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Tough Trophy Shafts

Posted in How To: Transmission Drivetrain on August 23, 2018
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When winning is your job, you don’t take chances with risky equipment. You get the best parts you can buy. And when those aren’t good enough, you find a vendor willing to design you what you need. In off-road racing, rigorous forces take their tolls on every part of the vehicle, and anything substandard will quickly show its weakness. Any race team will tell you that it’s just as likely for a $5 part to take you out of a race as a $50,000 part. Nobody wants to tell the story of a faulty radiator cap costing them the race.

Probably the most vulnerable piece of your off-road drivetrain is the driveshaft, since it does its work outside of any housing or protective barrier. You don’t want to risk a driveshaft failure that could end a day and possibly destroy your truck too, but accidents happen. Things seize up. Things break. And that’s why JE Reel went to work designing a “fail-safer” driveshaft that would be strong enough to withstand the rigors of high-dollar off-road racing but would have a controlled failure point within a unique two-piece yoke system to break free and spin on itself should catastrophe strike. JE Reel’s Trophy Shafts are the response to a request by the racing community for a driveshaft not only stronger than traditional ones but also safer.

And stronger the Trophy Shaft is! Only two U-joint sizes are available—1350 or 1480—with high-grade steel yokes that allow either 25 or 55 degrees of movement. The 2-inch-diameter, 45-spline gun-drilled chromoly slip yoke can be mated to either a 2-, 3-, or 3 1/2-inch 4340 chromoly tube, depending on your chassis clearances.

But the brilliance is in the yokes. Knowing that if you apply enough force you can eventually find the weak point in anything, JE Reel designed these “Trophy Truck driveshafts” with a controlled failure point. Four dowel pins handle the load placed on each two-piece yoke, while four bolts hold it together. Before anything else busts, the four dowel pins will give way, the four bolts will snap, and the two-piece yoke will spin on itself. The driveshaft will stay in place instead of dropping out of the vehicle and potentially winging around at speed and annihilating everything underneath. Wheelers can absolutely minimize the damage to their vehicle when something goes wrong. This is safer for the truck and safer for the driver (not to mention a whole heck of a lot cheaper to fix than a typical driveshaft failure).

Right about now you’re wondering how much this miracle driveshaft might cost. Well, let’s just say that if you’re comparing prices online for driveshafts, this is not the one for you. You could practically buy a beater 4x4 for the cost of a Trophy Shaft. But for those enthusiasts with thousands of dollars invested in custom axles, transfer cases, and transmissions, the JE Reel Trophy Shaft is a reasonably priced bit of insurance that is practically bombproof.

The modular yokes can be ordered in one of two U-joint sizes: Either 1480 (left) or 1350 (right). This eared half of the yoke is the same on either end of the driveshaft, transfer case, or axle.
Depending on how much angle your driveshaft setup requires, the yokes are available with 25 or 55 degrees of maximum angular movement.
The two-piece slip yoke bushing receiver is made from high-grade steel. Four bolts clamp the yoke together, and the torque load is placed on the four dowel pins inside. Should the dowel pins fail (and subsequently the four bolts too), the eared part of the yoke will spin.
Two-piece slip yoke bushing receiver
For comparison’s sake, from left to right, here are the splined shafts and bushing receivers for a 1350 U-joint (1 1/2 inches, 16 splines), a 1480 U-joint (1 9/16 inches, 16 splines), and finally the JE Reel Trophy Shaft bushing receiver (2 inches, 45 splines, gun-drilled shaft).
The chromoly splined slip yoke shaft and bung receiver are both made of chromoly, as is anything that is welded to on the JE Reel Trophy Shafts. Due to its stepped machining, the bung receiver can be welded to 2-, 3-, or 3 1/2-inch 4340 chromoly tubing.
Until disaster strikes, these driveshafts will perform the same as most other driveshafts, just with more mass. This may look like a normal setup, but remember, this gun-drilled and splined shaft is 2 inches in diameter.
The other side of the driveshaft tube takes a weld-on yoke end, using the same dowel pin setup as the rest of the modular system.
Pictured are 1350 U-joints on the left and 1480 U-joints on the right, shown with full snap rings and C-clips. The modular yoke ears are machined to accept both outer snap rings and inner C-clips for your choice of running both or just one style of clip.
You’ll notice that this particular modular yoke setup is broached to accept the splines of either a pinion gear or the tailshaft of a transfer case or transmission. The four dowel pins that hold the torque are replaceable should your setup ever see enough force to sheer them. The load is placed in the middle of the pins and not at the ends.
For the pinion or transmission/T-case yokes, a locking ring makes sure the nut does not move after being tightened down and a C-clip holds that ring in place.
In case you’re looking for a testimonial of how well the JE Reel Trophy Shafts work, you need look no further than Kyle LeDuc. His Pro 4 truck has been running them for the past couple of years. LeDuc has made a name for himself as the man to try and beat in a Pro 4 truck, and these beauties have become the standard for him and many other racers who cannot afford catastrophic failure.


Yoke Applications

Yoke Applications

Axle End
• Ford 9-inch
• 9.5-inch
• 10.9-inch
• 10.5-inch dropout Chrisman
• Dana 60
• Dana 70
• Dana 80
• 14-bolt

Trans/T-Case End
• TH400 transmission
• Fortin racing transmission
• NP205 transfer case
• Atlas transfer case

Sources

JE Reel Driveline Specialists
909-629-2002
www.reeldriveline.com

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