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Are chromoly axles enough?

Jerry Bransford

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I'm of the opinion that you don't usually need alloy shafts for an open Dana 35 with 33" tires so long as the trails aren't that tough and you know how to not abuse an axle.. But when you add a rear locker, you do need alloy axle shafts in a Dana 35. Adding a locker can easily double the stress/torque a single axle shaft sees which can snap a Dana 35 shaft.
 
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Mr. Bills

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@MellowYellow asked, "Will chromoly axles be enough of an upgrade for a %99 daily driver and an occasional off road on easy trails. . . ?" He qualified his inquiry by telling us that he is "trying to keep on a tight budget."

I stand by my suggestion that @MellowYellow retain his stock Dana 35 axles shafts unless and until he damages one, even if he does install a Lock Rite or other lunchbox locker, Based upon how he actually uses his Jeep the odds are in his favor and he doesn't have a lot of money.
 
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Rob5589

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@MellowYellow asked, "Will chromoly axles be enough of an upgrade for a %99 daily driver and an occasional off road on easy trails. . . ?" He qualified his inquiry by telling us that he is "trying to keep on a tight budget."

I stand by my suggestion that @MellowYellow retain his stock Dana 35 axles shafts unless and until he damages one, even if he does install a Lock Rite or other lunchbox locker, Based upon how he actually uses his Jeep the odds are in his favor and he doesn't have a lot of money.
Not a bad way to go, "fix it if you break it." The thing that blows it breaking deep on a trail and/or a loooong way from home. Of course, anything can break, just try to minimize the risk whether it be light on the go pedal, stronger axles, etc.
 

Andy5150

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While I agree with the " fix it when you break it" way of wheeling, the problem is that with the D 35, you could lose a wheel on the way home going down the road. On a short wheelbase/ lifted vehicle, that can get interesting.
 

Jerry Bransford

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Not a bad way to go, "fix it if you break it." The thing that blows it breaking deep on a trail and/or a loooong way from home. Of course, anything can break, just try to minimize the risk whether it be light on the go pedal, stronger axles, etc.
Exactly. Those who aren't concerned with breaking an axle, just having the 'fix it when it happens' attitude, must not wheel trails tough enough to see many broken Dana 35 axle shafts as I see regularly.

This happened to a friend's Jeep with open Dana 35 axles several months ago. We had to send someone 60 miles to pick up an axle shaft & it took several hours of work to replace it to get her ready to drive home. I was watching her when we all heard it snap, she was taking it very easy up an obstacle. The stand from a Hi-Lift was strapped to her frame to hold the tire & axle in so we could get her back to camp.

Marianne640x480.jpg


The below was my first of at least a half-dozen rigs with broken Dana 35 axle shafts I helped to get back to camp using the same jack stand method. This happened around '98 or '99. He was running 33's.

Dana35cOnTrailBeingRescued.JPG
 
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Fouledplugs

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to see many broken Dana 35 axle shafts as I see regularly.

This pretty much sums up the Dana 35. I think OP has four options.
1) Wheel it as it with backup spares from a junkyard just in case of breakage.
2) Upgrade just the shafts
2) Super 35
3) Axle swap (I firmly believe a factory TJ 44 would be better to trail ride stock.)
 
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Mr. Bills

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@MellowYellow's jeep is used 99% on pavement and 1% on easy trails. He doesn't "wheel trails tough enough to see many broken Dana 35 axle shafts as I see regularly." He also doesn't appear to have any need to be perceived by everyone as one of the Big Dogs.

That is why I suggest that because he is on a tight budget he not spend money on aftermarket axle shafts unless and until he breaks something. My recommendation would likely change if he starts doing more difficult trails or his budget increases enough to do a comprehensive build.

Let's not forget that there are many tens of thousands of Wranglers currently in use with stock Dana 35 rear axles that regularly do easy trails without incident.
 
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MellowYellow

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@MellowYellow :

I know this will sound like heresy since so many in the Jeep community are obsessed with aftermarket parts and modifications, but for your application and the uses you describe my suggestion would be to continue to run stock axle shafts in your Dana 35 until you damage one, and then consider that unfortunate experience to be your upgrade opportunity.

Odds are that you will never break or twist your stock rear axle shafts, even with 33" tires, 4.56 gears and a Lock Rite. Also, your jeep will never be any stronger than its weakest link, so if you upgrade rear axle shafts it will be just the beginning of an expensive process. Best to be conservative with your modifications if you don't have the budget to go all the way.
Thanks. I have zero experience with the Dana 35 so I've just been listening to the horror stories. Waiting till I break one kinda defeats my purpose of not being stranded in some "land that time forgot" waiting for help. My thoughts were that since illI be in there regearing it would be a good time to put the axles in.
 
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Jerry Bransford

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Waiting till I break one kinda defeats my purpose of not being stranded in some "land that time forgot" waiting for help. My thoughts were that since illI be in there regearing it would be a good time to put the axles in.
Exactly, good decision. Dana 35 shafts break often enough with 33's that it's a crapshoot since you can't always guarantee a trail that was easy the last time will still be easy the next time. Trails wash out, get dug out, boulders roll around, etc.

Waiting until something breaks that so commonly breaks on the trail is not a very enlightened way to wheel. Suggestions to wait until it breaks usually only come from either inexperienced wheelers or those with Dana 44 axles who don't have to worry about it. But that's just my personal opinion.

The website at the below link is always entertaining to view and educational to those who aren't aware that Dana 35 axle shafts break more commonly than some like to talk about.

http://www.billhughes.com/dana35c/
 
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Mr. Bills

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. . . Waiting till I break one kinda defeats my purpose of not being stranded in some "land that time forgot" waiting for help. . . .

Rule #1: Never offroad alone.

Rule #2: See Rule #1.

I thought you were on a tight budget.

There is nothing wrong with upgrading axle shafts at the same time you re-gear if you can afford it. I installed chromoly axle shafts in my Dana 44 rear axle at the same time I re-geared to 5.38 even though it would have been considerably less expensive to keep my stock axle shafts and buy junkyard shafts for trail spares. Also, rather than rebuild my stock front driveshaft when the CV joint started clicking I simply replaced it with a custom made Tom Wood shaft with all new u-joints. Sure it cost more, but I had it the next day, it was an easy bolt in, and I now have a warranty. Fortunately, I am at a place in life where the expense is no longer a concern. However, that was not always the case.

You should be aware that when you upgrade your rear axle shafts you are moving the failure point to someplace else in the system and may not actually be improving overall offroad reliability and resistance to part failure unless you do a comprehensive upgrade of other parts as well. Its best to have a comprehensive plan before you begin, and sometimes the most prudent decision is to keep things relatively stock and stick with the easier trails until you have the means and ability to put that plan into action.

Have a happy 4th. I'm off to the lake for a picnic and evening fireworks.
 
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piratemonkey

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At the end of the day it's going to come down to how you drive.

I'm a big 'light footprint' wheeler, apart from tyre prints I try to leave no other signs that I've been there.

I usually pick the hardest lines, but being mechanically sympathetic I actually assess the terrain and pick a line.
There's more skill involved in picking a line that you can drive rather than hitting everything full noise and hoping you make it up.

Apart from snapping some shitty Chinese transfer mounts I've never had a breakage (touch wood), even in Suzuki Sierras with motor conversions that add 50% more power, massive transfer gear reductions and big tyres that would put a lot of stress on the tiny diff and axles.

If you know your limitations you'll be fine on stock axles.
 
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Westtown Willy

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Tales of stock D35s failing are legendary, the stuff of funny videos & compilations, but at least from what I’ve been able to find the tales of Super35s failing don’t appear to be any more common than D44s failing. Am I wrong?

Not trying to start the axle wars just curious about actual failure rates on the S35…
 

Jerry Bransford

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Tales of stock D35s failing are legendary, the stuff of funny videos & compilations, but at least from what I’ve been able to find the tales of Super35s failing don’t appear to be any more common than D44s failing. Am I wrong?

Not trying to start the axle wars just curious about actual failure rates on the S35…
A good quality Super 35 kit like was originally designed & manufactured by Superior Axle and now RGA has a stellar reputation for lack of any problems among users. They hold up well on trails difficult enough that few forum members here would ever see.

When I spoke with Mac who ran Superior Axle, he confirmed they had only had several warranty replacements over the years they manufactured their Super 35 kits. Super 35 axles are run out at Johnson Valley on a regular basis without problem, which was also where they were initially tested before releasing them for sale. Mrblaine had a part in the original Super 35's design, as he did with the Super 8.8 and Super 44. The "Super" concept has been well proven, it's something I'd trust if I had to back to a Dana 35 for some unfathomable reason.
 

ac_

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Exactly. Those who aren't concerned with breaking an axle, just having the 'fix it when it happens' attitude, must not wheel trails tough enough to see many broken Dana 35 axle shafts as I see regularly.

This happened to a friend's Jeep with open Dana 35 axles several months ago. We had to send someone 60 miles to pick up an axle shaft & it took several hours of work to replace it to get her ready to drive home. I was watching her when we all heard it snap, she was taking it very easy up an obstacle. The stand from a Hi-Lift was strapped to her frame to hold the tire & axle in so we could get her back to camp.

View attachment 46358

The below was my first of at least a half-dozen rigs with broken Dana 35 axle shafts I helped to get back to camp using the same jack stand method. This happened around '98 or '99. He was running 33's.

View attachment 46359

@Jerry Bransford I can kind of see what you are doing with the jack. Can you explain that more in case I see this on the trail. That looks like a pretty slick option, but I have never seen that done before?
 

Jerry Bransford

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@Jerry Bransford I can kind of see what you are doing with the jack. Can you explain that more in case I see this on the trail. That looks like a pretty slick option, but I have never seen that done before?
You just remove the base & jack mechanism from a hi-lift jack, or use a piece of scrap wood, tree limb, etc. & use it to hold the tire/wheel assembly in when there's a busted Dana 35 axle shaft. The straps go between the stand & frame to hold the stand against the wheel to keep it from sliding outward when driving.

Here's another photo from when she broke her axle shaft.

20180323_143225_resized.jpg.jpg
 
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ac_

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You just remove the base & jack mechanism from a hi-lift jack, or use a piece of scrap wood, tree limb, etc. & use it to hold the tire/wheel assembly in when there's a busted Dana 35 axle shaft. The straps go between the stand & frame to hold the stand against the wheel to keep it from sliding outward when driving.

Here's another photo from when she broke her axle shaft.

View attachment 46481
That is clever. That is a good trail tip fix or bandaid. We should have a forum for that!