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Well the title pretty much says most of it. I am looking to add a 3.5 metal cloak 'next generation' lift with the 6pac shocks and throwing on a set of 35s, but my buddy says I will break the axles if I go rock crawling/serious off-roading. He is almost an arrogant man with jeeps and such, but he also has built quite a few proper rigs, so I'm not sure if he is right or just being an ass. Any advice would be great, and thanks for any help.
 

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Reinforcing axles

KJEEPER10 hit it on the head. The C section of the axle is a weak link on both the dana 30 and dana 44. But there are ways to strengthen them. There are also ways to strengthen the axle in general through sleeving and/or trusses.

Sleeving reinforcement can be done in two ways. Internal sleeves are inserted into the axle housing and increase the "thickness" of the housing between the housing and the axle. Some manufactures of internal sleeves are: Rock-Slide Engineering, Poly Performance, Tereflex, Iron Rock, EVO, and Nitro. I believe all but the Nitro require holes to be drilled in the housing then plug welding the sleeve to the axle tubes. The Nitro is pressed/(pounded) into place using friction of a precision fit. Nitro sleeves are preferred by some as they have a slightly larger I.D (resulting in a thinner wall thickness) that is just large enough to allow use of 35 spline axles.

An alternate method is to sleeve the outside of the housing. Rock Slide Engineering has an outer sleeve kit. This increases the "thickness" of the axle tube by adding material to the external or outside of the tubing.

Gusseting is installed at least on the upper sections of the "C" where the "C" is the weakest. However, gussets can be installed on the lower section as well . There are two options for these. Solid flat (and thick) gussets are available through Rock Slide, Terraflex, JKS, TMR, and Pure Jeep. The other option is thinner gauge metal that is formed into a "U" shape and is welded in place on both sides of the "U" channel of the gusset to the outer edges of the "C" section. This style can be obtained through, Poly Performance, Iron Rock, Nitro, and EVO.. Some users have stated that part of the "U" section can interfere with the speed sensor (when the wheels are fully turned to the steering stop) while others have not experienced (or expressed) this.

Trusses (reinforce the entire axle tube assembly and are welded to the "pumkin" and typically to each side of the housing) are available from Pure Jeep and Artec.

The topic of how much reinforcement is enough has been discussed numerous times with almost as many opinions. However, all agree that running larger tires should include at least some reinforcement and how "extreme" you wheel should be taken into consideration. Obviously, if you haven't bent your axle you are OK. However, if you have bent it, the reinforcement installed was not enough.

Running larger tires is a bit like swinging a hammer that has a longer handle. There is a lot more energy at play.

When my gussets were welded I left the factory ball joints in and alternated welding each side and cooled with a wet rag frequently. No problems with the ball joints have been observed.
I was originally going to use the thick ones but someone familiar with metal engineering advised that the thinner ones would actually be stronger so I went with his advise.


KG6SLC aka Eugene
 

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Discussion Starter #5
KJEEPER10 hit it on the head. The C section of the axle is a weak link on both the dana 30 and dana 44. But there are ways to strengthen them. There are also ways to strengthen the axle in general through sleeving and/or trusses. Sleeving reinforcement can be done in two ways. Internal sleeves are inserted into the axle housing and increase the "thickness" of the housing between the housing and the axle. Some manufactures of internal sleeves are: Rock-Slide Engineering, Poly Performance, Tereflex, Iron Rock, EVO, and Nitro. I believe all but the Nitro require holes to be drilled in the housing then plug welding the sleeve to the axle tubes. The Nitro is pressed/(pounded) into place using friction of a precision fit. Nitro sleeves are preferred by some as they have a slightly larger I.D (resulting in a thinner wall thickness) that is just large enough to allow use of 35 spline axles. An alternate method is to sleeve the outside of the housing. Rock Slide Engineering has an outer sleeve kit. This increases the "thickness" of the axle tube by adding material to the external or outside of the tubing. Gusseting is installed at least on the upper sections of the "C" where the "C" is the weakest. However, gussets can be installed on the lower section as well . There are two options for these. Solid flat (and thick) gussets are available through Rock Slide, Terraflex, JKS, TMR, and Pure Jeep. The other option is thinner gauge metal that is formed into a "U" shape and is welded in place on both sides of the "U" channel of the gusset to the outer edges of the "C" section. This style can be obtained through, Poly Performance, Iron Rock, Nitro, and EVO.. Some users have stated that part of the "U" section can interfere with the speed sensor (when the wheels are fully turned to the steering stop) while others have not experienced (or expressed) this. Trusses (reinforce the entire axle tube assembly and are welded to the "pumkin" and typically to each side of the housing) are available from Pure Jeep and Artec. The topic of how much reinforcement is enough has been discussed numerous times with almost as many opinions. However, all agree that running larger tires should include at least some reinforcement and how "extreme" you wheel should be taken into consideration. Obviously, if you haven't bent your axle you are OK. However, if you have bent it, the reinforcement installed was not enough. Running larger tires is a bit like swinging a hammer that has a longer handle. There is a lot more energy at play. When my gussets were welded I left the factory ball joints in and alternated welding each side and cooled with a wet rag frequently. No problems with the ball joints have been observed. I was originally going to use the thick ones but someone familiar with metal engineering advised that the thinner ones would actually be stronger so I went with his advise. KG6SLC aka Eugene

Wow....that is the most well thought out answer I have ever heard...about anything. Thank you so much for you help and I will be getting right on this!!!
 

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Here is what the rear Dana 44 is rated for according to Dana Corporation. The brackets on the axles may bend and tear easily after hitting a few rocks. A thicker differential cover is also a good idea. A larger O.D. tube will add more strength than making a smaller tube thicker. An entirely new housing with larger O.D. tubes, thicker broader C's, a stronger center-section, and stronger brackets will provide a higher rise in strength for less weight gain. I would not leave ball joints installed while welding, the heat can very easily damage the grease and bearing cover. There is no way a smaller ball-joint bearing would be stronger than a larger bearing by simply being smaller. With a larger bearing the load is more spread out and the bearing is more durable. A stronger body is well, stronger. Superior internal surfaces will also improve the life of the ball joint. Much of the aftermarket is junk, but there are far superior designs than the stock ball-joint. The stock ball joint also has no way of being serviced or even greased.
The stock wheel bearings are fine for tire sizes near stock size and wheels with stock backspacing. But when fat tires are used with low backspace wheels the load is no longer balanced on the bearing and will lead to an early demise of this part. When the stock wheel bearing fails everything in the axle will try to continue rotating, leading to massive damage if you attempt to keep moving. The stock wheel bearing was never meant to take the massive and wide wheel and tire combinations often placed upon it. The large wheel and tire combo coupled with severe use could cause the bearing to separate from the axle and roll away with your wheel still bolted to it. Manual hubs, larger unit-bearings retrofitted to a stock axle or drive slugs are superior solutions. Changing one part out may effect many others. Here are some examples of axles pushed far beyond what they were engineered for. The cheap way of building things will easily cease to be cheap if it fails on the trail and could turn into a very miserable experience. Here, here, here, here, and here is some more axle wrangling for you.
 

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Kjeeper: Do not try and bend the axle. That's impossible. Instead... only try to realize the truth.

Neo: What truth?

Kjeeper: There is no axle.

Neo: There is no axle?

Kjeeper: Then you'll see, that it is not the axle that bends, it is only yourself.

:bop:
 

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I have the same axles in my Sport that a Sahara has. When I put my 35" tires on, I did the following:

I welded on the Artec truss kit: Artec JK Front Axle ARMOR KIT

I put on heavy duty diff covers on front and rear.

I put chrome molly axle shafts in when I did gears and selectable lockers front and rear.

I've been to Moab and done quite a bit of serious wheeling around here. No bending, no breaking.
 

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Personally, I wouldn't do chromoly axles in a D30. That moves the weak point to the ring and pinion. I would rather carry spare axle shafts. They are less expensive and easier to replace than gears.

D44, chromoly til your hearts content.

-Dan
 

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Personally, I wouldn't do chromoly axles in a D30. That moves the weak point to the ring and pinion. I would rather carry spare axle shafts. They are less expensive and easier to replace than gears.

D44, chromoly til your hearts content.

-Dan
I disagree with that. While axle shafts are cheap to replace, the D30 Dana ring and pinion in these JKs are pretty solid, and aftermarket ones are even tougher. If you break one of these, you'd probably break the D44 as well....and I'd venture to say you weren't wheeling smart.
It's just my experience and opinion, but the weak ring and pinion was very true for older D30s, but is something that gets tossed out there way too often nowadays.
 

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Something I didn't know ...

This photo shows the difference in size of the JK rear Dana 44 pinion gear and the front JK Dana 30 pinion gear. Obviously, the Dana 44 unit is much stronger, thanks to its larger size. But did you know that you can improve the strength of a ring and pinion gearset by simply having it cryogenically treated? Cryogenics bathes the metal in liquid nitrogen at minus-301 degrees Fahrenheit. The process changes the state of the metal, making it much less likely to develop fractures or cracks. The results are, in the simplest of terms, stronger, more durable metal with a much higher yield strength. We sent our Dana 30 gears out to Cryo Science of Oceanside, California, to have this treatment applied. When the Dana 30 gearset was returned to us, the strength was nearly the same as that of the Dana 44 unit in the picture. The cost of this process was a little over $50 plus shipping and handling.

From: http://www.fourwheeler.com/how-to/transmission-drivetrain/129-1103-making-stock-dana-30-axles-survive/#ixzz3CQqqTHyf
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I disagree with that. While axle shafts are cheap to replace, the D30 Dana ring and pinion in these JKs are pretty solid, and aftermarket ones are even tougher. If you break one of these, you'd probably break the D44 as well....and I'd venture to say you weren't wheeling smart.
It's just my experience and opinion, but the weak ring and pinion was very true for older D30s, but is something that gets tossed out there way too often nowadays.
This. The JK D30 pinion shaft is much beefier than the old D30 and will hold up to 35's just fine.
 

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Something I didn't know ...

This photo shows the difference in size of the JK rear Dana 44 pinion gear and the front JK Dana 30 pinion gear. Obviously, the Dana 44 unit is much stronger, thanks to its larger size. But did you know that you can improve the strength of a ring and pinion gearset by simply having it cryogenically treated? Cryogenics bathes the metal in liquid nitrogen at minus-301 degrees Fahrenheit. The process changes the state of the metal, making it much less likely to develop fractures or cracks. The results are, in the simplest of terms, stronger, more durable metal with a much higher yield strength. We sent our Dana 30 gears out to Cryo Science of Oceanside, California, to have this treatment applied. When the Dana 30 gearset was returned to us, the strength was nearly the same as that of the Dana 44 unit in the picture. The cost of this process was a little over $50 plus shipping and handling.

From: Making Stock Dana 30 Axles Survive
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Yeah, I was gonna mention the LN2 treatment as well, brilliant idea....nice catch Kjeeper!
 
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