Question: I am currently rebuilding a '59 Chevrolet Apache that is equipped with a 327 V-8 and a four-speed manual tranny. I am wondering what would be a good axle and transfer case for this engine and tranny.
Answer: I am assuming that this is a two-wheel-drive truck to start with? I would suggest that you buy a complete pre-IFS truck. Park it next to your present Apache and start doing some comparisons, such as to where the new springs will have to mount, transfer-case crossmember and such. It will be so much easier to have a complete vehicle to work from, and it will keep you from making countless trips to the salvage yard for all the little things that you will need to make the conversion.
You can keep the present engine or swap it out for the one in the donor truck, as all the first-generation small-blocks have the same motor mounts as well as the same block/bellhousing patterns.
You could keep the present rear springs and axle if you like, as long as the gear ratio matches the front axle, or swap it out. If you do change the rearend, you will most likely find that you will have to relocate the axle's spring pads to match the old frame's width and perhaps make some changes in emergency-brake cable length. If at all possible, I would suggest that you try to locate a 3/4-ton truck, as the front and rear axles are of a stronger design. Look for a 1-ton truck if you can handle the additional cost. Then again, you don't say what your usage plans are, so maybe the 1/2-ton running gear will be just fine.
Question: I'm gearing up for an engine and tranny swap. I wish to put an '88 (or so) vintage 4.0L motor and accompanying AW-4 automatic into an '84 CJ-8 "Alaskan Postal." What has me concerned-yes, I'm keeping the Dana 300 transfer case-is that the motor in the donor Cherokee appears to be positioned farther forward, in relation to where the front axle goes under, than the 4.2 L/258 is in the CJ-8. I don't mind the idea of having to use something like a CJ-5 rear driveshaft, but this is beginning to sound kinda borderline as to the desirability of the swap. I want to install 35-inch tires and a spring-over with this swap. That's the picture I'm looking at, and-putting in a manual transmission to keep an overdrive doesn't really appeal to me, especially with right-hand drive.
In short, is the difference in length between the 4.0L/AW-4 motor and trans (front of motor to rear of 4x4-version trans) and that of the 4.2L/Chrysler three-speed auto going to cause problems?
Answer: Lengthwise, the motors are basically the same. If anything, the 4.0 is a bit shorter overall due to water pump and pulley changes. It is closer to the front axle on the Cherokee due to body design. You should have plenty of rear driveshaft length with the longer wheelbase of the CJ-8.
Question: I have an '80 CJ-5 with a strong 258, T-176, Dana 300, 4-inch suspension lift, 1-inch shackle lift, and 36-inch Swampers. I want to install a set of Dana 44 axles from a Scout that I already have. I am not sure what year they are, but they have already been under a Jeep. They have not been cut down. I want to build the diffs with 4.88:1 gears, spool the rear, and install a locker in the front. This Jeep is for serious four-wheeling and sees little highway driving.
As I have been researching the front swap, I learned that front caster is not correct on the Scout 44. I know this can cause adverse driving conditions on road, but will it hurt my off-pavement performance or cause possible damage to the suspension components? This Jeep sees rock climbing, mud bogs, and hillclimbs (all the good stuff). I am capable of changing the knuckles to the proper caster, but don't want to put the extra time and effort into it if it is not going to hurt me on the trail.
Also, would you suggest a Detroit Locker for the front, or is there another locker that would work for me that's a little more "rear pocket" friendly? I don't want a limited-slip.
Answer: The Scout axle is not without its problems when making it fit under a CJ. You're right in that the caster angle is wrong-well, for some reason or another, it worked on the Scout, but your Jeep will require about 4 to 6 degrees of caster. The Scout specification is zero degrees for every year but 1980, when it changed to 1 degree.
As a bit of review, "caster" is what keeps the wheels going down the road straight and moves them back straight after a turn. Improper caster can also cause the wheels to wobble uncontrollably at certain speeds after hitting a bump. Ever pushed a shopping cart with the stem bent on the front wheel, where it wobbles like crazy?
Another problem is that with your 5 inches of lift, you have a very steep front driveline angle. To correct it and prevent U-joint/yoke bind, you most likely will try to turn the pinion upward. This will in turn cause the steering knuckles to go into a negative caster. This may cause all sorts of steering problems, such as the aforementioned wobble at low speeds, as well as the tie-rod hitting against the springs.
You could possibly solve this tie-rod clearance problem by drilling out the tapered holes in the steering knuckles and making a tapered bushing so that the tie-rod could now be installed from the top down. However, under full suspension compression, the tie-rod and the framerails may come in contact. I would suggest that you take the time to cut the knuckle's welds free and rotate them on the axletubes. No, it's not a fun job and takes a lot of time and effort to do. I believe that on the last one that I did with a Scout axle, I rotated the steering knuckles about 19 degrees to obtain the proper pinion angle and 6 degrees of caster angle.
Oh, yeah, one more thing-usually you have to build new spring mounts and move them out a bit wider than the frame in order for the right-side spring to clear the differential housing.