Rear Axle questions- '60 Wagon

Pete

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Sep 17, 2009
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Hailey, Idaho
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The first thing I need to do on my new-to-me wagon is fix the rear axle spring perches.

The axle appears to have be replaced and for some reason, the spring perches weren't welded on or weren't welded on very well. As a result, the axle has shifted to the passenger side about an inch or more. The spring perches are on the centering pins on the springs, and look like they are loose from the axle with some old booger welds in there for good measure.

I'm going to pull the axle, clean up the perches and re-weld them.

First a few questions:

Anyone recognize this axle? I don't know if it is stock or not, or much of anything about these axles...




It looks like there are some old spring-over-axle perches left on the topside of the axle, unless these are factory bump-stops? Anyone have any pictures of a stock spring perch?

Before I put much effort into fixing the issue, I'd like to find out what I've got. The e-brake setup is missing from the axle, and I'd like to replace that stuff while I have it apart. I don't want to buy parts for the wrong axle. Thinking about replacing the bearings and seals while I'm at it too.

Second question is the pinion angle. Should it be parallel to the output on the transfer case? Like this article explains? Am I going to wish I had replaced the sagging springs before I set the pinion angle?

Third, welding... I've read various tips about welding spring perches, tack and then weld 1" increments, skip around, etc. I don't want to warp the tubes. I have a gas-less mig welder, wondering if it is up to the task. Any tips on getting everything straight? Build a jig? Put it together and tack in place, then pull and weld?

Any advice greatly appreciated...

Thanks,

Pete
 

Pete

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number6jr said:
here are two sites I have found for axle Identification
Thanks for the links John, gives me a place to start. I'm going to crawl under there tonight and see if I can find any markings.

Pete
 

silicond17

Precision Fit
Nov 18, 2009
692
Clearwater, FL
First Name
Garrett
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1961
Here's some pictures of my Dana 44 original rear for comparison:






Yours is a Dana 44 for sure, but I'm not 100% sure that it's original. I can't recall if those bump stops are on mine or not. You can't really tell from my pictures. A lot of other pickups of that era used a similar Dana 44 rear axle, so it may have been from something else. My dad's 1952 F-1 has a similar Dana 44 in it.
 

Pete

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1960
silicond17 said:
Yours is a Dana 44 for sure, but I'm not 100% sure that it's original.
Yours looks the same as mine, near as I can tell. I'm starting to wonder if maybe the axle was changed over to SOA by someone in the past because of the extra spring perches, and then changed back? Or maybe not.... :?:

Pete
 

Truckedup

Sharpest Tool
Jul 11, 2010
289
Western NY state 315 er
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I've swapped a few rear axles and have seen many swaps.The perches only need to be tack welded about a half inch on the ends with the u bolts drawn up reasonably tight.If you had 450 hp or was doing serious rock crawling you might want a full weld.But fully welding it is more risk of axle tube distortion from the heat.And for sure check out the pinion angle before welding anything.
 

SavageSun Willys

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Jan 7, 2010
214
Scottsdale, AZ
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Here is another great site for Jeep axle ID: http://coloradok5.com/axleguide.shtml

I concur on the D44, my '55 has a D44 and at D 25 up front IIRC.

You most likely will, but I would get the rear up on jack stands and pull the whole assembly out from under. Clean it up and inspect it. Its a good axle even if its OEM for that year. The engine in there lacks the punch to tear it up.

Welding to the axle is not really an issue as long as you are not welding to the 'cast iron' carrier [this is not impossible but the drawback is the 'cooling rates' for the cast vs mild steel. Cast cools to fast and it will pull the weld apart]

When you get it out and inspect I am sure that getting it set back in properly will fall into place for you with no problem...but will keep my eye out for pics to help if I can.

Tom Woods knows his shafts, I run one in my Jeep and its been in there for years.

You static pinion angle should be approx (-) 1.5 - 2.5 degrees. This is how you get the '0' degree angle when under power. The (-) angle will go to '0' when you drive it due to the axle wanting to wrap [the nose wanting to lift up under acceleration]. The nose will lift and the (-) will compensate for the lifting. NOTE: This assume your bushings and leaf springs are not worn to the point that the pinion nose lifts too far. You will use shims under the leaf springs to adjust the angle to the point it no longer gives vibes. I would start out with a 1 degree shim and then test drive from there.

Keep us in the loop and provide pics...
 

Pete

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Just crawled out from under the wagon, and it's definitely a D44.

Ratio tag: 4.27 / 47-11

Date stamp: 10A 2 89

I'm assuming the date code is February of 1989?

Looked at the front too and it has the same ratio tag, but looks to be a Dana 25/27 according to the axle ID sites.

The axle has decent paint on it, but the brake backing plates are rusty like every thing else. Would the PO have put the old brakes on a newer axle?

Discovered a bunch of other hack stuff while I was under there... grumble.

Pete
 

SavageSun Willys

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Jan 7, 2010
214
Scottsdale, AZ
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One NEVER know what the old PO will do or there skill and money level. Basically assume nothing was done correctly or to your standard and you won't be surprised or disappointed.

You might have already made this decision and if so it would help all of use trying to support you if you told us (if you have not already done so). End Goal is _________ Restoration in keeping with the year, make and model, Resto-Mod in keeping with the orginial lines and overall appearance but mods might encompass upgrades such as brakes, AC, PS, PB seats etc etc.

This will also help you as you travel the path to your goal... ;)
 

Pete

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SavageSun Willys said:
One NEVER know what the old PO will do or there skill and money level. Basically assume nothing was done correctly or to your standard and you won't be surprised or disappointed.

You might have already made this decision and if so it would help all of use trying to support you if you told us (if you have not already done so). End Goal is _________ Restoration in keeping with the year, make and model, Resto-Mod in keeping with the orginial lines and overall appearance but mods might encompass upgrades such as brakes, AC, PS, PB seats etc etc.

This will also help you as you travel the path to your goal... ;)
I'm certainly not a purist, but I want to keep the character of the Willys. I'm planning to, over time, do safety upgrades like disc brakes, seatbelts, etc. I love flathead six engines, so until this one dies, it stays. I swapped a SB 350 into my '53 chevy pickup and made into a race car, but in the process gutted the old truck character that I had loved for so many years. When I did my plymouth, I kept the flathead six and did just about everything I could to make it cool and perform better. Saved the character and had fun modding it with 50's period correct speed stuff at the same time. I'd like to do the same thing with the wagon. I'm going to preserve the stock style/design character as much as I can. And, the budget has been spent just to get the wagon, so for now I'm going to have to work with what is sitting in the garage for the most part.

After crawling around under the wagon tonight, it's clear that I will be going through everything, one section at a time, before I haul my kids around...

Pete
 

silicond17

Precision Fit
Nov 18, 2009
692
Clearwater, FL
First Name
Garrett
Willys Model
Wagon
Willys Year:
1961
That looks like an early Dana 44. I don't know the date codes, but it's earlier than 1989 I'd say. If the drain plug is on the very bottom of the pumpkin, it's pretty early. Later axles would have had a higher gear ratio. 4.27 is the most popular in the wagons it seems. A lot of the Ford pickups at that time also used 4.27 Dana 44s. Remember back in the late 80s because of the gas crunch, a lot of trucks were running gears as high as 2.73. Modern Dana 44s won't have a gear that low. The front will be a Dana 25. Being that they match, it's possibly the original rear axle. They may have just moved the perches for some reason as you mentioned.

I have seen old axles like this with the paint in very good condition even. Normally you will get a ton of grease around the pumpkin where the cover seal leaks a little. The brakes and backing plates will normally be corroded, being that the older brake fluid was extremely corrosive.

Glad to hear you're keeping the 226. Time for multiple spark ignition and a hotter ignition coil! The Accel 300+ ignition box works great on mine, and is points friendly. I run an Accel Super Stock coil on it with Napa Belden plug wires. When tuned correctly, it cranks and runs incredible. Running a larger 2bbl carburetor also helps a ton. I run a 500cfm Holley 2300 on mine, but am looking for a Stromberg 97/Holley 94 to replace it with to keep it in the same era. That and the 500cfm Holley is just a tad too large. :lol:
 

SavageSun Willys

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Jan 7, 2010
214
Scottsdale, AZ
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Pete, Great info and you hopes for your project. I was going to mention in post up above on your axle that you should go disk brakes, but I did not know you desires on the Willy's. I also think it is smart to modernize the key safety systems on older cars, its just makes sense if you want to really drive it and make some trips. So I would give consideration to PS and P disk B's.

Overall your rig show well in the fotos and its looks clean so I think you have a good rig but not without challenges and that to me is the fun.

I will be watching your posts... ;)
 

silicond17

Precision Fit
Nov 18, 2009
692
Clearwater, FL
First Name
Garrett
Willys Model
Wagon
Willys Year:
1961
Agreed, there are tons of write-ups on disc brake conversions on our front and rear axles. I opted to go disc on the front and keep the factory drums. With those massive calipers up front, it stops on a dime and gives you a nickel back! The good thing is that the backing plate for the disc brakes hides them pretty well, so nobody will ever know that you have disc brakes unless they really know their stuff.
 

Pete

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Weekend update

I spent some time on my rear axle this weekend. I pulled the axle out from under the wagon and scraped a bucket of crud off, got it cleaned up, and assessed the spring perch situation.



It is clear now that the wagon was at some point converted to a SOA. Both the front and rear axle have spring perches welded on top of the axles.

The Ubolts are for a larger diameter axle, and the mounting plates that go on the bottom of the spring are from some other rig with poorly fab'd shock mounts. I'll need to find the right stuff to replace them.

The rear axle has the original perches removed, and then put back on. And for some unknown reason (stupidity?) the perches were welded about an inch and a half off center. At first, before I removed the axle, it looked like maybe the weren't attached to the axle, but after pulling it out and scraping off the crud, they are welded on. What looked like broken welds were just the old factory welds that weren't ground off.



And, the guy who did the job gets extra points for burning a hole in the axle tube, and leaving it that way...



I drained the chocolate milk fluid, and pulled the cover to have a look-see inside. The gear teeth have lots of pitting, and lots of slop/wear. There's a nice thick coating of sludgy stuff on everything inside.




There has been lots of welding on the axle, the spring perches that were added to the top side have nice fat weld beads all the way around, so I'm wondering if the tubes are straight.



I didn't pull the drums yet to see what the brakes are like. The PO said he re-did the brakes, but from what I've seen thus far, I don't trust much of anything he said. The brake lines on the axle are cobbed together with a combo of rubber lines and couplers, the wheel cylinders aren't new, and the e-brake setup is completely missing.

One end of the axle has lots of play in the wheel bearings, not yet sure why. Maybe they are toast from water getting in through the bad weld.

So, I'm wondering if I'd be better off finding another complete axle or if I should dive in to this one. I can clean up and re-do the perches, but I'll probably leave the gears as is for now for cost. By the time I buy new bearings, seals, spring perches, etc and still have worn gears and possibly warped tubes, is it tripping over dollars to save dimes?

Thoughts?

Pete
 

SavageSun Willys

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Jan 7, 2010
214
Scottsdale, AZ
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Pete,
Those axles are so common that find one in good shape is not hard. Add to that the axle is inside and out broke-Richard in more ways than one. You would spend more in getting it fixed and up to a safe std than it would cost to pick on up from a bone yard.

Fact is your axle is just not safe for a driver at any level.

Based upon what you said I think any rear axle from a Jeep TJ would work for you to include the Dana 35. Long as you stay with the low power engine the D 35 will work fine. Finding a D 44 would be a bonus. You would have to regear, but you will need to do that anyway in the axle you have...
 

Truckedup

Sharpest Tool
Jul 11, 2010
289
Western NY state 315 er
Willys Model
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Thoughts?
That gear set looks just like the one in my 50 Chevy truck,pitted up that is,.If the bearings are ok it'll last for awhile and give you some breathing room to decide what to do.There no guarantee another axle will need less attention.Of course it doesn't seem smart to just put in back in the way it is without at least fixing the perches.......When faced with these situations,that happen often to me dealing with old stuff,I have a saying "if you're having a problem it's only because you haven't spent enough money" :mrgreen:
 

silicond17

Precision Fit
Nov 18, 2009
692
Clearwater, FL
First Name
Garrett
Willys Model
Wagon
Willys Year:
1961
I would think finding another axle and cleaning it up would be a better idea. I would definitely stick with something out of that time era as trying to retrofit a newer axle in is going to be a job and a half. I've seen these early Dana 44s sell for pretty cheap, and it shouldn't be hard finding one in decent shape. The 4.27 ratio is probably the most popular on the D44 in these old pickups and wagons, regardless of the make/model. So it shouldn't be hard finding a matching axle.
 

Pete

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Found a yard near where I'm working that has two '52 wagons. Going to go by today and see if there might be an axle that is workable.

Pete
 
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