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Artisan Axle: Bolt-on RuffStuff Fabricated Axlehousing Upgrade

Posted in How To: Transmission Drivetrain on March 30, 2017
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Photographers: Courtesy of Manufacturer

Factory 4x4 axlehousings were originally designed for the street, stock-sized tires, and moderate off-road use. The addition of lift kits and larger tires, combined with the newfound ability to get further and faster up the trail puts more stress on the factory axle assemblies than was ever intended. This added stress can sometimes result in a bent or broken axlehousing. Fortunately, RuffStuff Specialties offers heavy-duty fabricated replacement axlehousings for popular front and rear third member axle assemblies like the Ford 9-inch, Toyota pickup/4Runner 8-inch, Land Cruiser 9.5-inch, and Tundra 10.5-inch. You can order your axle with or without ends. Options include Dana 60 kingpin end forgings, full-float or semi-float rear housing ends, axle trussing, and additional differential armor.

Our factory-thin stamped-steel Toyota FJ40 front axlehousing was bent enough that the camber was way off. Plus, the front of the stock housing had been smashed into the ring gear by rock abuse, so we made a call to RuffStuff Specialties. The company took dimensions from our old housing and sent us an immaculately welded heavy-duty axlehousing that accepted our stock third member, axleshafts, seals, steering knuckles, and brakes. Here’s how it’s built and how it all came together on our 4x4.

Most factory stamped-steel axlehousings are made with thin sheetmetal and have very little gusseting. The assemblies often bend and can be dented with hard use in rock-heavy environments.
RuffStuff fabricated housings start with precision-cut and formed 1/4-inch-thick steel plate. The center portion of the housing is bent into shape and features 14 different surfaces for more strength and rigidity.
The axletubes are made from hefty 3.5-inch-diameter, 0.375-wall DOM tubing. Housings can be ordered in nearly any width. A large aluminum fill bung/inspection port is standard, but our frontend received the optional 3/16-inch-thick weld-on armor for extra rock protection. Axle trussing is also available.
Each housing features fully welded internal axletube gussets. This is something no factory stamped-steel housing has. Gusseting like this is generally reserved for full-blown aftermarket race housings, but it comes standard on a RuffStuff axlehousing.
With the dimensions from our original axlehousing, RuffStuff was able to install leaf spring perches designed to work with our spring-over suspension. RuffStuff even included the necessary spring plates, U-bolts, studs, and hardware.
Factory Toyota third-member studs thread into the new housing just like stock. The thicker mating surface eliminates the possibility of them pulling out under heavy loads.
Our FJ40 Land Cruiser differential dropped in perfectly over the studs. We cinched it in place with the proper sealant and gasket.
The leaf-spring mounts feature heavy-duty RuffStuff anti-wrap spring perches. They are CNC laser cut, formed from 1/4-inch-thick steel plate, and help reduce driveshaft-eating axlewrap.
We ordered our axle with Toyota end balls so we could bolt-up our original FJ knuckles, axleshafts, and brakes. However, several different axle ends are available, including front Dana 60 kingpin end forgings, rear semi-float ends, and full-floating rear spindles.


Ruff Stuff Specialties

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