I've been researching in depth on this same subject. I'm running 31's but will buy 33's when they wear out. I need gears, so the rest of it just comes with regearing.
I've read ALL the posts here on axles, swaps, upgrades, and such. Lots of opinions, lots of driving styles. The bottom line is you need a strong axle or you'll break it, and a selectable locker if you drive on the road a lot.
4:10's are what I need for an AT and 33's. Regearing the front D30 runs in the mid-$600's for gears, bearings, seals, a carrier, and setup. I'm going open for now to save costs, and with a locker in the rear I'll be in pretty good shape for trails. If I find I really need a locker in the front I would have an ARB installed. That way you can switch it off when you don't want it, like for turning, snow, on-road, etc.
Now for the big cost, the rear. R&P change and a super 35 install with ARB is going to run about $1700. It has been recommended to have an ARB setup professionally because it's a carrier replacement. Plus I need gears anyway, so I've been quoted all over town $350 to $400 to setup R&P and an ARB.
Drivetrain Direct sells a complete bolt-in D44 with gears and ARB for $2250. That's a no-brainer for me. Now matter how you cut it, upgrading the D35 is expensive, and simply a waste of money in comparison. DTD had the best price for an axle that I have been able to find anywhere. Currie wants $3050 for the same item. BTW, they want $2950 for a Ford 9. Others were similarly priced.
I was all ready to go with a Ford 8.8 conversion but got scared with stories of driveshaft vibes impossible to cure due to the pinion/yoke offset. Does anyone have anything on that? Lot's of people say they run them no problem, but with a double cardan shaft the pinion needs to point at the TC. If it's offset, it can't. One guy said they had to mount them off-center and run a spacer on one side. That's not how I want to set mine up!
No matter what I find, it looks like about three grand to regear front and rear and lock the rear, with decent hardware anyway. Let me know if anyone has a better way to go.
'02 "X" 4.0 AT - Lifted and locked on 35's, D44/4.10, ARB, GY MT/r's, Currie, JKS, MORE, AA/TW, Rancho, WARN 8274, Hansen, All-J custom bumpers, Poison Spyder, CO2, Cobra, Hella, and on and on: J.E.E.P.
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STOLEN 3/05: 99 TJ, built for trailrunning
Last edited by cjdirtbiker; 01-12-2005 at 09:30 PM.