Over the last 20+ years, I’ve seen a lot of people swapping out the front axle in their Ford Ranger 4×4. I wanted to briefly discuss some axles and compare the differences between them.
TTB refers to Twin Traction Beam
SLA refers to Short Arm Long Arm
The 760x Series replaced the old style 297x (297, 5-290x) with a forged cross shaft and new bearing cap design with larger trunions. These improvements result in nearly a 30% strength increase. I listed the 297x (290) u-joints in the chart since that’s what the axle originally came with.
Dana 28 TTB To Dana 35 TTB:
You don’t hear about these swaps much anymore since there aren’t as many Dana 28 axles left out there. It makes sense to upgrade to the Dana 35 TTB, and its an easy bolt in swap.
The 1983-1994 front brake is a single piston caliper with slide pins. In 1995 the caliper was upgraded to a dual piston (2-piston) caliper and the rotor was upgraded to 1.023 inches thick. The caliper bolts to the steering knuckle and does not use slide pins.
The 1983-1988 axle beams are different than the 1989-1997 beams. In 1989, Ford moved the ball joints from the beam to the steering knuckle. So you can not swap the 1995-1997 steering knuckles on to these beams. The dual piston calipers will only fit the 1995-1997 steering knuckles, and those knuckles can only be swapped on to the 1989-1994 beams. So if you have a 1983-1988, you’ll need to swap in a 1989-1994 beam, or swap in a 1995-1997 beam with the dual piston calipers.
For more information about the front brakes and brake upgrades, check out ‘Ford Ranger Brake Upgrades‘.
Dana 35 TTB / Dana 30 SLA To Dana 44:
The Dana 35 TTB is stronger than the Dana 35 SLA. The Dana 35 TTB is also capable of a more suspension travel than the Dana 35 SLA.
If you want to run tires larger than 33-inches off-road and want to increase wheeltravel, the Dana 44 is a sensible upgrade to the Dana 30 SLA.
If you want to run tires larger than 35-inches off-road, the Dana 44 or Dana 44 TTB is a sensible upgrade to the Dana 35 TTB.
If you want to run 37-inch or larger tires off-road, then why not go with a Dana 60? It puzzles me when I see people swap in a Dana 44, and then end up paying for chromoly axle shafts for more strength.
Even though the fullsize Dana 44 uses the same size u-joint as the Dana 35 TTB, the Dana 44 axle shaft is 5/32″ (0.15″) larger in diameter than the Dana 35 TTB. It also benefits from a stronger locking hub assembly. Some people have swapped the Dana 44 hub components to the Dana 35 TTB, but it is not a simple bolt on swap.
All Ford Bronco’s before 1976 came with drum brakes on the front. The 1967-1970 Ford Bronco front axles are actually Dana 30’s.
Dana 30 Axle Swap:
I know numerous people have swapped Dana 30’s in to their Ranger. I’m not knocking those that do. The Dana 30 is similar in axle strength to a Dana 35, but has a smaller ring gear. If you’re going to go through the work to do an axle swap, why not at increase to at least a Dana 44 for more strength?
Dana 60 Axle Swap:
If you’re going to run 37-inch and larger tires and can find a deal on a Dana 60, why not go for it and not have to worry about axle strength? You’re pushing a Dana 44 to the limit with a 37-inch tire.
|Front Axle||Ring Gear Diameter||Axle Shaft Diameter / Spline||Pinion Shaft Diameter / Spline||U-Joints|
|Dana 28||6.62″||1.00″ / 23||1.31″||456|
|Dana 30 Jeep||7.20″||1.16″ / 27||1.38″ / 26||260
|Dana 30 Bronco||7.20″||1.15″ / 27 (Inner)
1.25″ / 19 (Outer)
|1.38″ / 26||260|
|Dana 35 TTB||7.56″||1.16″ / 27||1.41″ / 26||297|
|Dana 35 SLA||7.56″||1.12″ / 27||1.40″||N/A|
|Dana 44 Solid
|8.50″||1.31″ / 30||1.38″ / 26||260|
|Dana 44 Solid
|8.50″||1.31″ / 30||1.38″ / 26||297|
|Dana 44 TTB||8.50″||1.31″ / 30 (Inner)
1.21″ / 19 (Outer)
|1.38″ / 26||297|
|Dana 60||9.75||1.50″ / 35||1.62″||1480|
The Dana 44 stub shafts are larger than the stub shafts on a Dana 35 TTB. It’s interesting to note that the Dana 44 shafts have a neck-down on them that tapers down to 1.09″ inches. The smallest point on the Dana 35 shafts is 1.16″ inches where it tapers down to go in to the carrier. The only shaft on a Dana 35 that is smaller than the neck-down on the Dana 44, is the Dana 35 stub shaft, which is 1.0625″ inches.