Two axle products have come to market recently that open up options for custom axle builders and four-wheelers alike. Innovations like these increase ground clearance, reduce weight, and improve gearing to run larger tires, all priorities when building your next off-road machine.
We didn't get to personally test these two items, but still wanted to let you know they are coming soon.
JRat Off-Road recently revealed its developmental Sixty-9 axle. This unit is a dropout axle like a Ford 9-inch, but the differential carrier houses Dana 60 gears and lockers. We like dropout axles for many reasons, including ease of service (gears and lockers can be set up on a bench or at a local shop without the whole axle), lighter weight (we don't have definite weight numbers on this unit versus a stock Dana 60), and the ability to fabricate bracket, trusses, and steering/suspension mounting points to the steel outer housing. These axles are going through final development as we go to press, and you can find out more at JRat Off-Road.
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The 14-Bolt Portal
About a year ago we showed you the AxleTech International Motorsports bolt-on portal boxes ("Lift-N-Gears," Aug. '09), but at the time they were only available for the kingpin Dana 60. Recently AxleTech installed the first set on a Corporate 14-bolt rear axle. Now all you wheelers with a 60/14 bolt combo on your trail (or daily driver) truck can step up to 5 more inches of ground clearance and lower gearing all at once.
The big stepping stone with the 14-bolt rear axle is the spindle that supports the full-floating hub. To make the portal boxes work, this spindle is cut off. This makes the upgrade less likely to be reversed if you decide that 5 inches of ground clearance and 11/2 times less gearing isn't for you, but we installed some portals on our buggy a year ago and now can't imagine it without them.
After the axlehousing is cut just behind the brake mounting plate the tube is then cleaned thoroughly for welding on the new 1/2-inch-thick portal mounting plate (a production 1-inch-thick plate will be used). Sorry, no bolt-on this time. Proper welding must be done to ensure that the plate is square to the axletube and securely attached.