Dana 44 TTB swap questions


LeadHander

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I’ve been hanging around this forum for a few years now. Such an incredible source of information. I currently own a 1994 Ranger extended cab that I swapped in an Explorer rear axle and did all the front axle strength modifications to in preparation for a lift and 35” tires. Unfortunately for my Ranger my growing family doesn’t really fit and I’m thinking of building a 1st Gen Explorer so I can keep my rebuilt and modified 4.0L/A4LD combination. Not sure if I’m into a SAS. My plan would be to use the Skyjacker 6” coils and build the rest of the front suspension components. I’m used to fabricating and it doesn’t intimidate me at all. I’ve read the Dana 44 knuckle swap article and the Dana 44 TTB swap article(and most others). My thoughts are that if I’m removing all of the front end and buying lockers, gears, etc and building all the brackets anyway why not just install the complete Dana 44 TTB? I would use the cut shaft method to gain the 3-1/2” width rather than the full width. I also read the comment that rather than doing the full swap it’s better to just do the knuckle swap. It seems to me that it would be about the same amount of work as doing the complete Dana 44TTB at the same time as all the other modifications. Sorry to make a short story long but I’m wondering what are the downsides of the complete swap? Benefits over the knuckle swap? My plan is to run 35-37” tires(undecided yet)and lockers. I’m not a high speed pre runner guy and we don’t really have rocks to crawl anywhere near here. Mostly logging trails and bush trails in the mud and swamp. Any comments or experience in this area would be greatly appreciated. Thanks.
 


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alwaysFlOoReD

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IIRC the full d44 swap is weaker in one or both axle shafts...where they neck down compared to the hybrid d35/44.... the hybrid takes the best of both.
 

LeadHander

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I read about that. It seemed like a small difference, wasn’t sure if it was actually a concern. Is the larger ring gear of the Dana 44 worth having? If I decide to go with 37” tires will the Dana 35 survive with a locker? I’m not particularly hard on parts but you never know when some heavy throttle is required.
 

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That is something I don't know. Hopefully someone with more knowledge chimes in.
 

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Are stronger axles for the Dana 44 TTB available? Or is a Dana 60 SAS the only real way to go with 37” tires?
 

scotts90ranger

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There's also the D54 TTB that I'm pondering for my 5.0L explorer... D50 diff and outers, D44 TTB beams (they're longer or one of them is at least) and I have all the parts minus gears to do it... I have similar plans just 5.0L explorer as a base then 36-37" tires and full width all around. The issue with the 5.0L explorers is they don't have steering boxes since they're SLA and rack/pinion factory... my project is at least 6 months out since I have to build a shop first...
 

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That D54 swap would interest me. I’m not familiar with that swap. Is there a build thread or write up somewhere about it? I haven’t seen one.
 

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RCV Performance has alloy TTB shafts available... Not sure who else though (if anyone).

D44 ring & pinion gears are something of a step above the D35's... The pinion shaft size on the D44 is slightly smaller than on the D35, but the larger ring gear diameter makes up for it, plus a little more. However the only way to take advantage of that is to have alloy axle shafts that reduce or do away with the neckdowns. This puts you pretty close to territory where return on investment may better with a D60 (leaves you much more room for future upgrades).

Given your planned use and lack of rock crawling, I think you'd actually be fine with the D35 as you have it now, and 35" tires. 37s may be doable as well if you know and stay within your limits (we've had guys in the past here running 38" TSLs on their D35s for years with only an occasional issue, even while doing some semi-decent rock crawling too). You'll certainly want to upgrade your steering though (which generally benefits a lifted TTB rig no matter what size tires are on it)

As for the downsides of a complete D44 TTB swap vs a D44-knuckle swap on the D35, the only one that comes to mind is the D44's bigger heavier iron centersection (the wheel lug pattern gets changed either way). There's the extra width too, though that can go either way depending what you want out of it.
 

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That’s great info, thanks! I was planning to do a ‘K’ style steering linkage. I wouldn’t have a problem doing a D60 SAS as I have a friend I will be wheeling with that is almost done his Cherokee D60/14bolt conversion with 37” tires. But I’d like to keep the better ride of the TTB and I like to be a little different than everyone else. I’ve been chatting with a friend of a friend that is building a Ranger with a Dana 50 diff, axles, and outers mounted to Dana 44 beams. Sounds like the same setup that scotts90ranger was talking about. I know almost everything is a lot bigger on the Dana 50 and I would be interested in doing something like that except I read that the axle shafts going into the diff housing are the same spline and size as the Dana 44. Does that also mean they have that necked down area too? If that’s the case what would be the point of using a Dana 50 and all it’s large components if the shafts are so small?
 

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D50 shafts do have similar neckdowns like the D44. I've no idea why these have neckdowns, where others like the D35 and some D60s don't.
I'm not sure with the D50, but simply eliminating the neckdown on a D44 (everything else staying the same) probably wouldn't gain you much because the u-joint typically is the 1st weak point on the shaft, which is shared with the D35 as well (and is what makes the two frontends rather similar in strength, stock-to-stock). The D50 with it's bigger axle u-joints probably would have benefited more by not having neckdowns.
 

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There is also the "Jana 54" that uses Dana 50 gears in a D44 housing.

I'm not a huge fan of the D44 TTB and D50 TTB swaps because they're so much heavier than a D35, not to mention wider.

There is also the "mappyjack" method which is the most appealing to me - you use your D35 knuckles but modify them to run GM spindles, GM brakes, and either Ford D44 TTB rotors/hubs or GM rotors/hubs, depending on what bolt pattern you want (or drill them for whatever.) You also use the D44 outer shafts. The advantage is that your steering and stuff doesn't change at all, you don't have to modify your beams, and you gain the D44 locking hubs. The hubs are probably by far the weakest point of the D35. FWIW the D35 axle shaft u-joints are exactly the same size as the solid axle D44 ones in many cases.

I think you could easily run 35's and do some moderate wheeling with that method. Larger tires or even a set of swampers/boggers/irok's, etc could be pushing the limits of that axle, though. I would want to go as deep as possible with the axle gearing and put a locker in to minimize wheel spin, and really be careful with the gas pedal.

It really just comes down to what you want to spend. It's always a matter of a little more to put the 44 in...then the 60... an so on
 

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“....a little more to put the 44 in...then the 60... an so on...”

That’s exactly it.

My friend says “go big or go home broken”

Also since price is always a factor and my brother-in-law just offered me an F-350 4x4 for $500 I think SAS Dana 60 with 10.25 rear axle might be in my future. Thanks to everyone who replied. I appreciate the advise and information.
 

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i run 37's on a locked dana 35, it was fine on a set of half tread 36 tsl, bought some 37's, 1st trip out blew up the inner u joint on both sides at the same time, in the snow. i had probably 20 snow wheeling trips on the 36's. when i tore it apart i was trying to figure out what "upgrade" i was going to do. i ended up finding out the ****** at the parts store sold me 297's and not 790 u joints like i asked for. at the time i didnt know they were physically different.

i generally use all of the skinny pedal, so i knew it was coming. installed the 790's and its been fine so far. im expecting to bust a hub next.

as far as chromoly dana 44 ttb shafts, the bronco graveyard or wild horses have them. i cannot remember who.

you might check out "corey and yj" on pirate 4x4, he did as strong of a ttb setup as you could bolt together. but at the end of the day that cost far more than a simple, tried, and true. dana 60. but it is possibly to do a 35 spline jana 54, with some combination of 1 ton outers, with custom shafts.
 

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RCV makes D44 TTB shafts. I highly recommend them - have them in my solid axle D44.

$500 for a set of 1 tons sounds like a deal to me, I'd skip the whole TTB thing and put those in.
 

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I think that’s the way I will go. Now I just have to decide what Explorer to put them under.
 


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