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post #1 of (permalink) Old 07-18-2006, 11:53 AM Thread Starter
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Yet another HP D44 front swap

I've been keeping a thread going on JA about my D44 swap. I thought some of you might like to see how it is progressing.

As some of you may know, I had a bad, bad day with my Jeep back in the middle of April. To say that I broke is to say that the Pacific is a nice little pool of water. At any rate, I did some soul searching, and decided to completely re-think my front end. With that in mind, I decided to convert the front to a full-width HP Dana 44. Conveniently, we had one just sitting around gathering dust.

Now, this axle had been previously started as an Early Bronco build, and was already setup with nice new 1/2" tubes, new Ford Factory wedges, etc. etc. yada yada yada. It is nice. However, if I wanted to keep my existing short arm suspension, I would have had to fab all of the TJ bracketry onto the axle.

I decided that the KISS principle was in effect, and so I chose to convert the front of the Jeep to an Early Bronco-style radius arm setup using the existing Ford wedges on the axle. With this in mind, I bought a set of extended Early Bronco radius arms off Ebay. I also bought a used ARB, which turned out to be a huge mistake (it was BROKEN!!!!).

Here's some pics for all you pic-hungry peeps:

oooohhhhhh - Purty.....(and yes, I know it's upside down)



More bling (thanks to Scott at Rockbuggy Supply for the conversion spacers!!!):



The world's ugliest aluminum wheels...welcome back to the 80's!!! But hey...for $50 I could not say no...anybody want the 31's that are on them? You get them taken off the wheels, and they're yours. One is almost new, 2 are about 50%, and one is no good.



How it sat back in June when I started this jackstand odyssey:



And my broken ARB [img]/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/mad.gif[/img]

Broken cross-shaft:



Wasted diff case (the broken pin wobbled out the hole):



ARB resolution, short version:

After much hassle, I got half my money back from the guy who sold it to me and then I sold it for the other half. As it turned out, even after I fixed the locker, it would up being for the wrong application, so I couldn't use it anyway.

More coming...
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post #2 of (permalink) Old 07-18-2006, 11:56 AM Thread Starter
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Re: Yet another HP D44 front swap

More progress on the Jonco over the July 4th weekend:



They sure look good, but boy are they wide. That's what I need, though. But, with the 15x8's, I think I really won't be THAT much wider than stock (at least, in the rear). Keep in mind the 31's are getting swapped out for my Krawlers (and those 31's are available, free of charge, to anyone who wants them and is willing to come pick them up...I'm gonna give 'em to the tire dealer otherwise):



Next I started cutting the lca and track bar brackets off the frame. That seems like such an innocent statement, but cutting that stuff off the frame is a PITA. I was ready to pull out the torch for the track bar bracket, but I'm leery of torching stuff off the frame...then I remembered I had a sawzall....







I also rebuilt my ARB and stripped the d-44 housing down.







I really didn't get anywhere near as much done this weekend as I wanted to, but at least I got something done. I was going to do more today, but I wound up working instead. Gotta pay those Jeep parts bills...
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post #3 of (permalink) Old 07-18-2006, 12:03 PM Thread Starter
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Re: Yet another HP D44 front swap

Well, after the whole ARB debacle, a buddy of mine offered up his LockRight, and so I used that instead. It's nowhere near as sexy as the ARB was gonna be, but it'll do just fine. So, over the weekend of 7/8 I got the gears setup. The pattern is really nice. These will be good for quite a while.

This got me to the point where I could start fabbing the brackets and mocking everything in place. I had just lost my job, and was looking forward to having some time off to finish this pig. With that in mind, I WAS going to do that over the following week, but before I could even sit down to enjoy my first post-employment beer, I got a better new job that has me travelling two weeks out of the month. So it had to wait until this past weekend. Darn the bad luck.... [img]/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/grin.gif[/img]



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post #4 of (permalink) Old 07-18-2006, 12:05 PM Thread Starter
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Re: Yet another HP D44 front swap

I got a little bit done on Saturday. Not a lot, as the heat finally chased me from my garage. But, the tires are switched over to the new wheels, and they look good.

All loaded up:



3 hours and more money than I wanted to spend later:



The wheels look WAY better with the Krawlers on them. Since I was switching everything around, I realized that I can get a second life out of my sidewalls by putting what was previously the inner wall on the outside this time. They look brand new again! Woohoo!
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post #5 of (permalink) Old 07-18-2006, 12:08 PM Thread Starter
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Re: Yet another HP D44 front swap

Which brings me up to date. Yesterday we got a LOT done. I know Chris wanted to have the axle actually fabbed in by tonight, but I think we made awesome progress.

The first thing we needed to do was get the passenger side LCA bracket off the frame. I could tell that Chris was happy to be back fabricating after 6 months in Japan:



Then we mocked the axle in place and bolted on the radius arms.



Next we had to figure out how to actually mount the radius arms to the frame. We looked around the garage and found a couple of used bearing races that had the exact correct inside diameter for the RA bushings. After looking around a little more, we found that they would fit perfectly into some 2" receiver tube, so we welded them up. It worked better than we had any right to expect.











Once we figured out how to mount the radius arms to the bushings, we found that we needed the bracket to have a little bit of drop, and it had to angle out from the frame. We decided to take a piece of rectangular box tube, which just happened to hold the RA bracket perfectly. We can weld the tube onto the frame at any angle we want, and then we can weld the bracket in the tube at any angle we want. Quick, clean and simple.





Next up:

Track bar and bracket. I'm very excited!
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post #6 of (permalink) Old 07-24-2006, 03:20 PM Thread Starter
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Re: Yet another HP D44 front swap

<whew> Got my internet back, FINALLY. It's been down for 2 days. What a pita.

Well, as everyone knows by now, this was pretty much the hottest weekend on record for the Temecula Valley (and everywhere else in Southern California, for that matter). What do you do on a hot weekend? Whip out the welder and grinders, of course.

On Friday we worked pretty hard and got the radius arm brackets mounted on the frame, and then got the arms bolted up to the axle. The axle is now physically attached to the Jeep. That was a momentous event.





That's about all we got done on Friday, but by Saturday morning we were right back at it. This was figure out the track bar day, and boy did we have a good time. Yes, it was stupid hot, but that didn't matter.

A couple weeks ago, Scotty turned me on to a company called Ballistic Fabrication. They make all kinds of things, including a ridiculously wide array of all kinds of brackets, all at exceptionally reasonable prices. I decided to try out their 6" riser axle track bar mount. It worked AWESOME.







Then we focused on the frame bracket. This one we fabbed up ourselves, and it still needs some attention. The basic concept is ok, but it needs WAY more strength. We'll be working on that this week. In this view it is only tacked into place, but we have since fully welded it on the frame.



After we got the track bar mounts figured out, we then focused on making a track bar. I had some old Super Duty take-offs left over from back when I used to have my shop, but we wanted to have an adjustable track bar so we could really dial in the axle. So, we looked around and found the old RE track bar that Chris folded in half on Jack about a year ago. Why he kept it around, I don't know, but it came in handy.

So, we cut the end off the RE trackbar with the threaded insert and heim and welded it to the end of the Super Duty track bar. It worked way better than we had any right to expect. It helps that the Super Duty takes a ginormous bolt. The end result is that we have a nice home-built adjustable track bar.[8D]







Once we had the track bar mostly figured out, we took a look at the axle and realized that we had cheated it forward about 3 inches (with a corresponding increase in wheelbase...woohoo!). Unfortunately, my nice home-built super heavy duty driveshaft was suddenly too short. Luckily, Chris still had some of the .288 DOM tube left over from the last driveshaft build. It turned out to be exactly enough. So we cut off the old tube and welded in the new one. It should easily be just as strong.





And that's about all we did over the weekend. On Sunday I ordered the new brakes and got some odds and ends, but we decided to take a break from the heat and went to see Monster House instead (fun flick...not great like Shrek or The Incredibles, but still lots of fun). We'll be back at it next weekend, and it should be drivable by Sunday, hopefully. We'll see...
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post #7 of (permalink) Old 07-31-2006, 09:16 PM Thread Starter
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Re: Yet another HP D44 front swap

On Saturday we focused on steering. That Hi-Steer arm really rocks, but we found that we couldn't use the drop-pitman arm and had to go back to the stocker. It worked beautifully, and will never hit the diff.





The we mounted the coil buckets and put in the worn out 4" Dick Cepek springs I got from Carl Case (Thanks Carl!!!!):





Then all there was left was to test-fit the tires...boy it it wide...(81" total trackwidth - just about what I thought it would be).





On to Sunday.....
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post #8 of (permalink) Old 07-31-2006, 09:17 PM Thread Starter
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Re: Yet another HP D44 front swap

And then on to Sunday....

ooh - ooh....

What's missing from this picture??



So, we finished up the odds and ends and got the Jeep drivable. It still needs a couple of finishing touches, but essentially the Jeep is ready to wheel. I'm really, really happy.

Ready to pull it out:



Look! It's in the driveway!!!!



Here you can really see how much of an increase in wheelbase I got:



And here it is. I parked it in dirt so the tires could refamiliarize themselves with it.



There are still a couple of minor things to do, but essentially it's DONE. Now for the rear leaf conversion....
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post #9 of (permalink) Old 08-03-2006, 12:07 AM
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Re: Yet another HP D44 front swap

all this rightous fab work we did and not one responce?
oh well.. I'm going to big bear wheelin g.. we'll see how it does in the rocks.
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post #10 of (permalink) Old 08-03-2006, 06:15 AM
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Re: Yet another HP D44 front swap

What's to say? It looks terrific! Except that the radius rod bracket looks like it could hang up pretty easily. I'd put a long gusset behind it so it would slide over the rocks and logs.
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