Dana 35 pinion / carrier bearing removal

Gilaguy23

TJ Enthusiast
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Nothingsville NM
I picked up a 99 TJ and the Dana 35 needs pinion and carrier bearings at least. Been a bunch of years since I did any diff work and want to ask is there a particular bearing puller that will pull either of those easily? Will a BFH and sharp chisel pop the inner race apart with some good hits? TIA.
 
I’d definitely recommend a clamshell bearing puller. There are the real deal sold at Jegs and similar, and plenty of knock offs sold at Amazon as well. The tool will make it a simple process of just removing the bearings and then pressing new ones on. The only thing that would require much thinking would be crushing the crush sleeve and paying attention to it so you don’t go too far.
 
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Well worth the money. I just re-geared my dana 30/35 and this thing is amazing!!!

Edit: You'll need a good 1/2" impact.

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@SouthernTJ2000 Did you do the regear yourself? I'm in the Heights and looking for a shop to perform the regear when I get some larger tires. I have a Dana 30/35 with 3.07 gearing.
 
@SouthernTJ2000 Did you do the regear yourself? I'm in the Heights and looking for a shop to perform the regear when I get some larger tires. I have a Dana 30/35 with 3.07 gearing.

I did do it myself. Finished it about 10 days ago. I'm in the final miles (406) of break in. I'm on the NW side and all the shops that were suggested to me on local FB groups or through my searching, were a tad to rich for my blood. The most affordable I found was a shop that wanted $500 per axle in labor. This did not include fluids, gears, install kit, or any "other things that WILL come up" as they told me. They said my rough ball park OTD before tax would probably be $1200-$1500. Most every other shop I called would not install customer supplied gears and wanted $3K-$6K. I did find a random guy out in the Dallas area that would do it all for $600 (cash) an axle. This was with gears, install kit, fluids and labor.

If you're comfortable wrenching on your stuff and have the space, and extra vehicle, I'd say do it yourself. All in, I've got about $900 wrapped up in the install and gained a couple of cool tools and a press. Which is something I've always wanted.
 
I did do it myself. Finished it about 10 days ago. I'm in the final miles (406) of break in. I'm on the NW side and all the shops that were suggested to me on local FB groups or through my searching, were a tad to rich for my blood. The most affordable I found was a shop that wanted $500 per axle in labor. This did not include fluids, gears, install kit, or any "other things that WILL come up" as they told me. They said my rough ball park OTD before tax would probably be $1200-$1500. Most every other shop I called would not install customer supplied gears and wanted $3K-$6K. I did find a random guy out in the Dallas area that would do it all for $600 (cash) an axle. This was with gears, install kit, fluids and labor.

If you're comfortable wrenching on your stuff and have the space, and extra vehicle, I'd say do it yourself. All in, I've got about $900 wrapped up in the install and gained a couple of cool tools and a press. Which is something I've always wanted.

Nice. Appreciate the info. I've seen 249 Drivetrain mentioned a few times for a regear shop but haven't reached out yet. Figured I would do so once I'm ready to buy new tires. I like the idea of doing the regear myself, but it also sounds like a big undertaking. I've upgraded my suspension and replaced several steering components without much issue but never worked on anything with gears. Was there a guide or video that helped you out you could recommend?
 
Nice. Appreciate the info. I've seen 249 Drivetrain mentioned a few times for a regear shop but haven't reached out yet. Figured I would do so once I'm ready to buy new tires. I like the idea of doing the regear myself, but it also sounds like a big undertaking. I've upgraded my suspension and replaced several steering components without much issue but never worked on anything with gears. Was there a guide or video that helped you out you could recommend?

Check out BFH Garage on youtube. He hangs out here and many here have done this job and are ready to offer help. It's actually not that bad, but it does require a few specialty tools, and attention to detail.
 
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Nice. Appreciate the info. I've seen 249 Drivetrain mentioned a few times for a regear shop but haven't reached out yet. Figured I would do so once I'm ready to buy new tires. I like the idea of doing the regear myself, but it also sounds like a big undertaking. I've upgraded my suspension and replaced several steering components without much issue but never worked on anything with gears. Was there a guide or video that helped you out you could recommend?

So I'll tell you this. 249 Drivetrain was the highest quote of the bunch. Just his labor alone was $3500. I spent 30 minutes on the phone with him and maybe talked for a total of 2 minutes. The more he talked the higher the quote got. There were things that I "needed" and since he was going to be in there "I might as well do them now as they probably currently need to be replaced or will need replacing shortly", as he told me. Just a heads up.

Yes, I watched a bunch of YT videos, with the best ones being from BFH. His videos are amazing "tutorials" on how to do gear changes on Jeeps. He's a member here, hosejockey is his handle if I recall correctly. After doing a lot of research and video watching, I decided I could do it myself. I'm comfortable turning wrenches, however gear work (axles, transmission, etc.) always scared me. As for decades I was told, "you need to leave that to the professionals." Since the Jeep is not my primary vehicle I figured I'd give it a try. Worse case scenario it all goes south and I swallow my pride and take it to a shop. As mentioned, I'm at mile 436 now of 500 for the break in. All seems well. No strange noise, the Jeep drives the same, and cruises down the HWY @ 70mph with ease. But who knows, 1,000 miles from now something may go wrong. If it does, I'd feel completely comfortable getting back in there and learning from my mistake(s). If you enjoy turning wrenches, a good challenge, and its not your DD. Give it a shot.
 
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So I'll tell you this. 249 Drivetrain was the highest quote of the bunch. Just his labor alone was $3500. I spent 30 minutes on the phone with him and maybe talked for a total of 2 minutes. The more he talked the higher the quote got. There were things that I "needed" and since he was going to be in there "I might as well do them now as they probably currently need to be replaced or will need replacing shortly", as he told me. Just a heads up.

Yes, I watched a bunch of YT videos, with the best ones being from BFH. His videos are amazing "tutorials" on how to do gear changes on Jeeps. He's a member here, hosejockey is his handle if I recall correctly. After doing a lot of research and video watching, I decided I could do it myself. I'm comfortable turning wrenches, however gear work (axles, transmission, etc.) always scared me. As for decades I was told, "you need to leave that to the professionals." Since the Jeep is not my primary vehicle I figured I'd give it a try. Worse case scenario it all goes south and I swallow my pride and take it to a shop. As mentioned, I'm at mile 436 now of 500 for the break in. All seems well. No strange noise, the Jeep drives the same, and cruises down the HWY @ 70mph with ease. But who knows, 1,000 miles from now something may go wrong. If it does, I'd feel completely comfortable getting back in there and learning from my mistake(s). If you enjoy turning wrenches, a good challenge, and its not your DD. Give it a shot.

So I'll tell you this. 249 Drivetrain was the highest quote of the bunch. Just his labor alone was $3500. I spent 30 minutes on the phone with him and maybe talked for a total of 2 minutes. The more he talked the higher the quote got. There were things that I "needed" and since he was going to be in there "I might as well do them now as they probably currently need to be replaced or will need replacing shortly", as he told me. Just a heads up.

Yes, I watched a bunch of YT videos, with the best ones being from BFH. His videos are amazing "tutorials" on how to do gear changes on Jeeps. He's a member here, hosejockey is his handle if I recall correctly. After doing a lot of research and video watching, I decided I could do it myself. I'm comfortable turning wrenches, however gear work (axles, transmission, etc.) always scared me. As for decades I was told, "you need to leave that to the professionals." Since the Jeep is not my primary vehicle I figured I'd give it a try. Worse case scenario it all goes south and I swallow my pride and take it to a shop. As mentioned, I'm at mile 436 now of 500 for the break in. All seems well. No strange noise, the Jeep drives the same, and cruises down the HWY @ 70mph with ease. But who knows, 1,000 miles from now something may go wrong. If it does, I'd feel completely comfortable getting back in there and learning from my mistake(s). If you enjoy turning wrenches, a good challenge, and its not your DD. Give it a shot.

OK, thanks again for sharing your experience. $3500 for just labor—yikes. You’ve convinced me to try. The TJ is also my second vehicle—I’ll get grief from the family if it’s down for an extended period of time but at least I won’t be stranded. I’ve got some time before doing this, too, so I’ll watch these and other videos and get up to speed. We’ll see how it goes!
 
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OK, thanks again for sharing your experience. $3500 for just labor—yikes. You’ve convinced me to try. The TJ is also my second vehicle—I’ll get grief from the family if it’s down for an extended period of time but at least I won’t be stranded. I’ve got some time before doing this, too, so I’ll watch these and other videos and get up to speed. We’ll see how it goes!
Yeah, I'm either cheap or frugal...either way I'm not paying that much to do what I can learn how to do on youtube. I helped a buddy do his 35, and I've already replaced the bearings on one of my 35's. It's completely doable by a mere mortal and doesn't actually require any special skills. Just follow the steps carefully. You got this.

My daughter's 97 is also on a dana 35 with 3.07's & 33's from the PO. I've been saying I plan to re-gear this summer, but here it is June 20 and I haven't started..... I guess it's time to get serious about it. I'll be doing this right along side you, just a few hours north.
 
OK, thanks again for sharing your experience. $3500 for just labor—yikes. You’ve convinced me to try. The TJ is also my second vehicle—I’ll get grief from the family if it’s down for an extended period of time but at least I won’t be stranded. I’ve got some time before doing this, too, so I’ll watch these and other videos and get up to speed. We’ll see how it goes!

So I'll tell you this. I put in probably a total of 18 hours in the garage to do the re-gear. Out of that 18, I'd say a good 13-15 were me actually working. The other time was me looking things up, referencing videos, staring at something making a plan, finding a tool, going to the parts house, double guessing myself, goofing off...you know, the typical stuff. This was spread out over 3 weekends. I did the dana 30 first, which took considerably longer than the 35. Honestly I think I knocked the 35 out in about 4 total hours of "work" time.
 
Yeah, I'm either cheap or frugal...either way I'm not paying that much to do what I can learn how to do on youtube. I helped a buddy do his 35, and I've already replaced the bearings on one of my 35's. It's completely doable by a mere mortal and doesn't actually require any special skills. Just follow the steps carefully. You got this.

My daughter's 97 is also on a dana 35 with 3.07's & 33's from the PO. I've been saying I plan to re-gear this summer, but here it is June 20 and I haven't started..... I guess it's time to get serious about it. I'll be doing this right along side you, just a few hours north.

Thanks for the vote of confidence! I will say I enjoy working on the TJ--that's one of the main reasons I got one. It's a never ending project! The temp has been more tolerable recently so probably a good time to start. When I replaced the foam in the front driver seat a couple of weeks ago, I looked like I had run a marathon when I finished. The temp was only 93 or 94 but it felt every bit of 105 (maybe more). And I even get good circulation in my garage when the doors are open. I'm from central Alabama but have lived in Texas for the past 8 years (Houston and San Antonio). It obviously gets hot where I'm from, but this place is on another level.
 
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I also did my regear after watching BFH and other YouTube videos. I picked up a Dana 30 front axle and started with it. I figured if it all went south at least the Jeep would still be driveable. I spent several weeks tinkering with it and learned how to set things up. I then swapped it in and pulled the rear driveshaft. After I broke in the front gears and considered it successful I completed the rear axle.
I personally did not find the job that difficult. It does require precision and a lot of trail and error. I enjoy working on vehicles so I even found it to be fun. Plus there was a great deal of satisfaction from doing a job that so many say can't be done. There are some extra tools that you will need. Don't try for any shortcuts as they will inevitably come back to haunt you. I also HIGHLY recommend you pull the axles and work on them out of the Jeep unless you have access to a lift. You will be putting the carrier in and out many, many times and having the axle at a comfortable level makes it much easier to avoid frustration. The most important factor in success was the people of this forum. There are some great people who will share their expertise and help you interpret gear patterns when you get there.
If your motivated to learn and feel it's a job you want to take the time to do then I say go for it. If you just want to get it completed and driving then the cost of paying to have it done is likely the better option.
 
So I'll tell you this. I put in probably a total of 18 hours in the garage to do the re-gear. Out of that 18, I'd say a good 13-15 were me actually working. The other time was me looking things up, referencing videos, staring at something making a plan, finding a tool, going to the parts house, double guessing myself, goofing off...you know, the typical stuff. This was spread out over 3 weekends. I did the dana 30 first, which took considerably longer than the 35. Honestly I think I knocked the 35 out in about 4 total hours of "work" time.

If you think about it, there are only 1 or 2 actual time consuming jobs.

  • removing the bearing caps - seconds
  • removing the carrier - seconds
  • Pressing off the bearings - with the clamshell puller, this should take 10-15 minutes for all 3 bearings
  • Pressing on the pinion bearing - minutes, with most of the time being setting up the press & pusher
  • Pressing on the carrier bearings - minutes, with most of the time being setting up the press & pusher
    • if you need setup bearings to allow for behind-the-bearing shims, you'll have an hour or two of work
  • Making a setup race for the pinion - hour or two
  • Getting the carrier preload right - a couple minutes per iteration
  • Initial pinion depth setup - minutes
  • Check backlash:
    • getting the stupid dial gauge positioned correctly - hours :mad:
    • checking the backlash - seconds
  • Run a pattern - minutes
  • Post pattern here & wait for hosejockey to tell you what to add/remove - minutes to hours, depending on his availability ;)

In my experience, the only thing that takes real time is messing with the dial gauge and pausing for untold amounts of time between steps because you think there's no way I'm doing this job correctly. And then the potentially many iterations of shim/backlash/pattern/posting here can add up.
 
So I'll tell you this. I put in probably a total of 18 hours in the garage to do the re-gear. Out of that 18, I'd say a good 13-15 were me actually working. The other time was me looking things up, referencing videos, staring at something making a plan, finding a tool, going to the parts house, double guessing myself, goofing off...you know, the typical stuff. This was spread out over 3 weekends. I did the dana 30 first, which took considerably longer than the 35. Honestly I think I knocked the 35 out in about 4 total hours of "work" time.

That's good to know. I'll plan accordingly and start researching.
 
Thanks for the vote of confidence! I will say I enjoy working on the TJ--that's one of the main reasons I got one. It's a never ending project! The temp has been more tolerable recently so probably a good time to start. When I replaced the foam in the front driver seat a couple of weeks ago, I looked like I had run a marathon when I finished. The temp was only 93 or 94 but it felt every bit of 105 (maybe more). And I even get good circulation in my garage when the doors are open. I'm from central Alabama but have lived in Texas for the past 8 years (Houston and San Antonio). It obviously gets hot where I'm from, but this place is on anther level.

I feel your pain. I grew up in the west and lived in Arizona for 15 years. Dry heat is a real thing. Summers here in East Texas are very different. When I did my rear axle I meticulously cleaned the housing and set up in a spare bedroom. It was nice to work indoors! This was possible because I have spent many years breaking down my wife to the point she no longer reacts to Jeep parts in the house. The most I get now is a "What is that?". If asked I will start a detailed explanation to which she either cuts me off with a "Nevermind" or just walks away mid sentence.😁
 
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I feel your pain. I grew up in the west and lived in Arizona for 15 years. Dry heat is a real thing. Summers here in East Texas are very different. When I did my rear axle I meticulously cleaned the housing and set up in a spare bedroom. It was nice to work indoors! This was possible because I have spent many years breaking down my wife to the point she no longer reacts to Jeep parts in the house. The most I get now is a "What is that?". If asked I will start a detailed explanation to which she either cuts me off with a "Nevermind" or just walks away mid sentence.😁

Haha! Working inside sounds too good to be true.