The BillaVista 60

Building a Bomb Proof Dana 60 Front Axle
(at home, by yourself, with off-the shelf components and no particular skill,knowledge, or special tools!)
By BillaVista

The BillaVista-60 Super Dana 60 Front Axle Project.

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Introduction

2003 was a year distinguished by the continued explosive growth in popularity of hardcore off-roading, trail riding, and rock crawling. It was also a year that saw a massive increase in the availability of hardcore parts for the most serious rock crawlers and trail runners, thanks to a number of select companies (like those pictured above) stepping up to the plate and offering truly innovative, great quality parts - built specifically for the abuse we like to dish out.


Poly Performance Drive flanges


Superior Axles & CTM U-joints

4x4s and off-road vehicles have always enjoyed a large amount of aftermarket support - but back in the good-old-bad-old days many of these parts were more show than go - think chrome diff covers!

Thankfully times have changed, and products are now available that truly meet the needs of the hardcore 'wheeler.

The most exciting developments of the year, in my opinion, were in the area of product development for our venerable and beloved Dana 60 front axles. Sure, there are other axles gaining popularity, and "portals" may be all the rage, but nothing beats the tried and true American 1 ton axle for simple, available, brute strength and reliability - it's still the king of 4x4 front steering axles and is poised to remain so for many, many years to come.


CTM U-joints


Poly Performance Drive flanges


Poly Performance Drive flanges


Crane Indexed D60 Knuckles

Other more popular, but smaller, axles have enjoyed much greater aftermarket support in the past. Stronger aftermarket parts have long been available for the Dana 44, Ford 9", and Toyota axles of the world - but until recently support for the Dana 60 front lagged. That all changed in 2003 as competitors in various rock crawling organizations continued to push the envelope of what was considered conquerable terrain, with the attendant increase in carnage of parts.
Dedicated hardcore trail runners followed suit - creating and demonstrating a real demand for hardcore aftermarket Dana 60 support. Most notably - Pirate4x4.com's own legendary carnage-king, moderator and all-around hero/villain, Camo, drew enormous interest with his completely over-the-top unlimited build of a truly custom built-to-the-hilt front Dana60, known as the Camo-60. You can read about it here and here. Reading it inspired many a builder and no-doubt manufacturer to boot. It really brought to the forefront the concept of much needed aftermarket support for the Dana 60 front.


Superior Alloy Axle v. Stock


Poly Performance Drive flanges

 

I knew I wanted to do something similar, if perhaps not quite so over-the-top exotic. So the first question to address was: exactly what did I hope to build/accomplish and how?

The Dana 60 front axle is a terrific axle in stock, or lightly modified trim, but it still has it's share of weak spots. Some time ago, when I wrote the original Dana 60 Bible I compiled a list of known weak spots:

  • Stock 30 spline stub shafts
  • Stock 30 spline lockout hubs
  • Stock 1480 series u-joint
  • Inner 35 spline shafts (especially early "neck-down" shafts)
  • 35 Spline lockout hubs.

 


CTM U-joints


CTM U-joints

Taking these into account I decided to set out to build myself the biggest, baddest, bombproof Dana 60 front axle I could, utilizing the best of the new crop of "off the shelf" products - at home, by myself, with my modest tools and facilities and hugely average mechanical skills.  

By undertaking the project and documenting the it here, I hope to accomplish three things -

  • The building of an awesome confidence-inspiring "Super Dana 60" front axle for the Wolf, easily able to handle abusive driving and larger 42"+ tires.
  • Create a reliable, trustworthy source of "Ultimate 60" tech for the hardcore community.
  • Provide a source of product exposure and endorsement as a way of supporting the companies that take the time and assume the risks involved with developing and marketing the products that we, a relatively small niche market, want and need.


Superior Alloy Axle v. Stock


Superior Axles & CTM U-joints


Crane Indexed D60 Knuckles

 

This article is the result.

It is organized into 6 parts as follows:

 

Part 1 constitutes the "tech primer" to establish a base of knowledge from which we can make well informed choices and decisions. Having a good rudimentary understanding of the tech behind all the hype will allow us to discuss product strengths and weaknesses from an informed standpoint.

Heavily subdivided itself, this section contains a wealth of information on

  • Steel, it's properties, manufacture, alloys and treatments. What is (and is not) an alloy steel, why, and why should I care?
  • Splines and axle shaft tech - is there a "proper" or "best" way to build a 4x4 axle shaft?
  • Stress, strain, failure analysis - just "what makes a part 'strong'?"
  • Sources, references, bibliography - where can I learn more?

 


Superior Axles & CTM U-joints

Part 2 is all about the heart of the axle, and a product combination "match made in heaven" - the all new Superior alloy axle shafts combined with "Axle" Jack Graef's world famous CTM U-joints

 

Part 3 is all about the bling! Seriously though - part 3 is about a unique and innovative product by one of the most well respected Pirate4x4 vendors that combines awesome strength AND some serious style - the Poly Performance Chrom-moly 35 spline drive flanges.

 


Poly Performance Drive flanges


Crane D60 HD Diff Cover

 

Part 4 covers 2 different but equally impressive products from Crane High Clearance. One is the relatively simple but beautifully executed unbreakable life-time warranty super heavy duty diff cover...

 

...the other is the most unique and innovative product seen yet for the Dana 60 front - the awesome new Crane "indexed" high clearance alloy steel steering knuckles.

 


Crane Indexed D60 Knuckles

?

 

Part 5 is about the locker of choice

 

Part 6 details my ongoing testing of the BillaVista-60 as I put it through its paces in the real world. It is also a summary of the project - what did I like the most, what would I not do again, what would I do differently etc.

 


The Wolf patrolling its territory!


Crane Indexed D60 Steering Arms
Superior Axles & CTM U-joints
CTM U-joint
Crane Indexed D60 Knuckles
Crane HD Diff Cover
Poly Performance Drive Flanges
Superior Alloy Axle
CTM U-joint

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Contact Info:

Poly Performance Offroad Products

725 Buckley Rd
San Luis Obispo, CA 93401
Phone: 805-783-2060
sales@polyperformance.com
http://www.polyperformance.com/

CTM Racing Products, Inc.

32991 Calle Aviador #E
San Juan Capistrano, CA 92675
Phone:. 949-487-0770
Fax: 949-487-0772
info@ctmracing.com
http://www.ctmracing.com/

Crane Hi Clearance

Phone: 303-917-4851

http://www.cranehiclearance.com

Joshua@cranehiclearance.com

Superior Axle and Gear
1477 Davril Circle
Corona, CA 92880

Phone (888) 522-2953
Fax (888) 747-2953

http://www.superioraxle.com/

ron@superioraxle.com

 


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