Dana 44 Conversion


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Dana 44 Solid Axle Swap

Start date: 5/18/01     End date: 5/20/01

Due to clearance issues between the Skyjacker TTB lift bracket and the future 302 oil pan I decided to swap in the Dana 44 before the 302. I could have made the 302 swap work without the 44 swap, but I wanted to be able to place the motor as low as possible. I have no body lift and I think I'll be needing every inch of clearance for the NP435.

My Dana 44 came out of a 74 Bronco that I bought last spring. I had completely gutted it intending to have gears and an ARB  installed before the swap. It didn't work out that a way so I cleaned everything up and reassembled it. It still has the 3.55:1 gears, open diff , bad u-joints and the drum brakes are all but metal to metal.

Coil Springs

I imagine its possible to use your stock coils, but I wouldn't recommend it. The Bronco II springs taper in at the bottom and won't fit the 44. Also I don't think you'd really get enough lift out of them to provide enough clearance between the engine cross member and axle at full compression.

I opted for the variable rate 3.5" James Duff early bronco coils. I've seen the flex they are capable of and have heard good things about them. I was concerned that they might be too tall for my liking, but knew I had the option of moving the coil buckets for the perfect ride height. As it turns out it sits about 4" higher than the 4" skyjacker system. I like it and think it will be perfect. At 5 for the pair I couldn't turn them down.

Radius Arm Brackets

I started to build my own brackets, but changed my mind. Instead I took KTRangers advice and got my hands on a set of  78-79 F-150 or Bronco brackets. These brackets have the largest drop of all other stock brackets and it looks like they were designed for the Bronco II. I really liked the 45 angle on the inside which will hopefully come in handy for mounting the tranny cross member when I do the 302 swap. I don't like the idea of the radius arms hanging down that far, but I was pretty sure I'd need it to help keep the correct caster. I still might build my own brackets and move the arms up to the frame, but that will be down the road after the 302 is in. I paid for the pair which really made the them worth it. I would have spent a day or two making my own.

Track Bar Mount

I think you're pretty much stuck making your own. The design is pretty dependant on the amount of lift and the length of the track bar. I'm not terribly happy with my design, but so far so good. Once I get my hands on an adjustable track bar I'm going to build a new mount and put some actual thought into it. If you don't mind welding to your frame it will be pretty easy, but to make it bolt up is kind of difficult in that area of the frame. I'm not going to go into detail on this mount, but it is bolt on. I'm mostly unhappy with the placement of the bolts to the frame. Notice the support from the mount to the engine cross member.

UPDATE- Here is the trac bar bracket I made a year or so ago. It uses the power steering gear bolts, and a couple bolts on the bottom of the frame. The original looked like crap, but it never failed. The brace to the engine crossmember is the key to making any mount hold up. My trac bar was hitting my diff cover, and the axle wasn't quite centered, so I built a new mount. Looks a little better too.

Brake Lines

This is actually pretty easy to work out. With intensions of a wristed arm, I needed the brake lines to accommodate a lot of wheel travel. I asked one of the local guys what he was doing and he showed me the light. Basically I bought 2 T's  a couple plugs, a 1 foot flexible rubber line and a 30" steel line. At the proportioning valve there are two outlets for the front. One outlet goes to each front brake. I plugged one and screwed the flexible line in the other. Then I ran the flexible line to a T which I mounted on the radius arm. I plugged one port on the T and ran a steel line to a new T on the axle. From there it goes to each wheel.


My 4" Skyjacker shocks worked fine. 6" shocks probably would have been better. After I sold my lift, I made my own shock towers and I am now using Rancho 9000 9012's. To make the Shock mounts I used some 3" channel and capped a few inches at one end. I used the stud that came with the 9000's to mount the shock.

I used a 4" grinder and a sawzall to cut the old shock tower off the coil bucket.