Axle Purchase: 1984 Wide-Track Axles
The Project Over Easy Scrambler has proven herself to be a great platform for simple but effective upgrades. To-date we have focused on bolt-on upgrades to improve the cooling system, fluid pans, exhaust and stock suspension. Each of these installation projects has helped the Scrambler perform better on the street and on light trails.
Our next steps with this project will shift to a focus on improving her off-road capabilities. This includes the installation of alloy axles, a rear locker and a 4.5” lift kit. More to come regarding those product reviews.
Before beginning on any of these projects, we needed to decide how to proceed with the axles. Meaning, should we keep the 1981 narrow-track axles or go with something different? The stockers were in excellent conditions, having only travelled 86,000 miles since new. The front hubs were in great shape and the rear AMC 20 still had the stock two-piece axles. Heck, both rear axle shafts still had their factory dust covers. The trouble was, these factory axles with their stock internals would not be up to the task of even the slightest off-road abuse. We knew that we needed to make a change.
This is where things always go off on a tangent. We broke out the axle catalogs. We poured over online axle manufacturer websites. We read build articles on everything from Dana 44s to portal axles. We combed the forums for deals on modified Waggy axles or crazy full-width axle conversions. Other axle options considered ranged from Dana 44 upgrades front and rear to the installation of a Ford Explorer 8.8” rear-end combined with a Dana 44 front. The trouble with all of these options is that they would require more custom effort than we deemed appropriate for the scope of this project. Custom modifications make for great reading but are really a better fit for our CJ5/Hybrid Tube Buggy project. Project Over Easy would need to stay simple.
Back to reality… We closed the high-zoot catalogs and focused on a sensible axle selection. All we really needed was a nice set of late-model CJ7 wide track axles. The Dana 30 front and AMC 20 rear axles are fully bolt-in and provide the Scrambler with additional track width for added stability over the current narrow-track units. This “upgrade” will provide us with 3” of additional width in the front and a full 4” of additional track width in the back.
Our next challenge was finding a good set of these wide-track axles. The search was on. We prowled the local junkyards. Nope, no Jeeps in junkyards (at least not in Texas). We combed the classifieds but ran into people trying to sell junk for the price of new axles. We looked into the purchase of parts-Jeeps but didn’t really want the hassle of getting rid of the rest of the parts vehicle.
We decided to create a want-ad in our local craigslist.com, “Wanted: CJ7 Wide-Track Axles.” Within days we had a response from George Spillman of TexomaJeeps.
TexomaJeeps is a Jeep-only dismantler specializing in used components for Jeep CJ and YJs including:
As we learned, George and his son Jordan, are real Jeep enthusiasts. They started TexomaJeeps based on their own passion for CJs and it has since grown to support the used parts needs of the local North Texas/Oklahoma DIY Jeep enthusiasts.
As luck would have it, George and his son, Jordan Spillman had recently acquired a clean 1984 CJ7 that had been a stalled restoration project for, as George put it, “an earnest young Texas A&M student.” These axles were clean, complete and the desired width for our project Scrambler. A few email exchanges later and we had a deal on the front and rear axle assemblies. George and Jordan were even good enough to deliver these parts to our shop.
This is the beauty of budget upgrades. If you have some time to search for the little gems out on your local classifieds, you may eventually find the parts that you need for your rig. We all know that off-roaders are always looking to improve the performance of their particular vehicle. This is what keeps the aftermarket industry alive, even thriving, in challenging economic times. Big upgrades for one rig means another person may have the opportunity to purchase quality used components from the person doing that upgrade. These may actually be an upgrade for the prior rig.
These axles are set to become the foundation for a simple but effective axle upgrade project. Stay tuned for that build article and a profile of an iconic off-road shop.
For now, we leave you with our high-praise for George and Jordan Spillman of TexomaJeeps, a couple of fellow Jeep enthusiasts. Give them a call or check out their parts inventory at www.texomajeeps.com. They keep an ever changing supply of reasonably priced used parts for Jeep CJs and YJs. Chances are, they will have what you need and if they don’t, they probably know where to find it.