We're big fans of the Ford 9-inch axle. Right out of the box it offers strength and versatility and as a result has found its way in to countless 4x4 builds that don't even wear a Ford badge. We've seen 9-inch axles under everything from Jeeps to Suzuki Samurais and even a handful of Chevys. As we began a search for a formidable rear axle candidate for our desert sled project Jeep Cherokee XJ, the Ford 9-inch was the obvious choice. Desiring something different (and better) than a standard factory-style housing, however, we looked to Spidertrax Off-Road and its Spider 9 custom 9-inch housing.
The Spidertrax Spider 9 axle housing is constructed from a single piece of 1/4-inch-thick steel to create a compact shell design that is said to provide more strength than any OEM housing center. Strong is good. And Spidertrax doesn't stop at that. This housing is extremely light, as well. As shipped, the Spidertrax Spider 9 axle housing weighs just 80 pounds. We'll shave just a bit off that once we cut down the axle tubes, and then add some weight with the third member housing, carrier, gears, and spool, as well as brakes and axle shafts. All told we'll be looking at a very heavy-duty and performance-minded rear axle assembly that weighs in close to the light-duty factory rear axle set up.
With the housing selected we looked to JT's Parts & Accessories and Moser Engineering to complete the bill of necessary parts. JT's provided a ready-to-bolt-in nodular-iron 9-inch third member outfit with a bevy of stout Nitro Gear & Axle components, including 5.13 ring and pinion gears, a 35-spline steel spool, and a 1350 pinion yoke. Moser Engineering produced a set of its Big Ford housing ends that will be welded to the axle tubes, and a set of it 35-spline custom alloy axle shafts to fit the spool.
Parts in hand, we contacted Tri County Gear in Pomona, California, to have the qualified technicians carry out final assembly. We couldn't fit all of the details in this issue so check back in July as we cut down the axle tubes, weld up the ends, and finalize assembly of our Spider 9 custom 9-inch.