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Junkyard Axle Guide - Axle Scrounger

Posted in How To: Transmission Drivetrain on April 1, 2009 Comment (0)
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Photographers: Jp Archives

Not everyone can afford to plunk down the cash for super-whiz-bang easy-fit bolt-in custom-made axle housings. Some of us have to scour the junkyards for our axles. If you're looking to do a junkyard swap you've got to remember you can't be too picky here. It's gonna take a little effort and some elbow grease to make something fit in your Jeep that was never originally designed to be there. Very few swaps simply bolt-in. You'll have to overlook slight differences in width and lug pattern changes in some cases. Having said that, here are our favorite junkyard axles and what we would swap them into.

Front Axles

73-'77 1/2 GM 1/2- and 3/4-ton truck Dana 44

Differential Location: Passenger side Lug
Pattern: 6-on-5.5 (1/2-ton) and 8-on-6.5 (3/4-ton)
Good For: Full-width (69 inches wide) axle conversions using up to 37-inch tires, YJs, TJs, and others with swapped-in or others with factory passenger side drop T-case
Pros: Very common, easy to convert to other popular lug patterns with bolt-on junkyard parts
Cons: Will need to outboard-mount leaf springs if used on CJ or YJ, spring-over housing
Identified By: Stop sign like diff cover, 69 inches wide

'74-'79 Wagoneer Narrow-Track Dana 44

Differential Location: Passenger side
Lug Pattern: 6-on-5.5
Good For: At about 60 inches wide it's a good streetable swap for most Jeeps with a passenger drop T-case
Pros: Very common in wrecking yards, heavy-duty axle tubes, cheap, easy to convert to other popular lug patterns with bolt-on junkyard parts
Cons: Will need to outboard mount leaf springs if used on CJ or YJ
Identified By: Stop sign like diff cover, spring-under housing, 60 inches wide

'74-'79 Cherokee Chief/J-Truck Wide-Track Dana 44

Differential Location: Passenger side
Lug Pattern: 6-on-5.5 and 8-on-6.5 (some truck)
Good For: It's basically a full-width axle (66 inches wide), good for light-duty full-width conversions on CJs, YJs, TJs, XJs and others with a swapped in passenger side drop T-case
Pros: Fairly common, heavy-duty axle tubes, easy to convert to other popular lug patterns with bolt-on junkyard parts
Cons: Will need to outboard-mount leaf springs if used on CJ or YJ, spring-under housing
Identified By: Stop sign like diff cover, spring-under housing, 66 inches wide

'80-'91 Wagoneer Narrow-Track Dana 44

Differential Location: Driver side
Lug Pattern: 6-on-5.5
Good For: At about 60 inches wide it's a good streetable swap for '87-'06 Wranglers and all XJs
Pros: Very common in wrecking yards, heavy-duty axle tubes, can be easily converted to 5-on-5.5 or even 8-on-6.5 lug pattern, cheap, good match for Isuzu rear axle
Cons: Avoid vacuum disconnect versions, six-lug pattern, spring-under housing, need to locate and weld on link brackets for TJ and XJ applications
Identified By: Stop sign like diff cover, spring-under housing, 60 inches wide

'81 1/2-'86 Jeep CJ Wide-Track Dana 30

Differential Location: Passenger side
Lug Pattern: 5-on-5.5
Good For: Slight strength upgrade for '41-'71 CJs and more width (56 inches wide) for '41-'81 CJs running up to 33-inch tires
Pros: Fairly common, factory disc brakes, bolt-in swap for some CJs, lots of aftermarket upgrades available
Cons: Spring-under housing, weak locking hubs, weak U-joints
Identified By: 5-bolt locking hubs, Dana 30 diff cover

'95 1/2-'99 Jeep XJ Cherokee Non-disconnect Dana 30

Differential Location:Driver side
Lug Pattern: 5-on-4.5
Good For: YJ, TJ, and early XJ replacement (60 inches wide)
Pros: High-pinion for better driveshaft angles on lifted Jeeps, stronger housing than stock YJ, larger 760 steering U-joints, bolt-in swap for TJ and XJ, four-cylinder versions have 4.10 gears
Cons: Will need to remove link brackets and weld on perches for use with YJ leaf springs
Identified By: No axle disconnect, XJ suspension bracketry

Rear Axles

'72-'75 Jeep CJ Dana 44

Differential Location: Centered
Lug Pattern: 5-on-5.5
Good For: At 51 inches wide it's too narrow for newer models or the hardcore but it's a great swap for mildly-built early flatfenders, early Jeepsters, and '76-'81 1/2 CJs
Pros: One-piece 30-spline flanged axles, easy-to-find replacement parts, heavy-duty housing
Cons: Somewhat hard to find, too narrow for extreme builds
Identified By: Stop sign like diff cover, flanged axles

'93-Up Isuzu Rodeo/Honda Passport Dana 44

Differential Location: Centered Lug
Pattern: 6-on-5.5
Good For: At 58 inches wide it's a good swap for YJs, TJs, and XJs that came with a Dana 35
Pros: Many came with 4.30 and 4.56 gears, strong housings, disc brakes, works great on late model Wranglers when matched with '80-'91 Wagoneer Dana 44 front axle
Cons: Will need to match six-lug pattern to front axle with wheel adapters or front axle swap, TJ will need link brackets located and welded in place
Identified By: Will sometimes have finned cast aluminum diff cover, looks like regular Dana 44, disc brakes, flange yoke, goofy sensor/wire on top of housing

'74-'86 Ford F150, Bronco, and E150 van Ford 9-inch

Differential Location: Centered
Lug Pattern: 5-on-5.5
Good For: Full-width conversions running up to 39-inch tires
Pros: Cheap, easy to find, available in two widths; 65 inches (F150 and Bronco) and 68 inches (van), 4x4 and Camper Special versions have 31-spline shafts, all can be converted for up to 35- and 40-spline shafts with bolt-on parts
Cons: Vans and most 2WD versions have only 28-spline shafts but can still be converted up to 40-spline
Identified By: Removable third member, and pinion support, stamped sheet metal housing without removable diff cover

'73-Present GM 3/4- and 1-ton GM 14-Bolt

Differential Location: Centered
Lug Pattern: 8-on-6.5
Good For: Full-width conversions running 39-inch or bigger tires
Pros: Cheap, very common, available in several widths from 63 to 73 inches wide, very strong, newer versions have disc brakes
Cons: Heavy, poor ground clearance
Identified By: 14 bolts in diff cover, removable pinion support

'71-Present Dodge, Ford and GM Dana 70, 70U, and 70HD

Differential Location: Centered
Lug Pattern: 8-on-6.5
Good For: Full-width conversions running 39-inch or bigger tires
Pros: Cheap, easy to find, 35-spline 1.5-inch shafts, available in several widths, very strong
Cons: Heavy, some versions of the Dana 70 have limited ratios available so stick with 70, 70U and 70HD
Identified By: Smooth front snout (70U), 70HD cast into webbing (70HD), B cast into top of housing (70)

Front Axles You Won't Find...Cheap
Everyone thinks they need a Dana 60 front axle. Problem is they don't, and there were not very many manufactured. So these junkyard 1-ton axles can often be hard to find and overpriced when you do eventually find them. It's also common to find these axles in very poor shape. Lookout for heavily-corroded or missing components as well as bent axle tubes. If you're eyeballing a 1-ton Dana 60 front axle you should be rolling on 37-inch tires at the very least.

'77-'91 GM 1-Ton Dana 60

Differential Location: Passenger side
Lug Pattern: 8-on-6.5
Good For: Full-width conversions with 37-inch or bigger tires
Pros: Huge brakes, 35-spline inner shafts and awesome overall strength
Cons: Hard to find and usually well worn or rusty, expensive, smallish 30-spline stub shafts

'78-'79 Ford Dana 60

Differential Location: Driver side
Lug Pattern: 8-on-6.5
Good For: Great swap for '80 and later FSJ or full-width conversions
Pros: Huge brakes, 35-spline inner shafts and awesome overall strength
Cons: Even more difficult to find than GM version, usually well worn or rusty, expensive, smallish 30-spline stub shafts

'77-'93 Dodge Dana 60

Differential Location: Passenger side
Lug Pattern: 8-on-6.5
Good For: Full-width conversions
Pros: Huge brakes, 35-spline inner shafts, awesome overall strength, and less demand than other Dana 60 front axles
Cons: Not as common as GM Dana 60, usually well worn or rusty, smallish 30-spline stub shafts, often overpriced, odd-ball 32 1/2-inch spring perch width

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