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Cutting down a D44

4116 Views 16 Replies 7 Participants Last post by  UbelGeist
I am modifing a D44 out of a 81 chevy 1/2 ton to swap into the front of my 78 CJ7. I couldn't find a reasonably price waggy axle or any of the other easier swaps. I am shortening to 60 inches wheel mounting surface to wheel mounting surface. It will be covered to 4.11s in this process. This is also going spring over axle and yj springs.
We took our meaurements and found that we needed to cut 7 and 3/4 inches off of the axles. We stripped everything from the axle.

I was trying to grind the weld off to remove the knuckle. Just using a matobo grinder. I wasn't having much luck and ended up cutting the tube just before it went into the knuckle.


After cutting the tube, I ground the tube down going into the knuckle until we could see the separation. Note the red arrow. I used a finishing wheel on the grinder and didn't press hard to minimize the stalk removal.


I had to cut a relief in the remaining chunk of axle tube before it could be pressed out.


I have a 1 year old and a 2 year old so time to work on this is far and few between. The next step will be cutting the long tube by 7 and 3/4 inches (this was measured before we cut it) with a chop saw. Then we will weld the knuckle back on. The knuckle will be heated in the oven first and the put on the tube. I hope this thread helps someone else out.
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Im getting ready to do this exact swap. only differance being I am going to take 4" off the long side, so I can use a factory waggy shaft. thanks for the right up.

also, I thought chevy switched to a 10 bolt in 79'?

do you have pics of the diff cover?
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 · (Edited)
Step 2

We left it last time with the everything apart and needing to cut the tube to length. We also had a request for a picture of the differential cover.
First: The cover picture.

We used a chop saw to cut the desired length off of the long tube. We setup up some shims under the differential to level the tube on the saw. We insured it was level with a level. I know, that is kind of obvious.
Cutting:

Second view:

Leftover section:

Next using a angle grinder and level we cleaned up the cut. If you look closely, there is a 45 degree relief on the very edge of the tube. We cleaned off the paint with a wire wheel on a grinder:

We also cleaned off the paint from the tube/differential area to allow us to weld these together. No real good reasoning behind doing this, but it seemed like a good idea at the time:

Next, with the differential level, we checked the angle with a prtractor on the short side. The picture will show the long side back together, but I edited the picture to show were the protractor was placed. To re-assemble the long side we heated up the end piece with a torch. When heating, move the torch constantly at a slow pace. If you have a bearing oven, you can use that instead, but we didn't so we had to use the torch. We grabed the end piece with a pair of vice grips and slide it on. It went on easy, but the cold tube sucked the heat right out of it and it wasn't going to move easy after that. You really want to get it close to the right angle on the first try:

We didn't get it right on and had to heat it up with a torch and beat it with a 10lbs hammer to get it to the right angle. All that was left after that was to weld the tube to the end piece and weld the tubes to the differential. It is all welded together and now the long shaft is off to the machine shop to get shortened and re-splined! We used a 7018 rod and it seemed to work well. I will post some more when we do some more. Thanks for checking out the post.
 

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Have you gone any further with this? I would love to see pics of the axle on the jeep, as well as how the driveshaft ends up falling (thinking SBC down the line, so I need to be sure I have the clearance)

No outboarding required with this setup?
 

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Hey guys next time any of you plan to cut an axle housing down I'd like to give a tip. Instead of gring the weld the holds the tube to the knuckle figure out where the cut needs to be made to make the tube the correct lenght and cut it off. That way you leave the extra tube and knuckle in one peice that can be chucked (chuck the tube in the lathe chuck), in a lathe allowing the weld to be cut away that way. It takes all of about 10 minutes to do it this way and is much easier.

It would pay any of you that have a machine shop / tool and die shop close by to get aquainted with the guy that runs it. If you work within the time frame these guys have you'll find it will be a great asset in your projects. Trust me I own my own shop. If somebody was polite and didn't catch me at a bad time I'd do it for free. Just some advice.

Great job so far. Keep us posted. :thumbsup:
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Hey guys next time any of you plan to cut an axle housing down I'd like to give a tip. Instead of gring the weld the holds the tube to the knuckle figure out where the cut needs to be made to make the tube the correct lenght and cut it off. That way you leave the extra tube and knuckle in one peice that can be chucked (chuck the tube in the lathe chuck), in a lathe allowing the weld to be cut away that way. It takes all of about 10 minutes to do it this way and is much easier.

It would pay any of you that have a machine shop / tool and die shop close by to get aquainted with the guy that runs it. If you work within the time frame these guys have you'll find it will be a great asset in your projects. Trust me I own my own shop. If somebody was polite and didn't catch me at a bad time I'd do it for free. Just some advice.

Great job so far. Keep us posted. :thumbsup:
It actually only took a few minutes to cut through the tube and grind it down to find the line and cut the relief to get the remaining chunk of the tube out. I am not criticizing, just saying that it wasn't that bad either way.
 

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It actually only took a few minutes to cut through the tube and grind it down to find the line and cut the relief to get the remaining chunk of the tube out. I am not criticizing, just saying that it wasn't that bad either way.
Didn't take it as critsisim. Didn't mean my comments to detract from the great job your doing either. I just like this stuff!
 

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How do you check for correct camber? I remember seeing a pic of a fellow who had done a 44 front on his CJ and the camber was obviously off. I hope to do a 44 front for my CJ one day.
With SHIM's of course :hahaha:

Just kidding, I want to learn how to shorten an axle too so I will watching this thread too :rofl:
 

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With SHIM's of course :hahaha:

Just kidding, I want to learn how to shorten an axle too so I will watching this thread too :rofl:
If you're planning on using the stock Jeep knuckles, then you can only correct camber with shims on axles that have the disc brake caliper bolted to the spindles. For these, you can get quite a bit of correction using those shims and offset ball joints. But for later Jeeps that have the calipers bolted to the knuckles, you have only 1 1/2 degrees of adjustment through the use of offset ball joints. You cannot use shims on these because it would missalign the rotors with the calipers. So my concern is getting the C's set at the proper camber angle while you're putting everything together.

Hey 243, what happened to that great avatar you had?:laugh:
 

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If you're planning on using the stock Jeep knuckles, then you can only correct camber with shims on axles that have the disc brake caliper bolted to the spindles. For these, you can get quite a bit of correction using those shims and offset ball joints. But for later Jeeps that have the calipers bolted to the knuckles, you have only 1 1/2 degrees of adjustment through the use of offset ball joints. You cannot use shims on these because it would missalign the rotors with the calipers. So my concern is getting the C's set at the proper camber angle while you're putting everything together.

Hey 243, what happened to that great avatar you had?:laugh:
Crap, you said camber and I was thinking about your caster thread :rolleyes:

I just threw up another photo from SEMA 2008, I will see if I can dig up a more entertaining photo :D
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Understood and so did I. By one shot I mean just make a slice through the weld, tube and possibly a small part of the knuckle with one cut of the chopsaw/bandsaw, rather than trying to grind the weld and then cutting.
I was trying to grind the weld off to remove the knuckle. Just using a matobo grinder. I wasn't having much luck and ended up cutting the tube just before it went into the knuckle.
I was originally trying to grind the weld off and abandoned that and just cut it off.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
How do you check for correct camber? I remember seeing a pic of a fellow who had done a 44 front on his CJ and the camber was obviously off. I hope to do a 44 front for my CJ one day.
Check out the last picture on the 05-10-2010, 12:18 AM post. I checked the angle on the short side first and matched it on the other side when I put the other side back together. I just used a magnetic protractor to get the angle. Just make sure you place it on a machined surface as illustrated in the picture.
 
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