Subscribe to a magazine

July 2005 4x4 Tech Questions - Tech Line

Willie Worthy | Writer
Posted July 1, 2005

Send Us Your Tech Questions

Address your correspondence to:
Four Wheeler
6420 Wilshire Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90048-5515.

All letters become the property of Four Wheeler, and we reserve the right to edit them for length, accuracy, and clarity. The editorial department also can be reached through the Web site at Due to the volume of mail, electronic and otherwise, we cannot respond to every reader, but we do read everything.

Question: My 1-ton '90 Dodge truck has a Dana 60 front axle.When I took it in for alignment, the guy told me that the camber is off on the right side, but there is nothing he can do about it other than heating up the axle and bending it. This doesn't seem right to me. Isn't there some other way to solve this problem?
Marty Wangler
St. Paul, MN

Answer: Heating the axletubes and bending them is a pretty drastic action. The big problem is that you don't have much control on just how much it will bend. It's something that I would never recommend unless the axle is out of the truck, disassembled, and placed on some sort of fixture. There is, however, a better way-that is, if you don't need a whole lot of adjustment. Have your alignment guy check with his part supplier for Moog's kit number K992. This fits all Dodge models from '57 to '93 with the Dana 60 front axle. It will allow -1.5 to +1.5 degrees of adjustment. Hopefully, that's all it will take.

Question: I am getting a free Chevy 350 engine for storing a friend's truck. The catch is that the engine is spurting oil from the dipstick tube and won't fire up. I have been told it could just have too much oil in it, but my friend says that it has the right amount. Other people have told me it could be a bad head gasket or oil pump.

I am looking at rebuilding it and transplanting it in my '98 YJ Wrangler. Is this something I should stay away from, or can it be fixed without breaking my wallet?

Is there an adapter plate that will let me bolt it up to my current transmission, or will I have to replace that too? The truck has a Turbo 400 automatic I could get, too, but I would like to stay with my manual transmission.
Matt Woolsey

Answer: You need to think how an engine works and just what would cause oil to come out of the dipstick tube. There is no way a bad oil pump could cause this problem. You say the engine won't fire up, but I assume that it cranks over OK. The pan would have to be pretty darn full for any oil to spit out of the dipstick from the crank, spinning at cranking speeds. So that leaves compression pushing past the rings and pressurizing the oil pan enough to force the oil out of the dipstick.

There are a couple of things you can do to assess the condition of the engine. As you're cranking over the engine, put your finger over the dipstick hole. If you feel pressure trying to push it off, then you have a problem that is going to require disassembly of the engine. It could be as simple as a broken piston ring that hopefully hasn't scratched the cylinder wall or hurt the piston groove. Or it could be a broken piston and a cylinder that may need to be sleeved. You could also pull out the spark plugs and, with a low-cost compression gauge, take some compression readings. My guess is that you will find at least one cylinder that has a very low reading. With either test, make sure the battery is up to full charge so that you get some cranking speed. However, you may not want to waste the time doing this, as it's a pretty good bet something is majorly wrong with the engine, and you might as well just start taking it apart to find out.

As for fixing it, well, that depends on just how much money you want to put into the engine. It may be cheaper in the long run, once you get the engine apart and find the problem, to just say the heck with it and find a better engine, even if you have to pay for it. A reasonable quality rebuild will start around $1,200 and go up from there.

Now as to putting it into your Wrangler: The AX15 transmission you have is a light- to medium-duty transmission, but if you have a light right foot and don't build the V-8 to high horsepower levels, the trans should hold up OK. It wouldn't be my first choice of transmission, but it is usable. Novak Enterprises (435/753-2513, has a great adapter, and when used with Novak's optional hydraulic-clutch slave-retrofit system, you can maintain your present clutch linkage.

The TH400 is a much stronger transmission and is an option that you should explore. The adapter to the transfer case is about the same price as the engine-to-AX15 adapter. However, the transmission is a bit long, making a combined transmission and adapter length of 25.9 inches (the manual trans/bellhousing combination, I believe, is about 19 inches long), so I would think a short shaft/slip-yoke eliminator kit would be a necessity.

Question: I have a '99 Chevy S-10 4x4 (non ZR-2) with a 2-inch IFS lift and fiberglass fenders. I am dissatisfied with the current front suspension, and wish to do a solid front axle swap. I have been doing research and haven't come up with much of a plan yet as to how I'm going to tackle this project. In the end, I wish to lift it enough to clear 35s. The axle would need to have a driver-side differential. What axle would you recommend, and what model, year and/or vehicle would I be able to salvage such an axle from? Could you outline everything else necessary to do the axle swap? I wish to use a leaf-spring setup and keep the axle somewhat narrow if possible.

Answer: Well, that is a pretty big undertaking, one that you will have to spend a lot of time thinking about before you even begin. Leaf springs, coil springs, or coilover setups are going to require a lot of fabrication. Undoubtedly, leaf springs will be the easiest way to go and the less expensive method. The present track on your S-10, I believe, is 57 inches. The only driver-side front axles that I can think of that are close to those measurements are axles from early-model Broncos and fullsize Jeep Wagoneers (from the last few years of production). These were Dana 44s, something you will need if you're planning on running 35-inch tires. Sure, there are some other axles that were the right width, but they had passenger-side differential housings or were only Dana 30s.

Having never done such a swap-or, to be honest with you, never looked at one closely-I can't tell you exactly what is involved in the way of frame or steering modifications. What I will tell you is that it is very important that you keep things straight and true as possible. And when it comes to steering, make sure that the modifications you make will never fail, or the results may just mean your-or someone else's-life. You might want to consider using the complete Bronco suspension system-even the coil-spring towers-as it seems to be an easy way to go. I did some searching on this subject and found out that Ems Offroad (570/644-9151, has done this same conversion. You might want to visit the company's Web site, and perhaps they can help you out with the proper brackets and such.

Load More Read Full Article