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Broken Driveshaft
Hi Guru's, another tale to tell about our travels in Carole Ann!

I noticed that our differential pinion seal was leaking after our trip to Kentucky earlier this year.  It was just starting to weep but I do try to head issues off before they become problems and we're planning to take the coach to Virginia Beach on June 20th. 

So...I took the coach to my brother-in-laws shop (he has a Diesel shop) to replace the seal and while underneath I noticed that the spline on the last driveshaft yoke was twisted!  We both looked at it and figured that it wasn't in imminent danger of breaking so we finished the seal (and changing the brake fluid) and decided that I would drive it home (about 6 miles) and remove the driveshaft there and take it to the driveshaft shop.

Apparently we are both really bad at determining if something is about to snap.

I got about 5.5 miles.

I was driving up a hill into a very busy intersection going about 2 mph when I heard the dreaded ping/thud and knew instantly what had happened. 

Note to self, twisted spline=don't drive it!

Of course I'm on a hill and my parking brake is on the DRIVESHAFT!  I couldn't even get out of the drivers seat until I could get a couple guys from a gas station across the street to chock my wheels. 

Note to self, don't leave home without a set of chocks that are easily accessible.

Fortunately I was able to let it roll backwards and get out of the intersection.

So I called AAA, since we have RV plus, and 45 min later we STILL didn't have a tow company dispatched!  I did have time to don my coveralls and remove the offending shaft however.  By this time my brother-in-law had made it over to help and he called a tow company and had an ENORMOUS tow truck in 5 minutes.  The truck was able to attach and lift the coach by the front axle.

Boy that was a bummer seeing the Carole Ann towed away.

Once back at the shop we pulled all 3 driveshaft segments and took them to the driveshaft shop.  (One of the reasons I love living where I do is because of how many industrial shops we have.....thank you Canton Custom Clutch!)  In 24 hours we had a much beefier spline welded into shaft #2, all new u-joints, and a brand new and lengthened shaft #3 all balanced and ready to install.

It was the shops determination that the shaft spline was fatigued from the yoke riding too far back on the spline.  There was darn near 4 inches of spline showing and they said there should only be an inch to an inch and a half.

For the last couple of years I've been towing a little Honda on a car dolly, but recently I started towing a Kia on a car hauler....a MUCH heavier load.  I'm blessed this didn't snap while towing that setup.  Our goal is to get our Land Rover road ready so we can haul it with all 4 wheels on the ground (only around 2000lbs since it is mostly aluminum) but we've probably got at least another year before I'm done with it's restoration.

Flickr photos of Rover here:

Conclusions:  I have no idea what kind of weights my Coach is rated to tow, it was repowered in 1981 and I have pitifully little information on that other than the engine and transmission were replaced.  I assume that at some point someone installed a 2 speed differential since the build sheet from Newell does not include this option.  I don't know if any of the driveshafts were replaced when any of this work was done, but as I said, the last shaft was riding too far back on the spline, this always bothered me but not enough to pull it all apart and replace it.  I can't help but believe that the heavier trailer load I've been pulling contributed to the fatigue of the spline.  In my opinion the shaft should have gone much farther than the 150K miles I have on the chassis.....if that indeed is what was on the driveshafts in the first place!

The shaft shop believes I should have no problems with fatigue or stress with the new shaft and spline setup no matter what I'm towing.

We'll see but you can be sure I'll be keeping a close eye on that new spline!

....and we're still on for leaving for Virginia Beach on Tuesday, should get there Wednesday for 6 days of relaxation!
Bob Kopicki
1972 Newell Chauffeur
1964 Land Rover 88 Series IIa TOAD
Bob , It sounds like you have this issue well repaired. If you think you may need another option in addition to the e-brake here is something you may want to look into.

The drive shaft on my 1978 Newell broke in downtown Jackson, Michigan at a traffic light one evening years ago. I'm sitting there "dead in the water" when this young man in a 1972 chevy half ton six cylinder stops to help. He says "I think I can pull you over to that parking lot" I have my doubts but he wanted to try. To my amazement and delight he was able to get the job done!!!
I hadn't owned that coach for long but I remembered seeing some parts wrapped up in a "gunny sack" in one of the bays. I found a complete replacement driveshaft!!!! I walked to a parts store and bought an "end wrench" set , raised the Newell on the big-foot leveling jacks and change the drive shaft!!
Later I took the broken shaft and had it rebuilt, wrapped it up in the "gunny sack" and placed it back in the "parts bay". As far as I know it is still there if the new owner ever needs it.
1993 Newell 45' 8V92,towing an Imperial open trailer. FMCA#232958 '67 Airstream Overlander 27' '67GTO,'76TransAm,'52Chevy panel, 2000 Corvette "Lingenfelter"modified, '13 Grand Cherokee.
Wow, I never thought of carrying a spare driveshaft.....then again, I really didn't consider it one of those parts that could break.  I figured a U-joint would let me down before the shaft.  Not a bad idea although I think I'd just carry the part with the spline (since that appears to be the weak link....famous last words).  Hopefully we're beefy enough now not to have to worry about this again.

I love the brake holder idea but after what it took to bleed the hydrovac's I really hope I don't have to open that system for a LONG time.

Time to load up and go on vacation.....God willing there will be no mechanical tales to tell!
Bob Kopicki
1972 Newell Chauffeur
1964 Land Rover 88 Series IIa TOAD

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