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Installing an Artec Dana 30 Axle Truss

A JK Artec axle truss for a WJ Dana 30.

To get started with the gusset install, we set the axle on jack stands, removed the axle shafts, and laid out the parts in the Arctec Apex JK Dana 30 gusset kit ($99.99) and the JK inner C-gussets ($79.99). This helps us figure out where each of the parts fit.

We all love bigger tires, unbreakable axle shafts, lockers, and deep axle gearing, but one of the most common front axles, the Dana 30, gets a bad rap for being weak. And while it's no tank in a world of bread trucks (more of a light-duty bread van), with some work the Dana 30 that came in the front of your Jeep from the factory can be used with 33-, 35-, maybe even cautiously with 37-inch tires. Of course, in stock form, or under heavy throttle attacks, lockers, and heavy rigs off-road, that's not a great idea. Still, the Jeep Dana 30 can be built to withstand a respectable amount of abuse.

Dana 30 Axle Truss

The Dana 30 is commonly found in Jeep Wranglers ranging from the 1986-1995 YJ, to the 1997-2006 TJ, and on up to the JK (2007-2018), XJ Cherokees (1986-2001), ZJ (1993-1998), and WJ Grand Cherokees. Some of the parts you'll see here will fit on just about any of those axles; others have a specific parts for that axle/vehicle application. In our case we are beefing up a Dana 30 for a WJ, or more specifically a 1999-2004 Jeep Grand Cherokee using parts originally intended for a JK Wrangler Dana 30. Sure, the WJ is an often-overlooked platform, but as Jeep's last solid-front-axle Grand Cherokee, it can be the base of many a solid build—especially with the optional High-Output 4.7l V-8 and a multispeed automatic transmission.

Artec Industries Axle Truss

Our friend Jeff has a 2003 Jeep Grand Cherokee, and after what we are assuming was a rather rough romp through the desert, Jeff's WJ's Dana 30 was, sadly, reformed into the shape of a smile. Still, with an otherwise well-built WJ (with a 4-inch lift, Bilstein shocks, and more) that will probably never see tires bigger than 33 inches (maybe 35s) a straight, used, replacement Dana 30 is a reasonable replacement option. Especially with custom axles costing several thousand dollars at the lower end. Still, given the Jeep's past when it came time to install a replacement Dana 30, we suggested and then contacted the folks at Artec Industries, who recommended modifying their JK Dana 30 truss kit to work on the WJ Dana 30 housing. Here's how we installed the truss and upper and lower axle C-gussets from Artec, the right way.

The upper JK C-gusset needs to be trimmed to work with the WJ coil spring perches. We cut off about to 7/8 inch from the inside of each of the upper C-gussets to clear the perches.
The lower JK C-gussets fit the WJ Dana 30 without any modification.
We made a template of the front side of the Apex JK Dana 30 gusset kit to figure out how much we need to trim off the upper control arm mount side for the gusset to fit.
Trimming down other parts of the Apex gusset kit to fit between the bumpstop landing pad and the driver side coil perch is easy.
The factory WJ steering stabilizer requires a notch to clear the shortened JK Apex gusset.
With a little work, the parts can fit the WJ axle even though they are designed to fit the JK Dana 30.
With the trimmed-down gusset pieces in place, we marked where to clean off the axle housing for a good weld.
You want to move around to different places on the axle while welding the brackets into place to avoid putting too much heat into any one spot on the axle.
When welding to the cast steel center section of the Dana 30 axle you need to preheat the casting to 400 degrees. Then use high-nickel rod to TIG-weld the brackets to the cast part of the axle.
The rest of the welding is done with our MIG welder using CO2/argon mix and 0.030 welding wire. Again, we spent much time moving around the axle and allowing a given weld to cool before adding more weld to a given area. The inner axle knuckles are made of cast steel, which is fine to MIG-weld to without concern.

Source:
Artec Industries, 855.278.3299, https://www.artecindustries.com/