JKD44 Front Axle Build - Cut & Turn, Nitro Sleeves, Artec Truss, etc - JKowners.com : Jeep Wrangler JK Forum
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post #1 of 38 Old 02-11-2014, 04:12 PM Thread Starter
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JKD44 Front Axle Build - Cut & Turn, Nitro Sleeves, Artec Truss, etc

I suppose this will somewhat walk the line of a "write-up" thread with the Cut and Turn portion in it.

First off, I've never done a cut and turn on an axle before, this was our first. If you're wondering why we took a perfectly good Dana 44 housing and put it to a chop saw, I'll explain. The factory JK housings are plagued with low pinion angle separation. Well what in the hell is that?

Well I'll refer to pinion separation as the angle between the pinion angle and caster. If you're not sure what caster is, there are tons of explanations for that which are better than how I can describe it. Anyway, the JK housing has a 6° of separation. So when the pinion is parallel to the ground [0°], there is 6° of caster. Which is fine when you're stock, but as you start to lift your rig, you're going to run into pinion angle problems sooner than later. The stock driveshaft with it's CV joint is great at eating up driveline vibrations, but as soon as you change over to an aftermarket front driveshaft, you'll be seeing 1-2° caster angles to run a correct pinion angle to keep that driveshaft alive and happy. This makes the rig drive like crap [to many].



To counter-act that, people have been doing cut and turns since the beginning of time, for various reasons. It's not all that common in the JK community, for whatever reason, likely because it's a bit intimidating and requires something to not just to be bolted on.

The other option is to spend the money on an aftermarket housing, such as a Dynatrac has 10° of separation. Which will let you get a nice pinion angle and caster for good road handling at speed, steering wheel return to center, etc. This is a valid option for many, you get rid of many of the factory housing downfalls and are ready to go out of the box! For me, I can't afford to do it, it's really that simple, so this axle is pieced together with various deals, and trickery to go under my Jeep..it'll get me by for awhile.

One of the things we didn't tend to was bracketry. To "properly" do this, you'll want to cut off and rotate all your brackets the same amount you turned the C. Assuming you correct the pinion angle, everything will now be twisted 4degrees from stock. Arm mounts go ~1/8" higher from the ground, springs have a little bow in them, etc. While it'd be nice to do that, I didn't see the benefit outweighing the time needed to do so. So we just turned the C's and I'll deal with it.

As I'm not a "cut n turn guru", we went with what we figured would work after some input from guys that have done it. The sleeves really made things easy, along with the super-awesome chop saw setup.

The process we used for the cut and turn are as follows:

1) Get the bores of the tubes able to accept the Nitro sleeves without fuss. This included lightly deburring the first 3" of the tube, there is some distortion where the C is welded that kept the sleeve from going in. I got it to where the sleeve would go in to, if not almost to, the knurling by hand. After you drill the holes, it'll become tighter from the inside burrs, clean out what you can.




2) Where the sleeves become instrumental to the process was for rotating the housing while cutting and ensuring the C was always concentric with the rest of the tube. Other sleeves have looser tolerances, that would not be as ideal for using them the way we did. Hold the axle up by the sleeves sticking outside of the bore [see pic].




3) Using a OEM Ram spare tire jack, we leveled the pads on the front of the housing [see pic, remove the paint too]. This was out base for every adjustment, don't go changing it, keep consistent with whatever you pick. The housing was set to 90*. BTW, don't use that damn Harbor Freight digital angle finder, it's a piece of crap. We ended up with a big dial version by the time we were done.




4) We cleaned the paint off the top of the C and measured the caster from there, it was 6° [+/- 0.5deg]. We chose to leave the housing at 90° and set both C's to read 10°. We could over-complicate it, stack variables, try to account for floor slope, etc…but really, it's a Jeep on 37s [if not 40s soon], a extremely minor amount of caster discrepancy isn't going to make or break it. Take some "width" measurements for something that isn't moving. We went from the spring bucket to a reference point on the C. Just in case we screwed up and it fell off or whatever, we could reset the width back to where it was. Write it down, you'll forget if you actually need it.

5) Chop saw the C's. We went almost all the way through the tube, I'd say 95% before hitting it to turn. We did this for a couple reasons, one was so we didn't cut the sleeve, the second was to minimize our lateral movement of the C. Allowing the crack to break the C and not the 1/4" wide chop saw blade let us move around the C pretty accurately without the C moving laterally on the housing.

You'll want two people to do this, keep it rotating to keep the cut round. If you can bolt your chop saw down to wood or something, it would have made it easier, as it wants to kick/vibrate away from the housing. With a new blade it clears 100%. If it doesn't you need to get the blade closer to the tube with the saw fully "up".




6) So after rigging the housing so it'd stay put, we scribed two lines to watch and hit away with a 4# hammer. Once it let loose we went back and put the housing to 90° and measured our caster. Once the caster read 10°, we tacked the C back to the tube…make sure you don't tack the sleeve until it's where you want it.

7) After the tacks we knocked in the sleeve, rechecked our turn, and burned it in.



8) Repeat for the other side.


The front end under my rig will now be as follows:
EVo 3/16" C-gussets
EVo Lower Control Arm Gussets
Poly Performance Ball joints
Reid Racing knuckles
Yukon 4.88s w/factory E-locker
Stock, tack'd axle shafts [gasp!]
Riddler diff cover
Nitro hammer-in sleeves, that were welded in
Currie upper control arm johnny joints
Artec truss w/raised track bar mount
Poly Performance drag link
Rock Krawler aluminum tie rod
PSC 1.5" ram-assist cylinder

…I think that's about it.


The housing has it's C-gussets on and I'm trying out Rustoleum Cold Galvanizing paint as a weld-through. I've read online its decent for it and I wanted to get something inside those C's and truss.



I'll update it as it gets in and tested out..


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Last edited by Goodysgotacuda; 02-11-2014 at 04:53 PM.
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post #2 of 38 Old 02-11-2014, 04:16 PM Thread Starter
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Saved for updates and editing

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post #3 of 38 Old 02-11-2014, 04:44 PM
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Great write up Goody. I bet more people will be willing to attempt this now.
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post #4 of 38 Old 02-15-2014, 04:44 AM Thread Starter
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Thanks! I'm still waiting for a few things before this can go in.


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post #5 of 38 Old 02-15-2014, 05:11 AM
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Hey Goody, Very nice. I'm glad you finally did it!!! Since you cut the tube and turned it, couldn't you have done it closer to the housing, so that all the brackets would have turned also? I know you would have needed to cut off the driver side LCA bracket, but one bracket seems like it would be worth it.

I believe when Poly used to do cut ant turns they did it at the housing.

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Yes, we didn't set out to cut through the entire tube, it just sorta worked out that way. I wasn't shooting for that method because I didn't want to bother with cutting off the lower mounts and relocating them, along with the added expense, this build was very low out of pocket costs. Cutting the tube at the housing would make it a little more interesting since the sleeves would have to be knocked in all the way, and I'm not positive they make it all the way to the housing. So getting the tube concentric with the housing could be pretty interesting if one were to go that route. It could work out perfectly, but it is adding a little more complexity and some variables.

This seemed like the safer route to go with for a first time and I still am not convinced the extra effort is really worth it. I would have to have a bit more jigging and know exactly where the sleeves were before doing that to ensure it didn't end up "bent", different length tubes, etc. If I remember I'll look into the housing and see if I can determine how far the sleeves engage the cast housing, if at all.

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post #7 of 38 Old 02-15-2014, 06:41 AM
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How much lift did you determine your numbers for?

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I was thinking the cut could be made just inside the spring towers, but I don't know how that would effect rewelding the LCA brackets back on and I was thinking you could cut the LCAs off and re-weld the same ones back on. I really need to take a welding class.

On another note. Are you replacing the front UCA bushings on the axle with Currie Jhonny Joints?

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How much lift did you determine your numbers for?
I went off of Dynatrac's separation numbers, which is 10degrees. I figured they did the leg work on what would work on a variety of different setups.

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I was thinking the cut could be made just inside the spring towers, but I don't know how that would effect rewelding the LCA brackets back on and I was thinking you could cut the LCAs off and re-weld the same ones back on. I really need to take a welding class.

On another note. Are you replacing the front UCA bushings on the axle with Currie Jhonny Joints?
Yea, you could cut off and reweld the same brackets, but you would have a hard time cutting off the stock bracket and having it fit well to the axle tube again. Off-road logic would say to beef it up and go with Poly brackets or something while you're already cutting them off.

And yes, the upper control arm bushings are getting swapped for the Johnny Joints and my stock upper control arms are getting that Ruff Stuff rod end kit.

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post #10 of 38 Old 02-15-2014, 07:24 AM
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Great JOB. I wish I would have done this before burning in sleeves and a truss

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Yea, you could cut off and reweld the same brackets, but you would have a hard time cutting off the stock bracket and having it fit well to the axle tube again. Off-road logic would say to beef it up and go with Poly brackets or something while you're already cutting them off.

Got it.

And yes, the upper control arm bushings are getting swapped for the Johnny Joints and my stock upper control arms are getting that Ruff Stuff rod end kit.
Where did you get them and how much were they, if you don't mind telling? I'm guessing they are a direct swap for the stock bushings? I need them bad.

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post #12 of 38 Old 02-15-2014, 08:03 AM Thread Starter
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Where did you get them and how much were they, if you don't mind telling? I'm guessing they are a direct swap for the stock bushings? I need them bad.

I think they were about $100. I am using two driver side joints and they should be a direct swap. Bthomas ordered them for me, I think from Northridge.


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post #13 of 38 Old 02-15-2014, 08:35 AM
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I think they were about $100. I am using two driver side joints and they should be a direct swap. Bthomas ordered them for me, I think from Northridge.


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part# ce-9112m2

thats for one drivers side, so you'll need x2.
also that p/n doesn't include the machined driver for hitting them in. I'm sure a socket or short section of tube would work though.
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https://www.trailduty.com/product_in...oducts_id=1066

I've been trying to find them cheaper. No dice.


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https://www.trailduty.com/product_in...oducts_id=1066

I've been trying to find them cheaper. No dice.


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It's a fair price for them, but I wasn't too thrilled on how they did the tower for the passenger side. The double driver side should work, i'll know tomorrow.

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I'll check back. Time to get a move on here.


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Btw using two drivers side curries does NOT work on a factory housing. I'll have the currie tower in there today.


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Btw using two drivers side curries does NOT work on a factory housing. I'll have the currie tower in there today.


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Thanks for the update. That definitely helps.

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Thanks for the update. That definitely helps.
And if the tower gets a little dinged going in, a Dana 30 pinion fits in there really well...just sayin, not that it happened or anything.

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post #20 of 38 Old 02-23-2014, 07:29 PM Thread Starter
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Well it's finally in there.




Drove it around and have no complaints thus far. I am at 4* pinion up, which is giving me a 0* pinion angle and 6* of caster with a Tom Woods 1310 driveshaft. Moving the tie rod up and relocating the ram was a bit of a pain, I'd recommend going with the Poly Performance track bar mount. There just isn't enough meat on the Artec mount to the driver's side of the track bar bolt to get a good ram mount on it that clears well. My tie rod is now about 17" off the ground and definitely much less vulnerable.

I also built some Ruff Stuff JK upper control arms, which was not bad, but I can't say I'd do it again. The $100 investment was probably worth it, doing it myself was even hard to justify vs just buying some new arms. The powder coat has to be completely removed from the factory arms, one I was able to knock in most of the way, the other I pressed in [luckily I have a 20Ton press]. They're really stout, but I can't say I'd recommend it vs buying new arms.


So the complete axle build is:
  • C's turned 4degrees [10*total]
  • Artec Truss
  • Nitro knock-in sleeves, plug and end welded
  • Ruff Stuff upper control arms
  • Currie upper johnny joints
  • Riddler diff cover
  • Yukon 4.88s, stock e-locker
  • Poly Performance drag link
  • Poly Performance ball joints
  • Rock Krawler alum tie rod
  • 1.5x6.75 PSC ram
  • Reid Racing knukles
  • EVo control arm skids and C-gussets
  • Stock axle shafts, RCVs will replace them, eventually

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post #21 of 38 Old 02-23-2014, 08:46 PM
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Nice work! That's a BA 44 you have now.

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post #22 of 38 Old 02-24-2014, 02:28 AM
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So... Drivability difference on road ?


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So... Drivability difference on road ?


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It holds it's heading a little better, I've only gone a couple miles with it however.

But consider I went from a stock front driveshaft at whatever wicked pinion angle to a 0° pinion with a double cardan....and it drives better. So I'd say it was worth it.


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post #25 of 38 Old 03-02-2014, 11:49 AM Thread Starter
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So far this has been working out just fine. No driveline vibes or weird pulling. My front end is much more solid with those upper Currie joints and frame rod ends.

..Just figured I'd update it.

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