Hell-For-Strong Axlehousings - Heavy-Duty AxlehousingPosted in How To on January 1, 2003
Never underestimate the importance of a strong axlehousing when it comes to building a bulletproof drive axle. Installing a stout set of axles and rugged differential components inside a weak housing is like throwing good money after bad.
Of course, not every truck truly requires an ultra-strong axlehousing. If you're running moderately sized tires (33s on a fullsize), a stock engine, or if you simply don't 'wheel to the extreme, most OE axlehousings are adequate. However, if you're running gonzo-sized rubber, if your truck is powered by a modified powerplant, if you take it to the limit while off-road, or, most importantly, if you're constantly breaking axlehousings or related components because of housing flex, then your truck may require a stronger axlehousing.
Although there are numerous OE and aftermarket housings available that are known for their strength, we've narrowed the field down to the popular choices: Ford's 9-inch and the Dana 60. Although these two axlehousings are used on a majority of well-equipped trucks, that's not to say that there aren't other aftermarket and OE housings available that are impressively strong. Ultimately, you'll have to make your own informed decision on whether or not your truck's performance and reliability would benefit from a killer axlehousing.
Finally, the aforementioned Ford 9-inch and Dana 60 axles used on serious 'wheelers are almost entirely aftermarket products. Currie Enterprises' various 9-inch housings are all new - and vastly improved - reproductions of Ford's OE 9-inch housing, and the trick Dana 60s shown are actually Dynatrac 60s, which are also all-new, better-than-OE versions of the OE Dana 60.
Dynatrac has made a huge impact with 'wheelers as a leading aftermarket axlehousing manufacturer. Much of Dynatrac's success has come through its time-honored method of engineering and building a stout, reliable product, backed by no-bull customer service. However, Dynatrac has not limited themselves to manufacturing a series of housings loosely based on the original Dana design. Rather, Dynatrac has made great strides in the search for a better housing with ingenuity and market research. Two of the company's better ideas are certainly the Pro 60 Hi-Pinion Center Section and the Pro Rock 60 High Clearance Center Section.
Yes, both of these new Dynatrac center sections are a further specialization of the Dana 60 design, but they're dramatically different from any other 60 on the market. The built-in-the-USA Pro 60 Hi-Pinion Center Section is an all-new nodular iron casting that is nearly 67 percent stronger than an OE 60 center section, thanks mainly to the four cast-in support webs that tie the diff housing to the axle tube receivers and greatly reduce deflection of the pinion gear. Nodular iron is also used for the bearing caps that retains the differential; the heavy metal is 50 percent stronger than OE 60 caps and Dynatrac uses Grade 8 fasteners to tie the caps to the housing. Dynatrac builds the Hi-Pinion Center Section in versions equipped with outer flanges (for rear axle applications), in models for use as a front axle (with end forgings), and as a bare center section for those who want to build a custom setup.
Rockcrawlers will want to scope out Dynatrac's Pro Rock 60 High Clearance Center Sections, as this 60 variant has max ground clearance allied with total strength. The Pro Rock 60 delivers additional ground clearance through use of a nodular iron casting that reduces the overall exterior size of the housing below the axle's centerline. Although not quite as strong as the Hi-Pinion Center Section, the Pro Rock 60 is nevertheless 40 percent stronger that an OE Dana 60 housing, thanks to the same type of cast-in reinforcement webs used on the Hi-Pinion 60, although the Pro Rock 60 uses five strengthening ribs. Nodular iron bearing caps, 50 percent stronger than OE are retained by Grade 8 bolts, and the top of the housing features cast-in pads for attachment of suspension linkage. The Pro Rock 60 is available in a complete assembly front or rear installation, or as a bare center section.