|[an error occurred while processing this directive]||Short Cuts|
By: Jeff Layton - 5/2000
|Frame with axles under it|
|Currie front Dana 44|
|Dana 44 knuckle reinforcement|
|Dana 44 tie rod and drag link ends|
|Dana 60 shafts with 5 on 5.5" wheel bolt pattern|
|Differential covers, thick and thin.|
Last episode we spent forever welding up a frame suitable for a tank. Still, the bare frame was a far cry from looking like a Jeep, and the ongoing delay in getting this project into high gear was beginning to take its toll on my motivation. Time for some real parts.
In episode two, I had sold off the front Dana 30 and rear AMC 20 axles - as good a place as any to start. Initially, after doing months of research on how to fab up a front Dana 44 from junkyard parts, I acquired a complete Dana 44 front axle from a 79 Wagoneer and also the axle shafts from the front of a 76 Scout. Also thrown into the mix was a spare set of CJ Dana 30 knuckles, 1980 CJ 6-bolt hubs, and new disc brake rotors and Warn premium 6-bolt lockout hubs. My intention was to get the housing and shafts narrowed locally to my specifications and fill the pumpkin with gears and a locker later. I would soon find this plan left a bit to be desired.
The first step in fabbing a home-made Dana 44 was to get the measurements off my Dana 30. Fortunately I had acquired the Dana 44 parts before hocking off my Dana 30 and began measuring for the coming front beef. Using a large piece of cardboard on the garage floor as a template, I began dropping plumb lines to mark overall width and pinion locations. After several attempts, none of my measurements agreed with the ones I had obtained from my research. Plus, I couldnt get decent angular measurements: pinion-to-spring pad angle, spring pad-to-knuckle (caster) angle, etc. So, I looked to the local axle shops for advice .only I found out there werent any local axle shops that could (would?) do the work. Oops. Sooo, since I needed to ship off the axle for the machine work, and I couldnt get the measurements to send to a shop anyway, I decided to contact the Experts.
Dynatrac, Currie, and Tri-County were called to see if theyd take on a partially-completed (OK, barely started) job like mine. Given no measurements and the Dana 44 core, Currie was most willing, so off the axle went, via the UPS man in 3 or 4 boxes, including the extra steering knuckles to be re-tapered to allow tie rods to be mounted on top. All I had to specify was "factory wide-track measurements".
Currie did an excellent job, including this trick 3/8" knuckle reinforcing plate (shown with the axle upside down). While it was at their shop, I had Currie install a set of 4.56 gears and ARB Air Locker. They also machined the cast-in spring pad for proper pinion angle and cut and welded the knuckles for proper caster angle. I reassembled the axle, knuckles, hubs and rotors, and threw on these heavy-duty Chrome-moly Currie tie rods, now mounted on top.
Having just gone through the hassle of trying to make my own front axle, I decided to use the easy method of rear axle beef: I ordered one. I had chosen a Dana 60 rear over the Ford 9-inch due to the 9-inchs lower pinion and my CJs short wheelbase. This, plus an extra portion of steel in the axle shaft diameter and ring gear diameter were the selling points for me. Again, I got on the phone and called Currie, Dynatrac and Tri-County. This time Tri-County was chosen, as they provided the best cost quote. According to some of the competition, this may be due to the use of reconditioned housing and tubes, but I wasnt concerned about that - much of this Jeep was bought from a salvage yard anyway.
The Dana 60 from Tri-County arrived quite unlike the Dana 44 from Currie. Although both were strapped to a pallet, the Currie axle also came in a box and sitting on wooden blocks; Tri-Countys was just strapped in, and the shipping labels were stuck right to the axle. Fortunately the quality of the work looked better than the packaging.
The diff cover, however, was a different story. Maybe I was spoiled though, by the genuine Dana cover on my front 44 - very thick and stout. The rear cover shipped by Tri-County was a genuine Taiwan chrome special. With a little research at my local Dodge dealer, I found a Dana cover from the front of a mid-80s truck for about $35.
Heres a shot of the center section, complete with ARB. With the axles parked under the frame, it was time to look for a motor...