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Bulletproof Dana 35-C Axles

Posted in How To: Transmission Drivetrain on February 1, 1999
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Photographers: Rick Péwé

The Dana Model 35-C axle has been around for quite a while in various forms and applications. The most common is the C-clip design found in most Jeep Wranglers, Cherokees, Comanches, and Wagoneers.

Except for the infamous C-clip itself, the rearend gives quite adequate service to the majority of Jeep owners, especially in stock form. But start adding bigger tires and lower gears, and the little axles don't perform as expected.

Many aftermarket companies have produced options and upgrades for the 35-C, including lockers, different gear ratios, and disc brakes. But until recently, no one had addressed the major weakness of the unit: 27-spline axleshafts. A broken axleshaft on these units means the tire and wheel leave the Jeep while in motion, since only a C-clip inside the differential retains the axle. ARB developed and markets a C-clip eliminator kit that places a retained bearing at the axle end to eliminate the loss of the tire and wheel, but it doesn't make the shaft any stronger.

If you have a stock axle under the rear of your Jeep, fear no more. Superior Axle has just introduced a 30-spline, high-strength axle kit that's more than 35 percent stronger than the factory unit. The increase in spline count from 27 to 30 comes with a size increase in diameter to 1.31 inches-the same as a Dana 44. These new axles aren't just cut-down and splined aftermarket jobs; the axles feature rolled splines just like the factory. Induction-hardening also makes the shafts far stronger and more durable, and the improved tapered-shaft design gives the axles more resilience.

The larger diameter and spline count also means a different differential is needed to accept the new axleshaft, so Powertrax has developed a special Lock-Right locker, available only from Superior Axle & Gear, to fit the beefier axleshafts. To further strengthen the whole shebang, a new replacement carrier is specially modified by machining and heat-treating critical areas to increase the strength and durability of the stock carrier. The new carrier bearings and Lock-Right come installed on the carrier, and new axle bearings and seals are also included. DriveTrain Direct has even started developing a truss for these axles, which have a habit of bending under severe use.

We recently went to DriveTrain Direct, a leading distributor of Superior Axle & Gear products, to check out the installation of the new setup, and it was relatively painless to bolt in. Complete instructions come with the kit, and for the most part, it can be done in your own garage with the axle still in the vehicle. Follow the photos and see how easy it is to really beef up your 35-C.

PhotosView Slideshow
PhotosView Slideshow


Superior Axle & Gear
Rancho Cucamonga, CA 91730
Drivetrain Direct
Corona, CA 92880

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