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Dana 44 Rebuild Buckshot Axle Upgrades

Dana 44 rebuild with air locker from Yukon Gear and Axle

Project Buckshot, our 1974 Ford Bronco project, is finally seeing a light at the end of the tunnel and, at this point, we’re pretty sure that it’s not a train headed our way. Most of our big-ticket items are now complete or nearing completion, so it was time to button up the front axle with a new set 4.56:1 gears and a new air locker too.
If you followed along with Buckshot’s first axle article (Part 1, Ford 9″ Rebuild with new gears, third member and a locker), Randy’s Ring and Pinion supplied us with a set of super-strong Yukon Gear & Axle 1541 high-alloy axle shafts, 4.56:1 ring and pinion gears, all stuffed into a new nodular 3rd member with a Grizzly locker.
For the front axle, we received a full rebuild kit (replete with new bearings, seals, shims, pattern marker and much more), a set of matching 4:56:1 gears and an air-operated Yukon Zip Locker. We sourced an ARB air compressor that would serve duty for operating the new Yukon Zip locker, as well as air up tires when needed.
We chose our Yukon rebuild kit, gears and locker because of its relatively low cost, but mostly because we’ve had such great luck with their gears, axles and lockers over the years.

Installation – Yukon Gear & Axle, Dana 44 Rebuild
Time: 8 Hours
Tools Needed: assortment of wrenches and ratchet/sockets, torque wrench, drill, drill bit, tap, tap adapter, pry bar, magnetic dial gauge, press, hammer, razor blade knife, line wrenches, hammer, jack, jack stands, gasket sealer, rags and cleaning solution
Difficulty:
 

Installation

Dana 44 axle rebuild with locker install from Yukon Gear and AxleDana 44 axle rebuild with air locker and gears from Yukon Gear and AxleAs with any project, be sure that you have all of the right products, parts, and tools before you begin the tear down.  When rebuilding an axle and installing a set of ring & pinion gears, we strongly recommend you read the instructions. Yukon Gear & Axle sends along a comprehensive set of instructions as well as a gear installation guide, which is well worth reading. Even more importantly, ensure that you safely secure your vehicle before beginning work. We chocked the rear tires and jacked up the front end, securing the vehicle by the axle with jack stands.
 
Dana 44 axle rebuild with air locker and new gears from Yukon Gear and AxleDana 44 axle rebuild with air locker and new gears from Yukon Gear and AxleStart by removing most of the bolts that secure the front differential cover onto the axle and then loosen the top two or three. Using a screwdriver or pry bar, pry the diff cover loose from the vehicle and let it drain into a container.
Dana 44 axle rebuild with air locker and new gears from Yukon Gear and AxleNext, remove the cover completely and remove any sludge in the axle housing. From here, do a quick, general cleaning of the axle housing and differential cover.
Dana 44 axle rebuild with air locker and new gears from Yukon Gear and AxleDana 44 axle rebuild with air locker and new gears from Yukon Gear and AxleNext, you’ll need to remove the tires/wheels, the disc caliper, disc rotor and the spindle and backing plate. Then, pull each front axle shaft out of the axle tube by about 1 foot. You don’t need to remove them completely.
Dana 44 axle rebuild with air locker and new gears from Yukon Gear and AxleBefore removing the differential carrier bearing caps, be sure to mark them. You should mark them left and right, and up and down. It’s important that the caps go back on the way they were removed. With the bearing caps marked, remove the four bolts, the caps, and then remove the differential carrier too. You may need a pry bar to loosen it. NOTE: Be careful to preserve the shim packs on either side of the carrier. While you are provided with new ones, be sure to take measurements of the thickness of each shim pack as you will need this later.
Dana 44 axle rebuild with air locker and new gears from Yukon Gear and AxleRemove the pinion gear from the axle housing and then clean the housing completely and thoroughly. We use brake parts cleaner (non-chlorinated) and several rags. Be sure to clean it very well.
Dana 44 axle rebuild with air locker and new gears from Yukon Gear and AxleDana 44 axle rebuild with air locker and new gears from Yukon Gear and AxleWith the axle housing prepped for assembly, begin your next step by laying out all of the new components, and where necessary, clean them thoroughly. In our case, the new locker was coated in anti-corrosion grease that needed to be removed. The new shim packs were also coated in this and needed to be cleaned.
Dana 44 axle rebuild with air locker and new gears from Yukon Gear and AxleDana 44 axle rebuild with air locker and new gears from Yukon Gear and AxleNext, following the instructions, install the ring gear onto the locker assembly and install the bearings as needed. You can also install the bearings onto the pinion as well. Each application will be different, so be sure to follow the instructions. 
Dana 44 axle rebuild with air locker and new gears from Yukon Gear and AxleDana 44 axle rebuild with air locker and new gears from Yukon Gear and AxleWith the locker, ring and pinion assemblies complete, move onto the axle housing again. Now we’ll prepare the housing for the air tube that will supply the Zip locker. Find a suitable location and drill a hole through the housing using the drill bit size recommended in the instructions. Then, you’ll need to tap it. Note: Protect the axle tubes and carrier housing from metal shavings. Also, ensure that the air tube will not interfere with any moving parts when the axle articulates.
Dana 44 axle rebuild with air locker and new gears from Yukon Gear and AxleDana 44 axle rebuild with air locker and new gears from Yukon Gear and AxleDana 44 axle rebuild with air locker and new gears from Yukon Gear and AxleInstall the pinion gear per the instructions and then install the ring gear / locker assembly with the pre-measured shim packs installed. Tighten the carrier bearing cap bolts, then apply a liberal amount of supplied die marker to the coast and drive sides of the ring gear teeth. Then rotate the carrier assembly past the pinion gear, and then reverse directions. Using the supplied chart, compare the marks on the die and adjust the shims as needed.
Dana 44 axle rebuild with air locker and new gears from Yukon Gear and AxleDana 44 axle rebuild with air locker and new gears from Yukon Gear and AxleDana 44 axle rebuild with air locker and new gears from Yukon Gear and AxleBe sure to also check for backlash on the ring gear using a magnetic dial gauge and adjust as necessary. Give the ring gear, pinion gear and locker assembly a final wipe-down and then torque all of your nuts and bolts.
Dana 44 axle rebuild with air locker and new gears from Yukon Gear and AxleDana 44 axle rebuild with air locker and new gears from Yukon Gear and AxleRoute the copper tubing airline partially around the locker and up through the hole that you drilled and tapped in the carrier housing. Then install the adapter and let the copper tube poke through by about ¼ of an inch.

 

Dana 44 axle rebuild with air locker and new gears from Yukon Gear and AxleDana 44 axle rebuild with air locker and new gears from Yukon Gear and AxleInstall the flexible airline tubing into the quick release fitting on the axle carrier housing and then route it up to the air compressor solenoid. Be sure to leave plenty of slack in the air line so that it doesn’t get stretched tight when the axle articulates.

 

Reassemble the axle housing by installing the axle shafts fully into the locker, install the backing plate, spindle, rotor, caliper, wheel/tire, etc. Then, activate and de-activate the air locker and check to make sure it’s engaging as needed.
Dana 44 axle rebuild with air locker and new gears from Yukon Gear and AxleReinstall the differential cover and fill the differential with the recommended oil.

 

The Verdict

Dana 44 rebuild with new gears and air locker from Yukon Gear and AxleOur Randy’s Ring & Pinion Yukon kit came complete with everything we needed; new bearings, seals, shims, pattern marker, a set of matching 4:56:1 gears and an air-operated Yukon Zip Locker. The instructions provided are excellent and have large, easy-to-see, high-quality photographs, diagrams and charts within.
The Yukon Gear & Axle Zip locker is an air-operated locker that goes from an open carrier to a true locker with a flip of the switch. With a case made of high-quality forged metal and 4320 chrome moly internals, you can rest assured that it will take quite a bit of abuse. It’s also assembled in the USA.
We also chose a set of 4.56:1 Yukon ring and pinion gears which use 8620 steel for high strength and long life. These gears are stronger than stock applications, are easy to setup and are designed to be quiet on the road too.
Out kit provided us with absolutely everything we needed to rebuild our front axle – new inner and outer axle seals, new shim packs, new bolts, pattern die, bearings and races, thread locking compound, oil slingers, gaskets and more. It is the most comprehensive install kit we’ve ever seen.
Overall, the installation of the front axle components from Yukon Gear & Axle was pretty easy and straightforward, thanks to the great instructions supplied. We’ve always been impressed with the quality of components and workmanship that we receive with Yukon Gear & Axle. And, we’ve abused their lockers and axle shafts for years without even the slightest problems.
Whether you’re up to the challenge of building your own axle, or leaving it to a shop, look no further than Yukon Gear & Axle to supply you with affordable, high-quality components that are designed to take a beating.

 

Yukon Gear & Axle
10411 Airport Road
Everett, WA 98204
Phone: 800-292-1031
Fax: 425-347-1440
Web:
www.yukongear.com
email:
info@yukongear.com
 

 

 

 

 

About Rick Webster

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