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Discussion Starter #1
If I were to build a front axle from scratch that would best suite my current and future needs, I would love to build a stout Diamond LC/Toy, or maybe a Dana 60 since parts are easily available and most stock parts are decently strong.
Since I do not have the luxury or time of rebuilding and reengineering a whole new axle, I have to upgrade what I got.
Like usual, I decided to go big on the replacement parts so it should just be practically a bolt-on... so I thought.

I decided on the RCV front shafts, with 30 spline outers, along with their 30-spline drive flanges. My thought is hopefully these will be last shafts I buy for this axle and find out what else is week in my drivetrain!
Ultimate Dana 44 CV Axle Set for Jeep Wagoneer ('80-'92)




Yeah I could have went with chromo shafts, some Longfield u-joints and Warn hubs.. but since I had to sell the quad for parts, I knew I would not have this opportunity for a long time.

My setup:
1986 Wagoneer Dana 44, DS diff, high steer, leaf sprung, Ox Locker.. basically old school SAS, because it was, done initially back in 2003. I broke both inner and outer ears as well as both U-joints. The premium MileMarker hubs were also found to be trashed upon disassembly.


Well I knew the install were going to kick my ass, but more of a complete bare knuckles knocked-out ass whoopin is what I got. This whine-session is to provide light for anyone thinking of going with the same shafts, with some tips of what worked and what didn't that I found out on my own. There were no instructions in my box, and the You Tube videos and a few right ups were read, but did not seem to have the same problems as I had.

Of all the research, I knew you have to grind down the lower ball joint to be flush with the nut.
But what I wasn't expecting is how much clearancing was necessary to get the knuckle to open up as much as possible and to squeeze the CV onto the the inner shaft with the boot in the way.

Starting with the Pass-side I fought, and pushed, and squeezed, and grinded, and grinded, and grinded and fought and could not get that CV into the knuckle. I kept hitting. Well what I can tell you NOT TO DO is warm up the boot to temporarily soften it. Needless to say I ripped the dam boot and it permanently distorted it. Cost for a new boot is $60 and at least a week delay. :banghead:


I just couldnt make it fit, it almost seemed like it wasnt the right kit for the axle... so I started on the driver-side hoping to get one side done and for better luck.

More of the same... grind a crap load. But it's in! And this is how:
-After grinding the ball joint, I re-torqued the nut, painted it to match the knuckle, and painted an alignment line to easily check for loosening.
-I removed the steering stops,
-Shaved the backside of the inner C and knuckle lightly where they contacted at full left turn as much as I felt comfortable doing. Then did more when it wouldnt fit, until it did.
-You also have to grind the inside of the knuckle where the casting makes a V to the stock tie-rod mount. I smoothed it out bit by bit all the way to the backside of the spindle bolts using a die grinder and few wedge stones. This really helped but was time consuming since you had to pull out the CV you just fought to get in to that point, so you can grind again. Be sure to cover the inner stub and orange boot if you have to do more grinding.
-I finally got the CV mostly in, then it hit the spindle bolts.. so I marked the heads and threads with paint to try to get them in the same position, and knocked out the two front facing spindle bolts with a dead-blow.

Fighting the Boot. I did this several times until I finally got it in:
-I coated the inside of the boot with the supplied grease for lube.
-Once the CV is starting to go in, you are pressing it against the orange boot "seal". I found by NOT heating it up, I could use an old dull Toyota tire iron to stick in the boot and gently pry out out from being smashed. This really helped to align the CV and kept it from popping back at you. You have to keep pressure on the CV while doing this.
-I used a rubber dead-blow hammer to convince the CV it wanted to go in.
Pop... I got the CV to get past the knuckle!! Now the knuckled the turn again and you can align the splines of the inner shaft and CV.
-I pulled the boot outward so I could fit a pair of needle-noted locking pliers to old the shaft inside the axle tube. Do this so the boot will stay put while pressing in the CV, otherwise it goes into the tube.
-I used the stub shaft, though the knuckle, to help push the CV into the boot. Unfortunately for the install, good for the CV, air does not escape when pushing in the CV, so it pops back out.
-I used dull pick and stuck it through the now empty spindle bolt hole and into the boot, while pushing the CV/stub shaft. I then used an angled pick on the opposite side to gently-forcefully opening the boot and somehow it went in and stayed. If you counted, thats 3 things at once and it was only me. Today I used my stomach for more than eating... used it to push on the stub/CV while my hands did the prying... Reminded me of the time.... haha

Finishing:
-I used 3 washers on the outside of the knuckle and the spindle nut to pull the spindle bolt back into the knuckle, after aligning with the marks I made.
I reinstalled the caliper mounting plate and test fit the spindle for test fit and check knuckle rotation.


So why did the pass-side give me so much crap?
Well I believe its because I have a chevy flat-top knuckle for my high-steer. On the pass-side knuckle there is some extra casting inside the factory tie-rod 'V', making it look more like a sideways 'A'. I didn't realize this until I compared it after finishing the driver-side. The CV kept hitting that support filler and wasn't getting anywhere close to going in the knuckle.
Today I regretfully grinded out the filler to get a matching 'V' and smoothed out the inside with a 4" grinder as much as I could and will have to wait for the new boot to arrive to get at it again. I am sure more grinding will be necessary, but I will only grind the least amount necessary.

So the shafts were the right set for my axle, but that didn't account for the non-matching pass-side knuckle.
 

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Discussion Starter #2
So here is my iPhone pic I took before I realized the culprit of the Chevy flat top. It is clear that the whole axle/CV assembly cannot be slid through the knuckle/spindle opening. At the left of the pic you can see the cross brace of the "A"...


And as it is now..."V"


Not sure if I removed enough material until I get a new boot and try it all over again on this side.

Notice the ball joints are ground flush-ish with the nut, and marked with an alignment line once it was torqued down. Wont be much room to get back in and re-torque, so the marks will be needed to wrench tighten if necessary.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Here is the completed driver-side showing the bare metal where clearancing was needed.




Once I get the new boot, I will get back to the driver-side, finish rebuilding the hub assemblies and installing the drive flanges.

I did miss one thread here where a Jeeper had a similar problem and ended up removing the knuckle to finish the install, but I believe he also had a GM DS knuckle. Apparently, with Ford knuckles you can assemble the whole shaft and insert through the knuckle/spindle opening. Maybe a future junk yard endeavor, but for now I have to make my shit work with what I have.
 

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Should have bought a 60 for the $ you spent on those shafts.:rolleyes:For the love of god!,why are you trying to Polish a turd..
 

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Discussion Starter #5
You must have missed the first paragraph of my novel. This isnt a Heep rubicon where just one part number and check would get me my dream axle.
If i were building the truck from scratch, without a doubt a 60 would be a better option. But considering the costs of a new axle, even a junk yard would have to be fully rebuilt with bearings and seals in the pumpkin and outers. I would have to convert the outers to 6-lug more than likely. New gears, locker, hubs, maybe still the shafts and ujoints. Then what about the steering, how much of what would I want to rebuild or re-engineer, let alone shaving the axle and setting it up to match up to my existing suspension. Possibly have to cutting and rotating the C's. Since I do not have the equipment to make all this happen, the cost of Labor is added to the list.
Not my idea of a quick bolt-on upgrade bud, and definitely not as cheap as these RCVs for a one-time shot.
I will be planning on building a new axle in the future and will do it right then, when I am prepared to convert the suspension to links and steering the full hydro. For now you're right, I am just polishing a turd. Though it still smells like shit it will function better, IMO looks sexy as hell!
 

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What size tires are you planning to run? If your not planing on runing huge tires, upgrading what ya got is fine. You'll just have to know its not the ultimate.

Curious as to why you had to grind on the backside of the inner knuckle? I'm not seeing where the cv would ever touch that?

Kevo
 

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Discussion Starter #7 (Edited)
What size tires are you planning to run? If your not planing on runing huge tires, upgrading what ya got is fine. You'll just have to know its not the ultimate.

Curious as to why you had to grind on the backside of the inner knuckle? I'm not seeing where the cv would ever touch that?

Kevo
Wearing out my 37's and will probably go to 39.5 with this narrow front axle.

The backside of the inner knuckle was hitting the C at this location. The factory C and knuckle has alot of cast slop, and being metal, even a sliver of excess material will limit full range. Factory specs are meant to use bump stops, and I needed to go beyond that to fully open the knuckle to get the cv in from the front. I didnt dig into the main body, and mostly just smoothed out the areas that were hitting and it actually helped.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
damn right heading to KOH. You Pep?
 

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Discussion Starter #11
To build a Dana 60 with his current locker style would run close to $3500 - $4000, looks like he spent about $1600 for the RCV's....
thanks for validating. From my understanding a D44 with RCVs is comparable to a stock 60. Not quite 1600 for the RCVs and drive flanges, but not far off either.
 

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Discussion Starter #13 (Edited)
That's the plan . Not sure what day I'll be out there . You ?
Just ordered the replacement boot from Daves Offroad Supply... great guy to work with and awesome pricing. Thats who I got my RCVs from when another vendor here wouldnt return my PM or phone calls. Dave is a vendor on Pirate.. send him a PM for a quote: RckCrwlr87YJ
http://www.davesoffroadsupply.com/

Also had to pick up a need-tip for my grease gun for the RCV stub shafts at Harbor Freight.

Pep,
I am heading up on Wed morning and raging until Sunday. I will be camped near Turkey Claw. Look for my Tundra and Taco with small group of non-crawlers. Hit me up on my cell.
 

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Discussion Starter #15
Well the boot came in the other day and today was the day rain or shine to put it all back together. The rain came, and the truck is still not together. I borrowed a friend to drink with and we were able to get the pass-side cv into the knuckle for most part. We worked the boot around the cv, but could not get the cv onto the splines enough to close the knuckle to work in the cv better. The wind, rain and bound-up slippery cv won todays match. Hope to find some time tomorrow to try again. :shaking:
 

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I have a waggy 44 im planning on running rcvs in as well when my 37s wear out.....are you really planning on running 39s on it...think it will survive?
 

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I've seen them survive under a 6000lb rig with a spool on 38s. Even if they do break rcv will warranty them.
 

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Discussion Starter #18 (Edited)
Well since my last update, it was a little drier outside so back at it again.
I put a call into RCV during the week for some guidance and spoke with Kraig. He seemed genuinely interested. Surprisingly he mentioned the inner shaft could be slightly trimmed (1/8" or so) to all the CV to squeeze in the knuckle easier.

In the process of trying to knock the stuck CV out of the knuckle from the night before, while opening/closing the knuckle.... the CV popped into place! Imagine that!

So after we slide the CV into the boot, and rebuilt the spindle and caliper bracket, we started pumping the supplied RCV grease through the needle tip zerk at the end of the stub staft. This has to be done before finishing up the hub assembly. You can hear the air getting worked out and turning the knuckle helped work the grease in fully.
I'm glad this worked out, as I was not too excited to trim the inner pass-side shaft.

Another Don't: Don't pump too much grease as this can push the cv out of the boot. We learned the hard way as this pushed the stub shaft outward too much to not allow the flange cover to be installed. This also allowed the seal to be broken between the CV and boot on turning to the maximum. With the wheel/tire on I cannot steer to maximum any ways with my setup, but we pulled out some excess grease so we could push the stub shaft in enough to clear the flange cover.
 

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Discussion Starter #19
Met RCV At KOH

During my phone call with Kraig, he mentioned that RCV representation was going to be at KOH, and if I couldn't install the stubborn pass-side, they would provide some hands-on assistance on a non-race day. Luckily I didn't need the help, but I did run into them by the Jumbo-Tron, including Kraig. They again seemed interested in my specific build and the issues I ran into. Hopefully some of our conversations will end up on FAQ or something for others who may run into similar conflicts.

Thanks for the hat and magnetic koozie gentlemen!
 
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