Building a better driveshaft isn't necessarily about the utilization of hyper-trick components; nor is a dirt-ready driveshaft necessarily designed and manufactured using high-tech, state-of-the-art concepts and machinery. Rather, the construction of a performance driveshaft is the result of a thorough understanding of the massive torque values imposed on a driveshaft and a focus on the fundamental aspects of driveshaft function.
For this story, upgrades in driveshaft size and strength are the core issues. As many enthusiasts suspect, OE driveshafts are woefully inadequate when called on to deal with big tires and torquey engines. To build a performance driveshaft requires a larger-than-OE main tube, heavy-duty U-joints, and yokes manufactured out of superior-strength metal with extra-length splines.
If you've ever broken a stock U-joint or twisted an OE driveshaft, this story is for you because we're going to illustrate the precise components used to fabricate a durable, near-bulletproof driveshaft.
If you curious about the future of driveshaft design and construction, look no further than the Dana Corporation's Spicer Division, where way-advanced thinking is producing the driveshafts of tomorrow. Spicer's Aluminum Graph Lite Driveshaft is a true performance 'shaft that uses aerospace technology to produce a lightweight, yet ultra-strong driveshaft assembly. The Graph Lite Driveshaft's main tube is formed from aluminum alloy, and is then covered with- and bonded to - a carbon graphite overlay, which adds torsional stiffness and a high resistance to bending. The design and construction of the Graph Lite 'shaft is such that Spicer engineers can alter the orientation of the carbon fiber's grain to effect lateral stiffness and adjust the driveshaft's noise, vibration, and harshness characteristics to specific parameters best suited to a particular vehicle.
The trickery doesn't stop with the aluminum alloy/carbon-fiber 'shaft; the tube yoke ends are forged aluminum alloy with a special corrosion-resistant coating. A Spicer-Life Triple Lip Universal Joint is fitted to each end of the 'shaft, making for a maintenance-free - and virtually bulletproof - driveshaft. And precisely how strong is the Spicer Aluminum Graph Lite Driveshaft? Model 1310 with a 3-inch tube is capable of reliably transferring 1,600 lb-ft of torque; Model 1350, with its 4-inch tube, is rated at 2,260 lb-ft; and the biggest Graph Lite version, with a 4.5-inch diameter tube, is capable of being torqued to 3,742 lb-ft. Impressive!