Then started welding the knuckles to the tube. Started with the crown alloy 44-30 mig wire for the first pass and as a butter layer to cover the entire face of the ductile cast iron knuckle. Then welded the rest out with er100 wire (what I have to use on the truss as well). Not the prettiest, but that magic electric eraser will fix that. I do know now after playing with these Meritor housings, and with my background, is that welding them with straight mild steel wire is a very bad idea. Cast iron to mild steel consumable as a butter layer always needs to be done first.
I figure I'll be at the 1100lb range when done with stock outers (truss only weighs ~150lbs), including brakes & steering. There are a few tricks I do to drop weight, but I'm not really concerned about it at this point. The axle tube I'm using is really only slightly lighter then the factory tube, and when the truss is included its a wash. So the weight savings is at the center section.
Benefits? Stronger housing (due to better materials), and 100x more options available in terms of gears, lockers, etc, with the 9" center, which is what I want. Plus the weldable axle housing.
Just being curious here, but do you really think you need all that truss? Or is it partially to make the center more proportional haha. Not one ounce of bashing in this question either.. Legitimately wanting to see this come together and be badass...To the unknowing, its gonna make them scratch their heads
Do I need all of it? Probably not, but the work/cost/weight to do the few extra pieces is fuck all, so I went ahead with it. I've said previously I only intend to build this once then never look at it again.
Bit of an update. Was able to get all of the internal welding complete, only thing left to weld is the top flanges/cover plates. However, these will be left until after the shock/link /steering mounts are complete (will tie them down to the axle tube) there are a couple smaller cover plates to be added as well, but there are all related to the shock or link mounts and ill wait till then. So essentially what you see is how the final product will look. Next up is the other axle after I get a few small other honey do projects wrapped up.
For jigging I have a pair of jackstands ends welded into my bench (you can see them in the first picture), I set the axle so the lowest point is ~1/4" above the bench top, I then use a couple of big ass clamps and clamp the knuckles down to the bench. The using the jib crane on the bench, I hook a cable around the diff in the center and jack it up and put as much upward pressure as I can, then I weld only on the top of the diff, and take my time. I can rotate it around and do this in almost any position.
That compares well with a typical dually 1-ton. I wonder how difficult it would be to machine the spindle to go where a D60 spindle goes. I'm not sure if that's a sealing surface at the base of the spindle but that's the only thing I could see being in the way. If it's not in the way I can see those spindles, hubs and outers going well on a '05+ Super-duty 60
2:1 is such a manageable ratio that I'm surprised nobody's chucked a set of spindles in the lathe and made them fit on a D44 or D60. For a weekend warrior not pushing the limits of his knuckle setup then it might work well to run 3ish gears, 2:1 hubs and not have to worry about strength of anything inboard of the knuckle. An axle ratio of 6:1 isn't exactly highway capable but still fast enough for a trail rig that sees roads from time to time.
That thought is what turned me onto this, as a user on this site (brian mattews) did just that. Turned down the hub on the spindle and drilled/tapped a new pattern on the back to work with a spidertrax dana 60 knuckle, the pictures are from a few pages back.
Welp; the few projects turned into 5 months, oh well. Anyway looks like i'm a bachelor for the next 3 or so weeks, so time to pound out some work. Axle #2 is on the bench. Going to do this slightly different to make the tight spots easier to weld, but axle will be similar overall. Starting with the center then working out. Hoping to get a couple plates a night cut out & tacked.
Forgot to toss up a picture of the axle under the truck.
Getting there, cover plates need the slots cut for the welds to the stiffeners, and the stiffeners need some touch up to allow them to sit flush. Then its time to plate the bottom of the 3rd member. Once all the plate is cut I'll remove the truss & weld the inner c's to the tube and start welding.
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