We have a few friends who would argue that the 14-bolt rear end is the most badass axle ever built. "How can you say this?!" we ask. "The 14-bolt wasn't even made in a front-axle application! On top of that, it's heavy and it hangs low!" Our friends did have some good points: the 14-bolt houses a 10.5-inch ring gear, it is easy to set up the gears on it, stock axleshafts are good enough (even for hardcore use), and they only cost about $200 used. On top of that, they're readily available everywhere and parts are cheap and plentiful. But the 10.5-inch ring gear 14-bolt axle does have some downfalls. First of all, it's heavy-heavier than a Dana 60. It also has a low ground clearance due to an overly large centersection casing. Even if you did get over these two downfalls, you better not want one for your front end because they've only been made in rear applications.
But what if someone made something that would solve all these dillemas? And what if it could be done at a price that would still come in cheaper than almost any other custom axle made? Well, someone finally has done it.
Thanks to Portal-Tek, we can now opt for one of their new beefed up Super-14 axle assemblies that use 14-bolt guts, packaged in a lightweight, high-clearance, fabricated steel housing with a dropout third member. A Super-14 is similar to a fabricated 9-inch in that they both feature solid steel housings with dropout third members, and the Super-14 is only about an inch bigger than a 9-inch housing. The Super-14 was designed with brutal use in mind, built with either a chromoly or mild steel housing as well as a one-piece main bearing cap held by four 1/2-inch bolts on each side. The Super-14 features a symmetrical bolt pattern (surrounding the third member) allowing it to operate in either high or low pinion setups. Portal-Tek will also be offering the Super-14 in front axle applications and has partnered with Superior Axle and Gear to distribute the Super-14 assemblies.