Project Pieces and Parts - Rear Axle
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by: Terry L. Howe

CJ-3A Dana 41
'50 CJ-3A Dana 41

The Dana 41 axle that came with my CJ-2A was from a '50 CJ-3A. It is a fairly strong axle, but the shaft spline count is low, 10 spline I believe. It also uses a two piece shaft which is weaker than a one piece shaft of the same size. You often hear about 70s and 80s CJs with the AMC 20 "spinning a hub". This happens when the outer hub of the shaft spins on the splines. I didn't want this to happen to me.

CJ-2A from the side
'71 CJ-5 Dana 44

The ultimate low buck axle upgrade for the flat fender is the mid 1970 to 1971 CJ-5 Dana 44. Around mid 1970 they started using a Dana 44 with 30 spline, one piece shafts. It is offset for the Dana 18 transfer case rear output and the spring perches bolt right on to any flat fender military or civilian as well as early CJ-5s with the Dana 44 with two piece shafts.

I was keeping an eye out for one of these fairly rare Dana 44s and patience paid off. Darron Bergenhaur happen to locate one and I managed to buy it from him. It was in rough shape, a few lugs were broken and the brakes were non-existent. The good news was it happened to have 4.27:1 R&P that matched my Dana 30 and the shafts, bearings, and gears appeared to be in good shape.

'71 CJ-5 Dana 44 with shafts removed
'71 CJ-5 Dana 44 with shafts removed

The only work I needed to do on the axle was repack the bearings and fix the brakes. The backing plates that were on the axle were badly corroded and they were not outfitted with a parking brake. I was planning on getting rid of the drum parking brake on the Dana 18, so I wanted to have a rear axle with a parking brake.

Recently, I purchased a '73 Commando for $300. It had a Dana 44 that would not work in my flat fender, but it had 11" drum brakes that were in excellent shape and they had a parking brake. Even the springs and shoes were in good shape, so I bolted the Commando backing plates to my CJ-5 Dana 44 and used all the parts to reassemble brakes for it. I used the Commando parking brake cables and will probably tie them into a hand brake.


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