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Beefing A Rear Axle & Adding Disc Brakes

Posted in Vehicle Reviews on October 21, 2004 Comment (0)
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Contributors: Fred WilliamsChristian HazelJeff NasiJohnny Kingfisher
Photographers: Fred WilliamsChristian HazelJeff Nasi

Far be it from us to leave a good thing alone. Although the Toyota 8-inch rear has been serving diligently underneath Toyota pickups for more than 15 years, it can still fail when used beyond its parameters. Fortunately, there are a few options available to increase strength, ranging from stronger axleshafts to complete axle assembly swaps. Around the middle of that cost range is the full-floater shaft conversion.

Complete assembly swaps may appear as inexpensive on the surface, but can contain hidden costs. Such details as width, new spring mounts, brakes, and bolt-circle variances can quickly increase time and overall expense. For our money, we found a full-float kit and disc-brake conversion from Front Range Off Road Fabrication that gave us everything we needed at a reasonable cost.

The kit from Front Range contains the adapter brackets, custom axle seals, custom axleshafts, seals, brake rotors, flex brake line, proportioning valve, and all required fasteners. The heart of the kit is the machined-steel adapter ring that serves as the caliper mount as well as the spindle mount. The axles are manufactured from 4340 steel specifically for this kit and do not neck down on the carrier side like the factory units.

A standard semifloating axle assembly layout consists of three primary components: the axleshafts, the differential with the ring-and-pinion gears, and the axlehousing. Each axleshaft has a flange on the end where the brake drum and wheel bolt up. The other ends are splined and insert into each side of the differential. The axle rotates on a bearing retained in the end of the axlehousing, and the axle itself supports the weight of the vehicle and transmits torque to the wheels. The full-floater axle design gets its strength by isolating the axleshaft from the housing with a spindle and hub, just like the front axle, to support the weight of the vehicle. The axle simply passes through the spindle to transmit torque to the wheels and is connected to the hub by a locking hub or drive flange.

Overall strength is just one of the fruits of labor for this easy install. Should you break an axleshaft on the trail, the ability to remove the broken shaft and still make it home is like having a "Get out of jail free card" in your pocket. The key to this design is that the hub/bearing/spindle assembly is mounted to the axletube. This allows the wheel to operate as normal, regardless of the presence of an axleshaft. We took a weekend and some wrenches, and beefed our Toyota with a minimum amount of effort, and it was well worth the cost. Check out how our project progressed.

PhotosView Slideshow


Front Range Off Road Fabrication
Fort Collins, CO 80526


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