KC Warford

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Actually, it was from Texas.

Here's the story:

Our experience with a used KC Warford.

Ok, most of you know I bought a used KC Warford last fall from a gentleman that couldn't stand the howling noise it made.  I was told where he bought it , who installed it in his car, and that less than 1,000 miles was put on the car before he couldn't stand the noise anymore.  He ripped it out and sold it to me.  He also lost a substantial loss of money on the whole deal.

I, based on my own past experience, thought I knew why it howled and figured it was an easy fix.  My first KC Warford was a few years ago and went into our touring car.  It howled.  I called the Laynes and was told to "lift it up a little and then re-tighten the mounting bolts".  I did and it was perfect from that point on.  I figured that must be the problem with this one...  I was WRONG!

I installed the transmission and the shortened driveshaft that came with it in my car as purchased.  I had no idea anything could make such a horrible noise.  I made one trip in it, got a HUGE headache and ripped it out.  I sent a video of the problem to John Layne, and the previous owner so I could show them first hand what was going on.  John thought it might be a bearing in the transmission, the previous owner told me that it sounded the same in his car when he had it.  How he tolerated 1,000 miles of this is beyond me.

The first thing I did was send the transmission back to Layne machine for an autopsy.  If your curious what the inside of one looks like - here it is: 

After going through it with a magnifying glass (literally) John Layne called and said there is nothing wrong with it.  He suggested that I look into the driveshaft for the source of the noise.  So - I went out and grabbed the u-joint and pulled.  It moved in and out with a clunk I had not noticed before.


On the bench the total driveline slop was 0.183"


When I found this I thought I had the answer - but no...


Here's the main issue - someone installed a modern pinion bearing improperly and peaned the set screw on the retaining collar (maybe to lock it in place????).


Tapered bearing on one end.



Collar, then a bronze bushing, in the spool is a sealed bearing - no taper.

The bronze bushing has a sloppy fit inside and outside.  Apparently this setup is one that John Regan sells.  I talked with him about it at length.  The bronze bushing was supposed to be a press fit into the modern bearing, and a press fit onto the driveshaft.  I also got some input from the previous owner.  He had installed this bearing on his car prior to the warford conversion.  The car was quiet until the "experts" got a hold of it.  Simply put, this bearing setup was re-installed wrong.  These bearings require a "pre-load", meaning that they are installed a little too tight, just like your front wheel bearings. 


Brand new driveshaft chewed up in under 1,000 miles.


Why is this the source of the noise?  The pinion gear was moving forward and backward in the rear end housing, up against the ring gear.  The pinion gear is tapered as shown above.  When the shaft slipped forward, the gears got the proper lash (gap between the teeth) and the noise went away.  When it slipped back, the gears ground into each other.  I drove this howling banshee to my fathers house before pulling it out of the car.  He heard us coming while we were still over two miles away - through a forest.  The noise was traveling up the torque tube and entering the car through the shift lever.  From where we were sitting, it sounded like it was in the transmission.


Next decision was to go with a Stoltz bearing setup.  I arrived at this choice because I had one on the shelf, and because it uses two tapered bearings instead of one tapered bearing and that thrust bushing setup shown above.  I'm sure that if Johns bearing conversion was installed right it would have been fine, but going this route saved me the hassle of making a replacement bronze bushing.


And of course my new yet to be named green grease!

This collar is not the split type like the other one was.

Modified key per instructions

Again - I'm not a great welder, but it is in the instructions - keeps the collar from slipping.

A crappy brass bushing was in place at the top of the driveshaft - too loose of course.

Driveshaft shows wear from the loose brass bearing.


Three bearings, roller, bronze, and the crappy brass one I took out.  I was going to use the roller bearing.  Given that everything has been disturbed, a new driveshaft was modified (which was 1/4" too long and had to be shortened again here).  I was not 100% sure that I was going to get the u-joint centerline in the right place - so I decided to use the bronze bushing.  This resolved the centerline issue and gave me some peace of mind.

Crap that came out of the torque tube when I cleaned it.  Looks like rivet heads.


After re-shortening this another 1/4" to get it to the right length, I found the u-joint (none) would slide on the end without using a hammer.  Some filing removed the excess material and the u-joint now slides on and off by hand as it should.


U-joint was rubbing on the inside edge of the bell housing, the area was relieved with a small die grinder.

Shows how far off the retaining pin holes were.  The shaft was rotated and re-drilled.


"New" Warford ready to install - again.

Install the torque tube upside down so you can get to the grease fittings.


Here's a video showing the problem and the end result of our efforts.



While I am on this rant, I will also comment on the same "expert"'s installation instructions.  They stated that it is impossible to install this transmission in a fordor without removing the engine.  Yup, I fell for that one too. 

The first time I installed this I pulled the engine out (forward 3-4 inches might as well be all the way out).  After a few hours of that it was easy to install the warford and then I got to spend several more hours re-assembling the car.  When I had to pull it out again I decided to try something different (suggested by John Layne).  I cut a little wider notch (one side only) where the shift comes up, rotated the warford 90 degrees, and slid it out.  No muss no fuss. 

This whole ordeal left the previous owner with a lighter wallet - thousands lighter.  I had the privilege of installing this in my car twice, many hours of labor, and it cost me a few hundred bucks above the purchase price as well.  John Layne went the extra mile to help me resolve this mess.

The bottom line is if you want to put one of these Warfords in your car - call Layne machine to order the it and the shortened parts, and hire someone that knows what they are doing to install it. 

Layne Machine's phone number is 816-231-3268

The website is: http://www.laynemachine.com/KCWarford.htm

Please take some time to look around our website, there are more videos, articles, and a ton of information here!



I want to change something from above.  Next time we do this, no grease will be used on the tapered pinion bearing.  I wasn't sure at the time and thought grease would be better than running dry and gambling.  There is a pre-load required here, the grease takes up too much room.  The result was a slight increase in noise after a few hundred miles.  Eventually I will take it apart and tighten up that bearing a little more.

We learn something new every day!

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