The Great Axle Parts GuidePosted in How To: Transmission Drivetrain on July 1, 2011 Comment (0)
Without tough axle assemblies and the quality components to build them—alloy shafts, lockers, gearsets, portal ends, trick steering arms—we might never have finished some of the toughest trails we’ve ever thrown under our rigs.
There are literally thousands of axle parts on the market, and tracking them down can be mindboggling. So to help you finish building that axle that’s been sitting on your workbench, we have compiled a list of the top aftermarket axle parts manufacturers, including some of their best and newest parts.
Kryptonite Differential Covers
The Blue Torch Fab Kryptonite differential cover is designed for severe use and tough protection. All Kryptonite diff covers are fabricated with 1⁄4-inch steel plate for the cover and have a 3⁄8-inch steel ring for the base that will not peel off the diff when it’s dragged over rocks. Kryptonite cover are available for nearly every application, including Rockwell skids. Info: Blue Torch Fab, 866.725.2795, www.bluetorchfab.com.
40-Spline Air Locker
For horsepower-heavy 4x4s, bigger and better is stronger. ARB’s Air Locker for the Dana 60XHD axle, complete with 40-spline side gears, can handle the toughest applications and harshest terrain. The locker is available for gearsets 4.10 and down. Info: ARB USA, 425.264.1391, www.arbusa.com.
60 CRD Axles
The 60 CRD axles from TeraFlex use heavy-duty components that are designed to offer competition strength with excellent dependability. All components are CAD-designed and engineered to provide a premium product. The 60 CRD axle is a high-pinion Dana 60 built specifically for off-road vehicles while maintaining highway drivability. The axle features heavy-duty bearing caps, a rotated cover line (30 degrees), a cast oil skimmer, an oversized outer pinion bearing, a removable oil seal, and a smooth radius bottom that provides more ground clearance than a Dana 44. Info: TeraFlex Inc., 801.288.2585, www.teraflex.biz.
The high-tech portal ends from Axletech will give your axles a massive 4.9 inches of additional ground clearance and feature a four-gear design with a 1.5:1 reduction ratio for increased wheel torque without increased stress on the ring-and-pinion. The ductile iron case is designed for strength and will stand up to the toughest off-road abuse. The portal ends are available in two-wheel steer or four- wheel steer configurations. Info: Axletech Int’l Motorsports, 248.637.6310, www.motorsports.axletech.com.
The ProRock 44 lets you reuse your stock or aftermarket JK Dana 44F internal parts and your JK or TJ wheel ends and brakes. The 44 can also be upgraded with aftermarket gears, axleshafts, and brakes. The axle is easy to install and bolts into your stock or lifted JK or TJ with no grinding or welding. Info: Dynatrac, 714.596.4461, www.dynatrac.com.
The 30-spline Detroit Truetrac will fit the ’72-’10 GM 20/2500 14-bolt 101⁄2-inch axle. The Truetrac is a proven design that’s been one of the industry leaders in off-road traction. This helical-gear design provides quiet and smooth operation while automatically transferring torque to the wheel with the best traction. Eaton’s Detroit Truetrac has no clutches or cones to wear out and never needs maintenance. Info: Eaton Performance Products, 800.328.3850, www.eatonperformance.com.
Differential Cable Lock Kit
The Alloy USA Differential Cable Lock Kit is a permanent replacement for the failure-prone OE vacuum disconnect system on ’87-’95 Jeep Wranglers. The kit allows you to engage and lock the front axle from inside the cab. A 1-inch pull of the cable ensures that you will have four-wheel-drive when you need it. Info: Alloy USA, 770.614.6101, www.alloyusa.com, www.omix-ada.com.
Jeep JK ECTED Locker
Auburn Gear now offers the Dana Super 44 Ected Max selectable locker with 35-tooth axleshaft splines in a four-pinion design. The Ected will fit ’07 to present Jeep JK Rubicon in all ratios. The case trunnions are larger to accommodate the 35-spline axleshaft. The unit requires new differential bearings, and an upgrade in axleshafts is required. Upgrading to chromoly aftermarket axleshafts is recommended. The performance differential is selectable via a dash- or console-mounted switch. Info: Auburn Gear, 260.925.3200, www.auburngear.com.
BombProof Diff Covers
Crane Hi Clearance has added a cover to its lineup of bombproof 8620 chromoly steel diff covers. With the new shaved 13-bolt, no welding or cutting into the oil compartment is required to gain 1 inch or more of ground clearance equal to a Dana 60. Using a reciprocating saw or cutting wheel, simply cut on the dotted line of the template and smooth out with a sander/grinder for additional clearance. Info: Crane Hi Clearance, 720.422.4598, www.cranehiclearance.com.
HardCore Axle Assemblies
Boyce Equipment has offered powertrain parts and axle assemblies for over 50 years. Boyce can build Dana 44, Dana 60, Dana 70, GM Corporate, and Rockwell axle assemblies for stock, custom, hardcore rockcrawling and industrial applications. Info: 800.748.4269, www.boyceequipment.com.
Currie’s RockJock high-pinion 60 rearend line has expanded into the Jeep JK, Toyota FJ Cruiser and Tacoma, and Nissan Titan vehicles. The rearends feature custom housing ends and axle forgings for each application allowing factory brakes to be retained on each vehicle. ABS and ESP equipment is also retained. All suspension brackets are new, heavy-duty, laser-cut reproductions of the original brackets. In coil-spring rear applications, suspension component mounting holes have been added for maximum versatility. All common gear ratios and 35- and 40-spline carrier options are available. Info: Currie Ent., 714.367.2232, www.currieenterprises.com.
Custom Axle Assemblies
DTS Custom Services manufactures complete bolt-in assemblies from Dana 60s, Dana 44s, and GM 12-bolts to Ford 9- and 8.8-inch axles. DTS can also customize almost any factory housing to your specifications. Precision castings are CNC-machined in one setup to eliminate tolerance stacking issues. Info: Drive Train Specialists, 800.513.8138, www.drivetrainspecialists.com.
Toyota Brake Upgrades
Front Range Offroad provides easy brake upgrade kits for early solid-axle Toyota trucks. Two versions of the kits are available and allow the mounting of ’96 and newer Tacoma and 4 Runner brakes, or the use of the much larger brakes found on ’05 and newer Tacoma trucks. Info: Front Range Off-Road Fabrication, 970.881.2418, www.frontrangeoffroadfab.com.
HD Bolt-Together Axles
Gear Tech HD has designed a 70HD and GT 50 axle differential with bolt-in tubes. The design allows someone to build them in any configuration or length by unbolting the tubes and shortening or lengthening with ease. The center sections are made from high-grade nodular iron, and the tubes locate over 3 inches inside the diff for maximum strength. Gear Tech offers all the components necessary to build complete axles assemblies. Info: Gear Tech, 601.899.9831, www.geartechhd.com.
Diamond Axle is continues to build a multitude of axlehousings for a large variety of applications. The company now builds five Toyota housings from 8 to 101⁄2 inches and also offers Nissan and Rockwell centers, rear steer, full-float axles, and increased steering Toyota fronts. Diamond also CNC-machines the third member flanges and a large variety of housing ends in house, which helps build a high-quality product. Info: Diamond Axles, 970.881.2418, www.diamondaxle.com.
Axle Swap & Builder Brackets
GenRight offers a complete line of heavy-duty, laser-cut, CNC-formed brackets and tabs for the do-it-yourself off-roader who wants to build or swap axles. Info: GenRight Off Road, 805.584.8635, www.genright.com.
RCV Performance CV Axles
RCV’s Ultimate CV Axles are designed to easily replace universal-jointed front axleshafts and have been tested to be twice as strong as OE axles. The axles are perfect when running big tires and big power. They’re designed for strength at a straight angle and at extreme angles, where U-jointed axles are at their weakest. RCV’s constant velocity design eliminates U-joint binding to allow smooth power transfer to the ground and to eradicate steering wheel shimmy. Available for Dana 30, Dana 44, Dana 60, GM, and AAM applications. Info: RCV Performance Products, 815.877.7473, www.rcvperformance.com.
If you’re tired of scraping the mess that silicone sealant leaves behind on your axle or if you’ve had to hammer on the diff cover to break it free, try a LubeLocker gasket. Save time on installs and get the job done quicker with less RTV hassle. The gaskets retain their seal even if the differential cover shifts, while the orange high-temperature elastomer beading delivers superior sealing through a wide range of temperatures. Info: LubeLocker, www.lubelocker.com.
Dana 44 & Dana 60 U-Joints
The Longfield 300M Dana 44 and 60 U-joints now come with one grease fitting instead of four, and they are cross-drilled, which will give you more grease storage. High-impact aluminum nickel bronze bushings are used, which are much better for high speeds than standard bronze and will help prevent galling like previous joints. The U-joints come with full-circle C-clips and are rebuildable. Info: Longfield Super Axles, 253.847.8254, www.longfieldsuperaxles.com.
Dana 44 to Toyota Driveshaft Flange
The Inchworm flange is made out of a solid stock and allows you to use your Toyota driveshaft with a swapped-in Dana 44 axle. It is drilled to accept stock shoulder-type bolts, which makes a Dana 44 conversion easier and economical by using your old driveshafts. Info: Inchworm Gear, 530.677.8111, www.inchwormgear.com.
Jeep Manual Hub Conversion
Remove those nonserviceable parts on the front end of your XJ, YJ, or TJ and replace them with fixed spindles and lockout hubs with Mile Marker’s kit. When the factory Jeep unit bearing fails, the conversion kit offers ease of maintenance, a much smoother ride, better steering control, greater fuel economy, and longer axle and driveshaft life: Info: Mile Marker, 800.886.8647, www.milemarker.com.
Ford 8.8-Inch Swap Kit
The Ford 8.8 rear axle is a popular swap for Jeeps because of the 3 1⁄4-inch axletube, disc brakes, and 31-spline axleshafts. Mountain Off-Road Enterprises has developed a kit to simplify the installation into your TJ, YJ, or XJ. The kits contain all the bracketry needed for this installation, all of it made in the USA and from laser-cut 3⁄16-inch steel and CNC-bent in MORE’s press brake. Info: Mountain Off-Road Ent., 877.533.7229, www.mountainoffroad.com.
High Capacity Diff Cover
Keeping the 14-bolt in your tow rig is easy with Mag-Hytec’s tough high-capacity differential cover. The cover adds capacity, helps keep the fluid 25-50 degrees cooler, and increases the fluid change intervals. The maintenance is quick, clean, and easy with the drain plug and dipstick. The O-ring seal makes removal quick and effortless compared to other sealing methods. Info: Mag-Hytec, 818.786.8325, www.mag-hytec.com.
Full spools are available from Poly Performance and offer dependable off-road traction. The spools provide 100 percent lockup and are available for Dana 44, Dana 60, Toyota, Ford, GM, and Chevy. The spools are ideal for hardcore rockcrawling. Info: Poly Performance, 805.783.2060, www.polyperformance.com.
Solid-Axle Swap Systems
Offroad Design’s solid-axle swap kit for ’88-’98 GM trucks puts everything the company has learned in over 15 years of fullsize wheeling into your work or play truck. Beefy bolt-on spring bracketry, proven heavy-duty steering systems, and lift heights from 3 inches and up let you install the durability you need as simply as possible. Kits are also available for GM or Ford donor axles in complete systems or parts. Info: Offroad Design, 970.945.7777, www.offroaddesign.com.
Bombshell Diff Cover
Poison Spyder Bombshell Diff Covers are designed to protect your gears, lockers, and diff cover bolts from the most punishing rocks and trail hazards. The covers are available for Dana 30, 44, and 60 axles. The Bombshell is cast from high-grade ductile iron, and the sealing surface is machined flat for a perfect seal. The design incorporates recesses to protect the diff cover bolt heads from trail damage while also acting as a ramp to help slide your Jeep up and over the most troublesome pumpkin-eaters. Info: Poison Spyder Customs, 951.849.5911, www.poisonspyder.com.
Dana 44 Reinforcement
These Evo C2 front axle reinforcement gussets are made out of 3⁄16-inch laser-cut, CNC-bent steel and are engineered to strengthen the Jeep JK Wrangler’s front axle Cs. The gussets are a direct fit to the JK Dana 30 and Dana 44 and require welding for installation. Each C2 gusset kit is complete with top and bottom gussets. Info: Off Road Evolution, 714.870.5515, www.offroadevolution.com.
The strength and longevity of Superior’s joints is achieved with a forged 4340 chromoly cross-section. They are built with high-quality bearing caps that utilize needle bearings for a long, uninterrupted lifespan. The U-joints are available for the Dana 30, 44, and 60 axles. Info: Superior Axle & Gear, 888.845.0470, www.superioraxlegear.com.
Unit Bearing Be Gone!
The Yukon Spin Free Kit eliminates the costly factory unit bearing found in late-model trucks and Jeeps. The reduced drag results in greater fuel economy, and the premium hubs included in the kit allow for driving selectability. The kits include all components necessary for installation, including heavy-duty 4340 chromoly axles. Info: Randy’s Ring & Pinion, 866.631.0196, www.ringpinion.com.
Quality Third Members
Complete third member can be custom-built any way you want them from West Coast Differentials. Dropout units are available for Mopar 83⁄4-inch; Toyota 8-inch, V-6, and Tacoma; and Ford 8- and 9-inch. WCD can also install any gear ratio you need, with posis, lockers, and the housing and yoke of your choice. Info: West Coast Differentials, 800.353.1513, www.differentials.com.
Disc Brake Conversions
TSM offers trick disc brake conversion kits that are perfect for axle swaps and upgrades. The kits offer more stopping power than old drum brakes, and the calipers are also available with parking brakes. Conversions are available for almost every axle ever made—front or rear. Info: TSM Mfg., 303.688.6882, www.tsmmfg.com.
Super-Tough Diff Covers
These tough differential covers from Riddler feature an innovative design and dependability at an affordable price. The lip-free ramp design is molded in high-grade ductile iron that makes the covers ready to handle the most extreme off-road conditions. Info: Riddler Mfg., 303.651.7757, www.riddlermfg.com.
Tougher Knuckles system
Reid Racing’s Dana 30 and Rubicon 44 knuckles replace the late-model Dana 30 unit bearing design with standard Dana 44 spindles, heavy-duty bearings, oversize brakes, and traditional lockout hubs. The increased strength, durability, and serviceability are perfect for extreme off-road abuse with oversize tires. Their bolt-on, high-steer arms allow the option of crossover or high-steer linkage, while the cast steering arms are in the factory location for full compatibility with OEM or aftermarket steering systems. Cast-in dual steering stops further prevent binding and breakage. Info: Reid Racing Inc., 925.935.3025, www.reidracing.biz.
Tough Diff Protection
The heavy-duty diff covers from Barnett are available for Dana 30, 44, and 50 axles. While providing greater protection against rocks and other hazards than the factory diff covers, the extra 1⁄8-inch steel plating along the bottom of the cover also acts as a skidplate to make getting past obstacles easier. Info: Barnett Performance Products, 714.633.0991, www.tandjperformance.com.
Ultimate Differential Book
Differentials, Identification, Restoration and Repair is an easy-to-understand, comprehensive book that walks you through the repair, upgrade, and modification of differentials and axles. The second edition has been expanded to 408 pages and includes info on 13 new differentials, the latest lockers and Posi units, new tech tips, and expanded photo galleries. Info: Randy’s Ring & Pinion, 866.631.0196, www.ringpinion.com.
Pro Series Housings
The 9-inch Spidertrax Pro Series Housing was designed for professional rock racers but is available to every four-wheeler. Every component of the housing, from the one-piece, 1⁄4-inch-thick center shell to the 3⁄8-inch-thick third member face plate, is manufactured out of 4130 domestic grade chromoly steel. The 4130 housing tube has an outside diameter of 31⁄2 inches with a 1⁄4-inch wall and is heat treated to a tensile strength of 150,000 psi, roughly 2.5 times the strength of 1026 DOM. Info: Spidertrax Off-Road, 800.286.0898, www.spidertrax.com.
Richmond Gear’s Lock-Right and PowerTrax Lockers are perfect for rugged vehicle applications needing dependable traction in extreme off-road to severe on-road use. The locker designs do not require changing the complete differential case assembly. Installation is simple because the ring-and-pinion setups are not altered in most cases. Richmond Gear also offers a complete line of ring-and-pinions to complement the line of lockers. Info: Richmond Gear, 864.843.9275, www.richmondgear.com.
If you are running a Ford 9-inch axle, you can get the traction you’re looking for at an affordable price with Summit’s Trac-Loc differentials. The heavy-duty, four-pin (four-spider-gear) units use a steel case with extra support material in critical areas to make them stronger than cast iron OEM differential. The Trac-Loc differential is for both 28-spline and 31-spline axles and does not require friction modifier in the gear oil. Info: Summit Racing Equipment, 800.230.3030, www.summitracing.com.
Marlin Crawler offers this ’79-’85 Toyota steering pivot system. It’s the company’s answer to large tires and hydro steering systems. The kit uses 47 percent larger Dana 60–sized pivots and 54 percent stronger, high-capacity knuckle bearings. The light-duty lower caps are replaced with billet steel parts and 12.9-grade fasteners, increasing ground clearance by almost 1 inch. Available as a complete High Steer package or as an upgrade kit. Info: Marlin Crawler Inc., 559.252.7295, www.marlincrawler.com.
Hub Conversion System
This kit from Rugged Ridge is designed to upgrade the nonserviceable wheel hubs found on the ’84-’06 Wranglers and Cherokees. The kit allows the locking and unlocking of the front hubs, reduces driveline strain, and improves fuel economy. The kit includes a set of Rugged Ridge manual locking hubs; high-tensile-strength, 27-spline inner and outer Alloy USA 4340 chromoly axleshafts; 1⁄2 ton-capacity aluminum internal mounting hubs; Alloy USA X-Joints; machined front brake rotors; bearings; seals; and hardware. Info: Rugged Ridge, 770.614.6101, www.ruggedridge.com.