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Thread: Building a custom Dana 60 front axle

  1. #1
    Easily Distracted Greg's Avatar
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    Building a custom Dana 60 front axle

    If you're like me, you've probably wondered what it takes to build a custom Dana 60 front axle for your rig. I've narrowed a Dana 44 once, but that is nothing compared to pressing out old tubes, pressing in new ones, getting the caster correct and then making the whole thing come out to the correct width! Understanding all the ins and outs of building a custom-width Dana 60 has always been a curiosity of mine. The whole thing is pretty complex, I wondered if it was even possible to do in my garage!?

    I have been gathering parts to assemble my own custom Dana 60 front axle at some point. I've had a set of Dodge kingpin knuckles for over 2 years and found a Ford high-pinion Dana 60 center-section on the internet. After some talking with a few friends, I heard that TeraFlex Mfg has pretty decent pricing on axle building.

    After a few calls, I headed up to TeraFlex with my Dana 60 HP center & kingpin knuckles.

    One of the first steps was to disassemble the kingpin knuckles. I did what I could at home, but the lower caps kicked my butt! I decided to let the guys at TeraFlex handle that part. Gerald is the head axle builder at TeraFlex Mfg and little did he know, he had some work cut out for him!




    After the inner & outer knuckles were separated, the excess tube was cut off on the band saw.






    Gerald then turned a piece of round tube to fit inside the tube that was attached to the knuckle. After welding them together, he placed the knuckle on the lathe & began turning the weld out.






    After the weld was cut out, the tube was pressed out of the knuckle-



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  3. #2
    Easily Distracted Greg's Avatar
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    The next step was cutting the new axle tubes to size. Back to the lathe!






    After we had the tubes made, Gerald put everything on the huge hydraulic press. He has a special tool that fits inside the diff, where the bearings go. This tool adjusts and sets the depth of the new axle tubes as they get pressed in. As he placed the tool in the diff, something was not right. It wouldn't drop into place... After some measuring, we found that my cheap, used Dana 60 housing was bent. It was pretty severe and would have been hard not to notice with the axle tubes in place. I bought it separate, nothing but the housing. Guess that's what I get for using junkyard parts.

    At that point, I had few options. I was there to have an axle built, so I decided to go with a Tera CRD 60 housing.

    Gerald pulled one off the shelf & set it on the press with the new tubes & kingpin knuckles.-




    With the housing face down on the press, the new tubes were slid into place-






    With the tubes in place, the plug welds are tack welded to prevent them from moving as the knuckles are pressed on.-

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  4. #3
    Easily Distracted Greg's Avatar
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    Next up are the knuckles, the caster is checked before they're pressed on.-








    And we have a bare housing!-




    Next was to re-check caster & set it before final welding.-






    Final tube/knuckle welding.-





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  5. #4
    always modifing something 4554x4's Avatar
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    Completed 60

    Nice story with good pics. Kinda like watching horsepower t.v. What is the 60 going in Greg?
    God grants liberty only to those who love it and are always ready to defend it. Daniel Webster, speech, June 1834
    350 fi, 400, 203, 205, 60, 14 bolt

  6. #5
    Very cool indeed!

    I'm guessing his TJ?
    "It says here you have been missing a lot of work lately"
    "I wouldn't say I've been missing it, Bob"
    '04 Rubicon with all the goodies -
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  7. #6
    No, I'm not jealous at all... AT ALL.

  8. #7
    Easily Distracted Greg's Avatar
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    Next up were the axle brackets. Gerald has a section of TJ frame that he uses as jigs when building TJ axles. Nothing like the real thing to line brackets up! Here's my axle sitting in place with all original control arms bolted to it.








    Once the brackets were tacked into place, the housing was pulled off the jig for final welding of the brackets.-






    Lastly the coil buckets, shock mounts, sway bar brackets & track bar mount were welded into place.-






    And there is is, ready to be bolted up! -

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  9. #8
    Easily Distracted Greg's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by 4554x4 View Post
    Nice story with good pics. Kinda like watching horsepower t.v. What is the 60 going in Greg?
    Thanks, I'm building a TJ with a V8, stretched wheelbase and of course, two Dana 60's.


    Quote Originally Posted by waynehartwig View Post
    Very cool indeed!

    I'm guessing his TJ?
    Thanks Wayne!


    Quote Originally Posted by Herzog View Post
    No, I'm not jealous at all... AT ALL.
    Yeah, but yours drives! I have plenty of work ahead of me.
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  10. #9
    Quote Originally Posted by Greg View Post
    Yeah, but yours drives! I have plenty of work ahead of me.
    Naw.. You're in the home stretch! To me, the hard part is the axles and suspension, and you have all of that almost done. Sure there are lots of little things left, but you already have the axles done!

    ...I need to get me a press like Teraflex has to push tubes/knuckles on. That sure looks a lot easier than my way. And I bet Gerald didn't even break a sweat!!
    "It says here you have been missing a lot of work lately"
    "I wouldn't say I've been missing it, Bob"
    '04 Rubicon with all the goodies -
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  11. #10
    Easily Distracted Greg's Avatar
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    I ended up getting nearly everything I needed to assemble the axle from TeraFlex; Disc brakes, hubs, rotors & calipers, 4340 axle shafts, an ARB locker and 5.13 gears.

    I rebuilt the kingpins using kits supplied from Wayne Hartwig @ AllJeep. Wayne also supplied a pair of high-strength u-joints to match the shafts. Thanks Wayne!

    Here's how it looks as of today.-




    At this point, there is some final assembly needed, but it's just a few simple things and the axle will be complete.
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  12. #11
    Easily Distracted Greg's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by waynehartwig View Post
    Naw.. You're in the home stretch! To me, the hard part is the axles and suspension, and you have all of that almost done. Sure there are lots of little things left, but you already have the axles done!

    ...I need to get me a press like Teraflex has to push tubes/knuckles on. That sure looks a lot easier than my way. And I bet Gerald didn't even break a sweat!!
    Yeah, the front axle really saved me. Being able to simply bolt it in place helped so much. Knowing how easy it was, I wouldn't have gone any other way.

    That press was neat, pull a lever and in go the tubes & knuckles!
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  13. #12
    Quote Originally Posted by Greg View Post
    Yeah, the front axle really saved me. Being able to simply bolt it in place helped so much. Knowing how easy it was, I wouldn't have gone any other way.

    That press was neat, pull a lever and in go the tubes & knuckles!
    That press would be really easy to make, too.... I built a really nice stand up 35 ton press, and I bet the horizontal one would be even easier.
    "It says here you have been missing a lot of work lately"
    "I wouldn't say I've been missing it, Bob"
    '04 Rubicon with all the goodies -
    www.Jeeperman.com

  14. #13
    Quote Originally Posted by Greg View Post
    I ended up getting nearly everything I needed to assemble the axle from TeraFlex; Disc brakes, hubs, rotors & calipers, 4340 axle shafts, an ARB locker and 5.13 gears.

    I rebuilt the kingpins using kits supplied from Wayne Hartwig @ AllJeep. Wayne also supplied a pair of high-strength u-joints to match the shafts. Thanks Wayne!
    "It says here you have been missing a lot of work lately"
    "I wouldn't say I've been missing it, Bob"
    '04 Rubicon with all the goodies -
    www.Jeeperman.com

  15. #14
    Easily Distracted Greg's Avatar
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    While I was up at TeraFlex, they let me wander around the warehouse. I took some pictures of random parts I thought were worth seeing.

    Nothing like stacks of CRD 60 housings, ready for assembly!-






    A pallet of Tera knuckles.-




    A couple of Tera 50 axles that were nearly ready to ship.-





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  16. #15
    Easily Distracted Greg's Avatar
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    Finally I want to say thanks to all the guys at TeraFlex Mfg and TeraFlex Plus that helped me out for a couple days, let me hangout while they worked and didn't seem to be bothered by me asking them questions about their job. It was a great experience to see how this all comes together.

    Huge thanks to Gerald, Vinny, Rand, Doc, Ben, Carl & Bryson! Thanks guys!!
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