I think we've got some apples and oranges comparisons here and incomplete information.
Our Wags have different axles for different years: AMC 20 and Dana 44, to name two. My 1983 Wag Limited (same as the original post here) had the EXACT SAME THING happen last August. And despite the fact that it had a tapered bearing, the axle came out just the same way. I'm still cleaning up the aftermath.
My axle (AMC 20) has no C-clip. But it does have a "press", or "interference" fit collar that holds the axle in. This kind of fit means the internal dimension of the ring is actually smaller than the shaft it fits on. That's why it takes a hydraulic press to install the ring and bearing. But when the bearing seizes from age or lack of lubrication, it can overcome that fit, and the axle comes right out. Really not very pleasant.
After lots of research, I've concluded you can install either tapered or round bearings on these axles. If you use the round bearings, you must leave out the inner axle seal so the diff. fluid lubricates the wheel bearings. If you use tapered bearings, you must packt he bearings with grease, and use the inner seal to keep the grease where it belongs.
My axle originally had tapered bearings and an inner seal. NAPA claims the round bearing is later and better and that's what I used to replace the original bearings. And I didn't use the inner seal.
Anybody care to make any corrections here? I started two long threads about this about a month ago. Seems like this would be a good topic for the archive.
1983 Wagoneer Limited, 360, 229<br />1985 J10, 258 being replaced by multiport fuel-injected 360, 229