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Dana 44 Front Axle Swap into 1985 Jeep CJ-7

AMC Jeep Jeep CJ Jeep 4x4 Jeep 4WD Jeep CJ-7 Jeep Scrambler Jeep how-to

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#1 hobbs

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Posted 21 October 2013 - 07:13 PM

I am installing a front D44 front from a mid-70s Waggy in my 85 CJ-7.  I have found some good write-ups on shortening the drivers side of the 44 to keep overall width the same.  My current issue is that I want to convert the unit from the 6x5.5 Waggy pattern to the 5x5.5 CJ pattern.  I have actually sourced a set of Ford outers, but am reading some things which concern me concerning later Waggy D44s maybe not being compatible because of some dimensional changes to the bearing.  AS I am not sure of the year of the D44 I am now considering having a machine shop redrill some of the components on the Wagoneer outers to 5x5.5.  Any opinions on the best way to achieve what I am trying to do?  Thanks, hobbs


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#2 Moses Ludel

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Posted 22 October 2013 - 07:57 AM

Welcome to the forums, Hobbs, great to have you onboard and opening with this topic!  The Grand Wagoneer axle has been a popular change, and you've detailed the roster of issues, including the wheel bolt pattern.  Aside from the shortening of the left tube and clocking the C-support for the knuckle, both somewhat involved and requiring quality welding and measurements, the wheel pattern issue remains. 

 

There are several solutions, including re-drilling the hub flanges for 5-on-5.5" and installing appropriate rotors, calipers, etc.  This seems involved to me, and I'm note thrilled about a hub flange with extra holes!  You mention Ford, there's also Dodge and I-H, etc.  On that note, I like the I-H Scout II D44 front axle (Dana/Spicer 20 and 300 era as well), which many do as a simpler install and to quickly gain track width without major modifications. 

 

Our fellow member, lastCJ7, has the Scout II front axle.  I'll ask him jump into this discussion and air his approach and "why".  The Scout II provides the wider track width, always helpful with lifting and big tires, it helps restore the center-of-gravity!  You would then have D44 options (OEM to save cost) for the rear.  There are many OEM D44 rear axles from which to choose!

 

We'll open this up to others.  I'm here, too.  RareCJ8 also has been down this road, although his ultimate solution was 3/4-ton Chevy truck D44 front and a Ford E-van rear axle, each with 8-lug wheels...See his Scrambler at these forums!

 

Welcome, Hobbs, trust you'll enjoy the community!  Looking forward to photos of your Jeep, its modifications and your 4x4 fun!

 

Moses



#3 hobbs

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Posted 22 October 2013 - 08:28 AM

I already have the Waggy front end, which is one reason I wanted to try to use it.  I also have a set of Ford outers, which was going to be my solution for the 5x5.5.  I have now read that Wagoneer D44s after about 76 may not accept the Ford outers (I always like to do research after I already have the parts...)

 

I had considered the Scout front D44s, but I'm not sure they are too easy to source anymore, but more inmportantly what I have read indicates they have 0 degrees camber, which isn't compatible with the Jeep.  I have had a "darting" Jeep before from camber problems. 

 

 



#4 Moses Ludel

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Posted 22 October 2013 - 09:09 AM

Gotcha...I sent notes to lastCJ7 and RareCJ8 to add more content here.  The Scout II front axle camber is actually something you can control with the location of the spring perches to fit your CJ springs.  As long as you do not create an excessive front driveline U-joint issue at the pinion, you can set camber where you want:  4-7 degrees positive would be plenty to control wander and shake.  4-degrees positive is often a good place for both U-joint angle and steer back to center, this is stock Jeep CJ setting.

 

I'll let others comment about your J-axle, and if information lags, I'll research and provide details on the best way to implement this switch to 5x5.5 wheel pattern...We'll get you going, Hobbs!

 

What's the plan for the rear axle?  The AMC Model 20 is a great unit, most install one-piece axle shafts to eliminate the challenge of OEM tapered axle shafts with separate flange hubs.  If you do plan to keep the OEM hub arrangement with stock axle shafts, follow the factory workshop manual method for tightening the hub nuts.  (I also outline this procedure in detail within my Jeep CJ Rebuilder's Manual: 1972-86, available through Bentley and several aftermarket parts sources.)  The torque necessary to meet the factory hub-to-shaft depth setting is often extreme and necessary.

 

Moses



#5 hobbs

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Posted 22 October 2013 - 09:51 AM

I currently have the AMC 20 with one piece axles and some sort of traction diff, I think what it came from the factory with.  I am looking Ford 9" back there, but finances are in play.  Neither AMC 20 or D44 for the rear excites me much, but its last on the priority list at the moment anyway...

 



#6 biggman100

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Posted 22 October 2013 - 11:31 AM

Hobbs, just a thought, but what about wheel adapters? You can usually get them for almost any bolt pattern combination, and wouldnt have to swap rotors and brake components.



#7 hobbs

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Posted 22 October 2013 - 02:44 PM

I worry about the leverage caused by spacers with large rubber.  I had thought about it, but I think the spacers are more in line with getting those oversized tires on some of the current street car looks.



#8 lastCJ7

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Posted 22 October 2013 - 03:50 PM

last CJ7 here (Rich) I have a 1980 Scout 2 Dana 44 cut down front axle in my 86 CJ7. I have a 4" lift I had a local shop add 10 degrees to the knuckles. drives great down the road. As far as the Waggy front hubs if there is room have them redrilled. When I installed Ford 8.8 rear disc brakes I had them redrill the rotors to 5 on 5 1/2 (from 5 on 4 1/2).


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#9 lastCJ7

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Posted 22 October 2013 - 03:57 PM

the only mistake I did was I had the stock shaft resplined. I should have just gotten a chromemoly shaft and outer from the start.  I did later, only on that side.  I used the CJ outers on my Jeep as well as the CJ rotors.


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86 CJ7,258,T18,Scout300 Dana 44's 3:73's,lockers,8274,fullcage,OBA,Disc,35" tires


#10 lastCJ7

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Posted 22 October 2013 - 04:17 PM

Attached File  tirodflipinsert.jpg   28.79KB   0 downloads

 

I can tell you that the Waggy Dana 44 front has a thicker wall tube then the Scout II, and the tube is thicker then a stock Rubicon Dana 44 front axle.  I think the shop cut off 3 5/8" from the tube and the axle shaft. Some people out board but this does not look right to me, plus I already had a HD steering link. later I did the tie rod flip (with insert) and went back to the stock pitman arm.


LastCJ7

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86 CJ7,258,T18,Scout300 Dana 44's 3:73's,lockers,8274,fullcage,OBA,Disc,35" tires


#11 Moses Ludel

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Posted 23 October 2013 - 07:26 AM

The 44 Rubicon front axle comes up short for axle tube size, as Rich notes.  It also has the wrong wheel bolt pattern for your CJ-7.  The Scout machining sounds similar to your needs, lastCJ7 would be able to qualify what route to go with the custom axle shaft(s), inner and outer pieces. 

 

I prefer an AMC 20 over the D44, the 20 actually has a bigger ring gear and is an overall more serviceable design with better bearing layout.  (These units held up well in the J-trucks.)  You already have the one-piece axles, a hurdle crossed. 

 

A Ford 9-inch, of course, has even better design with its outer bearing support on the pinion shaft.  The 9-inch center-member is also easier to service than an integral axle.  I did note the comment from Rich (lastCJ7) about the J-axle having bigger tubes than his Scout II axle.  That's a plus.  His idea of re-drilling the wheel hubs and confirming a 5-on-5.5" rotor match and proper fit would be worth considering.  If your OEM rotors will fit the J-axle hubs, and if the calipers line up properly, this might work.  Take some measurements and size things up.

 

Moses



#12 Moses Ludel

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Posted 23 October 2013 - 07:33 AM

Hobbs, you do raise a question about leverage on the spacers...It's worth pursuing their intent and use.  Considering the wheel patterns, it would seem they're designed for light truck applications as well as cars after "a look".  A call to Roadkill might be warranted, although lastCJ7's approach to re-drilling your steel hubs may be more appealing—and possibly less costly?

 

Moses



#13 hobbs

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Posted 23 October 2013 - 06:53 PM

Spacers would sure be easy.  Easy just never seems right...   I will investigate it though.  Over the next couple weekends I am going to play with the Waggy D44 and the Ford outers I have and see if they are compatible.  Sounds like a worthwhile way to spend a weekend...



#14 Moses Ludel

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Posted 23 October 2013 - 09:24 PM

Let us know how the Ford to Jeep Dana 44 pieces fit up.  If this works out, let us know the axle shaft, hub, rotor and caliper needs, which bearings and spindles you use, the location of the calipers and caliper mounts and so forth.  It would be great to have a parts-correct blueprint for this retrofit—if it's practical.  If not, let us know why this is not a good idea...

 

Thanks!

 

Moses



#15 hobbs

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Posted 25 October 2013 - 06:56 PM

This weekend is dedicated to installing the rest of the Monsta-Liner interior.  I have to say, for a do-it-yourself liner it comes out nearly as nice as Rhino lining does, for 20% the cost (but a lot of work).  Much better than first generation stuff like Hurculiner, which really isn't very impressive.  



#16 Moses Ludel

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Posted 26 October 2013 - 11:07 PM

Glad this material has come around...What are the safety precautions when using it?  Trust you're using a respirator, at least...

 

Moses



#17 hobbs

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Posted 27 October 2013 - 03:16 PM

Its a roll-on product, not too bad as far as vapors.  I did underestimate how long prep would take.  So prep is done, I guess rolling it will be next weekend...



#18 Moses Ludel

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Posted 27 October 2013 - 05:39 PM

Like to see how this turns out...If adhesion is right, this can be the best long-term solution for a Jeep tub's protection and ease of maintenance/cleaning...

 

Moses



#19 shovel guy

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Posted 07 September 2014 - 02:16 PM

I started a new thread on this topic before I found this one. I have an 86 CJ7, straight 6, pretty much stock everything. About the only thing that I have done is to change the clutch linkage to heim joint ends. Best thing ever.

So I want to do an axle swap now because I want stronger axles, wider stance, hoping to get disk brakes front and back and I figured since I also want to do a 4"  lift, this would be a good time to do it.

I do not know anywhere near as much about this stuff as you guys, but Im not exactly helpless either. I've been advised to go with Chevy truck axles with 4.10's, Dana 44 front semi float and a 14 bolt rear.

Where do I start? What year/s, what to look for, etc...

Also, as I have been looking around, it often seems cheaper to buy a whole truck than just the parts I want. WTH?



#20 Moses Ludel

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Posted 09 September 2014 - 09:18 PM

Shovel Guy...RareCJ8 has taken the oversized axles approach with his CJ-8 Scrambler. You'll see the truck here at the forums, and he'd be pleased to share further details. There are many topics and posts from RareCJ8.

 

Check out these two HD videos on the RareCJ8 Jeep with 4.6L engine build.  The second video is a walk around of the entire chassis:

 

http://www.4wdmechan...oker-Power.html

Moses



#21 shovel guy

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Posted 10 September 2014 - 08:33 PM

Thanks Moses! What a killer rig! One thing that he never mentioned in his video is the clutch linkage. I've had mine break several times on the trail both at the bell crank and at the connection between rods and levers. What I did to combat this is to cut and thread the rod ends and install chrome molly heim joints that bolt up to sholder bolts from McMaster- Carr. Works great and worry free.

I like the compressor system he has. I will definately have to look into that. The Oasis compressors are too expensive for my blood. They are manufactured right down the street from me so I've been able to see them in action in person, but $2400? Too much!

Also looking to get a little more umf out of my '85 4.0 inline 6. I put a Mopar fuel injection kit on when that engine went in. The original motor blew up and I was tired of that Rochester carb. I was very happy to get rid of that sucker.

Lastly, I put on a new booster out of a Cherokee for my breaks, but even so, I still have to really push hard to stop. Any suggestions?



#22 Moses Ludel

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Posted 11 September 2014 - 12:23 PM

Clutch linkage can be an issue.  Decades ago, I did a magazine still photo shoot at Arizona involving a radically built Jeep CJ-7.  The owner insisted on "jumping" with the truck and orchestrated a launch from a berm edge.  When the Jeep landed, the stock CJ mechanical clutch linkage fell apart.  We spent an hour in the field patching it back together.  There are factory and aftermarket hydraulic (external slave, please!) clutch linkage systems and the time-honored Advance Adapters chain linkage, popular for vintage Jeep models with through the floor pedals.  I like your resourcefulness and use of McMaster-Carr!  We're located near the western distribution warehouse for MSC, and their catalog is a great resource, too!

 

Some have built their own air compressor systems, using a rugged York A/C compressor.  (The heavy duty York design uses a bona fide crankcase to provide lubrication.)  It can be done and saves a bundle.

 

As for boosting your engine power, if you do have a rebuild planned, the 4.6L stroker upgrade is my choice.  This is the hybrid 4.2L/4.0L that makes the biggest bang for the dollar.  It will work with the Mopar EFI and an injector change, and I currently cover this very thoroughly at the magazine site.  I plan to make this information available in HD video rental form soon, everything you need to know for building and tuning a 4.6L inline six for a Jeep CJ, YJ, TJ, XJ, ZJ or WJ!  See the magazine site and use 4.6L as a keyword.

 

Hard brake pedal can be the booster but also suggests poor brake system condition.  Your '86 CJ Jeep has decent disc brake capacity at the front and adequate drum rear brakes.  Both work well when in top condition, and this means true running rotors and drums, lining and pads that are not glazed or damaged, and hydraulic cylinders in good condition.  A common error is to assume the pedal needs more "boost" pressure for the vehicle to stop.  If the vehicle weight and brake sizing are a good match, boost should only enhance the pedal pressure.  A brake system in good condition should stop well—even without boost.  Many CJs from your era do not have boosters and still can stop well without pedal assist.

 

So, make sure your front and rear wheel brake systems are working well.  You may find that the rotors or drums are glazed, the lining is glazed, or the hydraulic cylinders have wear or piston binding.

 

Moses





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