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Wagoneer D44 Front Axle Swap?

Discussion in 'Early CJ5 and CJ6 Tech' started by Henri Watson, Dec 3, 2021.

  1. Dec 3, 2021
    Henri Watson

    Henri Watson Member

    Mississippi
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    Okay looking for some advice here. I'm starting to flirt with some of my more ambitious jeep dreams and upgrading the front axle to a 44 is one of the things I'm tempted to try. I've seen that the early Wagoneer 44s are the best choice for doing the swap and I've located a nice crusty one on ebay with the right lug pattern etc. Does anyone here have experience doing this swap or something similar? I'm wondering how much modification might be required for the steering, suspension, etc to make it work. Ultimately I'd like to do the saginaw conversion, possibly a power steering box but not really necessary for my usage.. But for now just going with the stock steering and a 2.5" lift.
     
  2. Dec 3, 2021
    jeepstar

    jeepstar Well-Known Member 2022 Sponsor 2021 Sponsor 2020 Sponsor

    Sheboygan
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    look into the roxor front axle swap.
     
  3. Dec 3, 2021
    Henri Watson

    Henri Watson Member

    Mississippi
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    Very interesting, never heard of that. Looks like it's basically a 19-spline 44 with disc brakes?
     
  4. Dec 3, 2021
    timgr

    timgr We stand on the shoulders of giants. 2022 Sponsor 2021 Sponsor 2020 Sponsor

    Medford Mass USA
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    To use the Wagoneer axle - you need to outboard the front springs. This requires welding spring mounts to the outside of the frame. A passenger-drop disk brake Wagoneer 44 is '74-79 and will have 6 lugs. You don't want an older one (closed knuckle 27 or 30) or a newer one (driver's side drop 44). Typically these axles are 3.31 or taller and you'd want to regear. You can fit Ford hubs on these axles to get 5 lugs. A '70ish-73 Wagoneer rear axle with 5 lugs is the best match for this front axle.
     
  5. Dec 3, 2021
    Henri Watson

    Henri Watson Member

    Mississippi
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    Thanks, yeah I see on this one I was eyeing that it's not going to work with that particular axle. I'm very interested in the roxor switch now though. Some early research tells that it's basically a modern 44 with disc brakes that can be made to work with standard dana 44 gear sets as long as their ring gear spacer is installed (https://brennans-garage.com/collections/frontpage/products/roxor-ring-gear-spacer). That sure is tempting! Based on some of the discussions from last year in this forum I see there are questions about the knuckles working with the cj5 standard steering kit unless dana 30 knuckles are swapped in, so I'd have to decide on swapping the knuckles or upgrading the steering to saginaw earlier than I had planned. Not to mention the springs.
     
  6. Dec 3, 2021
    timgr

    timgr We stand on the shoulders of giants. 2022 Sponsor 2021 Sponsor 2020 Sponsor

    Medford Mass USA
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    Dana 30 knuckles on a 44 housing seems unlikely. Ah - you're referring to the Roxor.
     
  7. Dec 3, 2021
    nickmil

    nickmil In mothballs.

    Happy Valley, OR
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    Jeep CJ 30 knuckles fit right on the standard Dana 44 housings. Not so of the later model stuff.
     
  8. Dec 3, 2021
    Henri Watson

    Henri Watson Member

    Mississippi
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    I guess this roxor swap is fairly new, I'm not seeing a lot of start to finish builds completed yet, but it seems more straight forward than shortening a 44 from a wagoneer. At least in some respects.
     
  9. Dec 3, 2021
    Fireball

    Fireball Well-Known Member 2022 Sponsor 2021 Sponsor 2020 Sponsor

    Pullman, WA
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    Here's a whole thread thread on doing the swap into an early CJ5: ‘59 Cj W/ Roxor Front Axle & Steering Linkage Upgrade

    The advantages:
    • It's a 44 that doesn't need narrowing
    • It's nearly a straight bolt-in
    The disadvantages:
    • It's only 19 spine inner axles and 10 spline outers.
    • The factory carrier has the strange gear offset (needing the spacer you mentioned to use normal 44 gears on the factory diff)
    You can mitigate the downsides with aftermarket 30 spline inner and 27 outer axles shafts. This also requires new hubs and a new diff. If you're going limited slip or locker, you're changing the diff anyway.

    If you're using a Roxor as is with a gear change it's a pretty good deal. If you're looking for more strength you'll be into it for close to $3K by the time you swap out the axle shafts, change the diff, change the hubs, and change the gearing. Still not a bad deal for a disk brake bolt in 44 with some strength but not *super* cheap.
     
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  10. Dec 4, 2021
    Henri Watson

    Henri Watson Member

    Mississippi
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    Thanks yeah good points. For a front axle I'm not too concerned about 19 splines. That's still stronger than my dana 27 so still an upgrade in my opinion. I think that'll be alright. I very well may upgrade it as things go along but I wouldn't mind running it stock for a few years. The most appealing thing to me is the relative "ease" of installation.
     
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  11. Dec 4, 2021
    Keys5a

    Keys5a Sponsor

    Florida Keys
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    Sounds like a D30 out of an AMC-era Jeep is the easiest/cheapest option for an upgrade. Its been done 100s of times and is a big upgrade from a D27.
    -Donny
     
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  12. Dec 4, 2021
    duffer

    duffer Rodent Power

    Bozeman, MT
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    Yep. You can build a D30 almost as strong as a D44. As Nick noted, a lot of the outer pieces on the "standard" open knuckle D44 are interchangeable with the D30. I think a D30 with aftermarket molly axle shafts is likely stronger than the Roxer D44 axle, can also be a near bolt-in with disc brakes, and has a lot of traction devices available.
     
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  13. Dec 4, 2021
    ITLKSEZ

    ITLKSEZ Hope for the best, prepare for the worst

    Post Falls, ID
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    This. I know it’s not as sexy as saying you have a D44 front axle, but the front 44 is a bit of a misnomer of strength. Without seriously dropping some coin on stronger shafts, the only real strength increase over a 30 is the weight rating of the tubing and housing. And in a light jeep, it’s just wasted unsprung weight,, a huge pumpkin to have to work around, and lost ground clearance. Sure the ring gear is bigger, but the u-joints are the same, spline counts are similar, hubs are often the same… the ring gear would be the last to go, even in a D30.
     
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  14. Dec 4, 2021
    jeepstar

    jeepstar Well-Known Member 2022 Sponsor 2021 Sponsor 2020 Sponsor

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    On what I spent rebuilding/regearing my Dana 30 to replace my dana 27 I could have gotten the Roxer brand new ready to go for just about the same price. Just keep that in mind.
    I'm assuming your jeep has 5.38s. so you need the dana 30, the carrier and ring and pinion gears and the spider gears. and if you cant do it yourself, it gets real expensive for a shop to do it for you.
    new brake parts, etc since it most likely needs all that, and it adds up fast.
     
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  15. Dec 4, 2021
    nickmil

    nickmil In mothballs.

    Happy Valley, OR
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    U-joints are not the same in stock form but stronger 30 shafts with bigger joints can be purchased. Stock 30 joints are 260x and 44 is 297/760. The biggest strength gain is the pinion and side gears plus the ring and pinion you mentioned. For most folks here a 30 is plenty and will serve them well.
     
  16. Dec 4, 2021
    timsresort

    timsresort Member 2021 Sponsor

    South Lake Tahoe CA
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    The rule of thumb around the Rubicon is if staying tire size 33 or under, a 30 is fine. 35's and up, go with the 44 if you are going in the rocks and want reliability. And no need to outboard the springs if you're going to cut it anyway, 58" for a flatty, 61" looks good on a 5. If you have basic fab and welding skills, you can do a lot yourself and save quite a bit. All parts are off the shelf or wrecking yard, have Moser re-spline the shafts on the cheap, do the Chevy/Ford front hub/rotor 5x5-1/2 outers, big tie rod ends, high steer arm, etc. But yes, even with your own labor, and good scrounging skills, you're probably looking at $2500. I don't know about the roxor stuff, why not do it yourself and get a real 44 with 1/2" wall tubing?
    [​IMG]
     
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  17. Dec 5, 2021
    Henri Watson

    Henri Watson Member

    Mississippi
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    I'm running 4.10s at the moment and I have a set of 4.27s. I could probably stick with the 4.10s and get that ring gear spacer but I would probably take the opportunity to spend a little extra money and go to 5.38 all around. Would be better for my purposes.
     
  18. Dec 5, 2021
    Henri Watson

    Henri Watson Member

    Mississippi
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    Fair enough. This is the route I was planning to go until the roxor option was mentioned. I do have intermediate capability for custom fabrication and mostly just enjoy learning how to do this stuff myself rather than pay a shop. I'm not sure how far I really need to take this front axle project though in terms of high steer etc. I'm not doing anything on rocks, all mud and water down here. I'm not bogging full throttle like a maniac or anything but we have some tough mud in the Mississippi delta and we flood often so my long term ambition is to build this jeep out to ultimately accept 35s and be able to pull them reliably.
     
  19. Dec 5, 2021
    Henri Watson

    Henri Watson Member

    Mississippi
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    When I was a kid I just threw 35s on this jeep in stock form - no lift, no spacers, no steering upgrade, stock 27 up front.. you can imagine how that went. Now I want to see if I can do it the right way.
     
  20. Dec 5, 2021
    Wmi68CJ5

    Wmi68CJ5 Let the Sun Shine! 2020 Sponsor

    Twin Lake MI
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    It’s a lot of work to narrow a 44. I did both sides to match the stock width +2”. I did the ford hubs and CJ disks with the stock Chevy style calipers. It all bolted together. The hardest part was grinding the c’s off cutting the tubes after many measurements and then getting them back on and setting caster and driveshaft angle. With new gears, wheel bearings rotors calipers the donor axle and moshers cost to cut and respline I had probably 500 into it 20 years ago. I can’t really answer if it was worth it or not. I know it hasnt broken yet. I’ve run 35s but the turn radius sucked so I’m down to 33’s
     
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