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Salisbury Backlash

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I've had a backlash in my rear end (Salisbury Diff) for a while now, as well as a solid whine above 60kp/h. Took it to a local mech who reakons I need a new crown and pinion which he was going to charge handsomely for. I came home and knocked the back plate off the diff to have a look and both the crown and pinion look in top nick. There is no free play between them. However, with the gears in neutral and hand brake off, the rear driveline has significant play from the transfer all the way down to the diff.

I'm under the assumption that the free play is a result of wear in the rear axle rather than the diff itself. I've heard that the Salisbury's are close to bulletproof.

Would this be a fair place to start?

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As above, most play in axles comes from the splines on the outboard ends of the half shafts and the corresponding drive flange splines wearing, the flanges' more than the shafts'. Pry the plastic centre cap off the hub and rotate the wheel if jacked up, or have someone rotate the prop shaft by hand back and forth to see the wear. It looks small, but across the two sides adds up to a lot of movement in the diff innards. However, if you have the diff cover removed, jack one wheel up and apply the hand brake hard (better still, the other way around!) and then rotate the diff centre by hand - there should be a small movement, but only around 1mm. The movement on the backlash when measured from the pinion instead is huge due to the hypoid gears, and that is alarming but actually normal. The whine is most likely a failing bearing, and these can be replaced without much hassle - you don't need to change the shims as the preloads will still be accurate as long as you use genuine Timken bearings (about £60 each for the big diff carrier, so not a particularly cheap job).

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