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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I have a 78 CJ7 narrow trac with trac loc/3.54's and have located a couple of wide trac 2.73 axles from an 82 CJ7 that I could swap in. I would like to know if I could use my 3.54 gears from the narrow trac and what's involved with the front end linkage? The rears look like it would be a straight swap. Can someone point me to a website or impart their wisdom on what's involved with this swap?
 

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There are only a few differences. The rear is identical except for the width. The front uses different calipers but the knuckles are the same. The front also uses five bolt hubs instead of six bolt but I suggest you swap from the knuckle out and keep the six bolt. The tie rod and drag link are longer. I swapped in a widetrac in mine and used from the spindles out from the narrowtrack. I have the widetrack outers in my parts bin with bad wheel bearings.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
I definately want to keep the six bolt, so I will swap from the knuckle out per your suggestion. Since I have never attempted anything like this, is the swap from the 5 bolt to the 6 bolt fairly straight forward?
 

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Dana axles hold decent tolerance. I have swapped gears from one to another w/o problem. Check backlash before. Make sure all parts and spacers go in new housing in same place/order as they were removed from the old. Check backlash after.
I don't know if the AMC axles hold same tolerance, sorry. Seems to me like they would, but I have no experience here.
Otherwise everything that Will said... with one small detail - knuckles are same except caliper mount: '78 has 6 bolt caliper mount while WTs use the 2 bolt caliper mount. Note: I am 99% sure on this... but you will want to check for certain. I think 1980 is year 2 bolt calipers started.
I used '76 spindles out on my WT front to get the 6 bolt locking hubs.

I am corrected. 1979 is the year when 2 bolt caliper mounts started.
Thanks and sorry.
 

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My 79 had a 2 bolt mounted bracket for the caliper mount. The 2 bolt holes it used are the same ones for the widetrack caliper bolts. The narrow and wide calipers are different. If it has 6 bolt caliper brackets, then you will need to swap knuckles too. If it has the 2 bolt, you can leave the knucles on and just transfer your bracket or maybe use the widetrack calipers. I don't know if the wide and narrow calipers are interchangable but I suspect they are.
 
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Drury,

I recently did this swap into the chassis that I'm setting up for my son, and it's nothing to be afraid of. You're going to have some options with brakes. I used the older brakes because your 78 has 11" rear drum brakes vs. the 10" that are used on the 82 axles. This requires changing the backing plate and removing/replacing the rear axle bearings, but it's probably time to replace the bearings anyway. I also drilled and tapped the rear housing top and bottom for zerk fittings to grease the rear bearings. I pull the bottom out and push grease in the top zerk. Instead of forcing grease past the seal into the housing, grease will ooze out from the bottom. While the axle is out, measure and drill between the bearing and the inner seal (can't remember the exact measurement, but it's pretty obvious when you look at it).

Another thing to consider is drilling and tapping the bottom of the hoghead housing (with pipe thread) for a drain plug. This will allow you to change diff lube without pulling the cover and replacing the gasket each time. I also bleed off a little lube when I've been running in water to see what the lube looks like. If it's the very least bit milky, drain it and change the lube. Not worth leaving water in your gear lube.

The front brakes on the 77-78 are large, thicker rotors and the caliper mounts on a ring that bolts over the spindle. I opted to use the older brakes because of the larger size and they are Ford style, where the calipers on the wide track axles are GM style.

One thing that is a problem with the older front calipers is finding banjo bolts. Even 4 Wheel Drive Hardware ONLY offers the newer. smaller diameter banjo bolts.

I will probablyh catch some heat on this, but try switching the gears using the shims from the gears, not the housing (including the pinion shims) and try setting this up in the wide track housing. I have found that about 75% of the time, your ring gear back spacing and pinion depth will be within specs. Seems Dana does a pretty fair job of holding housing tolerances. If this is the case, it's really a piece of cake, if not, oh well... On the AMC, use a new crush collar and pinion nut.

Good Luck. It's not a bad job, just take your time and make sure everything is clean (on the inside!).
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Hoghead,
Great idea about zerks and the diff! Shame you don't live in TX.

I also found a set of 82 waggie axles with more desirable gears. It's a Dana 44 front and AMC HD 20 rear. Can I do the same type of swap? I.E. keeping the older 5 bolt brakes and so on?
 
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Drury,

The front axle from the 82 Waggie will be a problem (if this is for a CJ, can't remember), diff's on the wrong (Ford) side! This will work nicely with a YJ. The rear axle would work just peachy, matter of fact, I've been running a rear HD AMC 20 from an 83 Waggie and a front 44 from a 79 Chero for about 3 years now.

A Waggie HD AMC 20 has axle tubes the size of a 44, factory one piece axles and you can use gears from a CJ AMC 20. The axles are 6 x 5.5" bolt pattern, but that just means you have to carry your own spare tire.

The front 44 for your CJ is up to 1979. 1980 the diff moved to the driver's side. To retain the full width pattern, you'll need to move your front springs outboard on the frame, 2.5" each side. It's not a bad job, but not for the weak at heart. PLan on a shackle reversal at the same time would be my recommendation. This is if it's under a CJ frame. A YJ frame is close to a bolt under, no outboarding.

Hope this helps
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Guy or anyone,
Looks like I'm back to the wide track axles off of the 82CJ7 and doing a gear swap. I have a couple of questions about your post.
A. When you were talking about swapping the 11" drums off of the narrow track onto the wide track, you say I need to use my original back plate and change the bearings. I'm going to drop in a new set of one piece axles that come with a set of bearings. My dumb question is that the bearings shouldn't have any effect on which brackes I use as long as I am using the right backing plate. Correct?
B. Second dumb question...You say that you couldn't find the correct size banjo bolts for the larger size fronts. Couldn't I just reuse my original ones from the narrow track?
C. Is there enough adjustent on my narrow track tie rod and drag link, or do I need to get longer ones?
Dumb questions I know...but an ounce of prevention....
 

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A. First, measure the narrow trac drums and see if they are 11", my 79 drums were 10".

B. Stay with either narrow trac or wide trac brakes. Choose which ever has better rotors.

For wide trac, the caliper bolts on with two sliding bolts to the back of the knuckle. Use rubber lines for a wide trac. (ie, 1984)

For a narrow trac, the caliper bracket bolts on with two bolts and the caliper is retained by a lock you slide in under the caliper. Use rubber lines from a narrow trac. (ie, 1979)

C. You cannot use the narrow trac tie rod or drag link with the wide trac axle.
 

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Great. When you have the one piece axles put together, just substitute the 11" backing plate for the 10" backing plate. Someone that has done one piece axles will have to tell you if it goes on before the bearing or it the bearing will slide through it. I swapped in a dana 44 several years ago and still had the 2 piece axles in the one I took out.
 
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Drury,

Will is giving you correct info also. The backing plates go with the brakes. If you're using 11" brakes, use the 11" backing plates.

I did not stay with the CJ AMC 20, so I'm not sure of the after market one piece axle kits and how the backing plate mounts with them.

Yes, use the banjo bolts from the early brakes if you use the larger early brakes (front).

You will need the wide track tie rod and drag link with a wide track front axle.

One other poiint to keep in mind. If you opt for the larger front and rear brakes, sooner or later you'll need a master cylinder. The 1979+ CJ master cylinder uses a 1" bore (smaller brakes) and the 1977-78 CJ master cylinder uses a 1 1/16" bore master cylinder.
 
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