View Full Version : Birfield Quandary (with minor rant)

02-18-2011, 06:59 PM
I popped my birfs apart today in the midst of my front axle rebuild. First one came apart fine and has some pretty good wear grooves but it wasn't too bad. The truck has 260k on it. Second one took a lot of work to get the balls out. Then I pulled out the cage and star. The star doesn't move freely in the cage and I can't even get it out. Lots of chips on the cage and the star is all hammered up. In short, it's toast.

So I call Stevinson and learn that a new one is $600. That's with the club discount. :eek:

So I call Slee and ask about their Chromoly ones, listed on the website for $350. I wanted to know how much faster they wear than stock. I was told that they will start clicking at 10 or 15k. :eek::eek: I can do a part time kit to make them last longer, but that's another $725. Might as well get new OEM ones at that rate.

Then I talked to Joe at CTS here in Conifer where I live. He says he uses CV Unlimited replacements with good success. He said they were a couple hundred bucks. I went on their website and found this (http://www.shopcvunlimited.com/servlet/the-Toyota-CV-Axles-cln-Land-Cruiser-cln-1995-dsh-98/Categories). I called to verify that this is, as stated on their website, a brand new joint. Yes, it is.

What the h*ll. Makes no sense to me. I did a little research on the CV Unlimited ones and apparently some guys on mud have run them with no trouble and some have failed.

I can't be the only person to have to replace a birf. What would you do, suck it up and get OEMs? Gamble on the CV Unlimited ones. Other solutions? I really can't see doing a birfield replacement every 10-15k with the Chromoly's, that seems ridiculous.

This is on my 95 FZJ80 with a TJM heavy lift and 33s. I was shooting to get 35s soon, but this sort of blows the budget. I won't be going bigger than 35s at any rate. I don't wheel it hard enough to break on the trail. I don't drive the truck every day, but I do rotate it in DD duties with my old 40 and my 94 pickup.

Any input?

02-18-2011, 07:46 PM
For the prices listed on that site. I'd gamble and buy a couple sets of them. If they blow up you're not out much money.

02-18-2011, 08:01 PM
I'd buy a set of Longfields and keep your OK OEM as a spare.

02-18-2011, 09:41 PM
Glad you discovered the damaged parts in the garage rather than on the trail. ;)

May be worth searching for some good used ones at one of the parts yards too.

02-18-2011, 10:06 PM
I'd buy a set of Longfields and keep your OK OEM as a spare.

I'm with Corbet on this Dan! Step up to the Longfields and be done with it, especially for when you go to 35's, and put the OEM spare in the back of the truck.

02-18-2011, 10:47 PM
I would go for the CV unlimiteds.. I don't think Longs are best for a full time truck. If you have to replace them every 3 years so what, you should have torn back into the axle by then anyway. IMHO, obviously. :beer:

02-19-2011, 08:47 AM
The guys that buy and use the cheap IFS CV axles end up doing a lot of trail fixes for broken CV's. I have no experience with Unlimited CV's, and maybe they are better than an "Autozone made in China specials", but I would want something I could trust in my axles.

Try some of the "parting out" threads on Mud? Or Oleg? Or Blake's?

02-19-2011, 09:12 AM
I'm with Corbet on this Dan! Step up to the Longfields and be done with it, especially for when you go to 35's, and put the OEM spare in the back of the truck.

Longfield has the same wear issue as the chromo ones we sell. Not for DD duties.

Uncle Ben
02-19-2011, 09:39 AM
I have played this game. In your 80, unless you do a part time conversion you do not want to run Longfield Birfs. Clicking will develop fairly soon in the full time set up and it gets louder. Stock Birfs will last you another 100k miles and I have never seen a broken 80 birf yet in tires 35 and under. In fact you are more likely to break the wimpy 8" front diff before the 80 Birfs go boom! I still have my Longfield inners and the "good" used Birfs I put in are now clicking. New Birfs are in my future. I have heard that CV Unlimited Birfs are better than they used to be but I have a few broken ones out of my 40 that learned my lesson. Ask Bruce Miller about CV Unlimited Birfs....be sure to wear your full face helmet when you do! :eek::lmao:

02-19-2011, 10:30 AM
Longfield has the same wear issue as the chromo ones we sell. Not for DD duties.

Christo, do you have any experience with Longfield's "new" birfs. This is a quote off of MUD from last summer posted by Longfiled.

"Yes they use to be for off road only. Know they are a little bit harder so they will wear longer. 4340 chromoly can wear as good as anything else if you treat them right with the rock well hardness. Now you can use them for your daily driver, but they are still not as hard as stock CV. Ours are half the price as stock ones."

My thought is at half the price you could buy two sets and probably get about the same "lifetime" as OEM

Quote can be found here: http://forum.ih8mud.com/80-series-tech/384093-longfield-super-axles-why-off-road-use-only.html

02-19-2011, 05:32 PM
I saw that post by Bobby Long on mud, too. It's a little confusing because the Longfield website still requires that you click on the disclaimer box saying, "*I understand these are for off-road use only" before you can order. I figured I'd call them on Monday and see what the story is. I did leave them a message today.

Went down to the Yota Yard to look at one they said they had, but it was a 92-94 version without the ABS ring and it wasn't in good shape. Then I went to Yoda Jim's to look at his. He had one that was rusted and wouldn't move, one that was pretty worn (I could see a couple of chips in the cage and could feel the wear grooves when I spun it), and 2 still in a truck that had 330k on it. :(

I also tried Oleg, no 95-97s. Left a message for Merl at Classic Cruisers in Salida.

Jacket mentioned Blakes. Never heard of that one and couldn't find it by google. :birf: I would be happy with a good used OEM, considering how long they last. Even if it had 100 or 150k on it, it seems like it would likely outlast a Chromoly one. Any other ideas on where I might source one (or two)?

02-20-2011, 07:45 AM
If you not in a hurry, take some of Christo's less expensive ones and have them cryo'ed at Mountain High performance. I am considering doing that for my next set as a experiment. I also find the stock ones to be very costly. But as UB said, they last a very long time, are good for up to 35" tires (I have been wheeling my 36 Swampers on them for years).
One other thought is to take your old ones down to CVJ in denver and have them redone. I do not have their phone number,but you should be able to google it. One day turn around. They say the inners and cage is OEM quality, but will not say where the parts are made.
I think the last time I called, it was 150 to have them rebuilt.
Other options for you.

02-20-2011, 09:44 AM
Dan, I'm not sure if you'd be interested, but I have a set with the ABS ring. I have no idea what kind of shape they are in, and was originally just going to keep them as a spare set. I just pulled them yesterday while getting my axle cleaned up. I am going to be running aftermarket knuckles and won't need the ABS ring axles.

PM me with what you think is a reasonable number if you are interested.

02-20-2011, 05:18 PM
how do they rebuild CV joints? Grind them and put in bigger balls?

02-21-2011, 06:21 AM
The conversation I had was they weld then grind, then put new stars and cages in. They say it is just as strong. Interesting they make stuff for race buggys and all sort of applications. They repair cv for many many applications. They were used by Christo for certain jobs in the early day. I do not remember any having failed. But the use was normally for a stock set up.

02-21-2011, 09:58 AM
I'm in the same boat - with a bone stock '95, 180K. I have a dirt driveway and when you accelerate with turned wheels, they clatter fairly loudly. They are quiet on pavement turns. I ran into exactly what you saw - inexpensive/unknown eBay/China stuff or OEM $$$. I swapped the outers left for right, and it made no difference in the clattering. Mine don't show serious wear (visually), but have some rotational play in the joint. So, I greased them heavily, put them back in, and have decided not to worry about it. Wish I could offer more useful info, but in this case, just sympathy. My brother's '94 has 220K and his are quiet.

02-21-2011, 05:41 PM
September 2004 I put in two new ones from Christo. I'm going to guess that was about 40,000 miles back.

They still work fine with only a minor click when making the first left turn a block form home on a cold morning. I never hear clicking any other times. They have been repacked twice.

FWIW, they were also $350 each then.

02-21-2011, 06:18 PM
buy longs when they start to click send um in and have them rebuilt i believe he rebuilds his for free minus shipping....

02-21-2011, 07:03 PM
nitro also make s birf i think they are chromoly too though

02-21-2011, 07:27 PM
Bobby will only rebuild for free if they break. Making noise or clicking is not brakeage. I had a couple of conversations with him about 2 years ago. Just beware of the warranty, he makes sure if you use it in a Daily Driver, you are aware that they will wear out, but not break.

02-21-2011, 08:16 PM
ok I just saw the article in toyota mag that made it sound like he rebuilds for free i have never asked him though

02-21-2011, 08:24 PM
you are correct he doesnt do it for free its 50 bucks

02-23-2011, 09:16 AM
Alright. I talked to Bobby Long and he said that they have adjusted their heat treating to make their joints wear longer but still not explode (his words). He told me that he has a guy in Australia who has 80k miles on the new joint with no clicking. Sounds promising.

Then I talked to CVJ in Denver about rebuilding. They said they do new internals (balls, star and cage) and get rid of the wear grooves. They were a little vague as to how they do it, said it was a proprietary process. He did tell me that they don't weld and regrind. I reckon that they regrind and use oversize balls similar to how Long does his rebuilds. I asked about a warranty and they do one year parts and labor. Then I asked what kind of life I could expect out of them and they said that they "should be good for another couple hundred thousand, as long as you don't do anything crazy". Cost is $149 per birf. Turn around is a few hours.

I have decided to go with the rebuild. I guess that makes me the club guinea pig on this, since I know of no one else that has gone this route. I plan on taking them down today, so if anybody has any experience with these rebuilts please let me know - good OR bad.

02-23-2011, 09:22 AM
could you take some good before and after pics?

02-23-2011, 09:29 AM
Good news. :thumb: Glad you found a solution.

Re-assembly Saturday? :beer:

02-23-2011, 09:45 AM
Cool!! Glad you are moving forward with it.

For that amount of money I would have probably gone down the same road.

02-23-2011, 11:06 AM
Measure the balls before and after too, to prove your theory out :D

02-23-2011, 11:14 AM
could you take some good before and after pics?

Yes please.. and maybe some measurements of the housing too? Not sure you can craft a way to measure the wall thickness at the balls, between the balls, etc. but that would be interesting data to know.

02-23-2011, 11:52 AM
Yes please.. and maybe some measurements of the housing too? Not sure you can craft a way to measure the wall thickness at the balls, between the balls, etc. but that would be interesting data to know.

I don't have a micrometer or caliper or anything to measure accurately. Martin, do you have such? I can get pics no problem.

Also, Martin, I am planning on re-assembly on Saturday. Wanna play? :hill: