I have recently moved to Denver Colorado, and it immediately became apparent to me that a ZJ with the 4.0, 3.55 gears, and 31" tires was not practical for the area, and honestly, its a safety issue. I've nearly been rear ended a couple times, and even with OD locked out it really sucks having the pedal mashed to the floor and still loosing speed. I've started downshifting to 2nd gear to accelerate at all up hill.
So my plan is to find another rear axle that has 3.73 gears and swap that in, along with either re-gearing the HP Dana 30 that I swapped in a few years back, or trying to find a 3.73 HP30 to swap in. I don't do hardcore wheeling, I did mostly trail riding fire service roads and logging routes back home in the midwest, but this may change since I now live at the base of the Rocky Mountains. Also worth mentioning, I don't plan on going to a larger diameter tire.
A few questions -
-Would I be crazy to swap in another Dana 35C with 3.73 gears? I recently had the rear driveshaft re-built/balanced, and would like to avoid the extra expense of getting a different drive shaft for a 44A. I also like to jack the rear end up by the pumpkin, and I know you can't(shouldn't) do it with the 44A, but that's pretty minor.
- Lets say I do want to really upgrade to a ford 8.8. Realistically, without a welder, what is a ballpark price for the completed swap, assuming I can get a donor for around $100 at a pick and pull? Would it be at all necessary for a stock 4.0 and 31's?
-How rare are 3.73 HP30's? Everyone that I've seen at junkyards were 3.55 but Ill keep looking.
I don't plan on keeping this particular ZJ much longer (rust), but I do plan on finding a cheap rust free ZJ with a blown engine or transmission and swapping everything over (including axles) this winter. I don't mind swapping them into this one now and then into the new one over the winter.
Any input and or advice would be much appreciated!