Alert readers will recall that I said there was a problem in the drive train last time. You may also remember that I mentioned that the new U-joints were almost as hard to install as the old ones were to remove. Well, either something happened during installation, or the bearing caps were just a little too big, or something else like that, but when the new joints were in place on the rear drive shaft, they could be moved back and forth only with difficulty, and one was almost impossible to move by hand, even though they came with the bearings pre-lubed, and I fully greased the joint before installation.
When the car is in gear, this causes a disconcerting creaking sound to vibrate through the whole shaft, and the stiffness makes it so that even with the car on jack stands, it won't go above 15 mph at idle without binding up and sort of bucking, in time with the rotation of the shaft.
So the rear drive shaft had to come out again. For the first time in this project, I decided to seek professional help. I left early on Thursday with the drive shaft in my trunk to take it to a specialist shop on my way to work. When I put it on the counter, the lady told me I had put the U-joints in bass-ackwards, for one thing, (so much for trying to follow the picture on the box) but that wouldn't have caused the problem, and that I'd get a call a little later.
Even the shop was "not sure what happened" but they said nothing was bent, which was a relief. Even so, the U-joints needed to be replaced, and they recommended a balancing as well. Probably a good idea, since I doubt it's been done since the thing was manufactured. I picked it up after work Friday. Painted and everything, so that was cool.
Meanwhile, on Thursday afternoon I found out that the front drive shaft is rubbing on the front exhaust pipe. I'll probably just ditch that shaft for a while since I won't be using 4WD for the time being.
HOWEVER. I expect to be able to share some good news next time. Until then...