Home : Tech : Axle : Front Axle Upgrade Help Part #2

Front Axle Upgrade Help Part #2

What we had to do to get the axle mounted:

U-Bolt Flip Kit (Stage West 4-Wheel Drive Center, $145)

We chose to install a U-Bolt flip kit during our installation and we highly recommend you do the same thing. This will save an inch or so of precious ground clearance and protect the nuts and threads of the U-Bolts from being munched by rocks, tree stumps and the likes. Installation for the most part was a piece of cake. The U-Bolts gave us a fit as they spread open when we slid them up the axle tube. This meant we had to use C-Clamps to squeeze the U-Bolts together to get the flip kit to slide over them.

Difficulty rating: 4
Time To Install: 2 hours
Special Tools Required: C-Clamps, Torque Wrench
Notes, Hints, Tips, Gotchas: N/A


Shock Mounts (Home made, $1.75)

We got a series of different shock mount tabs and brackets from our friends at Stage West, but in the end we decided we would weld Grade 5 bolts (we cut the heads off) to the front of our U-Bolt Flip Kit plates. This would accomplish a few things…

1) It gave us the flexibility of mounting our shocks in a near perfect, straight up & down position.
2) It would keep the shocks out of the way of steering components
3) We didn’t have to weld on the axle tube itself and risk cooking the seals, or weakening the axle tube.
4) Installation and removal of the shocks is a piece of cake.

Difficulty rating:

Time To Install: 3 hours
Special Tools Required: Welder, drill press (If you want to cross drill the threaded shank for cotter pins)
Notes, Hints, Tips, Gotchas: We chose Grade 5 bolts because they’re plenty strong and aren’t as brittle as Grade 8. We’d rather have the bolt bend slightly, than sheer off. Also, before you assemble and weld, we suggest that you drill a small hole through the threaded portion of the bolt so that you can use a castle nut and cotter pin to secure the shock.


Brake Lines (Local auto-parts store, $35 (plus $40 in flare-tool rental))

When swapping out axles, you may have to contend with converting your brake lines from metric to standard or vice versa. Our calipers had a standard fitting, yet our master cylinder and remaining lines were metric. There are a number of options to convert; yet we chose to modify. We ultimately converted the brake lines after the proportioning valve (T-Block) to minimize the amount of fabrication. Aside from spending an hour or so in the parts store, installation was tedious, but easy and can likely be done by just about anyone.

We chose two 5’ sections of brake line. One was metric (which had the same fittings as the T-Block) and the other was standard (which had the same fittings as our calipers). Using a tubing cutter, we cut one end off of each tube and swapped out one fitting per tube. What we ended up with was two tubes; each having one metric fitting and one standard fitting on opposing ends.

Using a coat hanger, we mocked up the bends of the brake lines for each side and then bent the brake tube to match. Lastly we flared the ends of the lines so we could attach our lengthened stainless steel brake hoses to the calipers.

Difficulty rating: 5
Time To Install: 1.5 hours
Special Tools Required: Brake line tubing bender, brake line double-flaring tool, welder (to mount T-Block bracket to axle)
Notes, Hints, Tips, Gotchas: Take your time with this part and make sure you have quality tools. Take many, many measurements and mock up the hard brake lines with stiff wire or a coat hanger before you start bending.

About Rick Webster

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