Most of the articles in our Product Review sections tend to be the type where we review a new product from a known vendor, a product from a lesser-known vendor or a combination of both. However, this article takes a bit of a twist from the norm as we talk to you about a well-known product, from a reputable vendor.
Enter Tom Woods Custom Drive Shafts. Synonymous with off-roaders for stout, customer drive shafts, Tom Woods is to driveshafts as Microsoft is to PC’s (except for the whole security, monopoly thing).
As we were wrapping up Phase 2 of our project Land Cruiser, we got to the point where we needed to apply power from our new engine/tranny/t-case combo to our new axles. The best way we knew how was with a set of Tom Woods custom, long-travel drive shafts that could and would stand up to the V8 and my heavy right foot. Here are the details on why we chose Tom Woods Custom Drive Shafts.
Our choice of style and type of drive shafts are considered to be the “standard” 4X4 drive shaft that Tom Wood’s offers, but are certainly stronger and have more travel than any other “standard” drive shaft we’ve seen or used. In fact, Tom reinforced that we’d be getting the same type of drive shafts, made by the same crew, on the same production line that anyone else could get. So the drive shafts you see in this article are the same units you would get.
In making any drive shaft, the team at Tom Woods starts by selecting components that are of highest quality. While most vendors will select products that are of good quality and yield low customer returns, Tom Woods goes the extra mile to ensure that his drive shafts (even the “standard” ones) will stand up to the 4-wheeling crowd they cater to. In fact, Tom Woods believes so much in the quality of his drive shafts, he’ll warranty them against trail damage!
Universal Joints – Tom Woods offers “Gold Seal” u-joints which have the grease fitting in the bearing cap. Most normal u-joints have the grease fitting in the corner of the body of the u-joint, which weakens what is supposed to be the strongest part. The “Gold Seal” u-joints are also machined with a precise fit which yields higher breaking points than most others on the market. The “Gold Seal” u-joints are considered standard components in their drive shafts.
- – For more information on the Gold Seal u-joints, click here. Tom Woods Gold Seal u-Joints can also be ordered seperately as replacements for your drive shafts
Construction “True” – During build, Tom Woods takes the factory allowable tolerances for drive shafts and cuts them in half. The renders a drive shaft with better fit and finish, increases the life-span and durability of the driveshaft, and reduces slop and play. Tom Woods also balances all drive shafts at a speed of 3400 RPM’s.
Yokes & Splines – This is an area where the Tom Woods drive shaft really excels. The splines on these drive shafts are cut to the full length of the stub. In laymen’s terms, this means that there’s more than double the contact patch between the slip yoke and the spline, which means they’ll last twice as long as a normal drive shaft. Further, the Tom Woods yokes are custom forged to their specifications for strength and tolerances. Other manufacturers typically use a “ductile cast” yoke, ’nuff said.
While you’ll likely find that many other manufacturers offer long-travel yoke/spline combinations, many incorporate a long “necked spline” and a shorter slip yoke. Once again in laymen’s terms, this means that the contact patch is considerably smaller and inherently weaker. With the Tom Woods configured long-travel slip yoke, fully cut spline stub and sealed boot, the spline will last almost indefinitely.
Boots – For extreme travel slip yoke configurations (like our front drive shaft), boots don’t have the flexibility and the tenacity to stand up to the long travel. With this much movement, they’ll become pinched, torn or frayed in no time. Tom Woods does however offer a great solution (like the one on our front drive shaft) with a grooved dust seal. The seal keeps the bulk of the elements out and grease fitting on the yoke allows you to perform your maintenance as needed. For standard travel slip yoke configurations, Tom Woods uses a high quality boot to seal the slip yoke.
Tubes -Our driveshaft uses a 2.00″ X.120″ wall, Drawn Over Mandrel (D.O.M.) tube, which has nearly twice the yield & tensile strength of a comparable sized factory Cold Rolled Electric Welded (C.R.E.W.) tube. To give you some perspective on the thickness (.120″ wall) of the tubing, NASCAR regulates that all roll cages must be made of .90″ wall D.O.M. tubing. This is bigger and stronger than that.
Measurements, ordering and installation:
The installation of these (and any) drive shafts are very straight forward. In fact, all you need are a set of wrenches and about 20 minutes of time to perform the install. That being said, we won’t go into a lot of detail here, but do want to draw your attention to the measurement aspect.
In the past, it has always been difficult for the do-it-yourselfer to accurately measure and order a set of custom drive shafts via the web or the phone. Without considerable experience in drive shaft measuring, even the most seasoned do-it-yourselfers would typically leave this to a professional. However, Tom Woods has done a superb job in writing what is by far the most comprehensive, yet easy to follow set of instructions I’ve seen. I downloaded his measuring instructions from his web site and with tape measure in hand I was able to measure and identify exactly what type of drive shaft our vehicle needed, based upon the type of driving I do. The whole ordeal took about 15 minutes and I measured 3 times to make sure I had everything right. A quick call to Tom yielded a few extra questions about our shackle-reversal front end and he then had everything he needed to build the drive shafts. Talk about painless! A week or so later and voila! Two shiny new drive shafts were handed to me by my UPS driver.
Installation, as I mentioned earlier was a snap. Our setup required just one wrench to tighten the self-locking nuts on the u-joint u-bolts. Aside from being careful not to let the caps fall off of the u-joints, that really is all there is to the installation.
After running our driveshafts for nearly a month, we’ve found that the drive shafts provide ample travel for our vehicle (we easily ramp 1100 on a 20 degree RTI ramp) and are very well balanced. At 65 m.p.h. we feel no vibrations and it’s smooth as silk. The drive shafts have also held up well to the trips off road and to some Land Cruiser vs. Mustang GT drag races. No comment on the winner of the races though.
|Tom Woods Custom Drive Shafts|
|2147 N. Rulon White Blvd.
Building #1 Suite #103
Ogden, UT 84404
Phone: 1-877-4xShaft (1-877-497-4238)
Fax: 1-877-4xJoint (1-877-495-6468)
Web Site: http://www.4xshaft.com/