Driveshaft Disaster

Ah, the “joys” of classic car ownership.

Who knows when the trouble started? Did I push the car too hard on a club drive in the mountains? Was it a long-term problem that finally reached the end? Does it matter now?

A few weeks back I noticed a vibration in the drivetrain on acceleration. Having experienced loose bolts between the driveshaft and differential many years ago, I inspected that area and found loose bolts again. I tightened them and thought that the vibrations were lessened. I fooled myself.

When the vibrations returned, I started noticing that it wouldn’t always stop on disengaging the clutch. However, moving the shifter some, would cause some movement, and the vibrations would cease until I accelerated again. Strangely enough, going 70+ MPH would tend to lessen the vibrations significantly. I convinced myself that the transmission was going. I made arrangements with a friend to do a transmission swap. I fooled myself.

Yesterday, I took the car out for a club showing. It was more difficult to get the vibrations to go away. I thought I could get it to last a little while longer. Nope. While making a left turn, I engaged the clutch while giving the car some gas. There was a loud POP, and a thumping sound under the car. I knew immediately that the driveshaft let go. I was hoping it was the bolts at the rear differential. Not a chance.

I coasted to an abandoned gas station at the corner, set the emergency brake and looked under the car. The front of the driveshaft was hanging down. Game over.

I called Hagerty for a flatbed tow. The service agent handled it like a pro. She got my information and got a truck to my location in less than 45 minutes…on a weekend. While I was waiting, I texted a friend my dilemma. He let me know that he had a spare driveshaft. I checked with another friend to see if it would be compatible. It was.

The flatbed got the car home safely, and I pushed it into the garage. That was enough for one night.

I disconnected the driveshaft from the differential in the morning. Then I made the trip down to Tim’s for the replacement driveshaft. I drained the oil from the transmission since I knew oil would come out when I pulled the remains of the front part of the driveshaft from the transmission. I had the replacement ready and pulled out the damaged part. Fortunately the oil went right into the drain pan. No mess. I slid the driveshaft onto the splines of the output shaft of the transmission. Then I lined up the rear of the driveshaft with the differential. I put the bolts and nuts back in on the opposite corners to get everything lined up. Then I went to put on the third nut. Oh, I didn’t have them oriented properly. I took the bolts off, turned the driveshaft a quarter turn, and realigned the parts. That did the trick. Soon enough, all four bolts were back on.

All that was left for the night was to put the sway bar back into place and connect the exhaust hangers. With everything buttoned up, I put off refilling the transmission until later.

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