Dana 44 Front axle tech for the DIY axle builder.
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The right tools make the job easy.
For a basic cut and turn you do not need very many fancy tools. You probably already have most of them if you have done much work on your Dana 44 axle prior to considering a cut and turn. It is when you start swapping gears that you need some new tools.
Special tools needed to tear down the axle:
1) Spindle nut socket - most Dana 44 axles use some type of large spindle nut to keep the wheel hub on the spindle. You will need to find out what size your particular axle uses. Some use a 4 or 6 prong specialty socket some use a 2 1/8" socket while others use larger or smaller sizes.
2) Ball Joint Press - If you are only taking the outer knuckles off and not changing the ball joints you might be able to skip this one, but you will need it sooner or later if you are running larger than stock tires.
3) Ball Joint spanner socket - To properly set the pre-load on your upper ball joints you need the adjuster socket. It is a multi-prong socket that fits over the threaded stud on the upper ball joint when it is installed and allows you to set the pre-load on the ball joint before you put the nut on it.
4) Basic sockets and wrenches - You just need these. Enough said.
Tools needed for the cut and turn portion:
1) Hand Grinder - A 4" or 4 1/2" hand grinder is all you need to cut the weld out on a Dana 44. You will probably need 2 or 3 grinding wheels and a sanding disc for clean up. A wire cup wheel is also very handy for cleaning the entire axle prior to working on it.
2) BIG HAMMER - My personal favorite is a standard 8 pound sledge hammer with the handle cut down to about 16 inches. Works great and allows you to stay close to the axle to stay on target when you are swinging away. If you need much more than an 8 pound hammer you haven't ground the welds out enough.
3) Angle Finder and Level - This is essential to find the correct angles. Without an angle finder you will be working blind. I have always used a standard pendulum style angle finder with a magnetic base. BUT they have come out with some very good digital angle finders recently that would be great. I also use a standard 2 foot level to make sure the axle is level side to side when I am working on it, it is also handy to get spring perches level.
4) Welder - Do not skimp on this step! I would recommend a 220 volt welder with at least 150 amps of capacity. A haven't seen a 110 volt welder that would make me feel good about welding my axle together. It can be done with ARC, MIG or TIG as long as you can get enough power/heat/weld into the knuckle and axle tube. If you do not have a welder ask around and find someone that will do it for beer and pizza. It only takes about 20 minutes to weld up both knuckles and uses little consumable product.