1-Ton Axle Beef The Cheap Way
Today the big ticket item that separates the men from the boys on the trail is 1-ton axles. For those with the desire and the money, the dream of a bulletproof drivetrain is as easy as a phone call to any one of the many companies that specialize in custom differentials. For the rest of us, however, options are fewer. Wrecking yards typically have someone lined up to purchase all 1-ton axles that come in through the front gate. Usually these axles end up for sale online at a slightly higher price than you want to pay. Then there is the strategy of buying an old broken down 1-ton pickup, pulling the axles out and scrapping the body. Either way you have a situation where you have to tear apart the old axles and rebuild them with parts supplied from the aftermarket. Significant savings can be achieved going this route. However you have to have the storage space, tools, and time it takes to complete the project. Where a custom-built Dana 60 axle from a leading axle builder could cost upward of 5,000 bucks, a wrecking-yard Dana 60 might ring in at half as much.
If that still seems a little on the pricey side, consider this: hundreds of old '70s and '80s era 1-ton pickup trucks are out there rusting away in places most people never think to look-for instance, the back lot of the local school district or public services storage yard. That's where Dustin Chernoah of Ukiah, California, found his first prized Dana 60 front end. The '79 Chevy 3500 was long forgotten by school district officials and collecting cobwebs. We'd bet it would have remained that way for a very long time had Dustin not stopped by to offer the yard supervisor 500 bucks to haul it away. The deals are out there, you just have to look for them. Follow along now as we show off two relatively inexpensive routes to manhood for your 4x4.