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1997 Jeep Wrangler TJ - Project Teal-J II, Part 6

Right Side View
Craig Perronne
| Brand Manager, Dirt Sports & Off Road
Posted July 19, 2004

A bolt-in Dana 44 front axle.

Project Teal-J II, Intro
Project Teal-J II, Part 1
Project Teal-J II, Part 2
Project Teal-J II, Part 3
Project Teal-J II, Part 4
Project Teal-J II, Part 5
Project Teal-J II, Part 6
Project Teal-J II, Part 7
Project Teal-J II, Part 8
Project Teal-J II, Part 9
Project Teal-J II, Part 10
Project Teal-J II, Part 11
Project Teal-J II, Part 12
Project Teal-J II, Part 13
Project Teal-J II, Part 14

When our Jeep Wrangler Teal-J project was built in 1997, there were not too many upgrades available for its Dana 30 front axle. As time passed, however, the aftermarket has tackled the TJ, and as a result, there now are plenty of upgrades for every aspect of the TJ, including its front Dana 30 axle.

Unfortunately, we could not take advantage of all these upgrades, because a quick look under the front of our Project Teal-J II revealed a well-bent Dana 30, the result of years of hard abuse. So we decided it was time to upgrade our whole axle instead of simply replacing it with the same thing. But we also wanted to stay away from the expense of a completely custom axle. Instead, we vowed to find one that was an easy swap.

While this might sound like a tall order, we found an axle that fit our criteria. The Superior 44, from Superior Axle & Gear, uses a Dana 44 front housing out of the Jeep TJ Rubicon. The housing comes with all the brackets and mounts necessary for a trouble-free swap already welded into the correct locations. This makes for a super-easy swap, as it is simply a process of unbolting the original Dana 30 and bolting in the Dana 44.

You can also select whatever gear ratio you want, along with an ARB Air Locker or Detroit Locker. The Superior 44 comes shipped complete, ready to go, with gears, a locker and inner axleshafts installed. All you have to do is add the spindles, brakes and hubs from your Dana 30 and then slap it onto your rig.

While the axle comes ready to bolt in, we decided to follow along as ours was built. We went to the professionals at Coast Driveline and Gear in Ventura, California to handle the building of our axle and also the install. The install was simple, and the folks at Coast Driveline and Gear had us rolling out of their shop on the same day, making for minimal down time for our Teal-J II. Watch how easy it is to upgrade to a Superior 44 and stay tuned for more progress on Project Teal-J II.


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Dana 30 vs. Dana 44
There seems to be some confusion about how the Dana 44 used in the Jeep Rubicon compares to the Dana 30. The main area where the Dana 44 is stronger when compared to the Dana 30 is in the ring-and-pinion. The Dana 30's ring gear has a diameter of 7.2 inches, while the Dana 44 features a ring gear with a diameter of 8.5 inches. The inner axleshafts of the Dana 44 are also stronger 30-spline units, compared to the 27-spline units found in the Dana 30. The Superior 44 also features a slightly thicker axletube than the Dana 30, but the difference is not major. Identical U-joints are found in '97-and-later Dana 30s and Dana 44s, with pre-'97 D30s featuring a smaller U-joint. With our plans calling for 37-inch tires, we decided to get as much strength as possible without building a custom axle and felt the Superior 44 was a worthwhile upgrade.


Superior Axle & Gear
Rancho Cucamonga, CA 91730
Coast Driveline and Gear
Ventura, CA 93003
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