Rust Bucket

Dana 44 Front Axle Swap

I recently purchased a dana 44 out of a 1978 scout to swap into my Jeep. Most documentation that I uncovered about this topic will be linked to at the end of this article. I started out deciding if I was going to narrow the axle of just put it in at it's full length. I decided upon leaving it alone. Besides it matches the track width of my Ford 9 inch that resides in the rear of my Jeep anyway. This track width of these axle matches pretty close at 58". This is a far cry from the narrow track axles that were in it before. By making this decision I assumed that most of the work would be out of the way. Boy was I wrong. This just made me have to fabricate up some new spring hangers to outboard the springs, and lets not forget about rotating the inner c's to get some caster put back in to the front, after rotating the axle up during the lift kit install. After rotating the inner c's and reading in the forums I decided to sandblast the entire axle and give it a shot of black enamel to make it look like a new axle.

If you are looking for information on swapping a wider dana 44 that will need to be narrowed then try this link.

Now I am ready to get this Dana 44 under my Jeep. I started by taking some measurements of the frame to the ground and the location of the pinion in relationship to the frame. I did this because I decided to swap in a different 5.0 to replace the one that has a rod knocking, and I took the entire front clip off of the Jeep. Another reason was to give me full access to the frame. This way I could spend less time lying on the floor.

Now that I had the motor out, I proceeded with taking the narrow track Dana 30 out from under the jeep and stripping all the outer hardware that I was going to use. This included all the brake hardware, lockouts, outer knuckles, and spindles. I know, why use Dana 30 hardware on a Dana 44? What the point of the swap? Well I had plans of changing to Chevy flat tops, but the money just was not there, and besides it all fit. I had not had a failure of the Dana 30 with the wheeling that I have done in the past, and I got a good deal on the axle.

While tearing the axle down I found out why my steering was starting to wander even more than it usually does, the inner bearing was about to self-destruct. Good thing I did take it apart, before it caused more damage. I also noticed that that last person that did work on this axle neglected to put all the seals in their proper place. This let water and mud into places that it should not have been. Needless to say I had to spend more money than expected, but thanks to a clueless employee at the local automotive store I only had to pay for enough bearings for one side and not both. This saved me a small amount of money.

While getting the leaf springs ready to attach to the Dana 44 I noticed that the pilot hole is a little smaller than the pin that must fit in it. This could have been a nightmare but with me being a machinist, I Just happened to have a reamer the correct size that I needed. This made short work of the situation.

I just finished welding in the spring mounts, to outboard the springs and I am very happy with the out come. The only hard part of the project was to firgure out what I was going to do. The other problem that I came across was the fact that my frame is galvanized. This posed a dilema, do I build a bolt on mount or a weld on mount. I decided to build a weld on mount, as it posed the least amount of problems.

The rear on the rear of the spring are built out of 1/4 inch plate, 1/4 inch gussets, and two 1/4 inch by 2 angle wrapped an both sides of the frame. This was done to capture the frame to maximize the welding surface area.

Now that I have the axle connected to the frame I need to make new shock mounts for the top of the shock so that my shocks will not run out of travel.