Hard on Rocks… Confidence to Explore… Dynatrac’s ad slogans are boastful and aggressive. We’ve installed and tested several of their tough products over the years, SST shock absorbers, diff covers, etc., but we had never tested Dynatrac’s mainstay – the custom-made, venerable Dana 60 axle. It was time for us to strap one on and give it a royal beat down.
Back in the spring, I took my maiden voyage to the off road mecca, Moab, UT for the ’06 Easter Jeep Safari with our friends at 4X4REVIEW.COM, and afterwards quickly found out that the stocker Dana 44 was showing signs of weakness in my Jeep Rubicon. The added weight of a new roll cage, fully laden Tuffy cargo box, bigger tires, deeper gears, lockers and more had stressed the 44 to its breaking point.
We talked with our friends at Dynatrac to get their opinion on our dilemma and they suggested their Trail Series Dana 60 axle. The Dynatrac Trail Series 60 semi-float axles are marketed as “upgrade replacements” for rigs like our ’04 Jeep Rubicon, but every one of these super-heavy-duty axles features custom machined, Pro-Series, reverse-cut, heavy-duty, nodular iron housing for extra ground clearance. All of Dynatrac’s Dana 60 axles also include the dual-sump / high-volume™, high-pinion angle oiling system and super strong 35-spline, 1-1/2 ” diameter, 1-ton, semi-float axle-shaft assemblies. But wait, it doesn’t stop there – pre set brake tabs, super strong diff cover, Ford Explorer disc brake assemblies (with parking brake) and billet steel housing ends with large, tapered roller axle bearings all assembled on clean, heavy-duty axle tubes with heavy-duty steel axle retainers round out the “upgrade replacement”. Oh yeah, there’s a limited 3-month warranty on their axles too, just in case you needed more peace of mind.
Don’t think for a minute that you won’t have options to make their upgrade replacement axles fit your rig. Based upon our on and off-road needs, we selected the following options from their long list:
- Matching wheel lug pattern
- 4.88:1 gear ratio
- ABS Disc brakes
- Nodular iron pro differential cover
- ARB air locker with solenoids, lines, etc.
- Over-the-axle truss/bridge
|Installation – Dynatrac’s Trail Series Dana 60 Rear Axle|
|Time:||2-3 Hours (Our installation took longer because of changes *we* made)|
|Tools Needed:||Ratchet/sockets, wrenches, impact gun, jack/jack stands/vehicle lift, line wrenches, and other misc. hand tools|
With our design needs, Dynatrac started working their magic and soon enough, a custom, super-stout Dana 60 axle s howed up at our off-road shop of choice, Xtreme Jeep in Tampa, Fl. Shipped via truck freight in a wooden box strong enough to ship King Tut’s sarcophagus, we cracked open the case, marveled at the impressive axle, and scrubbed in for surgery.
Installation / Fabrication
We started our suspension surgery by putting the Jeep on the lift rack, removed the rear drive shaft, and disassembled the Rubicon Express 3-link system. The shocks, track bar, lower control arms and brake lines were also removed and in less than an hour, the worn-out Dana 44 rear axle was on the floor.
When we ordered our axle, we opted not to have the track-bar or upper control arm brackets included as we would be making our own 4-link suspension. Given the type of wheeling I do, a triangulated 4-link suspension would fit the bill.. If , we had opted to order it with the correct brackets, and used the existing Rubicon Express 5.5″ Long Arm Kit, this would have been about a 2 hour project, tops – but we’re glutens for punishment.
After a few hours of fabricating brackets and lengthening the upper links, the rest of the axle installation was really very easy – easier than I had anticipated actually. We set the pinion angle (13 degrees), routed the air lines for the ARB air locker, and connected the brake lines. We did find out however, that there is a difference between a standard 1330 u-joint and a 1330 L u-joint, which meant our stock driveshaft wouldn’t bolt up. A quick call into Dynatrac and they promptly shipped out a new, matching yoke over night. This worked out perfectly as we had to trim a full two inches from our driveshaft.
The next morning we bled the brakes, double-checked all of our angles and handiwork, then re-torqued all of our bolts. Lastly, we changed the front axle gear set to match the new, steeper 4.88:1 gear on the new rear axle. It was now time for a test drive.
On and Off-Road Testing
Out of the gate, I noticed that our ’04 Rubi had quite a bit more pep, due in part to the new, deeper gear set. But the most pleasing part of the on-road test drive was that I didn’t notice anything. That is, the rig rode, drove and stopped as good as, or maybe even a bit better than our Jeep when it rolled off the show room floor. The modified 4-link suspension system built by Xtreme Jeep worked flawlessly on the road too.
After the on-road shakedown, it was time for an off-road beat down. We took our Rubi back to Casa de Matty and loaded the rig to the gills. 300 or so pounds of tools and spare parts stuffed into the large Tuffy cargo box, a full cooler, passenger, and my fat can added another few hundred pounds as well. We headed out to our favorite local rock course and proceeded to pick the hardest, undercut, axle-snapping lines we could find. Pedal to the metal, we never once had to worry about the engine torque coupled with the ultra-low gearing, as Dynatrac’s 35-spline axles were, and are, able to take anything our Rubi can dish out. We spent the rest of the afternoon banging and beating the rig, dragging the differential and axle tubes across huge rocks (See picture on left) and pushing the axle as hard as we could, but as expected, the Dynatrac Trail Series 60 axle never even flinched.
The Dynatrac Trail Series 60 axle will set you back somewhere between $3,000 and $5,500 depending upon how you outfit it, but if you have lifted your Jeep YJ or TJ, added bigger tires, lockers or deeper gears and are looking for an “upgrade replacement”, this axle will give you two things. One, a very easy, bolt-in upgrade, and two, true peace of mind that only the experts at Dynatrac can provide.
|Dynatrac Products, Inc.|
|7392 Count Circle
Huntington Beach, CA 92647