Tom Woods CV Driveshaft
with Bill Johnston

Click for a larger viewIt only takes a first glance at one of Tom Wood's drive shafts to realize the quality, workmanship and attention to detail that is put into each and every unit that Tom ships. The photo on the right shows the new CV drive shaft and the stock Samurai unit side by side. The CV joint is an excellent way to solve that "mysterious" drive shaft vibration that has cropped up after you lifted your rig! Driveline angles can be tricky to figure out, here is your cure.

Both shafts are resting on aluminum spacers. The stock unit is resting on a standard aluminum billet model that is common among most of the aftermarket vendors, but the new unit comes with an adapter made from T6 Aircraft grade aluminum that allows the use of the double cardan (CV) joint without re-drilling anything. Tom makes these specifically for each application.  Tom offers a 'polished' option for about $15. If you are going to show off, this is a good option to consider. Otherwise the shaft is painted a utilitarian black.

Click for a larger viewClick for a larger viewUpon closer inspection of the CV joint, you will note that the universal joints serve double duty. Not only do they hold the beefy outer ring in place (seen on the right) but they also have a ball and socket joint in the middle to hold everything in place when the forces of nature want to twist it apart during a full droop!

Click for a larger viewThe pinion flange on the left is the only part of the Samurai that has to be machined. You will notice a small ridge machined into the opening at the top, this is to allow the larger bore of the new driveshaft flange to slide in and mate perfectly.

Click for a larger viewI laid the parts out to make sure I had everything I would need. The new spring perches are required because the rear pinion must be rotated up to point directly at the transfer case. The new Heavy Duty Rocky Road Outfitters SPOA Perches will replace the current perches.
Click for a larger viewClick for a larger viewOne additional component that is included with every shaft Tom ships is an angle finder that he has so cleverly disguised as a business card. It is the same size and made with the same material as a standard plastic credit card, so it is easy to store. In these photos you can see my son checking the base angle of the differential and the angle that the differential needs to be moved to.
Click for a larger viewClick for a larger viewYou must measure this final angle from the middle of the diff where it contacts the axle housing - to the center of the transfer case flange.  In our case, the difference was 12 degrees. This is the rotation needed when we put on the new spring perches.

Click for a larger viewClick for a larger viewThe pinion must end up pointing directly at the transfer case. The CV Joint will be the only part that does any bending.

Click for a larger viewClick for a larger viewNow it is time to disconnect the rear axle assembly. Make sure you disconnect the brake line(s) before pulling the assembly out from under the vehicle... or it could get messy very quickly.

Click for a larger viewClick for a larger viewNext, we concentrate on the pinion flange. This will either be easy or very hard depending on how 'weathered' the components are. On the right you will notice a stock pinion flange in the foreground and the machined flange from earlier in the background.
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To remove the pinion flange, you must first remove the nut. Clean off the nut so you will be able to see where it was 'notched' to keep it from backing off. I used a small flat tipped screwdriver pounded into the notch on the pinion to push out the notched material. Next, remove the nut. If it won't budge, try a cheater pipe on the end of a breaker bar. An air impact driver only cracked the socket when I tried the first time... the cheater bar was much more effective. Use a gear puller to remove the flange. Carefully replace it with the newly machined component. Tom can do the machining for you, so when you arrange for your new driveshaft mention it and he will take care of you.
Click for a larger viewClick for a larger viewReplace the nut, torque to factory specs and notch it with a cold chisel. This is for safety. After complete reassembly you won't be able to check the nut because it will be covered. You don't want the flange to let go at the most inappropriate time.
Click for a larger viewClick for a larger viewNext we attack the Spring Perches! If you were planning to do a SPring Over Axle conversion then this is the time to do it! The perches need to rotated so the pinion points to the transfer case. It is much easier to just weld on new perches and go. Otherwise you must remove the old components first without damaging the axle tubes. This vehicle had SPOA perches already, so they had to come off.
Click for larger viewClick for a larger viewThe newly redesigned Rocky Road Outfitters SPOA Perches were used to replace the older perches. These are unique in design because the ends extend to meet the original perches down below. In the photos to the left it shows how much we had to rotate the perch to make up for the 12 degree difference we figured out in the beginning of the installation.
Click for a larger viewClick for a larger viewWe had to grind off a small amount from one "foot" to make the rotation possible. A couple of light tack welds were used to hold the perch in place while we applied the major portion of the heat to where the perches met. This ensures a solid weld without compromising the integrity of the axle tube. Then a little paint helps to keep the elements out of the nooks and crannies.
Click for a larger viewClick for a larger viewNow put everything back together - and don't forget the brakes!
Click for a larger viewClick for a larger imageNow it is time to install the adapter component that Tom includes with the drive shaft. Using the stock bolts, secure it to the transfer case flange. The bolt heads will be below the mating surface so they will not get in the way when you bolt in the CV joint. Tom includes the proper bolts to secure the CV joint end of the drive shaft to the adapter. Torque them to factory specs... these drive shafts can handle upwards of 1600 ft/lbs of torque, don't let loose bolts take away your new capabilities!
Click for a larger viewClick for a larger viewThe rear of the shaft will bolt up to the samurai pinion flange. I had a little trouble with the mating of these pieces because the pinion nut was coming into contact with the cast metal inside the yoke. A few passes with a file took down the offending metal on the nut and then it fit like a charm. I have talked to Tom about this and he is looking into the possibility that all pinion nuts aren't exactly the same throughout the model years. There should be no problem in the future. Torque everything to factory specs and you are ready to take on the world!
Quality components like these come with a hefty price tag. This unit sells for $425 (plus tax if you are a resident of Utah). But let's put this into perspective. I have two spare rear drive shafts (front shafts cut down for an extended length) in my garage that I have had to replace often because of trail breakage and vibration. Each of those 'junkyard specials' cost me about $120 each time I had to have one replaced or rebuilt. If I had gone with a drive shaft from Tom in the first place I know I would have saved some big bucks by now. For those of you that are thinking of making a purchase but want to save a few bucks, Tom will give volume discounts for clubs or small groups that want to place  volume order. Tom will pick up the shipping charges to get you the drive shaft and components via UPS Ground. 

I was pleasantly surprised each and every time I talked to Tom during the course of this project. Not only does he make some of the most sought after drive shafts in the business, but he will take the time to talk with you about your application and any concerns you may have. He is also a fountain of knowledge, so don't hesitate to ask him the hard stuff!

Check out the Extreme Component Review!


CV Drive Shaft
Tom Wood's Custom Drive Shafts
306 E. 31st Street
Ogden, Utah  84401
Toll Free in the U.S.
1-801-393- 4538
1-801-393- 4592
SPOA Axle Perches
Rocky Road Outfitters
P.O. Box 681245
Park City, UT  84068
1-888-801-7271 Orders

  03/14/17 19:36


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