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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hey, I need help with my rock crawler truck. It was originally a long bed 1989 w100 farm truck. I decided to make it a rock crawler. So I shortened the frame 20" and got a 4" rough country lift. The truck only had like 65K original miles on the 318 TBI and runs like a sewing machine. It crawls really well due to the TBI, but I wanted lower gears and a full floater rear end, so I paid 200 bucks and traded a lawnmower to boot, to pick up a 1986 w250 to harvest the axles out of. I did the axle swap by myself and found that the brakes needed to be rebuilt. So I rebuilt the brakes myself and it turns out brake jobs aren't exactly in my "wheelhouse". Needless to say, I was crawling below the dam at Disney, OK, lost the brakes and careened down a hill and flipped. Luckily my wife, my yorkie (Buttons) and I survived the crash unscathed.

So after the crash I decided to put the cab from the 1986 on the 1989 running gear, also I properly bled the brakes so they work properly and I cut the front radiator housing and "pinched" the front end down. All that being said, now I have an issue with the front axle! The truck has a center axle disconnect (CAD) system, it was completely worn out on the 1986 axle. So I replaced the inner bushing that lines up the intermediate and inner driver side axles and bought a Posilock kit and thought I fixed the problem. Also, I welded the front and rear diffs, and got manual lockouts on the front. This works great because I can have 2-Low, with truck in 4low and hubs unlocked. With hubs locked and CAD disengaged I can have 3 wheel drive (driver side disengaged)  and turn relatively easy when trail riding, and when the going gets rough I lock in the CAD and have locked front and rear diffs! I thought I finally had it all worked out.

However the next time I was wheeling the front end started "popping" and I lost 4wd. Well it turns out the collar and shaft splines on the CAD were all galded off and the collar didn't have enough splines left to catch on to engage. So my next thought was to pull the axle shafts out of my 1989 D44 and stick in the '86 housing because when I opened up the 1989 axle the splines looked brand new. I first replaced the intermediate shaft and collar, then when I slid in the inner axle, the shaft did not fit. It was about a half inch longer than the housing. Well, come to find out, the axle shaft from 1985-1987 was a different length than the one used after '87. I've called about a hundred places and searched the internet far and wide and cannot find a replacement axle. Everywhere I check they say the part is discontinued, I did find one for $350 at quality auto parts, but after a week, they called back and said they didn't actually have the part.

So now I'm stumped. I was wondering if I could find a custom made wider collar, one that would catch the splines properly. Has anyone ever done this?

My only other options are to have a solid shaft custom built or find another front end to swap in. I'm pretty strapped on cash right now and don't want to pour much more of it into this money pit, but I don't want to give up on the truck because the engine runs like a top and the truck has sentimental value. Any help on this would be appreciated!


 

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Aside from a junkyard, I'm not sure where you could find the shafts.....but damn, welded diffs on a CAD 44 is just asking for trouble. Anything you do to that axle will just fail again.

Even a 44 without CAD that is locked in front is still likely to brake something. You should consider a Dana 60 or not locking the front at all, having just the rear locked makes a huge difference.
 

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The issue, is the 3/4 ton D44 axle shafts, are shorter then the 1/2 ton D44 axle shafts.

The next issue you will face, is the CAD axles changed after the first 3 or 4 years, I do not know if it just applied to the outer CAD shaft, or both.

I would check with a few local machine shops, and see what it costs to shorten the shafts you already have. You need to compare the difference between the two axle bearing and seal surface. The original CAD had them at the end of the axle tube, the later ones moved them inboard next to the CAD assembly. Without comparing them side by side, I do not know how compatible they are, or if shortening will even work.

Maybe even discuss welding the two old shafts shafts together. As you have found, the CAD joint is not designed to be constantly shifted in and out by a cable linkage. The original setup, used vacuum, which does not pull so hard on the collar, and lets the parts move as they line up, and not force the shift. You still need to remember where the seal and bearing sits. Also, with all the carnage, it would be advisable to pull the diff, and flush out the housing real well.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Yeah Y’all are probably right It being a mistake to weld the front differential. However my engine isn’t exactly a a torque monster so I figured I’d try it. Welding the diff did not cause the splines to strip because I had it apart before I welded diff nd noticed they were worn out then. That’s prolly why the guy sold me the truck so cheap. I just want to go the cheapest route for now. I called woodys at Vancouver wash. He said he needs a tag # off the axle he could narrow it down better because his books show 2 different shaft lengths on 1986 axles. Like I said before if I had a wider collar it would get me by. I thought about welding  2 collars together somehow but figured it would just break. An engineer friend of mine said it might be a common spline configuration and I could maybe go to a driveline shop and find something like a driveline yoke and could make a makeshift coupler. Right now I’m open to anything.

And yes obviously the best route would be to swap in a d60. But like I said my funds are limited.
 

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Jeremyc said:
I called woodys at Vancouver wash. He said he needs a tag # off the axle he could narrow it down better because his books show 2 different shaft lengths on 1986 axles.
like I said, the 8 lug (3/4 ton), is a different length then a 5 lug (1/2 ton)axle. There is your two differences.
 

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driving with out a differential ( welded spiders ) on anything BUT slippery surface Drastically increases the strain on axles , but you knew that when you "welded" it . So yeah ya did help cause the splines to "strip" at a minimum . 
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
***update*** I adjusted the posi lock fork over a bit and now she engages just fine. I took her out on a test run and she climed a hill today that would make a mountain goat quiver. Dodge 82773, how the hell u know what my Splines looked like before and after I welded the diff. You clairvoyant or something?
 

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boy I wish I was , LOL but nope , I'm not , yeah center that "sleeve " and hold it there , either clamp the cad slider , or some folks just "flip" it 180 and reinstall it , if ya grab enough good spline you may be ok , but with out a differential allowing each front tire to turn at different speeds around a turn on a good road , it strains the hell outta the axles and u joints ... you know that LOL ........... clairvoyant...  hummm  ...  bet ya could make money with that .  ;D
 
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