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I hope you all don't mind but I am going to give you all a little back ground on how and why I decided to do this axle modification.

Back in 2003 I was a member of the Washington National Guard and was activated to go to Iraq in support of Iraqi Freedom. While I was deployed I tried doing as much research as I could while dreaming about getting home and working on my TJ. I had a SE model so I wasn't worried about over powering my axles much but I also wanted to make sure I had axles that were strong enough to handle some abuse. My original plans were that I would beef up a HP30 and install that in the front and build a Ford 8.8 for the rear. One night while I was online reading a build thread I found a TeraLow CRD 60 rear axle with 5.13 gears and a ARB for sale for a kick butt price. So I contacted the owner and arranged to buy the axle. So now my plans were changing. Then when I got home I was looking for a Dodge Dakota bellhousing so I could swap my AX-5 transmission for a AX-15. While searching for this bellhousing I ran across a shop that was doing V-8 swaps into TJ's. Boy were my plans changing now. I had a rear axle that would handle the power of a V-8 but I knew the D30 or HP30 would not be up to the power of a V-8. So I started my research again on what choices I had. G2 wasn't around yet so I didn't have access to their axles. Currie and Dynatrac were out of my price range so I had to figure something else out. I happened to find a writeup on the NAXJ forum and on Pirate about narrowing a Ford HP44 to Waggy width. Now many people choose to leave these axles at full width which is around 65" WMS to WMS (Wheel Mount Surface) but I wanted to keep my TJ as narrow as I could due to the trails that I run here in the Pacific Northwest. Plus the rear axle I had bought was 60.5" WMS to WMS. I could have narrowed this front axle to any width I wanted but then I would have needed custom made axle shafts. So instead I decided to narrow it to Waggy width so that if needed I could get of the shelf axles. So with this I started shopping and found a Ford HP44 on Ebay for $100 plus $80 shipping since it was coming from PA. I am not going to get into the years you need to be looking for because this is well covered on places like Pirate. What I will mention is that you need to stay away from the axles that have the radius arm wedges cast into the axle tube. The axle I found had already had all the mounts and brackets removed so I knew it would work for what I was going to do.

The first step is to cut the inner "C" off each end as close to "C" as possible. Side note: Battery operated Sawzall will not cut completely thru a axle tube before the battery dies. And having 2 spare batteries are still not enough. So it took me 3 days to cut both "C"s off. Leason learned.

Once you have both "C" off the REAL FUN begins. You now need to grind down the weld that is holding the axle tube to the inside of the "C". Once you have the welds ground down enough you then need to take your Sawzall again and cut thru the axle tube inside the "C" while making sure that you do not cut into the "C". When you have done this you will be able to drive the axle tube out of the "C".

This is part of the reason for using this axle as opposed to a TJ Rubicon axle.

As has been pointed out in the thread on using a LP30 or a HP30 the same arguement can be used with a LP44 or a HP44. I wanted the HP44 to help keep my front driveline out of the rocks and for the added strength of it being a HP axle. But again there isn't enough of a strength advantage to justify going with the HP axle if you happened to have a driver side drop Waggy axle.

So here is the axle with both "C"s removed.

Now here comes the measure 3 times check 8 times and then cut once. There are many ways to cut the axe tubes. Some people use a chop saw, others use a portable band say while others have used a Sawzall. The main thing is to make sure you make a straight cut. I cheated and took my housing over to a buddies house and used his horizontal band saw to cut the tube to the required length.

Now for the important measurements:
Axle short side is 8"
Axle long side is 24 3/8"

Measurement is taken from then center of the center section casting hole to the end of the tube.
These measurements are for using 80-84 Wagoneer axle shafts. The axle lengths are as follows:
Short side: 15.8"
Long side: 32.12"

Once you have cut your axle tubes to the required length it is not time to put the inner "C" back into the axle. What is critical here is setting your Caster & Pinion angle. If you do not have the proper amount of caster your tires will not return to center/straight after turning or will be slow/resistive to return to center. There are tons of articles on what caster does and the how and whys of it. So please don't quote me on any of this.

From Wikipedia:
Positive caster angle

"The pivot points of the steering are angled such that a line drawn through them intersects the road surface slightly ahead of the center of the contact patch of the tire on the pavement by a distance called trail. The purpose of this is to provide a degree of self-centering for the steering - the wheel casters around in order to trail behind the axis of steering. This makes a vehicle easier to control and improves its directional stability (reducing its tendency to wander). Excessive caster angle will make the steering heavier and less responsive, although in racing large caster angles are used for improving camber gain in cornering. Caster angles over 7 degrees with radial tires are common. Power steering is usually necessary to overcome the jacking effect from the high caster angle.

Some streetcar front-end alignment calls for different right side and left side caster. This is called cross caster and the difference is called the spread. Cross camber may also be specified, but not usually both.[3]"

When we were setting up my axle we knew we wanted the caster to be between 4-8* so we set it at 7*.
I knew I was going to be running a 4-6" lift on my TJ so we decided to set the pinion angle at 4*
You set the pinion angle in relationship to the caster. I knew from the research I had done that I wanted a total pinion angle of 10-13* total. So adding the amount of caster plus the pinion angle I set my axle at 11* total pinion angle.

Now I had read everything I could find about putting "C"s back onto the axle tubes. My buddies wife was gone for the weekend so we used the oven in the kitchen and heated the "C" up to 500* for 2 hours. I put on welding gloves, leather gloves and those bar-b-queing gloves to try and protect my hands. I grabbed one "C" and ran back into the garage while my buddy was standing there with a 3lb hammer and the protractor.

Once we had TRIPLE checked our numbers again my buddy burned the "C" to the tube while I slowly rotated the housing so that he could get one continuous bead.

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Back in 2005 there wasn't a lot of options for bracket kits for a TJ front axle. The kit I used was a Rubicon Express kit. If I was doing this axle today I would use either a Artec or TNT Custom truss/bracket kit.

So first to go on was the center section truss.

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Next is the coil spring pads & shock mount.

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And then the passenger side upper link mount

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And then the lower link brackets.

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Last was the drivers side upper link mount.

All done

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After I cleaned all the welds and the housing I threw on a coat of etching primer.

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To match my rear axle I installed a ARB locker and 5.13 gears.

And then some black paint.

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I used Chevy small bearing spindles so that I could run Ford rotors to get the 5 on 5.5 bolt pattern.

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All together and looking pretty.

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And then installed into the front of my TJ

What I can tell you is this, I had never tried anything like this before so I am no expert on building custom axles. Now that I have done it once I have no qualms about doing it again. I have toyed with the idea of building a HP60 for the front of my TJ. There is a lot of discussion about what axle you need to run certain sizes of tires. I do not have the experiance some have but from my experiance so far my D44 is holding up to running 38x12.5x16.5 TSL Super Swamper SX tires. I have broken ONE u-joint since I went to the 38" tires. But it was a stock u-joint and after breaking it and taking out one Alloy USA axle shaft I now have Bobby Long 300M u-joints. I am thinking about installing the RCV axles. RCV has a maximum tire size of 40" for their D44 shafts. Which is fine for me as I don't want to run anything larger than 40". I also have not had any ball joint issues but you never know. I am going to be getting a set of these ball joints and trying them out to see how they hold up. Bonefish Fabrication

Don't be scared to try something. If you have any questions I will try to answer them to the best of my knowledge but like I said I am no expert. And I sometime like to over analyze a subject which can drive some people crazy but I like to know as much as I can even when others might feel my questions have been answered. Good luck if decide to try this and again if I can I will help. Hope everyone likes this writeup.


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