When you want an axle to turn big tires and do so with some brute strength, the common choice is some version of the venerable Dana 60. While there are many fine manufacturers that offer custom turn-key axle assemblies built to your specs, there are also other choices to us 'wheelers. Maybe you have the time and interest in doing some heavy, greasy work and are looking for a lower cost alternative. You could take a stock salvaged Dana 60, replace the worn parts with new ones, and upgrade some of the other components along the way as your budget allows.
The goal for this build was to tear down a complete front axle and build it back up with replacement parts as needed. This should get us a basic Dana 60 without breaking the bank. Except for the gear and locker setup, we also wanted to try to build the entire axle with common tools you might have in your home shop, thus saving on some labor costs.
We sourced a crusty, used axle from an '88 Chevy 1-ton truck. The entire truck had been purchased at a county auction for the measly sum of $800. From that hulk came the front axle shown here, a 14-bolt rear axle, other worn but useful drivetrain parts, and the whole rest of a truck body and chassis. The axle we had could be used at full width and the differential was on the correct side, so no housing modifications were necessary.
We simply tore down the salvaged axle and cleaned and painted it in preparation for the build. We'll show you a few photos of the teardown, but will spend most of our effort showing you the build steps. Rebuild parts such as seals, bearings, etc. are commonly available from a variety of sources and as usual, all parts would be inspected and replaced as needed during such a build. Follow along as we show you the steps in this process.