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Notes/Pics from Dana 35 to Dana 44 MJ swap


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Some pics for you. 

 

Over the past 2-3 weeks, I've been slowly prepping my newly acquired Dana 44 to install in my 89 MJ.  All new seals, a good scrubbing and freshly coated with Chassis Saver.  Yesterday, I got her mounted under the truck but not completely installed.  I still have to secure the leaf plates/brackets, run brake line, etc.  It was an exercise in patience and persistance doing this alone with no help.

 

So a few Months ago I knew I had an issue.  I was getting some noticable whine from the diff.  A short time later, I happened to had been under the truck and looked at the inside surface of the driver's side rear tire and noticed oil had been seeping and shooting out along the tire's sidewall.  Putting two and two together, I check the diff fluid level and confirmed that it was significantly low.  I refilled it to limp along till I found a new axle, but the axle noise did not go away.  I knew I was on borrowed time and I had no intention of putting time and money into the D35.  

 

Now that I got a chance to remove the D35, here's confirmation that it was in fact a bad axle seal:

1.jpg.f1e7323c193df9c3667c3b6e214f27d8.jpg 

 

I did get the leaf spring plates along with my MJ Dana 44 purchase.  There were some questions from the forum on whether the plates from this early design were the same on D44s as D35s.  At least from my 1989 D35 and my new D44 axle from a 1990 MJ, they appear to be the same, with same diameter holes.  I had coated the ones from the D44 with Chassis Saver and replaced the shock stud with a kit I bought at Quatratec.  

3.jpg.812d82745be4a8e72bfa69769bdfad5c.jpg 

 

Since the brackets were ambidextrous, I just cut off my old mounting studs and used the existing hole on the opposite sides to install the new stud kit.  I did have to drill the hole out a bit, however.

6.jpg.59481c60901e0c0edbbf7a3be1a89941.jpg

 

I bought my axle U-bolts from Barnes 4X4--and why not spread a little remaining Chassis Saver onto the new U-bolts.  The pic doesn't show it very well, but these 5/8" x 2-3/4" bolts are significantly beefier than the ones that were installed on my D35.  Of course, once installed I will cut to length.  This brings up another item discussed in the forum.  Are D35s and D44s the same axle tube diameter?  Mine were not:  D44= 2-3/4"  D35= 2-1/2"

5.jpg.57534523245bb33684c3e930723739b0.jpg

 

I didn't get any pics, but another difference between the two axles were the leaf spring pin holes in the axle perches.  I think I recall the D35 holes were 1/2" diameter and the D44 holes were 5/8" and were a bit deeper too.  Installing the old pin into the larger hole of the D44 would likely create too much opportunity for movement, 

 

I solved this by heading to ACE Hardware and buying two Galvinized carriage bolts (I think they were 1/4" shaft), two nuts, and 2 nylon locking nuts.  I ran the galvanized nuts up to the head of the bolt.  I then ground a bit of the head to fit into the 5/8" axle perch hole.  It didn't take much.  I then clamped the leafs together, removed the old pins and installed my new ones, securing with the nylon locking nuts.  Seemed to have worked great.

 

I am still running Spring Under Axle (SUA) with the D44.  It was interesting to figure out a way to lift it all up to reinstall the rear leaf bolt but I finally nailed it.  I got a bit creative.

4.jpg.41812e2519ad0ce86017e29f723ad7a7.jpg

 

...but finally got her lifted in position and rebolted in the springs.

2.jpg.56ec4b920e6d53e76f7fce8277e57921.jpg

 

I do have to drill out my final brackets of the 2-piece leaf plates/bracket assembly.  Those 5/8" U-bolts are too snug of a fit.  Plus, these final brakets (on both the D35 and D44) are very slightly warped from the previous torquing.  The U-bolts did fit fine through the Upper brackets however.  

 

So that's how she's sitting this morning.  I'm hoping to have her up and running today.  I hope this helps answer some questions concerns for those contemplating doing this swap.  

 

I'll update as I progress.

 

   

1.jpg

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stop everything.  right now.  go back to the store and buy grade 8 cap head bolts.  right now.  do it.  carriage bolts are not made to the same sheer strengths (maybe grade 3?).  I would rather have slop in the axle hole, than snap off the bolt head.  :( 

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9 minutes ago, Pete M said:

stop everything.  right now.  go back to the store and buy grade 8 cap head bolts.  right now.  do it.  carriage bolts are not made to the same sheer strengths (maybe grade 3?).  I would rather have slop in the axle hole, than snap off the bolt head.  :( 

Oh hell.  Really.  

 

I just assumed there wasn't too much stress on those pins after the springs assembly is all cinched up by the U-bolts and in place.  I know those pins I had removed were severely corroded and looked pretty bad.

 

Thanks for catching that, Pete.

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Ok, so thanks to Pete I have better, more appropriate pins in there now.  I learn something from guys like you nearly every time I log in to comancheclub.    

 

It is tricky to find a bolt shaft that'll fit the existing spring holes, and a head that'll fit the larger spring perch hole.  So since ACE Hardware had only two types of grade 8 bolt heads, I found this flanged bolt with the flange that was slightly over 5/8" diameter.

 

So what I did was buy two flanged nuts to fit it, drilled out the threads and slid it inverted over the shaft up against the head of the bolt.  I then tack welded to hold it in place and slightly ground to fit the spring perch holes.  Chech out the original pins that were in there.  Pretty ate up with corrosion.

 

1.jpg.7c9591aa3e8b68e84f52be05f43601a7.jpg

 

The reason I double-headed the bolts was to give them a bit more surface area and thus perhaps strength.  I shot some paint, and got them installed with grade 8 nylon lock nuts.

 

2.jpg.a2b192782c9ff55dd6f4af92d0bddedb.jpg

 

Thank you Pete.  I feel a lot better about this now.

 

So here's another issue I discovered with that shock stud kit I used.  See anything odd here?

3.jpg.013b416ff84a932521d198f866eddb3b.jpg

 

Yea.  No room to socket-tighten my U-bolt nuts.  Actually, there no room to even rotate either bolt.  So to make this happen, I had to remove the shock stud kit that I had proudly installed a couple of weeks ago then install my U-bolts and torque them.  I then had to install the shock stud again.  What kind of sucks about this is that I was planning on retorquing all U-bolts after a day or two of driving.  To do this now, I'll have to pull the shock from the shock stud again then reinstall after the torque.  I'm less happy with that extra labor.

 

My Dana 44 U-bolts are larger and beefier than what was on my D35, but still I can't see these kits clearing U-bolts of either size.  Be aware of that fellas if you decide to buy that stud replacement kit.  

 

So today I am at a standstill.  Axle is mounted.  Fluids pumped in.  Copper-Nickel brake line ran.  Brakes bled and wheels on.   But my driveshaft will not fit.  I was kind of hoping that I would not need to shorten it.  I measured and I need exactly one-inch removed.  So I know of two shops nearby that can do the job.  I'll have to wait till Monday to make some calls.

 

Anyone have any idea of what driveshops charge for this?

 

 

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I found the shop that shortened mine by typing "4x4 shop" into google maps.  found there's a place just a couple miles away that I had no idea existed. :D   it cost me $30 but that doesn't seem to be typical.

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12 hours ago, Pete M said:

stop everything.  right now.  go back to the store and buy grade 8 cap head bolts.  right now.  do it.  carriage bolts are not made to the same sheer strengths (maybe grade 3?).  I would rather have slop in the axle hole, than snap off the bolt head.  :( 

 

^^^ This. That "carriage bolts" just jumped off the page at me when I read it.

And I'm pretty sure 1/4" is too small. Check the size of the holes in the springs -- I think they're either 5/16" or 3/8".

 

Factory MJ U-bolts are 14mm. Factory XJ U-bolts are 12mm. 14mm is approximately 0.55118". A 9/16" is 0.5625". Those 5/8" U-bolts are serious overkill.

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9 hours ago, Eagle said:

 

^^^ This. That "carriage bolts" just jumped off the page at me when I read it.

And I'm pretty sure 1/4" is too small. Check the size of the holes in the springs -- I think they're either 5/16" or 3/8"

 

Yea, they were 5/16" carriage bolts.  I couldn't remember exactly at the time I originally wrote this thread and stated I "thought" I used 1/4".  Regardless, I did replace with flanged head 5/16" Grade 8 bolts.  They seemed to be a good fit for the holes in my spring, as I did have to slightly tap them in place.  

 

9 hours ago, Eagle said:

Factory MJ U-bolts are 14mm. Factory XJ U-bolts are 12mm.

 

Regardless of the axle used--Dana 35, AMC 20, Dana 44, metric ton opton?  

 

9 hours ago, Eagle said:

Those 5/8" U-bolts are serious overkill.

 

I bought mine from Barnes 4X4, marketed specifically for Dana 44.  The only "mod" I had to do was to marginally elongate some bolt holes on the secondary "hat" cap of the leaf plate assembly.  The U-bolts were a tighter fit there than on the primary leaf plate  And honestly I'm thinking this was also due to distortion of these plates having been previous torqued down.  The U-bolts were a tighter fit there than on the primary leaf plate.

 

Overkill?  Maybe if you don't use "inappropriate" in your definition.  I feel the 5/8 X 2-3/4 was not an inappropriate fit.  Barnes 4x4 price was not at a particularly higher cost than other aftermarket sellers of U-bolts.  I also like how the washers provided were massively thick as were the nuts.  The nuts specifically were longer than standard, about the length of 2 or 3 total.  I kinda dig overkill if there appears to be no significant disadvantage.  

 

By the way, here's some stuff Barnes put on their website.  I had read discussions regarding "torque to yield", "rolled threads" "alloy grade" and such on this forum.  Reading this paragraph was what sold me on them.  Most other aftermarket U-bolt suppliers didn't give much detail on their product:

 

Barnes 4wd u-bolts are anything but standard! This u bolt measures 5/8" X 2 3/4" X 10" and are a great fit for Dana 44 axles. The biggest misconception with U-bolts is that they are all the same; this could not be farther from the truth. We feel that U-Bolts are the most important component of a leaf spring suspension and this is why we are so meticulous about the specifications of our U-bolts. Our U-bolts are made from a cold drawn 1541 alloy that is stress relieved. This produces an alloy that has grade 8 strength but not grade 8 hardness. The threads on our U-bolts are 5/8"-18 fine threads and are manufactured with a smooth rolled thread. The mating Hi-Nuts are hardened as well as the thick washers and are manufactured with sharp cut threads. When a U-Bolt is tightened the U-Bolt threads stretch as they mate with the Hi-Nuts. This insures proper tightness of the fastener is maintained. This stretching is not visible but a U-bolt should never be reused because removing the tall nut will cross thread the U-Bolt. Our U-bolts bolts have a torque spec of 150 foot pounds and should never be tightened with an impact gun.

 

I sure appreciate all the guidance and knowledge I get from the forum.  It is my hope that perhaps others can learn a bit from my experience.  And my mistakes!

 

I'll call around and get some prices on shortening my driveshaft tomorrow and I'll post results.  I really need to choose someone than can turn that sucker around quick.  My wife and I don't have a 3rd backup car.    

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Great info so far.

Personally, I would have sourced proper center pins even if it meant mail ordering them and waiting on shipping.  But that's been covered, I won't beat it to death.

 

I used Barnes u-bolts on my CJ's front D44.  5/8 u-bolts are full size 3/4 ton truck territory.  Overkill, but in a good way.  I'll be using them in the rear of the CJ eventually.

 

I've seen drivehshaft work vary widely in price.  I had one shortened for a K5 Blazer in 1987 for $37.  Even in those ancient times, I was surprised at how inexpensive it was.  Since them I've had several other done, at different price points.  Shop around, if your local area has options, check with all of them.

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2 hours ago, coolwind57 said:

I bought mine from Barnes 4X4, marketed specifically for Dana 44.  The only "mod" I had to do was to marginally elongate some bolt holes on the secondary "hat" cap of the leaf plate assembly.  The U-bolts were a tighter fit there than on the primary leaf plate  And honestly I'm thinking this was also due to distortion of these plates having been previous torqued down.  The U-bolts were a tighter fit there than on the primary leaf plate.

 

Overkill?  Maybe if you don't use "inappropriate" in your definition.  I feel the 5/8 X 2-3/4 was not an inappropriate fit.  Barnes 4x4 price was not at a particularly higher cost than other aftermarket sellers of U-bolts.  I also like how the washers provided were massively thick as were the nuts.  The nuts specifically were longer than standard, about the length of 2 or 3 total.  I kinda dig overkill if there appears to be no significant disadvantage. 

 

I get my U-bolts custom made from a commercial truck spring shop. They'll make them in any size I want (but SAE/imperial sizes, not metric). They all have thick washers and double-length nuts.

 

I have to disagree with you on the appropriateness of the 5/8" U-bolts. Your truck isn't any heavier now than it was before you swapped the axle. If the factory thought 14mm was adequate for a pickup rated to carry a full ton, then a 9/16" U-bolt (which is already larger than a 14mm) would certainly be adequate for just about anything. What makes the 5/8" inappropriate IMHO is that you had to drill out the holes in the reinforcing plates. That means anyone wanting to replace the U-bolts with the correct 14mm U-bolts in the future would have a sloppy fit. Not the end of the world, but not right, either.

 

I'm all in favor of strengthening beyond factory specs, but I'm not in favor of going farther than necessary, and generating other (otherwise unnecessary) modifications in the process.

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29 minutes ago, Eagle said:

 

I get my U-bolts custom made from a commercial truck spring shop. They'll make them in any size I want (but SAE/imperial sizes, not metric). They all have thick washers and double-length nuts.

 

I have to disagree with you on the appropriateness of the 5/8" U-bolts. Your truck isn't any heavier now than it was before you swapped the axle. If the factory thought 14mm was adequate for a pickup rated to carry a full ton, then a 9/16" U-bolt (which is already larger than a 14mm) would certainly be adequate for just about anything. What makes the 5/8" inappropriate IMHO is that you had to drill out the holes in the reinforcing plates. That means anyone wanting to replace the U-bolts with the correct 14mm U-bolts in the future would have a sloppy fit. Not the end of the world, but not right, either.

 

I'm all in favor of strengthening beyond factory specs, but I'm not in favor of going farther than necessary, and generating other (otherwise unnecessary) modifications in the process.

That's a fair point.  I'll tell a story, that I think I have related on CC before, for a different point of view.

 

When I swapped the J10 D44 (narrowed) into my CJ, I reused the CJ spring plates, and used new 1/2" u-bolts (which a CJ uses from factory).  I noticed that even at factory torque specs, the stock CJ spring plates were deforming as I tightened the u-bolts (w/ a torque wrench).  Months later, I would get a "clicking & popping" sound from the front driver side when turning, especially when "dry turning" (turning the steering wheel when not moving).  I determined it was coming from the leaf spring moving on the axle spring pad and mounting plate.  I re-torqued the bolts, which helped, but it soon came back.  Then, I did some other work requiring the u-bolts to be loosened, so I decided to replace them with new.  I got the Barnes 5/8 u-bolts and matching 3/8" thick spring plates.  The plates do NOT deform, even under the MUCH higher torque spec of the 5/8" bolts.  Permanently cured my problem, even after removing/reinstalling again, for other work (I know, not recommended).  I guess my point is, I don't agree that the factory stuff is necessarily sufficient.  Maybe barely.  The fact that I, and Coolwind57, have found factory MJ D44 spring plates deformed backs that opinion up, at least I think so.  I would even speculate that going to 5/8" u-bolts, might require going to a stronger (thicker) custom spring plate, which are readily available, except for the shock mount being built into it.  If they can't stand up to factory 14mm torque specs, I'd be concerned with the 5/8" torque specs.

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2 hours ago, schardein said:

The fact that I, and Coolwind57, have found factory MJ D44 spring plates deformed backs that opinion up, at least I think so.

 

3 hours ago, Eagle said:

I get my U-bolts custom made from a commercial truck spring shop. They'll make them in any size I want (but SAE/imperial sizes, not metric). They all have thick washers and double-length nuts.

 

I have to disagree with you on the appropriateness of the 5/8" U-bolts. Your truck isn't any heavier now than it was before you swapped the axle. If the factory thought 14mm was adequate for a pickup rated to carry a full ton, then a 9/16" U-bolt (which is already larger than a 14mm) would certainly be adequate for just about anything. What makes the 5/8" inappropriate IMHO is that you had to drill out the holes in the reinforcing plates. That means anyone wanting to replace the U-bolts with the correct 14mm U-bolts in the future would have a sloppy fit. Not the end of the world, but not right, either.

 

It would be interesting to see if the factory torque specs were a bit too high for the design of the early 2-piece spring plates.  Or they were just under designed. 

 

Generally, a 9/16" U-bolt should require an even greater torque than 14mm, depending on the alloy and manufacturer perhaps.  Since you do custom-made U-bolts, Eagle do you also replace your spring plates as standard practice?  I'm hearing that most people are commenting on the forum that theirs are slightly deformed, just like schardein and I.  In fact, I now have two sets:  One from the D44 purchase and the other set from the D35 axle.  Both show signs of deformity equally.  

 

As for drilling out the reinforcing plates, yep I did.  Sort of.  I used a deburring tip on a hand drill to slightly elongate the hole towards their center--towards the pairing end of the U-bolt.  There isn't a lot of material there towards the outer edges of the plates, so good thing I didnt need to go in that direction. It was minor, but I hated the thought of forcing those nice new U-bolts through and boogering anything up.  Those massive washers helped put my mind at ease with the thought of removing some minor material.  

 

Is it the '91+ models with the single piece design?  They're shaped different.  I wonder if the new design just more heavily relies on mass over design.  Wonder if they changed torque specs over the years.  Anyone hearing of new 1-piece design distortion?  Has torque values changed over the run?  I'm still curious if Jeep used the 14mm U-bolt regardless of the axle (amc20, Dana 35/44, & metric ton springs) throughout their run.

 

Honestly the thought of replacing the entire spring plate assembly didn't even enter my mind.  Reading the forum, a lot of people here reuse theirs.  I suppose I figured that as standard MJ-owner practice.  Now that I've taken the time to eyeball some aftermarket spring plate options, I am a bit intreagued.  My desire for nice shiny new ones does not override the labor of removing my old ones now that I've got her all together.  I'm comfortable with what I done above.  My truck rarely goes off-road.  I rarely haul anything other than trash and maybe a load or two of firewood each year.  I have a feeling that I'm not going to be reporing a problem here for several years.

 

Really, I wasn't out shopping specifically for 5/8" U-bolts.  I was shopping for Dana 44 U-bolts and found them at Barnes and like what they were saying on their website.  

 

.  

 

 

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8 hours ago, coolwind57 said:

 

Generally, a 9/16" U-bolt should require an even greater torque than 14mm, depending on the alloy and manufacturer perhaps.  Since you do custom-made U-bolts, Eagle do you also replace your spring plates as standard practice?  I'm hearing that most people are commenting on the forum that theirs are slightly deformed, just like schardein and I.  In fact, I now have two sets:  One from the D44 purchase and the other set from the D35 axle.  Both show signs of deformity equally.  

 

 

Nope. I haven't noticed any deformity, but I wasn't looking for it. If it was there, it was very minor.

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update: 

 

I've got two quotes for shortening my driveshaft this morning, both saying they can do it by COB today.  One quoted at $150, the other at $97.00.  This is providing that no additional parts or odd issues arise.

 

Heading there now.

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On 4/12/2020 at 10:34 AM, schardein said:

I had one shortened for a K5 Blazer in 1987 for $37.

Wow.  Now tripled, at least in my area.  I clocked out at $110 total today.

 

So here's a pic of my newly shortened driveshaft.  They went ahead and replaced the front U-joint, as they had to remove the old one to do the work.  That's their standard practice it seems and it only cost me like $11 so I didn't sweat it.  Kind of like removing bearings, they automatically replace U-joints if they remove them as well.  My rear 

 

It is my assumption that they chopped the front end and not the trailing end of the shaft to shorten the requested 1".  The welds look great.

 

They went the extra mile and smoothed up my slip yoke seal surface and shot some black paint on the driveshaft.  Not really much to see with my pics below.  I wish I had a "before" pic.  I did notice that to balance, they must have had to remove one of the two balance weights that used to be on at the D44 end of the shaft.

 

Anxious to get home from work to install and see where I am on this project.  Man, I'm hoping I'll have her back on the road tonight.

driveshaf2.jpg.753456d3380963dca673d3af8125f3f7.jpg

 

driveshaft.jpg.00ebb1226d7e144fd67b989d270c03b3.jpg

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Ok done.  All together and took her for a spin.  No differential whining anymore.  All smooth.  Figure 8s in the local church parking lot and my Limited Slip gave me no chatter. My brakes still need a bit of adjusting/bleeding.  I want to still run some wire loom over my new brake lines. 

 

My drums had been coated silver Chassis Saver and it does not look good when viewed from the side through my turbine wheels, but I'll take my tires off tomorrow and shoot some black spray balm on them.  I'll remount my spare tire too, which will mostly block my axle altogether but that's fine.    

 

I'm pretty pumped up.  Nothing exploded apart on the test run!  Yea!  First full drive to work tomorrow morning.

 

937956026_dana44.jpg.391865c11a51677018324a80be12375b.jpg

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1 hour ago, coolwind57 said:

I want to still run some wire loom over my new brake lines.

Do you mean gravel guard? IMO that would be better than plastic loom. But rather challenging to get on if you have terminated the ends on your brake line. Not impossible, but challenging. 

 

Otherwise, well done! Everything in the thread looks good.

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2 hours ago, JustEmptyEveryPocket said:

Do you mean gravel guard? IMO that would be better than plastic loom. But rather challenging to get on if you have terminated the ends on your brake line. Not impossible, but challenging. 

 

Otherwise, well done! Everything in the thread looks good.

 

I did see the spiral metal stuff for sale, but I used factory double flared ends.  And I read that the stuff is really designed for non-preflared tubing.  

 

I figured the plastic loom would be cheaper, easier and no issues with any possible dissimilar metal corrosion if that would even be a concern.    

 

By the way, one thing I failed to mention:  I did not use any friction modifier.  I thought I'd start off with Mobile 1 (75w90) and do some figure 8 before adding anything.  So far, looks like I'll be ok.  Mobile 1 was on sale, 2 for $10 and states that it already includes LSD additive.  

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10 hours ago, coolwind57 said:

 

By the way, one thing I failed to mention:  I did not use any friction modifier.  I thought I'd start off with Mobile 1 (75w90) and do some figure 8 before adding anything.  So far, looks like I'll be ok.  Mobile 1 was on sale, 2 for $10 and states that it already includes LSD additive.  

 

That's good to know. I thought only Redline had the friction modifier.

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On 4/12/2020 at 10:34 AM, schardein said:

Personally, I would have sourced proper center pins even if it meant mail ordering them and waiting on shipping.  But that's been covered, I won't beat it to death.

 

i hear you on this, schardein.  My situation was a little less-than ideal and i kind of had to make things happen in short order.  I'll explain:

 

I had no idea of what size leaf center pins I had or needed.  Hell, prior to reading about the swap here I didn't even know my leafs had pins.  Because my wife and I have no backup vehicle, I had one weekend to rip that D35 out and make the D44 happen in time for the upcoming workweek.  i knew what size head I needed for the D44 but that's it.  ...no clue what size the D35 perch hole was or what diameter bolt/pin shaft I had prior to my target swap weekend.  I could not pre-order anything not knowing what I'd actually require, if anything.  

 

Doing what I did may be an option for those whom find themselves in less than ideal knowledge levels AND less than ideal time situations, let's put it that way.  

 

How's your D44 project coming along?

 

   

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15 minutes ago, coolwind57 said:

 

i hear you on this, schardein.  My situation was a little less-than ideal and i kind of had to make things happen in short order.  I'll explain:

 

I had no idea of what size leaf center pins I had or needed.  Hell, prior to reading about the swap here I didn't even know my leafs had pins.  Because my wife and I have no backup vehicle, I had one weekend to rip that D35 out and make the D44 happen in time for the upcoming workweek.  i knew what size head I needed for the D44 but that's it.  ...no clue what size the D35 perch hole was or what diameter bolt/pin shaft I had prior to my target swap weekend.  I could not pre-order anything not knowing what I'd actually require, if anything.  

 

Doing what I did may be an option for those whom find themselves in less than ideal knowledge levels AND less than ideal time situations, let's put it that way.  

 

How's your D44 project coming along?

 

   

I get it.  I remember the days of repairing my only vehicle.  It can be stressful.  Luckily, I have backup vehicles now which is nice.

 

The MJ D44 build is basically on hold for a bit while I finalize some things on my CJ7 in prep for four wheeling trips this summer, and prepping for a friend who is coming to visit for a few days, bringing his LJ that needs some work done.  I've got all the parts, next step is installing the new ring & pinion and want to be sure I have plenty of time to commit to that, so I don't have to stop in the middle.

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