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Rear Axle (Automobile)

26.6.

Rear Axle
The vehicle with non-independent rear suspension uses either a dead axle or a live axle. The dead axle only supports the weight of the vehicle, but the live axle besides fulfilling this task, contains a gear and shaft mechanism to drive the road wheels. The arrangements for supporting the road-wheels on live axles and providing the driving traction use an axle-hub mounted on to the axle-casing and supported by ball or roller-bearing. The two main components installed inside the axle of a rear-wheel drive vehicle are the final drive and differential. 26.6.1.

Axle Casing
The casing used now a days is either a banjo or carrier-type. In the past a split (trumpet) casing was occasionally used. These three types are shown in Fig. 26.51. The type of axle casing used decides the method for the removal of the final drive.

Banjo Type.
The tubular axle section of this casing is built up of steel pressings, which is welded together and suitably strengthened to withstand the bending load. The centre of this casing with the axle tube on one side resembles a banjo. The final drive assembly is mounted in detachable malleable iron housing and is secured by a ring of bolts to the axle casing. The axle shafts are slid into this assembly from the road wheel end of the casing. On some banjo axles a domed plate is bolted to the rear face of the casing. Removal of this plate provides excess to the final drive gears and in cases where the axle shaft is secured to the differential, this enables the axle shaft to be unlocked from the sun gear (side gear).

Consequently the possibility of oil being forced past the seals is prevented. Axle Shafts and Hub Arrangements The axle shaft transmits the drive from the differential sun wheel to the rear hub. The final drive assembly is installed in a rigid malleable cast iron carrier.2. The final drive becomes hot during operation. 26. into which the axle tubes are pressed and welded. This allows lubrication of the hub bearings by splash caused due to rotation of the crown wheel. A lubricant level plug is screwed into the domed cover or the final drive housing at a height about one third up the crown wheel. 26.Fig. hence some form of air vent is provided to release the pressure in the axle casing. Overfilling of the lubricating oil swamps the oil seals causing the oil to enter the brakes and hence this should be avoided. Carrier Type. The various types of shafts may be compared based on the stresses they resist. Types of rear axle casing. For extra rigidity reinforcing ribs extend from the pinion nose to the main carrier casing.6. which is normally just below the axle tubes. A simple automobile shaft has to withstand .51. This type of casing is more rigid than a banjo type and is often employed to support a hypoid gear. A domed plate is fitted at the rear of the casing to provide access to the final drive gear.

and (lit) tensile and compressive stresses due to cornering forces. C.(i) torsional stress due to driving and braking torque. («) shear and bending stresses due to the weight of the vehicle. Loading of different axle-hub arrangements. There are basically three different arrangements of supporting axle wheel hubs on the rear-axle casing. Axle half-shafts are situated on each side of the final drive and convey motion to the road-wheels. A. resist spline wear and . Fully floating axle hub. B.52 demonstrates how loads are resisted with different axle-hub arrangements. hard material is used for the axle shaft to withstand the various stresses. Fig. Figure 26. (ii) Three quarter floating axle hub (rarely used today). Semi-floating axle hub. A tough. These include : (i) Semi-floating axle hub (commonly used on cars). Axle shafts are divided into semi-floating. (m) Fully floating axle hub (commonly used on heavy vehicles). three-quarter floating and fully floating depending on the stresses to which the shaft is subjected. 26.52. Three-quarter floating axle hub.

This bending moment may add to the vertical bending moment or may oppose it. However. The exact position of the bearing in the casing is provided by shims packed between the casing flange and the brake back-plate. and the distance between the wheel and the suspension-spring seat on the axle causes a bending moment. The taperroller-bearing inner cone fits with a light force inside the mouth of the casing. The vertical load produces a shearing force. 26. The horizontal load due to tilting of the vehicle.54 uses a taper-roller bearing. cornering centrifugal force. The bearing is sandwiched on one side by the axle-casing and on the other by the brake back-plate and the retaining plate by four nuts and bolts. A pre-greased and sealed deep grooved ball-race bearing is pressed over and along the shaft up to its shoulder. The axle half shaft and flanged hub are forged from a single piece of nickel chrome steel. the reaction of which is shared between the axle bearing and the final-drive-unit bearings. Fig. An oil retainer is fitted at the hub end and the lip of the seal is positioned towards the final drive in the sealing arrangement. The road-wheel is attached to the axle hub.53. The semi-floating axle along with its overhanging hub is subjected to the driving torque as well as to both vertical and horizontal loads. Oil level of the final-drive is considerably lower than the axle shaft. A semi-floating axle shown in Fig. or side wind gives rise to both side-thrust and a bending moment.52A). Increasing the thickness of the shims on one side and decreasing it on the other shifts both half-shafts further to one side relative to the axl casing. Medium carbon alloy steel containing nickel. which resists the vertical and horizontal loads. 26. suitable for small and medium sized cars. The inner end of the shaft is splined and supported by the final-drive unit. which is an extension of the axle half-shaft. a radial-lip oil-seal is pressed into a recess in the casing.provide good resistance to fatigue. The flange is provided with evenly spaced holes around it for wheel studs. On either road-wheel the outward . The hub end of the shaft is provided with a larger diameter than the rest of its length. The outer face of the flanged hub is shouldered so that it centralizes accurately the brake drum. the large amount of splash may cause the lubricant to spread along the shaft and enter the brake drum. is illustrated in Fig. 26. 26. A separate hub is wedged on to a keyed and tapered half-shaft and a castellated nut holds it is position. Semi-floating Axle Hub. Semi-floating ball-race-bearing axle. depending on the direction of application of the side-force. A single bearing inside the tubular axle-casing supports the outer end of the shaft. To prevent excess oil leakage to the end of the axle-casing. chromium and molybdenum is generally used to manufacture axle shafts. which is suitable for larger and higher-performance cars because of its greater load-carrying capacity. which itself is mounted on bearings within the axle casing (Fig.53. A semi floating axle.

while inward thrust is transmitted to the opposite bearing through the axle half-shafts and a slotted axle-shaft spacer (not shown). . whereas R2 opposes it. Bearing Loads.55. Considering the forces in the horizontal and vertical directions. P = F and R\=R2 Fig.Ri adds to the normal static load on the bearing. Semi-floating taper-roller-bearing axle. each hub bearing takes thrust in one direction only. Fig. Let F = lateral force at the rim of the wheel r = radius of the wheel L = distance between the centres of wheel bearings R\ and R2 = radial reactions of the wheel bearing on the wheel hub P = the thrust reaction of the bearing In practice. P is equal to F. Axle Shaft.6. and Ri and R2 each approximately equal to three fifth ofF. Therefore.thrust is absorbed by the adjacent hub bearing. 26. the radio rIL ~ 0. for semi-floating type axles. 26.55. Therefore.54. 26. Bearing loads due to side thrust on semi-floating axle. Bearing loads due to side thrust on a wheel in semi-floating axle is shown in Fig.

of the shaft should vary with the bending moment along the length. . the diameter. the diameter is minimum near the differential end where the shaft is subjected to nearly total torsion alfcd is maximum at the outboard bearing.Shafts for semi-floating type axles are subjected to both bending and torsion. The maximum stress in shaft occurs when the wheels slip or lock due respectively to a sudden application of power or braking on dry. Accordingly. where bending moment is maximum. Hence. hard pavement.

The bearing load produces a bending moment on the axle housing. the minimum diameter can be calculated and at the bearing the equations for combined stresses can be used. both the allowable tensile and shear stresses in the shaft at the outboard bearing can be compared with the calculated values. is subjected to both bending and torsion. the . which is zero at the centre of the bearing and increases uniformly to a maximum value at the centre of the spring seats and thereafter remains constant. and attains its maximum value when the wheel is either spun by the engine or locked by the brake. like axle shafts. The static load on the ourboard bearing depends on the driving force and the retarding force. As discussed in the case of axle shafts. Semi-floating axle housing. Axle Housing. assuming a diameter proportionately larger than the minimum and thus.Using torsion formula.

26. which create end-thrust. depending upon light. which tends to twist the wheel relative to the axle-casing. the half-shaft provides the additional resistance.52B). . the side-forces create a bending moment. However. but the shear force and bending moment are absorbed by the tubular axle-casing through the hub bearing. This tilting tendency is resisted mostly by the hub bearing and partly by the axle-shaft. a slight offset of wheel and bearing centres exist so that the hub is tilted relative to the axle-casing. are opposed by the hub bearing and casing. is bolted to the hub forming part of the axle-shaft.Three-quarter-floating Axle-hub. 26. specifically in cold weather. the three-quarter-floating arrangement is rarely used today. Horizontal loads. coming from the final drive. in this case also. The half-shaft uses an upset-forged flange at the outer end. 26. An oil-seal is placed at the back of the hub to prevent excess oil. due to availability of the compact. However. The bearing in this case is positioned between the hub and the casing unlike between the axle and the casing as in the semifloating layout. In the three-quarter-floating axle and hub arrangement. only if the road-wheel and the hub bearing lie in the same vertical plane. This is resisted by the bearing. The outer end of the shaft and hub is supported by a bearing located over the axle-casing. A three-quarter-floating axle shown in Fig. same as the semi-floating half-shaft (Fig. which is clamped to the bearing hub by the wheel studs.or heavy-duty applications. The road-wheel. This bearing is located on the axle-casing and is secured in position by a large nut. The outer bearing track supports the hub. Practically.56 was once very popular for cars and light commercial vehicles when semi-floating half-shafts frequently failed due to fracture. A large tilting force therefore tends to overload the bearing if it is not adequately sized. the driving torque is transmitted by the shaft. but incase this offset is large. Either a large-diameter single-row or a double-row ball-race bearing is used (Fig.56). cheap and reliable semi-floating axle. The inner end of the half-shaft is splined to the final-drive assembly. to escape to the brakes from the hub.

therefore. allows the vehicle to be towed with a broken half shaft. Two bearings widely Fig. therefore. The diagram showing the bearing loads due to side thrust on a full floating axle is presented in Fig. The flange is provided to accommodate the road-wheel or wheels. Both the vertical and horizontal load reactions are resisted by a pair of widely spaced taper-roller bearings installed on the axle-casing. The axle half-shaft. Depending upon the application. Fully floating axle. This layout. based on a concept of the three-quarter-floating axle.56. Studs connecting the shaft to the hub transmit the drive and when the nuts on these studs are removed. spaced are installed between the hub and the casing to support the hub assembly (Fig 2652C) This provides am improvement on the first two types of hub support. Figure 26. In the figure. single or twin road-wheels are used.57 illustrates a fully floating axle-hub. which is positioned over the axle casing. F = lateral force at the rim of the wheel r = radius of the wheel .57. Fig. is free from all the loads except the torsional drive to the wheel. This axle-hub arrangement incorporates a flanged sleeve. This is specifically suitable for all truck and heavy-duty vehicles employing live axles and for trailers using dead axles where torque and axle loads are greater. 26. The axle-shaft in this case takes only the turning-effort or torque. This is a larger and more expensive construction than both the other layouts. 26.58. 26. The construction is such that the two hubs on their bearing rotate independently of the halfshaft. the shaft may be removed without jacking up the vehicle and without interfering with the load-supporting role of the hub.Fully Floating Axle-hub. Three-quarter-floating axle. Bearing Loads.

the ratio r/L = 4. Fig. In this case the axle shafts are subjected to torsional stresses only. Ri=R2 = ^F = 4F Rl adds to the normal static load on the bearing. the formula for the torsional strength of shafts can be applied to calculate the diameter of the shaft.L = distance between the centres of wheel bearing Rl and i?2 = radial reactions of the wheel bearing on the wheel hub P = the thrust reaction of the bearing In practice. shear stress averages to 295 to 325 MPa. Considering the force in the horizontal and vertical directions. Rl and R2 on the bearing are each approximately four times F. But for the sake of simplicity in calculations without appreciable error. Axle Housing. The housing for full-floating axle transfers the load to the road wheels. The thrust load on the bearing is equal to the shock load. Fr = R\L and Fr = R%L Hence. Then the bending moment produced by the reaction of the ground on the housing at the centre of . Let W = the maximum load on one wheel I = The distance between the centre planes of the wheel and the spring seat. F on the wheel. whereas i?2 opposes it. For better grades of alloy steel that are generally used for axle shafts. This acts as a simplysupported beam at the ends with distributed loads. it can be considered as a beam with concentrated loading at the centre of the spring seats. P = F andRi=R2 Taking moment. Axle Shaft. whereas radial shock loads. The shaft is also of constant cross-section. Thus. Bearing loads due to side thrust on full-floating axle. 26.58.

the spring seat = Wl .

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