Superior Axle's new axle Super Truss kit installed, beef up your axle for only $399
Superior Axle’s new Dana 44 axle truss kit is installed!
Few things are ever strong enough right out of the factory and that includes the TJ version of our beloved Dana 44 rear axle. The Dana 44 is a fairly strong axle, of course, but its axle tubes are exactly the same diameter and thickness as what come with a Dana 35c. That means in a tough wheeling situation, the axle housing can flex… sometimes enough to cause breakage which is often a busted axle shaft or sometimes, the ring & pinion gears. That can ruin your whole day on the trail. With some lockers that can be taken out by a busted axle shaft, that can also present a major problem on the trail.
That Dana 44 axle flex issue has been well addressed by Superior Axle’s newly announced Dana 44 axle truss system. Consisting of a new braced differential cover and two heavily constructed braces that secure to the axle tubes with oversized u-bolts, it was designed with the serious off-roader in mind. And since the Dana 35c uses the same axle tubes that can also flex, Superior Axle has a similar axle truss kit for you Dana 35c owners too.
The kit is very complete and contains everything you see here with the exception of the two quarts of non-synthetic Currie 85W-140 GL-6 gear lube that are not part of the kit.
This is my Dana 44 axle just before mounting the truss. Now that I look at the axle tubes, they do look pretty skinny don't they. For cleaning purposes, I sprayed Simple Green onto the differential cover just before the photo was taken, that’s why it looks so nasty.
The blue brace between the track bar mount and differential cover is a track bar brace made by Jason Bunch over at Tri-County Gear. Superior Axle’s kit also includes a track bar brace but due to some dimensional changes on my axle, I had to retain the Tri-County Gear brace. If you don’t have a track bar brace and you wheel with big tires, the track bar brace in this kit will save your trackbar mounting bracket some day.
The first thing you do is remove the cover and drain the old gear lube. Leave the top bolt of the cover loosely threaded in while prying the cover open, that will stop the cover from falling off into your catch basin and prevent a smelly mess all over your garage floor.
Remove the brake line clamp and breather hose assembly. You will not have to bleed the brake lines afterwards.
As you can see, the brace is well constructed, itís heavy!! Those large u-bolts are what secure it to the axle tubes. Donít over-tighten the u-bolts; tighten them to 30 ft-lbs. using a torque wrench to avoid crushing the tubes.
The left and right braces are only loosely positioned until the center differential cover is installed.
This piece is inserted inside of the axle tube from the side and provides the blind nuts used to hold the shock absorber mounting bracket bolts in place. This is a very cool way to place blind nuts inside the tube for ease of assembly.
The four internal brackets you see here are what secure the outer braces to the differential cover. Itís a very cool design where the cover is placed over the top of those brackets and bolted into place after applying RTV sealant to the differential cover. This is also what does the final up-down positioning of the braces on the axle tubes. Itís important not to tighten any of the u-bolts before this step is completed.
Now you can start tightening things up. The bolts that hold the internal braces between the cover and L/R braces are tightened to 40 ft-lbs.
The truss is now one rigid piece and you can now tighten the u-bolts to their required 30 ft-lbs. Remember, don't overtighten the u-bolts as they are so beefy they could conceivably collapse the axle tube.
I have a CV driveshaft so the axle housing is rotated enough that it’s hard to fill the axle housing with enough gear lube. Flat on the ground, it takes less than a quart before it overflows out through the fill hole. With the Jeep raked steeply as in the above photo, with more angle given by removing the front wheels, I can overfill the fill hole to get the required amount of gear lube into the axle. The truss kit comes with a magnetic differential fill hole bolt that is pre-wrapped with Teflon tape, the designers of this kit thought of everything.
On quality of design and beefiness, I give it a good solid two thumbs-up. The design is impressive. It’s not easy to come up with an axle truss that is both uber-strong and also give the ability to remove the differential cover without having to remove the truss. With a stock Dana 44 (a Dana 35c version is also available) axle, this is strictly a bolt-on kit with no modifications needed. So for degree of difficulty, it’s an easy kit with no special tools other than a torque wrench needed. Nor do you need to be anything more than a “Joe Shade-tree Mechanic” for this job; no special talents or skills are needed. So on a difficulty scale of from one-to-five bananas, I give it a three for it being not a difficult job at all.
You’ll see trusses on the high-end axles like Ford 9” on the toughest rock crawling trails but those are pretty simple to design due to the fact they don’t have a rear differential cover that has to be removable like our Dana 44 and Dana 35c axles require. That the designers came up with a truss design that allows for that is very awesome. It wasn’t easy but to use an engineering term, the solution they came up with is nothing short of elegant.
If you wheel your Jeep and you’re out doing some fairly moderate or tougher trails, this truss kit might just save you from a major breakage on the trail. At only $399 for the complete kit from Superior Axle, I consider it to be very cheap insurance. http://www.superioraxle.com/ Don’t look for the truss kit on their website yet however, it’s not there yet. If you wheel your Jeep, get it!