed, I'd do it carefully with an angle grinder, but I take this car on coast-wise trips a few times a year so failure is not an option. I'm also not going to weld the caps into place, it's not a great idea for the life of the bearings. Apparently, BMW changed yoke design with the LCI cars and is the reason why the Rockford joint wont work.

Next up is to get a ballpark price from a driveline or machine shop to mill both yokes to 1.641". The Rockford u-joint is $27.04, so I would like to use it.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
I switched my plan today. I called a driveshaft place on Long Island, who quoted me $120 to have a new u-joint installed and welded in to place. Being as sensitive to the slightest vibration as I am, I opted to not go that route. I'm also not a fan of welding in the bearing caps on a daily driven car that will see a few more hundred thousand miles before I'm done with it, so I'm having a brand new "custom" driveshaft build and sent by Driveshaft Specialist ( BMW replacement driveshaft, remanufactured BMW driveshaft, BMW drive shaft ). $525 shipped.

The 2-piece shaft will come fully assembled with a new carrier bearing from a Ford Ranger. Yes, you read that right. The Rangers and the X3s (and apparently several BMW models), all use the same 1.1811" ID carrier bearing, so keep that in mind if ordering parts. This means you can get a carrier bearing at Autozone for a couple of bucks (assuming the OD is the same). More importantly, the carrier bearing and u joints are Spicer units, which is a company that builds some heavy duty parts for hard-core off road vehicles, so the durability is there. Importantly, the u-joints are SAE and not metric, making their future replacement, if needed, a virtual piece of cake. The joints are replaceable, but not greasable. Replacement u-joints that have the C clip on the inside have been known to come apart as the retainer only surrounds part of the bearing cap; these units have their clips on on outside of the cap seated in a milled groove, and go 360*. The shafts are speed-balanced together, and guaranteed, and come assembled ready to bolt in and go. I'll report back on the verdict, but the guy I spoke to was rattling off fine measurements and facts off the top of his head, which is a good sign. I was told the new set up is "basically like that of a Ranger, but is designed specifically for your '08 BMW."

Some more helpful tidbits:
The factory u-joints and giubo are shared with the 7 series, on the LCI X3. The giubo seems to be different between the '04-06 and the LCI cars, with the LCI cars being larger (see below). For what its worth, both they and the other driveshaft place I'd called said they do a lot more '04-06 shafts than the '07+, mostly the 2.5 cars. IF you go DS for the shaft, do NOT first remove the u-joint as I did, or they won't accept the old shaft as a core; I guess too many people FUBAR the yokes upon removal. Their website lists rebuilt ones for $399 shipped plus a core, but today when I called, they were out of them. Oh well, I'll play around with the old one and try and find a u-joint that will fit at the local parts place, rebuild it, and sell it as a good used part.

In all the searches I haven't found too much actual data on these shafts or components, so hopefully this all helps someone. No, I am no affiliated with DS in any way.

IMG_7964.JPG
 

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Very nice!
Couple of years ago I had my joint replaced by a driveshaft shop they welded in and it’s been solid. No vibrations.

I did look at DS at the time but it’s a pricey unit but I’m sure the quality is superb too!


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Discussion Starter #7
Still beats $1200 for a new BMW unit or having to remove a cheap replacement. ;)

I'm sure the driveshaft place I'd called would have done a great job too (they build shafts for drag race cars), I've just very seldom had any shop do something I was completely satisfied with, and I didn't want to take the risk seeing as the shop is 2 hours away. Three years ago, I went as far as getting a lawyer and approaching a lawsuit against FCA for vibrations in my Ram that no one else could feel, until the picometer verified it. I put 400 miles on the E83 in a single round-trip commute to work, so for once I talked myself into farming this one out to get it better than stock.
 

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for those who want some adventure rebuilding the DS using new U-joints...
This is from E36 forum. The washers were quarters (so it will cost you 4 quarters or $1 for the washers lol):

 

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Discussion Starter #9
I was originally going to use washers instead of quarters. Quarters are nickel and won’t hold a weld to cast steel for another 150-200k miles.

The reason I defered from using washers is that if it was even a couple thousandths off center, I’d feel it. Measurements based off the yoke assume both side of the yoke are true.

On the splayed yoke of the LCI E83, the yokes would have to be milled to accept inside retainers which would center the joint assuming the milling was true.

Would a few thousandths bother most people? Probably not. It clearly hasn’t. Would it bother me? Absolutely.

The welded washer and micrometer routine is how I’m going to rebuild my stock driveshaft just for kicks, and it’ll be fine for most people when I put it up for sale. The issue with the weld is having to concentrate enough heat to get the weld to penetrate the yoke, and not warp the bearing cap, cook the grease/seals or arc the needle bearings, which is why I refuse to weld the caps.


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I am not a U-Joint expert but the local shop (rebuilding DS for semis, Volvo, BMW etc.) told me they tack-weld the steel washers (not quarters lol) for the last 25 yrs and have not had any problem when tack-welding the steel washers. Plus they balance the DS after replacing the U-joints using GMB (made in Japan brand). Their parts/labor charge is $250/each (2 U-joints, one CSB + balancing), which I think is very reasonable.

Also, to remove the stakes, the shop has a special socket that you simply turn around and all the stakes are gone...

PS: I saw a youtube video where the factory has a machine that makes the stakes. Must be expensive tool!

 

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Discussion Starter #11
Yes welding washers is different than welding the caps. The washers take the warp. The shop I called would would weld.

The other thing to consider is that by the time the u joints need replacing, how many people are going to double or triple that mileage? How many people will notice a few thousandths? I’d wager most people would get a few more tens of thousands of miles, not the few more hundreds of thousands I’m after. Like I said I’ll rebuild mine by welding the washers, but knowing how sensitive I am to the slightest outlier, I decided against it for my own car. My F150 has staked joints and I replaced them as well, with all the other harmonic noise I knew I wouldn’t notice a few thousandths.

I also go overboard on fluid and gasket changes... but I’m also nearly 170k miles on original actuator parts and no trouble codes. How many can folks say that? When I hit a half million, I won’t be limping back into the gate, I’ll still be hard charging. ;)


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Discussion Starter #12
$250 is alright, seeing as they balance it. The $120 I was quoted did not include a balance. For me, if I’m spending $250 for one joint, I’ll gladly spend double for two new joints and a carrier.

6 years ago I rebuild the DS in the Olds at home. It’s smoother than it ever was, but it also has a 1 piece shaft. The new shaft will have the same type of replaceable joints as an old GM, so that is a huge plus in another 150k.


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Below is another E36 link.

Interesting way of locking the U-Joints in place:
- Drill holes for the 1/8" pin, install the pin, then weld the pin in place.

 

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Discussion Starter #14 (Edited)
Got back from the overnight on the boat to find some happy packages on my doorstep: giubo #2, and the new prop shaft. The Meyle HD giubo is a perfect looking match to the stocker, but has more flex to it. The stocker is much more solid. In terms of giubos I’d assume stiffer is better, but I don’t want to assume. It came without alignment arrows so orientation was based off washer position and rubber “curbing.”

Then on to the new shaft: the Driveshaft Specialist unit definitely appears extremely well made and of the highest quality. Note the easy to remove retaining clips should the Spicer joints ever need replacing again. Unlike the factory shaft, this one does have a locking collar which was the last thing I tightened. I made sure to preload the carrier bearing about 5 mm forward before securing to the chassis.

Some torque specs:

Giubo bolts/nuts: 47 ft lbs
Prop shaft to rear diff input: 63 ft lbs. (I used nickel antiseize on every fastener so I I only sent these little ones 58 ft lbs).
carrier bracket to chassis: 15 ft lbs.

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Heat shield back in.
Exhaust back in.

If you’ve never heard an open header N52, here’s some quick porn:


I again cleaned the pipe flanges with a wire brush and scotch brite, and installed new stainless hardware. I didn’t have them today, but I will be double-nutting those fasteners as the lock washers will most likely lose their temper.
IMG_7977.JPG


Before dropping it back down on the ground, I replaced 3/4 of the engine mount bolts (the ones that the internet says are made of glass). I figured with my climate and age it’s a good PM. They were fine and probably would be fine for a long while; if anything I probably kicked that sleeping dog. The one I didn’t do was the upper port side bolt as I thought it would be easier to get from above, so I dropped the car down and pulled the air box. I’d thought wrong, and didn’t feel like getting it back on the lift so that one will wait.

On test drive, the new shaft is great. Other than the rubber band effect, there were zero vibrations, noises, etc. that required replacement of the joints or shafts; I did so simply because I didn’t like the audible play on the rear joint. I’ve had this ‘08 for 8 years and have put 110k on it, and noises/vibrations have been the same since it was still under factory warranty. It’s slight, but it does seem to drive quieter. Since day 1 there was a slight hum at 37 and 75 mph; that 37mph hum appears to be gone.

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Discussion Starter #16 (Edited)
Thanks man!

After another drive I noticed some knocking under my feet, which I knew was due to the soft bolts holding the subframe stiffener plate. Before removing it again to weld in some stainless studs to the subframe (the issue was on the chassis side), I chased the two loose threads with an M10x1.25 tap and put the bolts back in. The bolts tightened up and held torque. Problem postponed!


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Thanks for the update.

The Driveshaft Specialist stuff looks like quality, now I wonder what they did:
  • The shaft itself: is it from an old shaft that customers like us turned in or they started fresh with fresh steel tubes and yokes.
  • The CSB: is it Genuine BMW or Chinese bearing?
  • The U-joints: is it GMB (made in japan) or something else...
Just wondering...
 

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Discussion Starter #19
As stated, the carrier and u joints are Spicer units for a Ford Ranger. The shafts themselves are new, but I don’t remember if they said they source them from an OE supplier or make them in-house. They’re probably Spicer as well.


They do rebuild old shafts for $125 less, but didn’t have any in stock when I called. This was the last new one they had in stock so it shipped the day I called.


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