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cummins ranger axle upgrade Q's


1989-4btranger

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So, been the TRS a lot over the last few years, never posted on the forum tho. This site is excellent, love it!

So here is my dilemma. My ranger needs a new front axle because the 4bt , nv4500, np205 and heavy bumpers weigh too much for my poor dana 35, the wheel bearings are coming loose every week, they pound out the spindles, brakes could be better(I weigh 4600 lbs now), ball joints don't last. I snapped one outer stub once too, yeah cummins torque! well you get the point!

So as I see it my options are limited because of the driver's side drop pumpkin. 3 options I've re-searched and not sure what way to go.
1) do the 44 knuckle/spindle swap on the 35 beams
2) do the dana 44 ttb swap
3) dana 44 sas

As much as i'd like to do the solid axle it would cost almost 2x the amount to do the other two. I already have a locker in d35 and it's great. I honestly can't to back to open front so doing the knuckle swap is cheapest. I kinda half started the d35 knuckle swap but ran into issues with the driver's side beam. I don't have the tools to properly machine the beam so I have to get another and bring it to a machine shop.

just wondering if anyone has done the 44 knuckle swap or the 44 swap here and can give me a bit more info. the write ups aren't bad, but they could use some fleshing out in some areas

thanks guys!
 


4x4junkie

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Welcome to the forum :beer:

Though I agree you're supporting a lot of weight with that axle, I still don't think your bearings should be coming loose weekly.

I've found that torquing the outer bearing locknut (assuming you have manual hubs) to 250ft-lbs rather than the 150 the books say keeps them tight. I don't have a 4BT, but do have 35x12.50 tires which I know that adds some level of stress to them. I also use nothing but Timken SET-37 bearings (also don't mix bearings & races, replace that chinese crap in any new rotors you happen to buy with the Timken races).

For ball joints, I use Raybestos "PROFESSIONAL GRADE" joints and nothing else (Moog is trash). I believe Napa "Premium" joints are made by Raybestos also... Look for the gold-zinc colored body and polished steel stud on them).





That all said... Given your situation, I probably would lean toward the D44 knuckles swap on your D35, as that will give you bigger brakes (something that can't be changed with better bearings/ball joints, etc.), and will preserve the smooth ride of your TTB IFS (something you'd likely lose with a SAS). A D44 TTB would get you a stronger differential and gears, though I've rarely seen failures in the D35 diff, the axle shafts generally seem to let go before anything in the diff does... And D44 axle shafts are not really any stronger than the D35 shafts (not stock ones anyway, you'd have to go to alloy shafts to see a gain in shaft strength). The D35 & D44 TTB beams appear to be stamped of the same thickness metal, so no real strength advantage there either.


I haven't done the knuckle swap personally, but I do have some understanding of it, maybe I might still be able to help if someone else who's done it doesn't come along.

I recall there also was another way to do it that involves just swapping the spindles (keeping the D35 knuckles). I want to say it used a Chevy D44 (or 10-bolt?) brake caliper bracket, cutting the caliper rails off the D35 knuckles, and then bolting on a 5-bolt D44 spindle from a '96 Bronco/F-150 I think? I would need to find the article again to be sure though.

Anyway, hopefully that might give you something to go on. :icon_thumby:
I'll see if I can find that article again...
 

1989-4btranger

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Thanks!
well, I would agree that it SHOULD be ok, but nearly every time I went wheeling I would find them getting loose. To give you perspective, the 4bt weighs 720 lbs and then I've got a very heavy duty front bumper.
Either way, I could buy brand new bearings, spindles and brakes(which are nearly worn out) and it would probabily last another few years tops. I'd really like to upgrade while i'm at it.

I followed the knuckle swap and it all seemed great until I started assembling the freshly reamed housing. After the 44 knuckles were installed I put the diff onto the driver's side housing. Then I installed the axle shaft, and found when the shaft was in, the hole for the axle was not lined up with the axle. Basically the ball joints needed to be sunk in deeper to bring the knuckle higher up to align the shaft and hole. I sunk the ball joints deeper, but then ran into all sorts of problems. interference issues showed up, things were so tight I couldn't even run boots on the ball joints. I couldn't ream the ball joint taper perfectly straight either, so I think I need another housing and need to get a machine shop to have a look and see what they can do.
 

4x4junkie

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Yeah the reaming part is a critical step for sure. Any misalignment of the taper (or reaming it too far) will cause the shaft to not fit into the diff properly as you found out.

Here's the post about the spindle swap I mentioned...
http://www.therangerstation.com/forums/showthread.php?t=47420&highlight=knuckles

I'm not sure what happened to the pictures, but it appears it was John at Baker Motorsports who did this particular swap originally. You might give a call there and see if they can offer you some info (I guess the brake caliper brackets are custom-made).


Just out of curiosity, what size tires are you running on this?
 

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You should just do a solid axle swap. More travel, better ride, less moving parts. It's just better. I tried to make my dana 35 hold together and travel well for years before I gave up and put a solid axle in it. You should skip all the band aide half steps and put in a solid axle to start with. Believe me, I listened to all the ttb hype an wasted a lot of time and money on trying to make it work. The ranger I am currently building is going from stock to sas, no half step waste of time and money.


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
 

4x4junkie

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You could also simply not try to do it with "band aide half steps" too. :)
The building, repairing, & modification of TTB suspensions is pretty well-documented around these parts... Anyone actually wishing to read up on the subject is certainly free to do so. It's been shown time & time again the TTB setup has as much to offer as anything else when it's built right (band-aid half steps waste time & $$$ no matter what suspension it's on).

The OP has a unique case in which he's probably 300 or more pounds over what the axle was originally designed to carry, which any one of the D44 knuckles swap, a D44 TTB or a D44 SA would help with. With a locker already in his current axle, the knuckles swap makes the most sense. If broken shafts become an issue, then the only thing that should be skipped here is the D44 entirely (going straight to a D60) since the D44's shafts are essentially the same as what's in the D35.
 

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This spindle swap option 4x4junkie mentioned is 92-96 Bronco spindles, for whatever reason that year span shares the smaller 5 stud spindle pattern with the D35. These spindles bolt up to the knuckle, and if you turn 1/4" off the rotor and run used pads, you can retain the stock caliper, and obviously gives you the bigger bearings, hubs and stub shaft. Never heard of running the 10 bolt caliper bracket but that could be an option for a larger caliper. Never seen these spindles on anything but those Bronco's. 94-96 have the notch for ABS, but I doubt that matters to you. I don't know where you are located, but it seems the desert guys usually toss these spindles and accompanying knuckles in favor of the more common 6 stud stuff, so that could be an easy source.
 

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I'll add my knowledge and experience (more on experience). First, you didn't mention what year D35 you have. Bearings are the same, but 95-97 have upgraded twin piston calipers, this may not sound like much, but after running 37" iroks on 8" suspension lift for over a year, wheeling ever other weekend for over 8 months, and serving as my command vehicle (fire chief, used as my primary response vehicle), the brakes (drilled and slotted rotors, premium brass impregnanted pads) have held up great, countless high speed hard braking, trail runs, even regular heavy towing (5k lbs) all were the life of my truck (and in my build thread if you care to browse through it). If you're running the older single piston caliper, upgrade your knuckles. Bearings required regular monthly maintanence, but not replacement, just check and tighten, if necessary (which should be common practice on any trail truck). As junkie said, torquing to 250 definitely helps the nuts from loosening.
An unforeseen expense when swapping to the 44 spindles is running the 44 rotor, which means different lug pattern, different rims. I'm not against using the 44 parts, just pointing out the full swap. Stage 8 makes a great lock nut system for the 44, and fits the D35 spindle, but unfortunately doesn't clear the D35 locking hub. If you're popping stub shafts, which goes with using a locker up front, I think I'd go straight to a 60, as you'd most likely pop an upgraded 44 shaft (unless you go RCV). Not knowing if you're looking for an economical answer, or an answer to make the D35 work, but economically go with a 60. Yeah you'd have to buy a locker and possibly gears, but you can sell your current locker and parts to offset the cost. You also won't be spending time in the shop on repairs or as much maintenance. Whats your down time worth to you?

SVT
 

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This spindle swap option 4x4junkie mentioned is 92-96 Bronco spindles, for whatever reason that year span shares the smaller 5 stud spindle pattern with the D35. These spindles bolt up to the knuckle, and if you turn 1/4" off the rotor and run used pads, you can retain the stock caliper, and obviously gives you the bigger bearings, hubs and stub shaft. Never heard of running the 10 bolt caliper bracket but that could be an option for a larger caliper. Never seen these spindles on anything but those Bronco's. 94-96 have the notch for ABS, but I doubt that matters to you. I don't know where you are located, but it seems the desert guys usually toss these spindles and accompanying knuckles in favor of the more common 6 stud stuff, so that could be an easy source.
My '92 Bronco axle has 6-stud spindles. I think it may be just the '94-'96 axles that have the 5-stud spindles (probably something that was changed at the same time the front ABS arrived).
 

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And I'll add my 2 cents ( Canadian ) here. I had no problem with the D35 wheel bearing coming loose or ball joint life. Even made my own custom steering that worked pretty good. Keep in mind I don't drive on the street, trailer it everywhere.
But I could not keep an axle shaft in it. All most every trip I'd bust a shaft and it did not matter if the ARB was engaged or not. We wheel in Northern Alberta which means mud and muskeg so relatively easy on shafts compared to you guys in the rocks. I am a conservative driver as well. Also I could noy keep the crud and crap out of the wheel bearings , I had to take them apart and clean hem after EVERY trip.

I swapped in a 79' Bronco FW D44 with the original shafts and it's been great. Been over a year with no failures. I am changing u-joints today because we are heading to Moab in a few weeks and I don't want to be that guy that breaks on the first trail. Maybe near the end LOL. And the wheel bearings and seals seem much better sealed.

For what it's worth.

oh and it looks cool too !

 

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...
But I could not keep an axle shaft in it. All most every trip I'd bust a shaft and it did not matter if the ARB was engaged or not.

You must've had something binding up against your shaft(s), because the strength difference between a stock D35 and D44 shaft is probably 5% at best (same u-joints, and them having huge neckdowns).

If you have a lot of articulation, the passengerside shaft I know can bind up against the 'window' where it passes thru the beam, as well as hitting against the ends of the radius arm bolts on that side if you don't make a bit of extra clearance for it. Your mention of the locker being locked or not not mattering supports this.
 
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You must've had something binding up against your shaft(s), because the strength difference between a stock D35 and D44 shaft is probably 5% at best (same u-joints, and them having huge neckdowns).

If you have a lot of articulation, the passengerside shaft I know can bind up against the 'window' where it passes thru the beam, as well as hitting against the ends of the radius arm bolts on that side if you don't make a bit of extra clearance for it. Your mention of the locker being locked or not not mattering supports this.
Agreed. While I didn't bust a shaft or joint, I had binding ussues at full droop on the passenger side...

SVT
 

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Im with svt to get full enjoyment and ease of maintance id grab some 60s and be done with it the unseen costs of rims ect... with the 44 parts swap isnt worth it.
 

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You must've had something binding up against your shaft(s), because the strength difference between a stock D35 and D44 shaft is probably 5% at best (same u-joints, and them having huge neckdowns).

If you have a lot of articulation, the passengerside shaft I know can bind up against the 'window' where it passes thru the beam, as well as hitting against the ends of the radius arm bolts on that side if you don't make a bit of extra clearance for it. Your mention of the locker being locked or not not mattering supports this.
Yeah I suspected that for awhile. Just got to the point I was tired of fixing the damn thing EVERY time I went out. Now I'm having fun spanking Jeeps offroad , upgrading and taking side hills like a H1.
Next is getting a new body. Something in the 2000's with the opening back doors.
 

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