This article is a tribute to two great 4x4-builders' character traits: rabid brand loyalty and obsessive-compulsive junkyard scrounging.
This time we're honoring all the Dodge fans who've written, called, and e-mailed us to object (to put it mildly) to our suggestion of converting Mopar drum brakes to discs using GM components. We can't even print some of the, uh, colorful language involved in the requests to see a drum-to-disc article using all-Dodge parts.
The Dana 44s have disc brakes, but they also have a 5-on-411/42-inch bolt circle, wear-prone wheel bearings, and no provision for locking hubs. Is there a practical way to keep the discs-but upgrade the rest-short of swapping in a whole new axle assembly?
To find out exactly how to do the upgrades and where to get the necessary parts, you can forget calling your local Dodge dealer. Head straight for the best 4x4 salvage yard you can find with the most '70s-and-'80s-knowledgeable used parts hounds.
Best of all is to find somebody who loves old Dodges and has actually converted the old axles. Ely McGhghy is just such a Mopar maniac. He has built, beefed and otherwise upgraded dozens of them. And his years in the 4x4 salvage business have taught him all the conversion secrets. McGhghy's also kinda publicity shy, so he shared his salvage yard savvy only on the condition that we didn't include his phone number or address.
That's fine. His information is Mopar gold, and there's a real wealth of it here. Come on. Check it out and then go junkyarding.