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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
So this 90 dodge w250 I got has a busted passenger side axle because the old neglected Ujoint blew up.I was researching ways to make the dana 44 stronger and I came across RCV's uber expensive axle shafts with CV joints instead of U joints.In theory that makes a lot of sense because a U joint rapidly looses strength when turned while a CV joint still looses strength its not as much.On a solid axle front the part that breaks easiest is the U joints, and the U joint ears on the axle shafts.My offroad background came from running subarus with IFS/IRS.Eventually the the stock cast cv cups would fail,Then I went with newer forged cv axle assemblies,until I broke diff parts....The point I am trying to make is most cv joints are assembled with splines and snap rings to hold everything in place.Has anyone ever tried to DIY a set of CV joint front axles?After I switched out the early 80's cast cv joints for 90's forged subaru CV joints I didnt break them anymore.Even toyota guys switch to subaru CV joints to replace their longfield joints.I'm not saying to use subaru Joints on a fullsize but maybe there is a fullsize CV joint that could be adapted.I was thinking of finding the biggest CV joints that will fit where a stock D44 U joint is and have some stock shafts cut and splined and see how they work.With a solid front axle's limited steering angle they should live fine if they are big enough.
 

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Discussion Starter · #2 ·
Fawk, after looking under my vehicles I can see why D44 U joints fail so often.They are fawking tiny.The CV joints on my 93 dakota are way bigger in fact they look to have the same diameter as the dana 60 U joints that are under my 94 ram 2500 CTD.The biggest CV that might fit in a D44 might only be subaru stuff.The outer cv joints under my 2005 dodge grand caravan would be damn tight..
 

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I opted to go with RCVs for all the reasons you mention, and the RCVs have a lifetime warranty so once you buy them you'll never need to buy a replacement.  My truck has a long wheelbase and when wheeling I will often need to turn to full lock and apply lots of power, and with RCVs in there I don't have to worry about grenading the shafts stranding me and the family in the middle of nowhere - and if I do frag the RCVs I'll have a set of 35-spline OE shafts to go in and get me off the trail.  Granted I'm running a D60 and 40" tires and lots of torque under a heavy truck but the principle is the same for any axle.  My point being I would either run a good set of D44 u-joints or just save up for RCVs and not worry about the voodoo required to fab up a hybrid set of CVs.  I think you were also wanting to run 37's? - in that case I would recommend finding a D60 and replacing the 30-spline outer stubs with 35-spline stubs and that'll be plenty of beef for 37's {2cents}

- Sam
 

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RedneckInTraining said:
Even toyota guys switch to subaru CV joints to replace their longfield joints.
::) Stock Toyota axle joints are called Birfields, and they are basically CV joints. Longfields are a brand of premium aftermarket replacement upgrade joints for Birfields. Subaru CV joints are considered the weakest link in most "performance" Subaru builds, no one is putting them in a heavy 4x4.

RedneckInTraining said:
I was thinking of finding the biggest CV joints that will fit where a stock D44 U joint is and have some stock shafts cut and splined and see how they work.
Go for it. Spend more money for something that isn't likely to improve on what the current aftermarket offers. D44 u-joints aren't large, but be honest with yourself, if you're lightly wheeling 33's w/o a front locker, the stock joints are fine. If you're wheeling 35's hard core with a front locker, there are many aftermarket axle upgrade that are more than sufficient at less cost. If you're hard core wheeling with 37's and a front locker, maybe you should have a D60.
 

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I wouldn't waste money upgrading a D44. It's sort of like polishing a turd.
 

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RedneckInTraining said:
.The point I am trying to make is most cv joints are assembled with splines and snap rings to hold everything in place.Has anyone ever tried to DIY a set of CV joint front axles?After I switched out the early 80's cast cv joints for 90's forged subaru CV joints I didnt break them anymore.Even toyota guys switch to subaru CV joints to replace their longfield joints.I'm not saying to use subaru Joints on a fullsize but maybe there is a fullsize CV joint that could be adapted.I was thinking of finding the biggest CV joints that will fit where a stock D44 U joint is and have some stock shafts cut and splined and see how they work.With a solid front axle's limited steering angle they should live fine if they are big enough.
Search up on what the Grand Cherokee guys (ZJ & WJ) think of their CVs. Both use a Dana 30 front axle, but the same knuckle/inner-C was swinging D44 ujoints in the XJ and TJ. Now add to that the extra weight of a fullsize truck, and a 3/4-ton one at that.

I do respect CVs for some applications. I like how smooth they run at an angle. The ones on the gf's Jeep Liberty have put up with a lot, including a locker for a while.

Some of the bigger ones were used in 88+ Chevy 4x4 3/4 and 1-ton trucks. Also the old Eldorado/Toronado fullsize cars... including the FWD GMC motorhome. Don't think they'll fit in a Dana 44 though....
 

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Between ford Chevy and dodge I’m pretty sure most of their suspension parts are borrowed tech for other companies, with some minor modifications (correct me if I’m wrong, no expert here)
So if a guy found an old military truck, of any time with the same axle width, a guy should be able to bolt them right up and just use what it used to tie it together, plus a shaft to the transfer case?
I know of a guy who has hundreds of old military vehicles, some he runs, most are for expiremental parts for his shenanigans for his dirt company.
He says he likes them for the bulletproof drivetrains, but they are all surprisingly gutless as hell as far as the motors go.
Food for thought. I may go out there sometime and crawl under a few and see what’s really under there.
 

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Military axles can be swapped, but there are a lot more things to consider than just the width.
 

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RedneckInTraining said:
I was researching ways to make the dana 44 stronger and I came across RCV's uber expensive axle shafts with CV joints instead of U joints.In theory that makes a lot of sense because a U joint rapidly looses strength when turned while a CV joint still looses strength its not as much.
Both have advantages and disadvantages. Yes, a u-joint is weaker when ran at an angle. A CV (specifically the Rzeppa type CV joint) has greater strength at an angle but the unit operates by allowing balls which are held in a cage, to slide along grooves. This creates a lot more heat which is why many of these joints must use a high temp grease to keep them lubricated, AND they cannot tolerate any water or grit which manages to get inside.

When I chose to upgrade my axles in my Dana 60, I lightly considered the RCV shafts, for the advantages…that being smooth angular operation, but instead I took the more conventional route, because the RCV shafts uses a spherical boot to seal the "ball" which should be fine, for say a rock crawler, but I wheel my truck in the swamps of Florida and I am not convinced that the seal is tight enough to keep out water and mud (And if it does, probably won't after it wears in)
I went with a pair of Yukon Super Joints

Has anyone ever tried to DIY a set of CV joint front axles?
I had investigated the idea, a long time ago, to try to somehow install the double cardan style CV joints. Some axles use these….but there isn't enough room in the knuckle space within a standard Dana type axle to make this work and it was way beyond my skill level to modify the knuckles and shafts to make this work.

….I'm not saying to use subaru Joints on a full-size but maybe there is a full-size CV joint that could be adapted.I was thinking of finding the biggest CV joints that will fit where a stock D44 U joint is and have some stock shafts cut and splined and see how they work.With a solid front axle's limited steering angle they should live fine if they are big enough.
The biggest/strongest Rzeppa type CV joint I know of, might be the joints used on IFS one ton 4wd Chevy trucks… But, the knuckle area has to have the room between the back of the knuckle and the end of the axle tube and there needs space for the diameter of the thing…. and then what are you going to do for the axle itself? You can have a strong joint, but if the axle is marginal, there is no gain.

I would keep it simple. The RCV axles are expensive but they have the joints you want and the shafts are pretty strong too. Or you can go with one of the many super strong u-joints and chro-mo shafts already available for the 44. But if you're gonna install stronger shafts and joints, you might want to upgrade everything or it will only be as strong as the weakest link, which could be the gears.

At that stage, you may want to just upgrade to a Dana 60. They already come with bigger joints which dwarf the joints on the 44….

Ed
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
I would gladly upgrade to a 60 if they could be found cheaper than $1500 for an axle in need of a rebuild with 3.21 gears.The owner of the local 4x4 shop said he had a stock dana 61 and he would give me a "deal" by selling it for only $1200.

So by the time I had gears,lockers and new seals I would have more invested in the front axle than I would have in  most of my vehicles COMBINED.That's BS.
 

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You don't want a Dana 61!  It was for the 3 speed auto diesel trucks & had a 3.07 gear ratio. (not many who even want these).
Normal front Dana 60's came with 4.10's mostly.  $500-$800 would be a more normal price.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Like I said $1500 is a normal price around here,and if you try to negotiate, its "FIRM,I KNOW WHAT I GOT".
 

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RedneckInTraining said:
So by the time I had gears,lockers and new seals I would have more invested in the front axle than I would have in most of my vehicles COMBINED.That's BS.
well...actually...when ya wanna wheel hard and not break...that's pretty normal - just the nature of these beasts. My 02 Dakota cost $4200 when we got it and there's a lot (a lotlot) more than that in it now...but I knew that was coming when I picked it up.
 

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RedneckInTraining said:
I would gladly upgrade to a 60 if they could be found cheaper than $1500 for an axle in need of a rebuild with 3.21 gears.The owner of the local 4x4 shop said he had a stock dana 61 and he would give me a "deal" by selling it for only $1200.
You can certainly find Dana 60s for less, but no one said it would be easy…thats not to say it's impossible, but it will take time, effort and the right conditions. The last 60 I bought, I paid $150 for the entire axle, rotor to rotor. It was at a Pick and Pull yard and there was nothing wrong it, as it was. I decided to upgrade it anyway, spent enough to buy two of those Dana 61s, and it was well worth it because that axle is now pretty bomb proof.

There are different ways you can skin this cat. You could do what I did and look for the absolute cheapest axle you can find and build it, or you could find an axle thats already built at a cost that would be cheaper than what it would cost you to build it.

I would probably pass on the 61, it's not a deal. You can't re-gear that axle

So by the time I had gears,lockers and new seals I would have more invested in the front axle than I would have in most of my vehicles COMBINED.That's BS.
Yet, you said you were researching ways to make the Dana 44 stronger. The only way to make a 44 stronger is to fully rebuild it, and fill it with every high strength part you can buy. You would probably have a lot invested in it, probably more than the typical cost of a used 60 in your area, and it would only be as strong as a stock 60.

Ed
 

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Another thing to consider is that you can break almost anything on the truck, even the engine or transmission, and get drug out to a trailer.  But really eff up a front axle and it's really tough to get out.  The front axle is probably one of the most critical parts of a off-road trail rig.

The 'good' deals on Dana front axles go fast.  So keep your eye on Facebook and CL and be ready to jump when one shows up....
 

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RedneckInTraining said:
So by the time I had gears,lockers and new seals I would have more invested in the front axle than I would have in most of my vehicles COMBINED.That's BS.
I bought my Dakota with the 1 ton axles already installed. It was a running, driving, licensed truck. Then, when I installed my gears and lockers, they cost as much as what I paid for the truck in the first place. It's an expensive hobby and you must pay if you want to play.
 

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It is what it is, parts cost money, bigger better parts cost even more. It boils down to what you want to do, and how far you want to go. Learn, and understand your limits, and you can still have many great days. You can do a heck of a lot with a bone stock truck. Over the years, I have stuck, and recovered every wheeled vehicle in the Army's inventory. Vehicle recovery is the class I enjoyed teaching the most. I once had the fun of recovering two M1A2 tanks from a Georgia swamp. We used a chevy blazer to run the two 1&1/4" winch lines out to the tanks.

To me, the best part is the challenge of getting there. One of my dreams was to participate in a Camel trophy, or similar event.
 

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***I would gladly upgrade to a 60 if they could be found cheaper than $1500 for an axle in need of a rebuild with 3.21 gears.The owner of the local 4x4 shop said he had a stock dana 61 and he would give me a "deal" by selling it for only $1200***

Have you looked at pirate4x4 for a front dana 60? I got mine from someone on there  there for 850. It had 4.10s and 35 spline inner/outer shafts
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
So I should spend twice as much as the purchase price of the ENTIRE TRUCK just to get a front axle housing that I have to spend even more money on to stuff it with lower gears and lockers?I might as well just stick to smaller vehicles like heeps and atoyots.
 

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You should spend what you decide to spend. As I mentioned before, I bought a Dana 60 for $150 and I could have used it as it was. You aren't really going to save money by upgrading what you already have, being that 44 already in your truck. Sure, you don't have to buy an axle, but the parts you need to upgrade it, especially those fancy RCV axles isn't going to be cheap. When we say you should consider a Dana 60, it's for you to know the alternatives. In stock form the 60 is going to be significantly stronger because it comes with bigger parts. Sure you may want to stick a locker in it and lower gears…You'll have to do that to your 44 and the costs between these two aren't too different. After that, to get to 60 strength with a 44 means you add in the expense of axle shafts, HD u-joints, stubs, 8 lug hubs and rotors, etc. Price-wise you could spend more to upgrade a 44 than to find a 60…..

OTOH, you don't have to upgrade a 44. You can take your chances and run it as is and you maybe fine. If you break it, you might be able to replace the whole axle for peanuts since used 44s should be readily available. Keep the tire size below 38s, leave the front diff open and be easy on the throttle and terrain, and enjoy life.

Ed
 
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