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Axle and Flywheel Nut Removal and Reinstallation

September 23, 2010 | Troubleshooting & Repair

Text by David Jones, Wil Mittenbach, Bill Strickland, Ab Tiedemann, and Al Zim

Ab Tiedemann: First, make sure that all of the cotter pin is removed.

Then, you will need a good reaction bar. If you have a disc brake car, you can get a very good one from Ashley Page. I purchased one and it works super. It is my understanding that he will also make one for the drum brake cars.

You need a very good breaker bar and socket combination. Good ones are not cheap. (Snap-On about $100-130). A 3/4 inch drive 30 inch length is what I have been using for 40+ years. This, in combination with an impact, six point 36 mm, 3/4 drive socket will whisk most of them off. You most likely waste time or break tools or both if a 1/2 drive combination is used.

Sometimes you will have to resort to the impact wrench. On really stuck ones, you may need one that develops 750 lb-ft of torque. These guns require a lot of air and will quickly run down most air compressors found in the home shop. Just start at max pressure (after cut off) and run it down until it kicks in again and wait again until it charges up to maximum. Repeat until nut is loosened. Cautionary Note: Do not exceed maximum input pressure rating of your impact wrench (Richard Peattie warns that some of the cheaper impact wrenches do not have a very high input psi rating and can explode).

There is also a tool made that can be struck with an 8-10 lb maul. Look for it on sites that sell a lot of VW stuff.

And, there is another tool called a Torque Meister which works on a gear reduction principle to improve effective input torque. These do not fit the Porsche stud and need to be modified. Many have ground them away to fit, but the most effective way to modify "after the fact" is to wire EDM. Unfortunately, this is an expensive machining operation and may cost as much as you pay for the tool depending on from whom you purchase.


Al Zim: The first thing you need to know is the half-inch drive equipment will break. The impact wrenches are overloaded and the end of the break-over bar that fits the socket will shear off.

This job is for 3/4 inch equipment. You need a 1 7/16" socket preferably a 6 point. If you are really poor you will go to Sears and purchase only the socket. Then you will find a one inch and a half inch thick wall square tubing about 4 feet long. weld the socket to the bar. This will be an unbreakable tool. For the flywheel gland nut, a short piece of chain, used with a spacer to hold it parallel to the surface of the flywheel tighten the 10mm nut and attach the other end to the 8mm clutch bolt. make it tight also. This will serve to remove and install the flywheel. Purchase a chain that has the links welded together or it will not last.

To remove the drums we first used a piece of 2 inch heavy angle ( it should be scrap ) iron which I cut two holes in for the spacing of the brake drum studs. We placed the car on a jack stand under the end of the axle install the angle iron and tightened the nuts. With the socket and bar, parallel to the floor and jump on end of the bar. Only once did I have to jump more than once, that is because I have never missed a meal. DO NOT PUT THINGS TOGETHER USING THE JUMPING METHOD. For installation, weigh yourself and position yourself on the bar the correct distance in feet from the center of the nut, so the your weight the foot distance from the center of the nut to equal 350 foot pounds to tighten the drum and 450 to 500 for the gland nut.

On the other end of the bar that you hold the drum brakes, you can drill holes for disc brakes. Then you can fix everything.

If you have more money you can purchase a T-handle sliding bar from sears for the socket and use you jack handle for additional leverage. Or you can purchase a pacific rim socket set. I purchased a 3/4 inch set from sears in 1963 and I have yet to break anything on it. Then comes a surplus 600 ft pound torque wrench (they are out there) and a 3/4 inch impact wrench. To make the wrench hit harder, fill it with air tool oil (or mobile one) before you start. 100 psi with oil will just about break any nut loose. BE CAREFUL YOU CAN HURT YOURSELF JUMPING AROUND ETC.


David Jones: I think the cheapest and easiest method or removing and replacing axle and flywheel nuts is still the Torquemeister. I know of nobody who has used one that will disagree. The only complaint I have is that I bought mine when it was still a $150 tool. Someone commented that on re-installation that there was a chance that the torque multiplication would be in error so as to torque the flywheel or axle nut to the wrong spec. I do believe that it is a moot point as most folks would never have access to a 0 to 500 ft/lb torque wrench and the majority of axle nuts and flywheels have been torqued to +/- 50 ft/lb.

In the case of the axle nut it is completely immaterial as 9 times out of 10 one will have to torque the nut a little further any way just to get the holes lined up for the split pin to be inserted.

If you have not used a Torquemeister find someone who has one and try it. You will not be able to resist getting one if you have any appreciation for a good idea and a relatively cheap tool.

NOTE: The torquemeister as delivered is set up for the VW size studs and needs to have them opened up to 14mm to allow the tool to fit over the Porsche size hub studs.

Also it does not work on disc brake cars without another adapter which I have made (photos below). This is made from a VW or 356 flywheel 6 or 12 volt teeth is immaterial. Drill the flywheel to fit the "C" hub and open out the center to allow room for the 36mm socket to pass through. Now cut the flywheel in half and you have an adapter which will allow the torquemeister to work on the "C" hubs as well as the drum brake cars.



Wil Mittenbach: I've succeeded in loosening the nuts after soaking with Liquid Wrench, gently tapping the flats with a brass punch and hammer, and constructing a proper lever arm fulcrum support to prevent tilting the 6 point 3/4" drive 36mm socket on the nut.

With a 2 ft. breaker bar and my 165 lbs. of bouncing bodily applied torque, the unrusted nuts surprisingly loosened after 42 years, making use of the 5 ft. pipe I had at the ready unnecessary. However, I'll probably be using the pipe to apply the required 398 ft-lb steady tightening torque for nut re-installation with an anti-seize lubricant. The original nuts are fortunately still perfectly intact for reuse.


Bill Strickland: Get a 3/4" or 1" drive six point 36 mm socket from a major tool supplier such as Snap-On, Mac, S-K, Sears Craftsman, etc, NOT Harbor Freight or the ilk. Now, you buy that socket from Snap-On and you'll be thinking what the discounters want for an air compressor is nothing.

Next, you need about a 12" extension in whatever size drive your socket is, but this can be from the cheapo guys, also get a drive handle (flex handle, T-bar slider, or ratchet — stay away from cheapo ratchets) and a four foot length of pipe that will fit over it (unless you get the four foot handle for your 1" Snap-On ratchet), and one jackstand.

With the tires on the car, and the tires on the ground or or a block of wood, and perhaps a friendly associate to hold a foot on the hydraulic brake, place the socket and extension on the axle nut, and adjust the height of the car and jackstand so the jackstand can support the end of the extension in a horizontal fashion, then put your drive handle and pipe "cheater bar" onto the extension. Jump (hard) on the end of the "cheater" with both feet, again, with the end of the extension supported by the jackstand — plan on falling down when your feet slip off (carpet, exercise mats, soft lawn — wear boots, not loafers — you should be able to generate a momentary 1000 ft-lbs of torque in this manner, without the sideways "rock/tilt" of the socket. Also works for re-torquing.

"Torque multipliers" are also available, northerntool.com, as well as from list member Ab Tiedemann. mailto:afterwerke@comcast.net , but that is buying another tool for a single use, as you describe. Cheap 1/2" pneumatic impacts probably won't be stout enough to do the job — maybe an electric impact wrench (don't laugh, they work well!). Any tools you buy, you could always try reselling on eBay to recover you expense.

If'n that don't do it, just drive the car down to your local Porsche or VW mechanic and have them loosen the nuts for you (for a fair & modest fee -— they may even do it for free, even). Once loosened, lube them and you take your wrench and retighten them so you can drive it home and take them off comparatively easily.

Reassemble with anti-sieze or PST so forty years from now the next guy can get them off — SERIOUSLY, the rear brakes need to be looked at more often than once every forty years. Use new cotter keys.

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