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Jeep TJ Wrangler Front Axle Upgrades - StealJ Part VII

Posted in Project Vehicles on January 23, 2007 Comment (0)
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Last month we showed you some of our thoughts on rear axle upgrades for our '97 TJ project. Like the majority of our readers, this Jeep serves much of its time pulling commuting duties, with only the occasional foray off-road. That's why most ofour optionsare geared more toward affordability and reasonability and not just throwing darts at the strongest stuff out there.

This month we'll show you some front axle upgrades that make sense to a broad swath of TJ and XJ owners-from the guy running on the street most of the time to the complete trail killer. Tune in next month to find out which choices we made. The answer might surprise you.

Dana 30 Alloy USA 27-spline shafts and Ox Locker
* Alloy USA 27-spline alloy stock replacement shafts with U-joints: $564.99
* Alloy USA 4.56 ring-and-pinion: $149.99
* Ring-and-pinion installation kit: $82.99
* 30-spline D30 OX Locker: $739.99
* 78-inch OX cable shifter: $95.99
* Gear setup and install labor: $500(estimate)
Total: $2,133.95

Pros: Gets larger Dana 44-sized 760X U-joints (for earlier XJ D30 fronts). Selectable locker for zero handling quirks on-road and tighter turning capability off-road than full-time locker. Upgrades can be performed over time and as budget allows since uses same shaft spline as stock carrier.

Cons: Retains stock size 1.16-inch, 27-spline axleshaft size with little cost savings over 30-spline shaft conversion.

Dana 30 Alloy USA 30-Spline Shafts And Ox Locker
* Alloy USA 30-spline D30 shafts with U-joints: $564.99
* Alloy USA 4.56 ring-and-pinion: $149.99
* Ring-and-pinion installation kit: $82.99
* 30-spline D30 OX Locker: $799.99
* 78-inch OX cable shifter: $95.99
* Gear setup and install labor: $500(estimate)
Total: $2,193.95

Pros: Gets 1.31-inch, 30-spline shafts, and larger Dana 44-sized 760X U-joints. No air compressor needed and no drilling of housing for air fitting simplifies installation. Allows retention of housing modifications like high steering or relocated track bar brackets, if so equipped.

Cons: Retains relatively weak D30 ring-and-pinion. Axletubes still vulnerable to bending.

Dana 30 Superior Super 30 Kit With ARB Air Locker
* Super 30 kit with ARB pneumatic locker: $1,589.99
* Superior 4.56 ring-and-pinion: $169.99
* Ring-and-pinion installation kit: $82.99
* Gear setup and install labor: $550(estimate)
* ARB compact compressor: $159.99
Total: $2,552.96

Pros: Allows retention of housing modifications like high steering or relocated track bar brackets, if so equipped. Selectable locker for zero handling quirks on-road and tighter turning capability off-road than full-time locker. Dana 44-sized shafts.

Cons: Retains somewhat weak D30 ring-and-pinion. Stock axletubes can be vulnerable to bending. Requires source of compressed air for locker.

Drivetrain Warehouse TJ Dana 44 Assembly
* Assembled axle with Alloy USA 30-spline shafts, ARB, 4.56 gears: $2,469.99
* ARB compact compressor: $159.99

Total: $2,629.98

Pros: Strong Dana 44 ring-and-pinion, 1.31-inch, 30-spline alloy shafts, 760-X U-joints, and selectable locker for excellent street manners. Shipped with brackets ready to bolt in your Jeep, allowing you to sell most of your old axle to offset cost. Stronger than stock Rubicon axles.

Cons: Reuses D30 knuckles, brakes, and unit bearings. Axletubes are Dana 30-size diameter and wall thickness. Requires source of compressed air for locker.

Currie High-Pinion 9-Inch
* Complete assembled unit with TJ suspension brackets, 4.56 gears, ARB locker: $3,399.99
* ARB compact compressor: $159.99
Total: $3,559.98
Pros: Lightweight, 31-spline shafts good for 36-inch tires and decent horsepower; strong tubes compared with D30 or Rubicon D44; relatively high clearance and high pinion for tall lifts. Can sell parts of old axle to offset cost.

Cons: Reuses stock D30 knuckles, brakes, unit bearings. Requires source of compressed air for locker.

Dynatrac Pro Rock Dana 60
* Pro Rock high-clearance centersection, 4.56 gears, ARB locker: $6,800
* ARB compact compressor: $159.99
Total: $6,959.99

Pros: Incredibly strong with 1.5-inch, 35-spline shafts, huge 9 3/4-inch ring gear, and precisely manufactured. High-clearance centersection and high-strength diff cover. Suspension brackets and mounts among the nicest available. High-pinion design and monstrously strong tubes and housing.
Cons: Somewhat overkill for the average guy running 35s or 36s. Large front hubs don't allow 5x4.5 bolt pattern, so rear will need to be changed to 5x5.5, 6x5.5, or 8x6.5 pattern to match Dynatrac's options. Source of compressed air required for locker

Sunray Engineering 1550 9-Inch
* Complete assembly with TJ brackets and steering components, 4.56 gears, ARB locker: $7,370
* ARB mini compressor: $159.99
Total: $7,529.99

Pros: Lightweight, shaved-and-plated housing. Insanely strong 1550 U-joints with 1.5-inch, 35-spline inner and outer shafts. High-strength knuckles for use with hydroboost or hydraulic steering. Huge strength without much ground clearance penalty.
Cons: Low-pinion 9-inch gears riding on coast side of teeth when used as front axle. Way overkill for low horsepower or tires smaller than 37s. Source of compressed air required for locker.
(Note: prices marked with * sourced through 4 Wheel Drive Hardware as of press time.)

Sources

Currie Enterprises
Corona, CA 92880
714-528-6957
http://www.currieenterprises.com
Dynatrac
Huntington Beach, CA 92647
714-596-4461
www.dynatrac.com
Superior Axle & Gear
Rancho Cucamonga, CA 91730
888-845-0470
www.superioraxlegear.com
OX
Tarpon Springs, FL 34689
727-230-7803
www.ox-usa.com
4 Wheel Drive Hardware
wef, AK
800-555-3353
www.4wd.com
Drivetrain Warehouse
Compton, CA 90220
877-474-4821
http://www.drivetrainwarehouse.com
Alloy USA
Suwanee, GA 30024
800-449-6649
www.alloyusa.com
ARB
866-293-9078
www.arbusa.com
Sunray Engineering
Fort Worth, TX 76107

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