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Old 07-06-2014, 06:39 PM   #1
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Upgrade advice

I've managed to do a few mods and am wanting to look at the drivetrain. Wondering what your thoughts are. Currently have factory D35 and D44 w/open diffs and 3:21 gears. Still saving funds, but wanted opinions. Have heard some say the D35 is not worth upgrading and to look for another 44 for the front, others say they are fine just not for hardcore wheeling which I most likely wont be doing anyway. Looking to regear to 4:56 or so w/35" tires.

I know there a lot of things that can be done. Upgraded axles, tubes, truss and lockers. Just looking for a nudge which to look at first or if some things need to be done in conjunction with each other. Gears I know have to be changed together. As far as lockers, should I look at the front,rear or both?

Lots of questions but trying to develop a game plan for the next upgrades.

What say you?

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Old 07-06-2014, 06:52 PM   #2
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Yeah, D35 isn't worth it's weight. Read the links below, easier to find and strong. There was a guy on eBay selling 8.8 axle complete with gears (4:10 I think) brakes and ready to install $600. I'll see if I can find it. Are YOU considering the popular Ford 8.8 swap?

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Old 07-06-2014, 07:06 PM   #3
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I think he has a JK. So it wouldn't be a D35, I think he's wondering about the front axle ?
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Old 07-06-2014, 07:23 PM   #4
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I think he has a JK. So it wouldn't be a D35, I think he's wondering about the front axle ?
Oh a JK? Probably best to scrap the whole thing ! j/k So you have a D30 up front, be smart with it you'll be fine.
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Old 07-06-2014, 07:32 PM   #5
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Oops, that would be my bad, it is a D30 not a 35. Its a 2010 JK
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Old 07-07-2014, 10:39 PM   #6
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If I upgrade axles, probably the front first, are they all the same spline count? Have turned alot of wrenches in previous years but mostly suspension work, have not done much with diffs. Don't want to get better axles then decide to get a locker and not be able to match up the splines. I believe I am correct that lockers have nothing to do with the gear ratio right? Just whether its a D30/44 etc. Probably sounds kinda dumb but this is an area I don't know much about. Truck fest is this weekend and the boss may allow me to do more than just drool over things.
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Old 07-07-2014, 10:58 PM   #7
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If I upgrade axles, probably the front first, are they all the same spline count? Have turned alot of wrenches in previous years but mostly suspension work, have not done much with diffs. Don't want to get better axles then decide to get a locker and not be able to match up the splines. I believe I am correct that lockers have nothing to do with the gear ratio right? Just whether its a D30/44 etc. Probably sounds kinda dumb but this is an area I don't know much about. Truck fest is this weekend and the boss may allow me to do more than just drool over things.
If your gonna re-gear do it at the same time you put in lockers rather than paying labor twice. I never understand the guys that re-gear and don't put in lockers if they wheel?? You can upgrade your shafts to chromoly like Ten Factory or RCV's. The RCV's get rid of the u-joints up front, very smooth turning in 4wd. Yes to spline count. No dumb questions.
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Old 07-08-2014, 12:12 AM   #8
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Thanks Sinister, didn't think about having twice the labor but that makes a lot of sense. Holy check book batman, the RCV looks real nice but wow seems almost double the cost (at least for the front). Is moving from the u-joint to cv style axles that good? I understand the joint being stronger but is the u-joint something that really gives out pretty easily?
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Old 07-08-2014, 12:34 AM   #9
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I switched to the RCV's back in Feb, HUGE difference ESP turning in 4wd. I got mine from Northridge think they were like $1025 shipped. The u-joint tends to be the weak link. You can run upgraded u-joints in your stock shafts or as mentioned upgrade the whole shaft, before I switched to the RCV's I always carried spares in my gear box.
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Old 07-08-2014, 12:56 AM   #10
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Figure out what you want to do with it first. You say you want to upgrade...what kind of wheeling do you do? You can dump a LOT of money into this hobby by upgrading especially if you don't need to do it. Have a reason for upgrades and you'll save some money.

I do agree though that if you are going to get a locker in the future, regear at the same time...it'll save you the cost of a whole other regear later. If you go with a lunchbox locker then it wouldn't matter.
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Old 07-08-2014, 01:46 AM   #11
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Right now my wheeling is pretty limited and I'm petty much a noob at it. I am not looking at scaling walls but want to build a capable rig that can go most places Colorado has to offer. Maybe that is too broad of a statement. Retirement plans include Moab someday. Really need to get time to go out with you folks and learn what different trails need. I don't want to spend money just to spend it as it doesn't grow on trees at my house. I figure its going to take a while to build the Jeep along with building my skills at driving it and want to help make sure it can stand up to my "learning"
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Old 07-08-2014, 05:53 PM   #12
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Go on progressively harder runs and/or catch a seat with someone on a run that exceeds your Jeeps capabilities. See if that appeals to you if it does Create a 3-5 yr plan (example) on how you'll be able to get your Jeep to that capability. That way every purchase your making goes to the long-term build rather than the quick lift/ Jeep looks cool but has in reality limited capability. For example Re-Gear w/ Lockers at same time, Long or Short arm- if you do a belly up make sure that skid will work with either long or short arms, Ultimate tire size... When you buy your wheels make sure you can get the tire size you ultimately want. This way your not having to RE-buy components as your build progresses. CL can save you money but I'd be leery of buying certain items off it. Personally there's just certain items I want to buy brand-new!
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Old 07-08-2014, 06:53 PM   #13
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I agree with John to do upgrades that make logical sense, such as lockers and regear at the same time. You will discover that this hobby will drive you nuts sometimes. I'm going through a phase of it right now (long story). When you mod something there is usually a cause and effect that will happen. For example, want a tummy tuck?...plan on new driveshafts (not always though). There are a lot of things that will be required but you won't know until you mod something. For example, I just installed a 4-1 t-case and a belly up skid. Result? new drivelines, shifter cable, spring perch trimming on bottom and relocation on top, body lift, bump stop adjustments, control arm issues (top extends out but then pumpkin hits gas tank skid...I have to modify lowers since they can't adjust shorter than stock length...rear brake line needs lengthened just a tad since I rotated the pumkin back to correct my driveshaft angle...I knew some of the issues I would face but the others you just won't know until you cycle a suspension....

The ABSOLUTE BEST ADVICE is to decide what you think you want and then research it....ask some questions...and then research it some more. And hardly ANYTHING on a Jeep comes in on budget.

The one area where I disagree with John a little is about buying items off of craigslist. You can save a TON of money this way. Certain things I would shy away from. I bought a D44 with locker, chromoly shafts, rear stock shafts, and front D44 stock shafts for $600. I sold both sets of stock shafts for $350...so I am into the axle for only $250. Some deals make sense, and some are clear to pass on.

Have fun and don't rely on your retirement money...you'll be back to work at age 66 lol.
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Old 07-08-2014, 10:32 PM   #14
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Well I will jump in too. Build it to the level you want to achieve. Do you want a trailer queen or a daily driver? Many on here have been wheeling with me. Mine is definitely a budget build. Not according to my wife. It is a capable rig that can be driven at highway speeds. Do your research. Build it the best you can in your budget. You need to realize you will never be finished with it. The big advice has been said. Do it right once. Cut your costs. When you do your lift make sure you get a good one. Don't do a budget lift and expect it to do miracles. This is where you need to spend your money. Upgrading axles is also worth it. Trusses, alloy shafts, lockers are great. Now to be honest I have been building mine for about 10 years or so. Still not done. I have a locker in the rear d44 and an open d30. Biggest thing is make it yours. Wheel with people who know what they are doing. Talk to them and ask questions. Oh and the biggest thing of all, for gods sake have fun
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Old 07-09-2014, 10:01 AM   #15
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Jk front d30 is the same as a 44 except the actual ring gear. JKs use hybrid axles. If you never plan on going more gear than a 4:10 you will be fine for a long time with a 30. They take the same strength mods (truss, gussets, etc)
The jk wrangler is a great rig that requires very few mods to be a wonderful trail rig. If budgets are top of the list you can spend your money wisely and have a rig that is very well built and still a great highway/driver.
Small amounts of lift put you on some large rubber. A 2 door on 35s well setup will tackle most Colorado had to offer, a 4dr on 37s is the same.
Feel free to ask any and all questions, no such thing as a dumb question when it comes to investing money in your jeep.
Have fun
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Old 07-09-2014, 10:39 AM   #16
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Dean, definitely come out with us some time. Most of the trails a stocker can do... but it will be difficult and you can get dinged up underneath. Can also ride along... if you want and I have an open seat you can ride with me. Ive got a rubi so its not the same as yours (D44 up front and lockers) but I am on 2.5" lift with 35's.

My suggestion....
start small and work your way up.

If you wheel with groups... you can skip some of the recovery gear, however if you wheel solo mostly, I would suggest investing in a winch and some other gear first.

Order..

If Solo
1) Recovery Gear

2) Budget lift (springs/shocks.. not spacers) and tires. This will usually be at least $2k but gives you the most bang for your buck. Also include the calibration tool for the jeep to know the new tire size like a flashcal. Oh and dont forget an exhaust spacer kit which is a must on a 2dr. You dont *need* new wheels right off the bat and can get some 1.5" spacers... which is what I did. There is also an option to not lift and stick with 33's which will give you a little more ground clearance and not as much cost... but its really just a basic way to throw money down the drain if you ever want to play on the bigger rocks.

3) Gearing/Lockers. This is another spendy investment but you will want them if you are geared below 4.10 and want to do some more of the harder trails. 4.10 can manage OK... but even that is a little low for 35's.

4) Reinforce or replace the D30. Now... if you plan on replacing the D30.. consider doing the gearing/lockers at the same time as to avoid double paying for it. A reinforced D30 should be fine if you dont want to go extreme.

5) Armor. Skids and body.

If Group you can move recovery down to #5.

The JK's are great at what they can handle stock... both in mods and capability. You just have to know and wheel within your limits. Pick the right lines and you can do quite a bit stock. Trim your fenders and some new bump stops and you can run 35's on stock suspension.
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Old 07-09-2014, 10:55 AM   #17
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BTW.. theres someone on facebook locally selling his front D44 thats sleeved, gussetted and control arm skids for $800.
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Old 07-09-2014, 12:37 PM   #18
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BTW.. theres someone on facebook locally selling his front D44 thats sleeved, gussetted and control arm skids for $800.
Its just the housing though.
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Old 07-10-2014, 10:11 AM   #19
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Its just the housing though.
But if he's looking to re-gear anyways....
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Old 07-12-2014, 11:09 PM   #20
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Thank you all, been out of town for a few days but I appreciate all of the input. Will be sitting down and deciding what I want to do and decide on a plan to make it happen. I'll also be watching for runs that I can meet up with and fill that empty seat until I get a little more confidence in my abilities.

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