How to replace your universal joint (and driveshaft)


Step-by-step tutorials on how to maintain and fix your GL1500
  • Sponsored Links
User avatar
WingAdmin
Site Admin
Posts: 17050
Joined: Fri Oct 03, 2008 4:16 pm
Location: Strongsville, OH
Motorcycle: 2000 GL1500 SE
1982 GL1100A Aspencade (sold)
1989 PC800 (wife's!)
1998 XV250 Virago (sold)
2007 Aspen Sentry Trailer

How to replace your universal joint (and driveshaft)

Postby WingAdmin » Fri Oct 09, 2015 6:01 pm



What is a universal joint? It is two hinges, mounted at right angles to one another. It is primarily used to transfer torque from one plane of rotation to another. In plain english, this means you can have two shafts, with one shaft rotating the other, and the shafts can "bend" in the middle.



Why do we need this? The engine on our Goldwings is fixed to the frame and does not move. It has a splined drive at the back end of the engine that rotates a driveshaft that connects to the rear wheel.

However, the rear wheel has to be able to move up and down in order for the rear suspension to function. Therefore we can't have a solid shaft from the back of the engine to the rear wheel. We need to connect the engine to the driveshaft through a universal joint, that pivots at the same place the rear swingarm pivots up and down.

This universal joint does a lot of work. The driveshaft rotates almost three times for every rotation of the rear wheel. This means the universal joint is being flexed back and forth many times a second, sometimes under tremendous load.

As in all things mechanical, eventually the universal joint will wear out. Symptoms of a worn driveshaft are a small vibration when the rear wheel is unloaded: get up to 30-40 mph, then let off the throttle so that the engine is neither under load, nor is it performing engine braking - a little sweet spot in between power and decleration where the universal joint can flop around a bit. If you feel a bit of vibration in your footpegs when you do this, your driveshaft is starting to get a bit loose. If you start feeling a clunk every time you let off the throttle, it's possible that your universal joint is about to fail. Have a look at what a failed GL1500 universal joint looks like.

A failed universal joint can be catastrophic: at worst it can destroy the swingarm (from the inside!) and lock up the rear wheel causing a skid and crash. At best it will leave you completely stranded with no option but a flatbed or trailer to get your bike home.

In 1997, when Honda released the Honda Valkyrie with the Goldwing's GL1500 engine, they spent some time re-engineering the transmission and drivetrain, beefing it up to handle the added power of the Valkyrie's six carburetors. The result is that 1997 and newer GL1500 Goldwings have beefed-up transmissions, universal joint and final drive. Fortunately, the beefed-up universal joint can be fitted to all years of GL1500.

The beefed-up universal joint can be ordered as Honda part number 40200-MZ0-A00:

Image

Several years back, Honda had a problem with the suppliers of universal joints, and there were none available for quite some time. As a result, many GL1500 owners had to park their bikes, or roll the dice with a used one from eBay. At least one aftermarket supplier started a service rebuilding them, replacing the previously-unserviceable bearings with replaceable and greasable Timken bearings (the OEM Honda universal joint contains sealed bearings that cannot be greased). However, as of the time of writing, there are easily obtainable from Honda.

It's a good idea to replace the universal joint boot at the same time you replace the universal joint. If you are putting an upgraded universal joint in a pre-1997 GL1500, you must replace the boot, as the beefier universal joint will not physically fit in the older, narrower boot.

Image

According to the official Honda Service Manual, an unbelievable amount of parts have to be removed in order to replace the universal joint, from the wheel, swingarm, battery box, and more. In reality, this is not true - for earlier GL1500's the universal joint can be removed without disassembling anything at all. For later GL1500's (and to install the larger universal joint in earlier GL1500's) the universal joint can be replaced by removing one of the swingarm pivots and sliding the swingarm slightly to one side.


1. Start with the motorcycle on its center stand. Remove the seat and the side covers. The bottom cover of the trunk must now be removed. There are four recessed screws along the bottom, near the outer lip. In this picture, I am removing the leftmost screw. Remove all four screws.

Image

2. Gently slide the left side of the lower trunk cover backward to disengage it from the tabs on the bottom of the trunk sidelight/reflector. Be careful, as these tabs are fairly brittle, and easily broken if forced.

Image

3. Pull the tab at the front of the lower trunk cover free from the antenna frame. Repeat the process to free the right side of the lower trunk cover as well.

Image

4. With the sides of the lower trunk cover free, slide the cover forward so that it is no longer held in place by the trunk and saddlebag release levers.

Image

5. Once free of the release levers, lower the lower trunk cover and put it aside somewhere soft where the paint won't be scratched.

Image

6. There are four screw/trim covers that must be removed. They are removed simply by prying them away with your fingernail, or a small, thin, flat-blade screwdriver. They should be tight - if they are loose, it's a good idea to give them a slight gentle squeeze with a pair of pliers to make sure they grip the trim tightly. They can be easily lost if they are not tight enough. Two of the covers are on the back of the bike, at the inner lower edges of the saddlebags.

Image

7. The other two are on each side, just a few inches from the back of the bike.

Image

8. Remove the screws exposed by each of the screw/trim covers.

Image

9. Once the two screws are removed, each lower rear saddlebag cover can be removed. Set them aside.

Image

10. Wiring for the lights will be exposed by the removal of the lower rear saddlebag covers. You may have a simple 3P connector such as the one I am holding, or you could have a rats nest of aftermarket wiring such as is shown in the top of the image. I decided after seeing this mess of wires and vampire clips to cut out and replace all of this wiring. These connectors connect the lights on the saddlebag to the bike's wiring. Because we're removing the saddlebags, these wires need to be disconnected.

Image

11. Open the saddlebags. Inside each saddlebag, at the top, near the rear of the bags, you will find the release mechanisms. It consists of a cable, connected to a nylon piece that snaps over the metal release bar. Unsnap the nylon piece from the bar.

Image

12. Rotate the nylon piece on the cable, and pull the cable free through the slot. Set aside the nylon piece.

Image

13. Here you can see the end of the release cable after the nylon piece has been removed. Squeeze the four locking tabs surrounding the cable and push it through the hole.

Image

14. Remove the four bolts fastening each saddlebag to the frame.

Image

15. Here you can see the saddlebag with the bolts removed. The large circle on the left is an adhesive rubber patch that can be removed to gain access to the rear brake caliper, in order to bleed the caliper without first having to remove the saddlebag.

Image

16. Tip the top of each saddlebag outward and make sure the release cable has come fully out of the bag.

Image

17. gently lift the saddlebags away from the motorcycle. Here you can see the emergency release button on the top of the saddlebag that is accessed from inside the trunk. The right saddlebag also has the compressor air outlet hose which must be pushed through the hole in the saddlebag before the saddlebag is removed.

Image

18. Remove the bolts holding the lower side covers in place on both sides, and remove the covers.

Image

19. With the covers removed, you will be able to see the joint between the exhaust collector and the mufflers.

Image

20. Loosen (but do not remove) the bolts holding the clamps that clamp the mufflers to the collector. It is a good idea to soak this area with a penetrating lubricant such as PB Blaster. I tend to soak this area with PB Blaster several times over several hours in advance of doing this process.

Image

21. Remove the support bolt fastening the back end of the muffler to the frame.

Image

22. The mufflers need to be rotated downward in order to gain access to the wheel axle, as seen here. If the mufflers are able to rotate on the collector, then great - you will have no problems. However, most mufflers are seized onto the collector. The best way to rotate them is to use a strap wrench near the very front of the muffler, while supporting the back end of the muffler. This applies rotational force without applying too much leverage to the expensive collector.

Image

23. Using a 27mm socket, remove the axle nut from the right side of the axle.

Image

24. Put a couple pieces of thin wood underneath the rear tire to support it. I find it's easier to put the wood on top of a piece of cardboard, to make it easier to slide in and out.

Image

25. Loosen, but do not remove the left lower shock mounting bolt.

Image

26. Loosen the axle pinch bolt on the left side of the wheel.

Image

27. Once the axle pinch bolt has been loosened, the axle should be able to slide out to the left side of the bike. If it needs a little persuading, use a rod (or in this case, a long socket extension), push one end up against the axle, and give the other end a couple taps with a hammer. The axle should break free easily.

Image

28. Pull the axle out from the left side.

Image

29. Remove the washer as shown.

Image

30. Leave the lower shock mounting bolt in place, as it will be providing the leverage on the brake caliper bracket required in order to loosen the brake caliper bolts.

Image

30. Remove the brake caliper mounting bolts, and pull the caliper free. Note: The Honda manual has you removing the caliper and the caliper bracket as an assembly, but in practice, this is next to impossible due to clearance issues. Save yourself a lot of time and frustration by removing them separately as I show here.

Image

31. Suspend the caliper using a bungee or coat hanger. Do NOT allow it to dangle by its brake hose!

Image

32. Remove the lower shock mounting bolt, and pull the brake caliper bracket free. It is held in place with both the wheel axle and the lower shock mounting bolt.

Image

33. Remove the collar from the wheel hub.

Image

34. Slide the wheel left (remember the cardboard?) to free the wheel hub from the final drive.

Image

35. The driven flange has slider pins that slide into the hub. They may be slid outward somewhat as shown in this picture. In order to gain the clearance required to remove the wheel, push the driven flange into the wheel hub as far as it will go.

Image

36. Using a beefy 17mm hex drive, break loose the right swingarm pivot. I first tried using a large socket driver with a 1/2" drive, but it did not budge.

Image

37. I ended up having to use an impact wrench to break it free.

Image

38. Looking at the boot covering the universal joint, the reverse mechanism is in the way.

Image

39. Pull the reverse lever up, which will rotate the mechanism out of the way.

Image

40. Pull the boot free of the back of the engine. This will reveal the universal joint.

Image

41. I pushed a magnet into the boot to collect any metal particles that might be there.

Image

42. There were obvious signs of metal chips in the bottom of my boot, further evidence that my universal joint was in the process of self-destructing.

Image

43. Remove the right side swingarm pivot.

Image

44. You should be able to look into the cavity and see the swingarm bearing.

Image

45. Push the back end of the swingarm to the left. This will pull the right front of the swingarm back. You will see the bearing move to the rear as a result. This gives us the extra clearance we require to replace the universal joint.

Image

46. Using a 14mm socket or wrench, remove the four nuts holding the final drive to the back end of the swingarm.

Image

47. Pull the final drive backward, free of the swingarm. The driveshaft will come with it. Be careful to support the swingarm as it is pulled free of the swingarm - the back end of the driveshaft has an oil seal that can be easily damaged.

Image

48. Remove the final drive and gently pull the driveshaft free of it. Set them both down. Make sure the vent on the final drive is facing upward, or it will drain its gear oil out onto the floor. Note that the final drive in the picture came out with the "spider" or driven flange - this driven flange may end up staying in the wheel, in which case you would see the splines that connect the driven flange to the final drive.

Image

49. Disconnect the negative terminal from the battery.

Image

50. Remove both terminals from the starter relay.

Image

51. Remove the starter relay from its mount (it is held in place with a rubber strap). This will give us additional clearance to remove the universal joint.

Image

52. Use a flat blade screwdriver to pull the back of the driveshaft boot free of the swingarm.

Image

53. Use a flat blade screwdriver to gently push the universal joint backward off of the transmission output shaft.

Image

54. Maneuver the universal joint to one side of the output shaft.

Image

55. Maneuver the boot around the output shaft, and then pull the boot out entirely - I used pliers to get a good grip on it to do so.

Image

56. Once I removed my boot, I found one of the causes of my universal joint's failure: the bottom end of it, near the rear, was torn through, allowing moisture and dirt to enter and foul the universal joint.

Image

57. The old universal joint can now be pulled free of the swingarm.

Image

58. Side by side, it is obvious the changes made to the new swingarm boot design to accomodate the larger universal joint.

Image

59. We will need molybdenum paste to lubricate the various splines during reassembly. The old Honda Moly 60 paste (on the right) has been superseded by the much more expensive M-77 assembly paste (on the left). Either will work fine.

Image

60. Apply the moly paste to the transmission output shaft spline.

Image

61. Apply the moly paste to both of the female splines on each end of the new universal joint. Make sure when installing that the longer end of the universal joint is put on the transmission output shaft - so the longer end faces the front end of the bike.

Image

62. Slide the universal joint into the front end of the swingarm.

Image

63. Squeeze the new boot in preparation of installation.

Image

64. Maneuver the new boot into place - I find it easier to come in from below. Make sure the wider end is at the rear, connecting to the swingarm.

Image

65. Slide the boot over the universal joint and output shaft. Stretch the boot over the swingarm so that its flange seats securely in the groove at the front of the swingarm. This ensures a good seal on the boot and swingarm, so that moisture cannot enter. Getting this boot securely in place on the swingarm is probably the most frustrating part of this entire process! Notice that the universal joint is pushed back into the swingarm. This is important for when we install the driveshaft.

Image

66. Lubricate the splines on the driveshaft with moly paste.

Image

67. Remove the driven flange from the final drive. Lubricate the spline on the driven flange as well as the inside of the drive with moly paste and insert it into the rear wheel.

Image

68. There are two types of driven flanges: 5-pin and 6-pin. If you have a 6-pin flange, lubricate the pins with moly paste. If you have a 5-pin flange, do not lubricate the pins - make sure they are clean and free of grease.

Image

68. Lubricate the spline on the final drive with moly paste.

Image

69. Carefully push the driveshaft back into the final drive, seating the oil seal. Supporting the driveshaft, guide the driveshaft back into the swingarm.

Image

68. Normally, attempting to get the driveshaft into the back end of the final drive is an exercise in frustration, because the back end of the final drive flops around, and rests on the bottom of the swingarm tube, not up in the center where it needs to be to line up with the driveshaft. However, because we can manipulate the position of the universal joint from the front, pulling it forward and back, which lifts the back end up and down inside the tube, it makes the job much easier. Guide the final drive into place on the swingarm and make sure it has fully engaged the splines in the back end of the universal joint. Once in place, install the four nuts holding the final drive to the swingarm finger tight.

Image

69. Push the universal joint back into the swingarm as far as it will go, and move the front end to line up with the transmission output shaft. Note: you may need to rotate the transmission output shaft by hand in order for the splines to line up - if this is the case, make sure the transmission is in neutral and that the reverse lever is down. Once in place, make sure the universal joint slides all the way up onto the output shaft.

Image

70. Pull the front of the boot up over the output block and make sure it is properly sealed, with the rubber flanges fully seated in the grooves.

Image

71. Replace the starter relay on its mount.

Image

72. Reinstall and tighten both terminals onto the starter relay.

Image

73. Reconnect the negative terminal onto the battery.

Image

74. Apply lithium grease to the end of the swingarm pivot.

Image

75. Move the swingarm so that the pivot bearing lines up properly, and screw the pivot into place.

Image

76. Torque the pivot to 72 ft-lb.

Image

77. Push the wheel hub into the final drive, so that the splines mate.

Image

78. Replace the collar into the wheel hub.

Image

79. Position the brake caliper bracket.

Image

80. Lightly grease the smooth (NOT the threaded) portion of the lower shock mount bolt. Insert but do not fully tighten the lower shock mount bolt - just enough to hold the caliper bracket in place.

Image

81. Clean and lightly grease the wheel axle.

Image

82. Insert the washer.

Image

83. While holding the washer in place, push the axle in place from the left side. Make sure it goes through the swingarm, washer, brake caliper, spacer collar, wheel hub, and final drive (in that order).

Image

84. The axle threads should protrude on the outside of the final drive. Thread the axle bolt in place and tighten just enough to pull the axle fully into place. Do not fully torque at this point.

Image

85. Using a torque wrench, tighten the lower shock mounting bolt to 51 ft-lb.

Image

86. Using a torque wrench, tighten the axle nut to 80 ft-lb.

Image

87. Using a torque wrench, tighten the axle pinch bolt to 23 ft-lb.

Image

88. Once the axle is installed and tightened, we now fully torque the final drive nuts, to 47 ft-lb.

Image

89. For lubricating brake components, use a high-temperature grease intended for brake applications.

Image

90. After cleaning the brake caliper with brake cleaner, position it in place over the brake rotor. Be careful not to damage the brake pads while positioning the caliper.

Image

91. Use brake grease to lubricate the smooth portions of the caliper mounting bolts.

Image

92. The upper caliper mounting bolt actually screws into the caliper itself, and the smooth pin portion of the bolt slides into this rubber boot on the caliper mounting bracket.

Image

93. Insert and tighten the lower caliper mounting bolt. The upper caliper mounting bolt/pin is torqued to 20 ft-lb, and the lower one is torqued to 12 ft-lb.

Image

94. Rotate the mufflers back into place, insert the bolt, and push the nut into place on the back.

Image

95. Hold the nut in place with a wrench, and tighten the bolt to fasten the muffler in place.

Image

96. Tighten the muffler clamps on both sides.

Image

97. Replace the lower side covers and bolt into place.

Image

98. Replace the saddlebags.

Image

99. Before pushing the saddlebags fully into position, make sure to push the release cables securely into their holes, as well as pulling the compressor hose through into the right saddlebag.

Image

100. Bolt the saddlebags into place with the four bolts on each side.

Image

101. Thread the nylon piece onto each of the release cables, then snap them onto the release bars.

Image

102. Reconnect the tail/brake wire connectors.

Image

103. Replace the lower rear saddlebag covers. There are round, molded pins on each cover that seat into holes in the existing plastic - make sure they seat correctly, or the covers will not fully fasten in place.

Image

104. Replace the screws fastening each cover in place.

Image

105. Push the trim clips back into place. Make sure they are tight - if not, clamp them gently with a pair of pliers to make sure they do not fall off.

Image

106. Lift the lower trunk cover into place. Push it forward to clear the fronts of the release levers, then pull it up and back over the top of the levers.

Image

107. Fastening the lower trunk cover in place takes a bit of finesse - and practice. Position the cover so that ALL of the tabs on both sides are lined up, then push the cover up and forward to lock it into place. You'll find that if you attempt to do one side at a time, the process of locking one side in place will often unlock the other side - an exercise in frustration. Keep in mind the fragile, brittle nature of the tabs!

Image

108. Replace the four screws holding the lower trunk cover in place.

Image



User avatar
thomba
Posts: 53
Joined: Mon Jun 28, 2010 8:45 pm
Location: Asheboro, North Carolina
Motorcycle: 2000 GL1500SE Darkside
1993 GL1500A Darkside
2005 VTX 1300R

Re: How to replace your universal joint (and driveshaft)

Postby thomba » Sat Oct 10, 2015 10:54 am

Really appreciate this tutorial. I need to replace a torn U joint boot this winter on a 93 Gl1500A. Seems I should plan on replacing the U joint with the beefier model and boot as well. Thanks.
Chief Warrant Officer 3 US Navy Ret 1966 -1986
No Wife, No Job, No Worries.
Retired & Love to Ride
Current Rides:
2000 GL1500SE (Red) Darkside
1993 GL1500A (Black) Darkside
2005 VTX 1300R (Red)

User avatar
Ericson38
Posts: 64
Joined: Mon Sep 21, 2009 7:39 pm
Location: Nokesville, Va
Motorcycle: 1983 GL 1100 Standard, 2000 GL1500 SE

Re: How to replace your universal joint (and driveshaft)

Postby Ericson38 » Thu Oct 15, 2015 3:55 pm

Thank you for a 1st class tutorial. My 2000 SE (white/green) has 83K miles, I'm ready for this repair now !

JLB
Posts: 36
Joined: Tue Oct 21, 2014 2:17 am
Location: HUIZEN, NH, Netherlands
Motorcycle: 1988 GL1500

Re: How to replace your universal joint (and driveshaft)

Postby JLB » Mon Nov 02, 2015 1:26 pm

Thank you for this really detailed instruction.

Hans
The Netherlands

User avatar
Bobsiler
Posts: 106
Joined: Mon Jun 01, 2015 10:55 pm
Location: Morgan Hill CA
Motorcycle: 1988 GL1500 A

Re: How to replace your universal joint (and driveshaft)

Postby Bobsiler » Sun Apr 17, 2016 9:42 am

"It's a good idea to replace the universal joint boot at the same time you replace the universal joint. If you are putting an upgraded universal joint in a pre-1997 GL1500, you must replace the boot, as the beefier universal joint will not physically fit in the older, narrower boot.

Image

According to the official Honda Service Manual, an unbelievable amount of parts have to be removed in order to replace the universal joint, from the wheel, swingarm, battery box, and more. In reality, this is not true - for earlier GL1500's the universal joint can be removed without disassembling anything at all. For later GL1500's (and to install the larger universal joint in earlier GL1500's) the universal joint can be replaced by removing one of the swingarm pivots and sliding the swingarm slightly to one side."




I'm going to be doing the ujoint on my '88 in a couple of weeks. You mentioned earlier models it can be removed without disassembling anything at all. Does the swing arm need to be shifted for this year?
Also when I searched the part # you listed for the boot I don't get any matches.
Honda lists the ujoint with the same # but the boot comes up as 52104-MN5-000 for all years GL1500. Maybe they changed the # ?

User avatar
Bobsiler
Posts: 106
Joined: Mon Jun 01, 2015 10:55 pm
Location: Morgan Hill CA
Motorcycle: 1988 GL1500 A

Re: How to replace your universal joint (and driveshaft)

Postby Bobsiler » Sun Apr 17, 2016 9:48 am

Ok i guess it does exist. Just found the boot on partszilla for $13.15.
The honda parts supplier I was checking shows a different #.

User avatar
Greenwinger
Posts: 62
Joined: Tue Aug 13, 2013 10:25 pm
Location: Newmarket, Ontario, Canada
Motorcycle: 1997 GL1500 SE
Pearl Green and Beautiful

Re: How to replace your universal joint (and driveshaft)

Postby Greenwinger » Fri Jul 22, 2016 7:55 am

I am going to replace my U joint this winter as I discovered a split in the boot last year and have no Idea how long the U joint has been exposed to the elements. My bike is a 97 SE with 100,000 miles. Is there any sense in changing the swing arm pivot bearings due to age or mileage??

User avatar
MikeB
Posts: 1228
Joined: Fri Dec 04, 2009 12:54 pm
Location: Tacoma, WA
Motorcycle: 1998 - GL1500 Aspencade.
2003 - GL1800A

Re: How to replace your universal joint (and driveshaft)

Postby MikeB » Wed Sep 14, 2016 11:58 pm

I just replaced my U-Joint on Monday. As WingAdmin has said, installing the boot is a frustrating challenge.

To back up a bit, I put this off a couple of weeks because I did not know if it could be done with the bike on a jack. A jack would have been in the way. The pictures in the tutorial appear to show that the wheel assembly is only removed from the final drive and set aside in the frame. And then the final drive is removed without taking the wheel assembly out of the frame. I didn't quite know if that was possible. I'm here to tell you that it is. Learn something new every day.

As to the boot, I tried installing it without the U-joint and it was not too difficult. Trouble is, when I tired to install the U-Joint, the boot came off of the swing arm. So I tried doing it with the U-Joint in place. I even removed the battery and battery box to try and gain more access. That didn't give me any more access. I must have spent an hour trying to fit it up.

What finally worked was to move the swing arm back into position and install the pivot bolt. Then with the U-Joint in place in the boot and the boot at the swing arm, I was afforded a little more room to pop the boot over the outside edge of the swing arm raised lip. The right side of the bike frame was preventing me from working the lip of the boot over the lip of the swing arm while the swing arm was out of position. Once the swing arm was back in its proper position, the boot was a little easier to manipulate. Only took about five minutes and it was in place.

Good luck all of you that are going to tackle this job. It will take you all day but it is worth the effort and you probably will never have to do it again.


MikeB
Tacoma, WA, USA


Return to “GL1500 DIY Articles”




Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 4 guests