NOTE: Since this article was written a number of years ago, Alloy USA has undergone some changes. In my humble opinion, it is not the company it use to be and the quality isn't there anymore. Ron Stobaugh, who was the driving force behind Alloy USA, has parted ways with them and started a new company, Ten Factory. Ten has hooked up with Motive Gear. Were I in the market for new shafts, I would be contacting them for my needs. I've left this write-up on my site simply because it documents what is needed to do this work.
The Dusy-Ershim Trail is a 32 mile long trail that snakes it way through a 600 foot wide corridor between two wilderness areas in the beautiful Sierra Nevada Mountains of California. The plan is to run this 4 day long trail with the same guys I did the Rubicon Trail with several years ago.
So what does this have to do with Alloy USA axle shafts? Well, when I am two days into a trail at 10,000' in the mountains, the last thing I want to deal with is a broken rear axle shaft. Enter Alloy USA and their D44 high strength alloy axle kit....40% stronger than the stock TJ D44 shafts. I would rather install these in my driveway than worry about replacing the stock shafts on the trail, wouldn't you? Or put another way....let's stack the deck in my favor so I can enjoy those 4 days with my friends.
The alloy shafts come complete with everything you need with the exception of the axle retainer plate. Since the retaining plates for drum and disc brake axles are different, you need to stop by the dealership to pick up the correct pair for your brake configuration. Don't worry too much, the retaining plate might very well be the cheapest part stocked by DC. The Jeep dealership closest to me had them for $3.32 each....I didn't bother to go calling around in hopes of finding a better price. With gas prices being what they are, I doubt the next closest dealer would be selling them cheap enough for me to save the difference in gas costs. The axle kit contains a left and right side shaft (yes, they are slightly different lengths), two bearings, two bearing retainers, two oil seals, ten wheel studs....and a nice looking sticker.
The axle shaft flange is dual drilled to support both 5 on 5.5" and 5 on 4.5" wheels. I'll be using the inner (5 on 4.5") set of holes for my setup. If I should ever decide to go with a different front axle that has a 5 on 5.5" pattern, I won't have to worry about my rear axles.....just remove the wheel studs from the inner holes and use the outer pattern. That would save a few bucks for sure. Nice touch!
The install was delayed a week as I waited for the axle retainer plates to arrive at the dealership. I stopped by on a Saturday morning to pick up a pair and discovered that the closest ones to me were in California. So the counter guy took my info and promised he would have them by mid-week. Sure enough, in Wednesday's mail, I had a post card telling me my parts had arrived. The retainer's part number for my disc brake TJ D44 rear axle, as printed on the packaging, is 1-05083678AA.
Note: If you have drum brakes on your TJ D44 axle, the retaining plate part number is 1-05010811AA.
Note: A friend, ScottF, sent me an e-mail. He has an '87 XJ D44 axle in his TJ. He didn't realize the backing plate was different until the TJ plate was installed and the the bearing was pressed onto the shaft. The dealership told him he needed part number 83504190. He opted to weld the holes shut on the wrong plate and re-drill the holes rather than wait for a pair of new plates to arrive. This part number was not confirmed by ScottF.
So install day finally came (that meant it was my day off from work, the lawn had already been mowed on Saturday, etc.). I headed over to Troy's shop to throw the Jeep up on a lift. Note that it is not necessary, at all, to use a lift for this axle shaft swap. Heck, some folks even do it on the trail. It's just that right now, it is early August here in Phoenix....that means it is hot...and I do mean HOT in my garage. Troy's shop has some big fans and evap coolers.....and my garage doesn't have either. Understand?
With the TJ on the lift, I removed both rear tires. A 12mm wrench was used to remove the two caliper mounting bolts. With the bolts out of the way, the calipers were removed from the bracket and placed back out of the way by the springs. (don't hang your calipers from the brake hoses....use a piece of wire if you want to hang them)
Sometimes the rotors get a little "sticky" and don't want to slide off. Depending on which part of the country you live in, the rust build up can be rather severe. Here in Arizona, we don't have too much trouble with it but it can still happen. I couple of whacks was all it took to loosen mine up.
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