Cliff notes version, longer below: Can the large plastic thrust washer behind the drive sprocket break apart and get ground up enough to disappear?
I recently purchased a QT as a spare. The clutch cones were bad and one of the cones had no teeth for the drive spines. I think it had regular ATF in it instead of QT fluid.
As I reassembled it to put on the shelf, I noticed the large plastic thrust washer that sits under the drive sprocket was not there. The t-case had obviously been used from the amount of grease/dirt on the bolts, I was the first to disassemble it in a long time. I never saw the washer, didn't move any parts off the bench and I'm the only one who uses the shop. I saw no signs of metal to metal contact between the drive gear or the case and no signs of it in the case. Is it possible for that washer to simply break apart and get ground into nothing?
77 Cherokee S 360/TH400/QT