Have you tried adding up the prices of the axles (if you can even find a D44 front), gears, lockers and all the associated parts needed plus your time and labor/labor if you need to pay someone?
Ive been seeing a few early Rubicons list for $13-14k around here. In the end is it really worth it to you? Thats the reason I went out and bought a Rubicon. Plus the TC does have a lower gear ratio as well. Not sure if the early Rubis had rear disc brakes as well or just the LJs but that may also be something to consider.
Edit: I have also read that you can pick up a HD30 front axle and build to be as strong if not stronger than a D44 for much less.
4:1 TC, D44s with 4.10 gears F&R, Disc brakes F&R, Lockers F&R, Moab wheels, 31" tires, stiffer springs too I think, and don't forget about them nifty stickers!
I'd have to agree with Jp90Talon . . . might be worthwhile to price a Rubi in your area and find out what you'd get for your X. Somebody on here just picked up a nice looking Rubi with under 20K miles, with a lift, tires and everything, and from what he said, it had never even been offroad. Good luck either way!
Bite the hand that feeds you . . . you've had more than enough to eat already.
As much as I like to go with the upgrade route simply because its fun to get your hands dirty, in this case - when you go to sell the Jeep you'll never get the money back. The Rubicon is an edition that will net you more money.
__________________ It's got a Willy's body, a Chevy engine, Ford axles, GM transmission, and Dodge steering components... it must be a Wrangler.
Ford 8.8 in the rear will be stronger than the OEM D44 with its soupcan-thick axle tubes.
Truss the D30 front, alloy shafts, and you're going to be ahead of the OEM D44.
Super-short SYE on your NP231. Really need 4:1? OK, then get the Rubicon case (or an Atlas, or whatever) but if not, the 231 will do you just fine. Throw in the 6-pinion planetary and wide chain if you really want to.
You should be able to do this without breaking the bank, and set it up for what you actually need/want it to do.
i think the OP has the right idea. whether he finds and buys Rubi d44s, nv241, and driveshafts, or just builds up the axles he has to be camparible strength, it's still a better route than going into debt on another vehicle if it can be avoided.
the Rubi is obviously set up pretty well from the factory, and you would do well to set your jeep up similarly. because of the crazy prices people want for those Rubi take-offs, i would just build what you have to be as strong or stronger than the Rubi parts....for less money. at very least look to the HPd30 and a TJ d44 rear or 8.8 rear and build those up. you can pick up a HPd30 for a couple hundred bucks and an 8.8 for another couple hundred. built to the hilt, they would probably both still be cheaper than picking up that $6000 set of stock rubi axles.
either way you go, i still think building off of what you have is a better plan than going into debt to start over.