Chevy solid axle swap questions

Discussion in 'Steering, Suspension and Wheels' started by john65td, Nov 19, 2010.

  1. john65td

    john65td Addicted to boost

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    I am planing on doing a solid axle swap on my truck. 1995 chevy 6-lug 3/4 ton. i would like to convert it to a 8 lug front and rear with 1 ton supension. the cummins is reaking havic on the ifs. off road direct has a nice kit i plan to use but what i would like from you guys is axle recommendations. what axles and the year trucks they can be found in? i know it has to be driver side drop axles, but after that in unsure. off road direct mentioned ford axle with chevy front springs. i just wanna know so i can start gathering up parts. all info is really appericated thanks in advance.
     
  2. BigBlueChevy

    BigBlueChevy Compression Ignition Addict

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    Solid axle swaps in a Chevy... MMMMMM my favorite :D Well my friend me being sick means I actually have time to sit here and put down everything all at once.

    1)Axle choice - Dana 60 or Dana 44HD?
    2)Suspension type - Linked or Leaf spring?
    3)New or used Axle?
    4)Aftermarket - Sticking Stock or bombing that too?
    5)Leveling out the rear - How to get the "ass end up" now that the front sits higher
    6)Misc. Items - Things such as brake operations, keeping or eliminating ABS, driveshafts, ect.


    1)What axle are you planning on using? The grand pubah of Front axles sought after was made in 77.5 - 79 for the Ford F250 and F350 series trucks. This is a High Pinion, Kingpin Dana 60 that everybody and there brother wants to find. Mainly because for those interested in a linked suspension, the "short side" axle tube is longer than most other years, allowing room for the link brackets and coil towers. But for what you sound like you want(leaf spring), this axle has a 34" spring pad width. What does this mean for you? Your trucks front frame rails are spaced 34" apart, so the front axle will literally line itself right up like it belonged there in the first place. Not to mention a huge aftermarket for parts. But unless you get lucky and find a jaw dropping good deal on that year range from someone that doesn't know what those things are worth, expect to pay around $700+ for it. Either buying it online and actually getting it too you, or finding one locally. Check out pirate 4x4 as sometimes people come across these axles and post them up there. Otherwise check ebay, craigslist, and your local junkyard for that year range. If your not interested in Dana 60, there is always the Dana 44HD(3/4 ton version). This is a High Pinion, Ball joint front axle, found in the same year range on the F250's not fortunate enough to get a Dana 60(keep in mind that most F250s will have a Dana 44HD. The Dana 60 was only available in "Camper special"F250's. Easiest way to determine which is which? Dana 60 has king pins Dana 44 has Ball joints) Though the price tag on this axle is lower, it wont take the beating a Dana 60 will, and by the time you sink several thousand $$ into it to make it slightly stronger than a stock Dana 60, you could have just bought a Dana 60.

    2) It sounds to me like your going with a set of leaf springs, which is easier than a linked suspension, but do some research on the linked suspensions before making your finally decision. Also, consider having a new set of leaf springs made for your application. Simply because this isn't some 4500lb F350 with a 460BBF in it anymore, so the leaf springs may end up sagging to low, or end up breaking a few leaves like I had happen to me. I recommend speaking with Alcan Spring out of Grand Junction, CO. Nobody builds custom leaf springs like those guys do. They will taylor it down to within a few pounds so you get the best ride, or load carrying capacity you can ask for.

    3) Not sure what your budget is, but there is always the option of having a brand new Dana 60 or Dana 44HD built for you. Dynatrac makes some of the most jaw dropping axles you will find. Period. Hopefully Joey D will chime in there as he bought his Pro Rock Dana 60 from Dynatrac. Keep in mind though, there great work comes at a rather healthy price. Still, if you have the budget and want an axle that wont fail, give these guys a call.

    4)Aftermarket. The name pretty much speaks for itself. This ranges from Gear sets, to aftermarket diff covers and steering arms, lockouts and drive flanges, and chrome moly axle shafts with CTM U-joints. There is ALOT of ground to cover there. For much beefier steering knuckles, look at Dedenbear or Crane Hi - Clearance, its almost a must with a heavy vehicle, bigger tires, and crossover steering. Chromo axle shafts are the way to go when it comes to making sure that all that power you make actually reaches the ground before self destructing. If your not interested in fuel economy, Drive Flanges can be used to replace the lockouts on the axle hubs. These basically tie the knot for your "bombproof" driveline. Never the less, a set of Warn Premium lockouts are still pretty damn strong. Yuokn Gear and Axle is a well respected name in the axle business when it comes to gear sets and axle rebuild kits as well.

    5)By going with a kit, places like ORU or ORD claim that putting a solid axle under your Chevy will lift the front end 3" when its all said and done. So your back end is going to want to be leveled out some. Blocks are ok, but with that comes more axle wrap. Especially with serious power and dumping of the clutch. I'll recommend Off Road Design's Shackle Flip kit. Its not as cheap as a set of blocks, but you put them back there and never worry about them again. Installation is pretty simple too. DIY4X also makes a shackle flip kit too if I remember right.

    6)Misc stuff is going to wind up costing you a pretty penny too, and this is the little stuff that sets you back week.. after week... after week because you didn't realize you needed it.
    Go browse Off road designs online product page and familiarize yourself with some of there stuff. They make the brake lines, crossover steering kits and some other cool stuff. There customer service is top notch and they do nice work. Something else to consider is whether or not you plan on keeping your ABS... There are kits out there that will make the ABS work on your Dana 60, but there is nothing for the Dana 44HD. You either have to disable the ABS unit, or make it work with the new axle. Dynatrac can also help you out there as well. As far as driveshafts go there is no way in hell the stock unit is going to work with your new front axle anymore. So give Jesse a call at High Angle driveline about getting a front driveshaft built. If there is only going to be 3 or 4" of lift your rear driveshaft will be fine, just make sure to realign your pinion angle after adding some height to the rear.


    I don't think I'm forgetting anything, but if I am I'll be sure to post it. Hopefully Joey D chimes in as well. He also has a Solid axle under his Chevy. And he has some great tips and pointers when it comes to this stuff. Just don't ask him how to take the bed off the truck without a lift :skep::)
     
  3. btfarm

    btfarm Quarter Million Worth Staff Member

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    And here I was all ready to chime in and say that Jamie is the guy to give you all the advice you need and more when all of a sudden here he is...:hihi:
     
  4. BigBlueChevy

    BigBlueChevy Compression Ignition Addict

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    :doh: My Bad Mike:hihi: I saw solid axle swap and jumped on it like a Pig to mud:rof:
     
  5. btfarm

    btfarm Quarter Million Worth Staff Member

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    Knew you would Jamie...;)
     
  6. john65td

    john65td Addicted to boost

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    im gonna use leaf springs and used axles. i have many 80's and 90's fords at my disposal. finding a 70's a lil harded. i plan on 1 ton springs and rear axle as well. i already have a 2 inch lift in rear and when the 6.5 was in it sat level but no longer. i want to use ord kit for simplicity. bolt on and reinforce with welding. im wonder cuz i havent been to the yard for measuring but can i use front and rear f 350 axles?
     
  7. red

    red stubborn Texan displaced to Utah

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    you can use both of the axles from an f350 but if its not a 77 1/2-79 front axle the spring perches wont line up. issue here is that you either have to:
    1. make the frame mounted spring hangers stick out further from the frame (potential weak spot)
    2. dig into the pumpkin housing on the driver side to get the spring perch to line up (again, weak spot)

    another option that is becomming more common is to change your t-case to an older chevy np205 and use a chevy front axle. cheaper and easier to find nowadays.
     
  8. Joey D

    Joey D New Member

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    I think Jamie covered most of everything. I like the ORU kit vs the ORD kit myself but it's just personal opinion.
    Leafs springs for the front are standard 73-87 GM truck springs unless you use the ORU long leaf kit then you need a custom set of leafs, I used custom springs from Atlas.
    Steering i went with OffRoad Designs cross over with high steer. I also bought all my brake lines from him as well.
    Axles, I have a dyna trac pro rok 60 front but started out with the 79 60 front., the pro rok is a nice setup but not a requirement. I run GM style knuckles, ried racing, and GM HD truck 4 wheel disc brakes front and rear. My rear axle is a 14b out of a 05 GM HD 2500 with the factory disc setup with parking brake. What a huge difference in stopping power vs the Ford stuff or the stock GM stuff even with my 37's

    If you need a 79 dana 60 i have them. I have a 79 with 4.10 gears, needs the brakes and wheels bearings. PM if your interested.
     
  9. john65td

    john65td Addicted to boost

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    i picked off road direct for the bolt on simplicity. i contacted them and they informed me with the kit i can use a 86 to 91 ford front axle. thats the plan because i can get both axles for dirt cheap. i still have to measure the rear axle and pick one. and then find the apporiate springs thanks for the help guys
     
  10. BigBlueChevy

    BigBlueChevy Compression Ignition Addict

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    Correct me if I'm wrong but I'm pretty sure that the newer year axles use ball joints instead of kingpins. May want to look into that before buying one. Kingpins are stronger, they last longer and are generally better than ball joints in every aspect except replacing them. Ball joints can be popped out and new ones popped in within 20 minutes. Kingpins... well lets just say it can take 20 minutes if you lucky, or several days as you devise ways to get the kingpin to loosen up.

    Have you spoken to Off Road Unlimited at all? They also build a bolt on kit. I've seen both kits personally and the ORD kit actually set up on he truck. I have to say that the ORU kit seems better designed than ORD. Though the truck I've seen with the ORD kit is a K1500 with a Dana 60 / 14Bolt with a 600hp 350 small block rolling on 44 boggers. Last time I talked to him he had snapped the adapter connecting his trans and T-case. Never once mentioned having an issue with the ORD kit.

    As far as rear axles go you can put just about anything under there that runs an 8 x 6.5" bolt pattern. OR Get newer front and rear Ford axles and use the Ford 8 or 10 lug pattern :D
     
  11. john65td

    john65td Addicted to boost

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    86 to 91 still use king pins after that they went to ball joints.
     
  12. BigBlueChevy

    BigBlueChevy Compression Ignition Addict

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    Yeah you will be just fine :thumbsup: Sounds like you already know what your doing with this and how you want to go about it so at this point its just a matter of getting the parts together. I have my 78' Dana 60 in my garage that's waiting on an overhaul. If you are interested, I'll put up a thread on tearing it down for a rebuild to give you an idea what to expect.

    As for parts, Rockauto is good for things like calipers, rotors and pads, but check out Jeffs Bronco Graveyard for more specific parts like bearings, kingpin rebuild kits and other fun stuff.
     
  13. john65td

    john65td Addicted to boost

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    i was thinking i had most of it in line but, it don't hurt to run it by other minds to make sure. thank you guys for the info. now i spend all winter gathering parts.
     
  14. john65td

    john65td Addicted to boost

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    I was rearing the faq's on oru website. and the said you cant use the cross over steering from the ford donor axle. why is that?
     
  15. BigBlueChevy

    BigBlueChevy Compression Ignition Addict

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    Crossover steering can be used on just about ever Solid axle. In order to make it this work you need a new steering arm bracket(the piece that bolts on the steering knuckle). Factory has the arm on the drivers side and usually uses a "front to back" steering action to make the steering operate. Crossover uses the "side to side" motion, but to do that you need a new steering arm on the passenger side. Not sure why they would tell you that crossover steering isn't possible. Do you have a link to where it says this or was it a phone call?
     
  16. john65td

    john65td Addicted to boost

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    sorry i didn't put it in right oru said that the ford steering componets can't be used when switched to chevy. its on the web site in the solid axle faq section. it stated steering from donor axle could not be used
     
  17. john65td

    john65td Addicted to boost

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    i have been looking more and more and can't figure out why i can't use the ford steering. i understand i have to get a different pitman arm. the ford crossover steering connects to the passange side wheel like the kit. i can't understand why the steering the donor axle front the pitman arm down won't work they claim. there is lots of adjustment. is there someting i am over looking
     
  18. BigBlueChevy

    BigBlueChevy Compression Ignition Addict

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    Ok, I think I understand where you are coming from. When they say you can't use the steering components from the Ford donor axle there talking about the stock steering design. Due to space, clearances, and the location of your power-steering box, the stock "front to back" style steering system can't be used. You have to use "crossover steering".

    Here's a great article by Billavista over on pirate giving you all the info you need about the different steering types.
    http://www.pirate4x4.com/tech/billavista/Steering/Steering_Research/steeringresearch.htm

    Also, now that we are on this subject reminds me. You are going to need a new passenger side steering knuckle. Stock, the steering knuckles aren't drilled or designed to handles the stresses of crossover steering. So even by getting your crossover steering arm, you will still need the new knuckle. Personally, I recommend you do them both and upgrade to ones that are stronger overall. Either CRANE High clearance or Dedenbear make outstanding aftermarket knuckles. The key is making sure that your passenger side knuckle is machined to accept crossover steering. 3 bolt will do just fine, but a 4 bolt steering arm will NEVER let you down. Period.
     
  19. john65td

    john65td Addicted to boost

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    well i purchased a 91 ford dana 60 high pinion king pin axle. gonna work on the swap this summer ill keep updated
     
  20. Acesneights1

    Acesneights1 New Member

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    Don't use a Ford Diff in the back. The Dana 60's(I'm talking the rear diff, not front) in that ford vintage(77.5-79) were shit plain and simple. The axles are paper thin. I had Summers Brothers Hardened Axles(800$) in mine and brokem them in the first pull I did, I ended up Putting a GM 14b FF in the Ford. You cannot beat a GM 14b FF. Without moving up to 2.5 tons Toploaders, it's about the best thing out there. My 74 GMC had the original open diff 14b turning 44 Hawgs with a 454 LS6 built and I ripped a NP205 in half and the rear never had an issue.
    My buddy has an off road shop over in Ellington. He is building a GMT400 right now with straight axle swap and they are using a NP205 out of an OBS truck and using a Chevy Dana 60. I personally hated those king pin front ends. Always ended up with death wobble. PIA to work on and mucho expensive the parts were.
     

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