Finally! It's easy when you learn how to do it. <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/rolleyes.gif" alt="" /> Here's what I learned today that should apply to any Gen1:
It's not necessary to remove the shock. Grease the circlip and spline area. Turn the points of the circlip so they face downward and center the circlip on the axle. Holding it in your left hand (between the boots), insert the axle carefully so you don't lose the centering on the clip, rotate the axle slightly so you feel the splines in front of the clip engage the axle gear and bump the outer end of the axle hard with the heel of your right hand. It'll go right in. <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/smile.gif" alt="" /> The hard bump with the heel of a hand seems to have just the right amount of dead-blow force, where a plastic or rubber hammer will bounce and not fully compress the circlip.
BUT - it does hang up at the joint between the axle gear and the spacer - even if the splines are aligned. To force it all the way in, just pop it hard on the outer end with a plastic hammer and it'll go home as pretty as you please. <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/smile.gif" alt="" /> <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/smile.gif" alt="" />
I thought I should have a depth reference instead of guessing if the axle was inserted all the way, so I measured the dust cover depth to the carrier mounting bracket to get a reference. That dimension is about 0.925". I placed a piece of tape at the mark as an installation depth gauge:
Note that the mark is just about where the axle necks down, so there's no need to use a mark - just insert the axle until that necked-down area is at the edge of the carrier bracket. Here's the axle, fully inserted:
Driver side axle end play shimming is a little fiddly because the circlip will fool you as you pull the axle outward to check end play if the end play is small. The new axle gear doesn't stop the circlip as abrubtly as the OE axle gear. After installing a shim, checking, then adding another shim, I found the axle seemed to be creeping..... I was probably pulling too hard trying to feel the play. The best method is to initially install only the end clip, check the end play, select what you need for shims, remove the clip, install the shims + clip and re-check. Mine ended up at 0.018" - more than I'd like, but there's no shim (or combination) in the shim sets that can close the gap without getting too tight.... yours may - and likely will - be different.
Anyway, I'm done - it's all back together and full of gear oil. <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/kewl.gif" alt="" />