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Discussion Starter #1
Swapping out final drive after losing 2 drive shafts in 20K, need tips & tools info

Hi Gents and gals,
Long time VTX cafe'er, new log on since it's been awhile. Long story short once my VTX1800R hit 106,000 miles I have since had two and likely now a 3rd drive shaft & coupling round out. So I got a very low mileage 1800 final to replace the old one. Do note beyond the first stock drive shaft the other two were installed by certified Honda techs....what the hell did they miss? I have been religious changing final drive oil and making sure moly paste on the flanges, etc during tire replacement (likely up to 13 or 14 rear tires at this point including 10,000 mile with dark side tire). Current mileage on the bike is 136,000.

For those who have done this final drive swap I need to know what tools, how many jacks, etc. plus any tips as to what to look for, and if I need additional parts, springs, snap rings, etc. Both front and rear wheel bearing have been replaced and swingarm seems fine. I have a like new u joint as well stock piled. I live in the somewhat remote toolies so a parts run to local stealer is not a cheap task. Any parts suggested with Honda part numbers would be greatly, greatly appreciated.
Yes I am busy cutting and pasting old threads but I am looking for BigLry type wisdom, recommendations and experience if I can get it.
Thanks in advance.
JCM
bike itself has Barnett clutch installed by me, HK Sideburners, after market fuel module I can't remember the name of, custom seat by Rich I have worn out, and other associated chrome.
 

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Hard to say what could be the cause of your shaft issues. How did they fail? What was wrong with the shaft and coupling when they were replaced?
The flange bearing if an oft cited issue with these bikes. Has yours ever been inspected or replaced? I have no idea if it could contribute without knowing exactly what was wrong with the other shafts that were replaced.

As far as the driveshaft and final drive swap, I don't think any special tools are needed. Take a look at the exploded view of the parts on HDL or elsewhere, and it appears you'll only need a way to jack up and secure the bike. Remove the rear brake and wheel, then pull the final and the shaft - then replace. Here's a thread for reference.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
The mechanics handed me the old shaft and the coupling (pinion joint). Both had the splines rounded off....in effect, bike ran fine, could shift through gears but rear wheel no go.....nasty rattle when this happened.....and happens at any speed. No mechanic ever mentioned the flange bearing as being bad and one has been working on Hondas for 40 years with CB750KO experience all through the Gold Wings 1K, 1100, 1200, etc. Hopefully replacing entire final drive will solve the problem.
My experience seems ultra rare...at least last time I searched the net I am the only person two have gone through 2 and now most likely 3 drive shafts....

Thanks Much!

JCM
 

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When the splines stripped off, which end stripped? The front or the rear? You say pinion joint, but also coupling.. in my mind that could be either, so I ask to clarify.

Splines are a very tightly held clearance, and typically they fail when water or something else fouls the connection and causes corrosion. Both parts (male and female) need to be in perfect condition or they can strip.
If you're constantly stripping the aft (rear) end of the shaft, I would definitely install a new/used final drive (easier than trying to just replace the splined pinion drive). If it's the front, I would check the coupler and replace it as needed.
If the pinion/rear splines are the ones stripping, it could potentially also be a slightly bent swing arm, or maligned final drive causing the splines to meet at enough of an angle to cause wear.
The splines should be greased regularly too. Moly paste should be placed on the splined joints whenver convenient, or with each tire change.

You're right, this is rare: most of us ride for tens of thousands of miles without any issue, let alone a BMW-like issue such as stripped shafts!
 

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Discussion Starter #5
It is the rear of the shaft that strips out. I'd take a photo but both bike and old drive line are on the mainland for a couple more weeks.

Mac Daddy
 

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It is the rear of the shaft that strips out. I'd take a photo but both bike and old drive line are on the mainland for a couple more weeks.

Mac Daddy
Then I would suspect something in the final drive, or a misalignment of the FD to the swing arm - whether it's the FD or the swingarm is up in the air. What year is yours? The early ones ('02 only, I think) had a recall on the swing arm for corrosion/rusting/failure of several key joints. If nothing else, its worth taking a look or confirming with a dealer that yours isn't affected or had the rework done already. It's also a place to look anyway if the shaft is wearing out. That particular joint should be the strongest in that series of connections and should even tolerate a decent amount of misalignment since the u-joint on the other end should help with some correction.

The only other times I've read of this kind of thing is from those who's bikes are really hopped up: turbo, nitrous, etc, for drag racing.

Has it been the same shop to do the work each time? Perhaps there's something they're not catching?
 

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Discussion Starter #7
It is an 02, built in August as I recall. I got it end of Novembr. Never heard of that recall till recently. Any particularly areas of the swing arm to inspect? Personally I think the car tire was the culprit as within a 10 thousand miles of installing it the shaft failed a second time. First was at 106,000. As I said I rode the bike pretty hard the first 50,000 miles, lots of wheelies in parades (kids love seeing them) over the ton several times a week. I put the X in Xtreme. Cause you know, it's a Honda. Thanks for your recommendations.

Mac Daddy
 

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It is an 02, built in August as I recall. I got it end of Novembr. Never heard of that recall till recently. Any particularly areas of the swing arm to inspect? Personally I think the car tire was the culprit as within a 10 thousand miles of installing it the shaft failed a second time. First was at 106,000. As I said I rode the bike pretty hard the first 50,000 miles, lots of wheelies in parades (kids love seeing them) over the ton several times a week. I put the X in Xtreme. Cause you know, it's a Honda. Thanks for your recommendations.

Mac Daddy
I'm not a car tire fan by any stretch, but if it had a hand in causing the shaft failure it would only be due to pre-existing damage or wear which maybe could have been accelerated by the greater traction.

The first shaft failed at 106k, and now this is the third? Was the pinion 'yoke' (for lack of a better term, #12 below) replaced when the shaft failed? If not, then I'd be willing to bet that's the issue. Splined connections rely on a very good fit, and if either part is sloppy it would accelerate wear. Use of a high pressure grease on the splines is a MUST also. Moly grease, EP grease, etc. Wheel bearing grease isn't always sufficient unless it's got EP content.

I would definitely rule out the swing arm issue, and a new FD may help considerably. While its apart, I'd also inspect all the rear wheel bearings or just replace out of an abundance of caution (they do have some significant miles on them!).

Let us know how it turns out and what you find.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
I think! Not having the parts, bike handy, nor my manual which I got shortly after buying the 1800 in front of me that part 12 was replaced. The first replacement was done by a mechanic I trust implicitly and he handed me back the hosed shaft and I believe part 12. I needed to replace front and rear tires on the way back from Sturgis in 08 and so went ahead and had both F & R wheel bearings replaced. So this set has maybe 25k on them. Thanks for the image, I'll also be pulling valve covers as the jugs are weeping up top. Does the motor need to be dropped to inspect head gaskets? I am hoping the weeping is just the the big chrome valve covers. I'm trying to bone up on as many conceivable fixes as I can get be for a long trip in mid September so I can get stuff done in less than a month.


Mac Daddy
 

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I think! Not having the parts, bike handy, nor my manual which I got shortly after buying the 1800 in front of me that part 12 was replaced. The first replacement was done by a mechanic I trust implicitly and he handed me back the hosed shaft and I believe part 12. I needed to replace front and rear tires on the way back from Sturgis in 08 and so went ahead and had both F & R wheel bearings replaced. So this set has maybe 25k on them. Thanks for the image, I'll also be pulling valve covers as the jugs are weeping up top. Does the motor need to be dropped to inspect head gaskets? I am hoping the weeping is just the the big chrome valve covers. I'm trying to bone up on as many conceivable fixes as I can get be for a long trip in mid September so I can get stuff done in less than a month.


Mac Daddy
To get to head gaskets would require engine removal, but it's far more likely that the inspection cover or 'valve cover' gaskets are weeping.

If they were both replaced, then they should have lasted as long as the original parts. Could be that the final drive is worn enough that the pinion is walking around and causing misalignment. I think you're on the right track.
Luckily, R&R of the final drive is easy. Few bolts once the rear tire is off. Might as well flush the new (used, I presume?) rear before installing and then fill up with good quality gear oil. Check the service manual for recommended weight.
 
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