Bolt-On Portals From Axle Tech
With AxleTech International Motorsports' new bolt-on portal boxes, you get a geared hub that goes on the end of your axle and raises the centerline of the axle tube 5 inches above the centerline of your wheel. Portals have been around for years under all types of military vehicles and tractors, but never has there been a bolt-on kit for the tried and true Dana axles.
Inside the geared hub of most portal axles are only two gears, which makes them difficult to attach to a standard axle since they require flipping the differential due to the direction reversal of the two-geared hub. The AxleTech portals have four gears: a drive gear, two idler gears, and a massive driven gear that keeps the drive direction constant, meaning no axle (differential or third member) flipping is needed, and it lowers your gearing by 50 percent. Since these geared hubs are at the end of your axles they give your ride a lot of ground clearance without a suspension or body lift.
So why hasn't anyone done this before? We're not sure, but these guys are definitely qualified to make it happen. AxleTech is a descendent of such well-known axle component companies as Timken, Arvin Meritor, and Rockwell International. The company that made the Rockwell 2 1/2-ton axle is a forefather of AxleTech. The company now concentrates on planetary and portal axles for heavy equipment and military vehicles and felt that its expertise would be perfectly suited for making parts for the wild wheelers in the off-road market.
These portals are the first prototypes installed on a vehicle, and we're proud to say our Fun Buggy was chosen as the guinea pig. The best part is that we bolted them onto the front and rear kingpin Dynatrac Pro Rock Dana 60s with no problems! We've only just begun testing them on the trail, but AxleTech has been putting them through high-speed and high-torque destructive testing and has yet to break the boxes (watch the video on AxleTech's website).
The portals are currently available for kingpin Dana 60s and Corporate 14-bolt axles, but will soon be made for various front and rear axles (rear axle applications may require welding), and a smaller lighter version is coming eventually for half-ton and smaller axles as well as IFS.
7. The portals add roughly 5 inches of ground clearance and 5 inches of width per side. The width is easily dealt with by running high backspacing wheels (see sidebar), and the ground clearance is great for mud, snow, and rock wheeling. In fact, we ended up with 18 inches of differential clearance with 30 psi in 40-inch tires.
With the additional width of the portals, it is important to find wheels to deal withthe added leverage and scrub radius. To get back to a reasonable overall width, we swapped in some 17x10 steel wheels with 8 3/4 inches of backspacing made for AxleTech by Stazworks Extreme Offroad. The Wheels are a two-piece design with an internal beadlock very similar to HMMWV military wheels.
The portals are made to clear a HMMWV wheel. Stazworks can also supply them if need be, but they are only available in 16.5-inch, whereas we like the greater tire options of the 17-inch. You will need to supply the valve stems and take your time assembling the wheels and the internal O-ring seals. We have had great success so far. They haven't leaked, and they hold the tires firm during severe side-hill wheeling. The extreme backspacing protects the brake calipers and reduces stress on the kingpin components.