On the hunt for a front axle - JeepForum.com
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post #1 of 50 Old 10-05-2019, 11:22 PM Thread Starter
Waternut
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On the hunt for a front axle

So I trashed the 4.88 ring gear on my D30 today. The easiest fix is to just regear this axle but it broke once and it's always been my fear that this was the weak link so re-gearing just seems like a losing battle.

I'm currently running 35" tires which are still pretty new and I'm not super eager to go big at this time. Maybe 37's in the distance future but I can't see beyond that at this point. However, front axle selections are a bit tricky. Seems like nothing really fits great.

Where I currently am:
I'm a bit committed on my rear 8.8 since it's got an Ox locker and everything has been welded to it for my 4 link setup. I am running 1.5" spacers on each side so I am effectively running a 61" WMS. My wheels are 3" backspacing effectively pushing the tires out another 1.5" at each corner. The reality is that I'm running my tires about 5-6" further outboard than normal. My point behind this is that getting a slightly wider axle is going to complicate things if it's not shortened.

So here are my options as I see them...
1. I feel like a D44 LP out of a waggy is not really any better than a D30 HP but if I'm wrong, please say so. This doesn't seem like a good option. Also requires pretty expensive wheel adapters to change the bolt pattern.
2. 71-77 Ford Bronco D44 (early Bronco) is in the same boat as option 1 but probably harder to find.
3. 71-77 F-150 D44 HP axle with the welded on C wedge. Decent axle option but requires cutting the axle tubes down and getting replacement axle shafts. Seems like a big pain and a lot of room for screw ups.
4. JK front D44. Not cheap and a little wide but I might be able to run a 5x5 bolt pattern up front with a different backspacing to get it closer to what I've got in the rear.
5. Dana 60's... There are so many versions but ultimately, the size of the diff is the most concerning problem apart from also needing to be shortened. Based on some research, it looks like the D60 diff housing sits down an extra 2" lower than a D30. It does look it can be shaved about an inch which would be closer to a D44 but that's even more work.

Have I missed something? I know I didn't mention crate axles but at the same time, I'm not sure I can stomach $5k on a front axle. If there was something in the $2k range, I may consider it.

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post #2 of 50 Old 10-06-2019, 07:06 AM
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If you look at my D44 write up you'll see it wasn't cheap mostly because I went RCV's. The ujoints and axle ears are basically the the same on D30 and D44 axles which is why I went RCV's. After doing a little homework everyone was breaking ears on 37's, not the u joints or ring and pinions. The D30's I've ran locked, chromos and 35's on 4 different rigs have held up well so I'm curious how you busted your gears. Unless your ready to spend some money, the D44 isn't much of an upgrade. So I'd say go D44 with RCVs or might as well go D60/14 bolt (which could be cheaper) combo and do it right all the way thru. But again you'll be spending money on wheels, tires etc. I'd say go full case locker up front or just fix the gears and keep the 35's if you wanna stay in budget. Otherwise $2K is being optimistic.

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post #3 of 50 Old 10-06-2019, 08:37 AM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by paulhead View Post
The D30's I've ran locked, chromos and 35's on 4 different rigs have held up well so I'm curious how you busted your gears.
2 large rocks spaced perfectly on a trail called "carnage". I backed up about a foot to see if I could bump it over the obstacle. I didn't give it a lot of skinny pedal and pretty sure it didn't leave the ground but I do have the 5.3 LS engine and I think the fronts loaded up pretty hard when they got over the rock. There was a lot of traction on the trails yesterday.

Those gears have been in the jeep for probably 3k miles on the road or so and never complained a bit but it's possible they weren't set up perfectly. I may look into cryo gears as well since the rest of the axle is pretty stout.


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post #4 of 50 Old 10-06-2019, 08:57 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Waternut View Post
2 large rocks spaced perfectly on a trail called "carnage". I backed up about a foot to see if I could bump it over the obstacle. I didn't give it a lot of skinny pedal and pretty sure it didn't leave the ground but I do have the 5.3 LS engine and I think the fronts loaded up pretty hard when they got over the rock. There was a lot of traction on the trails yesterday.

Those gears have been in the jeep for probably 3k miles on the road or so and never complained a bit but it's possible they weren't set up perfectly. I may look into cryo gears as well since the rest of the axle is pretty stout.
OK, sorry shoulda looked at your profile, I didn't know about the LS, whole different story. A Rubicon (03-06) D44 with RCVs or chromos would keep a lot of the same specs and give you some strength, code "RCV" at check out gives you these at $1091 https://skinny-pedal-racing.myshopif...on-tj-lj-03-06

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post #5 of 50 Old 10-06-2019, 09:14 AM
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No simple answers unfortunately...some thoughts:

I've always said that you should choose the front axle first, and then choose the rear axle. Because the front axle is more difficult to source. You are doing it in reverse, so everything will be more difficult.

It sounds like the JK axle would be the perfect width. Keep 5x5 in the front, change wheel spacers in the rear (4x4.5 to 5x5) and get new 5x5 wheels. In the future, you could drop in a rear JK axle and get rid of the spacers. (the spacers and backspacing are putting a lot of extra stress on that axle - not ideal)

Just bite the bullet, and order a crate axle for the front. After building several axles, I'm really tempted to go this route on my next build.

JK axles are very plentiful, and I've thought about using them too.
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post #6 of 50 Old 10-06-2019, 09:56 AM
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I like STans suggestion, that being said...

if you rebuild, cryo treat your R and P. 30% harder I believe...

Although not installed, I bought my front G2 D44 from Morris 4x4 pre built gears, chromo shafts etc for just under $4000 includes a $250 rebate... This is also a JK R/P.

Alot of guys said they were close to that after building thier own... this is to replace my D 30 and keep the same rims / lug pattern... never toasted it, but like you..37's and LS so its a matter of time...
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post #7 of 50 Old 10-06-2019, 11:55 AM Thread Starter
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So many many hours researching options and I've come up with a few more scenario's....

I could cryo treat a new ring and pinion...supposedly that adds 30% more strength. $300-$400 in parts, slap it back together, and cross my fingers.

Revisiting option #3 above is to get a HP Dana 44 out of the older F-150 with a 65.5" width. Except rather than cutting it down, I could space out my rear a little more to 63.5". It was late last night and my math was bad but with my current setup and 1.5" spacers, I'm currently running 62.5" WMS-WMS but going up to a 2" spacer would get that to 63.5" and would now only be 1" narrower on each corner than the front. It is harder on the rear but after 4 linking the rear, I've realized there is almost no weight on the rears....under 400lbs of sprung weight.


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post #8 of 50 Old 10-06-2019, 12:09 PM
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Add a Super 88 kit, then you're with would be normal without spacers and then you could add spaces on that to match the Ford width
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post #9 of 50 Old 10-06-2019, 12:19 PM
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Or if you go with a HP D44 out of a F150 you can match it with a 8.8 out if a F150 for the same width and bolt pattern for a small cost. Another thought is getting a bare JK44 housing and filling it with used parts. Ive seen the housing new for $800.

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post #10 of 50 Old 10-06-2019, 12:47 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NHfireLJ View Post
Add a Super 88 kit, then you're width would be normal without spacers and then you could add spaces on that to match the Ford width
Didn't realize that added width but that's not a bad idea...

Quote:
Originally Posted by shaggyjim View Post
Or if you go with a HP D44 out of a F150 you can match it with a 8.8 out if a F150 for the same width and bolt pattern for a small cost. Another thought is getting a bare JK44 housing and filling it with used parts. Ive seen the housing new for $800.
I was considering the F-150 8.8 but the thought of redoing all the 4 link mounts, limiting straps, and truss for another axle just makes me cringe. If I still had leafs in the rear, I'd probably be on the hunt for this combo already and just go back to 4.10 gears since I could likely get both axles in that ratio.


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post #11 of 50 Old 10-06-2019, 02:00 PM
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Currie makes a high pinion Dana 44 that uses JK ring/pinion and retains the stock knuckles and ball joints. Installed one of the RockJock 44s in my TJ and plan to install another in my YJ. RWK Haus Supply usually has good prices on the RJ44s.
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post #12 of 50 Old 10-06-2019, 03:07 PM
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Quote:
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Currie makes a high pinion Dana 44 that uses JK ring/pinion and retains the stock knuckles and ball joints. Installed one of the RockJock 44s in my TJ and plan to install another in my YJ. RWK Haus Supply usually has good prices on the RJ44s.
That is what my G2 is...

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post #13 of 50 Old 10-06-2019, 06:38 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Duck Doctor View Post
Currie makes a high pinion Dana 44 that uses JK ring/pinion and retains the stock knuckles and ball joints. Installed one of the RockJock 44s in my TJ and plan to install another in my YJ. RWK Haus Supply usually has good prices on the RJ44s.
Stock YJ knuckles or stock JK knuckles? Would be tempting to reuse my WJ knuckles if it'd work.
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post #14 of 50 Old 10-06-2019, 06:52 PM
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Stock YJ knuckles or stock JK knuckles? Would be tempting to reuse my WJ knuckles if it'd work.
the G2 uses YJ,TJ knuckles
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post #15 of 50 Old 10-06-2019, 07:51 PM
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If the rest of the axle is holding up you may want to look for a different gearset. Aftermarket R&P sets made for constant use on the street are often harder than sets made to take off-road abuse. With very hard gears, tiny fractures can start in the gear tooth root that will eventually result in tooth failure just like those pictures.

The gear manufacturing method is also important. Both face hobbed and face milled gears are available. While either type works for average use, face milled gears are more likely to produce a tooth root that is more resistant to fracturing, are more efficient, more consistent, and are better at preserving the design features that allow slight misalignment of ring and pinion from theoretically perfect settings.

In addition numerically higher gears have fewer pinion teeth in contact with the ring gear which creates higher pressure at a the point of contact.

If you choose to keep the D30 I'd drop back to an OE 4.10 ratio gearset. Face hobbing is a fast method for producing acceptable gearsets for most customers. It's also a fairly new process and if you search hard enough you can find articles that point to either manufacturing process as superior. But OE gears in the '90s were almost all face milled and subject to rigorous quality control checks before release. Your engine produces more than enough torque to make up for the loss of mechanical advantage at the axle. After find an OE gearset I'd look into shot peening and cryo treatment to create a dense, durable gearset.
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