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Discussion Starter #1
This thread is to document the Dana 44a build up:

OK, here's the plan. I bought a Dana 44 aluminum housing axle from Damien that came out of a ZJ. The 44a has a "thick ring gear with a Dana 60 pinion gear" with 30 spline axle shafts housed in an aluminum housing.
. Now that is where things get a little dicey. The aluminum housing is weak enough where using a floor jack on it could cause it harm.

So I talked with Damien and he is prepared to fab a custom Northen Xtreme Custom brand truss to truss up the axle tubes and stiffen up the aluminum housing. Too cool!

So I am prepared to buy the proper gears and an aussie locker to make this thing a reality. The Aussie is running $249 plus shipping while the going rate for the gears is around 159 plus shipping and install kit of 69 plus shipping.

The lowest gear ratio for the 44a is 4.56. My Dana 30 is currently geared 4.10 so I wonder if it is even worth it to gear down to 4.56 from 4.10 at 115 plus shippign for 4.56 Dana 30 gears plus an install kit plus hassle of installation. I plan on putting in another motor at one point but I am not sure whether it will be another 2.5 for ease of installation and price, or if it will be something with a little more power which make the 4.10 gears less of a disadvantage.
 

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Discussion Starter #2
D44a expense:

axle price: 100 + NXC truss
Locking it: 249 + shipping
gearing it: 230 + shipping
misc stuff: carrier from Randy's $140
 

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Discussion Starter #3
I initially looked at the super 35 kit and superior axles, but at a minimum 900+ dollars for those parts, and ya don't even get rear disc brakes it seemed wiser for me to go with this axle. As of right now I have all the major components for the build, and I have 650 in to it.

Pros:
ring and pinion strength
lighter aluminum housing
NXC truss
rear discs so if an axle does snap, the discs will keep the axle retained.
mostly all brackets are in place all ready
bolt pattern and width are all ready correct
initial axle price

Cons:
weaker aluminum housing
D35 tubes
more expensive parts
can only gear down to 4.56

The 8.8 comes out to about the same price, since the axle would cost more but the parts would be cheaper. Then just weld the spring buckets and control arm/track bar perches.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
so after finding a heckuva deal on a Dana 44 hd carrier and 4.56 gears
they are ordered and on their way.
I now have all of the major components for my 44 build.
So in laymen's terms, all I need to do is front and rear gear installs, put in the aussie, relocate the track bar bracket, and get the brake lines to match up from my old drums to new rear discs
 

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Discussion Starter #5
carrier arrived last night. It came fully spider gears, with bearings, washers, shims, and the works so it is gonna make things even better. If the Aussie craps out I will still have the satock spider gears in a trail box.

The only replaceable thing that I havent ordered for this yet is brake pads. The ones on there look good but since bearings, seals, gears, carrier, and fluid is all fresh, why not throw in the extra 40 bucks and put new brake pads on as well?
 

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Discussion Starter #7
the Dana 30 ring and pinion is on the right, and the Dana 44hd ring and pinion is on the left. This 44 gear set is very big. This is also earmarked as the same gearset that goes in the Viper and Vette 44's
 

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Discussion Starter #8
I see, the 44hd is more in line with 12 and 14 bolt sizes than Dana 30/35/44 iron. Not quite the cast iron anchor that the massive 14 is, but she's growing.

I do not forsee a 2.5 snapping that ring and pinion.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
here are some questions I got asked...

Ok I have a question about the Dana 44:
Is it wider than a D35?
Can I get the lugs to match my 5x4.5 rims?
what mods would I have to do to put one on the YJ?
the D44hd is an aluminum housing 44 that was put under the 96-98 ZJ's. The axle shafts are 30 spline, the pinion gear is Dana 60, the ring gear is mucho big and thick. The axle is still C clipped, it has rear disc brakes and already has coil buckets on it, track bar and control arm hardware. There is one available locker for it(Aussie) and gearsets go down to 4.56/

The Dana 44(iron housing) I don't know a lot about but it has a deeper gear option and more locker options. Easy to find, but rare to find coil spring set up ones. Usually doe not have rear disc brakes, and ring and pinion are not as large and prominent as the 44HD.

The 44HD's are not as desirable because of their aluminum husings and lack of deeper than 456 gears.

I went with the HD because they are cheaper to come by, I found a great price on a locker, I WANTED REAR DISCS, AND THE COIL SPRING BUCKETS WERE ALREADY ON THERE AND READY TO GO, WITH BOLT PATTERN MATCH UP AND EVERYTHING.

To eliminate the aluminum housing weakness, Damien is putting together a truss and I am making a diff skid plate.

44a is slang, not its real name. It’s real call sign is 44HD (heavy duty) the slang "a" is for the aluminum housing. There is also a Super 44HD witch is the same as the " 44a" but with a cast steel housing. It uses such a thick ring gear and Dana 60 pinion for strength and that thick gear is why the carrier is wider then a normal 44 carrier.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
I finally got an intimate look at the inside and out of the D44 Friday night. This thing is about 20 pounds lighter than my D35. The disc brakes are in good shape. I will need a couple of diff cover bolts to replace the missing ones on it. I will also need to get the brake line copper bolt as well.
The C clip is a lot bigger than the 35 as well. I think the trac bar brackets will line up correctly, as will the lower control arm brackets. I think the upper control arm bracket will have to be relocated. We decoded to truss the bottom side since the TJ doesnt leave a lot of clearance between the back of the gas tank and the diff cover.
I might get rid of the rear sway bar, which would make the sway bar brackets a non player.

I wonder with the rear disc, will my current rims fit over them? I have 15x8's with 3.75" backspacing.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Damien from Northern Extreme Customs( www.northernextremecustoms.com ) said...

Everything I have read the number one problem (supposedly) is that the tubes go out of alignment in the housing causing the bearing to load and wear out prematurely. I am in no way worried about the housing "spinning". The two things I was worried about have been fixed, the housing being aluminium, not so good scrapeage resistance, hence the skid plate. Secondly, the housing flex, hence the truss. I threw in the diff cover which is 3/16" plate for bashability.
The number on main benefit I can see with this diff now is the fact that I can pick it up and walk around the shop with it. WITHOUT blowing my guts out my... oh never mind
 

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Discussion Starter #15
once I get the link problem worked out, I will post up some after pics

She is now trussed, skidded, and diff cover armored. As of this weekend, she should be locked, geared, and rebuilt.
 

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Discussion Starter #17
I will get some more pics once I get it home and painted. I will also document the gear and locker install, as well as the final installation into the TJ.
 

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Discussion Starter #18
you can chack out Damien's work at
www.northernextremecustoms.com

Northern Extreme Customs is re-locating to central Pennsylvania in May, and will be specializing in custom fabricated bumpers, custom axle builds, solid axle swaps for IFS equipped rigs, Exo skeletons, full width conversions, custom trail and full cages, custom long arms and 4 link set-ups as well as parts ordering.
 

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I noticed you mentioned that the lowest gears for the 44HD are 4.56 but I believe it is really 4.88. Nice writeup
 

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Discussion Starter #20
I searched and all I could come up with was 4.56. If you found a reference for the 4.88 gears, could you lin or tell me where. I would gladly get 4.88's
 
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