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Swapping Dana 44s and a Dana 300 into a YJ

Side view of Jeep

by Lars

Scout Swap

Rear Dana 44
Front Dana 44
Final Notes

When evaluated as a hard-core off-road vehicle, the Jeep YJ is often praised for its excellent fuel-injected motor and panned for its weak axles and low, limited-articulation suspension. Dealing with the suspension is easy enough: there are many aftemarket kits available to lift the YJ and dramatically increase the suspension's articulation. Increasing the axle strength is another matter.

Yes, you can buy a stronger-than-stock custom-made axle...if you can afford it. For most of us, though, that's not a viable option. That leaves the option of building it yourself. The do-it-yourself option does not mean that you build an axle from scratch. Instead, you locate a likely donor vehicle whose axle or axles best match your vehicle and your requirements. The closer the match, the less work and money you'll need to invest to complete the upgrade.

This write-up will summarize the process of installing Scout axles and a Dana 300 xfer case into a YJ with an automatic transmission. I will not discuss the myriad problems I encountered which were due to bad luck, poor organization or just plain stupid moves.

My Setup and Why I Made These Choices

After a lot of pondering, I decided to install a pair of Scout Dana 44 axles and a CJ Dana 300 transfer case. My decision was based on the following requirements:

  1. Whatever axles I chose had to be cheap. In this respect, I was extremely lucky that my good friend, Rob Bryce, located a complete set of Scout axles for me which only cost $65.
  2. The rear axle had to be compatible (same width, same bolt pattern) with a front axle which permitted me to use free wheeling hubs.
  3. I wanted to improve my brakes so the new axles had to have larger brake components that would easily handle tires up to 35" in diameter.
  4. The axle width had to be similar to my existing axles'. I didn't want to run full-size axles nor did I want to incur the cost of shortening axle housings and shafts.
  5. I wanted a front axle whose front diff was located on the same side of the vehicle as my factory setup. The Scout axles weren't a good choice in this respect but I was able to affordably install a stronger transfer case which moved the front driveshaft output to the same side as used on Scouts.
  6. I wanted to do a swap which had been done before because, to be honest, I'm not a great mechanic. I relied heavily on the experiences of Rick Boiros and Rob Bryce, both of whom had slipped Scout axles under Chrysler Jeeps.

Spring perch Rear Dana 44: The Scout II Dana 44 rear axle is the perfect width for a Wrangler YJ. Spring perch movement is the hardest thing about this part of the swap.
Front 44 Front Dana 44: The Scout II Dana 44 front axle comes with disk brakes and later Scout front Dana 44s used the larger Dana 44 u-joint. The axle is relatively very easy to swap in a Wrangler YJ.
Side view of Jeep Final Notes: The Scout II Dana 44 axle swap requires a transfer case swap and a few other details. Reflections on what axle swap is best for a Wrangler YJ.

Last modified Wednesday, 01-Dec-2010 09:24:02 MST

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