Here is what the differential carrier looked like while still mounted in the housing:
The ring-side bearing fell apart as soon as I took the carrier out of the housing. Here are the bearings and the carrier.
Close-up of the rollers.
Close-up of the surface the rollers ride on. (bearing cone)
Close-up of the inside surface of the outer race. (bearing cup)
After getting it all cleaned up, I found this area inside the differential housing was ground down. I guess the carrier bearings were so worn that the ring gear bolts contacted the inside of the housing. (actually not sure this is damage)
I did more reading this morning and found an article about what to look for when you are buying a used axle. When I read the caption of this photo, the proverbial gears in my head started turning, and when I walked out to go look, my heart sank, I thought that this critical surface has in fact been ground down all to hell. I would never be able to get the preload right since this will present an uneven surface to the bearing. When I test-fit the carrier bearing outer races, they fit perfectly. The grooves in the pictures match up to the chamfer/radius on the race. Even though this looked wrong to me, I believe it is normal, the machining marks just don’t look right.
The ring-side surface is damaged too. [update: I think it is normal, the machining is just rough]
There was evidence that the outer race on the ring side spun. I made a judgement call and determined it wasn’t bad enough to scrap the axle over. A knowledgeable mechanic friend told me I could use “Caterpillar™ Green Bearing Retaining Compound” to fix this if it was a problem.
NOTE: to see all my posts about the Dana 60 Axle, click here.