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Old 03-14-2006, 07:57 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Opinions wanted: Front axle question

Ok, so, here's the story:

I have 250,000 miles on a D30 front axle in my cherokee. I had a "clunk" that I thought was something else, but turned out to be caused from one of the caps on the Pass' side U joint falling completely off and the trunion banging around in the hole.

So, I figure: "No problem, one new U-joint coming right up.". But then I start wondering how much dammage was done to the mounting surface while the clunking was going on. (It was like that when I bought it a few months ago.)

So then I was thinking about replacing THAT too. And I start noticing that people who upgrade their front axle often sell the entire front D30 assembly (stearing and all) for next to free since nobody ever WANTS D30 front end.

So here is my question for any who care to converse. If it were your rig, would you :

1) Replace the U joint and run it 'til it blows up - replacing the whole axle at that point.

2) Replace the U and associated components and start saving for a front D44 later this year.

3) replace the entire front end with a lower milage D30, taking the oppurtunity to put a locker in it while it is "on the bench"

4) Run it with the clunk until I have enough to get a better front end.

5) Other cool sounding idea that I haven't mentioned


please note:
Yes, I will be receptive to posts mentioning any front axle you may be looking to sell.


For a bit of context, here is my current plan for this rig:
I expect that within the next 8 months this '89 XJ will have 2- 4 inches of lift with either 31's or 33's (depending on the lift being either 2 or 4). I am going to put very low gears in it ( 4.88 isn't usually considered VERY low, but with 31's or 33's that should do the trick. ) with the intention of having a truck that sits around all week and then is a weekend toy. I still want it street legal, so I can use it to haul stuff to the dump, and get me to work in foul weather (it floods often where I live and my Daily Driver is low to the ground) But I don't intend this to be driven on the street much.


So what would you do?
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Last edited by Fozzy_Bear; 03-14-2006 at 07:59 AM.
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Old 03-14-2006, 08:42 AM   #2 (permalink)
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I vote number one. If it works, go with it. Wheel the piss out of it till it breaks then upgrade.
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Old 03-14-2006, 11:13 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Being the lowest cost option, That was my first choice too. And with my plans for this truck, I know that a D30 will actually be OK in my application. (If I was going with 35's this whole issue would be a no-brainer)

But the other side of that coin is, "how much time/money is a stock D30 worth spending?" If I remove the Ujoint, do I also replace the yoke? Well as long as I'm there I might as well, I know it's gotta be dammaged at least a little. Then what about the seals...bushings...etc. It's got the vacume disconnect on it, should I install a cable actuator while Im there? etc. etc. etc.

I don't have enough (any) experience with repairing a D30, or with installing a replacement (D44 for example) axle in an XJ. What I'm really hoping for is somebody who has done both to give me a clue at what point it is worth it. But, like the title shows, I'm willing to hear anybody's opinions.
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Old 03-14-2006, 05:39 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Replace the ujoint only.
Then in a few weeks I'll be done with my Dana 44 build and swap and I will sell you a D30 from a 2001 XJ with an ARB and 4.56 gears, recent brake job for a good price.
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Old 03-14-2006, 06:54 PM   #5 (permalink)
 
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Had the same u joint dilemma w/ my 89 xj. I replaced the u-joint (the ears on the axles were fine). I added a cable actuator as the vacuum was a p.o.s.. Didn't change any gears although they will be done this year. For fun I welded up the front spiders. It was great this winter ... if it got tough going, I just pulled the cable and both fronts drove and it clawed its way out.
My vote ... change the u joint. You might want to start spraying everything with a penetrating oil now.
I just bought a shop press and wow, does it make changing u joints a breeze.

just my .02
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Old 03-14-2006, 07:57 PM   #6 (permalink)
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replace the joint and for security put a spot weld on the caps of the joint holding it in the yoke run it till it breaks and in mean time build a D44. just finished doing the D44 in my TJ i was running 16x35x15 boggers on a D44 rear and stock D30 front no problems ... if you arent gonna do any hardcore wheeling build the front D30 alil there good axles for smaller tires ..just think tho if ya build a D44 front for it be prepared to spend a few bucks doing it ... i have about 2400.00 into mine but its also built as tough as you can do a D44 .. good luck
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Old 03-14-2006, 10:25 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sierra Drifter
Replace the ujoint only.
Then in a few weeks I'll be done with my Dana 44 build and swap and I will sell you a D30 from a 2001 XJ with an ARB and 4.56 gears, recent brake job for a good price.
If you're local enough that shipping will not be stupid... sure. Drop me a line then.


Quote:
Originally Posted by CreepyCrawler
... i have about 2400.00 into mine but its also built
...
I just want to avoid being nickle-and-dimed to the point where I look back and see that I have spend more money patching the stock piece than I would have spent replacing it with something stronger from the get-go. If $2400 is a good view of doing a replacement the right way (fully built) then I am guessing that I have found my answer ... $2400 is a @%#$ing lot of nickles and dimes ...
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Old 03-14-2006, 10:43 PM   #8 (permalink)
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yeah but you could build a stock D44 for around 700-800 also ... i went with flat top knuckles high steer Alloy axle shafts new gears and locker 1 1/2" DOM tie rods n drag links hiem joints and so on it adds up building it stout.. figure an axle donor around 150-300 .... axle bracket kit for 320 (or you could shave your stock axle and reuse them But they are weak compared to aftermarket ones) , gears and install kit 200.. the only think is the only dana44 axle that uses the stock 5 on 4.5 is a rubicon housing it uses all the stock dana 30 outer parts just the housing and inners are Dana44 .. otherwise you have to use wheel adaptors on the front to make it back to 5 on 4.5 unless you do the real also .. i went 6 lug out of a wagoneer on my build front n rear ..
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Last edited by CreepyCrawler; 03-14-2006 at 10:45 PM.
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Old 03-15-2006, 06:28 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CreepyCrawler
yeah but you could build a stock D44 for around 700-800 also ...
Well, $700 is more like it. But after all of the feedback I've got. I am feeling pretty good about just putting a few bucks in the stock unit.

Thanks to all for the info.
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