Join Date: May 2013
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Axle swap in a 78cj5
I have a 78 cj5, l6, t18 tranny (t18-1b is the stamp). I haven't confirmed the transfer case. AMC 20 rear, dana 30 front.
I live in the flat lands of South Dakota, so my main and practically only wheeling is mud and dirt hills, although rocks do tend to stick up in pastures. 90%+ of my rigs time is daily driving. I run 33" tires but 35s or 37s may be in my future depending on how this goes.
I rebuilt my AMC 20 at 16, and well... didn't know enough. It works nicely but because the lash wasn't set correctly my pinion seal leaks. It has solid 1 piece axles (if I remember right I used alloy usa). I also might have a plan for this axle in something else.
The dana 30 front is more or less shelled from when I limped around in 4x4 when the rear had 2 piece axles that failed. At least it will need a new ring/pinion/rebuild kit.
The leaf springs also go under the axles, and the PO used a rancho add a leaf and added...many... leafs. My suspension is practically solid, and to add to that the bottom leaf sticks straight out and they love to carry weeds/bash into rocks.
I'm looking into full length axles. I want this because following another vehicle is pretty hard with the shorter axles as I'm bouncing from wheel trail to wheel trail. This is mostly an issue when going through snow. I also would like to go wider to give me a more stable stance. I currently have 6" fender flairs and I'd like to tuck the wheels between them (73" edge to edge...this would include wheels/tires installed).
My current springs that sit on top of the added leafs are in bad shape (bent, cracked, broken, military wraps coming undone). I don't want to sit up higher than needed to fit the 33/35 inch tires, I also want to go SOA. I'm assuming just about any spring is going to be more comfortable than my current set-up but it would be ideal to get the best ride quality springs.
Getting to it now,
What I want (order of importance):
A more comfortable ride.
SOA and high steer. See "rocks sticking up out of pasture"
Wider axles that when wheels/tires are mounted, measure 73" from the outside of one tire to the outside of the other. I'm sure rim backspacing gives us a little play here. 12.5 or 13.5" wide tires are the most I run.
Stronger axles. I plan on getting lockers front/rear at some point, and the most power I'd give them is a mild 350...but keeping the i6 for now.
What I've researched:
Waggy springs/axles or dana 60s from a rare gem of a ford.
I was pretty set on the dana 60 option but am now leaning towards dana 44s as I don't really beat my axles up rock climbing, and the i6 isn't dumping loads of power. I also read the dana 60s weigh a ton, and the 44s have more ground clearance?
I went to school for mechanical engineering and was a welder for a couple years, as well as hobby welding for most of my life, so I'm not too bad off here. There are loads of junkyards/salvage yards in the area and axles probably won't cost me much due to a low demand.
What's my best option here? Buy a ?year waggy and rob parts?
I appreciate your response!