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Torque tube maintenance

I had to purchase a heavy duty circlip plier (Knipex 4811-J4, 320 mm) to remove the large circlip fixing the drive shaft in the torque tube.

Inside, there was nothing to tell that this torque tube had been in service for 20 years and 110k miles. The rubber couplers looked and felt like new. There was no play in the bearings, but they had less preload and made more noise than their new counterparts*
A curiosity is the "16/1/2004" date stamp on the drive shaft for a car produced and sold in 2003 (The black marks are from my oily fingers).

To remove the rubber couplers the bolts have to be heated with a blow torch to break the factory thread lock. I initially tried without heating the bolts, which quickly broke the bits. Heating the bolts caused the rubber couplers to catch fire, so this method renders the couplers U/S.
The torque tube rebuild kit includes new circlips, O-rings and bearings, and also the slinger. A hydraulic press is required to replace the parts. Not much force was needed to press the bearings off and on. Be aware that there is actually a circlip hiding behind the slinger!

The purpose of the slinger is to provide additional protection for the bearing. Centrifugal force helps to prevent dust and other solid contaminants from entering.
More used parts ready to be added to the auto parts bin. I never throw away old bearings etc, as they can find a second use for other purposes.
Torque tube shaft reassembled with all new parts. Wonder if I'll ever see that text again...
There's a a major difference in noise and preload between old and new bearings! So it was after all a good idea to service the torque tube at 110k miles!

Coupler bolts thread lock: Red Loctite
Coupler bolts torque: 66 ft lbs (90 Nm)