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Old 11-26-2009, 06:27 PM   #1 (permalink)
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1971 Jeep Cj5 - Advice/Help?

What do you think?
I just bought a 1971 Jeep cj5 for $3200. The jeep is equiped with a Dana 44 in the rear with lockers. The front axle has been swapped to a closed knuckle Dana 44 w/ larger drums in the front! My first mod is going to be disc brakes but I'm not sure if I should find open knuckle axle swap with disc already or just deal with the old closed knuckle? Hope somebody with more knowledge could help guide me! The jeep also has a SOA with 2.5" cj lift springs and I believe some kind of high steer setup. I've been reading about YJ spring conversions but i'm not sure if it worth my time?

The Jeep is also equiped with a chevy 305 bolted to a muncie 4 speed and dana 18 twin stick transfercase. The frame is staight and the jeep has a little rust in floor board areas and some spots on the front fenders. It isnt perfect but I'm coming from a background of bagged trucks and shaving and adding patch panels are normal things you do! The other jeeps I had been looking at on craigslist that were in my price range of 2k to 3k had huge holes in the floors board or the frames were to brittle to even touch! I felt pretty good about my purchase until I showed my buddy who is big time wheeler and he said it was a roach and I paid to much! WTF? Really? I'm new to offroad world but I learn quick! Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated! Especially, on the front axle disc brake setup? I'm prob going to tackle this in the next few weeks.

Thanks!



Last edited by dirk954rr; 11-26-2009 at 06:28 PM.
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Old 11-27-2009, 05:59 AM   #2 (permalink)
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I'd wheel it as it is. ONce something brakes, I'd swap in another axle.

ARe the front springs outboarded or did they cut down the axle? I would assume from the pict they cut the axle down. I can't remember a closed knuckle 44 that was narrow. That is an old axle.

I'd look for a waggie front upgrade. It would have the disc's arealy on it. But no matter what you do, unless you put disc's on that axle, its going to get somewhat expensive.

I assume the rear is the stock D44?
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Old 11-27-2009, 06:24 AM   #3 (permalink)
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As long as it's not a rust bucket,i think you did good.
Is there an issue with the brakes/axle now?If not,just wheel it like aallison said.
If there is an issue with the closed knuckle 44,s.i'm sure someone will chime in.
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Old 11-27-2009, 11:15 AM   #4 (permalink)
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I'd wheel it as it is. ONce something brakes, I'd swap in another axle.

ARe the front springs outboarded or did they cut down the axle? I would assume from the pict they cut the axle down. I can't remember a closed knuckle 44 that was narrow. That is an old axle.

I'd look for a waggie front upgrade. It would have the disc's arealy on it. But no matter what you do, unless you put disc's on that axle, its going to get somewhat expensive.

I assume the rear is the stock D44?
I'm not sure if they cut it down or not? I think the rear dana 44 is stock. The previous owner I purchased it from used it only to go hunting and got it from his wifes dad. His wifes dad did all the mods and had passed away and he didnt know anything other then how to drive it.

Quote:
As long as it's not a rust bucket,i think you did good.
Is there an issue with the brakes/axle now?If not,just wheel it like aallison said.
If there is an issue with the closed knuckle 44,s.i'm sure someone will chime in.
Drums brakes in the front are shot! I think I can piece together a disc brake kits for them for around $350-$400. However, ive seen used axles on craigslist for cheap but im not sure if the 44's housing are all the same. If so, I could re-use the 4.88 gears and the axle swap wouldnt be that much more expensive. Im just not sure if it worth all the time/money over a closed knuckle?

Last edited by dirk954rr; 11-27-2009 at 11:17 AM.
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Old 11-27-2009, 02:34 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by dirk954rr View Post
Im just not sure if it worth all the time/money over a closed knuckle?
I think you would be better off buying a newer open knuckle axle.
I did some random internet searches.Most said they are junk.
The worst thing you can do is dump money into a POS!
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Old 11-27-2009, 06:04 PM   #6 (permalink)
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I would bring the lift down a lot. Wheelbase is around 80ish inches. 2.5" lift springs SOA nets around 7.5 inches of lift. Being that narrow and that tall it's going to be pretty unstable. But to each their own. I am building my CJ to clear 38.5's on around 3.5 to 4"s of lift at 105"s of wheelbase. With the springs you have you could clear the tires on that rig SUA with a little minor fender trimming. I used to have a 5 that cleared 33's easy with a 1" body and 2.5" SUA springs. I still rolled it =-). Nice looking CJ nonetheless. I know this is blasphemy here but you could find an open knuckle Dana 30 front end for practically nothing and run one of those instead of the closed knuck 44. Easy way to get discs for cheap. Slap some Spicer shafts in with 760 joints and the 30 wouldn't flinch at the 33's. I wouldn't hesitate to run 35's on one properly built. That is assuming you want to stay with 33's.

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Old 11-28-2009, 08:24 AM   #7 (permalink)
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If the brakes are shot and you want to upgrade, it will be expensive.

If you don't know how to look under a jeep and see if the front springs are outboarded, park it until you have spent hours learning. The stock springs attach directly under the frame. The stock axle should be a D30. The only axle that is a direct bolt in is a stock axle. The rest are all to wide. If the springs are still under the frame, the axle was cut down. Adn there are a couple ways to do this.

If the springs are not directly under the frame, the springs have been "outboarded". Google "Jeep spring outboard" and click images. Or search here. You will get lots of picts.

And if you can find D44 outters, you can swap them on the ends of the axles. Fairly easy job, but it depends on your ability. Again, there are step by step directions on the web.

And as it is, I would not spend any money on the closed knucle D44. But I believe the tubes and center pumpkin is the same.

Just swaping in gears from axle to axle is a precise swap. You need to be able to set up gears to .001 of an inch.

Take some picts and we might be able to help more.
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Old 11-28-2009, 09:02 AM   #8 (permalink)
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The gears and carrier you have will swap into an open knuckle low pinion D44. I would not spend $300-400 on any upgrade to this axle. If all you need are some new shoes and a drum cut then do it and run that axle till you get an open knuckle disk brake D44 built. Depending on your use, and considering your smallish tires this axle should work just fine. Make sure it is all greased up, including the knuckles. Closed knuckle axles can get real pricey buying parts for so don't let it become a money pit. Also check to see if the front axle has self adjusting brakes. Some older closed knuckle axles did not and you must periodically adjust them by hand.
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Old 11-28-2009, 03:30 PM   #9 (permalink)
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The stock front axle in the '71 was a dana 27. It is closed knuckle with very similar internals to the dana 25. A CJ d30 has open knuckles & will direclty bolt in.

Your closed knuckle front D44 internals may or may not work with an open knuckle D44. You would have to pull an axle & see if it has 19 or 30 splines. If it has 19 your carrier will not work ( ring & pinion will).

All closed knuckle dodge/ chevy/ jeep stuff I have worked on had small non sealed 260x ujoints (same strenght as a d30)- this includes 3/4 ton stuff.

If the front axles only issue is brakes it is pretty easy to do the chevy disk brake swap. You can use chevy caliper stands/ calipers & ford rotors. You will have to grind the knuckle for caliper clearence.

On a positive note you have flanged 30 spline axles in the rear. It is a sought after axle for the stockish jeep dudes.
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Old 11-28-2009, 05:48 PM   #10 (permalink)
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elarsen is right I forgot about the 19 spline carrier.
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Old 11-28-2009, 06:44 PM   #11 (permalink)
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I would bring the lift down a lot. Wheelbase is around 80ish inches. 2.5" lift springs SOA nets around 7.5 inches of lift. Being that narrow and that tall it's going to be pretty unstable. But to each their own. I am building my CJ to clear 38.5's on around 3.5 to 4"s of lift at 105"s of wheelbase. With the springs you have you could clear the tires on that rig SUA with a little minor fender trimming
I agree the lift is way to high. This is one of my reasons for maybe swapping in the yj springs but im not sure if this is the correct route to go??

Quote:
The stock front axle in the '71 was a dana 27. It is closed knuckle with very similar internals to the dana 25. A CJ d30 has open knuckles & will direclty bolt in.

Your closed knuckle front D44 internals may or may not work with an open knuckle D44. You would have to pull an axle & see if it has 19 or 30 splines. If it has 19 your carrier will not work ( ring & pinion will).

All closed knuckle dodge/ chevy/ jeep stuff I have worked on had small non sealed 260x ujoints (same strenght as a d30)- this includes 3/4 ton stuff.

If the front axles only issue is brakes it is pretty easy to do the chevy disk brake swap. You can use chevy caliper stands/ calipers & ford rotors. You will have to grind the knuckle for caliper clearence.

On a positive note you have flanged 30 spline axles in the rear. It is a sought after axle for the stockish jeep dudes.
Sounds like I need to count the splines and figure out if it is a 19 spline. If i can save the gears I found a reputable shop that will install them for $200. I would like to stay with a low pinion dana 44 open knuckle with disc. Hopefully, I can find a cheap used one somewhere! I'm tryin to stay around $500 for the swap! I threw a photo in. I'm going to make my own heavy duty ties rods as well.

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