The ctm's came
with everything needed but the grease.
Here is the
broken Spicer joint that the CTMs replaced.
CTM joint installed
in the stub axle. It's a tight fit!
Is that bad?
Dana 44. For
some, those words conjure up a vision of strength - a vast upgrade over
their wimpy Jeep Dana 30's or Toyota birfields. For others that have them
in their rig already, they most likely have nightmares of u-joint shrapnel
shooting out from under their rigs. While the most popular front axle
in the 4x4 community is a tough and dependable choice, it is far from
bulletproof. There are things that most rock crawlers do to beef these
front ends up, and make them perform better. Some of these mods are lockers,
lower gears, high clearance steering, aftermarket knuckles, aftermarket
locking hubs, and even alloy axle shafts. With all of these goodies on
your Dana 44, you have one heck of a front end. But up until now, there
has always been a weak point that has stopped many a folk in their quest
for the ultimate line - the u-joint. The only answer for most has been
the tried and somewhat true Spicer 297x u-joint. While it's fairly reliable
for the average wheeler, it just doesn't have what it takes for the hard
core 'crawler amongst us. In the past, you either dealt with this weakness,
or you forked out major dinero for a big Dana 60. Enter the CTM u-joint.
Jack Graef at CTM
Racing in San Juan Capistrano, CA has been building custom axles for all
different motor sports for years. Being an avid wheeler himself, he got
tired of 297x failures, so he decided to do something about it. Armed
with his vast machining knowledge and resources, he designed what he thought
would be a bombproof u-joint. After lots of design and engineering time,
he went to work on the mill with a chunk of 300m Chrome Moly, and began
carving out his masterpiece. Upon completing the final product, he installed
them in his own rig, and began testing. After months of putting the wood
to them along with pavement duty, Jack's u-joints not only did not break,
they showed no signs of wear! He decided to throw a few sets out to some
other crazy drivers to see if they could break it. They couldn't.
My first time seeing
these u-joints in action was at the ARCA finals in Farmington, New Mexico.
Jack was there supporting his test mule, Mike Harmuth. Mike had a set
of the prototype CTM u-joints in his competition Jeep. I figured that
if there was any place to really test a u-joint, the ARCA finals
was it. I was able to watch Mike run a few obstacles, and let me tell
you, he wasn't kind to those u-joints at all! He hammered on them all
day. Then it happened. Mike was full throttle on a climb when I heard
a loud BANG! from the front end. I immediately thought to myself
"another u-joint bites the dust!" and laughed to myself. Well
later that day, I saw Jack in the pits, and he was carrying around an
axle shaft assembly. But the stub axle shaft was broken clean off right
at the yoke. Jack had a grin from ear to ear. He handed the axle assembly
to me, and the CTM was still in perfect shape. I was IMPRESSED... That's
when I knew I had to have a set of those things.
A couple months later
I finally ordered my own set of CTMs. They arrived when expected, and
came complete with all necessary hardware, and detailed instructions.
These u-joints are BEEFY to the extreme! They are more difficult to install
than a standard u-joint due to their size. Once installed, I couldn't
wait to take it out for a test spin. So the next day a small group of
us went for a high speed burn up Iron Mountain to play in the snow. While
snow usually tends to be forgiving on a vehicle, I tend to really push
my rig in the snow. High horsepower powder blasts, jumping, etc. If anyone
can break a u-joint in the snow, I definitely can. I've broken probably
a dozen or so u-joints in the "forgiving" snow!
After almost a full
day of hammering the rig, it happened. The snow was very icy, and I needed
to get out of the ruts I was in to get around a stuck Ford Ranger (I was
going to pull him out). I put the rig in reverse and floored it with the
wheels cranked all the way to the left to try and pop out of the ruts.
About ten feet into it I hear and feel a thunderous BANG and lost my steering.
I rolled to a stop and got out to look at the carnage. My passenger wheel
was dangling by only the lower ball joint. Massive carnage! It appears
that the knuckle at the upper ball joint hoop broke (it was stressed from
a previous breakage) off causing the wheel to pretty much fall off. The
Warn alloy axle disintegrated in the "explosion" but low and
behold......... The CTM u-joint was still in one piece! Unbelievable.
How this u-joint survived this carnage is beyond me. I am now thoroughly
convinced that these joints truly are "bomb proof". To date,
Jack has not had a single u-joint failure. That's beyond impressive knowing
that there are idiots like me out there running them! At $150 each, they
aren't cheap. But considering they have a lifetime warranty and are completely
rebuildable, this will probably be the last axle ujoint you ever have
to buy. I will update this article as I have more experiences to share
regarding my CTM u-joints, so stay tuned!
UPDATE!!! *** (03-11-02)
particpated in event #1 of the CalROCS series in Victorville, CA on March
9-10. I hammered on the vehicle all weekend, punishing the front end like
never before. Not only did I have ZERO breakage, but I bagged a 2nd place
victory. I could NOT have done it without my CTM ujoints keeping the front
end in one piece!
UPDATE!!! *** (03-18-02)
Shaffer and I participated in event #1 of the RRCA (formerly ARCA) in
Farmington, NM this weekend. Mike's buggy is equipped with CTM ujoints
in his Wagoneer Dana 44 front end. We hammered and hammered the vehicle
at full throttle all weekend, and had zero breakage. Thanks to some great
driving and a bulletproof vehicle, we finished the weekend on top with
a FIRST PLACE VICTORY!\
CTM Ujoints in my Land Cruiser guided my wife Kelly to a 17th place finish
in the CalROCS Reno event. These joints have withstood several competitions
and trail runs with ZERO maintenance! The CTMs in Mike Shaffer's buggy
have helped us win TWO MORE competitions..... A first place finish in
event #2 of the RCAA series in Vernal, UT, and a first place finish in
CalROCS Reno event.
Ujoints have guided Team Shaffer to two consecutive victories in the RCAA
series, a second place, and a first place in the CalROCS Reno event. The
same set of ujoints has flawlessly held up to this kind of tortorous abuse.
back to reality... I was able to break a CTM ujoint this weekend in my
Land Cruiser. The ujoint in question is the original ujoint installed
in this article. It has held up to over abuse in epic Dana 60-like porportions.
But this just goes to show that even though I am completely sold on CTM
ujoints, they are not completely unbreakable. Everything has a limit.
32991 Calle Aviador Ste. #E
San Juan Capistrano, CA