Gear change and lockers: Overlooked items?

DieselJeep

TJ Enthusiast
Oct 31, 2018
290
KY
I'm looking at doing a Super 35 kit for my TJ and a gear change simultaneously. I'm going with 3.55s (diesel) and ARB RD101 front and ARB rear locker and revolution 27 spline discovery axles in the front (30 splines aren't available for that carrier in a Dana 30 from what I could tell). I'm planning on revolution gears. I want to replace all bearings and seals in the axles and pinions and may need to locate some additional spacers.

I currently run 33 x 10.5s and don't want to go bigger, but if I'm towing a bit more I might think about running 31s which I've got sitting around. I'm not against crawling over the occasional rock, but I'm very ignorant of how to engage in that activity, so if I tried anything I would try to idle over or back up and find another path.

I want to do the swap myself and I will be getting a cheap spreader, shim driver, some clam shell bearing pullers, and a pinion flange wrench tool, but I'd like some suggestions for those of you that are experienced. I do plan to do various axles in my spare time for some friends. I have dial indicators and bases, a beam style torque wrench (I think that's what it's called) and various seal drivers and stuff. I have done some diff work, but never a gear change and I'd like to learn, because I also have a 11.5 AAM I'm installing an ARB locker in first. I don't know if the 11.5 AAM will need any work or not, the front looked brand new, but needed inner seals and I bent a shaft when stuck in the front axle. I have a special spanner wrench for the 11.5 AAM, but I would like a bearing puller that could handle the pinion bearings, which I'd like to replace while swapping the carrier and bearings. Please suggest more tools if you think useful (I've got more Jeeps that'll eventually need work).

What else would be handy to swap out or replace while I'm in there. Or should I just ditch this setup for something else? I haven't seen a good price for Dana 44s and I would still be regearing them and rebuilding them and they don't go numerically low as I want to go, so I'm guessing I won't be saving anything by swapping axles. Eventually I'd like to go HD springs and some nice shocks to accommodate my 2" lift and 1" BL. Also I will be swapping out the TCase one of these days when I have money and decided between the Atlas 2 (5:1) or Atlas 4. Oh I will be dropping my extended range fuel tank as well, because of the limited access to the rear axle and I kind of want to raise the tank slightly.

Any suggestions or warnings are what I'm looking for. I'd like to start accumulating stuff soon, but I do have to work on my truck first.
 
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DieselJeep

DieselJeep

TJ Enthusiast
Oct 31, 2018
290
KY
I'm a mechanical engineer, so I'm more inclined than experienced. I do work with gears a lot, but nothing this small. I'm not saying this is a slam dunk, but I think I'm capable and I've been inside many diffs, just never set up the ring and pinion, just verified backlash and pinion torque.

I'm mainly looking for other stuff on the steering or suspension that would be a good time to swap it out. Also tool recommendations. I won't put it together without some proper checks and I'll throw it on a trailer and take it to a pro if there's anything too crazy and I'll post pics on here to make sure I'm not screwing up too much.

Also if there's a compelling reason to build another axle and swap it in, especially in the rear I'd love to hear the recommendations. I know we are always talking gearing and axles so I hate to waste people's time. We always just say swap that out, but just going to a super 35 requires a gear change usually and we're talking just over $3k for regearing, bearings, axle shafts, air locker, air compressor, etc and then adding another $1200 for labor gets pricey.
 

AndyG

TJ Addict
Supporting Member
Jul 30, 2018
2,161
Alabama
Cool, Zombiecon knows a lot on gears , and Rob does .

It does add up . I have a friend that just slapped 35's on a sport and thought all he needed was wider flares..boy was he in for a surprise once he couldn't turn his wheels enough !

Sounds like you know the territory , keep us posted , I can tell you are smart enough to know when to watch out .

Good post , hopefully some guys will chime in-

On steering , check everything that moves or can move , especially watch the track bar bushings .
 
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DetroitTJ

Member
Jan 25, 2019
41
Detroit, MI
I just finished building a Ford 8.8 and rebuilding my Dana 30 with ELocker. I am a novice. The Ford was way easier because the shims for the carrier are outside the carrier bearings. For the Dana 30 you should use “set up bearings “ rather than press on and off the bearings each time you change the shims. After working the better part of a day I just took my Dana 30 to a ring and pinon shop and they set the gears for $150.

If you don’t have a hydraulic press then I think you will have a hard time swapping gears and carriers.

It’s fun to learn though.
 
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DieselJeep

DieselJeep

TJ Enthusiast
Oct 31, 2018
290
KY
I just finished building a Ford 8.8 and rebuilding my Dana 30 with ELocker. I am a novice. The Ford was way easier because the shims for the carrier are outside the carrier bearings. For the Dana 30 you should use “set up bearings “ rather than press on and off the bearings each time you change the shims. After working the better part of a day I just took my Dana 30 to a ring and pinon shop and they set the gears for $150.

If you don’t have a hydraulic press then I think you will have a hard time swapping gears and carriers.

It’s fun to learn though.
I do have a hydraulic press. I have never worked on the Dana 30 and at the moment I don't know their exact configuration. I'm wondering, if I could measure or just steal the shims from the OEM carrier to get me close and then fine tune mesh and backlash. I've seen some videos on non-shim setups and it seems like it takes them awhile, so I'm not looking forward to pulling bearings all the time. On the AAM axle stuff I've done it was adjusted with a spanner wrench or punch which was pretty simple. I never had to mess with their pinion depth. I just replaced seal and crush sleeve which I matched the spinning torque before and after I disassembled.

If I don't pull my Dana 30 axle and remove the tie rod (I can't remember if that's the correct name) setup, should I replace the tie rod setup? I've seen guys separate this stuff with no ill effects, but many times I've not been so lucky. And if so should I replace with something that isn't OEM?

Am I begging for headaches to do all of this under the vehicle with no lift? I certainly have to pull my fuel tank for the rear and some of the suspension stuff is in the way for the front. I did my front 9.25 (I think) in the front axle and on my side a couple spring or summers ago and that was a pain and that setup doesn't need a spreader or anything too special.

If I pull the axle, I would think that would be a great time to replace shocks, bushings and springs simultaneously, but it does add more time and money to the build. In that event I think I would be better served getting spare axles (Dana 30s and 35s are pretty cheap) and building the entire axle and then swapping axles at that time and then sell my old axles as is or preferably build them for someone else.
 

Hook_62

TJ Enthusiast
Mar 7, 2019
117
PA
I'm looking at doing a Super 35 kit for my TJ and a gear change simultaneously. I'm going with 3.55s (diesel) and ARB RD101 front and ARB rear locker and revolution 27 spline discovery axles in the front (30 splines aren't available for that carrier in a Dana 30 from what I could tell). I'm planning on revolution gears. I want to replace all bearings and seals in the axles and pinions and may need to locate some additional spacers.

I currently run 33 x 10.5s and don't want to go bigger, but if I'm towing a bit more I might think about running 31s which I've got sitting around. I'm not against crawling over the occasional rock, but I'm very ignorant of how to engage in that activity, so if I tried anything I would try to idle over or back up and find another path.

I want to do the swap myself and I will be getting a cheap spreader, shim driver, some clam shell bearing pullers, and a pinion flange wrench tool, but I'd like some suggestions for those of you that are experienced. I do plan to do various axles in my spare time for some friends. I have dial indicators and bases, a beam style torque wrench (I think that's what it's called) and various seal drivers and stuff. I have done some diff work, but never a gear change and I'd like to learn, because I also have a 11.5 AAM I'm installing an ARB locker in first. I don't know if the 11.5 AAM will need any work or not, the front looked brand new, but needed inner seals and I bent a shaft when stuck in the front axle. I have a special spanner wrench for the 11.5 AAM, but I would like a bearing puller that could handle the pinion bearings, which I'd like to replace while swapping the carrier and bearings. Please suggest more tools if you think useful (I've got more Jeeps that'll eventually need work).

What else would be handy to swap out or replace while I'm in there. Or should I just ditch this setup for something else? I haven't seen a good price for Dana 44s and I would still be regearing them and rebuilding them and they don't go numerically low as I want to go, so I'm guessing I won't be saving anything by swapping axles. Eventually I'd like to go HD springs and some nice shocks to accommodate my 2" lift and 1" BL. Also I will be swapping out the TCase one of these days when I have money and decided between the Atlas 2 (5:1) or Atlas 4. Oh I will be dropping my extended range fuel tank as well, because of the limited access to the rear axle and I kind of want to raise the tank slightly.

Any suggestions or warnings are what I'm looking for. I'd like to start accumulating stuff soon, but I do have to work on my truck first.
They make 30 spline axles for the ARB air locker,,, if this RD101 carrier is something you haven't purchased yet?
https://www.rustysoffroad.com/ten-factory-super-30-front-axle-kit.html
 
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DieselJeep

DieselJeep

TJ Enthusiast
Oct 31, 2018
290
KY
They make 30 spline axles for the ARB air locker,,, if this RD101 carrier is something you haven't purchased yet?
https://www.rustysoffroad.com/ten-factory-super-30-front-axle-kit.html
When I looked into this before, there wasn't an air locker for the carrier I need for my gearing in 30 spline and it seemed that some guys didn't think 30 spline was completely necessary, which would be nice, because I'd have on hand spares. From what I could tell the 3.55 is the max for the smaller carrier and it changes for numerically higher ratios. However to add to that confusion I've seen 3.54 listed as the max, I would doubt there'd be much difference, but if anyone knows, that would be very helpful.
 

DetroitTJ

Member
Jan 25, 2019
41
Detroit, MI
I do have a hydraulic press. I have never worked on the Dana 30 and at the moment I don't know their exact configuration. I'm wondering, if I could measure or just steal the shims from the OEM carrier to get me close and then fine tune mesh and backlash. I've seen some videos on non-shim setups and it seems like it takes them awhile, so I'm not looking forward to pulling bearings all the time. On the AAM axle stuff I've done it was adjusted with a spanner wrench or punch which was pretty simple. I never had to mess with their pinion depth. I just replaced seal and crush sleeve which I matched the spinning torque before and after I disassembled.

Again, I am a novice. My issue with the D30 was a little unique. I was swapping to an Eaton ELocker which uses different size carrier bearings than the stock carrier. If you are just re-gearing and keeping your carrier then the old shims can be used as "set-up" shims if you can take them off without deforming them. Bearing are relatively cheap so it may make more sense to just buy an extra set of carrier bearings for this purpose. I didn't exactly plan ahead so I didn't have an extra set of bearings to use. There was also a bit of a time crunch, and I didn't want to waste time trying to locate the proper size bearings to use for set-up. In the end $150 at a ring and pinion shop was money well spent. I still did the tear down and clean-up of the axle so still learned a lot which was my primary goal.

The D30 carrier shims are set between the carrier and the bearing, so to change backlash you have to remove the bearing and swap shims and replace the bearing each time you test backlash. With the Ford 8.8 the shims are set between the bearing and the diff case so the bearings stay on the carrier while you swap out shims. I don't know which is "better" from a mechanical standpoint, but I can say with certainty that the Ford was more user friendly.

Another difference between the Ford and D30 is the location of the axle seals. The Ford has axle seals and bearings at the end of the axle tube. It's easy to remove them and set new ones. The D30 has axle seals right at the diff case. Maybe there is a special tool for pressing in the axle seals for the D30 but we used a section of 2" exhaust tube about 2" long and a long straight pipe placed down the axle tube. This worked fine.

Lastly, I have my stock D35 axle with 3.07 gears that I have no use for. I don't know how to get it to you, but I'd let it go for a fair price.
 
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DieselJeep

DieselJeep

TJ Enthusiast
Oct 31, 2018
290
KY
Were you regearing when you added the Eaton? I'm going to add a locker and I'm just more familiar with ARB and will have on-board air. I've typically heard good things about ARB and seems like a lot of people run them. I've got an ARB for my truck that looks great sitting on the shelf and I'm hoping to install it sometime soon.
AAM doesn't use shims for the carrier so it's not too bad, but I'd like to change all my seals and pinion bearings when I swap in the locker in the truck. Hopefully gears won't be needed in there, but it's got 325,000 miles so there's a chance. I'll crack check them at work if there's no obvious wear. I really want that rebuild and install to be fairly easy.

When I did the 9.25 AAM reseal, the inner seals kinda sucked, but mainly because I had to pull the carrier to get to the seals. I typically don't worry about small leaks and just try to address them when convenient and snapping my front U joint in my truck seemed like a convenient time to reseal that diff. The AAM diff seems like they're very easy to work on, besides a bit of the quirky inner seals.

I misdiagnosed a problem in an F-150 and spent a lot of time in the winter outside looking for problems in an 8.8 and replacing some of the easy stuff. I never pulled the carrier though.

Yeah axle shipping is often very expensive when you're talking about Dana 30s and Dana 35s. I'm starting to think picking up a spare is the way to go though, at least for the rear. Of course most will likely think I'm crazy not to just pickup a Dana 44 or something. I never completely pulled one of those apart. I put an auto locker in a Dana 44 HD, but you don't have to pull the carrier so I don't remember how they're setup. Also I don't really prefer going to 3.73s (I think that's the minimum for Dana 44s) and the Rubi axles (4.10s) are very expensive right now.
 

DetroitTJ

Member
Jan 25, 2019
41
Detroit, MI
I regeared from stock 3.07 to 3.73.

You can find a Ford 8.8 from an Explorer with a limited slip diff and either 3.73 or 4.10 gears at a junkyard for about $225. Brackets cost about $225. This option allows you to convert from drum to disc brakes. All the parts you need are easy to find at East Coast Gear Supply website. Just a thought.
 
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DieselJeep

DieselJeep

TJ Enthusiast
Oct 31, 2018
290
KY
Yeah, I've thought of going 8.8 as I think it's one of the cheapest and plentiful options and 3.55 is available as well. I'll have to get the excel sheet out I guess and break everything down and try to figure out some costs and weigh that vs the tiny size of the Dana 35.

At one point I was leaning toward just buying a built 8.8, but the price point is further than I'd prefer for what I'd get.
 

Pcleaners2

TJ Enthusiast
Jun 23, 2017
173
Daly City, CA, United States
im starting an 8.8 build now- just picked up a 4.10 LSD last night and gutted it
looks like about roughly 200 for axle complete( was so heavy - had to strip it at yard)
thinking:
200 for barnes brackets
50 for yoke thing
possible a rebuild kit need along with new clutches for trac lock (more $)

*hmmm at that point maybe gear higher with a yukon duragrip???
not sure ...
 
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DieselJeep

DieselJeep

TJ Enthusiast
Oct 31, 2018
290
KY
I ran some numbers this morning and I think I'm going to stick with the Dana 35 vs a 8.8, mainly because I just installed new brake stuff and the 8.8 brakes, though nice to work on cost more. Everything else I'd be gutting on both axles so the differences are small and I actually like having a small rear axle. If you can use the track lock and the gearing, then that's a great economical solution for the 8.8. If the disc brakes are the main selling point that's understandable as well and until recently I was there with you on the disc brakes, but now I kinda just like the cheap costs I get from the rear drums.

I might lean toward a 31 spline 8.8 if I did try to get a 8.8 which I'm not sure how easy that is to find. I would likely need to regear and I'd freshen up all the bearings and seals and add an ARB locker. I would think the big kicker would be finding the 31 spline 8.8 shafts. A super 35 kit with locker is very close to the ARB locker and adapter brackets for the 8.8 and then you're typically stuck with brakes that are in unknown condition. I could see being able to go bigger tires with the 8.8, but at that point I think I'd bite the bullet and go with some of the other axles like the Ford 9" or something. I really don't know much about the other axles, but I hear a lot of people speak highly of them.
 

DetroitTJ

Member
Jan 25, 2019
41
Detroit, MI
Makes sense. My D35 would likely need a complete rebuild as I don't believe there has been any maintenance done on it. I have a Ford 8.8 in my Mustang so that was one of the real appeals to me. Easy to work on. I hope I don't run into clearance issues as others have mentioned on this forum. I'm at a point where I will soon be bolting up the axles to the frame so I guess I'll find out.
 
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DieselJeep

DieselJeep

TJ Enthusiast
Oct 31, 2018
290
KY
Yeah sticking with my Dana 35 does have some comfort, since I know it fits and honestly that's part of the reason, I'd rather not even pull it. Of course there's project creep where you're thinking, this would be a great time to get new springs and shocks and bushings and just pull the axles and then maybe some new stuff in the front as well and then you end up with a $5k project.

I think I'm going to swap out my truck carrier first, which is a monster carrier, but it's pretty open under the bed. Heck I may pull my bed anyway to replace my fuel system and clean-up frame and bed rust. When I finish buttoning that up I may decide this work isn't for me, but I tend to be forgetful between projects of the suffering involved.
 
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DieselJeep

DieselJeep

TJ Enthusiast
Oct 31, 2018
290
KY
Just to reiterate what could be a concern for the 8.8 is most of those axles, according to the internet, are 28 spline and essentially the same shaft diameter as our Dana 35s. The axle tubes are bigger, but my understanding is that typically it's the shafts that are the issue. The 8.8s with the 31 spline, would of course be similar to the 30 spline Dana 35, which IMO is basically a Dana 44 with a smaller differential housing.

Since the 44 tubes are just as small as the Dana 35, I'd lean toward skipping the Dana 44 (if you're going really big) as well eventhough they accept larger diameter shafts and can be sleeved and trussed. Around here guys love Ford 9" axles. I know I see Dana 60s and stuff mentioned, but have to be pretty large and some others, like the 14 bolt, which I don't quite know what those axles are, mainly because it's out of my league.

Obviously this isn't gospel and could easily be factually incorrect, but it's just my thoughts from a bit of quick google "research" and just stuff I've heard.
 

Hook_62

TJ Enthusiast
Mar 7, 2019
117
PA
Just to reiterate what could be a concern for the 8.8 is most of those axles, according to the internet, are 28 spline and essentially the same shaft diameter as our Dana 35s. The axle tubes are bigger, but my understanding is that typically it's the shafts that are the issue. The 8.8s with the 31 spline, would of course be similar to the 30 spline Dana 35, which IMO is basically a Dana 44 with a smaller differential housing.

Since the 44 tubes are just as small as the Dana 35, I'd lean toward skipping the Dana 44 (if you're going really big) as well eventhough they accept larger diameter shafts and can be sleeved and trussed. Around here guys love Ford 9" axles. I know I see Dana 60s and stuff mentioned, but have to be pretty large and some others, like the 14 bolt, which I don't quite know what those axles are, mainly because it's out of my league.

Obviously this isn't gospel and could easily be factually incorrect, but it's just my thoughts from a bit of quick google "research" and just stuff I've heard.
The 14 bolt was put in Chevy trucks, 2500 - 3500. Had one in a GMC Sierra 3500. so they will handle a full ton. Thats alot of steel for an L6 to push around. would be one badass jeep if your going to do a V8 or diesel swap.
 
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DieselJeep

DieselJeep

TJ Enthusiast
Oct 31, 2018
290
KY
I've got something similar then in my Dodge 2500 and it's massive. I refer to it as a 11.5" AAM, which is what my manual says. I'd rather that 5.9 Cummins move that rather than my 2.8 Cummins. I was thinking there's some aftermarket designs that are setup very similarly, but I'm not sure.